Full Summary: The Enterprise has a crew unlike any other. They are the best and brightest that Starfleet has to offer, the vast majority of them are painfully young, and they are largely untried. They are led by the most unpredictable and explosive duo that has ever graced Starfleet Command.

Alpha and Beta Quadrants are reeling under the after-effects of Nero's second rampage. The Klingon Empire's fleet has been gutted. The Romulans are ominously silent. The shattered remnants of the Vulcans are desperately trying to save their culture and their people.

All eyes are on the Enterprise, the boatload of children who succeeded where an entire armada failed. Depending on who you talk to, they are heroes, villains, or ignorant, blindingly lucky upstarts. After their rather explosive beginning, how will the Enterprise and her command crew fare?

Disclaimer: I do not own anything to do with Star Trek and never will. Please don't sue.

I fell in love with the Alternate Original Series when I saw the first movie. The differences in the various characters and the 'universe' enthralled me. The possibilities for their future were endless. Then the sequel came out, and I was SO BITTERLY DISAPPOINTED. Because with literally all the possibilities in the universe, they went with a Wrath of Khan remake.

So here I am, writing what I would have liked to see and didn't even come close to getting. Needless to say, Star Trek: Into Darkness *never happened* and never will. Everything else is fair game.

The first two chapters cover Jim and Spock and their lives from birth to just before the 'award scene' in the movie. The third chapter on will fill in the gap between that final black hole and the 'award scene', and beyond.

James Tiberius Kirk

There are two things James Tiberius Kirk has always known: one, he was a survivor; two, he absolutely loathed George Kirk.

The survivor thing, that was obvious to anyone who knew his name. Born early, in space, under attack by an enormous Romulan ship. The thing is ... most people assumed that was the end of it. That as George Kirk's son he wanted for nothing. They were wrong. Jim had been fighting for survival his entire fucking life. All thanks, ultimately, to George Kirk. Which explained why he loathed the man with every fiber of his being.

The first and biggest problem was that George Kirk's death broke his wife in ways that Jim would never fully understand. Jim could understand, to a point. Listening to the man you love sacrifice himself so that you and eight hundred other people (including your newborn son) can live is going to do a number on you. What he couldn't understand, and would never forgive, was that Winona didn't go down in flames alone. She tried to take Jim and his older brother down with her.

Jim first became aware of the problem when he was four years old. First there was the fact that he only knew his age because Sam told him how old he was. Secondly, it was the first year he became aware of the fact that his birthday was not like anyone else's. Sam wished him a happy birthday, but he was the only one. Winona spent the day locked in her bedroom. There was no party or gifts like his preschool friends had.

Jim also became aware, at that age, of the fact that Winona was gone from before dawn until well after dusk five or six days a week most weeks. All seven days sometimes, if she could manage it. Sam, then eight years old, was in charge of making them sandwiches for lunch and getting them both dressed and to school in the mornings. In the evenings, their nearest neighbor would come over to check on them and bring them dinner. Sam had to help Jim with his homework and get him into bed.

While it had to have been bad for Sam, forced to be responsible at such a young age, it was mostly lonely for Jim, then. Things didn't get truly horrible until a year later. That was when Winona lost her mind and decided to get married 'for the kids' sake', apparently. Frank, a local farmer, was her choice. Jim never could figure out why she married him, or why Frank accepted. Winona didn't love Frank, something Jim had figured out within a couple years. If a little kid could figure it out, Frank had to have known from the outset.

From the start, Frank was sour and grumpy and Jim, at five, couldn't figure out why. He did everything in his power to be a good boy, to impress his new dad, to no avail. Frank either ignored him or heaped verbal abuse on him. Jim's only comfort was that Sam got much the same treatment.

School was no refuge from the growing unhappiness in Jim's life. He was, literally, a genius. By the time he went into first grade, he could perform all subjects on at least a fifth-grade level, sixth for a few. He flitted from subject to subject with such speed that in an earlier era he might have been accused of having an attention deficit disorder. He was also a hands-on learner. Make him stick only to books and written tests, and he struggled, slowing to something much closer to the learning speed of his age-mates. Allow him to work outside of those constraints and he raced ahead at warp speeds. That combination of traits tended to bring out the worst in teachers, who did not have the time or resources to cater to one child's learning needs. It also made him a prime target for bullies.

