Chapter One: Moving Day
Jim Kirk looked around his quarters for the very last time. They were bare, completely stripped, completely impersonal. There was no longer any evidence that he had occupied them for 1,237 Standard days. They were ready for the next occupant, a Captain Matt Decker. Jim Kirk privately hoped Decker would have better fortune than he had enjoyed. Jim picked up the small satchel that contained a few personal items and turned to leave, carefully keeping his eyes away from the door that connected to the quarters next to his. There was silence on the other side of that door, but Jim knew someone was there. He knew that someone was listening. His lips thinned.
I’m going, he thought. You’ve won.
Jim turned on his heel and walked out the door, which closed behind him. As soon as the quiet ‘whoosh’ announced his departure, the connecting door slid open. A dark figure slipped into Jim’s bare quarters and stood there for a long time.
It is a myth that Vulcans cannot cry.
Kirk made his way through the corridors to the Main Transporter Room. It was late, mercifully, well into Gamma shift, so there were few crew members around. That suited Jim fine. He’d already said ‘good-bye’ to the few people who had been loyal to him. The rest could go to Hell. He didn’t owe them an explanation. He didn’t owe anyone anything. All his life, Jim Kirk had paid for everything he’d possessed—paid in effort and thought, in brilliant strategies and when all else failed, in blood. But he’d never paid with his soul, not until now. He only hoped that God or the Devil or Starfleet Command—all of whom might be the same damned thing, for all he knew—were happy with the price he’d paid, were content with what he’d laid on the table, because it was the last goddamned coin he had to offer. Jim stalked through the halls like a great tawny cat, and those few crew members who were about scrambled to get out of his way. As was true of underlings everywhere, they didn’t know exactly what had happened; the ship’s grapevine had been heavy with juicy morsels, but not all of them could possibly be accurate. But whatever had hit the fans, the stray, anonymous Gamma shift ensign or yeoman didn’t want to be in the path of the spray.
Jim walked into the Transporter Room, not surprised to see Montgomery Scott behind the controls. The grim lines of Jim’s face softened, just the slightest bit. Scotty was one of the few crewmen who had taken Jim’s side, had his back throughout this whole miserable clusterfuck, and Jim would always be grateful for that. He managed to find a faint, sour smile for the Scotsman.
“Working late, Scotty?” He tried to force a note of hearty cheer into his voice, but even to his own ears, it rang flat. Scott, however, understood.
“Aye, sir,” he said simply. “I dinna intend to let ye go wit’ nae one but a wee ensign at the controls.”
Jim nodded, unable to say one damned word for fear it would be too much, that the dam would finally break. It couldn’t, not now. Again, Scotty seemed to understand. He nodded towards the transporter platform.
“Let’s get ye down ta Starbase Two,” he said quietly. “The sooner it happens, the sooner ye can get home.”
I don’t have a home, not now. But that didn’t need to escape the dam, either. Jim simply nodded and mounted the platform. Just at that moment, the doors slid open again, and Dr. Leonard McCoy stomped in.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he asked angrily, ignoring Scotty completely, his blue eyes glaring at Jim.
Kirk stiffened. “I’m leaving, Doctor.” He spit out the title like a stone from a cherry. “You were notified. You signed off on the paperwork.”
“Jim, for fuck’s sake…” McCoy stopped short, glancing at Scotty. “Mr. Scott,” he said with formal, brittle patience, “would you give us a moment?”
“No.” Jim stepped off the platform and down onto the floor, facing Bones. “Get the Hell out of here.”
McCoy didn’t move. “I will remind you, Mr. Kirk, that you’re a civilian now.” He turned on Scott. “And I’ll remind you, Lieutenant Commander, that I outrank you. Now give us five minutes alone.”
Scott didn’t budge, the granite chin thrusting forward. “I dinna think ye want ta be makin’ threats, ye…”
“Scotty,” Jim said softly, the tone of command still present, “it’s okay.” His gaze, cold as freezing iron, swung back to McCoy. “Five minutes, Scotty,” he said calmly. “Not one second more.”
Scott nodded. “Aye, sir.” He gave McCoy a look that burned in contrast to Jim’s cold stare. “I’ll be timing ye, Doctor.” He stalked out, leaving Jim and his one-time best friend alone together.
“Very well, Commander Doctor sir,” Jim said sarcastically, “what can I do for you, sir?”
Bones’ expression softened. “Jim,” he said quietly, reaching out a tentative hand, “it doesn’t have to be like this.” Jim stepped back, avoiding McCoy’s touch as he would an acid drip.
“Oh, really?” The scorn in Kirk’s voice barely covered the pain. “What do you suggest? You want me to call Starfleet and tell them I’ve changed my mind? ‘Oh, please, Admiral Nogura, please give me back my commission. I’ll stay. I’ll be a good boy.’ Is that really what you think I should do?”
“Yes, Goddamnit!” McCoy snapped. He took a deep breath and tried again. “Jim, you can’t just resign your commission and walk away. You can’t turn your back on…” his mouth snapped shut, knowing even as he spoke that these were the wrong words. In another moment, his head was spinning as Jim Kirk, civilian, backhanded him right across the jaw.
“Don’t you ever, ever speak to me about him.” Jim’s whisper was all the more terrifying for being totally flat. “He made his choice; you made yours; the crew certainly made theirs. It’s done. He’s your problem. If you’re so worried about him, you go suck his dick.” Kirk’s lips peeled back from his teeth in a mirthless grin. “I give him to you, McCoy—my farewell gift to both of you. You’d make a better Vulcan’s bitch than I ever did, Leonard.”
McCoy stiffened. “You utter prick,” he whispered. He took one step back. “Fine,” he said quietly, his voice as flat as Jim’s. “Go back to Earth. Go to Hell. It doesn’t matter, not now.” He turned on his heel and left. In seconds, Scotty, who had obviously been waiting in the hall, walked back through the door. Jim turned, feeling a million years old, and climbed on the platform again. He looked at his last friend and nodded.
“Good-bye, Scotty,” he said quietly. “Take care of…” Jim’s lips clamped shut over the words as he realized he was about to say ‘my ship.’
Scott merely nodded. “Aye, sir. ‘Twill always be yers.”
Jim nodded, biting down on his lower lip until he could just feel the first layer of skin break.
The sparkle filled the chamber and faded. Jim Kirk was gone.