All Along: Fortune by Rimilea
Summary:

 

Ten year old abused Jim sees a home and family in Spock Prime, who has come through the black hole early without Nero's knowledge. Can Jim escape his abuse and convince everyone that he and Spock are meant to be together? Thanks to Peachly, my beta!

 


Categories: Works in Progress Characters: None
Crossover Fandom: None
Genres: Kirk-Spock Friendship
Other Languages: None
Specific movie: None
Story Type: Hurt/Comfort
Trope (OPTIONAL): None
Universe: AU Alternate Universe
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: All Along
Chapters: 13 Completed: Yes Word count: 58073 Read: 322563 Published: 06/22/2010 Updated: 02/08/2011

1. First Contact by Rimilea

2. Chapter 2 by Rimilea

3. Georgia! by Rimilea

4. Back at Frank's by Rimilea

5. Chapter 5 by Rimilea

6. Over the Edge by Rimilea

7. Chapter 7 by Rimilea

8. Temporary Guardian by Rimilea

9. Chapter 9 by Rimilea

10. Chapter 10 by Rimilea

11. Chapter 11 by Rimilea

12. Permanent Home by Rimilea

13. Epilogue by Rimilea

First Contact by Rimilea
Author's Notes:

A/N: This story is already completed and is about 54,000 words. However, Peachly (my beta) and I are still editing it. Thanks Peachly! Also, this is meant to be the first of a four part series. I'm already working on the sequel. The final one is going to be reboot Spock/reboot Jim slash, so you are forewarned. But even if you don't like slash, I think you should be okay with at least this story (it stands alone fairly well) and maybe the first two sequels, depending on how they go.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek or anything you recognize from Star Trek.

Warnings: There are very brief mentions of slash between Kirk Prime and Spock Prime in this story. Like maybe five sentences, G rated. Also, there is some swearing and violence that you might find offensive.

Chapter One: First Contact

"NO! I'm not here to be your entertainment! Go find something to do yourself!" snapped Winona Kirk to her son, Jim.

He angrily strode out the door in response and strolled aimlessly down the country road, away from his house. This was typical of his mother. His stepfather was even worse. Luckily he wasn't around at the moment. Feeling very alone, Jim continued down the road on autopilot. His gaze mostly fixed on the ground, he did not notice a tall figure approaching him, until he was a few yards away.

Jim stopped in surprise, his problems fleeing his mind. The man - Vulcan, actually, now that he looked closer - was clearly not from around here. He knew everyone in town. He did not know of any Vulcans for miles - if there even were any in Iowa. What was even more strange was the look on the Vulcan's face - it much mirrored his own, with a bit of - delight? That made no sense. He could not remember ever meeting a Vulcan before.

"James T. Kirk," the Vulcan said with a hint of respect.

Jim resisted the urge to look around him for another James T. Kirk. "That's - me," he stuttered. Why was the guy looking at him like he was the sun in the sky? He was just an average ten year old kid, nothing special at all! "Sorry, but who are you?" he blurted. "How do you know my name?"

Spock sat down on the ground, and Jim did the same. "I have been, and always will be, your friend. I am Spock."

Okay, this was just a little too weird...even if there seemed to be something so right about what he said. "There has to be some mistake. I don't know you."

"There is no mistake. That is the house you live in, correct?" Spock gestured to where Jim had come from.

"Yes."

"Your mother is Winona Kirk, your father is George Kirk, and you have an older brother named Sam. Your middle name is Tiberius after your grandfather."

"Yes," Jim confirmed. "How do you know this?"

Spock didn't seem to want to tell him. But then he replied, "I have been considering purchasing a house in this neighborhood. Naturally, I was curious about my potential neighbors and learned about you and your family in the midst of my inquiries."

"Oh," said Jim. He had the strangest feeling that Spock was holding back something big. At the same time, he felt he could trust the older Vulcan. Then he remembered. "You're not quite right about one thing, though. My father died, I have a stepfather named Frank."

Spock raised his eyebrows. "I was aware of your father's unfortunate passing, however I was not told about Frank. Is he to your preference?"

Jim finally relaxed, feeling a surge of pleasure at the way he was being addressed. Like an equal. Maybe more than that. "Not really, no. But what parent is?" he quipped, trying to brush it off.

"Indeed," he replied lightly, but his eyes were thoughtful and keen.

Jim squirmed slightly under that gaze that seemed to pierce right through him. He quickly changed the subject. "What brings you from Vulcan?" he blurted, then cringed. "Uh, sorry. None of my business."

"Feel free to ask questions, Jim. I am a scientist and I wished to conduct my experiments somewhere secluded and private. It seemed prudent to leave Vulcan so I can study in peace without interference. I have found this area to meet my requirements. I do not believe anyone would suspect my whereabouts, unless I wished them to."

"Yeah, it's nowhere's land out here," agreed Jim.

There was a pause. "Jim, will you introduce me to your family? I wish to meet them."

Jim did not want to do that, but he also found he couldn't say no . "All right." He got up and started walking back to the house. Spock strode by his right side as if he belonged there.

Jim felt complete safety and belonging wash over him as their steps seemed to naturally fall into the same rhythm. It wasn't something he felt often, if ever. There definitely was more to this Vulcan than he was letting on. For being a completely logical, calm species, this one could not seem to stem the deep affection oozing out of him, filling the air around him. Perhaps he knew him when he was little, and just didn't remember? Then why didn't he just say so?

They stepped onto the porch, and Jim opened the door. Spock followed him in. "Mom, we have a visitor," shouted Jim.

"JIM! I told you that you couldn't bring anyone over!" she shouted, her steps thundering closer. She appeared in the doorway, looking furious. Then she caught sight of the Vulcan. "Oh," she said, speechless with surprise.

"I am Spock. Jim brought me here by my request. I am going to buy a house in this neighborhood and I wish to get acquainted with my neighbors. You are Winona Kirk?"

"Yes," she said, beginning to recover from her shock. "I hope Jim didn't bother you? He can be a real nuisance."

Spock frowned slightly, looking as offended as an emotionally repressed Vulcan could look. "Jim has been nothing but a pleasant, courteous companion," he corrected with slight anger.

She snorted. "No need to sugarcoat it. Go upstairs, Jimmy."

"Vulcans cannot lie, madam," he said firmly. "I do not require Jim to leave. However, I respect your wishes."

Jim, meanwhile, had been watching the exchange, going from cringing embarrassment from his mother's attitude, to wonder at Spock's. When his mother gestured him to go, he moved away reluctantly, feeling as though something was being torn as he moved away. Spock was like a magnet. It seemed wrong to leave him.

"Jim, before you go, I have a gift. Do you like antique books?" Spock asked, though something in his tone betrayed that he knew the answer already.

"Yes, I do," said Jim, somewhat embarrassed. At school he'd been teased about it, so he'd done his best to hide it ever since.

"Then I would like you to have this," Spock said, handing him a book from a pocket in his robe.

Jim read the title: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. "Thank you, Mr. Spock."

"The pleasure is mine, Jim."

Jim steeled himself against that magnetic pull and climbed the stairs, thumbing through the book as he went. At the back cover, he found a note signed by Spock with his comm number and home address. A smile broke out on his face. He entered his room and flopped down on the bed. He sure hoped he saw the Vulcan again.

The first thing Jim was aware of the next morning was that his pillow felt unusually hard. It smelled strange too. He opened his eyes and lifted his head. A Tale of Two Cities was sprawled out underneath him. He'd spent the evening reading it. It had been a bit much for him, but it was the experience of using the antique that he so much enjoyed, even if he didn't fully understand the contents. He closed it carefully. Frank would no doubt try to take it from him as soon as Winona told him about it. He didn't have anywhere to hide it.

He put it back on his shelf, trying to make it hard to see. Spock's note was still sticking out of it. He pulled it out, thinking. If either of his parents found it, they would definitely throw it out. Even though he wasn't sure he'd find the guts to use it, it was dear to him in a way he couldn't voice. He needed to save it. Decision made, he gently pried up a floorboard under his bed. There wasn't much room there, but he hid everything precious to him under there - pictures of his real dad and letters his dad had written, mostly. His mother had no idea he had them or he'd never see them again either. He carefully laid Spock's note with his stash and replaced the board. He had no idea if he'd ever see the Vulcan again, but knowing he could was nice and comforting.

"JIM! GET DOWN HERE OR YOU WILL BE LATE FOR THE BUS! I'M NOT DRIVING YOU!" shouted Winona from downstairs.

Jim cringed and hurried to get ready for school. The classes were so easy for him, they were boring. He didn't want to go but his mother made him, saying she didn't want to support him beyond the age of 18 because he was uneducated. She didn't want to support him, period, really, but that went without saying.

He climbed into the bus and got himself a window seat without a word. Remembering Spock's address, he watched for it. There! He didn't see the Vulcan anywhere outside, or a moving truck, but there was a massive crane digging a ginormous hole in the backyard. Hole, in fact, didn't really cover it. Crater was more like it! What in the world would Spock want it for? Maybe some science lab or experiment? But what would he need something that huge for? His curious mind burned to ask the Vulcan, his fingers twitching towards his comm. But no - he wouldn't bother him. As much as the Vulcan seemed to like him, he didn't want to risk becoming a nuisance, just like his mother always said.

A few minutes later, he was strolling along to his first class with his two main buddies, Ben Finney and Gary Mitchell. Ben was hastily trying to complete his homework due in a few minutes, pummeling Jim with questions that Jim answered without giving his complete attention.

Gary, meanwhile, was giving Jim strange looks. "Something happen between now and yesterday, Jim?" he asked.

Jim glanced over at his perceptive friend. Gary was always like this, picking up on little things that no one else could see. "Yeah. I met a new neighbor of mine yesterday. His name is Spock. And he's a Vulcan!"

"A Vulcan?" said Gary in confusion. "Why would a Vulcan settle down in Iowa?"

"He said he wanted somewhere secluded. He's a scientist and wanted to do his studies without distractions."

Gary still didn't seem to be buying it.

"Look, he had to be Vulcan! He had the pointed ears, slanted eyebrows, emotional suppression, everything!"

"I don't doubt he's Vulcan, Jim. I'm just not buying the whole scientist thing. I think something else is going on."

Ben interjected just then, with one last frantic question before they risked being late for class. Jim answered with his usual aplomb and entered the room. Ben had to sit near the front, away from Jim as he'd been caught several times whispering questions to him in class. Jim and Gary sat together in the back, sneaking notes to each other. They hadn't been caught yet and were at the top of the class, so the teacher didn't pay as much attention to them. Besides, paper notes were so antique the teacher didn't expect them.

Jim felt a paper brush against his hand. As subtly as possible, he unfolded the note from Gary.

"So. Vulcan, huh? How'd you meet him? They aren't exactly known for being social butterflies, unless a logical reason is involved."

Jim wrote back: "I went for a quick walk, and I ran into him. Which is kind of weird now to think about it, his house is a couple miles down the road, and he's pretty old. Why didn't he use a speeder? And did I mention he's digging this ginormous crater in his backyard? I have no idea what it's for! But it's a least three times bigger than his house!"

Gary wrote back: "A crater? But never mind that, what happened after you ran into him? Did he say Live Long and Prosper and send you away?"

Jim took a few minutes to actually pay attention to what his teacher was saying. He felt strangely reluctant to reply to Gary, feeling a bit self-conscious. His friend was too perceptive sometimes, and his time with Spock, as strange as it was, meant a lot to him. But if he delayed any longer, Gary would really know something was up. He wrote: "He introduced himself, and wanted to meet my parents. So I introduced him to my mom, since Frank wasn't there. Then my mom shooed me upstairs, so I don't know what happened after that."

After he passed the note, he could feel Gary's gaze on him. Jim ignored him and listened to the teacher some more. Finally the feeling faded, and paper brushed against his palm. He read: "I know you're not telling me everything. But that's all right. I'm sure you'll see Spock again soon. Maybe help him with that crater of his."

Jim did not reply and paid more attention in classes that day to avoid thinking about it too much. He really didn't want to get his hopes up. He was sure that Vulcan had much better things to do than checking up on a ten year old neighbor a couple miles down the road. He'd moved there to get away from people, not for his company.

He'd somewhat successfully erased Spock from his mind when he arrived back home. So his mother's insistence that he clean the entire downstairs took him by surprise.

"That Vulcan, Spock, is coming back. He insisted on meeting Frank. So I invited him for dinner. We're having salad, I remember they're vegetarians from my xenobiology classes. So you'll be making the salad. Frank should be here any minute."

Spock was coming back? A rush of feelings came with the thought, happy, excited, nervous, self conscious, and even some dread. He wanted to see him again, but he was sure he would do something to make the Vulcan change his mind about him. He didn't want to be around when that happened. He cleaned and prepared dinner with unusual enthusiasm. His mother, of course, did not notice, but he did not linger on it.

Frank stomped in the house, and seconds later Jim could smell the alcohol on his breath as he stopped in front of him. This was early for alcohol, even for Frank.

"Lost my job," he hissed at Jim. "And it's ALL YOUR FAULT!"

Jim glared at him. "It's not my fault you can't hold down a job!"

"You son of a bitch!" shouted Frank, slapping him across the face. Jim dropped the lettuce he'd been holding and fell on the floor at the force of the blow. "All those times you wouldn't listen to your mom, and I would have to scream at you on the phone -"

"Frank, honey, calm down," said Winona, ignoring Jim, who was cradling his bruised face, stunned.

"Calm down! It's about time we did something about the brat!"

"Frank, I'm sure you'll find another job."

"Like hell I will!"

DING-dong!

The sound of the doorbell interrupted the explosive exchange.

"That should be Spock. He's a new neighbor. He stopped by yesterday and wanted to meet you."

"Oh yeah? Who else has been stopping by that I don't know about?"

"Frank!" Winona objected for the first time. "I'll get the door. Jim, finish making dinner."

Winona left, and Jim picked himself off the floor. He felt sure the bruise was obvious, and scrambled to think of a story as he listened to Spock and Winona's polite exchange in the living room. Frank stood and glared at Jim, meanwhile, the tension between them thick and cold. The air fairly screamed with the words that would have been shouted had Spock not showed up.

As it was, even Frank didn't dare express himself in front of a stranger. So when Winona called him into the living room when she felt she'd given him enough time to cool down, he went quietly. Jim finally decided to say that he fell off his bike, and bruised his face. He couldn't bear for Spock to know the truth. Decision made, he focused more intently on what the adults were saying to each other.

"And where is your charming boy, Jim?" Spock asked, his voice intent. His tone of voice had been casual up until then. If Jim didn't know better, he'd say seeing him was the real reason for the visit. But that would be ridiculous.

"Oh, don't worry, he's in the kitchen, making dinner. I can send him upstairs so you won't have to deal with him," offered Frank.

"That will not be necessary," said Spock in an even tone. "I find him most engaging. I am also delighted to have non replicated food. It has been 300.54 days since I have had that pleasure. I look forward to trying what Jim has prepared."

Jim stilled, his eyes flicking over his salad nervously. What if it didn't measure up to his expectations? What if he didn't like it? He'd felt pressured and resentful and intimidated into making good food by Frank, but this was entirely different. If Spock didn't like it, that would hit him where it truly hurt and that scared him.

Jim fussed over the salad for several more minutes. Then he set it out on the table, and finished arranging their best silverware and china in a nice pattern at each seat.

"Boy! You done yet? It's not that hard, you know!" shouted Frank.

Jim froze, humiliated. Was that what Spock was thinking now? That he was being stupid and slow in taking so long? He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't hear Spock excuse himself and approach him.

"Jim," he said.

Jim turned towards Spock, putting on his bravest face. Before he could speak, Spock continued, "I am honored that you are taking such care for me in your preparations. Regardless, I look forward to conversing with you when you are finished."

"I'm done now, sir," said Jim shyly.

"Call me Spock," he reminded the boy.

"Okay, Spock," replied Jim with a small smile.

"Then, I shall inform your parents that we may begin." Spock hesitated, his gaze intent, looking as though he wanted to say something else. Then he turned and strode off to the living room, and returned shortly with Winona and Frank. They sat at the table, and Jim managed to grab the seat by Spock before Frank could shoo him out of it.

As they started eating, Spock turned and gave his full attention to Jim. Jim tried not to flush under that highly perceptive gaze. It was like Gary, but times ten. "Jim, how was your day at school?"

Jim was about to say his usual answer, "Fine," but that felt bad to say that. Spock seemed like he was actually interested. So he said instead, "Oh, the usual. My friend Ben needed help with his homework so I had to help him cram so he wouldn't get marked down. Then Finnegan somehow managed to fill the bottom of Gary's locker with water, ruining some of his stuff. So I helped him with that during lunch hour. Gary was so mad! He swore to get revenge. He can't prove it was him, though, but Gary swears it was. He's probably right, too, he seems to have a sixth sense about things. Oh, and I - well yeah, that was it really," Jim stammered. He was about to say he'd seen Spock's crater, but did not want to seem offensive, nosy, or embarrassingly overly interested.

There was a slightly awkward pause. Then Spock said, "This is your typical day?"

"Yeah. Well no, I mean, Gary's locker isn't usually filled with water, but he's had pranks like that happen to him lately. I know he's gotten Finnegan in trouble a few times so I think it's revenge."

"Would you not find it satisfying to start a brawl with him, in defense of your friend?" asked Spock, a playful glint in his eye.

His question was met with about five seconds of shocked silence. That was not what Jim had been expecting at all! Maybe a disinterested change of subject, disapproval, or something, but not that! "Uh..." said Jim, feeling the undercurrent of anger flowing from his parents.

"It would be typical of him, getting into trouble," interjected Frank.

"A dear friend of mine would say, 'Aren't some things worth fighting for?'" said Spock, his eyes flicking over to Jim. However, he seemed to sense an impending storm and added, "I understand that school brawls are not socially acceptable. My apologies. Jim," he said, turning once more to the young boy. "Do you have a preference for a subject?"

"I like history and gym," answered Jim.

"Who is your favorite historical figure?" asked Spock.

Jim again had that strange feeling like Spock already knew the answer. "Abraham Lincoln," he answered, unwilling to tell him more. He knew Frank would just scoff at him, and that was humiliating in front of Spock.

Spock did not press him for more and continued on to the next subject. "Jim, may I ask how you injured yourself?"

Jim had been lulled into a false sense of security, believing since he hadn't been immediately accosted about it that he wouldn't be asked. He bet that Spock had done that on purpose. "Uh, I uh, well, fell off my bike," he said lamely.

Spock raised an eyebrow. Jim immediately knew that Spock hadn't bought it, and cringed internally. Great. Now Spock thought he was a liar.

"Indeed? How unfortunate," he commented, thankfully not commenting further.

"Yeah, the kid's clumsy. Don't know why I got him that bike in the first place, if all he's going to do is injure himself," grumbled Frank.

Something seemed to snap in Spock then, and the air around him turned a few degrees colder. He turned to Frank with what Jim could only describe as the Vulcan Stink Eye. "On Vulcan, a child is given an abundance of opportunities to explore his or her talents. Perfection is never a requirement, merely the logical exploring of knowledge and skill."

"Well, this ain't Vulcan. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know. Just lost my job, in fact," said Frank, his short temper beginning show.

"Nonetheless, I offer my assistance should Jim require it," said Spock, attempting to both make his point and diffuse the situation at the same time. "You need not fear for lack of resources with mine at his disposal. My assets are quite extensive."

"Don't waste your time," advised Frank. "He's not that special. Go find yourself some science whiz."

Winona, who had been silent through the exchange, finally spoke up. "We just don't want to inconvenience or pressure you in any way," she said, as if to soften the blow.

"It is no inconvenience for me," insisted Spock. "I find Jim to be quite charming, and a great cook as well. Thank you for an excellent meal. It was well prepared."

Jim could not hide his blush this time. "Thank you, sir."

"Spock," the Vulcan corrected, smiling with his eyes.

"Spock." Jim smiled back. They held their gaze for a few beats. Jim forgot that anyone else was in the room, feeling that strong magnetic pull. Spock seemed exceptionally pleased by this, at least as much as a Vulcan could appear to be pleased.

Just before they parted, Spock took Jim aside to speak to him privately on the porch. "Jim, feel free to comm me or stop by my home at any time, day or night. Do you still have my contact information?"

"I - yes," said Jim, not wanting to admit where he put it.

"Good. I look forward to our future interactions." At Jim's hesitant smile, he added, "Perhaps it is culturally incorrect for myself, as a Vulcan, to admit, but I am a lonely old man. To have your youthful spirit frequent my home would be welcome indeed. Promise me?"

"I promise," answered Jim, more sure of himself now.

"Then," replied the Vulcan, smiling with his eyes, "Until we meet again." He turned and walked to his speeder. Jim watched as he drove out of sight.

Jim went back inside reluctantly. Frank was nowhere to be seen. "Where's Frank?" he asked his mom. Not that he cared, but it was always good to know where he was.

"He's out back," she said. By her tone, he knew she was hiding something.

Jim felt dread pool in his stomach. Winona usually only hid things when Frank was doing something bad to herself or Jim. He hurried up the stairs to his room and checked his things, including the space under the floorboard. All safe, except... Jim checked the bookshelf. Spock's book was gone!

Even though Jim had known it would happen, he felt himself swell with anger and disappointment. Not to mention, what would Spock think when he found out Jim had lost his precious book? Probably that he was an irresponsible, lazy nuisance just like his parents did. No. He'd find it, even if he had to go to the junkyard and dig for days.

Determination filled him, and he marched downstairs to wait for Frank. He didn't have to wait long. The drunken man came stumbling in, looking unusually satisfied with himself.

"Where's my book?" asked Jim immediately.

"Book? You mean that worthless binding of scrap paper that old senile Vulcan gave to you? I threw it in the fields out back. At least as compost, it might actually be worth something," he said smugly. "Don't want anything from that annoying bastard anywhere on MY property!"

Jim bolted out the door.

"You'll never find it, you worthless son of a bitch!" shouted Frank.

Jim grabbed a flashlight by the door and hurried towards the plowed fields. Once the farming machines gave them the once over, his book would not stand a chance. He needed to find it, and quickly!

Darkness soon overtook his search, and the temperature dropped rapidly. Jim turned his flashlight on, determined not to rest until he'd found it. He ignored his shivers as he poked his way through each row. He would try to live up to what Spock thought of him, somehow! He did not know how much time had passed, minutes, maybe hours, when he finally had to sit down for a bit. His eyes began to close against his will, and he fell asleep.

Chapter 2 by Rimilea

 

A/N: I know the chat format isn't the greatest, but I am working on how to change that in the future. Enjoy! Thanks to Peachly for being a great beta!

 

Thank you to Plutobaby494, jumpmybones, Tonati, and Saharra Shadow for reviewing!

 

Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable from Star Trek.

 

Chapter 2: Sick

 

Jim woke up with a coughing fit to find his face in the dirt and the sun high in the sky. He was late for school! He scrambled to his feet, then bent over as he was again overcome with coughs. He hesitated. He was already late for school. His mom wouldn't drive him, and he didn't know anyone else that would. He briefly thought of Spock, but quickly disregarded that idea. He'd have to explain the situation, and there was no way he was doing that! Jim sneezed. Well, since there was no way he was getting to school, it looked like he would just have to play hooky today. It would raise his chances of finding Spock's book anyway.

 

Jim methodically continued his search, interrupted every few minutes by a coughing fit. His parents apparently hadn't noticed he was gone or didn't care, or didn't want to bother to look themselves.

 

After a while, overcome with exhaustion and the occasional shiver, he sat down in the dirt and gazed at all the ground he still had to cover. He was so caught up in his musing that he never noticed the figure approaching him from behind.

 

"Jim," said a familiar voice.

 

Jim whipped his head around to face him. Spock sat down next to him. "Your mother noticed you were missing, and searched and called for you. When you did not respond, she called the neighbors, including me, to help with the search. What brings you out here?"

 

Jim dropped his gaze, searching his mind for a good story. He felt Spock's hand rest lightly on his shoulder. He coughed violently.

 

Spock frowned lightly in concern. "Are you well? Have you been out here all night?"

 

Jim sniffled a bit. "I seem to have a bit of a cold," he said, hoping the Vulcan would drop the other questions.

 

There was a brief silence. Then Spock said, "Jim. I know I am a stranger to you and you do not yet trust me. Nonetheless, I would be honored if you would confide in me why you have been out here all night, despite getting a cold in the process and missing school."

 

Jim wilted a bit in shame. He hadn't wanted to lose the Vulcan's regard for him so soon, as he surely would once he told him, but it had been inevitable anyway. Maybe it was better this way. "I lost the book you gave me and I've been trying to find it before the farming machines come through," he mumbled, not looking Spock in the eye. Before he could stop it, he was overcome with another coughing fit.

 

Spock's hand tightened on his shoulder. His voice somewhat hesitant, he replied, "I know it was not you who lost the book. You treasure them. It is not in your nature. Who are you protecting?"

 

Jim did not reply.

 

After a minute, Spock removed his hand from his shoulder. "Jim, I am not offended or angry. Those are illogical emotions. I would get you another book, but logic dictates that Frank would destroy that one as well."

 

Jim shrank a bit further into himself, humiliated that Spock had figured out how Frank treated him.

 

"If you feel well enough to go to school, I will take you. Otherwise, allow me to check you over to make sure you are all right."

 

Jim still did not respond.

 

"Come with me," said Spock, grabbing him by the shoulder and pulling him upwards. Jim allowed him to do so and followed him back to the house. The easy strength he could feel from the old man made him a little nervous. His intuition told him that Spock would never hurt him, yet he could tell he was a lot stronger than Frank. Displeasing him would be a lot more painful. Jim knew Spock just wasn't the type, but still. He could not entirely push the thought out of his mind.

 

"You found him!" said Winona as they entered the house. "Thanks for going to the trouble, it is typical of him! Now he's missed school - "

 

Jim interrupted with a terrible coughing fit.

 

"And gotten himself sick too! Jim, you're grounded until further notice!"

 

Jim did not react, forgetting his nervousness about Spock. He practically lived a grounded life anyway. He was never allowed to have friends over, and rarely was allowed to go to anyone else's house. His parents rarely did anything fun and hardly ever took him along. So what really was the difference?

 

"I do not like the sound of his cough," said Spock. "With your permission, at home I have a medical scanner. While I am not a doctor, I am confident I will be able to tell if his condition necessitates one. If you will allow me, I would like to take him home and scan him."

 

"He'll be fine," Winona shrugged. "It'll teach him not to go missing."

 

Spock frowned as Jim sneezed. "I insist." His grip tightened protectively on Jim's shoulder.

 

Winona sighed. "Fine. But bring him back in time to make dinner."

 

Jim was surprised that she'd given in so easily and wasn't sure how he felt about going. He had such a mix of feelings - curiosity, shame, eagerness, dread, and nervousness. What would Spock's house be like? Would Spock finally come out and say what he really thought of him? Spock, so far, had been great, so he hoped it would stay that way. Or would he change his mind, if he hadn't already? What then? He was no match for Vulcan strength. Yet, looking at Spock, he could still not believe he would hurt him. The air of security and belonging around him was strong. He was torn between that and his insecurities. It just seemed too good to be true.

 

Spock immediately pulled Jim out the front door. "Have you eaten?" he asked.

 

"No," said Jim quietly.

 

"Unfortunately, all I have is replicated food. I hope that will suffice."

 

"Thank you," said Jim. He was really hungry.

 

Jim climbed in the back of Spock's speeder and held on tight as the Vulcan sped towards his new home. He followed the Vulcan into his house, still curious despite his current sombre mood. The crater still loomed unfinished in the backyard.

 

The moment Jim stepped through the door, he was overcome with an oppressive heat. It had to be at least 100 degrees in there! He had to have his solar power on maximum. The interior of the house was less interesting than he expected. It was spacious but did not have many decorations or personal affects. In the living room, Jim recognized a meditation mat and candles.

 

"Please wait here, Jim," requested Spock. "I will return shortly."

 

Jim nodded and sat down on the couch. He felt something hard press against his hip. His comm! It was turned off. He forgot about his inner conflict and switched it on to check his messages, oldest first.

 

WKirk: Where are you??? (repeated 10 times)

 

Frank: You little son of a bitch, get back to your mom! (repeated in increasingly more vulgar forms five times)

 

GMitch: Playing hooky to spend time with that Vulcan?

 

BenFin: Are you okay? You rarely miss school. I've got notes and your homework for you.

 

He even got a few from his neighbors. He deleted all messages from his parents, replied to his neighbors, then thanked and reassured Ben that he was all right, just a stuffy nose. He made it sound like he didn't come in because he was sick. He was just about to think of what to say to Gary (that was always harder, he was so perceptive it was hard to think of what to say to hide the nasty things at home), when Spock came in, carrying a tray of food in one hand and a medical scanner in the other.

 

"Thanks," said Jim, accepting the food. He smiled with pleasure as he realized it was his favorite. There was no way the old man could have known, though, so he continued without comment. Spock got right down to business with the scanner, frowning as he waved it over him. He looked more and more intense as he continued. It seemed that he was picking up on an awful lot, and Jim grew nervous. Was he getting all his injuries too, from when Frank pummeled him from time to time? He hoped not. Jim didn't want to be seen as a damaged weakling. Finally he couldn't stand the silence any longer. "Does everything check out?"