Jim was six when he first realized that the way things were at home was not only not normal, but actually wrong. That Sam should not be taking care of him, especially not now that Frank was around. That the verbal putdowns Frank dished out like candy weren't right. That the occasional spankings, which were gradually increasing in frequency and severity, were also swiftly heading in that direction. That his mother should have been protecting him.

Worse, nothing was being done about the situation. Jim had seen more than one person give Frank odd looks when he snarled at Jim or Sam in public. But apparently, accusing Winona Kirk of abuse and neglect, or allowing someone else to abuse and neglect her children, was just not done. It was at that point that Jim stopped being a child. That was when he first learned that life was never fair, and that he was on his own. That was when he began to learn hate, cynicism, and mistrust of authority.

Sam was fairly phlegmatic of temperament, quiet, industrious, and obedient. He was responsible and dependable. As such, he avoided the worst of the abuse. Jim, on the other hand, was wild, restless, driven, increasingly mistrusting, angry, and bitter. The resultant clashes with Frank, Winona, and authority figures in general over the next few years were all but pre-ordained, as was the inevitable vicious cycle of anger, acting out, and punishment.

By the time he was nine, Jim was sick to death of hearing the name George Kirk, never mind anything about him. It really didn't help that George had been canonized by what felt like the entire Federation. George was an infallible god and the savior of the universe, to hear most people tell it. On the other hand, Jim was a lazy, stupid, no-account waste of oxygen and a disappointing legacy for the 'great man'.

Most of the time, Jim just wanted to punch everyone in the face and scream. Anger had all but become a living thing in his chest, making it hard to breathe sometimes. It felt like there was only George, and nothing Jim ever did was ever going to mean anything to anyone, because he wasn't George.

He'd all but stopped trying in school. He did the work assigned and then explored beyond, delving deeper into the subject, whatever it might have been. But he handed in work that was just-barely-passing quality. He'd figured out pretty damn fast that excelling was expected of George Kirk's son, and even top grades didn't get congratulated by anyone. The worst part was that fully half his teachers gave him excellent grades anyway, despite his sub-par work. It was enough to make him scream.

Then, of course, there was Frank, who constantly told Jim he was marginally stupider than the corn in the fields around their house. Winona had been in space for eleven months out of every year since he was four. She couldn't even bring herself to look at Jim most days, never mind comment on his grades. Worse, Winona had somehow managed to work things out in such a way that she hadn't had to step foot on the Kirk farm for the last two years running, so Jim hadn't even laid eyes on her in that time. The only reason he knew she wasn't dead was because they hadn't had someone from Starfleet on their doorstep, telling them she'd died. It said something about their relationship that the best he could dredge up at the thought of her death was tired resignation and dull acceptance.

The worst of it, though, was Sam. Sam was thirteen then, and had no longer wanted his little brother tagging along behind him. He'd gotten almost as exasperated with Jim as his teachers. The defection was a bitter blow.

The next few years were as close to hell as they could be for Jim. The screaming matches with Frank gradually gave way to physical lashing out on both sides that Jim lost. He lost rather spectacularly, given he wasn't even a teenager yet. Still, he refused to back down and let Frank win.

Winona flitted in and out a few times, actually visiting the farm. She was never there for more than a couple days before she left. While she was there, she never, ever looked Jim in the face, spoke directly to him, or even said his name. She looked well to one side of him and made 'general requests' like "Someone needs to take the garbage to the compactor." By then, Jim had become so habituated to her absences and her inability to interact with him that her complete rejection of him hardly stung. Or so he firmly told himself.

Still, she was his mother, and he had not given up on her entirely. Shortly after he turned twelve, Frank got the brilliant idea to sell George Kirk's old car for money he hadn't needed. Jim knew that Winona would be less than pleased with the car being sold. Sam knew it too, and for the first time in ages, they combined forces to try to talk Frank out of it, but he was intractable.

Jim then had what he later admitted was one of his less than brilliant ideas. He stole the car with the intent to destroy it, rather than see it sold to some George Kirk memorabilia collector. When all was said and done, Jim was in jail, and Winona had been recalled to Earth and couldn't make up her mind who to kill first, Jim or Frank.

