Disclaimer: The rights to Star Trek belong to Gene Roddenberry, and NuTrek belongs to J.J. Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman.
Ch. 7: Family Dinner
"So…what would you boys like for dinner?" Winona asked. Spock tried to answer her, but Jim beat him to it.
"I believe I would prefer the-"
"Spock and I will have salads," Jim cut in smoothly. "We can program them ourselves, so the toppings will be to our liking." The Vulcan tried to protest that the human did not have to subscribe to his eating preferences, but was silenced with Jim's warning look.
"That's so kind," Winona said, relieved. "I was just going to program spaghetti for the rest of us." Then she paused, seeing how close Jim and Spock were standing together. It had become an unconscious habit of theirs after being bound by the handcuffs. She also hadn't missed the admiring looks Jim had been shooting the Vulcan when he wasn't looking. "Wait, are you two together?" The female Starfleet instructor's eyes sparkled as she glanced from Jim to Spock.
"Why does everyone keep asking that?" Jim asked, throwing up his hands in indignation. At the same time Spock replied,
"Negative." They stared curiously at Winona, waiting for her explanation. Jim's mother blushed when she realized that she had misspoken.
"George?" She turned to her husband for help." But he just smirked.
"You're on your own, hon."
"I-I just thought, based on your close proximity…" Winona trailed off helplessly, not knowing what other hard facts to mention, as she had none. It was just a feeling she'd picked up. It was as if the two had always been finishing each other sentences, and always would. She could easily imagine Augustus lost without the Vulcan, and perhaps vice versa.
Luckily she was saved from embarrassment when Sam burst into the room, demanding that everyone put their hands up and this was a robbery. Jim was barely able to restrain his laughter, as this was a side of his brother he'd never seen before.
"Samuel, how many times have I told you not to play with your toy phaser when you're inside!" Winona exclaimed.
"Aw, c'mon Mom," the four year-old whined. "Dad lets me sometimes." Winona whirled around to glare at her husband.
"Your mother's right, Sam," said George, backing up his wife as any good spouse should.
"Especially not when we have guests," Winona continued. "You need to be on your best behavior." Sam finally noticed the two newcomers.
"Who are they?" He asked, staring curiously up at Jim. "And why does he look like Dad?" George chuckled, and introduced his guests, pointing to them in turn.
"This is your Uncle Augustus and his Vulcan companion, Spock."
"I am pleased to meet you, Samuel," said the Vulcan, ever formal. Sam just wrinkled his nose at Spock. Jim understood – the alien could sound a bit, well, alien at times. But Jim was certain that was just his exterior. Beneath the surface lurked a most fascinating and complicated being that intrigued Jim like no other had before…
"I've never seen a Vulcan before," the little boy informed Spock. "Can you really look into someone's mind?" Spock gave him a small nod.
"You are correct; all Vulcans have the capacity to perform a mind meld."
"Can you do it to me?" Sam asked, excited at the prospect. The Vulcan raised an eyebrow at the boy's bold request.
"I am afraid the meld is usually used in the most dire of situations," Spock explained. "Sometimes humans cannot handle the overwhelming sensations of the other's mind, and they come out of the meld damaged. Also, when one bonds with one's bondmate – meaning they marry for life – melds may be shared between the two if said action is desired by both parties."
Sam just stared up at Spock like he had no idea what he'd just said. Jim could sympathize – sometimes even he had a hard time understanding Spock, and he was one of the most intelligent cadets in Starfleet. Would it have killed Spock to simplify his vocabulary for a young human to understand him? Sometimes Jim thought that the Vulcan had no concept of social constructs, and this was one of them. He really could teach Spock a thing or two about humans if the Vulcan was willing.
Tired of the Vulcan's stiff attitude, the little boy moved on to his 'Uncle Augustus'. This delighted Jim, who had been given the rare opportunity to interact with young Sam while he himself was twenty years older.
"Put it here, little buddy!" Jim held out his hand, and Sam replied,
"I'm not little!" However, the boy low-fived his 'uncle' anyway.
"That's what I'm talkin' about," Jim grinned. "Did you know I'm studying to work in space, just like your dad?"
