trek 09

  • Jun. 5th, 2009 at 9:15 PM
sloth: brightly coloured balloons held by a woman in white in a field (celebratory balloons!)
 In my copious amounts of free time (hah! Oh, god, the term papers...), I have committed fic, over at the kink thread. 

Warning: depiction of starvation and PTSD symptoms.



(1) They don't talk about it while it's happening, of course, though Tommy's always moaning and clutching his belly, his face tight; though Kevin's white-knuckled and nauseous, always pestering Kodos, asking, Have you found them yet, do you know where my family is? Jimmy's one of the lucky ones; he still has his big brother with him. Sam's going through a growth spurt and it hurts him worse to go without, so Jim gives him most of his rations. 

Sam tries to push them away, push the food into Jim's mouth, but Jim is persistent and Sam is too hungry to keep on saying no. Instead he hugs Jim and mutters into Jim's hair, "Mom's going to come and get us, she's going to get here soon, we'll be okay."

Jim thinks but does not say, She didn't come for Aunt Helena, Uncle James, she didn't come for our cousins. She doesn't even know what's going on, probably. Maybe she doesn't care. She left us here, after all.

Sometimes in the distance, outside their walls, they can hear screaming. They don't talk about that, either. 


(2) They all want to know about Kodos, all of them, asking him questions all the time. He's not even out of sickbay and already they're there. He can't even think and they want him to tell them what Kodos said, what he did, what he was like. 

"It's important, son," one of them says. The feeding tube just came out last night, and Jim's throat is raw and aching. 

What can he say? Kodos was kind to him. He patted Jim on the head and ruffled his hair, bemused by the bright blond - he said, You're the best and brightest. It is my duty to preserve you, and he trailed his fingers across Jim's cheeks. Kodos was a classicist in that he read Darwin, the ancient Greeks. He knew from memory long passages of Shakespeare. 

What can Jim say? Kodos slipped him extra rations that did nothing to ease the thinning of his frame; Kodos believed, at the price of many lives, that Jim must survive. Because he was the best. And because (Kodos' fingers running through his hair) he was the brightest.

"We need to know," they insist, and Jim opens his mouth to speak, and instead doubles over and retches all over their shoes. 


(3) Back in Iowa it's been a year and Jim's gained back all the weight he lost and then some, he's taller and stronger now, but still something about the class on twentieth and twenty-first century history makes him small. Maybe the hollowed eyes and cheeks and bellies of starvation victims. Maybe the limbs like twigs, fragile. Maybe the bodies stacked like so much firewood waiting to be burned. Maybe the word, gutting him where he sits, genocide.


(4) "No one passes the Kobayashi Maru," McCoy says the second time Jim fails it. It's part-consolation, part-scold. "That's what a no-win scenario means."

Jim tightens his fists, his lips, turns his gaze to the horizon so as to not have to see his best friend's face. He's quiet for a long time; so long, McCoy doesn't think he's actually going to say something. It would be just like Jim, McCoy thinks to himself, wry, to get uppity over failing like the rest of them. 

"The only time," Jim finally says, "a situation is unwinnable, is when we let it be. There is no excuse for giving up and following the most logical path." He doesn't speak of too-rational men, eugenics, or supply ships that show up ahead of schedule yet still too late to save half a planet. He looks away from the distance, turning to McCoy's face. "I'm going to take it again," he says. 

McCoy sighs. "Dammit, Jim," he says. "How many times are you going to put yourself through this?"

"Until I win."


(5) It's the unlikely combination of Kirk, Uhura and Sulu that gets stuck on a mission gone awry and thrown into an alien form of jail. Their captors don't believe in feeding prisoners; what little they get won't sustain them in healthy condition for long. It's miracle enough that they get to share the same cell. 

It feels like habit when Kirk abstains from eating, nudging his meager share to be split between his subordinates. Both protest, but neither has ever gone hungry. 

Kirk hates it, hates the hollow sensation, the lightness paired with listlessness; hates the familiarity of it. 

Uhura and Sulu still won't take his food, so he gets more creative about sharing it out. Their faces go sallow. It's all so sickeningly the same. Played out from his memory, history, repeating. 

All in all it's five days before they're rescued. Five days, nothing. Spock and Chekov and Bones come in phasers blasting. Uhura and Sulu leap to join the fray. 

