- Text Size +
Story Notes:

This was my Big Bang for 2010, so the entire story is complete and I'll post the chapters individually. There are fifteen altogether.

It does allude to sexual abuse and other traumatic events, but none of it is explicit. The only thing explicit, in terms of sex, is some gooey-sweet sexy times between Kirk and Spock.

Chapter 1:

The bar he's meeting Sam in looks like it’s run by Romulans. It's dark, decorated with matte metal and cracked black vinyl, dim lights hanging low over the tables. The patrons dress for hard work and hard wear in stiff leather and canvas.

Jim's sitting in the back, head down over his beer, when Sam slides into the seat across from him. He has wrinkles under his eyes that Jim doesn't remember from last time, his skin a faded gray.

“How's it going, kid?” he asks.

Jim manages to smile. “Still floating, so that's a bonus. You?” He scans his brother's face again, thinks, You look like shit.

“Fair to middlin'.”

A waitress comes by, takes Sam's order for a double shot of whatever passes for bourbon in this sector.

“Fair to middlin'. What's that mean?” Jim asks.

“It means that I'm doing better than terrible, but not quite in Buddhist Nirvana yet.”

The waitress comes back with Sam's drink. Jim glances up at her, but doesn't press just yet. He knows that whatever comes next is not going to be anything a waitress on some tin can starbase needs to hear.

“Cute,” Jim says.

Sam shrugs off his jacket and leans close to Jim. “I saw him.”

He doesn't have to say who. Jim knows. “Kodos. Where?”

“I was working this field irrigation job on Delta Ceti IV and he was there. He was one of the overseers.”

“Figures,” Jim says, curling his lip. “Did he see you?”

“No, I made sure to keep my face covered.”

Jim runs his finger along the rim of his pint glass, asks, “What now?” as though the beer will have an answer.

“You know what now, Jim.” Sam finishes his drink in two quick sips, tossing his head back and grimacing.

“We were just kids when we made that pact.”

“Don't puss out on me now. No one knows who he is. I can make it look like an accident. We'll be on and off the planet before anyone even knows the fucker is dead.”

Jim scrutinizes his brother's face, and Sam looks back at him with determination in his eyes. Jim doesn't know yet what he wants to do, but he does know one thing: Sam is going to do this whether Jim is there or not.

**

Jim's feeling flush from his last job refurbishing some salvaged ships, so he springs for a room at the base hotel, nearly salivating over the chance at a real shower and a bed that isn't nailed to the wall.

“You need a place? I can always get a double,” he tells Sam.

“Nah, I've got other options.”

Jim shrugs, not sure what that means, and not sure if he wants to know.

They embrace as they part ways, slapping each other on the back. Sam ruffles Jim's hair before sauntering off.

The hotel room Jim has isn’t much better than the sleeping cabin on the Enterprise. The bathroom has a shower with real water, though, and a toilet that doesn't flush with chemicals, so it suits him just fine. He strips down to his underwear and lies back on the bed. His body still feels the sense of motion from his ship, even though he's been at the base for hours.

After Tarsus IV, he has never been able to recover his sense of home. He drifts through the galaxy on his tiny cargo ship, half of which is made from salvage parts, doing interplanetary odd jobs, ferrying the occasional hitchhiker around, anything that will get him enough credits for fuel and food and the occasional bottle of booze.

It's the same for Sam. They see each other once, maybe twice a year. Each time Sam looks a little more worn. He's cut even looser than Jim, because he doesn't even have a ship. He just goes out and contracts for people and hitches rides, ends up wherever he ends up.

At moments when Jim is unguarded, when his ship is limping along on auto-pilot and there's nothing but him and the stars, he remembers his mother's face when he and Sam came home from the colony. They were both still gaunt and sallow, bags under their eyes and their clothes sagging on their shoulders. Neither had spoken a word since Kodos had massacred the colonists, only risked the occasional glances to one another. When he saw their parents behind the barriers at the port in Riverside, his mother's face had changed from relief and joy to fear, falling in on itself. Her face was more telling about his appearance than a mirror ever could have been.

That was over a decade ago. He hitched a ride out of Riverside a week after he graduated from high school, after his dad had made one last attempt at getting him to join Starfleet.

Dad's line was always the same: “Don't you want to see the stars?”

“There's more than one way into space.” Jim said it so much that after a while, he realized how true it was.

He's only seen his parents a handful of times in the intervening years.

Home, then, is a more foreign concept to Jim than the alien planets he visits. Even if there had been a chance sometime that he could have gone back to Iowa or joined Starfleet, the chance has been dashed by too many years adrift. Wanderlust is a habit for him now.

George Kirk's sons deserve a better life than this, he thinks, but here he is. Neither of them could just go off and join Starfleet after seeing what happened on Tarsus IV. The Federation had barely lifted a finger to investigate Kodos' alleged death. Jim could never recover from that sense of betrayal.

He heaves himself off the bed and into the shower, washing weeks of grime from his body. The sonic fresher on his ship is no substitute for a real shower, even if the water pressure makes the spray a weak drizzle and the water reclamation process gives it a faint hint of sulphur. He leans back against the stall, lets it wash over him for just another moment. Then it starts beeping, indicating he is taking up too much water.

“All right, all right,” he says, turning it off, toweling himself dry with the coarse towel outside the stall.

He slips into the bed still naked, the sheets feeling clean against his skin. He tries to relax, tries to shake the feeling of motion.