As part of Jim's sentence, he had to go to a reform school, and they gave him a choice of places to go. The list was made up of something like ten such places on Earth. Frankly, Jim wanted as far away from his family as he could get. Fortunately, several dozen such places were located off-planet. Jim picked one on Tarsus IV.

At first, it was a fucking brilliant move. Nobody on Tarsus gave a merry hell who he was, or who his dad was. All they cared about was how hard he could work to help the reform school's huge facility operate smoothly, how well he could excel in class, and making sure he got his shit straightened out. Even the shrink didn't let him get away with any shit.

He had the time of his life for the next two years. His grades soared in the face of the staff's refusal to accept half-assed anything. The therapy sessions helped him get a handle on his anger and deal with the shit his life had thrown at him thus far. He began to accept that people that didn't see 'him' weren't worth the time it took to blow them to hell. He began to figure out that all that mattered was doing his best. He still hated George, but it wasn't all-consuming anymore. Best of all, the staff and other kids became a very oddball, somewhat dysfunctional but supportive and caring family; the first 'real' family Jim had ever known.

The drought when he was fourteen was worrying, but not massively so. At least, not until relief supplies didn't arrive. Jim had no idea who was at fault there: whether it was Starfleet, the governor, or someone else, but it happened. The school wasn't as hard hit as others, as they had backup supplies on hand, due to them being a government-sponsored facility. Jim hardly noticed the shortages that first year.

Then, when he was fifteen, they had another drought. Then some sort of disease hit the plant life and killed about half of what made it through the drought. They went from little food to basically no food in next to no time at all. The results were not pretty. There were riots, thefts, and an increasing number of assaults as people panicked. Again, no relief supplies came. Again, Jim didn't know why, and never did find out. Then Kodos lost his fucking mind and everything went to hell.

Starfleet, when pressed, admitted the fuckup on Tarsus IV happened. They were swift to claim matters only got out of hand for a couple weeks before Starfleet came on the run and fixed things. Starfleet lied.

It was six months. Six months of terror, starvation and a desperate, grim determination to not only get out of this alive, but to get as many of his family out alive as humanly possible. Six months of pulling rabbits out of his ass every five seconds, despite a lack of sleep and waning strength. Six months of doing things, making decisions that no adult should have to do or decide, never mind a fifteen-year-old kid; things that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Six months of agonizing grief as he watched people he'd known for years succumb to starvation and sickness or be rounded up by Kodos' minions and be executed.

By the end of those six months, Jim was nothing but a hollow shell filled with rage. Less than a day before Starfleet finally descended on the colony to render aid and restore order, Jim managed to weasel his way into Kodos' stronghold and slit the bastard's throat in his sleep. He'd been unaware that help was so close. He'd only known that the only way the madness would stop was if Kodos was no longer alive to incite his soldiers to murder.

In a bitter irony, Jim made a name for himself, if only among the Tarsus IV survivors. While no one knew who had killed Kodos, and Jim would never tell, Jim had attained recognition another way. He had somehow managed to keep twenty fellow schoolmates alive. They were skin and bone, with haunted, dead, empty eyes, but they were alive. Theirs was the only cell of survivors led by someone underage, and the only cell comprised solely of children. Their cell was also the fourth largest cell: the other three had between twenty-two and twenty-six people, all adults.

Not that Jim had known those statistics at the time. When he and his cell were found, the rescuers had to stun him to get anywhere near the others. He'd been so far gone by that point that he saw anyone not in his cell as a threat and immediately tried to kill them.

He trashed half the Sickbay when he regained consciousness. Despite being thirty pounds underweight and at the end of his strength, three medics and two security officers ended up bruised and bleeding in the ensuing struggle to get Jim restrained. In the end, they had to stun Jim again before anyone could tend to his medical needs, because even restrained, he thrashed and tried to bite anything that came in range of his teeth.

They had to keep him restrained for three days before he stopped trying to kill anyone that touched him in the process of trying to treat him. Even then, he watched everyone that came near him with an unblinking intensity, woke at the slightest noise, and flinched away from physical contact with anyone not in his cell.

