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Disclaimer: The rights to Star Trek belong to Gene Roddenberry, and NuTrek belongs to J.J. Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman.

A/N: A big thanks goes to my beta, Pirate College Graduate, for doing a fantastic job catching my errors. I love ya, girl! Now, back to the Guardian…

.~.

Ch. 5: Back In Time

Kirk and Spock glanced at each other in confusion. The Guardian of Forever? What did that mean? Would this Guardian cause them any harm? Kirk was secretly pleased that the Vulcan didn’t know anything more about this strange metallic structure than he did.

“Are you machine or being?” Giotto inquired, voicing a question that had been on everyone’s minds.

“I am neither machine or entity; I am both,” boomed the Guardian.

“What is your purpose, Guardian?” Giotto continued his interrogation.

“I regulate the flow of time. Past, present, and future has little meaning for me,” was the response.

Spock’s eyebrows flew up to his forehead. On Vulcan, there was a myth of such a thing, of a sentinel of time, but he had never actually considered that the story might be true.

“I believe the Guardian is some type of time portal. A gateway to other times and dimensions,” Spock elaborated for everyone’s benefit. Kirk stared at Spock in amazement. How had the Vulcan known? Kirk himself had been coming to that conclusion on his own, but the Vulcan beat him to it.

“Behold, a gateway to your own past.”

The Guardian’s resounding voice captured everyone’s attention. Kirk, Spock, Giotto, and his minions all watched, enraptured as fog materialized in the inner circle of the structure. When the fog cleared, images flashed by, depicting Earth’s past. To Kirk, it seemed they were watching old holovids depicting Earth’s history. He recognized the prehistoric times, the time of Christ, the crusades, the European conquest of America, and several of the wars that followed.

“Guardian, when you get to our time, can you slow your pace a bit?” Giotto asked.

“Certainly, if that is what you wish.” Kirk and Spock watched, fascinated as the first man on Earth’s moon was shown, followed by a period marked by terrorism that eventually led to the Eugenics wars. By the time the 23rd century arrived, the holovid’s pace slowed considerably.

“Guardian, can you pinpoint the time of the attack on the Kelvin?”

“Ah, an important event in Federation history,” the Guardian acknowledged. “Shall I take you back a week prior to the disaster?”

“Yes!” cried Cupcake, almost salivating over the opportunity to change history and save all those aboard the Kelvin.

“No!” Kirk yelled, lunging for Giotto and dragging Spock along with him. But the guards were easily able to hold them back. “You can’t do this. It’s wrong! You could really screw up history, cause you never know what sort of outcomes saving those people could have.”

“I too agree with Cadet Kirk’s logic,” Spock chimed in. “You have no way of knowing the sorts of consequences that may come as a result of your irresponsible actions.”

“Sorry,” Cupcake sneered at them. “I didn’t come all this way to chicken out at the last second.” The security cadet watched as the images slowed to a crawl.

“So long, suckers!” Giotto taunted them before jumping through the gateway, supposedly landing twenty-three years back in time.

Kirk shook his head. “That’s just great,” he remarked.

The images had started up again, returning to prehistoric times. It seemed the Guardian was reluctant to show them their future as it would’ve happened before they tampered with time.

“I detect the use of the human technique known as sarcasm,” said Spock.

“You think?” was Kirk’s snappy remark. “He didn’t even have the decency to remove our binders!”

“What do we do now?” one of Giotto’s goons asked his neighbor.

“I don’t know. Wait for him to come back?” His companion replied, uncertain.

“Maybe we should call Recktenwald back on the ship,” a third minion suggested.

“Yeah, let’s call him. Maybe he’ll know what to do,” said the first man. He pulled out his communicator. “Johansson to Recktenwald. Come in, Recktenwald!” All he received in response was static.

“That’s weird, he’s not answering.” Johansson frowned.

“Your ship no longer exists,” the Guardian informed them. “The flow of history has changed, therefore your ship never journeyed here.”

“Whaaaat?” Johansson cried. “How is that even possible?” Kirk and Spock exchanged another look. Just how stupid was this guy?

“Cupcake screwed up,” Kirk explained. “Somehow, he must’ve saved everyone on the Kelvin. He prevented events that were supposed to happen. My father never sacrificed himself to save the shuttles, therefore the Narada was never damaged. Nero must still be out there! I have to stop him, Spock,” he hissed, determined now.