 

"You are a very active young boy," Spock commented, a trace of suspicion in his voice.

 

Jim winced internally. So he HAD seen all that stuff. Great.

 

"As for your cold, it is progressive in its severity. You will need to be monitored to ensure it does not become pneumonia."

 

That didn't sound too good. Frank did not ease up on him at all when he was sick. In fact, he was almost worse, insisting that he not become a sissy and just suck it up. Even if it made him sicker in the process.

 

Spock seemed to be cottoning on to this fact, somehow, because he said, "As your parents do not seem to know what is serious and what is not, logic dictates that I offer my services to care for you until you get better."

 

Suddenly being sick didn't seem so bad. Despite Jim's resignation to the fact that things wouldn't stay good, it was still much better than being with Frank. Just then, his comm buzzed with an incoming message.

 

"Go ahead," said Spock.

 

Jim read it.

 

GMitch: Still with Spock?

 

He felt his face flush slightly. He wrote him back quickly.

 

JKirk: Yes. I'll talk to you when I'm well enough to come to school. Spock thinks I might be coming down with pneumonia. See you soon.

 

"It's just Gary, wondering why I'm not at school," explained Jim evasively.

 

"Indeed," commented Spock.

 

Jim resumed eating, a hacking cough overcoming him every once in a while. Spock sat next to him, apparently deep in thought. Jim could practically hear that brilliant mind whirring. The Vulcan practically reeked intelligence. Jim looked out the window towards the crater. He would just love to know what it was for. Hopefully he wouldn't mind. "Can I ask you a question?"

 

"You may ask me anything, Jim," invited Spock.

 

"Why are you digging such a large hole in your backyard?"

 

Spock raised an eyebrow slightly and turned towards him. "I'm afraid I cannot tell you."

 

"Oh," said Jim, suddenly feeling a bit rejected. It really was none of his business. He shouldn't mind so much. Of course Spock would think he was just a stupid kid.

 

"Jim, I promise you will know sometime in the future. However, it is not beneficial for you to know at the present time. It is not because I do not wish to tell you, merely that I am waiting for the best time," Spock explained.

 

"I understand," said Jim, mystified but feeling better. What sort of thing could the old man be hiding that would need to wait until the 'best time' to reveal it? He finished his food, taking time to revel in that wonderful feeling of belonging. It was strange - despite having a horrible cold and feeling so conflicted, he felt better than he had in a while.

 

Spock stood abruptly. "If you would like to rest here, Jim, I will talk with your mother and make other calls I need to make."

 

Jim nodded his agreement, noting for the first time how much Spock said his name. He seemed to really like it for some reason.

 

Spock, meanwhile, was in his room with his private video comm, debating his next move. A part of him would dearly love to use this excuse to call Dr. Leonard McCoy, who would have just earned the title by now. However, how would he explain seeking him out when there were perfectly acceptable doctors nearby? Perhaps, as a new doctor, he would be seeing patients at a discounted rate. Still, that would not be enough. There were other new doctors much nearer to him, as well. A sudden plan formed in Spock's mind. It would be perfect. No one would suspect him of anything - not Jim, not Winona, not even the irritable McCoy. He double checked the whereabouts of McCoy's practice, then made some comm calls which were very fruitful. Now, if he could just get Winona to agree, his plan would work.

 

He dialed Winona's number and waited. She answered, looking a bit less irritable than usual. This was promising. "Good afternoon, Winona," he said politely.

 

"Hello, Spock. Thanks for taking Jim, it's been nice to actually have a peaceful house."

 

Spock decided not to point out that he would have been at school the majority of the time anyway. "It has been my pleasure, Winona. Unfortunately, I believe that Jim needs to be checked out by a doctor soon. I am running some errands in Georgia tomorrow, and I am getting there by transporter. If it is agreeable to you, I can take Jim with me and have him checked out by a local doctor there."

 

Winona looked torn. Spock decided to press further.

 

"It truly is a pleasure to have him with me. I am a lonely old man and the company is a privilege. Permit me to indulge myself a little longer. I am sure you could use another peaceful day in the house."'

 

"Very well," she agreed reluctantly. "Just make sure he doesn't fall behind on his schoolwork with all these days off."

 

Spock was a bit taken aback that she did not seem to care that Jim was sick. But his Vulcan mask did not falter. "It will not be a problem. I have a doctorate in many subjects, especially Math and Science. If he needs to be brought up to speed, I can tutor him."

 

Winona looked impressed despite herself. For a moment, he could see a kind, loving, confident woman who had made an excellent Starfleet officer. It made her resemblance to Jim more pronounced. Then it disappeared. "I should have known. Vulcan." She smiled a bit.

 

"Shall I return Jim to you, then pick him up tomorrow?" asked Spock.

 

She pursed her lips together. "Don't bother, if it's more hassle for you," she said.

 

"Very well," agreed Spock. "I will keep him with me, and he will go with me to Georgia tomorrow. I will tell you the doctor's prognosis and you can then decide your next move. Please send your electronic approval for a doctor's appointment to the address I just sent to your comm. Have a pleasant evening."

 

"Will do. Goodbye, Spock," she said. Then they cut the connection.

 

Spock quickly set up the appointment with Dr. McCoy's receptionist, a blond woman named Jocelyn - who, Spock believed, was going to be McCoy's wife, if she wasn't already. His eyes glimmered with satisfaction. Perhaps he would not be able to see McCoy on a regular basis, but it seemed if he was clever enough he'd be able to see him every once in a while.

 

It was of no consequence, however. He was quite satisfied with his situation here, with Jim. Who was going to be in his company at least another 24 hours. He slowly approached the living room, illogically wondering how Jim was going to react to the news. Surely Jim would prefer to be with humans his own age, not with an aged alien he barely knew. Would he be upset that he wasn't going to school, despite being sick?

 

Jim, meanwhile, had amused himself with all the possibilities of why Spock was digging the crater. He did not like mysteries. It was strange, and he just wanted to know! His theories ranged from a secret laboratory to some unknown Vulcan traditions. Maybe Vulcans hibernated during the winter. Who knew? They were so secretive. It could be, their planet was so hot, maybe he needed to hide from the snow? Why so BIG, though? Kind of ridiculous, but anything was possible. Speaking of the Vulcan heat, Jim was beginning to sweat in earnest. At first it had felt somewhat good, but now it was making him feel worse.

 

Spock walked in, and noticed Jim's feverish face. "My apologies, Jim, I should have adjusted the temperature immediately," he said, striding over to the thermostat. Jim watched him lower it to eighty degrees. Still a bit high, but much more tolerable.

 

He went back to the couch and sat down next to the young boy. "I have finished talking with your mother and making all the arrangements," Spock informed him. "You are to stay with me. Tomorrow, I am running errands in Georgia. There are some people requiring my high level of expertise with computers. You will accompany me by transporter, and I will take you to a doctor. After we hear his prognosis, we will decide our next move."

 

Jim's head began to throb a bit, but he ignored it. He could hardly believe his good fortune. Not only would he get to go somewhere cool, like Georgia, but he'd get to spend lots of time with Spock. He wouldn't have to see Frank for at least another day. "Thank you, Spock," he said with a large grin.

 

Spock's eyes glimmered a bit in response. "In that case, I will make up a bed and your other needed arrangements. Make yourself at home."

 

Jim already felt more at home there than he had anywhere else. He settled deeper into the cushions and started messaging on his comm. Ben had sent him his work electronically, but he disregarded it. He was way too excited for schoolwork.

 

JKirk: Ben, Gary... are you up for messaging?

 

GMitch: Bet you haven't left that Vulcan yet.

 

Jim wanted to roll his eyes. As much as he liked his friend Gary, he could be a bit much sometimes.

 

JKirk: No, I haven't. He's taking me to Georgia with him tomorrow. He has errands to run, and he'll take me to a doctor while he's there.

 

GMitch: Sounds like a great guy. Way too secretive and weird though, you know? There's something really strange about him.

 

JKirk: Hey, you haven't even met him! He's fine.

 

Jim wanted to believe it, anyway.

 

GMitch: Has he told you about his crater yet?

 

JKirk: Well, no.

 

GMitch: See?

 

JKirk: He promised he will, though.

 

GMitch: Get better soon, Jim. I'm glad you have Spock as a neighbor. Frank would probably be too busy as usual to take you to the doctor, right?

 

Luckily Ben interjected onto their chat then. It was set so all three could see each other's writing.

 

BenFin: Jim! How are you doing? Will you be going to school tomorrow?

 

GMitch: No, his Vulcan neighbor is taking him to a doctor in Georgia.

 

BenFin: Why doesn't he just take him to Riverside Regional?

 

GMitch: Good question. I'm not buying the errands thing.

 

JKirk: Gary, you are way too suspicious. I'm thrilled with what he has planned. Don't spoil it for me!

 

GMitch: Hey, I'm not saying it's not cool. It's just weird that he has so many secrets.

 

Spock passed by just then, his eyes smiling at the sight of the young James T. Kirk texting on his couch. This was something he could get used to.

 

Meanwhile, Jim frowned a bit to himself. He did not like the implied criticism of Spock, who had been nothing but kind to him so far.

 

JKirk: So, did Farting Finnegan leave you alone today?

 

BenFin: ROTFL that's great Jim!

 

GMitch: Yes. But I suspect it's only to plan better for tomorrow.

 

Jim suddenly felt playful, remembering Spock's earlier comment.

 

JKirk: What would you do if I started a brawl with him in your defense?

 

BenFin: You wouldn't!

 

GMitch: I'm not a damsel in distress, Jim.

 

JKirk: LOL You don't have to be. There has to be some way to make him stop messing with you!

 

Spock, meanwhile, entered the room he had for Jim and started his preparations. He had made it the way his own Jim had preferred. This was not in expectation that Jim would be staying there. That had come as a surprise. No, the reason had been since coming through the black hole, he had felt...stressed. Very stressed. He couldn't meditate properly, but he found that when he was in this room, and felt close to his old t'hy'la, he could concentrate better and was calmer. The young Jim had much the same effect. He did not feel as devastated about the loss of his entire life as he knew it when he was around him. He was not in love with Jim or have any kind of romantic inclinations towards him, even though he was the same person as his t'hy'la. Rather, it was his unwavering belief that Jim would make it all right, as he always had, that was such a comfort. His endearing familiarity made his world seem like it was in less chaos.

 

Yet, it did not seem to be all right for Jim. For certain, his parents were mistreating him. Although the extent was unclear to him, circumstances logically led to that as the most probable conclusion. Decades of knowing Jim had made him suspect it the first day, and he had decided that it was necessary to keep a close eye on him and investigate.

 

Keeping a close eye on him was important, regardless. Nero was out there somewhere. Nero, who knew that Jim was more important than anyone else in the universe to him. The troubled Romulan seemed set on revenge when he chased him through the black hole, and the transmissions he'd been sent had cemented that. Spock knew from experience how single-minded Romulans could be about those things. It was highly unlikely that he would give up on the idea. If he knew that Spock was here, he would hunt Jim down to make him suffer, so that Spock would suffer. Then he would kill Jim. That was completely unacceptable. As soon as Spock ascertained what year it was, and calculated all the risks, he realized it was necessary to protect Jim personally. No one else would have the technology to stand up to Nero, or even know Jim was in danger. He would have to do it. Not that it was a chore by any means. There was nothing he'd prefer to do.

 

So he had come up with a plan. He would move down the road from Jim. He'd deck his house out with all the technology he knew. He'd hide the Jellyfish in the back yard. He'd try to subtly as possible give Jim his contact information, and make him feel that he could use it in the event he starting seeing things that scared him and could be connected to Nero. He hid phasers in places where he knew he could get them easily. His speeder had a full arsenal of things he could use in an emergency at a moment's notice. He kept a low profile, not wanting to attract attention, but at the same time he tried to keep connected to everything that was going on so he could be forewarned, if possible, if Nero came. He could never be too cautious. This morning had just been an example of his need to keep a close eye on things. What if Jim decided to run away from home, made the national or even galactic news in their search for him, and it came to Nero's attention? The odds were not low enough to be comfortable. Right now, Jim was out of sight, out of mind, as far as Spock knew. That could change any moment.

 

Even so, even if Jim had not needed his protection from Nero, and possible intervention with his home life, Spock would still want to be around. He would not have perhaps been so forward about it, without the pressing need to be aware of everything, but he would still want Jim in his life, very much. The years after Jim went into the Nexus, then died, had been very hard. He had never loved anyone so much as he had loved Jim. Meeting his younger, alternate self seemed like a precious second chance to be in his life and give back to him what was given him, and make up for his lapse with the whole Nexus situation. He'd like nothing better than to save Jim from the more horrible experiences of his life, like Tarsus IV. Now he could do that. He could watch over him, care for him, and protect him. Then everything would be all right.

 

He could not, of course, tell Jim or anyone any of this. Therefore, it required much exaggerating and truth stretching to accomplish everything he needed to do. It was not something he preferred, but it was necessary.

 

Spock finished his preparations for Jim in the room, altering it a bit so that it was more to Jim's preferences as a child, and went back out to the living room. Seeing Jim engrossed with his comm, Spock gently interrupted him. "Jim, I have prepared a room for you, first door on the right down the hall. It has its own bathroom. I have also replicated everything you need - bathroom supplies, clothes, and later when you feel like it, your dinner. I will not impose a bedtime upon you. However, in light of your illness, I suggest you take this time to rest."

 

"Thank you, Spock. I'll be right there," said Jim. He felt a bit strange and awkward. He was not used to being waited on like this, and felt like he was being a nuisance. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

 

"There is no need to thank me, Jim. As I am well and you are not, it is only logical that I take care of things in your stead. There is nothing you need to do. One of the perks of being a scientist, is having the most advanced technology at my disposal and being licensed to use it. Will you keep a secret?"

 

Jim swelled a bit with pride at the thought of Spock trusting him with a secret. "Yes," he promised.

 

"My grasp of the sciences is so advanced that I am I licensed to have my own transporter. It is installed in the far corner of my house. I find it inadvisable for this to be common knowledge, however."

 

Jim nodded, finding that he really was not all that surprised. He was beginning to feel that Spock literally knew everything. Advanced transporter mechanics was probably the equivalent to kindergarten to him. He probably mumbled pi in his sleep. Jim fought back a smile at the thought.

 

"I know it is early, but I will take my leave of you at this time. It is my habit to meditate. Do not hesitate to interrupt me for any reason. Goodnight, Jim." Spock allowed himself a tiny smile. He would be able to meditate better with Jim around.

 

"Goodnight, Spock," said Jim. He smiled to himself for a moment, then returned to his messaging.

 

A while later, when Ben and Gary both had to sign off, he decided to go to his room. First one on the right, he'd said. Jim opened the door and turned on the light.

 

The sight before him stopped in his tracks. He'd expected the rather sterile, impersonal decor of the rest of the house. Not so with his room. In fact, it was so much to his liking it seemed custom-made to his desires. For the first time, Jim seriously considered the idea that the older man had the ability to read his mind.

 

The walls were blue. The ceiling had the glow in the dark stars that he'd always wanted but Frank would never let him have. There were shelves and shelves lining the walls with antiques - mostly books - that must have cost a fortune and been very difficult to find. He scanned the titles. Some were unfamiliar, but most were ones he'd been dying to have. There was a huge window on one side. Posters were on the wall with his favorite sports teams and fictional characters. He even had his own gaming terminal in the corner. Then he noticed the door to the bathroom. He went in, noting it was done up in all his favorite colors - blue, black, and gold. There were starships on the shower curtain. Jim stepped back, overcome with emotion. It seemed that this was a huge coincidence, or Spock had somehow guessed correctly what he'd like and went through much time and expense to make sure this was to his liking in the event he would ever stay there. He wandered over to the bed and sat down, still stunned. Either he was dreaming, or Gary was right - there was something a bit too weird about Spock. But Jim had no wish to complain. However he knew what he knew, he obviously cared a great deal about him. That in itself was a real treasure. He just wished he knew how he'd earned all this from him. That was a real mystery.

 

He changed into his pajamas, shorts and a shirt that said, "Go Climb a Rock." He grinned to himself. He'd always wanted to go rock climbing. Especially free climbing.

 

As he sank into his pillows, he wished this could last forever. At the same time, he was excited for tomorrow. He'd only been outside of Iowa a few times, and never so far as Georgia. Jim slept surprisingly well for someone coughing and sneezing so often. The security of being in Spock's house overrode much of his agitation with his cold.

 

He woke up the next morning with a coughing fit but feeling rather boneless and relaxed all the same. He stared at the starry ceiling, momentarily confused. Then he remembered, and smiled to himself.

 

A few minutes later, he heard a knock at the door. "Jim," Spock called.

 

"Yes, Mr. Spock? Come in," said Jim, gratified at the respect Spock was showing by asking permission.

 

Spock came in, looking pleased to see him as usual. "I merely wished to ascertain that you were awake. We will need to leave in 45 minutes if we are to make your appointment on time. I have replicated breakfast for the both of us."

 

Jim nodded happily. He got out of bed and followed him to the dining room, which lacked personality as much as the rest of the house did, with the exception of his room. The wonder of last night came back to him, and he sat down absentmindedly, picking at his food. He felt too excited and rather too sick to eat.

 

"Would something else be more to your preference?" asked Spock, a slightly confused tone slipping in his voice.

 

Jim met his gaze thoughtfully. Spock had, once again, somehow figured out his favorite breakfast, pancakes with chocolate chips with whipped cream on top, made in his favorite recipe. How he'd managed that with the replicator he didn't know. "No, it's my favorite."

 

Spock looked as relieved as an emotionally suppressed Vulcan could look.

 

"It's just, I'm not feeling so good so I don't feel like eating as much," Jim explained. He decided to change the subject. "My room..." he started, not sure how to phrase his question. His voice cracked in an embarrassing fashion. He hoped Spock didn't see how much it had meant to him. He would probably think it was pathetic.

 

"Is it not to your preference?" asked Spock, his tone suggesting he thought it doubtful that it wasn't.

 

"No, it definitely is! It's great. I just wanted to know...." his voice trailed off, unsure how to finish the sentence.

 

"How I knew everything you liked?"

 

"Yes," confirmed Jim, relieved that Spock had figured it out. He also wanted to know how he'd gotten it all there on such short notice, but didn't want to seem rude.

 

Spock shifted a bit and frowned. Jim suddenly got the feeling that the Vulcan was about to bullshit him a bit. As to why, he had no idea.

 

"Much of the room was already that way, by happy coincidence," he explained. "I also ascertained some of your preferences with your mother. I had hoped you would spend time here in the future, so I put the antiques in your room, which had previously been in storage, knowing you would like them. It was no trouble, Jim," he said, correctly guessing what Jim had opened his mouth to say. "I merely wished to make you comfortable here. I have extensive assets and no one to share them with. Permit me to indulge myself in this."

 

Jim did not know what to say. His heart warmed, though. It was obvious that the old man genuinely wanted him here, as strange as that was. "I really like it, thanks," said Jim shyly.

 

Spock's eyes glimmered as he finished his breakfast of reddish leaves Jim did not recognize but assumed were Vulcan. Jim forced himself to finish, not wanting to disappoint Spock. When he finished, he put his dishes in the dishwasher and then went to his bathroom.

 

When he was ready, he could not find Spock anywhere. So he knocked on random doors, calling out for him until he found the correct one.

 

"Yes, Jim?" he heard.

 

"I'm ready to go," he said, holding back a cough.

 

"I will be out shortly. Go in the last door on the right and wait for me."

 

"Okay," said Jim. He followed the directions and pushed the door open. True to Spock's word, there was a small transporter platform that took up much of the room. It could take maybe three people. Jim looked it over without touching anything. He hadn't seen very many, but it sure looked much more advanced than anything he'd seen before.

 

Spock arrived a few minutes later, looking pleased at Jim's interest in the transporter. "I can explain it to you later, if you are interested. However, we must go now."

 

He gestured for Jim to step on the transporter. He'd never traveled by one before so he was a little nervous and excited about it. Spock pressed several buttons, then took his place by Jim's side. Jim waited in high anticipation. He was going to Georgia!

 

Georgia! by Rimilea

Thanks to Peachly, my beta, and thanks to Tonati, Dahliaxat, and Kami for reviewing. I definitely appreciate your comments and feedback. It helps me make changes to improve the story.

 

To anyone who is wondering, as far as this story is concerned, Sam does not exist. He was inconvenient lol.

 

Chapter 3: Georgia!

 

The room melted from Jim's eyes, and he felt tingly all over. Almost instantaneously, he found himself materializing in a lobby. A blond woman looked up at them.

 

"Oh, you're Spock and Jim right? 8:45?" she asked, her voice very Southern. "I'm Jocelyn, by the way," she added, addressing Jim.

 

Spock strode forward, Jim following him, who was still a bit dazed from the shock of transportation. "That is correct. How long is the waiting period?"

 

"Not long," she reassured them. Spock raised an eyebrow, conveying his doubt. In his experience, human doctors were notorious for their long waiting periods, exceeding even their Secretary of State offices. Of course, it had not been that way on the Enterprise, but his time on Earth had apprised him of this fact.

 

"Really," she said. "It'll only be about fifteen minutes."

 

Spock nodded, knowing that humans tended to be very imprecise. He turned and sat down, and Jim sat beside him.

 

"What doctor am I seeing?" asked Jim curiously. He'd only gone a few times in his life, when his injuries had been so severe that he and Frank could not hide them.

 

"Dr. Leonard H. McCoy," said Spock. "He just recently earned his title of Medicinae Doctor. He is a kind, warm hearted Southern gentleman. I think you'll like him."

 

Just then, shouting reached their ears. "I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker! If you want the results, you're going to have to cooperate!"

 

"He is kind and warmhearted buried beneath a rather colorful exterior," amended Spock.

 

Jim fought the urge to raise an eyebrow. He couldn't do it as precisely as Spock and would probably look ridiculous. Instead, he remembered what Gary had said about not buying the whole errands excuse. It seemed as if Spock knew this doctor. Just another mystery to add to the rapidly growing list.

 

Several minutes later - which, Spock noted, was more than Jocelyn had allotted - Dr. McCoy came out, looking rather disgruntled. His eyes softened, however, when he saw Jim.

 

"I'm Dr. Leonard McCoy. You must be Jim and Spock."

 

"That is correct, Doctor," said Spock, finding his heart warming despite himself. Dr. McCoy looked as though he was doing well, and he was glad to see it.

 

"Hi," said Jim shyly.

 

"Well, I got your readings you sent me from your medical scanner. I'm glad you had the sense to bring him in, instead of fooling around like the other people licensed to have medical scanners. Why you brought him all the way to Georgia when he's sick, though, I can't imagine, especially using those fool transporters. You want to rest him, not have his atoms floating around in random places!" He gestured them to follow. Spock immediately went, fighting back a smile. Jim followed with an uncertain look on his face. It seemed so unlikely that Spock would go out of his way to a doctor with a bedside manner such as this. Maybe it was all just as Spock said it was, and he and Gary were just paranoid.

 

They arrived in an examining room, and McCoy had Jim sit down, taking his own readings with his scanner. He made friendly conversation while he worked, asked Jim about his favorite subjects in school, what grades he got, and what hobbies he liked. He seemed impressed with the answers Jim gave.

 

When he finished, he frowned. "I'm not picking up everything you did on your scanner, Spock," he said, puzzled. His tone did not seem suspicious, however. It was very difficult to fabricate scanner results, after all.

 

"I made a few adjustments on mine, to make it more sensitive," explained Spock casually.

 

"Well, I wish I had you as my mechanic, then," he commented, thankfully not pressing further.

 

He was silent for a few minutes, finishing his physical examination and taking notes. Finally he said, "Well, Jim, looks like you're fortunate Spock is looking out for you. You're just starting to come down with pneumonia. Fortunately we caught it early, so it won't be as bad. I'll be prescribing some medication for you. When's the last time you saw a doctor?"

 

Jim shrugged. "I think a few years ago. Just in the ER, though. To fix my broken arm."

 

"I'm going to get you some ointment for that shiner as well. Did you anger your girlfriend?" asked McCoy jokingly. "She must have big hands."

 

His tone had been a little too light. Jim suspected he suspected the truth, and was gently trying to get him to admit it. "I fell off my bike," he said hopelessly.

 

"Yeah, and I'm the president of the United Federation of Planets. Look, kid, I know a handprint when I see one. The shape and markings are all consistent with a sharp blow to the face by someone bigger and stronger than you. My and Spock's scanners also say this was not the first time something like this happened. Now you might not want to admit it to any of us, kid, but I think someone's abusing you. If you won't tell us, try to tell another adult who can do something for you. I can recommend a social worker to do an investigation."

 

Jim froze in fear and embarrassment. His parents would be FURIOUS, and Spock, what did he think of all this? Was he just doing all this because he felt sorry for him? "I think you're exaggerating," said Jim, trying to keep his voice casual.

 

"Exaggerating, my ass," McCoy said irritably. "I've got evidence of extensive bruising never properly healed because of repeated application of that same hand, mostly on areas that would normally be covered by clothing. I've also gotten evidence of fractured ribs never properly healed, either. I could go on."

 

Spock took this moment to speak. Jim did not meet his eyes. "Jim, you do not have to do anything you do not wish to. We merely wish to extend the offer of protection and investigation, should you wish to take it."

 

"What's your relation to him, anyway?" asked McCoy. He knew the handprints did not belong to Spock. His hands were shaped different, for one, and Jim's bones would all have been broken by his Vulcan strength, which they had not been, for the most part.

 

"I'm his neighbor. I just moved in and recently became acquainted with him."

 

"Recent? How recent?"

 

There was a pause. "I met him three days ago."

 

McCoy shot him a look of disbelief. "You met the kid three days ago, then you decide to drag him to a doctor in Georgia?"

 

"That is correct."

 

"Well, it's about time someone did," said McCoy. "How did he get the pneumonia?"

 

Spock explained the circumstances. Jim did not look at either of them, picking at the paper on the examining table. He felt like he was a problem and a burden. He did not like it at all.

 

"So he apparently decided that your book was more important than his own health?" said McCoy in exasperation.

 

"I would say he behaved like any young boy would under the circumstances," amended Spock, trying to soften the statement.

 

"Well, it's about time someone looked after him properly. Now, I can't order a social worker to investigate, unfortunately, without more evidence. But this is something you can provide, if you observe and document what you find out about the goings on between him and his parents."

 

"I will document it. However, I will not act against Jim's wishes. I will not force my assistance upon him."

 

"Looks like you got yourself a neighbor as stubborn as you are," said McCoy, addressing Jim again. His eyes were fond, though. "Well, kid, I can't do much more now than give you your prescription, write you a doctor's note, make some notations in your record, and recommend you get three days of rest. Go to Mr. Spock if you have any problems. And I don't want to hear about any more all nighters in the cornfield."

 

Jim nodded, getting up to go.

 

"Hey," said McCoy, his voice softer than it had ever been. "I like you. I can tell you're a good, intelligent kid. I hope Spock will take you to see me again, hopefully under better circumstances. Like an investigation. Take care, kid."

 

Jim nodded again, smiling shyly. Spock watched the exchange with pleasure. It had been so many years since he'd seen these two together. It had been worth all the effort and planning.

 

"Why don't you go to Jocelyn and she'll give you all the paperwork? I would like a word with Spock."

 

Jim nodded again and left rather reluctantly.

 

"He looks rather well for getting up early and the long speeder ride you must have taken to get to a transporter," McCoy commented when Jim was gone.

 

"I have my transporter license and one is installed in my house," explained Spock.

 

"What license DON'T you have?" wondered McCoy.

 

"Para-sailing. I never understood the logic of depending upon such a dubious contraption."

 

"And yet you'll step in a transporter and have your atoms flung about the cosmos. Logic, my ass. But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about. Two things," McCoy said. "Now, I know you told my receptionist that you have errands in town, and that's why you were here. But she also told me that you asked for me specifically. Now, perhaps it's not my business, but is there any reason for that?"

 

Spock should have known better than to expect McCoy not to be suspicious. It had clearly been too long since he'd spent time with the doctor. Or perhaps his eager emotionalism had clouded his logic. He would have to meditate on it. "There is no reason I wish to discuss."

 

"Well, when you wish to discuss it, let me know," he grumbled irritably. Damn secretive computeroid Vulcans. "The second thing. You watch that kid like a hawk. I don't know how invested you are in him, but he needs to be convinced to get his situation investigated. If I found myself a willing witness, I could order it myself. Don't think I won't try." He pointed his finger at him for emphasis.

 

Spock held back his urge to smile at the familiar gestures and language. It certainly felt like deja vu to hear McCoy using his authority in his medical profession to override what he believed to be an unwise decision on Jim's part.

 

"I've taken a liking to this kid. And I know Vulcans scoff at emotionalism, but try to make an exception for him. And watch your own health too! I have not taken any specialized xenobiology courses, but even I can recognize stress in Vulcans. I would be waving my tricorder over you right now if I didn't have to get to my next appointment."

 

Spock hid his relief. He was not sure what McCoy with find, but he was not sure it would be not suspicious.

 

"Something big happened to you recently. Maybe the reason why you moved to the middle of nowhere, away from other Vulcans, seeking human companionship? All behavior that is not typical of Vulcans."

