OK, so a while ago, when I was writing my other multi-chapter Star Trek story, I posed the question of whether or not people would be interested in a prequel, detailing Jim's time on Tarsus. This is not it. I tried, I really did, but the story that came out is different. This is an AU… of an AU. The journey of Jim Kirk, from childhood to captaincy. Starting on Tarsus, continuing through the events of the first movie.
But fear not, the command crew will still come together, just perhaps a bit earlier than in the movie. Because no matter what reality they're in, that crew is destined to be together. And once more. THIS IS AN AU STORY! It will become more and more obvious as the story progresses.
The story is mostly done, but I'm posting now, because I've got maybe one or two more chapters to go, and I'm planning on weekly updates, every Sunday, so I wanted to get this out this week, rather than waiting until next Sunday.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek in any way, shape or form.
Jimmy took a deep breath as he stepped off the shuttle. He didn't know what would happen here, but it had to be better than what he had left behind. He still had to be careful about the way he held himself, as his bruises still ached and his chest felt uncomfortably tight, both reminders of the 'lesson' Frank had given him after the officer had brought him home and explained that his car was now nothing more than twisted metal at the bottom of a ravine.
He shielded his eyes from the bright sun, and was startled to hear his name being called, especially since the people calling for him actually sounded excited.
Jimmy snapped out of his shock and made his way over to the group of four standing off to the side.
His aunt wasted no time in grabbing him in a tight hug, which Jimmy tried his upmost not to wince at, though he also didn't make much effort to return the gesture.
The woman stepped back, smiling. "Jimmy, it is so nice to see you again! You probably don't remember me. We haven't seen each other since my sister's wedding to your stepfather. I'm Marie, and this is my husband Terry, and your cousins, Cory and Lisa." She gestured to the rest of her family, who all waved in turn.
Terry stepped forward to offer his hand for his nephew to shake, but stopped abruptly as he saw the aborted flinch the boy tried to hide.
After an awkward silence in which Jimmy tried to think of something to say, Marie just smiled and gestured for them all to head for their car, one of the typical off road vehicles used on the planet by most of those who dwelled in the outlying farm areas. Most of those who lived in the city either walked, or used much smaller and sleeker models.
Terry grabbed Jimmy's bag, and put it in the trunk of the vehicle before he got in the front and started driving. The trip passed by too slowly for Jimmy, who didn't know how to interact with people who actually seemed excited to be in the same vicinity as him. Marie tried to engage him, telling him about their home, but he just answered any questions with noncommittal grunts and careful one-shouldered shrugs.
Cory told his cousin about the school they would both be attending, seemingly not daunted by the silence emanating from the slightly older boy, while Lisa watched her brother and cousin with a grin, adding a few comments here and there with a typical childlike innocence. She was only five, after all, and didn't really understand much beyond the fact that Jimmy would be staying with them for a while.
They arrived at the small farmhouse soon enough, and Jimmy silently followed his aunt and uncle, as they gave him a small tour, showing him the kitchen, living room, downstairs study and bathroom, pointing out a few outlying buildings and promising a better tour the next day, before they led him upstairs to show him their bedroom, along with Cory's and Lisa's rooms, the upstairs bathroom, and finally, his own room.
They left him there, telling him to take his time and that dinner would be ready in a couple of hours.
Once alone in his new room with the door closed, Jimmy finally let himself relax slightly. He was in an unknown location, with a family he barely remembered. Until he knew what they wanted from him, he would maintain his distance.
Sitting on his new bed, Jimmy bit his lip, feeling his recently mended ribs twinge. Being away from Frank was definitely a relief, but at the same time, at least he knew how to act when living with his asshole of a stepfather. Marie and Terry seemed nice, but he knew better than to let his guard down.
Jimmy pulled his bag over to him and began rifling through it. He didn't bother unpacking though; he doubted these people would want him around for too long. Not once they got to know him, and figured out just how much of a freak he really was. How screwed up he was. After all, there was a reason Frank treated him the way he did, right? There was a reason Sam had left, and why his mother couldn't even spend more than five minutes in a room with him. Right?
