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Trigger Warnings: domestic abuse, non-explicit underage sexuality, drug use, mentions of alcoholism, language, mild descriptions of violence.

 

Five and One: Take Care of Me

            One: Sam

            Sometimes, well- often, when Sam was a little too snarky and when Frank was a little too drunk, Jim would hide in the little closet in his bedroom and wait for the yelling and smashing to subside and give way to Sam’s heavy footfalls up the wooden stairs of the old white farmhouse in “the-middle-of-nowhere”, Iowa, and go into his bedroom across from Jim’s, slamming the door behind him.

            Jim would huddle in the closet for ten minutes more, before silently creeping out, assured by the following silence that Frank was asleep (or passed out drunk) on the sofa in the parlor. When an hour passed, Jim would rise from the floor at the foot of his bed (he never allowed his back to rest against the floorboard of the bed, relaxing and letting his guard down was a luxury he couldn’t afford himself. Occasionally, Frank would wake up a few minutes later and seek revenge for whatever new mark graced his body, and seven-year-old Jim was too small to fight back, making him the perfect target.) and would creep across the dark hallway to Sam’s bedroom.

            Jim looked over Sam’s face as the older boy slept. He had a busted lip and bruises on his chin and arm. His knuckles were bloody too. He bit his lip and pushed back tears; big boys didn’t cry.

            Jim retrieved the first aid kit from under the sink in their shared bathroom and set to work, taking care of his knuckles first, and then took care of his busted lip. He tended to his brother with a soft care that was beyond his years. Turning he crept out of the rom, leaving the door cracked so that the catch wouldn’t stick and lock him out.

            He slipped down the stairs, skipping the second and fifth step down. He looked over Frank (who was asleep on the sofa, as expected) and frowned. Not taking the time to think about it, he pinched his nose to keep the stench of stale beer that seemed to follow the man around.

            He went into the kitchen and opened one of the few appliances that still work entirely: the freezer. He filled a few strips of a shirt that he’d outgrown during his last growth spurt with ice, covering it with a few more strips of the shirt afterward.

            He laid the ice packet on Sam’s face. It was cool enough to offer relief to the bruised flesh, but still muffled enough not to cause any harm.

            “Sleep tight.” He whispered, quietly shutting the door behind him and crossed the hallway to his own awaiting bed, a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

           

            The next morning, Jim awoke to Frank screaming about something, which, in itself wasn’t unusual, but the lack of Sam’s voice was.

            “The little bastard left!” Something in Frank’s voice suggested that Sam wasn’t just gone for the day, but far longer. Jim couldn’t fathom his brother being gone for longer than a day.

 

            It wasn’t until Frank turned his drunken anger at Winona on him that Jim began to realize what Sam’s disappearance would mean.

 

 

            Two: Tarsus IV

            Jim grit his teeth and pictured the cosmos, trying not to think about what the guards were doing to him- what they were using him as. The only thing that made it bearable was the fact that he’d be getting good food and medicine for the kids he was caring for, though he was just a kid himself, barely fourteen. Or was he fifteen? He didn’t know; he’d long since lost track of the days.

            When he’d been sent to Tarsus IV to live with his Uncle (and far, far away from Frank) life had been amazing. His Uncle, Aunt, and cousins quickly became the family Jim had never dared dream of.

            It had been fantastic for the first few months, but six months after Jim had arrived, a strange fungus killed most of the crops and shortly after, Governor Kodos called for the sacrifice of many- and Jim’s family was among the first.

            Jim and a few of his friends managed to get away, and they managed to save a few other kids as well. There were about twenty kids in all, hiding in caves just outside of the city, and Jim was one of four who were old enough to go into the city and scavenge food, stealing from the soldiers and filching other items they needed, but so far as he knew, none of the others had been forced to resort to this.

            Three days earlier, Nicole, a little girl who had turned five shortly before, had fallen ill and he’d been forced to go into the city and look for medicine. That was what had led him here, into the hands of total strangers.

            “Take your stuff and go, pretty boy.” One of the guards leered.

            Jim grabbed the sack of pills and food sitting on the table and left to the sound of their disgusting laughter.

           

            “Thank you, Mister Jim.” A young girl with light blonde hair wheezed, pulling a fraying blanket up to her chin.

            “Yeah, thanks.” Another young man sat beside her, kissing her forehead and bidding her sweet dreams.