 

Spock decided to give away one fact about himself to alleviate his uncomfortably accurate scrutiny. "That is because I am not fully Vulcan. I am half human."

 

"Well, you sure kept that one under wraps. Does the kid know?"

 

"I have not had the opportunity to tell him."

 

"Well, maybe if you don't keep so many secrets from him, he might be a little freer with his," pointed out McCoy. "Now, I'm a doctor, not a psychologist. But what that kid needs is a good father figure. I imagine even you would be better than what he's got."

 

Spock did not take it personally. In fact, he was delighted to find himself in the middle of the familiar banter. "Indeed. Perhaps even an irritable doctor would be preferable."

 

"Why you -"

 

A nurse opened the door just then, looking apologetic. "Doctor, we've got a patient in the lobby demanding to see you right now. He seems to be in a lot of pain."

 

"I'll be right out," said McCoy. He turned back to Spock. "I'll be checking up on you, you know. And I mean it about finding a witness. I have my ways. Goodbye, Mr. Spock." And with that, McCoy marched out of the room with Spock at his heels. They both made their way to the lobby where Jim was waiting.

 

"Take care, kid," called McCoy after them as they left. Jim waved in response.

 

"Now we must go on my errand and contact your mother. I have arranged a place for you to rest in the same building I will be in," Spock informed him.

 

Jim did not respond immediately. They had just stepped outside, and he was seeing Georgia for the first time. It was definitely hotter than Iowa. He bet Spock was glad of that. The greenery was a bit different, and he was surrounded by southern accents. He took in the sights eagerly, and Spock indulged him by keeping his pace slow.

 

They arrived at a rather boring looking building, and Spock and Jim went inside. "My skills with computers are required here," he explained. "They have graciously volunteered the entertainment room for your use. Please stay there while I conduct my work. It should only be a few hours."

 

Jim nodded, and they parted ways. Jim sat down and decided to text his friends. They wouldn't be able to respond until lunchtime, but he wanted to anyway.

 

JKirk: In Georgia! McCoy said I was just starting to come down with pneumonia. But he says we caught in time so it won't be too bad. I have the rest of the week off from school though. I'll take pictures here with my comm so you can see!

 

Now starting to feel a bit bored, he looked around at what there was to do. There was a TV, arcade, snack machine, soda machine, several tables, cards, a chess and checkers set, and even a 3D chess set. He flipped through the channels on the TV and sat next to the chess set, fiddling with the pieces. He liked the knights the best. He'd always wanted to ride a horse, but of course his parents wouldn't let him, saying it was too expensive. Even if his deceased dad's brother had a ranch and would let him ride for free. Apparently they didn't want him to have anything to do with his real dad's family.

 

He settled on a sweet action movie and continued moving the pieces randomly as he watched. He lost track of time, enjoying his freedom. He wondered what it would be like to explore Georgia all by himself. For a moment, he considered it. It would be wild. It would be cool. Daring. Fun! Then he imagined Spock's reaction if he ran out on him. That immediately shut down all thoughts of escape. If it had been Frank, he wouldn't have hesitated. It would have been worth some bruises and shouting. But it definitely wasn't worth losing Spock's regard. He felt he was on thin ice with that as it was.

 

He was so occupied by his thoughts, the movie, and the chessboard that he didn't notice Spock come up behind him, until he spoke. That Vulcan could sure sneak up on a person!

 

"You play chess?" asked Spock.

 

Jim turned to face him. Despite his expression not changing much at all, Jim would describe him as excited. Maybe it was something about the eyes. "Well, not really. I know what each piece does, and I've played with Gary a few times. But I don't know a whole lot about the game."

 

"Would you like to learn?"

 

To be honest, chess wasn't really on Jim's list of priorities right now. Exploring Georgia was. But Spock looked as excited as he'd ever seen him - well, with the exception of when they first met, but anyway - and Jim didn't want to disappoint. "Yeah." He smiled.

 

Spock immediately sat down and set up the board properly. Jim could tell he was a pro and prepared to get steamrolled. But Spock was more interested in instructing than winning, and Jim found himself interested despite himself.

 

He also noticed, that as they played, Spock looked.... different. Jim couldn't quite put his finger on it, and spent some time trying to figure it out. He looked less...stressed, maybe? That was it! Jim had never thought of Spock as stressed before, especially since he had a much more calm personality than anyone he'd ever met, but now that it was lessened, the difference was obvious. He seemed happier somehow, more at home, playing chess with him.

 

Jim resolved to buy Spock a chess set, if he didn't already have one.

 

His comm buzzed, interrupting them. Spock gestured him to answer it.

 

Jim took a look.

 

GMitch: Glad to hear you're doing well. Find out the real reason you went to Georgia?

 

Jim felt a bit self conscious texting about this in front of Spock. With everything that had happened lately between them, he still was not convinced that he could not read his mind. Nonetheless, he messaged back.

 

JKirk: No, not really. He was a bit weird about the doctor, though, seemed like he knew him even though he'd never seen him before. Maybe he's just a psychic or something. You should have seen the room he made for me. It was tailor made to me, and I never told him anything. He gave me an explanation, but I think it was bullshit. Even so, he's great. I'm half hoping he'll kidnap me. LOL

 

GMitch: Psychic? Maybe you've got something there. Vulcans are supposed to be touch telepaths, you know. It still doesn't explain the crater behind his house, or why he's here instead of Vulcan.

 

JKirk: He seems to like me a lot. I bet I'll find out eventually.

 

As long as nothing went south, of course. Beyond the literal meaning.

 

BenFin: You will, Jim! I'm glad to hear you're going to be all right. I want to meet that mysterious Vulcan of yours! He sounds neat. A real mystery!

 

JKirk: When a good opportunity comes up, definitely. I should go now, though. He's been patiently waiting for me to finish.

 

BenFin: Wow, he makes a special room for you, takes you to Georgia, AND lets you text in front of him without getting mad. Is he for sale?? :D :D

 

JKirk: No, LOL, but he's pretty good at talking parents into things. :D Talk to you later.

 

"Sorry," said Jim. "I'll turn it off."

 

"No, there is no need. The chance to interact with someone your own age and species must be welcome to you. I have no objections."

 

Jim's stomach dropped at the possible implications. "No, no, I'm turning it off," he said. "I like spending time with you," he added shyly. He turned off his comm. What if he blew it?

 

Spock's eyes warmed for a moment. "Speaking of interactions, we need to contact your mother to plan our next move."

 

Jim tried to hide his disappointment. He'd tried to forget he had to return to his parent's house, but now he had to face it. Seriously, Spock could take him away on a spaceship and he'd have no regrets. But unfortunately that is not the way life worked for him. Spock had better things to do than take care of his problems. He was a brilliant guy, and he was just some stupid kid. Why was he even bothering?

 

Spock, of course, wasn't stupid and caught on to his silence. He bet Spock was listed in the dictionary as the antonym for stupid. "Jim, there is not much I can do for you, unless you consider Dr. McCoy's plan," reminded Spock.

 

"No," he whispered, barely audible, but Spock's Vulcan hearing caught it.

 

"Jim, I would take responsibility for you, if you were to change your mind. Or if you would prefer someone else, I would find that person or persons. I will assist you in any way you need. You may be surprised at what I can do for you."

 

Jim found he could not speak.

 

Spock scrutinized him for a minute, sensing he had pushed Jim far enough for now. He did not like it, but he found that respecting Jim's decisions no matter what, was so deeply ingrained in him he could not find it in himself to resist the urge, as illogical as it currently was. Still looking at Jim in concern, he pulled out his comm and dialed. He told her about the pneumonia and the medicines Jim was taking, and the doctor's note for the three days off. Jim sat frozen and unhappy in his seat, not meeting Spock's eyes through the exchange. Spock unleashed the full force of his considerable diplomatic skills on Winona, trying to persuade her to let him keep Jim under his care until he was better. It was close. Jim was rather impressed that Spock had managed to make her sound so unsure of her decision to have Jim come back home. In the end, though, Winona did not cave, saying that Frank was insisting that he come back before day's end. She would not say why, just said vaguely that it was a private family matter. Spock did not like that Frank was so stubborn about it, and logically concluded it could not be anything good. Unfortunately, there was little he could do.

 

Jim looked quite glum when Spock finished the call. Spock was unsure of what to do. Despite his many years among humans and Jim in particular, he could not quite grasp the illogic of it all. If Jim was unhappy in his situation, why did he not accept legal intervention to improve it? It is what any Vulcan would have done, in the unlikely and rare event it happened.

 

But Jim was not a Vulcan. His own Jim was not. Although he had his moments, especially as he grew older, he had never really acted like one. His Jim, Kirk Prime, was a proud man who liked to find his own solutions to things. Perhaps having someone else find those solutions for him was unpleasant? Yet, Spock had often been the one to come up with answers, and Jim had always been eager to listen to and enact them. Yet Jim always made the final decision. Perhaps he perceived this as a blow to his personal power? Having the situation come to light, would make him appear weak, even though that was not the case. His Jim had certainly always tried to appear strong, except in those cases he had allowed himself to fall apart in Spock's presence. He had thought it was to retain the respect of command, but perhaps it was more personal than that?

 

Perhaps, then, Spock was going about this entirely the wrong way. Maybe if he inspired Jim to feel strong and proud in other respects, he would not mind the idea of a court case so much. With this in mind, he changed his tone and addressed Jim. "We do not have to leave Georgia right away. I know a diner we can eat at before we go. You may take pictures on the way if you wish. I would show you the town, but I do not want to make you more ill."

 

Jim brightened slightly, but not much. Spock led him to a diner that he had gone to with McCoy shortly before he died. Of course, it did not look quite the same as it had then, but he was pleased to see it there all the same. He knew McCoy Prime had frequented it on his lunch breaks. There was a chance they'd run into him again before they left.

 

Jim did take some pictures. Spock let him order anything on the menu, and Jim perked up a bit more. Spock kept his eyes peeled on the entrance, watching for McCoy.

 

The doctor did not disappoint. Looking disgruntled, as usual, he entered the diner, got his food, and scanned for a seat. He spotted them and headed over.

 

"You again," he said without preamble. "You'd better not be dragging him all over town. He needs his rest. Pneumonia can be serious business."

 

"Do not concern yourself, Doctor. We are headed back after this."

 

"Good," said McCoy, sitting down with them. "Not that I mind your company," he added to Jim.

 

Jim smiled at him. McCoy was beginning to grow on him. "I like Georgia. I hope I get to come back someday."

 

"Well kid, I have an extra room for whenever that happens. I mean it, too, don't you think otherwise. You can even drag this walking computer along with you," he added, as if it were a great sacrifice on his part.

 

"Perhaps, if this 'walking computer' could tolerate massive amounts of illogic and irritability," said Spock without regret.

 

"I'd say where you could stick your logic, Vulcan, but we are in polite company," bantered McCoy.

 

"Indeed. Perhaps you'd better leave then, Doctor."

 

"Why you green blooded hobgoblin! You better watch your mouth. You never know when I might find a hypo with something nasty in it." He turned to Jim. "How can you stand him?"

 

Jim smiled a bit. He could tell, by the lack of any real malice in McCoy's voice, that he was not entirely serious. "Well, there are a few perks to being around him."

 

"Enlighten me," said McCoy.

 

Jim told him about getting all his favorite foods, the way his room was decorated, getting the book, and his tolerance for texting (most adults did not like it, he'd found).

 

"You're spoiling him rotten!" observed McCoy to Spock, with glee in his voice. "How do you explain the logic of THAT?"

 

Spock's eyes gleamed. "It would be illogical to give him things he doesn't like as well, when I know I can easily cater to his preferences."

 

"It would be illogical not to spoil him, you mean," said McCoy in disbelief. "Didn't know that was part of the Vulcan philosophy. Are all Vulcan children spoiled?"

 

"Vulcan children are purely logical. They do not have the preferences that human children have. However, that does not mean that I believe that human children are inferior," he reassured Jim.

 

"I see. What about you, then? You're not fully Vulcan. Were you spoiled?"

 

Spock's own childhood was so long ago, it seemed like it was a different universe. In fact, it had been. His eyes flicked to Jim and noticed his look of shock.

 

"You're not fully Vulcan?" he asked.

 

"No. I am half Vulcan, half human. I did not intentionally hide this fact from you."

 

He could see Jim had another question, but seemed afraid to ask. "Oh, that's okay. I didn't even know it was possible."

 

"There was some intervention with biology experts to ensure my survival," Spock explained. "Jim, if there is something else you would like to know, always feel free to ask. I may not be able to answer, but I do not object to questions." Spock was secretly glad Jim had managed to distract McCoy from answering questions about his own childhood. Although not objectionable in the way Jim's was, it still was not his subject of choice.

 

"How old are you?" asked Jim.

 

"I am 155.2573 years old, in Earth terms," revealed Spock.

 

"Can't you just say you're 155 years old?" quipped McCoy.

 

"I believe in complete accuracy, doctor. With all the approximations in your language, it is no wonder that misunderstandings occur so often in your species."

 

"Not all of us are made of computer circuits, Spock," grumbled McCoy. "I see no harm in giving an 'approximation' of your age. Hell, you could just tell him you're an old fart and call it good."

 

Spock's eyebrow shot up. This was not something McCoy had ever said to him before. Perhaps that was because where he came from, McCoy was older than him. "I see no logic in telling him that I am, as you say, an 'old fart.' Not to mention the scientific impossibilities of that statement."

 

Jim giggled in response. Spock's eyes softened. He had not heard Jim laugh since he had last been with Kirk Prime, and that had been decades ago. It was a welcome sound indeed.

 

McCoy looked pleased as well. The expression was brief, but Spock caught it anyway. "Who ever called that phrase scientific? It's an expression. An accurate one."

 

"There is nothing specific about that statement, therefore, I do not understand how you have come to the conclusion that it is accurate. I believe you need to examine your logic, doctor."

 

"I can't believe we're dissecting the phrase, 'old fart.' Vulcans," McCoy muttered to himself, as if it were a curse word. "I'd love to stay and continue on with this conversation," he added, his tone betraying otherwise, "But I've got a clinic to return to, and you have a young man you need to get back in bed."

 

Spock's eyes shifted to Jim. Although his eyes spoke of his enjoyment, the rest of his body language betrayed his exhaustion and discomfort of being sick. "Indeed, you are correct doctor."

 

"Take care, Jim," said McCoy. "And I meant what I said about a free room. And I even meant what I said about bringing HIM along. A door is open here for you in the Southeast. Don't you forget it." McCoy patted him on the shoulder as he got up to go.

 

Spock arranged his fingers in the Vulcan salute. For the first time, his real feelings of friendship for the doctor were betrayed in his eyes. Jim and McCoy did not understand it. It seemed out of proportion to the little time they had spent together. "Live long and prosper, Dr. McCoy," he said, really meaning it. "Until we meet again."

 

"We will. In fact, you should be scheduling a checkup for yourself," McCoy admonished Spock. "Make sure he does," he added, addressing Jim this time.

 

"Will do," promised Jim, smiling. "It was nice to meet you."

 

"Nice to meet you too. You rest and stay in bed until you're better! Got to go, or I'll be late." With that, McCoy left.

 

"It is time for us to be leaving as well," Spock said. He paid for their food, and Jim followed him out the door.

 

The city was large enough to have its own transporter room. Jim took a few more pictures on the way. They did not have far to walk. Within moments, Jim felt the strange tingling again and resigned himself to what was to come.

 

Back at Frank's by Rimilea

Thanks to estralita and logicallyillogical for reviewing!! You are awesome. Thanks also to my awesome beta, Peachly!

 

Chapter 04: Back at Frank's

 

When Jim found himself back in Spock's personal transporter room, he suddenly felt exhausted. Adrenaline, it seemed, had carried him thus far in the day, but everything was catching up with him now.

 

Spock noticed. "Off to bed with you," he said. "You do not have to go home immediately. I will call for you when it is time."

 

Jim nodded and went to his room. He curled up on the bed, not needing the covers as it was still quite warm in the house. Spock brought him some water and set it by the bed, before quietly leaving and shutting the door.

 

The Vulcan then decided to meditate. He clearly needed it. Between his shortsightedness with McCoy, the strong emotion brought out in him by McCoy's opinions at the clinic, not to mention the conversation with McCoy very reminiscent of ones he used to have decades ago, it had all left him emotionally compromised and his logic clouded. Although he knew the merits of emotionalism, he still preferred a clear head.

 

He lost himself in meditation for a few hours. The house was perfectly quiet, except for the light snoring he could hear in Jim's room.

 

Jim's room. Spock felt very pleased to have a room in his house that Jim could call his own, that was to his liking. While what he'd said to Jim had been admittedly misleading, there was truth in it in the fact he had confirmed the facts with his mother, in inquiring what things Jim liked after he'd given Jim the book.. She had not been too knowledgeable, but he'd gotten enough out of the interaction to know that there was no significant deviation in this Jim's preferences.

 

Jim, who minded his company less than Spock feared he would. It seemed that he and Jim had the ability to thrive together no matter the circumstances, alternate reality and differing situations or not. Unfortunately, their current time together must now come to an end. He did not want to take him back to his parent's house. Besides his own selfish reasons, he did not believe they would properly care for him or take his sickness seriously. They would probably abuse him even when he was sick. Yet, there was nothing he could do, short of kidnapping him to the other side of the galaxy. Which WAS possible... He glanced out the window where he knew the Jellyfish sat underneath the cloaking device, beyond the crater, awaiting its new home to be finished. It was literally the fastest, most advanced, best warp drive available ship in the galaxy right now (except for Nero's, perhaps), outstripping all the the currently known species. The odds of him being caught were at a comfortably low level, except by Nero.. He could use his extensive knowledge from his previous life to find a suitable planet to hide on, until Jim was of age and remain extra vigilant.

 

The entire fantasy was far too tempting. He had not been kidding to Jim when he said Jim would be surprised at all he could do for him. His choices were rather limitless. It was highly illogical for him to continue as he was when he could easily have so much better. Yet, as he'd realized before, contradicting Jim's wishes just was not in his nature. He'd spent 30 some years of his life following Jim's orders, and would have for much longer had Jim lived longer. He had no desire to command or be in authority over him. Yet, now he was faced with the situation. McCoy had been much better at defying Jim when need be, than he ever had, and when he had, he had been aided by McCoy. Perhaps risking further suspicion with further interaction with the doctor would be of benefit, and worth it.

 

Now, however, he must be returned home. He would try to solve this quietly, in a legal manner. To not do so would likely catch the attention of the national and perhaps galactic media, and by default, Nero's attention, which would preferably be avoided. While he did have the capability of destroying Nero's ship with the red matter, he did not want to kill except in self-defense. It was possible Nero would lose interest in him and perhaps spend his time more productively in preparing his people for the supernova that was to come. It was an illogical hope, but it was a possibility that could not be excluded.

 

Spock got up and knocked on Jim's door. When there was no response, he concluded that he must be sleeping. He entered, and took a short moment to watch him sleep. Then he reluctantly moved to wake him up, shaking his shoulder. "Jim. Jim, it is time to go."

 

Jim stirred sleepily. "What?"

 

"It's time to go." Unless you decide otherwise, Spock added mentally.

 

Jim acknowledged him unhappily, and got up to follow him to the speeder.

 

Spock stopped before exiting the house. "Is there anything further you would like before we go?"

 

Jim hesitated a moment. "Just...thanks for everything. I really enjoyed my time with you." His voice was shy.

 

"The pleasure has been mine, Jim. You know how to contact me. Do not ever hesitate to contact me for any reason at all. You may come here at any time. Treat this house as your own." With the exception of his backyard, of course, but he did not want to draw attention to it. Besides, he had set up alarms to alert and detain unwanted visitors to that area. The man with the crane had no idea how lucky he was that he was a wanted visitor.

 

Jim smiled and nodded. They went out the door and climbed onto the speeder. Jim noticed Spock drove well below the limit this time, betraying his reluctance even if it did not show on his face. All too soon they arrived at Jim's house, and got out of the vehicle.

 

Spock touched Jim's face briefly with the slightest of smiles. "Remember," he said. This is what he used to say to Kirk Prime whenever they left each other, after he'd been brought back from the dead. It was a reference to the giving of one's katra to another, and he said this to express to Jim in the most accurate way possible of his devotion to him. This Jim would not know the significance of the gesture, but he would understand, in a small way, the intent.

 

Jim nodded and smiled in response. He visibly steeled himself and went through the front door, his medicines in hand. Spock would have preferred to remain at his side, to help him as he always did, but this was a battle Jim had chosen to fight on his own. Spock turned and left. He could not help the feeling of foreboding that was not entirely illogical.

 

Jim trudged up the stairs, his only thought of getting in his bed, burrowing under the covers, and perhaps texting his friends. "I'm here, mom," he called out over his shoulder, so she would not go bugging Spock, asking where he was. He made it to his bed before his mother came up the stairs and entered his room without knocking. Jim found he missed Spock's manners already.

 

"Jimmy," she said. Jim noticed she seemed upset, and less sure of herself than usual. Could it be the things Spock had said to her had perhaps hit home? It seemed a bit too much to hope.

 

"Frank wants you to make dinner," she said. That was interesting. Normally she hid the fact the Frank was the one making the demands, as well as hiding what he did to force them to be met.

 

"The doctor said that I needed to be in bed for the next three days," Jim objected. He usually did not fight, but Spock had inspired him to try. "Or I could get worse."

 

"Yes, well, he said if you're well enough to go to Georgia you're well enough to make dinner."

 

"I didn't do anything in Georgia other than eat and see the doctor," insisted Jim truthfully.

 

"It's what he wants. He just lost his job, he's looking hard for a new one, and he's cranky. I think we should all pitch in and help him through this."

 

The thought of all the work involved with dinner was a bit daunting to Jim, who felt drained. "I can't. I'm sick. I'd do it if I wasn't, okay?"

 

"Don't you back talk to me! He'll be very angry. We don't want that. Spock has spoiled you and let you get smart, hasn't he?"

 

Jim found himself caught up in the irony of that statement. He wouldn't try to talk back to or argue with Spock. He had no desire to. Besides, he'd get his ass handed to him. The guy was a genius.

 

"We'll see about you ever spending time with him again," snapped his mother.

 

Jim's heart sank, and all the fight went out of him. It never occurred to him that they would ban him from Spock, although come to think of it, it had been silly to believe they wouldn't.

 

"Now you get down there and start!" She stomped out of the room. Jim followed slowly, taking his first dose of his medicine before starting dinner. He felt a bit nauseated, and his body shook with the effort. He was definitely not feeling up to dealing with Frank, who should be coming home any minute. He rarely missed dinnertime.

 

Too soon, he heard the familiar footsteps and door banging. Considering the unevenness of his steps and how loud it was, it seemed Frank had gotten drunk again. Jim almost collapsed at the thought of dealing with what was to come.

 

"You look like shit, you little shit," said Frank when he saw him.

 

Jim really must have looked like death warmed over if Frank noticed.

 

"That senile old man must not have taken care of you properly. Let you get all soft. Well, I'll fix that."

 

Jim stood still, his brain buzzing. For Frank, this was almost affectionate. Even if it was a bunch of crap.

 

"Yes, please do," interjected Winona. "He got smart with me earlier. Wouldn't fix dinner."

 

Frank's expression changed from his usual loathing expression to one of rage in an instant. Jim closed his eyes and concentrated on summoning the strength to remain standing.

 

Frank surged forward, grabbed him by both shoulders, and shook him hard. "You son of a bitch! We let you do one thing then you get all snotty on us! We'll see about you seeing Mr. Senile again - "

 

"He's not senile," gasped Jim angrily. He knew he shouldn't say anything, but he couldn't keep his mouth shut while he insulted Spock.

 

Jim saw stars as he was shoved into the wall and punched solidly in the ribs. Jim collapsed on the ground, completely drained of the energy needed to stand.

 

"Get up, you little shit," said Frank, giving a few hard kicks.

 

"I'm not a little shit!" shouted Jim. Being called that was way worse after the way Spock had treated him.

 

Frank forcibly dragged him up by his shirt, the seams almost ripping in protest. He was punched and thrown into the wall again. "Don't talk back to me!"

 

Jim fell to the floor, unable to get up this time. He was sure he would pass out if anything more happened to him.

 

"I'll teach you to talk back to me!" He surged forward. Jim curled around himself protectively, but the expected blow never came. Instead, Frank yanked his comm out of his pocket.

 

For all they had done, they had never taken away Jim's comm before. Frank turned it on. He typed in a message and the send beep sounded throughout the silent room. "There. Just sent a message from you telling Mr. SENILE that you never want to see him again. And I'm not giving you this comm, or any comm, and you're getting locked in your room without food until I decide otherwise."

 

Jim went completely still. He could not think or feel through the pain he felt now. He vaguely felt himself being dragged and locked into his room. He lay in a heap on the floor and did not get up for several hours. Fortunately, they had not taken his medicine away, so he at least took that on schedule. He tried not to think about what Spock was thinking now, but he found he could think of little else, and felt despair. No one was coming for him, and he couldn't get out. And he felt so, so sick.

 

Gary and Ben tried to text Jim that night, but got no reply. When he had not replied by lunchtime the next day, they started to get worried.

 

"Something bad is going on," said Gary. "This isn't like Jim at all. All he's supposed to be doing is lying in bed. And I've never heard of his parents taking his comm before."

 

"We can't go to his house, though," pointed out Ben. They did not know specifics, but had cottoned on to the fact that if they defied Frank and came anyway, Jim would pay big time.

 

"No. But we can go to Spock's house," said Gary.

 

Ben looked both eager and nervous. "You mean that Vulcan with all those weird secrets?"

 

"Yes. He cares about Jim, and I know Jim really cares about him. If anyone can do something, it's him," said Gary. "We'll have to convince the bus to let us off at his house."

 

Ben was silent a minute. Then he said, "You're right. We should do something." He thought he might get in trouble, but if Jim was already in trouble, it was worth the risk. Besides, they were both majorly curious about the strange neighbor.

 

On the bus later that day, they launched their plan into action. It took some fast talking from Gary, but they did manage to get let off at Spock's house. Gary hadn't known the address, but it was the only one around with a crater in the back yard. The two boys stuck close together as they approached the front door. Gary took a deep breath and rang the bell. He rang it again when no one came to the door. They were about to give up and face the music, when the door cracked open.

 

When Spock got a good look at their faces, he opened the door a little more. His face was an emotionless mask, and it intimidated them somewhat. "Gary Mitchell and Benjamin Finney," he stated.

 

Somewhat encouraged, Gary spoke up. Spock didn't seem to be in the mood for small talk, so he decided to cut to the chase. "Hi. Jim hasn't been responding to our messages. That has never happened before. Especially considering he's sick and would normally be bombarding us with messages. We're not allowed to come over, so we're wondering if you can find out if he's okay."

 

Nothing changed on the Vulcan's face, and for a moment Gary wondered if the old man had heard him. He looked every bit his age, and like he hadn't been feeling well. Then he spoke. "I'm afraid that would not be possible," he said. He started to close the door.

 

"Hey, wait!" Shouted Gary. "What happened? One day you take him to Georgia and the next you don't want anything to do with him? Where's the logic in that?"

 

"There is no logic in providing assistance when it is not wanted," stated Spock.

 

"What the hell?" spoke up Ben for the first time.

 

"Yeah, what's going on? What do you mean Jim doesn't want your help?! He adores you, I know it, I could see it!" Gary almost shouted in anger.

 

Spock hesitated a minute, then said, "I have received a message from him. He does not wish to see me ever again. I can only assume he was seen the illogic of spending time with an aged alien such as me. If you'll excuse me, I need to get back to meditation." Just as he'd been blind and impulsive with McCoy, he realized he had made the same mistake with Jim. He had thought all those times of nervousness that he'd observed had been the result of being abused. Instead, it seemed that it had been dislike. It had seemed that Jim had liked him, but it was now apparent he was just being polite. He clearly needed more meditation if he was grasping as straws to see his Jim in this Jim.

 

Gary surged forward. "There's no way that can be true!" He'd been told many times he must have a sixth sense, and it was screaming BULLSHIT. "What precisely did he say? Can I see the message?"

 

Spock looked at him for a moment with no expression. "Very well," he said. He retrieved his comm, pressed some buttons, then handed it to him, his movements and expression robotic.

 

Gary and Ben huddled together to read the message.

 

JKirk: I never want to see you again, you senile old man.

 

Gary and Ben looked at each other simultaneously, their jaws dropped and their eyes huge. It would have been comical if it hadn't been so serious.

 

"There's just no way," said Gary, when he could finally speak. "There's just no way Jim could have sent this. Surely you know this."

 

"Jim would never say that to anyone, except maybe Frank if he could get away with it," said Ben. "You would have to be the biggest bastard in the galaxy."

 

"It must have been Frank who sent it," said Gary. "I don't think Winona would send anything like this either. Frank must have took his comm and sent this to you."

 

It was hard to say how, but somehow Spock's face looked slightly friendlier and less stone like. "You are certain?"

 

"I don't get why you aren't," said Gary rather petulantly. "Even not being around him long, you must know he's not like that!"

 

Spock hesitated, then seemed to come to a decision. "He has refused my assistance in an important matter. It was most illogical of him, yet I decided to respect his wishes. I had assumed he had decided not to risk me forcing the issue, as I am admittedly tempted to do, and worded his message in such a way that I would not feel there was any chance of approaching him." After all, it had not been the first time Jim had attempted to bluff his way through a situation. Again, though, that had been his Jim.