These thoughts quickly ate up the rest of the afternoon, and soon enough, Marie was calling him down to dinner.
Jimmy listened to the chatter of the family around him, picking at his lasagna halfheartedly.
"Jimmy?" Jimmy looked up, startled, and Marie smiled softly, trying to hide her worry for her young nephew. "Is it all right? If you don't like it, that's fine, we have plenty else you can eat."
Jimmy shook his head forcefully. "I'm fine," he replied quietly.
Marie nodded, and returned to her own meal, as Terry returned to telling his family about the day in the fields, simultaneously explaining to Jimmy a little about what he did. Terry, along with most of the other men, and a few women, who lived in their outlying village, worked the fields. Marie spent most of her day at home, minding the house and looking after Lisa, who was too young to go to school just yet.
When the meal was over, Cory and Lisa were dismissed – Cory went to finish his homework while Lisa went to go play with her toys – and Marie bustled around the kitchen cleaning up; Jimmy sat there awkwardly as Terry observed. Jimmy appeared to be a very skittish child, afraid of angering him and Marie. They hadn't been told much by Marie's sister Winona, before the Starfleet officer had lost her patience and screamed at her sister to take the 'damn brat' so that her husband wouldn't have to deal with him.
Jimmy's aversion to making adults mad just screamed abuse, and Terry had to force himself not to react to that thought. No child should be afraid in his own home.
Once Marie had cleared the table, she sat back down next to her husband. "Jimmy, we'd like to set down a few ground rules, just so you can know what's expected of you. I understand that this is a big change." She waited until Jimmy nodded hesitantly, feeling her heart clench at the fear she saw poorly masked in his eyes. "First, we expect you to keep your room neat. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it can't look like the closet exploded either. All right?"
Jimmy's lips quirked slightly, but he controlled the reaction quickly as he nodded again.
Marie smiled as Terry's hand found hers under the table, and she continued. "Cory and Lisa both have chores they need to perform each week, so we'll redistribute the list, and you'll help them."
Jimmy nodded for a third time, feeling himself relax just a little bit. So far, these rules were nothing too bad. He could handle that; he had certainly done enough cleaning, with all the alcohol Frank liked to consume: someone had to pick up all the empty bottles, otherwise Frank would just be angrier.
Terry took over now, shifting in his seat, even as he drew strength from his wife's presence, knowing that they would need to act much more carefully around Jimmy than they did with their own children. "I know you're young, and you'll no doubt love to spend time outside, playing with the other kids, but we insist that you finish your homework before fun. OK?"
Jimmy almost snorted, but held it in, knowing that neither Terry nor Marie would understand. He hadn't told anyone that he had, in fact, completed the requirements to graduate high school when he was seven. Nor had he told anyone that he had completed his second college degree just a few weeks earlier. Right before his brother had decided that not even Jimmy was enough to stick around for, and had run away, precipitating Jimmy's decision to take what didn't belong to Frank, and make sure he could never pretend otherwise again. Perhaps not one of his finer moments, but he had been angry, and hurt, and upset. Why couldn't Sam have taken him with him?
Jimmy nodded his consent, and Terry smiled lightly. "We'll take you to the local school tomorrow, and get you enrolled. You're a year older than Cory, so most likely, you'll be in the sixth year of schooling. But education is different here from what it is on Earth. They divide by ability, not age. It makes for better and more constructive classes."
Jimmy nodded again, wondering what they would make of him. He wondered how many times he would hear the word 'freak' aimed at him in the coming days, and briefly entertained the idea of underperforming to divert attention from himself, but knew he would never do such a thing. His pride wouldn't allow it.
Marie and Terry dismissed him to finish settling in after making sure he had no questions, and Jimmy wasted no time in hurrying back to his new bedroom, once more relaxing once the door was shut against any intruders.
He pulled out a pair of pajamas and changed as quickly as possible, holding his breath as he exchanged the shirt he had been wearing for a sleep shirt, letting it out as he finished, feeling his ribs once more twinge in protest of the movement.