            Jim grimaced in what he hoped looked like a convincing smile.

            “It was no problem, Kev.”

            “Can you tell me a story, Mister Jim?” Nicole shot him a hopeful look.

            Jim wanted nothing more than to lie down and put that day out of his mind, but he forced another smile on his face.

            “Which one?” He flashed her a grin.

            “The one with the beautiful maiden and her fairy godmother.” She wheezed out.

            He petted her hair comfortingly. “Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a beautiful girl who lived in a beautiful mansion with her evil stepmother and stepsisters.” Jim launched into the timeless tale.

            He mopped her forehead with a wet rag periodically.

            Nicole shivered and Jim pulled the thin, fraying blanket up and was reminded of the nights he would take care of a battered Sam.

            He pushed the thoughts out of his head; the past wouldn’t help him –help them- stay alive.

            He dragged the cool, damp rag over her forehead one final time before turning to his section (sans blanket) and tried to fall asleep to the scattered gunfire in the distance. He remembered what his Sunday school teacher, Miss Thomas, (Winona had been adamant that despite her absence, Jim would be raised in proper Christian fashion) said about praying to God and letting him handle his troubles.

            Listening to the distant gunfire and thinking back to the disgusting guards, Jim decided that if he did exist, that any god who could leave his creatures to this, wasn’t one who deserved anyone’s reverence.

 

            Several days later, Jim found himself looking for food in the city.

            He had, so far, managed to find two small loaves of a crude bread and a bag of rice that wouldn’t feed them for more than two days.

            Looking down at his meager findings he decided to venture to one of the guard barracks and see what he could grab.

            There was a small guard post a half of a mile from him which couldn’t house more than four guards and decided that he would have the best chance of getting in and out without being detected.

            Jim found the shabby building quickly. It was a rundown brick building that Jim guessed was about as old as the colony itself. As far as he could tell from the outside, the building was small. There were four windows on the front of the building, all covered in grime, and two of which were broken in some manner or another.

            Going around to the side of the building he saw another window, unsurprisingly broken. The window was just out of his reach, but the pile of garbage beneath it looked sturdy enough to hold him.

            Jim scaled the garbage pile nimbly, strong despite the malnourishment that displayed itself proudly on his body.

            Jim had one leg through the window, when he heard voices floating down the dark hallway.

            “Yeah, something about a little camp just west of the city. They’re just kids so Governor Kodos only assigned team forty-six.” One of the guards chuckled darkly. He sounded young; older than Jim, but he couldn’t be older than twenty-five.

            Jim sat there for a moment, not processing the detrimental information. When it did sink in, he scrambled back down the garbage pile and set off for the caves, sprinting back through town, all sense of stealth discarded.

           

            When Jim reached the edge of the caves, he was nearly flattened by the scent of blood and the deafening sound of silence that was unknown in the little refugee camp.

            When Jim found the courage to round corner he was greeted with a sight that haunted his nightmares all too often (and though he didn’t know it now, would for years).

            Bodies littered the camp, blood staining the ground and the cave walls. The camp was in shambles, and parts of it were burnt. Jim could make out fourteen bodies.

            ‘Liam, Harry, Maria,’ Jim tried not to look at their faces, but part of him knew that they to deserved to be remembered, they were people too.  ‘Nicole.’           

            She looked horrified, but she lay where she had when he had left that morning, awake then, and likely awake when the guards had shown up.

            ‘She had known.’ Jim realized, anger and horror bubbling up in his chest. ‘She had known and accepted that she wouldn’t have been able to get away. And those bastards shot her. An innocent little girl, sitting there, so sick she couldn’t even move, and they shot her.

            Jim bit back the tears. He could only hope that the others had gotten away. Kevin’s body, as well as Danny’s, wasn’t among the dead, so there was a chance that they had gotten some of the kids to safety. Jim closed his eyes and rose slowly. He would go find them.

            He would have to go soon, the guards would no doubt return and do a second sweep, but that would have to wait. They deserved, like so many others that would not receive the honor, to have a proper burial. Jim set to his task, tears running down his face for the last time for many, many years.

 

           

 

Three: Winona Kirk

            Lt. Commander Winona Kirk had just finished a six month mission aboard the USS Asimov, and so she, her son, and her husband, rented a beach cabin for the weekend to celebrate.

            They arrived early Saturday morning, and at Winona’s enthusiastic suggestion, they’d set out exploring the beach.