He knows that tomorrow, he will go with Sam. They will go to Delta Ceti IV together and they will kill Kodos, just as they had vowed to do as teenagers. He's always struggled to keep his head above water and in the realm of legitimacy. Jobs come up all the time for ferrying drugs or slaves or contraband all over the galaxy. Jim has a reputation among the small traders as being someone who does a job, doesn't ask a lot of questions, and that makes him an attractive prospect for people needing to move goods off the books. But he's never taken one, even though traffickers were willing to pay handsomely for discretion. Just one job, and he could take a year off, set himself up on a planet, maybe start a real business. He knows he won’t do it, though. He may not be a member of Starfleet, but he doesn't have to sink that far into the gray areas of morality. He's no criminal. And yet, Kodos is somewhere within reach, living and breathing as thousands who had trusted him turn to dust in a mass grave. So Jim will go with Sam. There was never any question or choice.

**

They ship out the next day. Sam meets Jim at the space dock, and he looks like he hasn't slept.

“Ready?”

“I've been ready for this a long time,” Sam says.

They stow their gear in the back of the ship, tuck away a couple weeks’ worth of supplies.

They don't talk the whole first day of the trip. They sit on the ship’s cramped bridge, just two seats, looking ahead, out into the blackness. Jim steals a few glances at Sam, sees his jaw clenched tight.

Into the second day, Sam finally starts talking.

“I knew something was off pretty soon after we got there.”

“Yeah?” Jim asks. He feels his neck prickle.

“Yeah. Remember we went on that field trip with the teachers and the other kids? Well, I had to go to Kodos' office to get something signed for one of the teachers. Ms. Franklin, remember her?”

Jim can't help but smile. Ms. Franklin was beautiful and sweet and he had the biggest crush on her that year. “Yeah.”

“Anyway, I went in, and no one was there. So I waited in the waiting room of the office. And after a while, someone came to the door—”

“Sam,” he says. “Don’t—”

“Shut up. Let me talk. This Andorian boy came out. And I asked him if he was okay, but he just stared straight ahead. Didn’t say a word. I never saw him again, never told anyone,” Sam says. Jim looks over to see that he’s gripping the arm rest, his hand shaking.

“He never . . . I mean, with you –”

“No. You?”

“No. I think he had a taste for more exotic fare than us farmboys,” Jim says.

“What makes you say that?”

“Just that there was this kid I'd see around sometimes. Remember, I worked at the governor's mansion that one summer? I saw this kid around, but he was like a shadow. I only glimpsed him a couple of times. Vulcan, maybe.”

Sam shakes his head. “I wish I could be surprised.”

“I know. Me too.”

**

There is nothing new to see outside the view screen. The ship moves too fast to see stars properly, and everything just races by in a blur of darkness punctuated by the occasional streak of light. Yet he cannot stop himself from staring out into it, his mind barely registering the readings on the ship’s control panel.

Sam comes in, disrupting his peace, his heavy boots echoing across the metal floor. He heaves himself into the nav chair with excessive gusto and noise before pulling a pair of nail clippers from his pocket and clipping his nails all over the floor.

“Why?” Jim asks.

“Why what?” Sam doesn’t look up.

“The nails. On the floor. No trash can. Nothing.”

“Why are you so prissy about this ship?”

“Because it’s mine,” Jim says. “You’re sweeping that up when you’re done.”

“Fine,” Sam says.

The sound of his nail clippers echoes through the bridge. Snip, snip.. When he’s done with his fingernails, he bends to untie his boots, and Jim will not stay here for that. He engages the auto-pilot and stands.

“I’ve got to . . . I don’t know . . . do something else,” he says.

Sam looks up. “What’s your problem?”

“Nothing,” Jim says through gritted teeth. “I just need a break from the bridge.”

He makes a quick exit, hears Sam as he goes down the short corridor. “Jesus. That time of the month already?”

His sleeping quarters are too close to the bridge and the kitchen is too small, so he heads for the cargo hold. It’s barely bigger than a walk-in closet and everything is covered in smudged streaks of dust, but it is a room with no one else in it.

He leans against the wall, sliding down to sit, rakes his fingers through his hair. It’s been three days in flight, and it feels like weeks. It’s the longest time he’s spent with Sam in years. They meet up for a day or two, usually.

He closes his eyes and tunes himself to the white noise of the ship. He hears the buzz of energy, the churning engines, the creaking metal as the ship hurls through space. But for a few minutes, he can pretend for those minutes that it is just him and the stars out here.

**

They arrive at the planet a couple days later. Sam's dozed off in the navigator's seat.

“Sam,” Jim says, pushing his shoulder. He wakes with a start, nearly falling. “We're here.”

“Stay in orbit—”

“Just out of the long-range sensors, I know.”

Jim taps in a few commands to the computer. He looks up Kodos – Klement, as he is called now – and his location. He looks up the projects he's working on, where he lives.

It's sunrise when they land. The computer informs them that work does not begin until nine a.m. Jim imagines the colonists down below, tucked into their beds. They have a couple of hours left before they have to get up, some of them to Kodos’ project detail, probably, and they have no idea.

Once their information has been gathered, Jim turns to Sam. “Are we really doing this?”

“I am. Are you?” Sam levels a look at him, his mouth set hard, his eyes narrowed.

“Yeah. Yes. Of course I am.”

“What the hell else are we supposed to do? Let the fucking Federation take care of it? They botched it the first time, remember?”

Jim does. Federation ships arrived just days after the massacre, and they found the burned out bunker with a body inside. It was too far gone for a conclusive analysis. Jim remembers his dad talking about it, though, talking as though it was a closed case. His blind faith in Starfleet and the Federation galled Jim as much then as it does now. He never believed it.

He's not going to let Sam do this alone. Whatever happens, it will happen to both of them.

You must login (register) to review.