He point-blank refused to speak to the shrinks that came around and tried to talk to the survivors. He simply favored them with poisonous glares and numerous projectiles aimed at their heads until they gave up and left. The only reason he got released instead of being packed away into a facility of some kind when they got to Earth was because he slipped through the cracks. At least this time, it was his own choice. He wanted no part of Starfleet's 'help'. Thankfully, they were so swamped with helping the other survivors and trying to pretend to the galaxy at large that everything was fine that it made it easy to just walk away. He later ensured that every trace that he'd ever been to Tarsus IV was erased from his records.

He returned home to find Sam long gone, having run away shortly after Jim had left for Tarsus IV, and Frank alone in the house. Things get incredibly violent incredibly quickly. Jim may have been in horrifying shape physically, but he had enough anger to fuel a starship with, and nowhere to aim it except at Frank. Frank, for his part couldn't seem to stop antagonizing Jim. Jim made it, if only barely, to his sixteenth birthday, immediately left the house, and struck out on his own. He also began the process of having himself emancipated.

Winona still hadn't shown up or called by the time Jim left, and Jim wasn't entirely sure she even knew there was a problem, never mind that Jim was in the middle of it. What pissed him off was that he went to the trouble of sending her a message about a month after he got back to Earth, and she never responded to it. And he couldn't track Sam at all. It was like Sam had disappeared off the face of the universe. It made the decision to leave that much easier.

Once clear of Frank and with a place of his own, however small and pathetic, Jim had begun a ruthless regimen of diet and exercise to bring himself back up to where he should have been physically. He drove himself incessantly, both physically and mentally, completing his final two years of school in one.

Then he went on to seek out trainers and scholars and learned from them. In the wake of Tarsus, Jim had made himself two solemn promises. He was never going to let anyone have power over him ever again, and he was never going to be helpless ever again. His physical training and continued educational efforts were a huge part of that, alongside his emancipation. Jim was resolved to be his own man and follow his own path, regardless of what anyone tried to do or say to the contrary.

Seeking out new instructors, not so coincidentally, took him far away from Iowa, much to his relief. He wandered for years. He looked up and learned from a variety of people, on a variety of subjects. He developed a taste for early writings, in every culture, Shakespeare being his favorite, though some xenohistorical writings, especially Vulcan and Klingon, were as good or better. Jim especially enjoyed the Klingon writings. Jim could get behind the sort of philosophy that race espoused.

He never once heard from Winona and when he was eighteen, he wrote her off entirely. Sam, on the other hand, contacted him about a year after Tarsus IV. Evidently, word had only then reached him about Tarsus. He'd settled on a tiny colony world that had only sporadic news updates from the rest of the Federation, and the whole Tarsus mess had been covered up to a large degree. Sam was clearly relieved beyond words to finally talk to Jim face-to-face, and they exchanged contact information. Jim made Sam his emergency contact when he gave up on Winona.

He was twenty-two when he found himself in Iowa again. He got drunk at a bar near a Starfleet facility which was, in hindsight, his first mistake. His second mistake was when he, rather understandably, had hit on the smoking-hot girl. That went predictably badly, mostly because he was drunk. Then Cupcake and his herd had gotten involved. Frankly, the only reason they managed to win that fight was because there were four of them and Jim was drunk off his ass.

The fact Jim was drunk saved both himself and Pike, after Pike broke up the fight and chased the cadets out. Jim had wanted to punch Pike in the face when he started with the George crap. He was, however, drunk enough that he wasn't sure of his aim. Better, he wasn't quite drunk enough to think that hitting a Starfleet Captain was a brilliant idea. Still, it was a damn close call.

Jim had more issues with Starfleet than he could throw a stick at and that was without bringing Tarsus into things. He loathed Starfleet almost as much as he did George. He'd fully intended to blow Pike off and go about his life as it had been. Then halfway through his all-night bike ride, he sobered up enough to have another 'bright' idea.

Starfleet wanted and needed Golden Boy George, did they? And were willing to take Jim in the hope he'd be George Mark Two? Well then, he'd indulge them. And fuck with them in every way humanly possible. See how fast he could get kicked out. Teach them to be careful what they wished for. Petty, yes, but Jim was just angry and reckless enough not to care.