            Jim tried not to glare every time Frank even touched Winona, but he couldn’t help it, she may not have been there for almost all of his childhood, but she was still his mother and Jim knew firsthand what a world-class asshole Frank could be, and Jim didn’t want his mother getting hurt.

            The bed in his room was likely the most comfortable bed he had ever slept in, but after an hour of tossing and turning, Jim grabbed his blanket and headed up to the roof. He picked out all of the major constellations that Sam had shown him as a kid. Ursa Major, Aries, Hercules, Perseus; they were all up there.

            He had begun to doze off when the enraged yells of Frank and Winona shook him out of it. From what Jim could make out they were yelling about Sam.

            “Don’t blame me because that damned boy of yours decided to skip town!” A single smash punctuated the sentence.

            “You could have stopped him instead of sitting on the couch you lazy fucker!” Another smash.

            “Maybe if you had been around instead of leaving the little bastards with me-” he was cut off, though by what Jim couldn’t guess.

            “You bitch!” Frank roared, and suddenly Jim Kirk knew what was happening in the little cabin.

            Jim had been too young when it had happened to Sam, and later to himself, but he wasn’t afraid anymore, and he wasn’t going to allow anyone else he loved to get hurt.

            He slid down the roof and into the window.

            When he approached the all-too familiar scene he could feel the rage burning in himself like a bonfire.

            Winona was standing in one corner, a hand over her left eye, looking nothing like the proud Starfleet officer she was. The betrayed pain in her other eye was quickly turning to anger.

            Frank took a step closer and he’d seen enough. He stormed into the room growling.

            He grabbed Frank’s left arm and used it to turn him away from Winona. “Stay away from her.”

            Frank looked into his eyes, condescension laced in his voice. “Get out of here, kid, the adults are trying to talk.”

            “Leave her alone, Frank.” Frank struggled against his grip, but Jim was stronger.

            Frank opened his mouth to say something but instead jerked suddenly out of Jim’s grip, striking Winona across the head and leaving the cabin.

            She collapsed but Jim caught her, reacting without thinking.

            He settled her onto the couch before going to retrieve a medical tricorder.

            After assuring that she was okay, he packed their bags, loading them into the back of his pickup truck. He gathered his mother in his arms and buckled her into the passenger seat.  

 

            Just after the moon had arisen, and all that he could see was the dirt road illuminated by the dull headlights, and the moon that just reflected on the edge of the dashboard of the replica 1974 vehicle (he suspected that he had inherited his father’s love of antique vehicles), when the woman in the passenger seat began to wake up.

            “Where am I?” she sat up from where he had lain her across the bench seat. “Jimmy?”

            “Yeah. I’ve got the bags in the back. I thought it would just be better to head home.” Jim didn’t want his mother or himself there when Frank returned home, likely drunk, and possibly not alone.

            “Alright.” She looked like she wanted to say something more but was withholding it. “How long?”

            “A few hours.” He glanced at her. “There’s a hypo in the back for the headache.” He commented, seeing her pained expression.

            She administered the treatment and thanked him.

            “Are you alright?” She asked.

            ‘The first time she’s cared.’ He thought bitterly.

            Biting back that thought, he replied, “Yeah, he didn’t lay a hand on me.” ‘This time.”

            “Is he…”

            “He’s back at the cabin.” Jim lied smoothly. Frank was at a beach bar somewhere getting drunker, but Winona didn’t need to know that.

            The most bitter truth may be better than the sweetest lie, but Jim had no interest in being the one who informed Winona that her husband was likely hooking up with someone randomly picked up in the beach bar in the cabin that Winona had rented for the “family” outing.

            “You didn’t- you didn’t hurt him did you?” she asked after a period of uncomfortable silence; it was the first time he’d been alone with his mother in years.

            He felt anger boil up in him again; an emotion that often accompanied his mother’s rare and very brief visits to Earth. She was back for good now, though, and Jim didn’t want to begin that by bringing up old problems.

            “No, he’s fine.” He tried to keep all the animosity out of his voice. He didn’t succeed.

            “I know that you don’t like that I care about him, but he is still my husband, and it was an accident, he didn’t mean it.” She tried to convince him, but Jim doubted her argument sounded very strong to her own ears.

            “He hit you, that’s not right. It’s unforgivable.” So much for starting off on a good foot.