 

"You mean you figured out what's going on at his house?" said Gary, reading between the lines. Damn but that Vulcan had a roundabout way of speaking.

 

"It is confidential," said Spock. "However, I am glad he has such concerned friends. You are a credit to the human race."

 

Gary and Ben grinned shyly. Now that Spock seemed a bit happier, they could see why Jim liked him.

 

"So will you check on him?" asked Ben.

 

Spock frowned a bit. "If it was indeed Frank who sent the message, it would seem that I am not welcome there either," he said. "However, I can at least ascertain his location, and we can decide from there what to do. Now, if you would like to help, you will need to listen and follow my instructions exactly. Can you do that?"

 

They both nodded eagerly.

 

"Then what I need you to do now, is go to Jim's room and do not open the curtains. Please stay in there until I retrieve you. Otherwise, I will have to ask you to leave the premises. It is the first door on the right."

 

They glanced at each other, not thrilled but willing. "All right," said Gary, and the two of them went to Jim's room.

 

"You did a wonderful job, sir," said Ben shyly. "Jim loves it."

 

"Your words are appreciated," said Spock formally. It seemed that while he was more hopeful after their reassurances, he still did not completely believe that Jim wanted him in his life. "I know you wish to do more than sit in a room. Once I have ascertained his location, there may be more you can do. But for now, this is what I need."

 

They both nodded, then Spock shut the door. He hurried back to the Jellyfish. While his transporter might tell him how many life forms were in Jim's house, the Jellyfish could take more detailed readings and he would be more certain of Jim's location.

 

Spock glanced around covertly. Normally he would not risk entering the Jellyfish during the day, but time was of essence if Jim was in trouble. "Jellyfish, this is Ambassador Spock. Please open the door and activate sensor readings."

 

"Welcome back, Ambassador Spock. Opening and activating now."

 

A door lowered out of nowhere. Spock stepped inside and closed it hastily. "Jellyfish, give me the readout of the coordinates I am entering now."

 

"Location: Kirk household. Status: Three humanoids in vicinity. Condition: Alive. Health: Two healthy, one with life signs weaker than healthy levels. Low activity of all systems. Is sick or sleeping."

 

He turned his attention to the distances between the humanoids, needing to know so his assistance would not be discovered. By the readout on the screen, both Frank and Winona were there, but not necessarily in visual range. He exited the Jellyfish and went back to Jim's room, where Gary and Ben had not moved from their original positions.

 

"Jim is at home, still sick," Spock informed them. "I could not ascertain why he has not replied to any of your texts, since my instruments do not pick up comm units unless they are activated and signaling. I am open to any suggestions that you have."

 

"What about that doctor you saw yesterday? Do you think you could get him to call Jim?" asked Ben shyly.

 

Spock considered it. "The suggestion has merit. If they will not let any of us talk to him, it is likely they would let the doctor talk to him, a least in an audio channel. To not do so would make the doctor suspicious." Spock felt confident McCoy could, and would, pull it off. "Excuse me while I make the appropriate calls."

 

Spock left them in Jim's room and went to his private comm area. He dialed McCoy's office number. Jocelyn answered. It took some doing, and a lengthy time on hold, but McCoy finally came on the line.

 

"You again," he said. They were on both audio and video channels.

 

"That is correct."

 

"Everything all right?" he asked with some concern. "How's Jim?"

 

"That is the question of the hour, doctor," said Spock. "None of us can reach him by comm, and we suspect it has been taken away from him. His friends and I are concerned that something may be seriously wrong with him. We have reason to believe that Frank would not let us talk to him, but since you are his doctor, he may allow you to do so."

 

"So you want me to call him up, not take no for an answer, find out how he is, then let you know?"

 

"That is correct."

 

"Sounds like a plan," said McCoy. "I'll call you back as soon as I know anything."

 

Spock sat and waited. As he did, he could not help but overhear the conversation in Jim's room between Gary and Ben.

 

"....still wonder about all this stuff he seems to know." That was Gary's voice.

 

"Yeah, it was weird how he knew out names right off the bat. Like he already knew us," whispered Ben.

 

Spock noted that he needed to be more careful. Especially when his former acquaintances that he hadn't seen in decades took him by surprise.

 

"He's so nice though, once he relaxes. You know, I hope Spock ends up intervening and adopting him. He would be so much better for Jim than Frank is."

 

"You think that is what he was talking about?" asked Ben.

 

"Yes. I think if anyone can do anything about Jim's situation, Spock can. I don't understand why he's hesitating. There's something weird about that," observed Gary.

 

Just then, Spock's comm rang, and he refocused on the task at hand. "This is Spock," he answered.

 

"Hey Mr. Spock, it's McCoy. Listen, I managed to get Frank to let me talk to Jim for about half a minute. He didn't sound good at all. Emotionally, he sounds very depressed. His breathing was rather hard and his voice was weak. I don't think they're letting him rest or giving him enough fluids. If there's any way you can do anything for him, do it. He said he's taking his medicine, but if he's not getting good rest or nutrition his pneumonia's going to get worse. You've got to do something, Mr. Spock. Or I will. I tried talking to that lousy stepfather of his, but it was like talking to a brick wall with less intelligence and compassion."

 

"There are things I can do, but they are considered illegal," Spock informed him. "However, I might be able to discreetly send him food, water, and a comm over my transporter. It will take some doing, and still is considered illegal, but my chances of getting caught, if Jim cooperates, are 5.8374%."

 

"Better than nothing," grumbled McCoy. "Hell, if you beamed him over to your house I wouldn't say a word."

 

"It has occurred to me, doctor, but it would only be a temporary solution, and may cause more harm than good. If we wish to effect a more permanent solution, we need to proceed with caution."

 

There was a silence. Then McCoy said, "You said something about his friends. Are they still there? Can I talk to them?"

 

"You may. I will bring them here. Just a moment."

 

Spock brought Gary and Ben to McCoy, after giving a brief summary of Jim's condition. They eagerly answered McCoy's questions, and agreed to try to encourage Jim to let Spock help him.

 

"Unfortunately, I have to go, but keep me updated on him," said McCoy. They all agreed to, then Spock cut the connection.

 

Jim stayed slumped on the floor, unable to find the strength to move from where Frank had dropped him last. It had been good to hear McCoy's voice, yet it brought all the wonderful memories of Georgia to the forefront of his mind, making him ache over Spock all over again. He desperately wanted something to eat or drink, but at the same time, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to keep it down.

 

A strange shimmering caught his eye just then.

 

A glass a water materialized in front of him, along with a comm. Jim blinked, wondering if he was dreaming. Then, it occurred to him the one person he knew that had his own transporter. He hardly dared to hope, but crawled forward to drink the water and examine the comm.

 

The water was extremely welcome, but he had to be careful not to suck it all down, as his stomach protested the sudden onslaught. He set the water down and picked up the comm. There was a message on it.

 

Spock: Your friends Gary and Ben informed me you have been out of contact with them and were concerned, so they decided to go to my house and ask me to do something for you. After reassuring me that the message was not truly from you, and that my help was wanted, I agreed. We asked Dr. McCoy to ascertain your status, since we believe Frank will not talk to any of us. While the transportation of objects into another home without one's prior consent is against regulation, I believed your needs made it necessary. If there is anything more you require, use the comm, and do your best to hide it.

 

Jim nearly cried with relief. Shaking all over, he felt a surge of adrenaline. He climbed up on his bed, keeping his ears peeled for his parents. Then he typed his reply, after changing the name from NuCom to his. Jim did not want to explain, but felt under the circumstances, he should.

 

JKirk: Spock, you are not a senile old man. I would never say that to you. It was Frank. He was angry with me and took my comm, and sent the message. Then he locked me in here and only lets me out to the bathroom. Thank you for the water. Could you send me a bowl of fruit?

 

JKirk: Hi Gary and Ben, thank you for going to Spock and convincing him of the truth. Please don't worry about me, I'll be okay. If all goes well I'll see you at school next week.

 

Not long later, a bowl of fruit materialized, and he grabbed it eagerly. After that, his comm buzzed. Jim jumped and set it to 'silent' before opening the message.

 

Spock: I am relieved that you do not find my presence objectionable. If there is anything else you require, comm me immediately. Please continue to take your medicine on schedule. I will now take Gary and Ben to their homes. Live long and prosper, Jim. Remember.

 

Jim smiled at Spock's unique farewell. Perhaps it was some Vulcan tradition. Then he carefully stashed the comm under his blankets, and made ready to hide his food under his bed at a seconds notice. He already felt much, much better. Maybe he could ask for an antique book later.

 

Gary scrutinized the Vulcan as he led them out to the speeder. The change from when he greeted them to now was stark. He was more open and friendly, and definitely happier. Although his expression did not change much, he could still tell. Something about the eyes, and his mannerisms.

 

"Can we come to see you again?" asked Ben.

 

Gary glanced at him in surprise. Usually Ben was not that forward, especially with someone as intimidating as Spock could be at times.

 

Spock smiled at them with his eyes. "Any friend of Jim's is welcome at my house," he said.

 

As they rode home, Gary contemplated all that he had learned about the Vulcan. It was obvious he loved Jim. Even a blind man could see that, he was sure. He was equally sure that even a blind man could see that Spock had something big to hide. It did not seem dangerous, exactly, but big. He was so insistent that they not see what he was doing to find Jim, and the strange things he sometimes said and did, all pointed to this fact. It could be he was some secret agent from the government, and a psychic to boot. But even that didn't seem to fit. If he were a stranger walking into the situation, he'd say that Spock had known and loved Jim all his life. But that, of course, was ridiculous. Even if it strangely seemed to ring with truth.

 

When he arrived at home, his parents would likely be upset with him. But it had been worth it.

 

Chapter 5 by Rimilea

Thanks to estralita, logicallyillogical, Tonati, vitaminH, and kimey for reviewing! You are awesome! Also, Sam does not exist in this universe. Thanks to Peachly for beta-ing!

 

Chapter 05: A New Enterprise

 

Spock continued to send things to Jim through the transporter and beamed the items back when Jim was done. Jim's luck finally held out, and he was not caught. However, Jim thought one of his ribs might be slightly cracked, since it still hurt to breathe. Otherwise, he continued to feel better and better over the next few days. Frank left him alone mostly, but Winona finally brought him food and water. She left without saying a word, and he wondered if she had defied Frank to do it. From her behavior, he thought she had.

 

He had still not completely recovered, however, when Frank dragged him out to make dinner. Jim struggled, but it was not as bad as the last time he did it. He felt he would soon be well enough to go to school. He actually couldn't wait. Maybe he could figure out a way to sneak a visit to Spock.

 

"Jimmy," said Winona as they sat down to eat. "Since Frank hasn't found a job, I searched for a temporary one in Starfleet. I found one off-planet. It will only be for a couple months, but it should help us get by for a while until Frank can find something. Since Frank won't be able to watch you all the time, we've asked the Stecks to help part of the time. They agreed."

 

Jim knew it wasn't a good idea, but he couldn't help but ask. "Why can't Mr. Spock just watch me? He seems willing to." Which was a bit of an understatement, Jim was beginning to realize.

 

Frank's face looked angry, and he was about to say something, but Winona uncharacteristically cut him off. "We'll ask Mr. Spock to watch you if none of our other neighbors are available. We're concerned about his influence over you."

 

Jim immediately began plotting various ways he could make all his neighbors 'unavailable.' Even if it angered Frank, it would be worth it. Somehow, he was going to see Mr. Spock again, no matter what it took.

 

He would find a way to win.

 

"When are you leaving?" Jim finally asked.

 

"In a few days. Frank is going to drive me to the transporter station while you are at school, so I'll say goodbye beforehand."

 

Jim stared at Winona for a moment. His mom was being unusually sentimental, for her standards anyway. Could it be that she was upset she was leaving him?

 

They ate the rest of the meal in silence. Jim vaguely wondered if Frank was upset Winona was leaving, since it was rare for him to be so quiet. Especially when Jim was there to rant about.

 

They still did not return his comm, but he did not care. Spock was letting him keep the one he gave him, and had informed him if he did not hear from him in a set amount of time, he would beam over another one, so he'd never be without one. Jim did not normally talk with older people (and had certainly never been around someone as old as Spock) but found Spock was easy to text with. It kind of amused him, in a way, that Spock was such a texter. He had never known any adults to do much of it unless necessary. But Spock seemed to genuinely enjoy it. Jim was trying to subtly get him to use text speak. He giggled quietly every time he succeeded. He could almost hear Spock's careful diction pronouncing the acronyms with skepticism.

 

The morning he went back to school, he also had to say goodbye to his mother. She seemed tenser than usual, and the look in her eyes suggested she'd come to some sort of realization, although Jim could not begin to guess what it was.

 

"Bye, Jimmy," she said. "Listen to Frank, and don't get into trouble. I'll be back before you know it."

 

"Bye, mom," said Jim. "See you in a few months." The bus pulled up outside his house, so he quickly left. He couldn't say he was particularly sad to see her go.

 

Gary and Ben accosted him as soon as he found them sitting near the back.

 

"Hey!" said Gary.

 

"Hey Jim, glad to see you back!" greeted Ben.

 

"I'm glad to be back," said Jim. They scooted over, and Jim crammed in with them. "I feel a lot better."

 

"When are you going to see Spock again?" asked Gary.

 

"I don't know. My parents don't want me to see him...actually, my mom just left today to go off planet. They've asked the neighbors to help watch me. If they're all busy they'll ask Spock."

 

"We'll figure out a way. If all else fails, we can distract Frank while Spock beams you there and back," said Gary.

 

Jim hesitated, very tempted to accept the offer. He wanted to see Spock again like nobody's business. "We'll figure it out," agreed Jim, not specifically agreeing to the plan. He didn't want his friends to see for themselves how Frank was.

 

They caught Jim up on all he had missed. Marlena, a girl Jim had a small crush on, had kept asking if he was okay. Finnegan was up to his old tricks, pranking Gary a few more times. His teachers had assigned oodles of homework. Jim was not looking forward to catching up on all of it.

 

As Jim walked down the hallway for his first class, a poster on the bulletin board stopped him in his tracks.

 

A NEW ENTERPRISE!

 

Riverside Shipyard is proud to begin construction on the new starship, the Enterprise. In celebration of this event, there will be a limited amount of tours offered, including a simulation in the new bridge. One is being offered to Riverside Public School. To win a spot, write an essay detailing what makes a good starship captain. The best ten essay writers from Riverside Public School will go.

 

Jim immediately decided to enter, even though he did not have much time. That would so rock. The only difficulty would be Frank. But he would just have to find a way around it. He could already see himself in the simulation, captaining the ship.

 

In fact, most of the day he was caught up in his little daydream of captaining the ship. He didn't dare tell anyone, though. They would probably laugh at him. Him, captaining a starship. He couldn't even get Frank to leave him alone, how could he command 400 people and fight bad guys to boot? But the fantasy wouldn't leave him alone. He imagined exploring new planets and meeting new alien species. Fighting Klingons and Romulans. Rescuing ships from pirates. Protecting Earth and the United Federation of Planets. Wearing the captain's gold, and sitting in that chair. A lot of fantasies revolved around sitting in that command chair. He could imagine himself barking out orders and sharing commendations. For some reason, though, Spock was there in the fantasy all the time, sitting at the Science station as his First Officer. His mind made him a bit younger and nimbler than he was now, but much the same in personality. He bet Spock would make a total kickass First Officer.

 

Too bad it would never happen.

 

Gary and Ben frequently pulled him out of the daydream, talking about random things, but he quickly drifted off again. He saw Marlena give him a small, shy smile, and he gave a broad one back, wondering if she'd like him better if he was a captain. In gym, he imagined himself in various mission scenarios as he did the different exercises. In history, he imagined what it would be like for his exploits around the galaxy to be in the textbooks.

 

In short, he'd found a new obsession and desire. It was probably silly to think he could make it as a captain. But he couldn't help it.

 

Jim arrived back home that day, wondering who would be in the house. He found Mrs. Steck, their next door neighbor, sitting in the living room. He didn't know her very well, but she didn't seem too bad. "Hi Mrs. Steck," he greeted her.

 

"Hi Jimmy. Frank is out, so he called me to be here when you arrived from school. How are you? I heard you weren't at school for a few days."

 

"I'm much better now. I was sick with a mild case of pneumonia."

 

"I'm glad you're better!" she said.

 

He suddenly got the feeling she was searching for a way to bring up a sensitive subject. "What would you like to do today?"

 

"I want to go visit Mr. Spock, who lives down the road," Jim said immediately. He wondered if Frank had communicated any sort of ban to her. If not, he would definitely take advantage of that.

 

She looked torn, and bit her lip nervously. "About that..." she started, sounding very unsure. She switched to a different approach. "I talked to a Dr. McCoy a few days ago," she told him.

 

"What did he say?" demanded Jim, trying to keep the alarm out of his voice.

 

"Well, he didn't say a whole lot, just that he was concerned about you and wanted to know what I thought. I really didn't know what to say, honestly, I don't know you that well. Is there anything you would like to tell me?"

 

He could tell she was withholding something from him. Anxious now, he responded, "No, it's okay...I'm going to put my bag in my room," he said.

 

"Okay." She steeled herself. "Well, Frank says he doesn't want you to see Spock, yet Dr. McCoy has told me I should let you anyway. Jimmy, if I knew what was going on, I would be more inclined to let you go."

 

Jim froze, torn between two strong desires. No way did he want to admit anything went on, yet, he also really wanted to see Spock.

 

Mrs. Steck read into the silence. "You don't have to go into details or anything. But if I should be keeping a sharper eye out, I would like to know, and if you need help with Frank, I would like to know that too, especially since your mother is gone."

 

"Frank gets...really mad at me sometimes," admitted Jim, trying not to think too hard about the sore rib he was mostly ignoring. "He swears and gets drunk and stuff."

 

"Is that all, honey?" she asked.

 

"He doesn't...care when I'm sick," added Jim reluctantly. He hoped this would be enough.

 

Mrs. Steck was smart enough to read between the lines. Gets drunk + swears + angry, insensitive and rather cruel treatment + the unpleasant things she had witnessed on occasion + concern of a doctor, who would see physical signs = abuse. Unfortunately, there was little she felt she could do to help. She was not a brave woman and did not feel like she could stand up to Frank. But she really, really wanted to help. McCoy seemed to think Spock could do something, and handle Frank, with relative ease. If she could support the relationship with Mr. Spock, she would be doing something to help, even if she didn't have the guts to do it herself. "Well, Jimmy...if you want to see Mr. Spock, I'll see what we can do. But we're going to have to keep it a secret, okay? There has to be no way Frank can find out."

 

Jim straighted, a broad grin overtaking his face. "Yes, ma'am!" he said eagerly. He ran up the stairs and deposited his bag on his bed. How could they be sure Frank wouldn't find out? They would have to be sure when he would be coming and going, obviously, and come up with a good cover story. The biggest problem seemed to be knowing when Frank would be returning. He could be very unpredictable. If Mrs. Steck agreed to stay at his house as a lookout, then turn the comm on when she saw Frank, Spock could hurry and beam him back, with Frank none the wiser.

 

But there was a problem with that, too. Spock had wanted him to keep his transporter a secret. He'd told Dr. McCoy, but he thought that was probably because patient confidentiality would come into play. He would just have to check with Spock to see if he could tell her.

 

JKirk: Hi Spock, I just got home and Mrs. Steck is here. She'll let me visit you as long as Frank doesn't find out. I was thinking we could use her as a lookout and use your transporter to beam me back and forth. Is this okay? She'd know about your transporter then obviously.

 

It did not take long for a reply.

 

Spock: You are referring to Alice Steck, your neighbor? If you feel she will keep the secret, I find this plan acceptable. Comm me when you wish to beam over. I believe the term is, "CU" soon?

 

Jim giggled to himself at Spock's attempt at text-speak. He loved it when Spock humored him like that. Eager to see Spock, he sprinted back downstairs to outline his plan to Mrs. Steck. She seemed nice and he thought he wouldn't have to worry about her telling anyone about Spock's transporter. She agreed to keep the secret and be the lookout, so Jim immediately sent Spock a message.

 

JKirk: Ready for beaming.

 

Jim ran upstairs to retrieve his bag. He had a lot of homework to catch up on, and Spock could probably help him if he needed it. That Vulcan knew everything. He went back to the living room, and stood for a minute. He felt a thrill of excitement when the familiar tingling sensation informed him of his imminent arrival at Spock's.

 

Jim thought he would explode with excitement when he materialized on Spock's platform. He immediately spotted Spock at the controls. "Mr. Spock!" he cried out eagerly.

 

"Jim," Spock answered, his eyes smiling. "I am pleased to see you looking better."

 

"Thanks to you," insisted Jim, stepping off the platform. He really wanted to hug Spock, but he wasn't sure if the Vulcan would want that or not, so he kept it to himself. "I have a lot of homework to catch up on, though."

 

"I would be glad to be of assistance," said Spock.

 

Jim, so far, had successfully hid his sore rib, having much practice at doing so. However, Jim was not aware that Spock had forty some years experience with Jim Kirk, and could spot it instantly.

 

"Jim, you are hurt," he stated, reaching forward to touch the rib gently.

 

"I'm fine," said Jim. He genuinely thought he was. Although it had hurt so bad he had initially thought it was cracked again, it felt a lot better now. Spock, though looking skeptical for a moment, seemed to accept his judgment.

 

They headed to the living room, and they both settled on the couch. Jim found Spock to be very helpful with his homework, and, despite having missed so many classes he felt confident that he knew just as much, if not more than, the other students who had made it to school. Jim was beginning to see where McCoy got the walking computer thing from. Spock could spit out an amazing amount of facts in a short period of time like nobody's business.

 

As the excitement wore off some, Jim once again found himself thinking of the Enterprise poster. He hadn't told anyone anything (although he believed Gary might have guessed it), and he wasn't sure he wanted to tell Spock. Spock was a genius, the type who would fit in a command team on a starship, although Jim had no idea if he'd ever been on one, much less commanded. Nonetheless, if anyone was in a position to say Jim was silly, it would be Spock.

 

Yet Spock had never done anything of the sort. He'd always been nothing but encouraging, supportive, and respectful. If he told Spock, he might help him make his essay good enough to win a place on the Enterprise construction tour. Jim wanted it bad enough that he decided to risk it.

 

"Did you hear that Riverside Shipyard is building a new starship? The Enterprise?" asked Jim after a few quiet minutes.

 

Spock turned to face him fully. He always appeared interested in whatever Jim had to say, but now he was especially intent. "I did hear a rumor of it, yes."

 

"At my school, they're having a contest. You're supposed to write an essay of what you think makes a good starship captain. The best ten get to go on a tour of the construction and a simulation on the bridge."

 

Spock had a strange look on his face that Jim could not quite place. "Indeed? Were you going to write an essay?"

 

"I've been working on one," Jim admitted. He'd worked on it in his head all day, and typed it up on the bus when Gary and Ben weren't looking. "I wanted to see what you thought."

 

"I am of course, willing to offer my opinion and assistance, as always," assured Spock.

 

Jim felt very self-conscious and nervous under Spock's intent gaze. He read his essay out loud, citing many times the importance of the crew and the ship, of placing them first. He believed a starship captain should never accept defeat, always believe there was a way out in any situation. In short, denying the existence of a no-win scenario. He believed the captain should have an active part in all missions, setting a good example for his crew, and being the first one to volunteer to risk danger. He should be the last to be rescued from the dangerous situations, and the first to step forward when a crew member was in need. He would know the name and interests of all his crew. He'd know about the ship in intimate detail. He would have great energy and gain the respect of his crew through his strength, and his respect of them.

 

When Jim finished and looked up nervously (Spock had hardly so much as breathed through the whole thing), he was shocked to see his eyes were glassy, with tears threatening to fall. "I - apologize," said Spock, his voice a bit choked. "I appear to be - emotionally compromised." He stood up and turned away.

 

Jim stood up, feeling very uncertain. "I'm sorry, Spock, I didn't mean to upset you. What's wrong?"

 

Spock's words were choked and hesitant. "I once served under - a captain, of - a ship. You remind me - of him. Very much. He died - many decades ago."

 

"I'm sorry," said Jim, feeling terrible. "I won't bring it up again."

 

Spock turned around abruptly. "It is of no consequence." He stepped close to Jim, and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Please, do not feel as though you cannot share this with me. I would be honored to help you with this. Understand that I now believe I understand the meaning of 'happy tears.'" Spock's eyes, though still a bit glassy, started showing hints of a real smile.

 

"My essay made you cry happy tears?" said Jim in disbelief. That was not what he had expected.

 

"Indeed, you are correct, Jim," confirmed Spock, his eyes smiling brighter. "I would be very surprised indeed if you did not win a spot among the ten."

 

Jim smiled broadly. Then his comm beeped. He looked at the caller ID. ASteck. "Frank's back," said Jim.

 

Spock's hand tightened on his shoulder and pulled him quickly to the transporter room. Within seconds, he materialized in his room, to hear Mrs. Steck talking to Frank loudly downstairs.

 

"Well, I've been reading down here, and Jim's been in his room, doing homework," she said, projecting her voice more than necessary. Jim knew it was for his benefit. He also could hear some fear in her voice. It had never occurred to him that she would be afraid of Frank. He felt a surge of gratitude that she was doing this for him. He'd have to do something really nice for her.

 

He decided to go downstairs to see her off. It was the least he could do, even if it meant being around Frank. "Hey Mrs. Steck. Are you leaving now?"

 

She looked very relieved to see him. He hoped Frank's usual lack of observation skills were in full effect. "Yes, Jimmy. I have to get started on dinner for Johnny. You should come over to play sometime."

 

"He's usually too busy," interjected Frank.

 

Jim knew that was code for : No way in hell. He decided to ignore that part of the conversation. "Thanks for watching me," he said, knowing she would know what he really meant.

 

"I'm glad to be of help," she said with a smile. "I hope I'll get to watch you again soon."

 

"See you later," said Jim. He thought she took her time going out the door, seemingly reluctant to leave him alone with Frank.

 

When she was gone, Frank looked him over suspiciously. "How come you haven't started dinner?"

 

"I had a lot of homework to catch up on," explained Jim.

 

"And whose fault is that?" Frank spat at him. "Yours, kid. I won't take any excuses. Now get started."

 

Jim felt his anger rising. All his life, he'd accepted Frank's treatment, because he didn't know any better. Now Spock's regard stood in sharp contrast to Frank's attitude, and he found it difficult to bear. He stomped off to the kitchen, too angry to speak.

 

He chose something simple, to get it over with quickly. He still had some homework to do, and he wanted to text his friends. Speaking of which... Jim paled. He still had his comm in his pocket. He'd been very lucky it hadn't gone off. As discreetly as possible, he shut it off, planning on hiding it in his room at the first opportunity. Frank did go outside long enough for Jim to hide it underneath his bed. Sighing in relief, he finished dinner and he and Frank sat down to eat.

 

Frank did his usual grumbling about Jim and life in general. Jim found he had little patience for it, and controlled his temper with difficulty. He managed to survive it somehow without blowing up at him, then went upstairs to finish his homework and do his secret texting.

 

JKirk: Hey, guess what! I got to visit Spock today. In secret, of course. Mrs. Steck helped us. I got to be with Spock for a few hours and we worked on my homework together. Did I mention he is a genius? I swear, people's IQ must shoot up several notches just by being in the same room with him.

 

GMitch: That's great, Jim. Did you tell him about the Enterprise poster? I saw the way you were looking at it.

 

Jim rolled his eyes. Of course he had seen.

 

JKirk: Yes, I did. What are you up to?

 

GMitch: Playing Galaxy Wars 360.

 

JKirk: No way! Your parents let you have it? That is the most awesome full immersion game ever! How can you do that and text at the same time?

 

GMitch: LOL, I manage somehow. Ben is here with me, actually, helping me with defense while I text you. He says hi.

 

Jim felt another surge of anger and also some jealousy. Frank never let him go to his friend's houses, saying he saw them enough at school. He never got to do anything like this. A wave of despair came over him. He was lucky he even got to see Spock. No way would he ever be able to do something fun like this.

 

JKirk: Hi Ben! Shoot all the bad guys for me!

 

GMitch: He says he shot five down just for you.

 

JKirk: Thanks Ben!

 

There was a long pause in the texts. Jim thought they were probably having too much fun with the game to think about replying. He knew it wasn't fair, but he was angry. When the reply finally came, however, it was not what Jim had expected.

 

GMitch: Hey Jim, we stopped playing. We were wondering what you and Spock talked about.

 

Jim frowned, getting the impression they were fishing for something specific, but they didn't want to admit what that was.

 

JKirk: Mostly about homework, and yes, about that poster too, and how he was glad I'm better.

 

There was another pause. Jim wondered if they were going to be more specific.

 

GMitch: We're glad you had a good time.

 

Jim was surprised at how quickly Gary had given up on whatever he had been trying to find out. Usually he was very persistent. He'd probably figured out another way to find out what he wanted to know. That meant, he must have decided to ask Spock. Jim was not in a charitable mood.

 

JKirk: If there's something you want to ask me, ask me.