So he went, and met Bones. Bones ended up being one of the bright spots of that first year. Bones could not have given less of a fuck who Jim was, just like the staff and kids at the school on Tarsus IV. It took nearly a month for Bones to realize that Jim was 'that' Kirk's son, and when he did figure it out, all he did was shrug and go on with life. Better, while Bones didn't carouse the way Jim did at first, he didn't bitch at Jim and try to be all self-righteous. They were both there for reasons other than wanting to be a part of Almighty Starfleet, so neither of them could exactly throw stones at each other.

Uhura, ironically enough, became another friend, despite their booze-soaked and less than impressive first meeting. It helped that she was another one that didn't give a damn who he was, or who his daddy was. It also helped that Jim found out Uhura beat Cupcake legless for 'defending her honor' less than forty-eight hours after Cupcake and his crew had taken Jim on. She hadn't wanted or needed the assistance, and had found his assumption that she was helpless insulting as all hell.

It took Jim two weeks to find a security recording of the whole thing, which he copied and kept tucked somewhere safe. He'd laughed himself sick and gotten more than a little turned on watching Uhura hand the guy his ass, verbally and physically. It was an object lesson in not underestimating anyone. It was also an object lesson to not piss off a communications specialist who could speak a dozen or so languages fluently, and wasn't afraid to cuss you out in all of them. Jim adored Uhura more than a little for that stunt.

Better still, Uhura was whip-sharp with a dry, sarcastic as hell sense of humor. The two of them quickly settled into a big-sister/little-brother sort of arrangement. Jim took perverse pleasure in trying to wind Uhura into knots and flirted with her shamelessly. Uhura seemed to take an unholy pleasure in meeting his hijinks with a serene calm and completely ignored his flirting. She also enjoyed saying things to him in languages he had barely known existed, never mind had been able to speak. He spent a lot of time trying to figure out what she said to him, driven by his own damnable curiosity. Of course, he had to try to one-up her. Which went predictably poorly, given she was as much a certified genius at languages as he was in general.

Uhura's refusal to tell him her first name swiftly became a running gag between them. Jim could have ended it any time he wanted. It wasn't like it would have been hard to get a hold of her records and find out. However, he had a lot of fun trying to trick her into telling him, and she had an equal amount of fun driving him insane by not falling for his tricks.

Unfortunately, Starfleet Academy was not quite all fun and games. Despite his best intentions, Jim became fascinated by the classes. Well, the subjects, anyway. The instructors, for the most part, could take a flying leap.

Two of the instructors openly ridiculed him whenever he got within ten miles of them. Two others fawned on him like he was the second coming. Most of the rest probably thought like those two groups, but were polite enough not to say anything where he could hear it.

All in all, it made acting like a complete ass those first few months a whole hell of a lot easier. In class, he slept, laughed, played games on his datapad, talked to his classmates, and even talked over the instructors - generally to correct what they were saying. That last one annoyed the ever-loving hell out of the instructors he did that to. He stayed up so late it was pointless to try to sleep, partied hard enough for three, and exploited every loophole in the rulebook he could find - ruthlessly. All while he somehow maintained a scholastic average in the top two percentile. He wasn't top of his year, but he was in the top ten in every class and in the top five in some of them. Given how much hell he was raising, that was nothing less than spectacular.

He saw a lot of Pike, who was a member of the Academy's board. It occurred mostly in the aftermath of some incident or other, when he got brought up for a reprimand. Pike was, to put it mildly, far from pleased with Jim's antics. Jim was pretty damn sure Pike's general plan had been to nudge Jim in the right direction and then stand back and watch as George Mark Two wowed the crowds. It pissed Pike off that Jim was so far from playing his game it wasn't funny. Jim took a perverse pride in screwing with Pike's plans.

It all came to a head about three months into Jim's Academy career. He could smell the expulsion coming, at that point. It was hardly a surprise when he got thrown into Pike's office again after his latest stunt. Pike started bitching at him about not living up to his father's legacy, as usual.

Jim just sort of snapped. Completely did not give a shit about the whole 'captain in the fleet' and 'member of the board' thing, because he knew damn well he'd be getting expelled in short order, so who gave a fuck? He gave it to Pike with all four barrels. Pike yelled back and, for a few minutes there, Jim was wondering if they were going to actually come to blows.