            “I know, but he didn’t mean it Jimmy. He’s a good man.”

            He sighed. “Alright mom.”

            The journey continued in silence for some minutes more. It was Winona who broke it once more.

            “I know I haven’t been around all that much, Jimmy, but I do love you.” She hugged him.

            Jim put a smile on his face, it was going to be different now. He may not forgive her entirely yet, but she was going to do her best to make up for it and he’d forgive her eventually. Things were going to be different this time.

            “I love you too, mom.”

            He looked over after a few moments and saw that she was asleep. Figuring that she needed the sleep, he let her.

           

            Two mornings later, Jim awoke to the sound of a quiet house but the smell of his mother’s blueberry pancakes.

            “Morning, mom.” He greeted an empty kitchen.

            Siting on the plaid tablecloth on the dining table was a plate of the aforementioned blueberry pancakes and a letter.

            Scanning over the letter, Jim discovered that his mother had accepted a two year post on a science ship before she’d even touched the terran soil. He chuckled humorlessly to himself; he should have known better than allow himself to be fooled into believing that she was back for good.

            He dug into the pancakes, though they suddenly didn’t seem as appetizing.

           

            Several days later, Frank returned. Jim wasn’t there. He was bleeding and drunk on a table in a bar, thirty miles west of the middle of nowhere. He’d never see Jim again.

 

 

Four: Gary Mitchell

            Jim Kirk met Gary Mitchell in his second year at Starfleet Academy. They had tactical analysis together and two had become fast friends, laughing over the over-glorification of the anecdotes that Admiral Harris told of his battles against Romulans and Klingons during his time as Captain of the USS Armstrong. And he helped Jim piss off Bones, which only made Jim like him more.  

Sometime in the second semester they’d begun sleeping together. It was casual, a friends with benefits deal, filling the rare empty space between classes, Jim’s endless stacks of homework, and sleep.

Over time, he opened up to Gary, telling him about bits and pieces of his childhood and about Frank, and living in the shadow of his larger-than-life father that had given his life for his family and his crew on the day Jim was born. In turn, Gary told Jim about his childhood bullies and later (while both were half-drunk) his drug addiction.

That summer, Gary relapsed.

Jim waited in the Mess Hall for thirty minutes that night before trying his communicator.

The voice on the other end of the line wasn’t what Jim had been expecting.

“Jimmy! I feel great! Let’s party; you’re not doing anything else tonight, anyways.” Gary raced through the sentence.

“Gary? What’s going on?” Jim picked up his tray and began walking it to the recycler.

“I’m just pumped to party!” Gary all-but screamed.

“Gary, I’m on my way, just-” he sighed the words out. “just don’t do anything stupid.”

He killed the communication line and ran to Gary’s apartment.

“Gary?” he called into the apartment.

“Jimmy! I’m in here!” he followed the voice into Gary’s bedroom.

            “What’s going on, Gary?” He asked.

            Gary turned and frowned at him. “You’re not dressed.”

            “We’re not going out.” Jim said firmly.

            “Don’t be a killjoy, man!” Gary looked appropriately antagonized.

            “No, we’re not going out to party.” Jim repeated, pulling the outfit Gary was picking out from his hands.  

            “You can stay in and be a killjoy if you want to, but I’m going to party.” Gary snatched his clothes back. “I hear that Rick is having a killer rave tonight, and I plan to be there.”

            “You’re not going.” Jim stood in the doorway.

            “You’re not going to stop me.” Gary shot back.

            “Gary, just sit down.” Jim gestured for him to sit. “If you go out tonight you’ll get kicked out of the academy. Do you want that?”

            “Jim, chill, it’s just a party, nothing bad is going to happen.” Gary tried to placate him.

            “Look, Jimmy, if you want to stay in and have fun, fine, but don’t tease me, come out and say it.” Gary smirked at him lasciviously.

            Jim gritted his teeth for a moment before putting on a grin. “Sounds like a plan.”

           

            The next morning Jim awoke on the couch of Gary’s apartment to the sound of Gary sobbing in his bedroom.

            He jumped up from the couch and sprinted into the bedroom.

            Gary was lying face down on his bed, his pillow doing nothing to muffle the sound of his sobbing.

            Jim drew him into his arms and rubbed soothing circles on his back.

            “God, I’m so sorry, Jimmy. I shouldn’t have done it. I’ve been clean for eight years.” He coughed out.