Kirk surges forward in eagernesss and relief - blackness overwhelms him, light-headed, he falls. 

The next time he wakes up he's in the sickbay and Bones is peering down at him. The most startling thing is that he's not hungry, though he could still murder a steak. 

Bones leans back, scowling, "You're a damn fool, James Kirk," he says. "You almost killed yourself pulling that stunt. What possessed you to starve yourself?"

Kirk smiles. It's painful. His lips are cracked. "Practice," he croaks, and watches Bones' face twist in consternation. 



(6) He doesn't realize his new Lieutenant Riley is that Lieutenant Riley until they're face to face. "Captain," Kevin salutes. Only the smallest quirk of his mouth gives him away. 

"Lieutenant," Jim says, and infuses his voice with just an edge of extra warmth none of the other new recruits get. Turning his head he sees he's gotten Spock's attention, and Bones'. His friends know him a little too well. 

Running a ship is busy work, even if Jim makes it look easy, and so he doesn't manage to run into Kevin until almost a week later. If Jim is honest with himself, and he seldom is, he would have to admit to some avoidant behaviour. But even in a ship the size of Enterprise, the odds are against him never encountering Kevin, and it happens one afternoon in the mess. Kevin's already sitting down, and Jim sees him when he initially scans the room, and Kevin sees him looking and looks back. That seals it. His mouth more grimace than smile, Jim heads over. 

"Captain," Kevin greets. 

"Lieutenant," he answers. 

It's not bad. Neither of them mentions - it. They talk about Enterprise, Nero, and the messed-up-ness that is Jim having his own command at twenty-five. Jim eats fast and claps his hand over Kevin's back and leaves, bile crawling up his throat. It's okay; he can pretend his way through this just fine. 

It goes on being okay for another three weeks. And then Kevin is at Jim's door, at night, Kevin holds up a bottle of whiskey and tilts his head in inquiry, and Jim stands aside to let him in.

The first set of shots go down smooth. The second and then the third. Kevin keeps trying to make a toast, and Jim has to stop him before that happens, so they drink faster. They slam the shots down. The world goes wobbly, and then dark, and when he opens his eyes again he's lost minutes, maybe an hour, and the bottle is empty and Kevin is passed out on the floor across from him. 

Jim groans. The persistent nagging voice in the back of his head is muttering alcohol poisoning. He does what any reasonable guy would do and comms Bones. 

"Dammit, Jim," Bones grunts a while later. "I'm a doctor, not a packhorse." Kevin's left arm is slung over Bones' shoulder and his right over Jim's, though to be honest Jim isn't doing a whole lot of the heavy lifting. 

"Sorry," Jim slurs, repentant the way only alcohol can make him. He'd woken Bones up. Bones had the right to be bitchy. 

They make it to sickbay and drop Kevin onto the nearest bed; Bones goes for his medical scanner and his hypospray full of sober juice. He takes a reading of Kevin's vitals and scowls. "Goddammit," he says. "He's near toxic. What possessed you two to drink to this point? You're the captain, you should have at least the concept of limits down by now."

"Sorry," Jim repeats, again, morose. "You can fix him?"

Bones sighs, and jabs Kevin with the hypospray. He grapples Kevin onto his side so that when Kevin starts to vomit he expels over the edge of the bed facing away from Jim and Bones. Kevin's not even really awake, and he's throwing up a lot. "He'll be fine," Bones says. 

Kevin moans and spits, his body shaking with the contractions, curled into fetal position. His back to Jim and Bones he mutters, "My family... My family," and Jim can't take it, that sound, that voice like the boy's he knew so long ago. He rolls Kevin so Kevin's facing him, Kevin's eyes half-opened and squinting. "Jimmy," Kevin says. "Jimmy, my family, Jim, God, that fucker, he," and Jim says, "Shh," and strokes Kevin's sweaty forehead. 

He's still drunk which is why he says, "It's okay, sweetheart, it's going to be fine," mimicking Sam, his older brother's tone and words. Kevin starts to cry, just, leaking from his eyes, quiet tears he can't seem to stop. Sobs build up in his gut and shake him and he reaches out to clutch fistfuls of Jim's shirt. "It's over now, it's done, you're going to be okay," Jim murmurs, his hand still steadily stroking. He doesn't know it when he starts crying, too, tears spilling out of him and landing on Kevin's cheek. 