With nothing else to do, he tentatively got into the simple twin sized bed, and closed his eyes, trying to sleep. It wasn't coming quickly, however, as he was unable to stop the memories of the last few weeks, from driving the car off that cliff – including that split second where he actually considered going with it – to the officer dragging him home, to Frank's lesson on discipline, and waking up in the hospital a day later. His mother had decided that she and Frank couldn't deal with him anymore, and a few days into his hospital stay, he had been visited by a social worker who informed him that his mother had signed away guardianship to her sister, and he would be leaving for the colony on Tarsus IV as soon as he was released, in a monotone voice that told Jimmy quite clearly that the overworked and underpaid state employee probably didn't care in the slightest about him, or just what had happened to land him in the hospital in the first place.
Jimmy hadn't said more than ten words since that hospital stay. It had been a very awkward trip on the transport ship; Jimmy had easily been the youngest person on board, as the transport stopped at several planets before reaching Tarsus. He had been the only one left for the last leg, and the captain, sensing his interest, had shown Jimmy around the ship, explaining a little about how it ran, and what he did to oversee operations. Jimmy hadn't said anything to the man, but he had been grateful for the distraction from everything – the past, and the unknown future.
Somewhere in the middle of his reminiscing, Jimmy must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew, he was waking up to the sound of Marie knocking on his door.
"Jimmy, breakfast will be ready soon."
Jimmy grunted, getting up quickly, stumbling a little as a wave of dizziness hit him. He heard Marie walk down the hall to wake his cousins, and, as soon as the room settled around him, went over to his bag to pull out some clothes.
A few minutes later, dressed simply in jeans and a t-shirt, Jimmy walked downstairs and stood by the table, looking hesitant.
Marie smiled at him, placing a plate piled high with pancakes in front of the chair he was standing next to. "You don't need to wait, Jimmy. Dig in while they're hot."
Jimmy bit his lip, not meeting her friendly gaze, but he sat down and started to play with the food on his plate, cutting up the pancakes with his fork and eating a small bite every so often.
Marie, watching him as she prepared more plates for her children and husband, couldn't help but feel the same nervous worry she had felt the night before. Jimmy was a very quiet child, though she caught a glimpse of something every so often, hiding beneath the surface, which suggested he wasn't so silent by nature; more that he didn't want to say anything to bring about some sort of punishment. She was an observant woman, and had caught the flinches, the winces, and the too careful way he held himself. She knew he had been released from the hospital just before coming here, but unlike that apathetic social worker, she was more interested in why he had been there in the first place. She had only met Frank once, at Winona's wedding, but just that one meeting had been enough to set her on edge. There was something… off, about the man. He had seemed dangerous, somehow.
Terry, Cory, and Lisa joined Jimmy a minute later, and once Marie had served them, she sat down herself.
Jimmy had learned the night before that Terry was usually out at work before everyone else woke up, but he would come with his family to the school this morning, so that he and Marie could be there for Jimmy.
Once breakfast was over, Marie sent Cory upstairs to get his school things, while she cleaned Lisa up – the five year old had made a mess of herself, syrup everywhere, from her hair down to her feet.
Jimmy didn't have anything to collect for school, so he just sat at the table and waited. Several times, he took a breath and opened his mouth, but lost his nerve and just closed his mouth again.
Terry set down his coffee cup and turned to his nephew. He could see that the boy wanted to say something. "Jimmy, is everything all right?"
Jimmy bit his lip, looking down. It took him a minute to work up his courage, but finally, he spoke, still looking at the table. "Would it be all right… I mean, do you think… could you not tell anyone my last name?"
Terry, and Marie – who had finished cleaning up Lisa and joined them at the table – seemed confused.
"Why not?" Marie asked gently.
Jimmy bit his lip and shrugged. "I just don't want people to know about…"
He trailed off, but Terry thought he understood, and shifted in his seat. "All right," he agreed. "We'll use our name when enrolling you today."