 

GMitch: Jim, we know not everything is right at your house. We were wondering if you and Spock had discussed getting help.

 

Jim fumed. He knew they were just trying to help, but he was in no mood for it.

 

JKirk: It's fine. It's nothing I can't handle. You two get back to all the fun you're having with Galaxy Wars 360.

 

GMitch: We'll see you at school tomorrow.

 

Jim could not put into words why he did not want to accept Spock's help in getting him out of the house and his situation. He just knew he didn't want it. He didn't want his friend's pity, either, especially when they were off having fun themselves. Jim turned his comm off angrily. He felt like doing something reckless to prove himself capable of handling whatever came his way, himself.

 

Then he remembered his essay. It would not be long until he had to turn it in. Jim hoped, as mean as it was, that he won and his friends did not. It would show them to pity him. So he got down to work, editing it to make it flow smoother and correcting his grammar and spelling the best he could. Spock had really liked it the way it was, apparently, so he didn't take anything out, expanding upon the ideas instead. He felt his anger cool down a bit, and he felt bad for snapping at Gary and Ben. He would make it up to them tomorrow.

 

The next morning, Jim hurried to the principal's office to hand in his essay. He shifted from foot to foot nervously as the principal, Mr. Kalomi, read his essay. Jim didn't know much about him, except that he was married and had a daughter named Leila, who was a couple grades behind him. Originally he'd come from Hawaii.

 

When Mr. Kalomi finally looked up, Jim was surprised to see something like...pride and admiration in his eyes? He did not understand the effect his essay seemed to be having on people. He was just expressing his honest, and as Mr. Spock would say, logical opinion.

 

"Well, Jim," Mr. Kalomi said. "I'm very impressed. I'd be surprised if you didn't get chosen to come. But I'll give you the official word tomorrow."

 

"Thank you, Mr. Kalomi," said Jim.

 

"I'll let you get to class now. If you get reprimanded for being late, just tell your teacher to talk to me."

 

"I will. Thanks again," said Jim, leaving quickly. He took his place by Gary's side, just barely making it in time. Excited at how good things were looking, and finding it difficult to concentrate, he decided to write Gary a note.

 

"I gave my essay to Mr. Kalomi. He seemed to really like it and thought my chances were good. I can't wait to go!"

 

Gary wrote back: "Hey, that's great! I wrote an essay too, and so did Ben. It would be great to all go together."

 

Jim wrote: "We'll find out tomorrow!"

 

At lunch, Jim texted Spock.

 

JKirk: I gave my essay to Mr. Kalomi. He thinks I'm going to go. He'll tell everyone officially tomorrow.

 

Spock: I am delighted to hear it. Please keep me apprised of the situation. Enjoy the rest of your school day.

 

Jim did so. Even going home to Frank did not deplete his spirits. He caught up on his homework and made dinner earlier than usual. Frank did not comment, in fact he found less wrong with Jim than usual, and did not talk as much at dinner.

 

The next morning, Jim could hardly contain himself. He went to class early and sat down, impatiently waiting for the morning announcements. After what seemed like forever, Mr. Kalomi's familiar voice sounded over the intercom. Finally he would know!

 

Over the Edge by Rimilea

 

Many thanks to vitaminH, Tonati, logicallyillogical and gwynhefar for reviewing, and Peachly for beta-ing! This chapter has even more of a cliffhanger than the last, sorry! So glad to know you all are enjoying reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Chapter 06: Over the Edge

 

"I would like to congratulate the winners of the essay contest : Kate Plamondon, Emily Round, Max Hamill, Johnny Steck,"

 

Jim mentally congratulated Johnny, feeling a wave of affection for the Stecks.

 

"Josh Brown, Gary Mitchell,"

 

Jim flashed Gary a huge grin.

 

"Emily Magerian, Justin Geetings, Matt Dezelski, and special congratulations go to James Kirk, whose essay so impressed the Admiralty that it will be published in the Starfleet's newspaper and framed and given to the Captain of the Enterprise, whomever that will be."

 

Jim just sat there, stunned, as everyone started clapping and congratulating him. He thought he might win, but to have impressed the Admiralty? It had never entered his wildest dreams. He saw Marlena beaming at him, and felt himself puff up a bit as he winked at her.

 

After several long minutes, the class settled down. Jim's head still buzzed with excitement. He absolutely could not wait until lunch, when he could text Spock with the news. If he wouldn't get caught the instant his comm turned on, he'd do it now. He went over the names that were called in his mind, and realized Ben's had not been called. Despite his thoughts yesterday, he felt really bad his friend couldn't go.

 

Finally lunch came. Jim bolted out of class as if he was being chased by hungry wolves, ignoring the shouts of his teacher. He claimed his usual seat in the cafeteria and turned his comm on, impatiently tapping his fingers as it went through the startup sequence.

 

JKirk: Spock, guess what! I won the contest! Not only that, Mr. Kalomi said it impressed the Admiralty, and so it's getting published in the Starfleet newspaper, and will be given to the Captain of the Enterprise, whoever that's going to be.

 

Spock: Jim, I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the news. Pleased, but not the least bit surprised. Your essay was exceptional. You have an impressive grasp of what makes a starship captain truly competent and worthy to follow. It is easy for me to see the great man you will become.

 

Jim's face warmed, especially around the ears. He ate his lunch and tried to read Spock's message as many times as he could in between all the people who came to talk to him. Even Marlena, who had never talked to him before, got up the nerve to say a few words.

 

As Jim entered his house later that day, he realized he now faced the problem of getting Frank to drive him to the shipyard. The tour was this weekend, and he'd need a ride. He thought Frank would do it, though, wanting to save face with the public eye, since his essay was now famous. He was so excited he could barely stand it.

 

To get Frank in the best mood possible, Jim took the time to make a dinner he knew he liked and did some extra cleaning around the house. His other neighbor, Mrs. Fields, was watching him today for a brief time until Frank came home.

 

Jim nervously picked at his dinner when he and Frank sat down to eat. This was really important to him, so he had to word this right.

 

"Umm... I entered an essay contest at school, and - "

 

"What are you doing, entering a contest without permission, you little shit? Answer me!"

 

Jim fought back his rage. He wanted to go so bad, he had to keep his head, or he wouldn't be able to go. "I didn't even think I'd win! But I did, and the winners get to go to Riverside Shipyard - "

 

"To see that overpriced shit of a project? What a fucking loser government we have, wasting tax dollars on that when there are still honest working men like me that can't find employment!"

 

Jim shook with rage. How dare he say that about the Enterprise! Only the thought of being able to go or not kept him in check. He tried a different tact. "My essay is getting published in the Starfleet newsletter and will be given to the Enterprise's first captain - "

 

"Getting illusions of grandeur, you little shit? I bet you wouldn't mind being the captain of the Enterprise. Face it, it will never happen! Honestly, you, being captain of the Enterprise. They need to be tough and smart, not weak, soft and stupid such as you. Well, I'm not going to let you chase some silly fantasy, you're going to stay home and face reality. And you're going to polish my car so it's ready for the show on Sunday. You've been neglecting it. You had your fun in Georgia, it's about time I had my fun, I let you go that time, so don't you dare start bullshitting about this!"

 

Hurt, rage, and despair threatened to explode out of Jim. Despairingly, he couldn't help but agree with what Frank said about the captaincy, and he felt himself sink lower and lower. He couldn't even get Frank to cooperate with him, and he could be such a crybaby sometimes. He wasn't tough enough to take what Frank dished out. Some captain he'd make.

 

He could never make it as he so desperately wanted to. He never understood what Spock seemed to see in him. He felt himself snap under the pressure he put on himself to try and live up to Spock's expectations. The whole essay thing had been a fluke. It wasn't what he was really like. Jim got up and ran to his room, tears threatening to fall.

 

He really was a weak, soft, and stupid little shit.

 

Jim lay in bed, and did not move until it was time to get up for school, his thoughts bleak. He did not get much sleep. He wondered what he was going to tell everyone. He especially did not want to talk to Spock. Jim did his best to avoid his friends, and did not mention that Frank had refused to let him go. He did not like treating them like this, though, and wanted to make it up to them. Coming up with an idea, he went to Mr. Kalomi's office. It would not be pleasant, but he wanted to do it.

 

"Hi Mr. Kalomi," said Jim when he'd gained entrance. "I just wanted to say, I can't go on Saturday, so I was wondering if my friend Ben Finney could take my place."

 

Mr. Kalomi looked shocked and disappointed. "Jim, why can't you go? Everyone's looking forward to meeting you! I want to see you go. Is it that you don't have a ride? I'll drive you there myself!"

 

Jim struggled for the right words. "I - well - something came up, you see - well, it's a family thing. Can you please keep it quiet? I don't want everyone to know. Could you maybe just tell Ben's parents so they can surprise him with it?"

 

Mr. Kalomi still looked disbelieving. "This isn't some attempt to be noble so Ben can go, is it? Because it's all right, Jim, if he's really your friend, he'll get over it."

 

"No, no, just... don't worry about it."

 

"All right... I'll tell Ben's parents, and I'll keep it quiet. You better leave now, or you'll miss the bus home."

 

Jim nodded and left. He did his best not to cry. He was happy that at least both of his friends could go now. He avoided sitting with them, saying it was too crowded and he wanted to get his homework over with. When he got home, he went straight to his room.

 

He did not want to talk to Spock, but he knew if he didn't, Spock would worry and start beaming him stuff. So he sent him a short message.

 

JKirk: Hey there. I'd love to talk, but I'm a bit busy right now, so we'll chat later.

 

Jim turned his comm off. Having nothing better to do, he finished his homework. It was Friday, which normally was cool, but today was not. He could not stop thinking about what he was going to miss the next day, and what he would be doing instead.

 

Polishing that damn red convertible of Frank's. It had been the only thing about Frank he had liked, the fact that he had such a cool antique car, but now he hated it. But what he wouldn't give to have a spin in it.

 

He imagined himself climbing in. He would push the pedal to the floor, and fly down the road at 100 miles per hour. He would wave at Johnny, and smile smugly. Sure, Johnny got to see the Enterprise, but did he get to speed in a cool car? No, he did not!

 

The next day, further instigated by more comments Frank had made about him and his stupid ideas, Jim did just that.

 

So filled with the the exhilaration of going top speed and defying Frank when he'd shouted at him that just because his mother was off planet, he couldn't do whatever he wanted, Jim hardly noticed where he was going. He waved to Johnny as he sped past the kid, who was waiting for his mom to drive him to Riverside, feeling a surge of victory.

 

There. Feel sorry for Jim NOW, right Johnny?

 

A few minutes later, deciding he wanted the top down, he released the front clamps keeping it on. To his dismay, the whole thing flew off and behind him down the road.

 

Oops.

 

As he looked back, Jim thought he saw something following him, so he turned quickly and rammed through a gate. Jim winced to himself briefly. That would leave scratches. Frank would have his hide. But he quickly forgot about it.

 

For rushing up to him now was a cliff's edge. He realized where he was now, and knew that if he went over in the car, as it would inescapably now, he would not survive the fall.

 

For a moment, Jim considered not trying to save himself. He would never have to face Frank or Spock again. He would not cause trouble for anyone again. He would not have to face the reality of a disappointing life. Spock could spend his genius somewhere else, somewhere more worth it.

 

Spock, who was also unmistakably in his rear view mirror.

 

Jim slammed on the brakes and cranked the wheel to the right with all his might. He yanked the door open and tried to jump out before he went over the cliff.

 

He didn't quite make it.

 

So this was it. James T. Kirk was about to lose his life over a stupid stunt. As he fell, he realized he didn't really want to die, had never intended to. He'd just been too stupid to pay attention where he was going. Frank was right after all. Starship captains didn't do stupid things like this. Maybe it was better this way.

 

Jim closed his eyes, waiting for the impact that would be the last thing he'd ever feel. What he did not expect was the sensation of a strong hand around his ankle, and his descent rapidly slowing. He came to a complete stop five feet above the ground. His head swirled with adrenaline and confusion as he was lowered gently to the ground, and he looked up at his savior.

 

It was Spock. And he did not look happy. At all. He seemed to be uncharacteristically at a loss for words, struggling between fury and other emotions Jim did not understand.

 

"What - was the purpose, of endangering your life," he started finally, his voice rather cold, "When you were supposed to be touring the Enterprise?"

 

"I, uh, I well..." Jim struggled for words as he tried to overcome the shock of everything that just happened. Jim noticed the strange propulsion boots that Spock wore. That apparently had been how Spock had rescued him.

 

"Mrs. Steck recognized the car when she looked out her window, and surmised you were driving it. She informed me immediately, so I came after you. I understand that living an uneventful life in a remote area is not one you wish to live. Your spirit is too adventurous and mission seeking for that. However, I thought I had made it clear that should you desire something, all you need to do is ask me for it." Spock's voice was barely in control. Jim thought he would snap at any moment.

 

Jim, to his humiliation, started crying. And once he started, he couldn't stop, and he couldn't look at Spock. He felt Spock sit next to him, and gently wrap his arms around him, pulling him close. "Jim," he said. "Jim. It is all right. I simply desire an explanation. Please stop crying."

 

It took a long time for Jim to stop. He buried his face in Spock's chest, embarrassed but reveling in the pure safety he found there. Finally he stopped, and pulled away slightly. Spock still had his arms around him and did not seem to have any intentions of letting him go.

 

"I'm sorry, Spock," he said in shame. He could see the broken remains of Frank's car. That would have been him. "And thank you for saving me."

 

"How did it come to this, Jim? Why aren't you touring the Enterprise? I thought that is what you wanted."

 

"Frank wouldn't let me go," Jim admitted in shame. He felt he'd probably already lost Spock's regard, so why not tell him everything? "So I had the principal send Ben in my place. Frank wanted me to polish his car for the show tomorrow. He said I needed to face reality and not chase silly fantasies that I'll become a captain. I guess he's right. I'm too stupid to become a captain. A real Starfleet captain wouldn't do something like this."

 

"Jim, you are not stupid. You are a young boy with a spirit too large to fit in the the life you are currently living. The only 'stupid' things I have observed is you listening to Frank and not agreeing to be freed of the situation. It is most illogical."

 

Jim didn't know what to believe at this point. "I don't understand what you see in me," he admitted.

 

"I see the man you are becoming," said Spock honestly. "The person you described in your essay is but a fraction of that. Perhaps you do not see it now, but it is not necessary to." His eyes took on a playful glint. "Do you not trust my facts and logic? A Vulcan would not think, say, or do anything that was not perfectly logical."

 

Jim glanced down at Spock's strange boots. "So it's perfectly logical to stow highly technological boots in your speeder?"

 

"One must be prepared for all possible outcomes of any situation," explained Spock.

 

Jim got the feeling, once again, that Spock was bullshitting him somehow and not telling him everything. In his current mood, however, he did not feel like calling him on it.

 

"We must be getting back to my speeder now," stated Spock, standing up and pulling Jim closer. "Step on my boots, and I will rocket us back up."

 

Jim stepped on them, and held on tight to Spock. He felt a thrill as they shot straight upwards, then forwards to get back on solid ground. Spock took off the boots and climbed into the speeder. Jim climbed behind him. "Where are we going?"

 

"As much as I do not want to, I must take you back to Frank. I will tell him the news and stay to be sure you are not mistreated."

 

Dread pooled in Jim's stomach. Frank would undoubtedly wait until Spock left to do anything. And he would be mad beyond all he had ever been. He did not tell Spock, though. The Vulcan had already gone through a great deal of trouble for him.

 

Jim was silent as they rode to his house. His heart pounded as they walked up the steps to the front door. Spock stood in front of him protectively and would not allow Jim to get past him.

 

Frank answered the door, looking very angry as he peered around them, looking for his car. "Where's my car?! And what are YOU doing here?"

 

"Your car is damaged beyond repair. However, I am willing to pay for one exactly like it to be delivered to your door, if you will inform me of the exact specifications."

 

Jim stared a Spock in shock. That would cost a fortune.

 

"You mean Jim destroyed it? I really should not be surprised, I should never have let him touch it! What happened?"

 

"It fell over a cliff. Jim would not have survived, had I not intervened with one of my...inventions. I retrieved him and he has survived without a scratch."

 

"Stupid, isn't he? Driving a car over a cliff? Why did you save him?"

 

Spock's eyes grew cold. "The real mystery to me is why you did not let him go to tour the Enterprise today, which he had clearly earned."

 

"Can't let it get to his head! It's none of your business, anyway, you've been nothing but nosy. Get off my property!"

 

"I will not get off your property until I am sure there will be no repercussions for Jim. He has been punished enough, for crimes never committed."

 

"You senile old Vulcan! Fine. Jim gets off the hook. Now get out. And I better see that new car within a week."

 

Spock steeled himself and very reluctantly moved out from between Frank and Jim, returning to his speeder. Jim watched him, knowing his safety was leaving. As soon as Spock turned his back going down the driveway, Frank yanked him in the house.

 

And all hell broke loose as Frank screamed and punched him harder than he ever had in his life. Jim nearly passed out from the pain. He knew some ribs had to be broken. He probably had a concussion too. He cried helplessly.

 

One thing Frank had not taken into account was Vulcan hearing. Spock had not believed Frank for a moment, so as soon as he saw him yank Jim in the house in his rear view mirror, he had stopped and listened to confirm his suspicions. He could hear the very obvious sounds of Frank beating Jim to a pulp. Turning around, he stopped the speeder at the end of the driveway and ran.

 

Frank was too preoccupied with Jim to notice Spock coming through the front door. Spock stepped behind him and nerve pinched him. Frank collapsed immediately. Spock did not bother to try to soften his fall, as he normally did. He focused immediately on Jim, who he could see was in very bad shape. Jim barely stirred and hardly seemed to notice that Frank had just passed out, or Spock's presence.

 

"Jim, it is all right, I'm here. I must return to my home, and beam you over. I cannot do anything here, and I dare not move you. I will only be a few minutes."

 

He did not wait for acknowledgment. He ran out the door to his speeder, flying down the road at top speed. He should have never left Jim with Frank. He should have taken him home, and forced the issue with him. But it was too late now.

 

Within seconds he was home and in his transporter room, medical scanner in hand. The moment Jim materialized on the platform, Spock started scanning him and paled at what he saw. Jim would die if he did not get medical intervention.

 

There was only one doctor Spock trusted to save Jim's life.

 

The panicked Vulcan punched in the coordinates and stepped onto the platform. Seconds later, he was in McCoy's office. "Jocelyn, I need Dr. McCoy immediately," he informed her.

 

Jocelyn took one look at Jim and gasped. Then she ran, presumably to Dr. McCoy's current location.

 

Dr. McCoy came rushing out to the lobby, took one look at Jim, then started cursing. "Good GOD, man! What happened?! Nurse, get me a stretcher. Call ER and have them send paramedics and equipment." He shouted a steady stream of orders as he approached Jim, examining him and scanning him at the same time. He kept cursing at what he found.

 

Spock accompanied them as they carried Jim away in a stretcher. McCoy did not bother to shoo him away, too frantic to do what he needed to do to save him. He had known Frank would be angry, and might throw a few punches. But he had not believed he would endanger Jim's life. That was totally unacceptable. Spock respected Jim's decisions, but not when they endangered his life for no good reason. Jim may end up hating him, but he would agree to McCoy's plan of court investigation. There was no logical alternative.

 

That is, if Jim lived. Spock had faith that he would, though. His Jim had been through many circumstances that he should not have survived, and he had no doubt this Jim would be the same.

Chapter 7 by Rimilea

 

A huge thank you to Dahliaxat, logicallyillogical, Reiya, vitaminH and Tonati for reviewing! Also a big thank you to Peachly for all her beta work and ideas. I'm going to do a bit of a rewrite on the remaining chapters of this story so I can do more with the sequel. Depending on how it goes, I estimate we have five to six chapters left in this part.

 

 

Chapter 07: Decisions

 

When Jim's condition was stable, McCoy pulled Spock to a private room. "Okay, you green blooded hobgoblin, I better have a good explanation for this and you better tell me you're going to agree to cooperate with legal intervention!"

 

Spock explained all that transpired. "You are correct that I should have sought legal intervention. I allowed my emotional compromise toward him to cloud my logic. I will now cooperate with all you have in mind."

 

"Damn right you will!" McCoy practically shouted. "What did you do with that bastard, anyway?"

 

There was no question as to who he was referring to. "I nerve pinched Frank and left him on the floor. I was too intent on Jim to give much thought to him," Spock stated.

 

Without another word, McCoy hurriedly ran out of the room, presumably to take care of the Frank situation and legal arrangements.

 

Which left Spock to check on Jim.

 

He stood by Jim's beside, his arms behind his back, as nurses monitored him and did their work. As soon as Jim awoke, he would apologize for his appalling lapse in logic that had led to this situation. He could only hope Jim would forgive him, as his Jim had always done in the past, even when, perhaps, it had not been deserved.

 

Hours later, he was finally left alone with Jim and was informed he would wake at any time, although there was no telling exactly when. Spock sat down in a chair close to the bed to continue his vigil. He lightly meditated to pass the time.

 

Jim floated in a haze of partial consciousness. Beeping reached his ears, which confused him. Beeping? The only thing in his room that beeped was his comm, and he had it on silent. It didn't sound like his alarm either. It sounded more like... a hospital? Gradually the last thing he remembered came back to him - the car falling off the cliff, Spock's rescue, then getting beat up by Frank. So he must be in a hospital then. Kind of surprising that Frank had taken him, though. It was always Winona that did, and she wasn't back from her Starfleet assignment. Jim slowly cracked his eyes open and glanced around. Spock was sitting there with his eyes closed.

 

Spock! Spock must have come back and seen what happened. Jim flushed in shame. What must Spock think of him, always needing to be rescued? He'd gone to an awful lot of trouble for him lately. What could he possibly be getting from it? It didn't make any sense. Surely Spock would decide that Jim was too much trouble, not really his problem and simply not worth it? He felt a surge of frustration. Why couldn't he handle this HIMSELF? Why couldn't he have been stronger, maybe tried a little harder? Somehow found a way to please Frank so things like this didn't happen, and Spock wouldn't be so burdened by his problems? Jim shifted tensely and glanced at Spock, who, despite Jim's fears, looked relaxed and untroubled. He would prefer to put off talking to Spock about what happened, but it didn't look like he had any choice. Spock could open his eyes at any moment, and he preferred it get it over with.

 

"Spock?" he whispered, nervous about interrupting Spock's meditation.

 

"Jim, I am glad to see you are awake," stated Spock, slowly opening his eyes.

 

"What happened?" Jim asked, wanting Spock's point of view.

 

"You were accosted violently by Frank. I heard it on my way from your house. I neutralized the threat to you, then transported you here."

 

Jim shrank into himself, wondering what was coming next.

 

"Jim, I must ask your forgiveness. Ever since I met you, I have been severely emotionally compromised, and my decisions regarding your welfare have not been made as logically as they should have been. It is my fault that it has come to this. If you can find it in you to forgive me, I would find that most preferable."

 

"Spock, it's not your fault," said Jim, stunned. Of all the things he expected Spock to say, this had simply not occurred to him. What was all this "emotional compromise" about anyway? Surely he was no different than any other human (except perhaps more pathetic) so why would he affect Spock like that? He had to be making it up. But why? It just didn't make sense.

 

Typical Jim, thought Spock, always making excuses for him, whether it be spores, pon farr, time traveling alterations, or some rare space sickness, he always found something to blame other than him, when he hurt him. "Jim, I have a responsibility to you, to keep you safe. I put my desire for a relationship with you before your safety."

 

"It's - fine," Jim responded, still bewildered. He could not seem to get his voice to work beyond that.

 

"It is not fine. You almost died."

 

Jim floundered for a way to respond, settling on, "Does this mean there's going to be an investigation?"

 

"Yes, there will be, as I should have agreed to the moment I suspected what was truly going on," confirmed Spock.

 

Jim, still clueless at how to respond to Spock blaming himself, decided to side step the issue in hopes that it would be dropped. "Does that mean you're removing me from my parent's house?"

 

"That is the preferred end result."

 

"Where will I go, then?"

 

"That is not something for you to be worrying about right now. If it is possible, and agreeable to you, I will try to gain parental rights to you. However, that may be challenging, given my - past, and age, and lack of a woman partner. I have found that your courts prefer younger married couples with a known, clean background to take on relocated children. But if you wish it, I will fight for you."

 

"I do want you to," said Jim shyly. It really seemed too good to be true. He wanted it too badly, though, to even think about it not happening.

 

Spock's gaze warmed for a moment. "Then, I will discuss my options with Dr. McCoy, and a lawyer of my choosing," Spock informed him, already thinking of one he'd like, if he could find him in this altered universe. Samuel T. Cogley had done an admirable job saving Jim's captaincy. He had no doubt that if anyone could secure him the parental rights he craved, it would be him. It was somewhat ironic that Jim was also now friends with the person who almost cost him his captaincy. Perhaps with some nudges in the right direction, he could help Ben Finney find a more productive path. After all, someone who had named their daughter after Jim could not be all bad.

 

And clearly, he was still very emotionally compromised.

 

McCoy entered the room just then, looking stressed. "Ok, Mr. - Oh Jim, glad to see you're awake. How are you feeling?"

 

"Like I got run over by a speeder. Or maybe a starship," said Jim.

 

"Well, kid, I'll try to fix that for you, but right now I have to talk to Mr. Spock. Will you be okay for little while?"

 

"Yeah," said Jim.

 

Spock followed McCoy out to a private room. McCoy sighed and made some agitated gestures that were all too familiar. "Okay, so you've agreed to be a witness to the trial for Frank, and the hopeful revoking of parental rights for Frank and Winona. I'm under the impression you want the parental rights to Jim, right?"

 

"That is correct. That is also what Jim says he wants. He told me he does not wish to be with anyone else."

 

"Well, that might be a problem. You see - "

 

"I'm aware of the traditional preferences of the court, doctor. I know they would not see me as a suitable candidate to be his - father," said Spock, startled by how much emotion that word garnered in him.

 

"Well, I could help turn the tables in your favor, Spock. I know how much you love him, and don't deny it. I know he would be happy with you. Personally, I'd sign him over to you right now if it was in my power. But professionally, there's things I have to check out about you before I can offer my support before a judge and make it credible. For starters, have you ever been married or had any children?"

 

Spock considered, just for a moment, to inform him that he'd been married to Jim, just to see what his reaction would be. "The answer to that is...complicated, doctor, and I would prefer to keep it quiet."

 

"But you can't keep it quiet if you want Jim for your son! I have to know your past, and take a psychological evaluation at the very least. I can keep most of it confidential between us, and the bare facts can be confidential between us and the judge."

 

Spock considered his options. There was only one way to make McCoy believe him. As reluctant as he was to inflict it upon McCoy, he could see no logical alternative. "Then, if you are agreeable doctor, I will perform a mind-meld with you."

 

McCoy knew enough about Vulcans to understand all that was involved. He also knew how unusual it was. "You don't have to share EVERYTHING, Spock, just some pertinent details - "

 

"No, doctor. You will understand why I insisted on the meld when you see what is there. I also must insist that you keep everything you learn confidential, unless I say otherwise. Everything, doctor."

 

Dr. McCoy stared at him, realizing he was about to get into something big. He hoped it wasn't political intrigue, or something, he'd never liked that stuff. "Well, if that's the only way... then go ahead. I must warn you, I've never had a mind meld done on me before."

 

"No worries, doctor. I have performed a meld on you before." And with those strange words, Spock gestured McCoy to sit down next to him on the couch. When they were comfortable, Spock gently placed his hands on McCoy's face.

 

Spock and McCoy sat on the couch for nearly an hour, lost in the meld and all of what McCoy was learning about Spock and his very unique situation. When Spock finally let McCoy go, tears were streaming down the doctor's face.

 

"GOOD GOD, man!" he gasped. He seemed to be at a loss for words. "I knew you were under stress, but I never expected THIS! I thought you'd been booted off Vulcan for some reason or another, like laughing in public or something. And your relationship with Jim..." McCoy trailed off, staring into space and attempting to process all he'd learned.

 

Spock had showed him a bit of every part of his life up through the time he went through the black hole, so McCoy had a clear understanding of him. He mainly focused on his time with Jim. He had blocked much of his romantic encounters with Jim from McCoy, feeling it was not relevant in this particular case, and it was not something he wished to share, regardless. But he knew McCoy had probably picked up on it anyway. He could not block his feelings for Jim from him.

 

"Well, now, at least, I understand why you sought me out," commented McCoy. "In fact, a lot of things about you make a lot more sense. I assume Jim knows nothing of this?"

 

"Jim knows nothing, and it will stay that way, doctor," Spock said firmly.

 

"I understand why you don't want to tell him, and at this point, I agree. But you're going to have to tell him SOMETHING, especially if you're living together. He'll cotton on to the fact that you're hiding something big, if he hasn't already. While he might have patience with that at first, it will be a source of contention between you two sooner or later."

 

"I understand, doctor."

 

McCoy rubbed his head, overwhelmed. "Good god, man," he repeated, more to himself this time. "When I signed up for this job, the part about time traveling Vulcans trying to gain parental rights for their former captains must have been in the small print I didn't read." Then he turned to Spock. "And for God's sake, man, there should be a warning label on your head! For all the calmness and logic you spout about, there's a damn lot of 'emotional compromise' overloading those logical synapses of yours. I should stick you in a padded room and keep you there. But seeing what I've seen, you would find a way to make that dangerous too. Well, let me sleep on this, Spock. Lord knows I can use it. Why don't you stay in the hospitality house. I'll write up papers for you, that way you won't have to be far from him."