“Cadet Kirk, you are allowing your emotions to overtake your sense of logic,” Spock injected, his visage as serene as ever. “You must consider the possible consequences of your actions. If your judgment is not sound, we could be marooned here on this world for the rest of our lives.” Spock did have a point, but Kirk would never admit it. At least not outloud…

“Guardian, if we are somehow able to put things right, what happens then?” Kirk asked.

“It will be as if your journey through time has never happened.”

Jim nodded. “I’m going back to stop him,” he announced to the crowd.

“I am uncertain if that course of action would be advisable,” Spock warned. “You could damage the space-time continuum even further.”

“That’s true,” Kirk agreed. “But I have to try. Otherwise, we won’t ever get off this rock.” Spock begrudgingly admitted that he had point there.

“Very well,” sighed the Vulcan. “But I must insist that I come with you.”

“I can’t let you do that, Commander Spock,” Kirk said gravely. “I got us into this mess, and I’ll get us out of it.”

“Might I remind you that you will be all alone, isolated in a time that is before your own with no one who understands your predicament?”

“So?” Kirk snapped. But Spock knew he had touched a nerve. By playing on the common human fear or being alone, he had won Kirk over. He had no idea that the fear of rejection and isolation had been constant companions for Jim Kirk. “Fine, I’ll bring you along,” he relented.

“I am glad you are not averse to my tagging along,” said Spock. “After all, you would not have had a choice, as we are still bound together.” The Vulcan jiggled their arms for emphasis. Kirk glared at him.

“Why you sneaky little Vulcan! Why bother convincing me if I never had a choice?”

“Because I did not want you to resent bringing me along. I would rather you appreciate that I could be of some value on this mission. Perhaps you could even enjoy my company.” Kirk had the distinct feeling that Spock was making fun of him.

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” The cadet turned to Giotto’s security force and announced. “Spock and I are going back in time to put things right. You guys just sit tight while we’re gone.” Giotto’s cronies just looked at each other and shrugged.

“Guardian, could you please make sure we arrive in time before Giotto?” Kirk requested. “We have to stop him from committing whatever deed he did to change history.”

“I will grant your request,” the Guardian boomed. The holovid slowed to the time just before the Kelvin attack, the images just barely moving.

“We must go now,” Spock insisted. Moving purely on instinct, Jim immediately jumped through the portal, in synchrony with Spock. He wasn’t sure why, but he trusted the Vulcan implicitly, at least about scientific matters such as this.

They fell out of the portal onto a cushion of green grass, hidden from public view behind a tall, modern-style building. The temperature was pleasantly warm, the breeze was soothing, and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day on Earth, and the time travelers were thankful they had survived the journey in one piece.

“Oompf,” Kirk grunted as he disentangled himself from the Vulcan, whose eyes were closed. As he opened them, Spock’s vision swam; he hadn’t taken to time travel at all. He slowly sat up next to Kirk. Unfortunately, time travel hadn’t eliminated the binders that held them together. But Spock was starting not to mind so much…

“What is our location?” The Vulcan asked as he waited for his vision to clear.

“We’re at the academy!” Kirk crowed. “Look, there’s Zephram Cochrane Hall, the main auditorium, the clock tower, and the library.”

When Spock’s blurred vision righted itself, he saw that they were indeed on Starfleet’s campus.

“We are fortunate the Guardian allowed us to materialize here,” said Spock.

Kirk nodded absently as he scanned the quad for something. “But where’s my dorm?” he whined. “Where is Robau Hall?”

“It was not built until 2245,” Spock informed him.

“Must you always prove that you know everything?” Kirk griped. Spock raised an eyebrow.

“On the contrary, I do not know everything. It is impossible for one being to-”

“Alright, alright!” Jim interrupted, effectively cutting him off. “Okay, the first thing we need to do is find out what the date is.”

“I disagree,” Spock countered. “First, I must find a way to disguise my ears. I will draw unwanted attention to myself, and people may question why I am here.”

“Spock, Starfleet has many cadets who are not human,” Kirk reminded him.

“While that is true, I was the first Vulcan to apply,” said Spock. Kirk hadn’t known that. What had prompted Spock to take such an action? He’d find out soon enough, he hoped.

“Can’t you just be my friend who came to campus for a visit?” Jim suggested.

“Vulcans do not make friends with humans,” Spock informed him. “My father excluded, of course.”

“Why not?” Kirk the Curious wanted to know.