            “I know Gary.” Jim held his friend.

            Gary’s breath evened after a few minutes as he settled back to sleep.

            Jim laid there with him, keeping a silent vigil over his friend.

           

            When Gary awoke the next time he had a look of resolve painted on his face.

            “I’m going to get clean.” He told Jim.

            “And I’ll be there to help you.” Jim vowed.

            Over the next few weeks, Jim taught Gary how to play chess; they talked about the spaceships they wanted to serve on, (‘I’ll be Captain of the Enterprise one day.’ He told Gary. ‘Not if I get her first.’ Gary had teased in return.); and when the school term started again, Jim helped him focus on his studies. The two would spend afternoons in the library pouring over texts, files, scientific journals, and whatever else they could get their hands on. Sometimes Pavel  Chekov or one of their other friends would join them, but most afternoons it was just the two friends   

            “Hey Jim, are we still on to watch the Star Wars series tonight?” Gary asked one evening just after midterms as they left their final shared class of the day.

            “Shit, that was today?” Jim ran his hands through his hair. “I promised Bones that I’d help him pick out a Christmas gift for Joanna.” He eyed Gary. He was fidgeting like he did on one of his ‘itchy’ days. “You could come with us if you’d like.”

            Gary glanced at him suspiciously for a moment before shaking it off as if reminding himself that it was Jim he was talking to. Definitely one of his ‘itchy’ days. “Nah, it’s alright, I’d rather avoid the malls this time of year. I’ll just go home and finish up Carper’s mandatory reading. I’ve been meaning to force myself to finish it anyways. Have fun with Leonard. Tell him I said ‘hey’.”

            Jim looked over his friend one last time and raised his eyebrows as if to say ‘are you sure?’.

            “Jimmy, I’m a grown man, I’ll be fine. It’s just a quiet evening at home.” He laughed.

            “Alright, catch you later!” Jim called, heading to his last class of the day.

 

            The next morning, Jim was worried when Gary didn’t show up for Warp design and didn’t answer his communicator.

            A bad feeling settling in the pit of his stomach, Jim skipped his interspecies protocol class and ran the entire way to Gary’s apartment, ignoring the disapproving and annoyed glares from the many cadets and instructors he nearly barreled over.

He incorrectly keyed in the familiar passcode twice before he finally was granted access.

            “Gary?” Jim burst through, checking through the apartment. “Are you in here?”

            He peered in the bathroom and jumped at the sight. Gary was lying across the toilet, his head resting on the seat.

            He kneeled down and put two fingers to his pulse point and felt for a pulse.

            He stood up numbly, disbelief and horror painted on his face.

            “Bones,” he called through the communicator, forcing himself to blink, “Gary’s apartment. Now.” His voice was quiet and even.

           

            Ten minutes later Bones raced in the door.

            “Jim? What the hell’s going on?” He stopped short when he saw his friend perched on the arm of the couch staring in the open bathroom. He turned and saw what his friend was staring at.
            A few minutes later, after checking over Gary, he quietly put an arm over Jim’s shoulder.

            “It…” the doctor seemed to forget how to speak for a moment. “Overdose.”

            Jim nodded as though he suspected it all along.

            “I’m going to have someone come for his body.” Bones moved to meet Jim’s eyes. “Are you alright?”

            Jim nodded. “I’m going to stay here. Think.” The words came out strangled, but still recognizable.

            Bones stood. “I’m going to let you have some time.” Bones guided him to Gary’s bed and sat him down at the foot of it, figuring that Jim didn’t need to see them carrying away Gary. “If you need me, call me, okay.”

            Jim just nodded.

 

 

Five: Gaila

            A few weeks after midterms in his third year, Jim awoke to a dark room and loud banging at the door.

            Jim huddled further into his comforter hoping that Bones would answer the door.

            A pair of cadet pants hit Jim in the head. “Get it, you lazy ass, I know you’re awake.”

            He got up, groaning. He shot Bones a dirty look and paused in his efforts to put on his pants long enough to pull the bottle of bourbon out of his friend’s arms.

            He stumbled (from grogginess, thank you very much, he hadn’t had a drink since the Christmas party, and even then, it was Christmas, could you blame him for having a little fun?) over to the door and palmed it open.

            The door slid open to reveal Gaila Vro, a cadet in Jim’s year.