 

"Thank you, doctor."

 

"I know how badly you want him, and like I said, I personally would sign him over in a heartbeat. I know there isn't a person in the universe, or in YOUR case, ANY universe that loves him more. But there's still some things I need to discuss with you, before I can give my full professional support. But like I said I'm going to do that tomorrow."

 

He got up, and started to walk out the door. "Wait a minute...does this mean there are TWO of you in this universe?"

 

Spock opened his mouth to reply in the affirmative.

 

"Wait, I don't want to know. One of you is enough! Good night, Spock. And don't blame yourself for what happened to his father. It was entirely that bastard Nero's fault." With that, McCoy left, before Spock could argue with him.

 

Despite the comforts of the room provided for him, Spock found he could not sleep that night, opting to meditate instead. Jim was having similar problems sleeping. He learned a hospital saying, you went there to get well, and not to sleep, and it certainly seemed to fit. Even if they hadn't been poking and prodding him with medical instruments at regular intervals, he would not have been able to sleep with everything that was on his mind.

 

What was going to happen to him? What if he didn't get taken away from his parents? What if he did? What if Spock didn't get rights to him? Jim did not like contemplating that, but the thought haunted him. He could be taken far away from Spock, and never see him again. He gasped with the pain that thought brought. No, he would fight, he'd do everything he could to stay with Spock. His opinion must carry SOME weight, right? He thought about the idea of being Spock's son, officially. He wondered if Spock would let him call him dad, or if that was too human for the Vulcan to tolerate. At the same time, he felt guilty about asking Spock to go through all this trouble for him, and for the burden of having to take care of him. He couldn't bring himself to refuse Spock's help, though. He wanted it too badly.

 

A few more minutes passed and he remembered that he hadn't told his friends what had happened to him. After gaining permission from a nurse, he turned on his comm to send them a message. He found several messages waiting for him.

 

BenFin: Hey, I had no problem with you going without me. You didn't have to give up your spot for me. Everyone was asking about you! You're famous now. But I had a blast. Thanks so much, Jim.

 

GMitch: Why didn't you talk to me before you decided to give your spot to Ben? You can make your own decisions, but I could have told you it was fine. You wrote the best essay. You deserved the most to go. Was it Frank who couldn't see that? It's okay, you can tell me.

 

He got a few more messages from them, wondering if he was okay, since he was usually so prompt. He even got a message from a Commander Christopher Pike.

 

CPike: Hey Jim, you don't know me, but I'm Commander Christopher Pike from the USS Republic. I read your essay and conducted the tour today. I was disappointed not to see you there, but I was impressed that you gave your spot to your friend, who did not win. You have real character. I hope you consider joining Starfleet someday. It would be an honor to serve beside you.

 

Jim decided to just bite the bullet and write back to his friends. He was sure they would find out the whole story, anyway. It was better that they hear it from him.

 

JKirk: I'm glad you guys had a good time! It's a long story, but right now I'm in a hospital in Georgia. I don't know how long I'll be here. Mr. Spock is here with me, staying at the hospitality house. I was beat up pretty bad, but I'll recover. Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy are going to press charges and petition to take me away from my parents. Spock is going to try to gain parental rights to me, but he doesn't know if he'll be successful. Something about not being a suitable candidate in the judge's eyes. Which is bullshit if you ask me. Don't worry about me, I'll be all right. Talk to you soon.

 

Jim also decided to write back to Christopher Pike while he was at it.

 

JKirk: Hey Commander Pike, thanks for your message and your kind words. I must admit I am surprised by how much attention my essay is getting. All I did was write down what was 'logical' to me, as my Vulcan friend would say. As for Starfleet, I'll think about it someday. Thanks again.

 

Jim did not want to think about Starfleet, and possible captaincies at the moment. He was far too overwhelmed with his current situation. Even so, he was very gratified to hear from Pike. As he drifted off to sleep, he could not help but think of the captain's chair, and a certain Vulcan sitting at the science station as his second in command.

 

The next morning, McCoy summoned Spock to his office. "Ok, Mr. Spock, I still don't think I'm ready for this conversation, but time is precious right now. We've got to move fast if we're going to succeed. Where to begin," he said, sounding tired.

 

"What information does the judge need to know?" asked Spock.

 

"He'll need to know if you've ever committed any crimes, either here or anywhere in the UFP territories. Which I know you haven't, and any crimes you have committed have been forgiven, but we can't prove that."

 

"Being from over a hundred years in the future, and having highly advanced computer skills even for my time, I hacked into the UFP database and created a false alias for myself. I am confident they will not detect the fabrication. This is how I have been getting my employment with Information Security at various places."

 

McCoy hoped Spock would never desire to plant a virus anywhere. The computers wouldn't stand a chance. That had been some seriously professional hacking he had done. He thought it was impossible. "All right, so the record they have on file states that your record is clean. Not unusual for a Vulcan, I guess," said McCoy. "That won't seem suspicious. What else does it say?"

 

"It states that since I am only half Vulcan, I never experienced certain Vulcan traditions, therefore I have been unmarried my entire life, having never desired it." Which they would find out was untrue once this universe's Spock went into pon farr, but that would not be for at least twenty-five years, and it was likely he would be dead by then anyway.

 

"Okay, the supposedly not having a wife and no experience with children is going to count against you, Spock. Not to mention your considerable age. Anything else on your record?"

 

"I wrote that I was raised in an orphanage, having been abandoned by my parents, and it is unknown who they are. No one came to claim me or adopt me, so I left the orphanage when I came of age. I have also altered the orphanage's records to show my presence there. I did a thorough job. All the caretakers at that time are now dead, so would not be able to confirm that I was never there. From that time, I lived as a hermit, taking on freelance jobs in Information Security. I moved to Iowa for a change of scenery."

 

"Ok, that kind of childhood may or may not count against you, considering how very long ago it was."

 

Spock raised an eyebrow at McCoy's jab at his age.

 

"The second part I must do, is a psychological examination to determine your mental and emotional soundness for such a responsibility as Jim." Hell if he'd ever had to do one on a Vulcan, much less one from an alternate universe. This one was not going to be an easy one to write up. "Now of course we can't tell them the whole truth about this, either. And damn if it isn't the most complicated thing ever. So we're going to have to word this carefully."

 

"I understand, doctor."

 

He rubbed his face in agitation, feeling a headache coming on. "Now, I know you're perfectly capable of helping him with his education, and more than capable of protecting him. Hell, you could take out an entire solar system with that Jellyfish of yours, and I don't want to dwell on that, what if some idiot tried to bomb you? Earth would explode in a matter of minutes! Anyway, I also know you are capable of supporting him monetarily. You have countless skills in various subjects and could probably succeed in most careers, so money will never be a problem for you. It is also obvious that you love him. Hell, I bet even if the entire court room walked around in blindfolds, they'd be able to see it. But there's one area that concerns me, Spock, and as you know, it's already caused problems between you two, and I have to see some improvement in this before I can give my full seal of approval." He paused, gathering himself and his thoughts.

 

Spock patiently waited for him to continue.

 

"I know he was your commanding officer for thirty years, maybe longer. And damn if I can wrap my mind around that. It's deeply ingrained in you to follow his orders and indulge his desires. So ingrained, that even if you can look at Jim, and logically know you are the adult, and must take charge, but subconsciously you do not. Oh, you might recommend, ask, argue, suggest, and inform, but in the end, you always give him the final say and decision, and it's been no different with our Jim here. Unless his life is threatened, you do not take command. You let him have his way, because you have so much faith in him, that he'll make the right decision, even if it isn't logical. It's already caused a problem, as you know. And maybe early on in your parenting, it won't be much of a problem. Hell if that kid doesn't worship the ground you walk on. He won't argue with you, for a long while, I'm guessing. But then he's going to hit his teenage years, Spock. Sooner or later, he's going to rebel. When you met Jim in your time, he was old enough, experienced enough, to make wise decisions. But Jim the teenager will not be. I need to know that you can put your foot down with him, Spock, that you can be firm about your decisions about what's good for him, until he is experienced enough to know for himself. From what I've seen, I'm not sure you have that in you. I need to see that in you, Spock, to give my full stamp of approval."

 

Spock contemplated the doctor's words, unable to deny the truth in them. He did not know if he could take command over Jim Kirk. He had never desired it, and, despite his desire to become Jim's parent, he did not desire it now. It was more of a desire to protect and care for him, than to be in charge. "I cannot deny the truth of your words, doctor," he said quietly. "I will meditate on it."

 

"You do that, but don't take to long. We've got to move fast. I want to see Jim go to you, and hell, his safety may be at stake here if Nero ever finds out about the situation with you, and with you he'd be safer, but others might come to petition for him too. If you get there before they do, you might stand a better chance. Now do you have a lawyer in mind, or would you like me to find you one?"

 

"I have one in mind, doctor. In my time, he saved Jim's captaincy. His name is Samuel T. Cogley."

 

"Oh, is he that cracked one who insists on using paper? Genius though, I've heard. All right, I'll put him down for you. Now I've got to go catch up on some of my appointments. You let me know when you're done meditating."

 

Spock agreed, and left.

 

McCoy stared after him for a minute, still reeling from everything he'd learned in the past 24 hours. He sure hoped Spock could solve his problem with taking command. Had it been any other person, Spock would not have had a problem. But, from the moment McCoy had first seen those two, he had thought there was something very strange about their relationship. Knowing what he knew now, it all made sense. After everything Spock said to Jim, there was an unspoken "Yes, Captain. As you wish, Captain. What is your command, Captain?" His entire stance betrayed his unconscious deference to Jim. Yet how was he going to explain this to a judge? He could say that, Spock, being a hermit all this life and never having been in charge of another, might struggle with taking command. It would be the best he could do, under the circumstances. The truth, unfortunately, was out of the question, and he wouldn't wish that mind-meld on anyone else. Good god, man, but that Vulan had a head full of nightmares.

 

Jim woke up later in the day. He immediately looked around for Spock, and was disappointed to see that he wasn't there. He hoped he would come by soon. He did not like being in this strange hospital with no one familiar around, especially since his entire life's situation was in jeopardy. He needed some security, although he'd never admit that.

 

Bored, he decided to check his comm for messages. It seemed that it was all he did these days. He wasn't sure he wanted to read what his friends were going to say, but he would have to face it sometime.

 

GMitch: Wow, I hope you're okay. I'm glad Spock is there with you, at least. I'm trying to convince my parents to let me come visit. If it turns out you'll be there a while, I think I'll be able to convince them. Talk to you later, and keep me updated.

 

BenFin: I'm so sorry that happened to you. I wish there was something I could do. It would be awesome if they made Spock your guardian. If Gary can convince his parents to let him visit you, my parents will. I hope to see you soon.

 

CPike: No problem. I'll forward you, and your school, a copy of the newsletter with your essay in it. You must be a pretty special kid, to have a Vulcan as a friend. They do not make friends easy, and when they do, it's usually some logical reason. I see great things in your future. Live long and prosper, Jim, as those Vulcans say.

 

Jim frowned as he read Pike's message. Vulcans did not make friends easily? That was weird. Spock had latched right onto him from the very beginning. What logical reason was there, then, for the relationship? Jim could not see it.

 

Spock was once again in his room at the hospitality house, sinking deep in meditation. His problem? How to take charge of James T. Kirk, when the situation demanded it. It was something he had never contemplated, always content with being second in command under him. He was simply not wired that way. Yet if he didn't, and he lived with someone else, he would not be able to protect him very well from Nero, should the unbalanced Romulan ever get wind of his existence and their situation. So really, it did all come down to protecting Jim from a life-threatening situation. Every time he had to assert himself over Jim, that is what he would have to remind himself of, that the alternative would be more undesirable than defying Jim's decisions in life. He would have to make it about protecting Jim, not about being in command. It was the best he was capable of doing. It would be a relief when Jim would come of age, and he could resume his attitude of respectful deference and advising. That would be what he would tell McCoy. It was his hope that it would be enough.

 

The comm beeped in his room. Spock strode over to answer it. "Spock here," he said, reverting to his habits on the Enterprise before he could correct himself.

 

"Hey Spock, listen, it's McCoy. I have Jim's mom, Winona, on the line. Now, by all rights, she can talk to him, but I'm concerned about Jim emotionally. I want your opinion, since you know her better than I do. Should I let her talk to him?"

 

Spock considered it. While he believed Winona had never physically abused Jim, and perhaps had not been as verbally harsh as Frank, she still stood by and let Frank carry on. She had shown herself to be quite insensitive. He was unsure of what her mental state would be in this situation. "While she was not as objectionable as Frank, I am unsure if her current mental state would push her into being so. Or perhaps, she might finally be regretful of what has happened. There are many possibilities that I can calculate for you."

 

"Dammit, Spock, if I wanted something to calculate possibilities I would ask a computer! I know you have feelings, what do you FEEL I should do?"

 

"Since my recommendations are based on her current mental state, and any opinion I have of that is pure conjecture at this point, I suggest you put her through to me. I will determine if she will cause Jim undue distress or not. If so, I will 'check' then tell her that Jim is sleeping, and call back later, when hopefully he will be recovered enough to handle it. If not, I will put her through. Is that acceptable?"

 

"It's against all protocol, but at this point, it's my opinion we should do what's best for Jim. Don't want some sort of emotional breakdown on top of everything else. I'll put her through."

 

"Acknowledged."

 

Spock heard the subtle click of the switching of the line. "Mrs. Kirk," he stated. "This is Spock. I thought it prudent to inform you of the facts, from the source, before we attempt to connect you to Jim." Somehow, he could not say, 'your son.' He found himself feeling illogically possessive of that term. She was, factually, his mother, at least biologically. However, emotionally, and in the care taking sense, he found himself claiming the position of parent. His son. He'd never desired Jim to be his son, but now, he was overwhelmed with it. "Jim entered, and won, an essay contest to gain a spot on the tour of the beginning of the construction of the new ship, the Enterprise. His essay, on what it takes to be a starship captain, was exceptional. It has gained the attention of even the Admiralty of Starfleet. This tour was very important to him, and well deserved. However, for reasons that are still a mystery to me, Frank denied him the opportunity to go, despite no discernible mitigating circumstances. This, understandably, upset him. In revenge, he took Frank's convertible for a joy ride. Mrs. Steck saw him speed by and notified me in hopes I would be able to stop him. I immediately set out in my speeder to pursue him and managed to save him, even though the car ended up flying over the cliff."

 

He could hear Winona gasp softly. He continued.

 

"I do not believe it was a suicide attempt, specifically, but rather a shortsightedness on his part. If I had not intervened, he would not have survived. The car did not."

 

"Then what happened?" she whispered.

 

"He was quite emotionally compromised by the situation. After I got him to explain, I took him back to Frank, against my better judgment. Before I left, I attempted to persuade Frank not to take retribution on Jim, offering to replace the car myself. I was not successful. As I was leaving, I heard the unmistakable sounds of an intense altercation between Frank and Jim. When I arrived, Frank was unaware of my presence. I performed the Vulcan nerve pinch on Frank, then took Jim to the hospital. He would have died without medical intervention. Winona, Jim almost died twice yesterday. He life is in turmoil. I suggest, if we do manage to put you through, that you go easy on him."

 

There was silence for a minute. Spock had the impression, considering all his previous encounters, that some part of her had heard everything he'd said. However, for reasons that would probably seem illogical to him even if they were made known, she seemed, even now, tempted to take Frank's side on this. Since she did not seem set on verbally attacking Jim, and if her next words confirmed that conjecture, he would try to put her through.

 

"I understand," she said finally.

 

Spock thought that would be the best he would get from her. "Then I will connect you to Jim's room," he informed her. "Unless you have any questions."

 

"No. Put me through."

 

"Acknowledged." Spock transferred her to Jim's room, having memorized the number earlier. He hoped, this time, Jim would not suffer for a potential lapse in his judgment.

 

Speaking of lapses in judgment, he needed to get back with McCoy about the results of his meditation. After he was put on hold for a considerable length of time, the doctor finally came on the line.

 

"What is it, Spock? Did you let Winona talk to Jim?"

 

"After giving her a lengthy explanation, and determining her reaction to it, it was in my calculations that the odds were low she would cause Jim undue stress."

 

"You could just say yes, Spock."

 

"However, that is not why I called," Spock continued on, ignoring McCoy's jab at his way of expressing himself. "I have the results of my meditation."

 

Damn if that Vulcan didn't make everything sound scientific! "Well? So do you have it in you to 'take command,' so to speak, when necessary?"

 

"It is not in my nature, when it comes to Jim," Spock admitted. "However, Nero's presence does constitute a real threat, if he should ever find out about us. The best way for me to protect him, at this point, is to take on a parental role. Since I find it easier to defy him when his life is at risk, I shall approach the situation with this in mind, that a breakdown in my parental authority would result in him potentially leaving my protection, therefore putting his life at risk, should Nero use him to exact revenge on me. It is the best I can offer. I am afraid that, as you say, I am an 'old fart' and set in my ways, especially when it comes to Jim."

 

McCoy wasn't sure that this would be good enough. But it would have to be. "All right, Spock. I'll support you, personally and professionally. I'll make sure your petition for custody gets to the judge. I'll keep you informed. Go visit Jim, I'm sure he's wondering where you are."

 

"I will do so, doctor. Spock out." He cut the connection and immediately left for Jim's room.

Temporary Guardian by Rimilea

Important A/N please read! Ok, my bad! My life has been crazy since I last posted, with moving twice, a long trip across country, emotional upheavals, among other things. Point is, I've lost touch with this story and don't have the inspiration to edit it and write a sequel as planned. So, I am posting it as-is, unbetaed, for those interested. I'm sure it is riddled with errors and inconsistencies and bad characterization but I hope you will enjoy regardless. Maybe someday, when inspiration strikes, I will go back and correct everything and continue on. Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed, especially after all this time. There are twelve chapters and I will post them all within the next few weeks or so.


Chapter 08: Temporary Guardian

Jim, meanwhile, was lying on the hospital bed, bored out of his mind. It seemed he was beginning to have a habit of coming to Georgia without actually seeing much of it. It was very frustrating. And where was Spock? He'd hoped he'd be there sooner than this. Maybe he was still taking care of business with McCoy. Whatever it was, he wished he would hurry up and get there soon.

What seemed like hours later, a nurse came up to him. "Your mother is on the comm," she informed him in her southern accent. "Do you feel up to speaking with her?"

Jim didn't want to, but he was so accustomed to forcing himself to talk to his mother it did not occur to him to say no. "All right," he said.

"Hi Jimmy!" she said when he greeted her. He could immediately tell she was very stressed. "How are you doing?"

"I'm doing better," he said, truthfully. He knew getting up would be painful, but at least he was no longer in pain just lying still.

"I took some leave so I could come back to you and Frank to help deal with the situation," she said. "I had to agree to a long term contract to do it, though. But it means I can take as long as I need, and still have the job."

Jim didn't know whether to be appreciative or not. She did not seem to be taking a clear side. "Oh, okay. That's good," he said neutrally.

"Is it true that Spock saved your life?" she asked.

It almost sounded like she cared. "Yes. I would have been a smear at the bottom of a cliff if it wasn't for him."

"Then it sounds like we owe him a thank you," she said.

"Yeah," Jim agreed awkwardly.

"I've got to go, it's expensive to call this far out. But I'll see you soon, Jimmy."

"Bye," said Jim. Then the call disconnected, so he hung up.

Spock finally came about a half hour later, to Jim's delight. He had indeed been busy with business with Dr. McCoy concerning Jim's future. He was happy to hear that McCoy would be giving Spock his full support. Things were looking a little more hopeful.

Spock had found a chess set in the waiting room, and wanted to play. Jim agreed, eager for something to do. It seemed another tradition was starting - chess in Georgia. Spock, of course, absolutely flattened him, but explained everything so Jim could learn from it. Once again, he noticed that Spock seemed less stressed when he was playing chess, whether he was aware of it or not, so he humored the Vulcan for a few hours, before his brain overloaded from everything that he was learning and had to stop.

Jim, so far, had refrained from asking about Spock's past. But now, faced with possibly living with him, he was overcome with curiosity and felt he could ask. "So, what is it like on Vulcan?" he asked.

Spock described the planet in great detail. Jim listened, fascinated. He'd always wanted to go to another planet. He asked many questions, and was pleased that for once, Spock did not hold back.

However, when Jim asked him if he'd ever been married, Spock's expression became more closed, and a strange expression was on his face. "It is not something I discuss, Jim, I'm sorry," he said.

After that, it was hard to get anything out of him. So instead, he asked Spock what to expect from the hearing, how it would go, how long it would take.

Spock informed him that he had never been in a custody battle before, so he was unsure of specifics. Dr. McCoy was handling most of the arrangements, having more experience in the matter with the situations he encountered with his job. Well, that ruled out if Spock had ever been divorced with kids, Jim concluded. Maybe the only way to find out about Spock's past was through process of elimination. He didn't like all the mysteries. He'd find out somehow!

"How did your talk with your mother go?" Spock asked.

"How did you know she called?" wondered Jim.

"Dr. McCoy...asked me to talk to her first, before transferring her to you," explained Spock.

"It was okay, I guess. We didn't talk long. She said she took leave from her job to come back for the trial."

"Jim, I know Frank abused you, and Winona stood by, but did she herself ever abuse you, other than the insensitive language I have witnessed from her?" Spock intended to get a restraining order for Frank, if possible, and he wondered if he should have the same goal with Jim's mother.

Jim, predictably, looked like he did not want to answer.

"Jim, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I merely wish to know how best to protect you. The potential role of being your parent is a new endeavor for me. I wish to do it properly. Not to mention," he added, feeling Jim needed extra incentive, "In the event I do gain custody of you, I believe there is a trial period when I will be under scrutiny by the authorities, to be sure it is working out. If they find my methods unsatisfactory, they may take you away from me. I need to know everything I can to prevent that from happening."

Jim nodded in defeat. "Well, she's slapped me a few times," he admitted reluctantly. "I guess it was mostly verbal. And she never defended me from Frank."

"That is inexcusable," replied Spock, a touch of anger in his voice. He could never imagine himself standing by when Jim was his responsibility and allowing the abuse to happen right in front of him. It was impossible. However, since she was not inclined towards physical violence herself, he saw no reason for a complete restraining order. Perhaps, if he became Jim's father, he would allow her to visit once a month for a short period. It was more than she deserved, but she was his mother, and Spock regretted he could offer Jim no maternal influence. Perhaps Jim's mother would come around, and be more motherly, in time. He could see some small potential for that, however unlikely it seemed now.

Jim did not respond, clearly uncomfortable with the subject.

McCoy, meanwhile, was trying to dictate his report on Spock so he could submit it as official evidence of Spock's suitability to be Jim's guardian.

"This is Dr. Leonard McCoy, dictating on S'ch T'gai Selek - and no, I don't care that I said that incorrectly - medical record number 33-07-03. This is a letter to the judge on his psychological and social suitability for custody of James Tiberius Kirk, medical record number 33-02-56. I sat down these past two days with Selek for examination. Oh crap, I can't do this." He hung up. Who cared what the transcriptionist thought who examined the computer's accuracy in transcribing. He'd just delete it later or add an addendum.

It was just that, he'd never lied on the job before. It was never necessary because of the complete confidentiality, and it was fraud to do so. But he couldn't even let his transcriptionist know the truth. So this is what Spock felt like all the time, keeping all his secrets. He might have thought he was a bit of a bastard for doing it before, but now he knew it really sucked.

Sighing to himself, he decided to go visit Jim to remind himself why he was doing this. It was no small thing he was about to do, and he needed to find the guts to do it.

He stopped outside the door, and did not immediately let Jim and Spock know he was there, choosing to watch them silently. This is who he was doing it for. He could see on Jim's face how much he loved that Vulcan already, even though he barely knew him. Jim probably suspected on some level how much Spock truly adored him, and couldn't help but be drawn to it, especially considering what his life had been like. Even if it hadn't been that way, he bet he would still love that Vulcan. Something about the two of them just seemed to fit. But McCoy doubted that Jim could even fathom even a part of the full extent of Spock's love for him. Hell, he'd been inside that head of his, and even he could barely wrap his mind around it.

Spock loved him, McCoy, in his own way as well. He'd never admit it in a million years, but he'd been very touched by the confidence and fondness he found for him in the mind-meld. Although, he wondered what his counterpart had been doing in Starfleet. He had to have been on crack or something. But anyway, he could see how much security and stability Spock brought Jim. What Jim didn't know, was that he was doing the same for Spock. Spock now lived a very lonely life, away from everything he knew, no longer able to be himself. He was desperate for the one man in his life who had always been home to him, Jim, in this strange time line he was stuck in. Jim would make it all right for him, because wherever he was, was home to Spock. Just for existing.

Despite knowing it in his heart, he needed to hear the words from Jim. Needed to know, this is truly what the kid wanted, that there would be no other parent for him. Even though McCoy knew that Spock would be the best one, and the only one, to keep him safe from Nero, he needed to hear it from Jim. He'd heard Spock's side, now it was the kid's turn. Then, would he gain the strength to do what he needed to do, to spout all the bullshit he needed to spout, to get these two together. Even if it broke every commitment to truth he had as a doctor. It was 'First, do no harm.' That was most important. He knew in his heart that separating them would be doing enormous harm. He just needed to see with his own eyes.

"Jim, Spock," he said, stepping into the room. "I would like to speak to Jim alone. Would you wait in the waiting room until I'm done?"

"Of course, doctor," Spock acquiesced. He left.

"Jim," said McCoy. "How are you feeling?"

"Better. It doesn't hurt as bad as it used to," Jim reassured him.

"I'm glad to hear it. Now, since your home situation is uncertain right now, we're going to keep you here a little longer than we might have otherwise."

Jim did not look happy.

"Jim, I've got the ball rolling on the custody case. Frank and Winona are suing to keep you. Frank is trying to convince the judge that those injuries happened when you fell over the cliff."

Jim jerked himself to a sitting position in a fury, then winced when his injuries caught up with him.

"I know. His story doesn't hold up, obviously. I gave them physical evidence that it was impossible. I expect those charges to be dropped quickly. Frank will mostly likely be convicted, and rights revoked. Winona will also most likely be declared unfit for you, since she stood by and let him do these things to you. They don't have a strong case at all to keep you. But that leaves the question, where will you go? There are a few families who have already stepped forward to offer you a place in their -"

"NO!" cried Jim immediately. "No, I don't want them, I want Mr. Spock!" He looked almost hysterical, and his eyes were filling with tears.

"Hey, kid, I just want you to know what your options are - "

"No, I don't want to be taken away from him! They can't make me leave him!" He was breathing heavily, looking very panicked.

"Kid, I don't want you to get your hopes up. It's not going to be easy to convince the judge that Spock is better than those other families - "

"No," said Jim quieter, his voice despairing. This was worse than the hysterics. He covered his face in his hands, obviously hiding his tears.

McCoy knew the stress of the past few days must be really getting to him, and he felt terrible for bringing all of this up. It was very clear to him now that the only place Jim would thrive would be with Spock.

Time to start bullshitting Spock's records.

Jim was bored out of his mind and very fidgety. Spock and McCoy had been gone most of the past couple days, being involved with petitions, hearings, and investigations to award Spock temporary custody. He didn't understand all that went on at the court, though Spock had patiently tried to explain it. All he knew that determining temporary custody was the first step, along with getting Frank convicted and sent to jail. They expected that to happen relatively quickly. The rest of the battle, with Winona, Spock, and the other families (which he refused acknowledge) wanting custody, would take considerably more time, maybe even months. He had met his court guardian, Carlisle Allen, who seemed nice enough. Spock had told him it was important to win over the court guardian, judge, and the social workers who would be examining the situation, in order to win the case.

Jim just wanted it to be over.

They had not revoked Winona's visitation rights, so she had told him she would visit him soon. Jim was not looking forward to that. The only good news was, the moment temporary custody was determined, he would be released from the hospital. He could now get up and walk around some, though running was still a bit of a challenge with how bandaged up he was.

To pass the time, Jim played with the chess set, devising strategies to win against Spock. While he was doing so, his court guardian, Carlisle, entered the room. Jim liked the fact that the man insisted he call him by his first name. "Hi Carlisle," he said. He wasn't like Spock, who had a tendency to sneak up on him.

"Hey, Jim," he said. "What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to figure out how to beat Spock," said Jim.

Carlisle laughed hard. "No offense kid...but good luck with that! I've never seen him play, but I definitely get the impression he'd be a pro!"

"He is," confirmed Jim.

"You like him a lot, don't you? I've heard that often from McCoy."

"Yes."

"Well, the temporary custody hearing is drawing to a close, and I'd like to hear it from you where you'd like to - "

"I want to be with Spock," said Jim.

"McCoy wasn't kidding then, about you refusing to consider anything else," said Carlisle, seeking confirmation.

"I want to be with Spock."

"Why do you want to be with Spock?"