Jimmy looked up briefly and nodded, the ghost of a smile making its way across his face. "Thank you," he whispered softly.
Marie stood up and rested a hand on his shoulder gently, squeezing lightly as she tried to ignore the slight flinch. "Why don't you go finish getting ready? We need to leave soon."
Jimmy nodded, and left the room, heading upstairs and leaving the adults alone.
Marie and Terry looked at each other, feeling completely out of their depth. They didn't know how to handle a boy who flinched at everything and barely spoke. They did think they could understand why he didn't want people to know he was a Kirk, though. Having the stigma of a famous father hanging over him must be hard. Even more, Marie knew that her sister had issues with her youngest, all stemming from the fact that he was born in the wake of her husband's death, and he, more than Sam, looked so much like his father.
Cory returned downstairs first, giving his parents a few minutes to explain Jimmy's request. To his credit, the eleven year old simply rolled with it, not asking any questions.
Once Jimmy returned, now sporting a light hoodie over his t-shirt, the family left for the local school, Lisa being carried by her mother, and Cory and Jimmy walking side by side in between Cory's parents.
The school was a short fifteen minute walk away, and passed quickly, with Marie, Terry, and Cory pointing anything of interest out to Jimmy, and naming families that lived in various houses. Cory was happy to point out some of his friends' homes, excited to introduce them to his cousin.
Cory waved goodbye as he went to his classroom, and Marie and Terry led Jimmy to the Administration office.
Terry took the lead, and soon enough, Jimmy was being tested by the school to determine what level he would be placed in.
An hour later, the Principal looked across his desk at the young boy, and his guardians. "Mr. and Mrs. Spaulding, it is a pleasure to see you again." He then smiled at the new face in his office. "Mr. Spaulding, we haven't been introduced yet. I'm Jeremy Winters, the Principal here." Jimmy nodded once, not saying anything. Undaunted, Mr. Winters continued. "I wanted to speak with you all a bit about James' test scores."
Mr. Winters broke off at the quiet interruption from his newest student, before he continued, nodding his agreement. "Jimmy, your test scores are off the charts. What level were you at in your old school?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Didn't really see the point of going," he hedged quietly, not meeting anyone's gaze. "Not like I ever learned anything new." He probably should have told them that he had already completed high school, but he figured he would get enough stares already, no need to draw more attention to himself.
Mr. Winters paused for a moment, before he nodded. "Well, here, we place students by ability, rather than age. I think we shouldn't have a problem putting you in the highest group. There's another boy there about your age, so you'll have some company."
Jimmy perked up a little, hearing that he wouldn't automatically be the youngest in the class.
Mr. Winters then proceeded to have Marie and Terry sign a few forms indicating their consent at Jimmy's placement, and a few other necessities. "Now, we require each student to take two electives. We have a few options, including languages, art, music, and physical fitness, which is considered an elective after the tenth year of schooling."
Jimmy thought about it for a few minutes, before he decided on Art and a language.
Mr. Winters nodded, making a few notes on the PADD in front of him. "We offer several options for languages. Unfortunately, it's not as diverse as we would like, but we're restricted to the teachers we have available. The choices are Andorian or Tellarite."
Jimmy chose Andorian, so after Mr. Winters added that to the new student's schedule, he finished up the meeting and gave the new student a tour.
Marie and Terry, asking and receiving a negative response as to whether or not Jimmy wanted them to stay, took Lisa and departed, promising to be there when school let out for the day.
Mr. Winters was very eager to show his new student around. James Spaulding was brilliant, as his tests showed, and Jeremy loved meeting those kinds of kids. Their school was much more progressive than those on Earth, something that appealed to many. Rather than grouping based on age, they wanted students who were at the same level of learning to be grouped together. Jeremy felt that it made for a better learning environment. If at any point during their schooling, a child was deemed to be moving more slowly or quickly than their fellow classmates, he or she would be moved to the appropriate level.