"Wow!" Sam breathed, his eyes glazing over with hero worship. "I wanna to join Starfleet too! Mom says I'd make a great science off… science off-is… science person."
"You'd be great at it, kid," Jim murmured softly, trying not to let his emotions get the best of him. Sam had hated Starfleet since he could remember. Jim was having a very difficult time thinking of this happy little kid as his brother who was, in their universe, four years older than him. This Sam didn't have any anger issues, nor did he refuse human contact. It was almost like they were two completely different people. Jim wondered if he would've been this carefree at this age if his father had been around when he'd been little…
"Uncle Augustus, empty your pockets," Sam informed him, pointing the toy phaser at Jim's stomach. "I'm robbing you, and if you want you and the weird guy to live, I'd do what I say." Spock glanced curiously at Jim, who was trying not to laugh. Thankfully, before Jim's valuables were divested, George stepped in and 'saved the day'.
"There will be no robbers in my house!" George exclaimed. "I'll just have to take care of you myself." Jim watched as the young Starfleet commander picked up his son and swung him around the room. Sam laughed his head off, clearly enjoying the special time with his father.
"George, set him down," Winona scolded, having finished setting the table. "It's time for dinner. Everyone in the kitchen! You too, Augustus and Spock." Letting Sam go first, they followed her into the room.
"Yay!" Sam cried, seating himself at the head of the table. He then looked at his mother expectantly. "What'd you fix for me tonight?"
"Chicken with vegetables," his mother informed him. Sam wrinkled his nose as the dish was placed in front of him. He used his hands to not so subtly separate the green beans, baby carrots, and diced corn from the chicken.
"No veggies," the boy insisted, displaying the stubborn Kirk trait. "I'll eat the chicken though." George tried to convince his son to eat the dreaded vegetables, but was not successful. Winona shot a pleading glance at Jim, who decided to give it a go.
"Aw, Sam, they're not that bad," said Jim, shooting his brother a wry grin as he and Spock settled themselves in across from each other. Trying to lead by example, he shoveled in a huge bite of vegetables. Spock watched as Jim made a considerable effort to conceal his less-than-favorable reaction to the food. The Vulcan was a bit impressed that Jim bothered at all. "Besides, they made me grow up tall," 'Uncle Augustus' finished after he swallowed the bite in a single gulp. He gave the boy a sympathetic smile. "I think a big boy like you could eat at least few bites."
But unfortunately for Jim, it looked like his little plan was going to backfire. Jim swallowed hard as his brother's face began to crumple, bracing himself for a tantrum. He'd forgotten Sam had used to do that, before he was old enough to simply run away to make a point.
"Nooooooooooo," Sam wailed. The boy didn't understand why his cool uncle was suddenly siding with his parents. So he jumped out of his seat and hit Jim in the balls with his toy phaser.
"Ow!" Jim moaned in surprise, clutching his crotch. The kid had startling force behind the blow he delivered. George winced in sympathy, then frowned at his son, who sunk down in his seat.
"Jim, are you alright?" Spock asked in concern.
"Fine, Spock," he replied with a wince. "Just give me a minute."
"Samuel George Kirk! Apologize right now." Winona cried. Both parents were glaring at their son. There was no answer, just a pout from the boy who had his arms crossed over his chest.
"Sam, come with me." George's voice was stern. "Right now." Sam knew better than to disobey his father, so he followed him out of the dining room. Not wanting to miss their interaction, Jim made up an excuse to leave the table.
"I'm just gonna go to the bathroom," Jim explained, scooting his chair back and getting up from his place. He felt Spock's eyes linger on the back of his neck as he left the kitchen.
Of course Jim didn't really have to go. A toy phaser couldn't have done much damage. After the initial pain of the hit, he'd felt little disturbance. What he really wanted was to listen in on the conversation between his father and his older brother. He'd always wondered how his father would discipline him and Sam if he'd been alive. Honestly, anything had to be better than Frank's beatings. He doubted his father would use physical force, but one never knew.
Jim squeezed into the bathroom under the stairs, the perfect place to listen to a conversation undetected. He knew this because he'd used that location dozens of times to spy on his family members in the past.