Jim had never really considered this before. It had always been, he'd just wanted to, and that was that. "I just really like him. He's very nice, and intelligent, and interesting. He's fun to be around. And I - I feel like I'm home when I'm with him," admitted Jim, knowing he had to present a good case, and needed to open up more than he normally would about this. There was way more than that, why he wanted to be with Spock, but he couldn't put it into words.

"I do see what you mean about him," agreed Carlisle. "Are you sure you don't want to be with your mother at least part of the time?"

"No, I want to be with Spock."

Carlisle decided not to even mention the other possibilities. It was obvious what answer he'd get. "I think you may get your way with having Spock as your temporary guardian. McCoy has put a solid case forward, with his professional opinion being that separating you two would be bad for your health at this point. Along with that fact that you would not be moving far, and would not be changing schools, and it would be easy for your to switch back to your mother, if the case went her way, it makes sense. You would not be moving in with a stranger, as you would with the other possibilities. His record is clean and we have every reason to believe he's the safest option for you. It's looking real favorable. Long term is another story, but that will take a while to determine. For now, though, since I've taken care of this part of the procedure, I'll go back and confirm my decision to support Spock's temporary guardianship. I must admit, however, I am undecided whether to support it long term. You would probably do better with a younger married couple who - "

"No, I want to be with Spock," Jim ground out angrily.

Carlisle could see he wasn't going to get anything else out of him. "All right, we can talk about that some other time. I'll get back to court. You finish getting better." Carlisle smiled at him.

Jim, although still angry at Carlisle's reluctance to support granting Spock permanent guardianship, gave him a small smile in return.

Hours later, Spock and McCoy entered Jim's room, looking more cheerful than they had in days.

"Good news," said McCoy. "Frank's been convicted, he's in jail, and his custody rights are permanently revoked. If Winona lives with him when he gets out of jail, that situation will automatically revoke her rights as well. Her status with you is still pending, and won't be determined for a while. It's unclear as to what her intentions are with Frank."

"In the meantime, I have been granted temporary custody of you," said Spock, his eyes smiling in triumph.

Jim grinned and leaped off the bed in excitement. "When do we go?"

Spock's eyes smiled brighter. "As soon as Dr. McCoy will discharge you."

Jim turned to McCoy eagerly.

"All right, kid, I'll discharge you right now. But I'll be coming to check up on you regularly." McCoy couldn't believe he'd agreed to use those damn transporters, but it was the only way to be sure the duty would not be assigned to another doctor.

"Yeah!" Jim practically shouted in joy. He moved to hug Spock, but stopped himself. He still didn't know if Spock would like that or not.

"You should know, however, that even though I am your parent, and everything that goes with that, on a temporary basis, your mother still has visitation rights. She can visit daily, but whether to allow her more than the hour alloted is at my discretion." Spock doubted he'd let her be there more than an hour.

This did not dampen Jim's spirits much. He was going to the one place he had ever felt like home, with Spock, and it would be that way for at least a few months, and possibly forever. He shifted impatiently from foot to foot as Spock and McCoy went over the paperwork and discharge instructions. He felt a thrill of satisfaction as Spock signed the place of guardian on his papers. He'd never felt so happy in his life. He was too excited to pay much attention to what they were saying, and they were whispering anyway.

Spock listened patiently to what McCoy was saying. He felt much satisfaction from how the day had gone, and was also pleased to be on the receiving end of one of McCoy's lectures. He had missed the doctor, though he would never say that to him.

"I know you just want to take him home and spoil him rotten, but keep a lid on it, okay? Good god man, can't believe I just had to say that to a VULCAN, of all things. You're going to be watched closely by everyone, so you've got to show you can be a good parent. That means when push comes to shove, you put your foot down as we discussed. None of this 'Yes, Captain' I keep hearing from you."

"I have not - "

"Yes, you have. Not with the words, but with the attitude. Every time you speak to him, I keep hearing this unspoken 'Yes, Captain' after everything you say. I know it's force of habit, and not only that, it's what you prefer, but if you want to keep him, you've got to show more firmness. Not to say that, considering all he's been through, your current attitude isn't good for him. I think until he recovers from everything, it actually might be beneficial. But we're under close watch right now, like I said, so we've got to prove ourselves, that we're right." He leaned forward, dropping his voice so low that only the Vulcan could hear him. "And for God's sakes, man, get that underground hanger done as fast as you can. Nothing shouts 'I'm a strange old man with something to hide' like digging a giant hole in the ground for no apparent reason. Tell them it's a science lab or something, it won't be that far from the truth."

"That is the plan, doctor."

"Follow this diet I've laid out for you, for him. According to his labs, he's a bit malnourished, so we're going to have to get him up to speed. Don't let him doing anything but eat, sleep, and go to school, and I'm giving you a doctor's note to excuse him from gym for the next week. In a week, he should be ready for limited activities. He won't be up to full recovery for a while, with his broken ribs and all. Since I'll be visiting regularly, I'll be able to give you modified instructions as time goes on. Well, you better get going, Jim's going to wet his pants with excitement if you make him wait any longer." He paused, and his eyes lost some of his gruffness, and his concerned sincerity became more prominent. "Good luck with him. He needs to be with you. Go out and prove it."

"That is my intention. Live long and prosper, Dr. McCoy," said Spock.

Dr. McCoy, now knowing everything that was behind that statement, shifted embarrassedly. "Yeah well, you too, old man."

They stepped apart and approached Jim, who beamed at them. Spock could not help it when his own corners of his mouth turned up slightly in response. He could definitely see his captain right now in the boy standing before him.

"All right, kid, you're all set to go. I know I hardly need to say it, but listen to Spock and go easy on him. He's never raised a kid before, he's got a lot to learn, and he needs to make a good impression right now. If you want to stay with him, you've got to show he's the best place for you."

Jim nodded. Those would be easy directions to follow. He wasn't sure about convincing the court, though. So far, they had been stubborn about wanting to put him with a younger married couple. He'd jut have to be extra stubborn.

"Now I've got to go take care of some of my other patients. I'll see you in a week."

Jim smiled and stepped forward, pulling the doctor into a hug. "Goodbye, Dr. McCoy," he said.

Spock watched the exchange, knowing it was illogical to be jealous, but wondering all the same why Jim didn't hug him. There were a couple times he thought Jim was going to, but he didn't. His own Jim had never been shy about touching him, why was this Jim so reticent?

"Goodbye, kid. Take care." With that, McCoy turned and left.

Spock faced Jim fully. "Shall we be off?"

"Yeah!" said Jim with enthusiasm.

The corners of Spock's mouth unconsciously turned up again as he led Jim out of the hospital. Even if it was only temporary at this point, he found a great deal of stress being lifted off him, knowing he was now tied to Jim in a tangible way. His Jim. He was now in a position to protect him and care for him as he so wished. The situation could not be more to his satisfaction, except to make it permanent.

Jim was once more taking in all the sights and sounds with fascination. If McCoy had not been so strict about his activities, Spock would have taken him around for some sightseeing. He would have to be certain to do so next time.

As they waited for their turn on the transporter pad, Spock turned to Jim. "We will need to stop by Winona's house to pick up your belongings," he informed him, refusing to refer to the place as Jim's home. Jim was going HOME with HIM. "Please think on, and be sure of, what you wish to take, so we will not have to be there long."

"Okay," agreed Jim.

"If you do not wish to go there, I can provide everything you need. It is not necessary for you to do anything you do not wish to." Spock stopped speaking, realizing that he was already beginning to cross the line McCoy had warned him about. While there was no harm in the current situation, 'bending over backwards' for him, all the the time, apparently could hinder his development. He would somehow need to become more aware of this.

Jim considered it, tempted. But he did not wish to be a burden to Spock, as he secretly still feared that he was. He would not make Spock buy everything for him. "Thanks, but I think I'd like to take some of my old belongings." Besides, he wanted the things under the floorboard. He did not want to lose them.

"Very well," agreed Spock. To be honest, the coming confrontation with Winona was something he did not wish to experience. However, it would be illogical to delay or avoid it, since she would be coming regularly to visit anyway. He'd seen her in court, and they hadn't said a word to each other. Spock wondered what she felt towards him now. Her being such an illogical woman, he found it impossible and quite illogical to attempt to predict her behavior. He would simply have to deal with whatever it was. As McCoy would say, 'good god, man,' but it would be worth it.

Their turn came, and they both found themselves at home in seconds. Spock immediately led Jim out to the speeder, wanting the errand to be over with as soon as possible. It would be illogical to delay.

Chapter 9 by Rimilea

A/N: Thanks to Tonati, Dahliaxat, and MyriadProBold for reviewing!

 

Chapter 09: Captain

 

Their turn came, and they both found themselves at home in seconds. Spock immediately led Jim out to the speeder, wanting the errand to be over with as soon as possible. It would be illogical to delay.

 

They arrived at Winona's house. Spock saw Jim tense up and no longer meet his eyes as he usually did. "Jim, if you wish to wait out here, while I get your things, that would be acceptable," offered Spock.

 

"No, I'll go in," said Jim, still not looking at him.

 

"Very well," Spock agreed. They entered the house. Winona was there, expecting them.

 

"Hey Jimmy, how are you doing?" she asked, ignoring Spock.

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. He did not understand this behavior.

 

"Better," said Jim. "It doesn't hurt to move around now. I'm going to get my things."

 

Spock, following Winona's lead to ignore each other's existence, accompanied Jim to his room. Jim found some bags and began filling them mostly with clothes. Spock noticed that Jim did not have much personal belongings, beyond the necessities.

 

Jim reached a point where he'd packed everything he wanted from the house, except the things under his floorboard. Spock was sitting on the bed, waiting for him to finish and ready to help him, his kind gaze expressing only patience. Spock's note was there. But the rest was photos and letters his real dad had written. Would Spock think his real dad was more important to him? Would he be offended? Jim paused several seconds in hesitation.

 

"Is there something you need, Jim?" asked Spock in concern.

 

Jim met Spock's gaze for the first time since setting foot on Winona's property. "I was just thinking about whether I wanted the stuff I stashed under my floorboard, underneath my bed," Jim explained.

 

"You may take whatever you wish to take," Spock said agreeably.

 

Jim crawled under the bed, and retrieved everything in his stash. Before Jim could put it in a bag, Spock reached out and gently rested his hand on his arm. "May I?" he asked.

 

Jim handed the everything over, turning a bit red when Spock came upon his note. Spock's eyes softened a bit, then he continued on. As Jim feared, a vague look of distress came over the Vulcan's features.

 

"I don't like him better than you," Jim blurted nervously.

 

"Jim, you misunderstand," Spock said. Whatever McCoy had said, he still felt he was the reason Jim had lost his father. He wondered if Jim would still want to be with him if he knew the truth. It was unpleasant. "I - knew, your father."

 

This had never occurred to Jim. Thoroughly distracted from his earlier thoughts, Jim sat down next to Spock and thought some mysteries might finally be solved. Was this why Spock seemed so interested in him? "How did you know him?"

 

"I did not know him very well, or for very long," Spock explained.

 

Well, there went that theory. "What was he like?" No one would ever tell him about his father. It was a taboo subject, and anyone willing to say anything were people he couldn't have any contact with.

 

Spock dug deep in the recesses of his brain, summoning his few memories of George Kirk. He'd met Jim's father before the five year mission. He'd lived long enough to go to their wedding, when he had seen him again. Although a bit confused at his son's choice, a Vulcan, George had supported the marriage. Spock could understand. For the longest time, he'd thought himself that it was an unlikely pairing, since Jim seemed to prefer beautiful women. Regardless, he was pleased to note he had only positive memories of George Kirk. "Your father was much like you. He was a supportive, open minded young man."

 

Jim supposed that to Spock, anyone would be a young man. He suppressed a smile.

 

"He took his duties in Starfleet seriously. I have no doubt he would have continued to make a fine captain, had he lived. I also have no doubt he would be very proud of you, and your essay that you wrote. In many ways, I believe you are following in his footsteps. We can post these pictures anywhere in the house that you wish, and I can also frame the letters if you would want that as well."

 

It had never occurred to Jim that Spock would let him do that. He was so used to hiding everything he had from his father, that being out in the open with it was a true novelty. "Really? You'll do that?"

 

"Jim, I have no problem with it. You no longer need to hide your love for your father. I am also quite honored that you placed something of mine there, as well," Spock said.

 

Jim felt his face reddening again. "Thanks, Spock."

 

"Do you have everything that you wish to take?" inquired Spock.

 

"Yes, that's everything," confirmed Jim. Spock took several of Jim's heavy bags and hefted them as if they weighed nothing. Jim had not thought of it before, but Spock was several times stronger than him, even despite his age, because he was part Vulcan. The old man was so gentle by nature that he had not given it much thought.

 

He quickly forgot about it, though, when he found himself faced with his mother again. "Bye, mom," he said, hoping she wouldn't want to talk more. He was eager to get back to Spock's house, which was home now.

 

Winona continued to pretend Spock didn't exist. "Bye, Jimmy. If you need more of your things, come back over," she said, being unusually polite.

 

Jim nodded and walked out the door, Spock in tow. It was a relief to be gone from the house. If things went his way, he'd never go there again.

 

They spent the next hour getting Jim settled into his room. Spock helped him hang a few pictures in his room, and even put a few in the living room. Jim decided to put the letters in a box on one of the shelves. He wondered, since Spock was okay about this, if he would let him meet the Kirk side of the family. He did not have the guts to ask now, but if a good time came up, he would.

 

After making sure Jim was comfortable and wanting for nothing, Spock left to meditate. Jim, unused to such freedom as Spock was offering, decided to text his friends. They hadn't heard the good news yet.

 

JKirk: Hey! I have great news. Frank is in jail, and Spock has been declared my temporary guardian. I just moved into his house. He's off meditating and doing whatever Vulcans do, and I'm in my room, all settled in. It's great. I just have to convince the court to make it permanent.

 

GMitch: That's great! Maybe he'll let me and Ben come over? We've been wanting to see you.

 

Jim paused. He knew Spock kept insisting he could interrupt him for any reason, but he still couldn't believe it was true. His parents had hated being interrupted, why would Spock be different? Yet, he really did want to see his friends. He decided to risk it.

 

JKirk: Ok, I'll ask him. BRB.

 

Jim went to Spock's room and knocked on the door softly.

 

"Come in," Spock said after a few moments.

 

Jim came in. He'd never been in Spock's room before. Like the rest of the house, there wasn't much there beyond the bare necessities. The only piece of decoration was the pendant hanging on the wall. It did not look like a jewel, but more like a memory device for a recorded message. He refocused on Spock. "Hey, sorry to interrupt, but - "

 

"Jim, you may 'interrupt' at any time. It is perfectly acceptable."

 

"Okay. Well, I was wondering if Ben and Gary could come over. I haven't seen them in awhile."

 

"That is acceptable," said Spock. "You may invite them over any time you wish."

 

Jim beamed. "Thank you! I'll invite them right now!"

 

"If you need me again, I will be in here, meditating," Spock reminded him, slipping back into it. Jim had never seen anyone look so peaceful and serene. He desperately wanted to hug his guardian again, but held himself in check. He went back to his room instead, and invited his friends to come over, which they immediately agreed to.

 

Spock was still in meditation when Jim's friends arrived. He overheard them talking about the tour on the beginning work of the Enterprise. In the chaos that had followed, Spock had not given much thought to it lately. He could hear Jim trying to sound happy for his friends, but years of experience with him helped him detect that Jim was not happy, as he pretended to be. It had meant a lot to him. He was very disappointed that he had not gone.

 

Spock wanted to remedy the situation. It was unlikely they would offer a tour for Jim, simply because he asked them to, but he himself was not without bribing power. If he offered to advance them technologically a bit, in return for showing Jim around and staging a simulation for him, he thought the odds were good he'd get his way.

 

There was only one way to find out. Not delaying a moment, Spock put in some calls, arranging things to the best of his ability. When he finally convinced them of his impressive amount of knowledge, and how much he could help them, they were quite eager to meet his terms.

 

Spock was familiar with human customs through Jim. One of them, he knew, was making things a surprise. This never happened on Vulcan, since it was quite illogical to not prepare someone for something when you were perfectly capable of doing so. Yet, humans seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps this Jim would as well. Therefore, he would not tell Jim where they were going tomorrow, only that it was a surprise.

 

He emerged from his room, meditation and arrangements all completed. He wished to interact more with Jim's friends. He thought that last time, he had not made the best impression since he had not been in the best of moods, considering he had believed Jim did not want him in his life anymore. He wished to remedy this.

 

"Jim, Ben, Gary," Spock acknowledged. "Is there anything you need?"

 

"No, we're good," said Jim. Gary and Ben nodded in agreement. "But we were wondering if you'd let us play Galaxy Wars 360. It just came out."

 

"What is Galaxy Wars 360?" asked Spock.

 

"It's a full immersion game. You put it in the holoplayer and it's 3D," explained Jim.

 

Spock had never heard of such a thing. It sounded a bit like a simulation, except more informal. His natural curiosity won out. "You may. However, I was wondering if I could try it with you?"

 

Jim looked shocked, and glanced at his friends for approval. They nodded. "Sure," said Jim, still looking like he didn't quite believe his ears. They paired up, Jim with Spock and Ben with Gary.

 

Once Spock got the hang of the game, it was all the other two could do to try to beat him. Spock was a genius, and Jim found it humorous to see him approach a child's game with such serious and mathematical precision. Sure paid off for the old man, though. They beat Ben and Gary the second round, and the third. The fourth round was a tie. He suspected that Spock had done badly on purpose. Jim had never played before either, but now he was getting good at it, aiding Spock more and more.

 

Spock, meanwhile, reveled in teaming up with Jim in 'battle' again, even if it wasn't real. So lost in his reminiscence, at he end of the fifth round, which was once again a tie, he asked Jim, "Shall we go again, Captain?" before he could stop himself.

 

Jim looked confused.

 

"I am merely referring to your role in the game," Spock said to cover himself.

 

"Okay," said Jim. He still thought there was something weird about the way he'd said it, though. He glanced at Gary, who was giving Spock the look he recognized as the 'I'm seeing bullshit' look. Why in the world would Spock lie about something like that, though? There was of course no way he'd ever been Spock's 'Captain.' That was just ridiculous. It wasn't important anyway. He loved that Spock would play the game with him, and seemed to like it. It just made him love Spock all the more. "Yeah, we can go again."

 

After one more game, though, which Spock and Jim won soundly, Spock said it was time for dinner. He allowed Ben and Gary to stay, but said they must go home afterwards so Jim could rest.

 

When Jim got his food, he couldn't help but cringe inwardly. It was all yucky healthy stuff. He did his best now to let it show, though, he didn't want to offend Spock.

 

"I know it is not to your preference," said Spock, not seeing any outward signs of dislike but being sure of this from his previous life. "However, Dr. McCoy gave me strict orders to give you only certain foods for a time."

 

"It's fine," said Jim. They spent the rest of dinner rehashing the game, the boys telling Spock that he was totally awesome. Spock smiled with his eyes in return, and assured him he had thought it was 'awesome' as well. Any chance to be a part of a team with Jim again, was precious to him, even if it was only a simulation.

 

After Ben and Gary left, Spock turned to Jim. "Do you have any plans for tomorrow?"

 

"No," said Jim.

 

"Good. I have a surprise for you."

 

A slow grin spread on Jim's face. "Really?"

 

"Really," said Spock, the informal word sounding hilarious with his precise dictation.

 

"Are you going to give me any clues?" asked Jim playfully.

 

"Perhaps I will give you one. You have been wronged, and I wish to make it up to you."

 

Jim was puzzled. There were many different things Spock could be referring to, and yet he couldn't see a reason that Spock would feel he would have to make anything up to him. But he grinned anyway. "When am I going to find out what it is?"

 

"We will leave in the speeder at nine tomorrow. When we get there, I am sure you will figure out what it is."

 

"I can't wait," said Jim enthusiastically. Spock had thoroughly proved himself to have a firm grasp on what he liked and didn't like. He bet he would love it.

 

Jim went to bed that night, feeling excited about tomorrow and feeling at home and secure in his surroundings. It was so unfamiliar to be feeling all this so intensely, and he couldn't help but feel it wouldn't last. The thought made him feel very alone. But right now, he wasn't. He drifted off to sleep, feeling rather boneless in the heady feeling of being under Spock's protection.

 

True to Spock's word, they left at precisely nine the next morning. Jim was buzzing with excitement, wondering what it could possibly be, squirming a bit in his seat. About twenty minutes later, he realized they were coming up to Riverside Shipyard.

 

And slowing.

 

Jim turned to Spock incredulously, his heart beating fast in excitement. "Is this - are we? Really?"

 

Spock raised an eyebrow at Jim's inability to be articulate. "Yes. I have arranged for a personal tour and simulation for you."

 

"How did you get them to do that?" asked Jim. He didn't know, but he imagined that Starfleet didn't bend over backwards for just anyone.

 

"They have need of my talents," explained Spock.

 

Jim was so happy and touched by this, he thought he was going to cry. No one had ever done anything this nice for him before. Spock was just amazing. He still couldn't believe that he was here with him. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything, he found himself unable to speak.

 

Spock noticed his expression. He lightly put a hand on his shoulder. "Jim, you have been wronged. I am merely setting it right." He wondered if McCoy would consider this 'spoiling him rotten.' He did not believe it was. After all, it was only fair and logical for the future captain of the Enterprise to tour it as it began construction. You could say that it was his right.

 

Jim really had to struggle to keep from hugging Spock. Even now, he wasn't sure it would be welcomed. "Thanks, Spock. It means a lot to me," he settled for, instead. They held each other's gaze for a moment, Jim beaming at him and Spock smiling with his eyes.

 

"It is only logical," Spock informed him. They walked to the building and entered. Spock carefully kept his face neutral as they were greeted by Christopher Pike, who was currently a Commander. "Commander Pike. I am honored to meet you in person. This is James Kirk."

 

"Nice to meet you at last, Jim," said Pike, shaking his hand with a smile. "What happened to you?" he asked, referring to the lingering evidence of Frank's beating.

 

Spock spoke up quickly so Jim wouldn't have to. "He had an unfortunate incident. I'm afraid what happened is confidential, but thank you for your concern." Jim's trial had the potential to be a bit of a media circus, since his father was somewhat famous. However, there had been unanimous agreement to keep it quiet, for Jim's sake. Spock though it optimal, especially since if it caught the media's attention, it would, sooner or later, catch Nero's attention. That must be avoided at all costs.

 

Jim shot Spock a grateful look. He'd never had an adult watch over him in such minute detail, guarding even his feelings in every matter. He felt another surge of appreciation for the Vulcan.

 

"No problem. Let's get started, shall we?" he suggested.

 

"Yeah!" said Jim with enthusiasm. Pike smiled and led the way.

 

Pike explained the various pieces of the ship they were now constructing, and how they were doing it. Spock gave suggestions for improvement, all of which impressed Pike, who made notations on his PADD. It seemed Spock had definitely made it worth their while, as he'd promised. Besides, if it had been up to him, he would have shown Jim around anyway. He could tell he was a great kid.

 

Now it was the end, the simulation. Spock turned to Jim, an intense look in his eyes. "I would be honored to serve as your Science officer," he said formally.

 

Jim beamed at him. "Does that mean I'm the Captain?"

 

"Of course," said Spock, unable to imagine Jim being anything else.

 

"Then you can also be my first officer!" he said playfully. Just as he'd been imagining. It strangely seemed to fit, despite their huge age gap.

 

"It is an honor," Spock said sincerely. It did not matter that it wasn't real. In some small way, he'd be back on the Enterprise, as science and first officer under Jim Kirk. It was precious to him.

 

Jim strode eagerly for the Captain's chair in the simulation room. Spock took his familiar seat at the science station, then swiveled around automatically to Jim, awaiting orders. Other people he didn't recognize took the 'helm' and other positions. Pike took the communications station.

 

Being in the captain's chair seemed to have transformed Jim. He now looked so achingly familiar to Spock, in his posture and expression, that he could scarcely think about anything else.

 

"All right, so now we're going to run a little mock battle with the Klingons. We'll all be following Jim's orders. Have fun, Jim," said Pike.

 

Jim swiveled his chair around. "Definitely!" he said.

 

Spock could feel all his stress melting away as he slipped into his very familiar role. It did not matter that it had been years since the last time he did this. The bridge of the Enterprise, with Jim, had been home to him. It was instinctual. Jim, though perhaps being more informal with the tendency to embellish with his own sound effects, and though being much less experienced, was much the same as before. He was born to be a captain. For the fifteen minutes of the simulation, he was much more aware of what McCoy had been talking about. Though he logically knew Jim was only ten, the rest of him did not, and it showed. He certainly had no objections to being able to call Jim 'Captain' without suspicion and confusion.

 

Jim managed to beat the simulation, even when they decided to have another go and raise the difficulty. Everyone had great fun taking orders from Jim, who was obviously having a blast. At then end, he turned to Spock and said with glee, "We got 'em, Mr. Spock!"

 

"Indeed, Captain," he agreed.

 

Pike approached Spock. "You seemed very at home here. Have you ever served in Starfleet?"

 

Spock had not forgotten his ten years of service under Pike, and regretting lying to him. "No, but being interested in it, I am familiar with policies and procedures."

 

"Well, anyway, could you please talk to some of our engineers for a few minutes? They have some questions for you."

 

"That would be acceptable," said Spock.

 

"I'll keep Captain Kirk here company," said Pike with a wink.

 

"Thank you," said Spock.

 

"Take your time," Pike urged.

 

"I will now take my leave of you, Captain," Spock told Jim formally. "I must talk with some engineers. However, I shall not be long."

 

"All right, Mr. Spock. See you soon!"

 

Spock left. So did everyone else, except for Jim, who still sat in the captain's chair, fiddling with the controls.

 

"So, Captain, you did great. Have you ever done this before?"

 

"No. I loved it though."

 

"You're a natural, then. I've never had someone beat the second simulation on the first try."

 

"Mr. Spock is a good advisor," Jim said.

 

"That he is," said Pike, looking thoughtful. "So he's the Vulcan friend you've been referring to."

 

"Yes."

 

"So how did you hook up with him? Vulcans aren't exactly a sociable species."

 

"We met just down the road from my house. I was talking a walk, and so was he." At least, that's what Jim assumed.

 

"Must have been awhile ago, then?" surmised Pike.

 

"No, it was more like a few weeks ago," Jim said, trying to remember. So much had happened. "Maybe a month, I'm not sure."

 

Pike turned to him fully, disbelieving. "You've only known him a few weeks, and he acts like that towards you?!"

 

"Well, yeah," said Jim.

 

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a Vulcan to be your friend, especially if there are no logical reasons involved? And he seems so loyal to you. I can just see it. That's not easy to earn. Once loyal, they are loyal forever. How did you do it?"

 

"Well, I dunno. It just sort of happened," said Jim, flummoxed.

 

"That's really something, kid. I see great things in your future. Have you ever considered the young cadets program?"

 

"The what?" Jim had never heard of it. Which wasn't surprising, since Starfleet was a banned subject in his house. At least, his old house. Spock didn't seem to have any banned subjects, except for whatever he was hiding about himself. Jim was determined to find that out.

 

"Young cadets. You should ask your parents,"

 

Jim decided not to correct him. It was not a subject he wished to talk about.

 

"and see if they'll let you join. It's great preparation for if you'd like to be in Starfleet someday. I bet you would love it."

 

"Thanks, I'll think about it," said Jim, thinking that with everything that was going on, it would be unlikely he'd get to do it. Besides, it would probably be a big hassle and he didn't want to be a burden. They rehashed a bit on the simulations, Pike commenting on Jim on Spock's performance in mostly impressed tones. A little while later, Spock returned.

 

"It is time to go, Jim," Spock informed his charge.

 

"All right," Jim agreed.

 

"Don't be a stranger," said Pike. "You can message me any time. And think about that program."

 

"Thanks, I will. It was nice to meet you."

 

"Same to you, see you later, kid," said Pike.

 

"Farewell," said Spock.

 

"Goodbye, Spock," said Pike.

 

Spock and Jim walked out to the speeder. "What program was Pike referring to?" Spock asked Jim.

 

"Oh, this young cadets program. Apparently it is good preparation for Starfleet. It sounded kind of like boy scouts."

 

"You wish to participate?" asked Spock.

 

"Yeah, it sounds interesting," admitted Jim, uncomfortable. Spock had already done so much for him. He could never repay him, and he felt he didn't deserve all this.

 

"Jim, if things were more certain, I would support your participation in the program. However, there is no logic in beginning when it is uncertain what your situation will be in a few months."

 

"Yeah, I know," said Jim somewhat glumly, yet relieved. But then he brightened. "Thanks again, Spock. I really enjoyed my time today."

 

"I also found it to be most fascinating," he agreed. "You are a natural at being a Captain."

 

Jim was rather amazed that Spock felt that way, with everything that had happened. He'd driven a car off a cliff. He'd gotten himself beaten up. Yet, Spock still thought he was impressive Captain material? What was he seeing? Was he just trying to be nice? Once again, Jim wondered if Spock just felt sorry for him.

Chapter 10 by Rimilea

 

Thanks to Tonati and MyriadProBold for reviewing!

 

Chapter 10: Fight

 

On the way home, Jim texted his friends and told them about Spock's surprise. They were very glad he got to go, and were impressed at the extra mile Spock had gone for him. Jim agreed. He loved the Vulcan so much now, the thought of being parted from him brought physical pain.