He showed Jimmy the lunchroom, the outdoor seating area, the playground, and a few other communal rooms, such as the gymnasium and the music room, before he took Jimmy to his scheduled class for the current period, and introduced him to the teacher – Mrs. Greer – and the other students. Most were seventeen or eighteen, though there were one or two a few years younger.
Mrs. Greer immediately sat Jimmy down next to another kid around his age, smiling. "Jimmy, this is Tom. If you have any questions about anything, I'm sure he'll be happy to help you."
Jimmy nodded, taking a seat and listening as Mrs. Greer went back to her lecture. This appeared to be a History class, and Jimmy consulted the schedule given to him by the Principal. They were discussing Federation History at the moment, First Contact with the Vulcans to be exact. Nothing new to Jimmy, but he was well practiced at looking like he was paying attention, so he continued to study his schedule. They had Mathematics next, followed by English Literature, Physics and Art. Tomorrow he had different classes, and then the day after, it was the same schedule as today.
The class passed by relatively quickly, and despite already knowing the subject, Jimmy found himself interested.
Tom immediately introduced himself properly as soon as the bell rang, packing up and leading Jimmy towards the math classroom, talking a mile a minute as they walked, excited to have someone his age in the same level as him.
They reached the room with several minutes to spare, so the two twelve year olds kept talking. Well, Tom did most of the talking, but Jimmy answered any questions he postured, keeping his responses as concise as possible.
Jimmy's first day passed by uneventfully. He was surprised that none of the older students held any resentment for him, as they had at his old school – he hadn't been in their class, but that hadn't stopped them from making fun of the freaky seven-year-old genius. It had been all those remarks and bullying that had precipitated Jimmy's decision to test out of high school secretly.
He asked Tom about the strange behavior as they walked outside together at the end of the school day.
Tom shrugged. "The teachers are pretty good at spotting that type of behavior quick. And honestly, we're a pretty close-knit community. Most of the kids in the outlying farms go to school here; there's another school in the city, so we don't interact much with those kids. But out here, most of our parents work together on the farms, so we all know each other. There have been a couple incidents over the years, but nothing too bad." He looked over at Jimmy, concerned. "If someone does say or do something, tell Mr. Winters or a teacher, and they'll deal with it immediately."
Jimmy nodded, before saying goodbye and going over to join his cousin, who was standing with Marie, Terry, and Lisa.
The walk home involved much questioning on Jimmy's first day, with Jimmy using more words than he had since his arrival on planet, though it wasn't a lot, by any stretch.
"What's your favorite subject?" Marie asked curiously, wanting to draw her nephew into conversation.
Jimmy bit his lip. "Math and science," he replied, keeping his eyes on the ground ahead of him.
Marie smiled. "That's great. Why do you enjoy them so much?"
Jimmy shrugged. "It's consistent. It makes sense. Two plus two is always going to equal four."
Marie raised an eyebrow. "That's very philosophical."
Jimmy seemed embarrassed now, and they continued the walk home in silence.
The next week passed by easily, and Jimmy was amazed that, not only was he making friends and actually fitting in amongst the other kids, but also that people actually seemed to like him. Tom had become a fast friend, always greeting him with a smile, chattering incessantly about everything that Jimmy had missed since they had parted the day before. It might have annoyed Jimmy, had he not known that his new friend honestly wanted to include him in his life. As it turned out, Tom's parents worked in the same section as Terry in the fields, and Marie and Terry both spoke fondly of the Leightons. They were happy that Jimmy was making friends, and Tom was a good boy, even if they didn't know him that well – he might have been around the same age as Cory, but he was several years ahead of their son in school, so there wasn't much interaction.
The teachers quickly learned that Jimmy Spaulding really didn't need much schooling, so they tended to leave him alone during class. More than one teacher wondered if there was really any point in the kid actually going to school at all.
After a few days, Marie and Terry felt secure enough to let Jimmy and Cory walk to and from school alone – it wasn't something they had considered when it was just Cory, but with two of them, they felt better, especially once Jimmy had walked the route enough times to remember.