Back in the kitchen, Winona scratched her head, wondering why 'Augustus' hadn't asked her where the facilities were located. How had he'd known exactly where to find the bathroom? But the replicator buzzed, drawing her attention away from her mysterious guest.
Closing the door behind him, Jim was able to successfully hide before his family members knew he was there. Raised voices could be heard just outside. He sat on the toilet, content to eavesdrop on his father's disciplinary talk with his brother.
"…I'm not a little boy!" Sam whined, stamping his foot under the weight of his father's stare.
"You are acting like one! Sam, we just talked about this behavior of your two weeks ago," George scolded.
"I know," Sam mumbled. George crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" Sam shrugged.
"I just didn't wanna eat my veggies cause they're gross. I'm sorry I hit Uncle Augustus." George's stern stare didn't soften one bit.
"As a member of Starfleet and the Federation, you know that I am someone who wants peace in every part of my life. I don't like it when people use violence as a way to solve a problem," his father reminded him. "What should you do next time instead of hitting if you feel angry?"
"Use my words." The boy sighed, sticking his lower lip out in a pout. "Can I go now? Pleeease?"
"Not yet," his father answered, still looking serious. "Sam, is there something else bothering you besides the vegetables?"
"Nu-uh." The four year-old gave himself away by looking down at the floor.
"Are you sure?" Sam quailed under his father's knowing gaze.
"Are those men gonna take you away on a miss-un?" George's expression softened. Separation anxiety he could certainly understand – he hated being away from his son as much as Sam hated being away from his father.
"No!" George picked up the shaking boy and held him close. "No. Mommy and I aren't leaving for two months, remember?"
"B-but I don't want you to go," Sam wailed, clutching his father's collar with his small hands. "It's not fair! What if something bad happens to the ship?"
"We're in good hands with Mr. Robau as the captain. Do you remember him?" Sam nodded, sucking his thumb.
"You forget that I'm the best commander in all of Starfleet," George kidded. "I won't let anything bad happen." Warily, Sam gazed up at his father.
"Promise?" Jim froze. Oh no, I can't listen to this… he thought. Don't promise, Dad, don't promise!
"I promise." George sealed the deal with a handshake. Unseen, Jim hung his head and squeezed his eyes shut, barely able to restrain a sob that threatened to escape. How could his father say that to his son, when he had no control over if he lived or died in space?
"Thanks," the boy mumbled, resting his head on his beloved father's shoulder. George kissed the top of his curly head.
"You're welcome. Now are you going to behave during dinner?"
"Yeah!" Sam exclaimed, jumping down and squeezing his father tightly around his waist.
A lump had risen in Jim's throat as the mystery as to why his brother had refused to make a promise to anybody was finally revealed. So that was it. No one had ever bothered to tell him growing up, especially not his mother. His brother never fully trusted a human being again after his father's death, and this was why. Jim couldn't blame him. He hadn't believed in love after he saw the results of his father's death on his mother. Swallowing hard, Jim suppressed his old pain. He wasn't here to feel sorry for himself. He was here to learn new things about his father.
George had used kind and just methods of teaching his son a lesson. Jim noted that the contrast from Frank's demeanor couldn't be more staggering. How Jim wished he'd benefitted from growing up under the guidance of such a wise and gentle man!
Knock knock knock.
"Jim? Will you be returning to the table soon?" Jim sighed. It was Spock, coming to check on him. What did the Vulcan think he was, his mother? On the other hand, it was kind of nice having someone actually notice if he was gone or not.
"Coming, Spock," he called.
Jim went back to the table and dinner commenced without further incident.
"I have a surprise for you, George," Winona gushed as they slowly ate their spaghetti. (Well, Winona and Spock did. The Kirk men and boys sort of slurped theirs down.)
"What's 'at?" Jim's father asked, his mouth full of noodles and tomato sauce.
"I had the painters come today! They painted the room next to Sam's yellow, for when the baby comes. Since we don't know the sex yet, I thought that yellow was a practical choice."