Then right in the middle of the fight, Pike suddenly shut up, and gave Jim the weirdest look he'd ever been subjected to up to that point. It cut the wind out of Jim's sails enough that he stopped bellowing, mostly in confusion. Then Pike apologized; which marked the first time anyone had ever apologized for the George Kirk shit. Jim gave Pike a dumbfounded stare for a minute. Pike took advantage of his shock to send him packing.

It didn't fix things completely, of course. Especially not right away. Jim did start to slow down with the antics. Pike in turn started to step up, running interference with the worst of the 'George' offenders. He also completely shut up about George himself, and never actually mentioned the man again except when they were in public and it was expected.

Jim started to find his feet after that, to enjoy the Academy and thrive under the challenges thrown his way. He also started to like Pike, much to his own surprise, and continued to spend a good deal of time in the man's office, though for more pleasant purposes than the first three months.

As he'd predicted, though that had been a joke at the time, Jim was well on his way to completing the four-year program a year early when he had to face the Kobayashi Maru. He'd heard about the test, of course, and had been pre-disposed to despise it. Actually taking the test pissed him off to levels he hadn't felt since Kodos because the test was sadistic and defeatist. All it did was teach people to give up when the going got rough, and Kirk had never, would never, be able to do that.

The test offended him so much he set out to win the unwinnable, for a given value of win. He was completely aware that someone, somewhere, was going to throw a temper tantrum about what he was planning to do. That said, someone had to slap those assholes in the face with the fact that the Kobayashi Maru scenario was probably nine-tenths of what was wrong with Starfleet as a whole. It taught cowardice, diffidence, and to never bother to think outside the box. It taught people that they were already dead, so why bother fighting. What the cadets needed to be taught was courage, a refusal to call it quits, and adaptability in the face of the unknown and unpredictable.

He wasn't quite prepared, though, for a sarcastic, vindictive, merciless Vulcan on a mission to utterly destroy him on a personal level, rather than acquiesce to a debate on the merits of the scenario. It sort of made Jim grateful that all evidence that he knew Tarsus IV existed, never mind had been there for the slaughter, had been erased from his records. He was fairly sure Spock would have tried to work that in there somewhere in his efforts to discredit Jim if he'd known. If Spock had done that, Starfleet would have been minus a Vulcan officer. Jim would not have reacted well to Spock tearing into him over that.

Jim honestly hadn't expected Bones to break the rules and get him aboard the Enterprise. He'd actually been willing to stay, despite the fact it was clear some sort of serious shit was going down. Vulcans just did not start screaming for help on a whim. He had not been grateful to Bones, because the bastard's chosen method of getting him aboard fucking sucked.

Then, half out of his mind with drugs and reactions to them, he heard 'lightning storm in space' and it was like someone flipped a switch in his brain. All he could think of was getting to the bridge and stopping the ship. He knew down to the marrow of his bones that as bad as everyone thought the situation was, it was actually about ten thousand times worse.

He hated it when he was right. Though Spock actually admitting he was right was a surprise. Evidently, the bastard was able to put his pique at Kirk's flaunting of logic aside when the evidence supported Jim's assertion they were headed straight for massive trouble.

From there, it was more or less the adrenaline rush from hell, combined with repeatedly getting his ass kicked as he discovered just how inadequate his combat training was. He repeatedly made a mental note to bitch at his instructors if he lived through that mess. Someone, somewhere, should have come up with something that helped a human deal with someone three times stronger and a whole hell of a lot more durable than a human was.

The look on Spock's face when he beamed back aboard the Enterprise with his father and some of the Vulcan Elders, hand outstretched, would stay with Jim a long, long time. He knew that look. Like hell did he have the first idea of what to say to the guy.

Then Spock lost his mind and decided a conference was the best way to deal with Nero, who was on his way to destroy Earth. Kirk couldn't even begin to find the logic there, and made it really damn clear he was not ok with Spock's idea. That got him thrown off the bridge. Unfortunately, Jim had never lost his tendency to react violently when grabbed by someone unexpectedly, especially when he was running on adrenaline. He started whaling on the security team almost instinctively and then his world went dark so fast and unexpectedly he couldn't even begin to resist it.