It was a little over a week after Jimmy had arrived on planet, when he met someone who would change his life forever. Cory was spending the afternoon with one of his friends, and Tom – who had taken to walking part way home with them, as his house was in the same general direction – had a science project to finish, that required him to stay after school. Jimmy had already finished the assignment, as usual. He never had to spend much time on homework assignments. He was especially enjoying his English Literature class – they were reading Shakespeare. He had joined them as they finished up Romeo and Juliet, and now they were working their way through Hamlet. Most of the class seemed to think there wasn't much of a point to it, considering the man had lived hundreds of years ago, and wrote in a style that nobody could really understand anymore, but Jimmy loved the action, the intrigue, and most importantly, the sense of nobility and dignity in the writing.
As he was passing a small, modest, one-story white house, he stopped suddenly, hearing what sounded like a curse, but definitely didn't sound like English.
He peered through the hedges lining the small front yard, and saw an older woman struggling to lift something that appeared to have fallen over.
Jimmy didn't hesitate as he immediately hurried over to help.
Once they had fixed what Jimmy could now see was a large barrel that had been partially filled with water, the woman straightened up, wiping some sweat off her forehead.
"Thank you, young man," she said, smiling at the boy who had helped her.
Jimmy nodded, returning the smile with a slight quirk of his lips. The woman once more picked up the hose she had apparently been using to fill the barrel when it had fallen over.
Jimmy hesitated for a moment. He had helped her out, he should probably just leave, but something was stopping him.
The woman looked up from what she was doing. "Well, don't just stand there. Bring me that bag." She nodded at a sack leaning up against the house, and Jimmy hurried to obey.
He spent the rest of the afternoon helping the old woman out; she appeared to be building a new garden, and Jimmy was kept busy spreading soil and transplanting flowers from pots to the ground.
A few hours later, the woman invited him inside for a drink. Well, it wasn't so much an invitation as an order, but Jimmy didn't mind. He was thirsty.
He downed a glass of water in record time, setting the cup on the table as he studied the woman he had spent the afternoon helping. She was older, perhaps around the age his grandparents might have been, were they still alive, or a little older. She appeared to be of Asian descent, and her eyes were sharp as she picked up his empty glass, refilling it and returning it to her young guest.
"Thanks," Jimmy said, sipping from the glass. "I'm Jimmy, by the way."
The woman nodded, smiling. "Hoshi Sato."
Jimmy paused mid-sip, his eyes widening. "No way," he breathed. "Are you the Hoshi Sato who served with Archer on the Enterprise?"
Hoshi's smile widened a little, seeing the childlike enthusiasm. She nodded. "I am," she confirmed.
Jimmy's draw dropped a little. "What was the language you were cursing with earlier?" he asked eagerly.
Hoshi chuckled a little. "Klingon," she replied.
"Can you teach me?" Jimmy inquired, almost before she finished speaking.
"Are you interested in xenolinguistics?" Hoshi asked curiously.
Jimmy tilted his head to the side. "Xenolinguistics?" he repeated, sounding out the word.
Hoshi smiled and nodded. "Xenolinguistics. Study of alien languages, morphology, phonology, syntax."
Jimmy shrugged slightly. "Maybe," he hedged. "I think languages are interesting."
Hoshi studied the boy for a moment, thinking. Finally, she nodded. "Vulcan first. If you master that, we'll see."
Jimmy grinned, nodding his agreement.
Hoshi inclined her head once, decisively. "Every day, after school. You miss one day, and we're done. Understood?"
Jimmy nodded again, looking more excited than he had since arriving on planet. "I'll be here, I promise!" he shouted as he grabbed his bag and ran out the door. "You won't be sorry!" echoed behind him as he disappeared down the street.
Hoshi watched him go, still chuckling. She had retired to Tarsus to get some peace and quiet, something she doubted she'd see much of with that kid hanging around now, but there was something about his desire to learn that spoke to her, and made her want to spend some time with him.
So, for a first chapter, how'd I do? Please let me know what you think!