            Not counting Bones, Gaila was Jim’s oldest friends at the academy. She was sweet and intuitive, always seeming to know when Jim needed someone. Caring, honest, intelligent, and beautiful, she was one of the best people Jim knew. Her taste in men, however, was lacking.

            She always seemed to go for the sleazebags and derelicts and always ended up hurt in the end; this time was no exception.

            The green skin around one of her chocolate brown eyes was slowly turning gold, a budding bruise that was sure to be bronze the next time she found herself looking in the mirror. There was more than this of course- two handprints on her upper arms, mascara running down her cheeks, one sleeve of her dress was torn- but Jim didn’t see this, he didn’t need to, to know what had happened.

            Jim pulled the weeping girl inside his quarters and pulled an emergency med kit out of the bathroom.

            He didn’t say anything as he tended to her quickly- only seven minutes in the next three hours were spent with the med kit. The rest of the time (the other two hours and fifty-eight minutes) he spent holding her and consoling her. Bones had woken up to the sound of her sobbing a few minutes after she’d arrived and had promptly left to give the two privacy.

            “Thank you for doing this again, Jim.” She pulled herself back from the arms that were rubbing comforting circles on her back to help calm the sobs which had long ago stopped producing water.

            “Yeah.” He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head.

            “Can I stay here, Jimmy?” she tightened her arms around him.

            He said nothing but pulled the blankets on his bed back as an invitation.

            She crawled in and he moved over to Bones’ bed, his nose wrinkling at the smell of the ruddy bourbon the doctor was so fond of.

            “Thanks again, Jimmy.” She turned over and was asleep in moments.

 

            “Gaila, are you sure about this. I’ll understand if…” He hovered over her uncertainly. It had been several months since she’d turned up to his dorm in the middle of the night. She’d begun seeing a councilor to work through her past and build up her self-esteem, and she’d been cleared by Dr. M’Benga to “get back out there” if she felt ready. 

            Jim had offered to take her on a couple of dates to build her confidence and show her how her dates should treat her. The first few went well and somehow (not that Jim was complaining) it led to this.

            “Jimmy, gods, it’s fine! If it wasn’t I wouldn’t have suggested it.” She tugged at his shirt. “Off.”

            He quickly obliged her and he flipped them so that she could remove her clothes.

            She bent down and her mouth found his again.  Jim went slow, allowing Gaila to set the pace, but Gaila wanted it hot and quick and soon Jim was flipping them again to get at a better angle.

            “Jim, I think I love you.” She said breathily, pulling back from the kiss.

            Jim was startled by the lust-fueled proclamation, but he wasn’t called a genius for nothing, so his mind raced to fill the blank space where he was supposed to respond ‘I love you too’.

            “That’s so weird.” Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the most brilliant thing he’d ever said, but it would serve. He went to capture her lips again and distract her from the awkward response, but the moment was dead.

            “Lights.” She backed him up. “Did you just say ‘that’s so weird’?”

            “Well, yeah, but…” He struggled to make up an excuse for the lame response.

            “Don’t you love me too?” She asked the question playfully, but from the look in her eyes Jim could see nothing playful about the question.

            Jim was relieved when the door slid open and her roommate waltzed into the room. Jim Kirk hadn’t told anyone that he loved them since Winona had left him for the last time, and the other times he’d said it had done nothing to increase his affection for the phrase, either, or the feeling. Everyone he’d ever loved had left him, so he tried to solve that problem by simply not loving anyone else. If he didn’t love them, they couldn’t hurt him.

Never mind the fact that he didn’t have to admit it to someone to love them. Jim couldn’t believe that though, it would break him to do so.

 

As he struggled to put his clothes back on before someone came down the hallway he quietly vowed to make things right with Gaila the next time he saw her.

 

Once the crisis with the crazy future Romulan had passed Jim decided that there was no better time to do so.

He straightened his uniform one last time and rang the buzzer.

Uhura answered it a moment later, not looking particularly happy to see him. “What?”

What worried Jim wasn’t what she said or how she looked- it was what she didn’t say. None of her usual insults, or even just the glare that always seemed to be directed at him, just a ‘what?’.

“What’s wrong? Where’s Gaila?” he asked after a moment surveying the room behind her roommate.

Uhura sighed heavily and stared at the floor for a moment, composing herself. When she finally could look at him again she sniffled and said, “She was on the Farragut. She- died” she stumbled over the word, “with the rest of the crew.”