“We generally find the emotional attachment distasteful,” was Spock’s careful answer.

“I’ll have to change that,” Kirk vowed. “You know, I think I’ll make it my new goal.”

Spock cocked his head.

“I was under the impression that your most pressing goal was to repair Earth’s history.”

“That too,” Kirk agreed. “I can have two challenging goals at the same time because I am just that awesome.” He grinned at the Vulcan, who looked away. “So, about that date?”

“Should we not find a way to remove the binders?” Spock asked.

“Aw, Spock, you don’t want to be bound to me for all eternity?” Kirk teased.

“I would find that most unpleasant, as we are barely acquaintances,” Spock countered, but a smidge of a blush appeared on his cheeks.

“We’ll get the binders off soon,” Kirk promised. “Don’t worry.”

“How do you know they will not mistake us for fugitives?” Spock wondered.

“I’ll just tell them that someone put these on us as a prank,” Kirk said, ever confident. “That’s worked for me before.”

“I do not doubt it,” Spock said dryly.

“Shall we?” Kirk offered, gesturing towards the campus.

Spock grimaced. He hated this situation, as any interaction with people in the past could have disastrous consequences, but they had no alternative.

“Very well, but try not to talk to too many beings.” They ventured out onto the quad, and Kirk stopped the first person they passed.

“Excuse me, ma'am.” The young woman stopped in her tracks, and turned toward Kirk, who grinned at her. “Hi. I don’t think I’ve seen you around before. What’s your name?”

“Naomi,” she replied, a little startled, but flattered that this handsome young man would ask for her name.

“Well, Naomi, I have a question for you.” Kirk smiled sweetly. “What’s today’s date?” The lieutenant gave them a suspicious look, but answered anyway.

“2234.01.”

“Thanks,” said Kirk. “It was nice to meet you, Naomi.” Pulling Spock by the arm in the direction of the library, he was barely able to contain his excitement. “This is great!” He exclaimed. “We have more or less three months left before the Kelvin incident.”

“That is rather agreeable,” Spock conceded. Kirk continued to steer them towards the library.

“I must inquire as to your reasoning for going to the library,” Spock spoke up when they were almost there. “Why are you taking us to a place that will be filled with people?”

“We need to find out when the Kelvin is scheduled to depart for her mission,” Kirk explained. “We can have access to the holonet at the library, as it’s a public one. More than likely we’ll find that we have plenty of time left, and then we can see about those binders.”

“Logical,” Spock admitted.

The library was crawling with cadets and instructors. Spock was rather overwhelmed by the constant emotions they were emitting. (This was why he preferred to study in his room, where he would not be disturbed by his human classmates.) Even though it was packed, Kirk and Spock were able to procure a computer station just as a man was leaving.

Kirk slid into the computer chair and began to work his magic. Spock sat down close to Jim in the remaining seat, his foot brushing against something small. That was when the Vulcan noticed the credit card that had fallen to the floor beneath Jim’s seat.

“Cadet Kirk, someone has left their credit card underneath your chair.” Kirk stopped what he was doing and reached beneath his seat. He grabbed the card and handed it off to Spock.

“We can see who it belongs to later,” Jim said. “We have to make sure we were granted enough time to save history.” Spock sat the card down in front of him, and helped Jim sift through the holosites until they found one that listed all of the ‘fleet starship launches.

“Look, the Kelvin doesn’t leave space dock for another two months!” Kirk crowed. “We’ve got all the time in the world.” He flashed a grin at a startled Spock. The Vulcan did not find the cadet’s smile to be knee-weakening. Not at all. But the moment was interrupted when someone approached their computer station.

“Hi. I think I left my card here,” said the human. Kirk and Spock turned around to find a thirty-something Commander before them.

“Here you go,” said Jim, handing off the card to its rightful owner. Jim’s heart was racing as he thought he recognized those blue eyes. It couldn’t be, could it? But everything fit. It was the right time, the right place… If Jim had been honest with himself, he had been wishing that he could meet his father before he was sent to his doom. Perhaps that wish was about to come true, to finally be able to talk to his father face to face, man to man. There was so much he wanted to ask him about!

The man offered his hand to Jim in gratitude, firmly who shook it.

“Thanks, I owe ya one. George Kirk.” His smile was hauntingly familiar. “Nice to meet ya.”

Jim Kirk’s jaw hit the floor.

End Ch.5

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