Character/Pairing: Jim Kirk (AOS), gen
Wordcount: approx 1,500 words complete
Summary: some hours after the Nerada, Jim’s alone for the first time
Disclaimer: I mean no offence and court no profits,
Author’s notes: This was written in response to challenge # 9 at st11forxi - There and Back Again . Unbeta’d.
Intriguing snippet: Jim feels like a phony – this is Pike’s territory and he’s a stowaway morphed into Captain through chance.
He’s not sure how long it’s been since that lurch, the break, The Enterprise making a bolt for it; the final push of a fetus taking its first painful, breath.
Maybe three hours, maybe six…
And finally, it’s just him. Just Jim.
The doors swish behind him and he’s knows he’s made a big mistake coming here.
The captain’s quarters, Pike’s quarters, are entirely empty of any personal effects. ‘Course, none of them had a moment to pack anything but he’s half-surprised there isn’t at the very least, a case on the bed, a family holo on the night stand.
There’s that new-car smell – it’s comforting after the acrid smoke, sweat and fuck the smell of blood that’s snaked into his bones, settled there. He feels like a carbuncle on perfect skin, standing here, stinking the place out.
He leans against the wall, runs a hand to the nape of his neck and tells the computer to lock the door.
Jim feels like a phony – this is Pike’s territory and he’s a stowaway morphed into Captain through chance. He’s never believed in luck – it doesn’t fit with him at all. Life’s what you make of it – he should know; it’s like he’s purposely taken every wrong turn off the highway since he left home just to prove it to himself. The cat with fucking nine lives – he has to smile, that the only metaphor which fits, is a creature he’s allergic to.
The slate colored walls are smooth, masculine, new. He wonders if Pike chose this color then thinks what an idiot he is; what the fuck does that have to do with anything?
It’s some time before he’s summoned up the courage to take a step into the living area. Last time he did this, snooped around, was when he went into his Mom’s room and opened all her drawers, looked though her things, sniffed her clothing, hacked into her PADD hidden in the underwear drawer. Here there’s nothing to learn.
He scans the small but inviting couch, wonders when a captain would find time to lounge on it, glances at the bathroom door, the replicator in the dining area. There’s some shitty, corporate art on one wall – a massive, blood red piece of shit that looks like an open wound. He opens a drawer and slams it shut instantly when he sees a gold shirt. Fuck.
Well, he’s here now, might as well take a shower - then he’ll go back.
It hurts to undress. He’s not really registered any pain until now but, when he lets himself, he realizes it’s like he’s been chewed up and spat out. In fact, it would be quicker to find some place that doesn’t ache. He stands before the mirror in the bathroom and turns a circle to examine the bruises on his back, then leans in to explore the cut on his cheek. It looks like a bite-mark. He doesn’t think he’s been bitten by anything in the past twenty-four hours, but he’s lost track. He brushes his teeth and winces when a drop of tooth-paste stings the raw skin of his knuckles.
He steps over the pile of clothing at his feet, black snakeskin, empty, macabre – no longer part of him.
The water’s scalding and he stares at it running down the plug; his pale, and chilblain covered toes don’t look part of him anymore. He twitches them to check and registers another bit of damage somewhere. He reaches for the shower gel, apple scent, oh sweet irony, and finds himself mesmerized by the movement of his hands as he lathers up, careful to avoid any open wounds, wondering at the miracle of life, how the hell it is that his hands move at all, how he’s still alive when—
When it hits him like another punch to the face, and this one hurts like fuck; he realizes that this must have been how his Mom felt, after he was born. He starts to shake. The water's turning cold, it’s a way of forcing him out of the shower, he knows that, he could tell the computer to crank up the heat again, but he doesn’t, it’s kind of poetic, matches how he feels on the inside. His eyes prickle and he cusses, punches the tile, and winces at the pain. He’s relieved he can feel anything at all.
He’s managed to get some shampoo in his eye, the sting like a shard of glass revealing the ugly truth of his life to him and, though he rubs and scours, he can’t stop the tears falling, the sobs wracking his body; that he should be so fucking selfish, make everything about him when it’s never been like that. Judging people’s insides from their outsides is what a kid does. Shit, even a dog can tell what’s going on in someone’s heart and he’s a so-called genius.
And now he’s laughing and it brings back the faces in the crowded meeting room.
“We need some booze, and that’s an order!” he said, and someone, knew someone who’d smuggled some aboard, and before long, they were chinking glasses, slapping each other on the back, coughing at the burn of whiskey. He examined their faces, met everyone’s eye in turn, mentioned how fucking lucky they were, registered Spock’s disapproval at his cussing, a faint twitch of an eyebrow, “Well, you know, everything’s turned on a pin,” he said. “We are some lucky bastards!”
Yeah, it was one chance decision after another, a messy broken web of links and threads, what if, what if, what if Bones hadn’t smuggled him onto the ship, what if he hadn’t overheard Uhura, what if he hadn’t been a cheating bastard that had to win everything?
Then Sulu told them about the 'parking brake' incident and they all roared with laughter – it was the first he’d heard of it and he’d felt an ice-cold grip at his heart just as the laughter faded. They all glanced at each other, guilt, relief, joy, fear and shock rippling around them.
He caught Uhura looking at Spock and he wondered what The Vulcan was thinking, realized he actually knew what he was thinking, and Jim couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there. Said he needed a shower – for the good of his crew and they’d all laughed again.
“Yeah, Jim, you smell like a hors’ rolled in its own shit!” Bones had pitched in. He was standing by the door-way so he could leave for sickbay soon as this was over. He’d been watching Jim throughout the meeting in silence, assessing him, supporting him – the only one there who probably had any clue what a fucking phony he was. And, Jim knew, the quip, it was just Bones’ way of reminding him the meeting was over and if he left, if he of all people could take care of himself, they’d all try and take a break too. Lead by example an all that—
He steps out of the shower-stall and pulls an enormous white towel around him, dries off quickly and wraps it round his hips and heads for the computer.
“Mom, it’s me,” he says, “I, er…I wanted to say I’m alright, in case you’d heard, you know…” he gulps down another swarm of tears collecting behind his eyes, “and you know – I’m sorry.”
He stares at the blank screen. Not today; there’s other people’s moms he should talk to first. Winona’s used to this shit. He’s used to this shit. They haven’t spoken in years and another couple of hours, days, won’t hurt either of them. He needs to grow the fuck up.
He takes a breath and opens that drawer again, selects a black undershirt, some boxers, some rec pants and clean socks and tosses them on the bed.
Just one more minute.
He stands by the window looking at the star field. There’s not a clue, not a thumb-print, nor a piece of wreckage out there to indicate what they’ve all been through. He’s a speck of dust, he realizes, they all are.
He drops his towel and stands naked before the universe. Stretches his arms out to the side, widens his stance and throws back his head. He gulps a long breath and turns his back on the empty-hearted beauty of space.
Now he’s ready, ready to lead, and he dresses quickly and sprints out of his quarters down to engineering to lend a hand.