 

 

And One: Spock

A few days after the fourth anniversary of the destruction of Vulcan, Jim got another bit of bad news: his mother was on an away mission that had gone terribly wrong (as even the simplest of away missions were liable to do) and the ship’s CMO didn’t think she’d survive the night. Of course, with the speed of non-essential communications and given how far they were from any Federation planets or stations, the message didn’t get to him until a week after it had been sent.

He’d been on the bridge when he’d read the message, and he’d quickly excused himself, leaving the conn to his First Officer, Spock.

He didn’t have to think about where he was going- his feet seemed to know exactly where he needed to be. He locked the door of the observation lounge and placed himself in front of the clear wall and watched the stars as the ship warped past them, thinking about the woman who despite all her failures, he’d loved.

He thought that he’d locked the door, but a few minutes later they opened and revealed Spock. Whether he’d gone around the system or Jim forgot to lock the door he didn’t know, but as the strong arms encircled him and drew him onto Spock’s lap, he discarded the thought.

“She’s gone.” Jim bit back tears, and quietly hated himself as he did so; he’d kept his vow this long, he wasn’t going to break it now.

“It is acceptable to cry, Jim.” Spock’s face was against the back of his neck, the words tickling his back. “She was very important to you, and to not mourn her passing would be to do a disservice to both of you.”

Hearing the logical, stoic Vulcan-who in recent months he’d begun to see past the emotionless façade of- who’s always informing them (especially Bones) of the fallacies in having emotions, telling him it’s alright to mourn the deaths of the people he loved (people, because though he’s referring to his mother, somehow, Jim knows that he’s talking about everyone that he’s lost) Jim breaks down, not crying, but sobbing in the arms of the taller man, not just for his mother, but for Gaila, and Gary, and all of his kids on Tarsus as well.

He doesn’t know how long he sits there on Spock’s lap, but when he speaks again his voice is hoarse and ragged.

“Make love to me.” He gently tells his the man who isn’t his First Officer, but his best friend and lover of seven months. The man who knows about Gaila, and Gary, and the time he drove his father’s antique car off of the cliff, and the rest of his screwed up childhood and didn’t judge him for it. The man he fell in love with.

Spock just nods and lowers him to the floor and pulls his uniform shirt over his head, kissing every inch of the newly exposed chest. The thought crosses Jim mind, but before he can move to reciprocate, Spock’s lips capture his and a firm hand is placed on his chest as if to say: ‘let me take care of you.’

Next his pants are taken off, followed by Spock’s clothes.

Spock entered him slowly, peppering kisses across his face and neck before settling back at his lips. One of Spock’s hands goes down between to pump him.

As Jim got closer to his peak he tried to increase the pace, but Spock kept their lovemaking slow and even.

Jim pulled back from the kiss moments before he slipped into the abyss of bliss, losing himself to everything but the pleasure, the stars blinking past them in his periphery, and Spock’s eyes as he’s filled with the other man’s essence.  

Spock pulls out of him carefully and grabs one of the blankets left for crewmen using the observation lounge and covers them with it.

Jim lies there for a time, soaking in the warmth of the cooler man and the reassurance of the everlasting, immortal stars, steady as time itself.

Spock breaks the silence in a low voice as though sharing the secret of the universe or as if he thinks that if he speaks any louder he’ll break the smaller man. “Before Surak, Vulcans believed that though the deceased had passed on, they were looking over them and protecting them in the afterlife; that their love did not simply disappear once they died. Though your mother has passed on, I believe that she still looks after you. Failing that, Jim, know that I will love thee and cherish thee for as long as I live.” 

Hearing the proclamation of love, Jim felt another tear prick at his eye, but this time, though, he lets it fall unencumbered.

Jim couldn’t bring himself to say it in return yet; some part of him wanted to trust that what Spock was saying was true, but another part was still broken from all of the pain that he’d already been dealt.

Somehow, though, Spock seemed to know all this, and knew that he needed time, and for that, Jim was grateful for that. So instead of telling Spock that he loved him as well, he settled for: “Thank you.” Thank you for loving me. Thank you for coming after me today. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for showing me that not everyone is going to leave. And somewhere in that ‘thank you’ were the words that Jim was dying to say.  Thank you for showing me that it’s okay to love someone.

 

 Somewhere in there were the words: I love you too, Spock. 

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