He woke up on Hoth. He'd watched the old science fiction movies when he was a kid, and this place was a ringer for that fictional planet. He then got chased by something that looked a lot like the creature that ate Solo's mount in that movie. Before the thing could catch up with Jim, it got the shit beat out of it by, well, Jim hadn't exactly waited around to figure out what the hell the new critter was, other than big and red. He just ran like hell. Not that it had done him all that much good. Then someone came out of nowhere and waved a blazing stick in the thing's face and it backed off. Jim, much to his surprise, found himself face to face with a positively ancient-looking Vulcan. Who gave him a very odd look before calling Jim by his full name.

The next thirty minutes or so were the most fucked-up shit he had ever experienced, which said something. The old guy had no fucking clue. At all. Even when Jim asked about his dad, the old guy still didn't get that Jim was not anything like the James T. Kirk the old guy had known. But for once, Jim cut someone with preconceived notions of who he ought to be some slack. The old guy has had a fucking horrible couple of days. It was a miracle the old guy was sane. Jim could deal with him thinking he was identical to 'his' James Kirk until the guy got his legs back under him.

He and Scotty headed back for the Enterprise with a thin-ass excuse for a plan. Jim was nowhere near prepared for Spock when he set out to make him reveal his compromised status. As bad as getting beaten by the Romulans on the drill had been, this was worse. Jim was pretty damn sure that Spock wasn't holding back. The Romulans had been contemptuous of Human strength and fighting ability, and had put forth what they thought was enough effort to kick Jim and Sulu off the drill. Spock was in a blind rage.

The hits came insanely hard and brutally fast. Jim was barely able to fend off the worst of them, lashing out instinctively under the assault despite not actually wanting to beat Spock into the ground. Then Spock really managed to nail him and he was on his back. Spock was on him in a second, trying to choke the shit out of him. Jim thought he was done for when the pressure abruptly eased. It actually eased before someone (Spock's dad, he found out later) called Spock's name. Spock didn't stop choking him, but between one moment and the next, he stopped trying to actively kill Jim. Then his dad yelled and Spock turned him loose and declared himself unfit to command and walked off, leaving a seriously confused Jim in his wake.

The confusion didn't lessen in the least when Spock came back and volunteered to go beat the hell out of the bad guys and steal their toys. Jim, not entirely convinced Spock wasn't going to treat it like a suicide mission, elected himself to go along in some dim hope that it'd keep Spock from doing something stupid.

Despite how bad things were, he had to fight to keep from cracking up when Uhura came in and kissed the shit out of Spock, and he said her name. When Kirk asked to confirm, Spock was quick to claim neutral ground. Jim had known Uhura was going out with someone, but she'd been keeping it quiet, and now he knew why. It wasn't against the rules to date an instructor, but people did still get dirty looks and suspicion tossed their way regarding their grades. It was also very clear that Jim had come up in conversation at some point. Spock's rapid backpedal when Jim commented on Uhura's first name was a dead giveaway. That was, after all, Jim and Uhura's game. Bones knew about it, but he was the only one Jim had told, and Jim was fairly sure Uhura had been as tight-lipped.

The first time he got a hint that something weird was going on was when they transported to the Narada and got dropped into the middle of a shit-ton of Romulans. For two guys who had been doing their damndest to either piss each other off or kill each other, he and Spock were insanely in synch so fast it made his head spin. Hell, he hadn't even had to give voice to 'go interrogate that guy'. Just the fact that he'd switched to stun on his phaser was enough for Spock to figure it out. It hadn't been one-way either. When he thought about it later, Jim was fairly sure he had been picking something up from Spock too. He'd been following the bastard and shooting at shit that he hadn't been able to see but was somehow aware of. It didn't stop there, either. When they got back to the ship, they were walking in synch and standing shoulder-to-shoulder like they'd done it every day of their lives.

Jim didn't really have much time to contemplate the mystery at that point, though. Roughly ten minutes after they blew clear of the Narada's final black hole, the adrenaline rush Jim had been riding since the whole mess started finally drained out of him. Less than a minute after that, he blacked out from the pain. He woke up almost a day later in Sickbay to an epically pissed and ranting Bones, who had Spock cornered and was brandishing a hypo at him, thoroughly pissed off at all the damage Jim had taken and blaming Spock for it.