"Great!" George grinned at her. "The room will be all fixed up for our little one when we get back. Jim frowned slightly, glancing at Spock who he was sure had arrived at the same conjecture. Surely that didn't mean…
"The only problem is, I didn't know we'd be having guests." Winona looked apologetically at Jim and Spock. "The house only has four bedrooms – the master bedroom, Sam's bedroom, and the two guest rooms. However, I can't let anyone sleep in the baby's room since the paint has yet to dry and the fumes are too strong."
Spock couldn't believe his luck! Mrs. Kirk had given him a valid reason to sleep in the same room as the person who held his affections! He would have to be extra careful that Jim didn't discover his secret, but it would be worth the extra stress. The man was growing more and more attractive the more Spock learned about him.
"That's okay, hon, they can room together." George assured her. "Right, fellas?"
"Sure," Jim said slowly, glancing over at the Vulcan.
"That would be acceptable," Spock agreed, his heart and respiration increasing by fifteen percent.
"He means to say that it would be no trouble at all," Kirk translated.
"Right." Jim's parents chuckled.
While Winona prattled on about the new baby, Spock and Jim ate in silence, each lost in their own thoughts as they imagined how the night would go.
"You know, boys, I thought I could use my authority to get you two some jobs while you're here," said George, startling them out of their fantasies.
"That would be great!" Jim beamed at his father.
"We are most willing to earn our keep," Spock agreed. They discussed possible jobs while Winona finished her spaghetti.
As soon as the last noodle disappeared on Mrs. Kirk's plate, her husband was ready to move on to the final course.
"Who wants dessert?" George asked, winking at Jim as they watched Sam's enthusiastic response.
"Meeeeeee!" The four year old cried. "I want chocolate ice cream!"
"Okay," Winona laughed. "One chocolate ice cream coming up. What does everyone else want?"
"Apple pie," George and Jim said immediately. They stared at each other in surprise, then George chuckled.
"You've got good taste, Augustus." Jim just nodded, wondering what else he had in common with his father. Fortunately, he had a whole two months to find out!
The evening flew by as he and his father devoured their apple pie and discussed different command scenarios. Spock interjected when needed, giving an alternate logical perspective. Jim was very much enjoying this opportunity to pick his father's brain.
All too soon, it was time for bed. They bid their hosts goodnight after Winona showed them to the guestroom. As they surveyed the room, there was just one problem. In the middle of the room sat a modest queen-sized bed. Spock and Kirk glanced at each other, then looked back at the bed. Jim bit his lip. It was technically his house, he really should let his guest have the bed.
"Spock, you take the bed." But the Vulcan politely declined.
"It would not be logical for me to take the bed. Vulcans need less sleep than humans."
"You're half human," Jim pointed out. "Humans need a goodnight's sleep." Spock's face remained blank.
"Irrelevant." The human rolled his eyes. He knew it was useless to argue with a Vulcan on matters such as these. But he couldn't just make Spock sleep on the floor, no matter how much the Vulcan would enjoy the logic of that solution.
"Or we could share the bed," was his tentative suggestion. Spock's eyebrows flew up to his forehead.
"I do not believe that would be appropriate." Jim scoffed at that.
"Oh come on, I won't jump you in your sleep." As much as I'd enjoy that… "We both could use the rest. It's logic, Spock." The Vulcan had to admit to himself that it would be logical for them to both receive the requisite eight hours of sleep.
"Would you keep to your side and not encroach upon my allotted space?"
"Do you snore, kick, or talk in your sleep?" Jim shrugged.
"I don't think so, not that Bones has ever told me."
"Have you ever sleepwalked before?" Jim gave the Vulcan a strange look.
"No more stipulations!" Jim cut him off. "What is this, a job interview? It's very simple - do you want to sleep with me or not?" Spock didn't have to strain his brain too hard to make that decision.
"Affirmative." They eyed each other warily. Spock was quite aware of the Terran implications of Jim's question. "You may have use of the facilities first."
"Thanks." Jim walked over to the wooden chest-of-drawers that would one day be his. He opened the first drawer and grabbed a pair of his father's Starfleet underwear that Winona had been kind enough to provide for them. Spock did not follow Kirk's firm backside with his eyes as he headed toward the adjoining bathroom.