It doesn't take long but it feels like forever for Kevin to fall asleep. His hands fall limply from Jim's shirt and his mouth goes slack. Jim pets him one last time, one last croon, before stumbling for his own bed across the room. 

Bones - still there, not gone - follows him. 

"Kid," he says, troubled, and Jim waves him off. 

"Not now," Jim says, and closes his eyes and goes to sleep. 

In the morning Kevin is gone before Jim wakes up, and when the transfer request crosses his desk a few days later he approves it without thinking of why. 

Some things you just can't live with other people. Some ways you just can't bear to be known.



(1) It's Vulcan that does it, the destruction of a whole planet, almost a whole species. It's the constant coverage and discussion of the near-complete genocide, it's the moral condemnation, it's his own damn guilt that brings Kodos out of hiding. 

Jim finds out when Admiral Pike comms him, still the only one the Federation trusts to be able to handle Jim's rebellious streak. "Son," Pike says, solemn. That's how Jim knows it's going to be bad. After that Pike says things like the Federation needs you and testify and provide identification

Everyone else - doesn't exactly find out, but knows something's up when Jim clasps Spock's shoulder and says, "I'll be gone for a few weeks. You have the conn, Mr. Spock." Starfleet has sent a small vessel to pick Jim up; on it already are Kevin Riley and Thomas Leighton. 

Jim leaves the bridge, ducking everyone's questions. He's only going to talk about this once, and not here. 

Bones finds him before he leaves. "What's this about, Jim?" he asks. His brow is furrowed. He's making one of his ridiculous faces. 

"I'll talk to you later," Jim says, terse, and ducks Bones' gaze like he ducks Bones' questions. It's not like Bones won't know, soon enough; the trial is to be a highly publicized event. Pike warned him. People want blood, want someone to punish, and Kodos has stepped willingly into the path of their voyeuristic hate. 

There's no absolution in giving testimony. The words have to be dragged out of him. Jim doesn't know how to make the attorneys understand: he's not that boy anymore, he doesn't remember who he must have been; he cannot bring that child to the stand. All he can do is give account of the starving days, the screams in the distance, and Kodos' muttered rhetoric. 

"He believed some of us were better than others," Jim says. "And he carried this belief out in a manner logical to him." 


(2) It's his first night back on-board and he's hiding from his crew. Uhura has that look in her eye like she wants to console him or something, and even Spock looks as if he's pitying Jim. 

It's Bones who finds him, though, Bones who unlocks the Observation Deck's code and enters uninvited, Bones who sits next to Jim staring out at the stars. Bones, who is quiet, so quiet, until Jim has to speak to break the silence. 

"We were kept inside," he says. "For our own protection. Months. I forgot what the sky looked like. Even now sometimes it's a dream." He looks at Bones sideways. "That's what you want to hear, right? You want to know," his lips twist, vicious, "what it was like." It's what everyone wants to know, all the time. "Most of us were children. Easier to control. He forgot we were growing, though, needed more nutrition. He whittled us down, gave us aptitude tests and took away anyone who didn't make the cut." Jim clenches his fists. Unclenches. "We couldn't move too much. Didn't have the energy. Couldn't really walk let alone run." His eyes are dry and his throat is burning and Bones touches him. 

Bones is touching him. 

"It's not a crime," Bones says, carefully, "Jim, it's not a crime to survive." 

And Jim wants to laugh, because that's what he does, isn't it? He lives and he lives and he lives. His future has been bought and paid for by his father, Kodos, Pike. There's obligation there. The weight of it presses down on him. This weight he's been running from until it brought him here, to his beautiful ship, here, next to his Chief Medical Officer, here. 

"Jim," Bones says again, and Jim tilts his head up to look at him, and Bones tilts his head down, and they meet somewhere in the middle. "It's not a fault to live," Bones says against Jim's lips, and kisses him. Kisses him deep, takes him apart with tongue and teeth, kisses him breathless. In between kisses Bones repeats, "Not your fault," nipping at Jim's jaw, the edge of his ear, high on his cheeks, off the corner of his mouth, again and again. 

Jim hangs on to Bones' shoulders, grips them tight. He keeps his eyes open and fixed to the stars.

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