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Jim hates services. Religion is so Neanderthal, and anyway it's just old people at his Gram's synagogue. They sing prayers in their raspy old-people voices while Jim listens to the music he's smuggled in. The best part's the challah, and even that gets stale. Often literally.

His gram always gives him these looks when he sneaks in his pad or falls asleep on the pew. He wishes she'd stop. He gets that he's a disappointment – people should stop acting like it's a surprise.

Once he'd read the Old Testament just for a laugh and spent the next Friday night grilling the rabbi. His gram hadn't known how to look at him after that.

Still, the synagogue's a place where no one expects much from him. He could almost like it, curled up in the back of the room with his pad on a muggy Saturday morning. Maybe if Mom were there, up-front somewhere, humoring Gram. Jim knows his mother has a life, but he'd really like to be a part of it.


He tries not to fight with Gram because she tries not to fight with him. But once she'd whispered to him something about the song they were singing.

“See, this part is saying that if God had only drowned our oppressors, and not given us help to survive in the desert, it would have been enough. That's the song's name, dayenu, it would have been enough-”

Jim cuts her off. “Wait, I know this one. God, like, smites all those other people's kids, so then they chase the Jews out, then he splits the sea and everything, but then they're stuck in the desert, right? For forty years? With their dinky matzah? You're telling me if he'd just left them there like that to starve they'd have been grateful?”

“The song is about recognizing the good things that you have – ”

“No. They would have starved and died in the desert, you're telling me they should have been grateful for that?”

He'd left.

Just run right out of there.

See, Jim isn't so good at being grateful, because fuck gratitude. Like, he could be a starving child on an outer-world, or his mom and his gram could be dead too, or both his legs could be broken and he could be, dunno, blind – and if he were he wouldn't be grateful either. Yeah, it could be worse. Is that supposed to make him grateful?


Statistically, Jim is pretty damn lucky. Nine people survived Tarsus, out of the four thousand Kodos selected to die. That's a 0.225% chance right there, if you calculate it out.

After the rescue, people keep telling Jim that he's alive. Like he doesn't know. First they are amazed. Later they are resentful. He is alive – he is a miracle. Why doesn't he shape up?

Because, Jim thinks, ducking a punch, it's not enough just to survive.


It's not enough.

When he was younger, he'd always had a vague feeling that the world would make more sense when he'd grown up. It had worked for Sam. But he's spent twenty years surviving and the only thing he has more of is lost time.

When Pike rolls in with his dare, Jim wonders if this is it, his last chance for the world to mean anything.

So he tries. He works harder than he's ever worked before, and works even harder to look like he's not trying. Soon he'll be up there with the glory and magnificence of space and shit and just maybe there'll be some clarity one night, looking out at the view screen – maybe he'll see the whole universe laid out, and understand why he's in it. 


He sort of saves the world. He's sort of a hero. People he doesn't know come up to him and want to shake his hand, not for who his father was, but for what he did.

This ship they've given him, she's the most beautiful in the fleet. And this is the part that makes him feel like bacteria, would have throw himself out an airlock on half a whim, brave an erupting volcano – it's still not enough


“What are you grateful for?” Jim says. He knows he is drunk. He knows Spock is only sitting with him because he doesn't want him to do anything stupid.

Spock's reply is quick. “My survival.”

Jim's is quicker still – mouth moving faster than his mind. “Don't be.”

“Why not,” Spock says, his voice cold.

Jim tries to draw some sense out of his feelings. “I mean – don't be content with that. Someone like you is worth more than that to the world. More than just being alive.”

He peers at Spock anxiously, to see if Spock's understood. The idea of someone as brilliant as Spock being grateful just to live makes him feel wrong and itchy inside – it's the universe that should be grateful Spock's in it.

Spock gets very still. “You,” he says, and then falters. He's looking right at Jim, with eyes that are dark and very beautiful – Jim could spend a lifetime studying the universe that lies behind them. “Your existence has made the world a brighter place.”


So the thing is – the exhilarating, terrifying thing is – if Jim died tomorrow, but he'd known Spock, it would be enough.


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