Late that night
Spock was abruptly wakened when his bed partner began thrash about. Jim's eyes were tightly shut, and his arms flailed in all directions. The Vulcan tried to grab his arms to steady them, but Jim wrenched them away.
"No!" Jim cried, but Spock knew he wasn't referring to him. The human continued to fight an imaginary enemy.
"No, Kodos, stop it!" Jim shouted. "Leave them alone; it's me you want." Spock stilled, immediately recognizing the name. Governor Kodos had killed half the population of the colony on Tarsus IV due to a food shortage almost twelve years ago. It must be an awful nightmare Jim was having indeed, if that vile man was featured.
"James, you must wake!" Spock urged, but try as he might, he couldn't achieve success.
"Noooo! Please, don't hurt them!" Kirk fought the Vulcan with all of his might.
In a last ditch effort, Spock slapped the cadet across the face as gently as he could. It was the way that Vulcans used for coming out of healing trances – he only hoped this rather crude method would work on humans as well. Thankfully, this time, Jim was brought out of his dream.
"Sp-pock?" Jim stuttered, his azure eyes wide with terror. His racing heart began to slow as he came back to reality.
"Yes, it is I." Kirk grabbed the Vulcan's hand in a reflex, needing something or someone to cling to. Rather than flinching away, Spock used this intimate contact to send soothing thoughts to the cadet's mind. "Be calm, Jim. You are out of danger."
"Holy shit, what happened?" Jim gasped, the gleaning sweat on his forehead beginning to drip down his face.
"I have ascertained that you were experiencing what humans call a nightmare, and I brought you out of it." Jim's defenses flew up at that, finally realizing just who had seen him in such a vulnerable state.
"If you tell anyone…" he grabbed Spock by the collar, "and I mean anyone about this other than Bones, you're so dead!" Jim's words were rather threatening, but his tone was not. Spock ignored the threat. His mother too had often used empty threats as a means of intimidation when he'd been young, but they were quite useless on Vulcans. Instead of dropping it, Spock's curiosity got the better of him.
"You mentioned Kodos, the instigator of the massacre on Tarsus IV eleven point eight years ago. May I ask why?"
"Oh, that?" Kirk removed his hands from Spock's neck. "I was watching a documentary on him for class right before we left," Jim said flippantly. "It must've stuck in my mind." Spock placed a hand on Jim's clothed arm.
"You are lying," Spock gently corrected him. "I can feel it." Kirk scoffed at the claim.
"Geez, Spock, what do you want me to say? That I was actually on Tarsus IV? The odds of that are considerably-"
"Were you?" The Vulcan interrupted. Inwardly, Jim began to panic. If Spock found out his secret, his career in Starfleet would be over. He'd never be able to pass the psych screening and his secret dreams of becoming a captain of a starship would be dashed. After all he'd done to turn his life around in the past year, he'd be left with nothing. Even Captain Pike wouldn't want anything to do with him if he learned Jim had been on Tarsus…
"Don't be silly," Kirk replied but he didn't quite meet Spock's eyes. The last thing he wanted was the Vulcan's pity. It was the main reason he hadn't told anyone save for Bones about his past, and even then, Bones had figured it out on his own.
"You were," Spock whispered, his hands slowly traveling up his bedmate's arms. "I can feel the pain residing within you."
"You're mistaken," Kirk growled. "I wasn't there. Can't you just leave it?" Spock slightly shook his head.
"You cannot hide facts from me, Jim."
"Damn Vulcan touch telepathy," Kirk mumbled, turning away from the Vulcan's sympathetic eyes.
"How did you manage to survive?"
"I don't wanna talk about it," came the sullen response. Spock couldn't blame him. He remembered watching the holovid reports covering the disaster, and couldn't imagine how Jim had emerged sane from the experience. Mentally reviewing the names of the few children who survived, Spock did not find Jim's to be among them.
"Jim, my telepathy is telling me you were on Tarsus, but certain facts do not coincide. I followed that story extensively and I am certain your name was not on any of the survivors' list. Why?"
"Hmm, let me think. Maybe I didn't tell them so that I wouldn't be branded as a 'Tarsus Kid' for the rest of my life," Kirk spat back.
"But that means…" Spock trailed off, astounded by the conclusion he'd made in his mind. One child in particular had never been accounted for, the boy who had led a large group of children to safety. "You were their leader," he breathed.
"Yes." Kirk's answer was in a monotone voice.
"You saved the lives of all those children, at great expense to your own." Spock sounded incredulous, for a Vulcan. "And you were only twelve Terran years of age, still a child yourself."
"So?" Jim glared at Spock, as if challenging him to say that he'd been wrong to risk his life for a bunch of kids.
"You should not sound so nonchalant about your sacrifice! Do not worry, Jim; your secret is safe with me." Jim let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He was so relived Spock wouldn't tell Starfleet, he wanted to kiss the guy! Even more than before!
"I appreciate it. Starfleet regs and all that." Spock just now understood that Kirk had been afraid that he would inform the Starfleet board that he was unfit for duty. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"I am afraid I misjudged you," the Vulcan said slowly. "I must apologize for my oversight and-"
"Don't worry about it," Jim interrupted with a hearty yet tentative smile. "People do it all the time. I actually prefer it that way. If I play dumb for long enough, people believe I am so, even though my test scores indicate otherwise. You're more likely to be underestimated by other s if people believe you're dumb." Spock stared intently at the brash young cadet.
"Jim, have you considered taking the command track?" Kirk rolled his eyes.
"Only a Vulcan could think about school at a time like this."
"You did not answer my question," Spock chided him. "Have you-"
"Of course I've thought about it!" Kirk exploded. "I know I'd make a damn fine captain, but I never want to feel responsible for that many lives again. Thirty was enough, never mind the huge number of crewmembers a captain commands. You don't know what it's like when you have that many starving children depending on you to keep them alive! Or when one of them is captured or killed. I couldn't take that sort of emotional turmoil ever again. He whispered the last part, but Spock heard it loud and clear. "I swore off emotions after Tarsus."
"That explains much of your notorious behavior," Spock commented.
"What, that Cadet Kirk never lets anyone get close to him, that he's only good for one night stands?" Jim glared at the Vulcan.
"I did not say that," Spock said softly.
"Yeah, but you're thinking it," Kirk gave a bitter sigh. "And you know somethin'? You'd be right! I don't allow myself to get close to people. I can't trust any of them, unless they've proven their worth many times over."
"What about Dr. McCoy?" Spock prompted. "As your roommate and friend, you must trust him."
"That's different. His unique knowledge has saved my ass more times than I could count," Jim admitted. "I owe him everything. I'd give my life for that sorry bastard." Spock raised an eyebrow.
"I highly doubt that Dr. McCoy has any special knowledge that allows him to perform more efficiently than any other doctor in the fleet."
"Maybe not," Kirk conceded with a grin. "But he does have the knowledge of all of my medical history, my pills, and my allergies."
"Do your allergies run in your family?"
"Not really. Bones thinks I developed them thanks to the intense radiation exposure during the time of my birth. But that couldn't be helped. Whatever the reason, I still have allergies and boy are they a pain in the butt!"
"To what are you allergic?" The Vulcan wanted to know.
"I think the question is what am I not allergic to," Jim laughed softly. "It's a long list, Spock. You sure you wanna hear it right now?" The Vulcan's dark eyes met his.
"I believe I have the time." This was a novelty - no one had ever wanted to discuss Jim's allergies before, not even Bones.
"Okay." Kirk began to relax as he allowed himself to stretch out on the bed next to Spock. "I'm lactose intolerant. I'm allergic to cats, dogs, grass, dust, pollen, strawberries, peanuts, garlic, shrimp, and many other forms of seafood. I also have a genetic predisposition to be allergic to Retinax, not that I'll need it anytime soon…"
Jim and Spock conversed deep into the night, only stopping when Spock insisted they table their discussion in order to get the required amount of sleep. Exhausted from his nightmare, Jim fell asleep right away. Before Spock entered his own sleep cycle, the Vulcan fervently hoped that tonight's events would mark a turning point in their tentative friendship.
End Ch. 7