 

When they arrived home, McCoy called. Spock switched it to video feed, so they could both talk to him.

 

"Hey, kid, how are you doing?" asked McCoy.

 

"Great! Spock brought me to Riverside Shipyard so I could tour the future Enterprise!"

 

McCoy gave Spock a stern look. "I thought he was supposed to be resting?"

 

"It was nothing strenuous," Spock assured him. "He will rest the remainder of the day."

 

"Well, kid, that's great then. I'm glad you still got to go."

 

"And yesterday, we all played Galaxy Wars 360! Spock totally rocked at it!"

 

McCoy looked like he dearly wanted to laugh. His face lit up with glee. "Well, where was the logic in playing a kid's game, Spock?" He really wanted to hear this.

 

"They needed a fourth player, so they could have two even teams," Spock informed him. "Also, as a scientist, new experiences are always welcomed. Additionally, it was a good experience for Jim, to gain practice working part of a team - "

 

"Still not going to admit you just want to spoil him rotten, are you, Spock?" McCoy jabbed at him.

 

"Spoiling him rotten would be highly illogical, doctor."

 

"Of course it would," McCoy said sarcastically. "Well, anyway. You're going to have some social workers checking in occasionally. There's one I recommended, Erin. She's a little more open-minded. I think she will support us. You be on your best behavior, Jim, especially while they're around. They could go a long way to convincing the judge."

 

"Okay," said Jim.

 

"Listen, I need to talk to Spock in private for a minute, okay, Jim?"

 

"All right," agreed Jim reluctantly. "Talk to you later."

 

"I will see you later, in person," promised the doctor. Jim left the room.

 

"You got your project in the backyard finished yet, Spock?"

 

"It is fortified in the inside adequately. I merely need to add the doors, which will compose the entire ceiling, along with special adjustments I will make myself. Then it will be complete."

 

"Try planting trees and brush around it so it won't be so noticeable," suggested McCoy.

 

"That would be wise," agreed Spock.

 

"When are you going to tell Jim about the Jellyfish?"

 

"I will show him as soon as the hangar is finished, which should be in a few days," said Spock. "I know he has been very curious. It seems prudent to satisfy some of it, before he does anything rash."

 

"Good, that will help your relationship some. Have you had any problems?"

 

"None so far, that I can detect. He has been nothing but cooperative and obedient."

 

"He'll probably be that way for a while. The kid loves you. And he IS a kid, Spock. You're still giving him that look and tone."

 

"I understand, doctor. In the simulation today, it became more clear to me what you are referring to. I will endeavor to correct the problem."

 

"See that you do," McCoy commented doubtfully. "And quit spoiling him."

 

"I do not know what you are referring to, doctor."

 

McCoy snorted in disgust. "If you're not careful, the court will think he just likes you because of what you do for him. Now we both know that's not true,"

 

Spock frowned slightly. He was not so certain as McCoy. There was a considerable age gap between them, and Jim had been withholding the physical gestures of affection that his own Jim had freely bestowed. A new thought occurred to Spock. Jim had been abused for years by a man in the position of father. Was he, perhaps, afraid of him? Spock determined to be more cautious and gentle.

 

"but you still have to work on making a good impression."

 

"I may not have him for long, and I wish to do what I can for him in the time allotted me," protested Spock.

 

"I understand, Spock. I really do, having been in that nightmarish head of yours. But we've got to pull the odds in your favor somehow. Take the risk, the chance that he might be yours. You've got to! Too much is at stake!"

 

"I understand, doctor. I will endeavor to limit his activities."

 

"Good. Well, I have some things I have to do now, so I'll check in later. Goodbye, Spock."

 

"Goodbye, doctor." Spock cut the connection, then went to see what Jim was doing. He found him in the living room, catching up on his homework. He had heard that human children were notorious for being difficult about that. He was rather proud that Jim had done it on his own. "Are you in need of my assistance?" inquired Spock, watching for signs of fear now that it had occurred to him. It really was somewhat logical that he would be. It was just that his own Jim had never been afraid of him, even when he was dangerous and not in control of himself. He did, now, indeed see uncertainty on Jim's face. He kept his distance, not wanting to intimidate him.

 

"Well, there are a few things in math I'm a little confused on," admitted Jim. He explained what problems he had to solve, and the difficulties he was having. Spock sat down on his meditation mat, feeling that being lower than Jim and maintaining his distance would perhaps make him less frightening. For the first time, he regretted his superior Vulcan strength that now seemed to make Jim uncomfortable.

 

Despite loving and craving it, Jim was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with all the positive attention and help Spock was offering him. He felt unworthy of it. Didn't someone, especially someone as brilliant as Spock, have better things to do than be with him? After a while, it became too much. "That's okay, I can handle it from here," said Jim. He still had a few questions, but he would work them out for himself.

 

"Very well, but if you have any more difficulties, I am happy to be of assistance. You are my first priority, Jim. All my other work is secondary."

 

"Okay," said Jim, not knowing how to respond and feeling unworthy and overwhelmed.

 

"Since you wish to continue on your own, I will attend to my duties with Information Security on my computer. Should you need anything, or wish to use the computer yourself, feel free to interrupt." As Spock turned to go, he noticed a look of relief on Jim's face, releasing some of the high tension that had been increasing in his presence. This further confirmed his theory about Jim being afraid of him. He would have to come up with some way to reduce the fear. He would never hurt Jim.

 

Now feeling too exposed in the living room, Jim went to his room and shut the door. The least he could do to make things easy for Spock, was to finish his homework, so he did that. Having just arrived yesterday, there was nothing to clean, and since Spock replicated everything, there was no dinner to make. Spock had a dishwasher, so there was no dishes to wash, and none of his clothes needed washing yet. It seemed there was no way to give back to Spock as the Vulcan was giving to him. Feeling his discomfort increasing, he remembered how Spock had appreciated non replicated food. Maybe he could see if there was anything in the house to make dinner with. That would ease his anxiety a little.

 

Jim began poking around in the cupboards and refrigerator, trying to find something. Everything was pretty bare, though. He thoroughly searched the area, determined to be successful.

 

Spock, with his superior hearing, heard Jim poking around in the kitchen, quite extensively by the sound of it. He frowned slightly. Why would Jim do that? He had a replicator. Was there something he wanted?

 

Spock got up to see. He entered the kitchen. Jim was yet to be alerted to his presence. He watched him for a moment, feeling fond at the familiar stubborn determination that was etched on his face. It was that same determination and stubbornness that had saved his crew many times. "Is there something you need, Jim?"

 

Jim whipped around, startled. "Uh, well...I was just seeing if here was anything here I could make dinner with."

 

"There is no need," said Spock. "Jim, I will not treat you the way your parents did, and make you do everything, especially when I am fully equipped with the latest scientific advances that do all the work for us." Jim looked tense and uncomfortable again. Perhaps it would have been better if he'd left him alone. Maybe Jim needed more space between them to gain confidence.

 

"Okay," said Jim, anxious and uncomfortable again. What would he do now? He wasn't used to all of this time to himself. Usually his parents made him work around the house. And how would he repay Spock? "Are you sure there isn't anything I can do?"

 

"Jim, you can do anything you want to." Spock was glad McCoy wasn't here. He would have a field day with that. "There is nothing I require of you."

 

"Okay," said Jim.

 

"I understand that it is not in your nature to sit and do nothing," Spock said. "However, we must follow McCoy's directions. You must rest so you do not aggravate your injuries."

 

Jim's tension only seemed to increase. Spock wondered what to do. It seemed removing himself from Jim's presence would be expedient, as it seemed to be increasing his fear. He did not look fearful, per say, but he knew it was not in Jim's nature to show his fear. "Perhaps you might like to use my computer. You are welcome to it. I will first lock my programs on there, then you are free to do as you wish. I will meditate in the living room in the meantime."

 

Jim nodded and once more, seemed a bit relieved. Spock got him settled on his computer, then sat down on the mat in the living room. He would have to think on how to better approach him.

 

Jim, meanwhile, was surfing the galactic web, looking up different things that interested him. His comm had been too basic for it, and his parents never let him use the computer, so it was a fairly novel experience. He stopped for a minute, trying to think on what would he could search for next.

 

Then he had a thought. What if Spock was on here? There was something the old man was hiding, he was sure. Was there something on galactic web on him?

 

Jim first put in Selek, Vulcan, human, 155 years. The results did not show anything he didn't already know. So he next put in Spock, Vulcan, human, 155 years. While he did not get anything on his Spock, there were several things on a half human, half Vulcan named Spock that was his own age. There was one picture, and he even looked a little like his Spock. Since his Spock had grown up in an orphanage not knowing where he'd come from, it was possible they were related. What were the odds, though, of two half Vulcans, which were rare enough, but for both of them to be named Spock?

 

Jim briefly considered contacting the young Spock to see if he wanted to become pen pals. It would be cool to write someone who lived on a different planet with a completely different culture. Maybe he'd even solve his Spock's mystery of who his parents were, because the resemblance really was striking. It could be that Vulcans had different ways of naming their kids than humans did, and it worked the way a last name did, which is why it was the same. Who knew. Jim sent him a message, giving him his comm number to text him if he wanted to reply. Hey, his Spock had instantly taken a liking to him, despite being Vulcan...maybe this one would too.

 

He found some games on line to play for awhile. Spock came in with dinner and allowed him to eat by his computer while he continued with his games. He briefly wondered why Spock didn't sit down with him to eat. While he did feel uncomfortable and anxious about not being able to give back, he treasured that time with him. Maybe Spock didn't feel the same way? Jim let it pass, though, and continued on with what he was doing. He went without argument when Spock informed him that it was a wise time to go to bed, so he could be ready for school in the morning. He curled up in his bed, gazing at his glowing stars on the ceiling and basking in feeling like he was truly home.

 

Spock had originally planned on driving Jim to and from school, just so he could spend more time with him. However, in light of Jim's fear of him, he decided Jim would probably be more comfortable on the bus, though it was doubtful he'd admit that. When he informed Jim he would still be taking the bus to school, he agreed without argument, though he got the faint impression that Jim was not entirely happy. That was a bit mystifying, but Spock did not inquire into it.

 

Jim's day at school was rather uneventful until lunch, when Gary discovered that his comm was missing. As he went off to search everywhere he'd been for it, Finnegan approached Jim's table, a bullying sneer on his face. "So, the truth comes out, doesn't it."

 

Jim turned to him, confused, but with a sinking feeling in his stomach. Did Finnegan find out about his personal problems? "What do you mean?"

 

"That you're an unwanted kid some senile old Vulcan took pity on. I bet you didn't even write that essay, he did."

 

"Don't call Spock that," said Jim furiously. "Go away, Finnegan." How did he know?

 

"You're just the kind of guy that loser Gary would hang out with," Finnegan continued, ignoring Jim's protests. "That Vulcan must be just as stupid and stuck up -"

 

Jim stood in a fury, fists clenched. "Shut up about him!"

 

"I thought, you know, Vulcans were supposed to be logical? There's nothing logical about him being around you. He really must be losing it - "

 

Jim saw red. He'd never punched anyone before, but in this moment, he didn't hesitate. He drew his hand back and slammed his fist into Finnegan's ugly face.

 

Finnegan responded with an answering punch, and it intensified from there. Jim released all his frustration, tension, anger, confusion, helplessness, guilt and feelings of unworthiness on his opponent without restraint.

 

It was not long before an adult became aware of the situation and separated the two. They were taken to Mr. Kalomi's office, glaring at each other all the way. Jim could feel tears forming behind his eyes, but he did not shed them. He would not give Finnegan the satisfaction of knowing he'd hit him where it hurt.

 

While Mr. Kalomi did not seem surprised about Finnegan's appearance, he did seem confused to see Jim, who had never been called into his office before for a misdeed.

 

"Okay, Jim, I want to hear it from you first," Mr. Kalomi said, taking him aside to talk to him privately. "Why did you boys fight?"

 

Jim fidgeted, not wanting to go into the details. "I didn't like the way he was talking about Mr. Spock."

 

"Oh, your temporary guardian. Yes, as your principal I was informed of the situation, but I assure you I will make sure it is kept confidential. What did he say?"

 

"He said he was senile," said Jim. "And really losing it, because his decision to care for me was really illogical -" Jim's voice caught a bit on that, but he plowed on - "and that he's stuck up and stupid, and a loser, and he said Gary was a loser too."

 

"Hey, Jim, I know things are really in turmoil for you right now, and it's really tempting for you to act out, so I'll go easy on you, especially considering you've never done anything like this before. But if you do anything like this again, there will be consequences. I will, of course, have to inform Mr. Spock about what happened today."

 

Jim cringed. He'd prefer suspension over Spock knowing what had happened. He'd probably be really disappointed in him. "Okay," Jim said glumly.

 

"Jim, I hope everything works out for you. If there is anything you can do, let me know."

 

Jim did not know what Mr. Kalomi could do, but he thought it wouldn't hurt to mention it. "I'm trying to convince them to let me stay with Spock, but they keep trying to get me to change my mind."

 

"Well, if they ever come asking me for my opinion - which they probably will, by the way - I'll put in a good word for him. I heard he arranged for you to go to tour the Enterprise, even though you missed the official one. I can see why you want to be with him. Now, unfortunately, I have to get back to work, and you have to get back to your classes. In fact, you'd better get checked out by the school nurse. This fist fight of yours probably aggravated your injuries. Here's a note for the nurse and your teacher. Good luck, Jim."

 

"Thanks, Mr. Kalomi," said Jim, leaving. Finnegan then went to Mr. Kalomi for his scolding and punishment, and Jim gave him one last glare before he went to the school nurse.

 

The nurse informed him that he'd gained some new bruises, including a shiner on his face, and his recovery had indeed been set back a bit. The fight had fortunately been stopped before any real damage was inflicted. Jim, inwardly cringing at Spock's reaction to all of this, headed back to his class, feeling glummer than ever, and still angry with Finnegan.

 

Jim entered class, which had already started. He handed the note to the teacher and settled in next to Gary without looking at him. He felt paper brush against his palm.

 

Gary wrote: "While you were fighting, I found my comm with Finnegan's stuff. He must have looked at the messaging history and found out about everything. Everyone started asking if it was true, but Ben and I denied everything. Everyone knows Finnegan is an idiot. I'm sure everyone will forget soon and think nothing of it, just another rumor that amounted to nothing."

 

Jim simply wrote back: "Thanks, Gary. I'm sorry Finnegan stole your comm."

 

The rest of the school day passed all too quickly. Before he knew it, he was entering Spock's house - his home. He slowly walked towards his room, sure that he was in big trouble and had really disappointed Spock.

Chapter 11 by Rimilea

 

A/N: MyriadProBold, Mostillogical, Bastet, and Tonati, thank you so much for reviewing! The chapter after this one will be the last.

Chapter 11: Leaving

 

"Jim, you're home," said Spock, appearing in the hallway, his eyes smiling. The smile disappeared, though, when he saw Jim's shiner, and his expression. "I am aware of what happened today, Jim. I understand that it is in your nature to defend those close to you at cost to your own health. You are a fighter. However, especially considering your current state, I must ask you to practice the better part of valor."

 

Jim looked confused. "The better part of valor?"

 

"Yes. Wisdom. Words are just that, only sounds with meanings we all agree on. They cannot hurt you, or those you care about, unless you let them. Also this means, if threatened with physical violence, I ask you to flee the situation."

 

Jim looked up at him, feeling the faint stirrings of hope. "You're not upset with me?"

 

"Jim, it is illogical to be upset at someone for their inherent nature," said Spock indulgently. "However, I am concerned for your health, and the social ramifications. You do realize that if the court catches wind of this, it will not reflect well on me? I am not ashamed of you or or actions by any means, however, they will not look kindly upon it, and as you are my responsibility, they will consider me responsible as well."

 

Jim glanced at him and nodded glumly.

 

"However, since it is a singular event, and your situation may be considered a mitigating circumstance, I believe there is no great cause to worry. Jim, just be sure not to get into any more fights, however inherent in your nature and tempting they may be."

 

"Okay," said Jim, unsure if he'd be able to hold back if Finnegan came for a round two, but determined to try.

 

As he entered his room, he noticed he'd gotten a new message - from the young Spock! He eagerly opened it, wondering if he'd accepted his proposal of being pen pals.

 

Spock: I have considered your request. Your proposal does have some scientific and educational merit. However, I have determined that it would be illogical to accept your request. I am attempting to become wholly Vulcan, and pursuing human contact and influence would be detrimental to this end. I will offer you one piece of Vulcan culture: Live Long and Prosper, James Kirk.

 

Jim frowned, somewhat disappointed. Texting back and forth with young Spock would have been fun. It seemed whatever charms he had that worked on Vulcans only worked with the older Spock. He decided to shrug it off. Young Spock sounded a bit stuck up anyway.

 

Spock, noting that Jim was occupied in his room, went to the backyard where the Jellyfish was. Moving it to the underground hangar would no doubt be noisy, but it could not be helped. He had installed as many sound dampening and soundproofing systems as he could to minimize the noise, but he could not make it totally silent. It would at least make noise the equivalent to the sound decibels of a speeder. He could only hope that anyone hearing it would assume it was one. It would certainly be less suspicious than the birds that were currently ramming into it on accident, unable to see the ship to avoid it.

 

After Spock lowered it into the ground, he undid the cloaking device that was draining the power and closed the doors. He would now have to finish the project, but he would do that while Jim was sleeping or at school, as he had been. He headed back to the house, noting that by the lack of passersby that he had successfully moved the Jellyfish without anyone knowing.

 

As soon as tomorrow, he would be able to show Jim the Jellyfish. However, he was still uncertain as to whether Jim was ready for the knowledge. He would not, of course, tell him it was from the future, but he would tell him it was of his own design. He did not want to tell him about Nero, which was why he needed the ship close to him, ready at a moment's notice. Also, the inevitable shipyard inspection were he to keep it at one would be very incriminating. All in all, he had to keep it here. But how would Jim take it? Would he be even more intimidated by Spock, knowing he had a battle ready ship in the backyard with enough red matter to take out a solar system? Spock, if he did tell Jim, would certainly have to give Jim a highly edited version of the Jellyfish's purpose and status.

 

At some point, he would have to tell Jim something about Nero, so he could be alert for his own safety. However, now did not seem to be the time. The boy was anxious enough about his situation as it was, and under Spock's protection. There was no pressing need for it. He would take care of him.

 

Spock decided to show Jim the ship, and say it was something he designed and tinkered with to enhance his scientific theories and advancement. It would not be a lie, but it would simply leave out the rest of the situation. He would be very sure, though, to have Jim sworn to utmost secrecy, even from his friends. No one could know about this ship.

 

Before Spock entered the house, he noticed Mrs. Alice Steck had arrived and was also walking to the front door. "Greetings, Mrs. Steck."

 

"Hello, Spock," she said. "I just wanted to visit you and Jimmy, to see how you are doing. And I brought a plate of cookies for him."

 

"Your thoughtfulness is most appreciated," said Spock. "Come inside. I expect that Jim is in his room. I will fetch him. I am sure he will be glad to see you."

 

Jim was glad to see her, thanked her many times for the cookies, and even gave her a hug. Spock observed that he seemed much less tense with her, and this only furthered his hypothesis that Jim was afraid of him. He was unsure what more he could do for him than he already was doing. Having another family take him would not solve the problem, as there would be another man in the father position, although perhaps he would not be as strong as Spock, and therefore, perhaps slightly less intimidating. However, he knew Jim was quite set on staying with him, regardless of his fear. This of course was preferable to himself as well, but he did not want Jim to feel cornered and frightened. The last thing he wanted was to be associated with Frank in Jim's mind, however faintly that might be.

 

So when Mrs. Steck left, Spock informed Jim he could eat in his room if he wished. Spock figured that Jim would probably feel better if he was somewhere he could lock him out, even if Spock would himself much prefer to eat with him and talk to him. Jim did not seem as happy about this as Spock was expecting, but he did eat in his room without argument.

 

Spock quickly finished eating. It was Vulcan tradition to eat in silence, but it was not a tradition he enjoyed, particularly now when he could be dining with Jim. He went in his room to meditate.

 

Jim, meanwhile, was having similar thoughts. He did not understand why Spock, once again, was not eating with him, and was a little hurt. He had been looking forward to patching things up with him over dinner, and just talking with him about everything, but now he would not get the chance. While Spock had merely made it a suggestion, it seemed to be what he wanted, so Jim went along with it. He wasn't going to be with Spock if he didn't want him to be with him.

 

Jim was now even more upset and unsure of himself and the situation now with Spock's mixed signals. He finished dinner, then wondered what to do next. He went out and set his dishes in the dishwasher, finding himself edgy to be in the same room with Spock. He wanted so bad to please him and not be annoying, but what was pleasing and what was annoying was now more confusing and unclear to him than ever, and seemed impossible to accomplish.

 

Spock noted Jim was more tense than ever, so he decided it was time to consult with Dr. McCoy. He went to his private room, shut the door, and opened the channel to him.

 

After waiting on hold a considerable length of time, the irritable doctor appeared. "Oh, you again. Jim all right?"

 

"Jim got into a fight at school today with Finnegan, apparently over some words he said about me. However, it did not last long and there was no significant damage."

 

"Let me guess, you let him get off scot free." McCoy's voice was mixed with disgust and fondness.

 

"He is a fighter by nature, he is under stress, and he has never done this before. I believed in this case, the mitigating circumstances warranted only a lecture. Besides, doctor, there is also something I have been observing with him that is concerning me. I believe, especially now that I am in the position of a father, that he is afraid of me. I have attempted to keep my distance and limit my time in his presence to ease his fears. However, it appears to be getting worse instead of better. I would like to know how I can remedy the situation. My Jim was never afraid of me, even when, perhaps he should have been, so I have no experience with this type of situation."

 

"Well, Spock," said McCoy, sounding very concerned. "I guess I really shouldn't be so surprised. It just never struck me before that he was afraid of you because he adores you. It's possible. What has made you think he's afraid of you?"

 

"He seems very tense in my presence, doctor, and has been withholding of physical gestures of affection, when he does not withhold them from anyone else, save for, of course, his parents. He seems convinced I will get angry with him, even though I am a Vulcan and do not get angry. In our latest interaction, he would barely look at me and hurried out of the room. I have caught a relieved expression a few times when I have left him."

 

"Well, it's not too surprising he'd expect you to act like Frank, although I never got that impression while I was around him. You are polar opposite from Frank, so he will need time to adjust. You are unlike anything he has ever experienced, so he may be a bit confused on how to behave. Look, I'll be coming over soon. I'll talk to him and see what I can find out."

 

"That would be much appreciated, doctor. Although I am more emotionally free than most Vulcans, it is still not my area of expertise."

 

"Well, Jim needs all the help he can get. And make sure he stays out of any more fights! Those ribs of his are still healing and he doesn't need them re-broken!"

 

"I will endeavor to do so, doctor. I believe the phrase is, "See you soon?"

 

"Yes, I'll come over in a few days. Got to go take care of patients now." McCoy cut the connection.

 

Jim, meanwhile, was fidgeting nervously in his room and thumbing through all the books on the shelves. He couldn't focus or read anything in particular, so he read short excerpts from each book, barely taking them in. Then he decided to read some of his dad's letters. Suddenly finding he could focus a bit better, he took in the comforting writing. It was mostly letters he'd written to his mom, finding the antique style more romantic. While Jim did not understand this, he was glad of it, because otherwise he would not have even this from his father.

 

He lost track of time and was startled by Spock's knock on the door. "Yes?" Jim called.

 

Spock opened the door but did not go in, seemingly reluctant to do so. "I believe this would be the optimal time to begin your sleep period," he said.

 

"All right," said Jim, hiding a smile at Spock's very formal speech. "I'll get to bed, then."

 

Spock smiled a him with his eyes. "Goodnight, Jim."

 

"Goodnight, Spock," Jim said, smiling back.

 

The next day at school, Jim and Ben helped Gary keep a close eye on his things so Finnegan wouldn't go filching them again. Gary and Ben also stuck close to Jim, trying to prevent Finnegan from bullying him again. Other than shooting him dirty looks, however, Finnegan left them alone.

 

Jim arrived home to find Spock meditating in the living room. "Jim," he greeted him, smiling with his eyes as he came out of the meditation. "Please put your school bag in your room. I believe it is time that I show you what is in the back yard."

 

Jim stared at him for a moment in shock. He had placed his curiosity about that crater in the backyard in the back burner of his mind, not really believing that Spock was going to keep his word about telling him about it. To find him doing so both surprised and warmed him. "Okay!" he said in excitement.

 

A few minutes later, Jim was eagerly following his Vulcan guardian out to the area where the crater used to be. Now, there were gigantic automatic sliding doors. He also noticed newly planted shrubs in trees in the area, helping to camouflage the area from casual onlookers.

 

"Jim, it is utmost importance that you never tell anyone what I have in here," said Spock. "Not even your friends. No one must know."

 

"Okay, I promise," said Jim, taken aback by Spock's very serious, sober expression.

 

"In that case, I will now open the doors." Spock turned and took his communicator out, which Jim noticed had several alterations he did not recognize. In a moment, the doors opened soundlessly. Jim was impressed by the technology and design that must have taken to accomplish.

 

Jim peered eagerly into the depths of the area underneath. What he saw had never entered his mind in his wildest dreams. It was a spaceship! Highly advanced and classy with weapons systems. He'd never seen anything like it in design. "What is its name?" he asked in awe.

 

"It is called the Jellyfish," said Spock.

 

"Jellyfish," Jim said, a little confused by the weird name, but thinking that it fit in a strange way. "Why is it called that?" It seemed a bit of an illogical name for a Vulcan owned ship.

 

"It is a codename in reference to its unique spinning tail," Spock explained.

 

"A codename?" said Jim curiously.

 

"Yes. For reasons I cannot reveal, the ship was manufactured on Vulcan, mostly by myself. I have it here for further adjustments and advancement. I cannot store it in a shipyard, for it contains highly sensitive information and weapons. So I keep it here in secret and watch over it carefully."

 

"Can I have a closer look? Can I go inside?" asked Jim eagerly. He'd never been in a real spaceship before!

 

"We may go down inside the hanger so you can get a closer look. However, I cannot allow you inside at this time."

 

Jim was pretty disappointed he wouldn't be able to go in. "Will you ever let me?" he asked.

 

"Yes. I will let you know when that will be," agreed Spock. He would have to make some modifications to the inside and the computer system before he could do that. The Jellyfish would recognize him as Captain James T. Kirk and put itself under his command. Jim was not ready for that.

 

They headed down a ladder that led into the deep hangar. Jim, once he reached the bottom, began running around and examining everything. Spock was glad to see him so happy and diverted. He hadn't been like this since he'd sat in the Captain's chair in the simulation.

 

Jim's mind was buzzing with questions. Spock had make it sound like the ship's purpose was mere scientific and technological advancement. But he could see, through the signs of wear and tear on it, that it had been through something really big recently. It couldn't have just traveled between Vulcan and Earth and done nothing else but sit around. What was Spock trying to hide about this ship? However, Jim was glad that Spock was beginning to share with him his secrets. It warmed him that Spock trusted him with such a big and important one such as this clearly was.

 

Spock allowed Jim to poke around the Jellyfish for about twenty more minutes. He took the opportunity to inspect it for himself, noting various adjustments and repairs he needed to do to keep it in prime condition in the unfortunate event he needed to use it.

 

A little while later, Spock herded Jim out of there, not wanting to risk keeping the doors open any longer. Jim reluctantly climbed out after him and followed him back in the house. A few minutes later, a speeder pulled up in the drive, with a bumper sticker that said, "Everything I know I learned from Radar the donkey." Spock raised an eyebrow at the highly illogical and scientifically impossible statement. However, Spock was very relieved at his luck. Any earlier, and there would have been questions he did not wish to answer.

 

A middle aged woman with red hair came out and knocked on the door. Spock opened it. "Is there something I can help you with?" he inquired politely.

 

"Hi, I'm Erin. I'm one of the social workers that's examining your case," she said with a strong southern accent.

 

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Erin. I am Spock, and this is Jim Kirk," he said, gesturing to Jim who had come up by him curiously.

 

Erin came in. "Spock is a nickname?" she inquired.

 

"Yes, it is a nickname that I picked up in childhood, and I have been referred to as such in the ensuing years. Please come in and make yourself comfortable."

 

Spock looked at Jim for a moment. He was pleased with the timing of the events. The Jellyfish seemed to have relieved some of Jim's tension around him, as strange as that was, and it had turned out to be a wise decision to show him. It had gotten him in an excellent mood for an examination by a social worker. Had she come yesterday, it might not have been so optimal.

 

She settled on the chair, and Jim sat on the couch. Since Jim currently appeared to be comfortable with the situation, Spock sat on the couch next to him.

 

Erin smiled at them in a very friendly manner. Jim could tell he was really going to like her.

 

"So how ya'll's day going?" she asked. "What have ya'll've been up to?"

 

Spock resisted the strong urge to correct her grammar. "I have been meditating and attending to my duties as an Information Security Analyst with various companies I work for."

 

"Oh, so you'sa professional hacker, making sure ya'll's systems are up to speed? That sounds like fun! How many times have you been able to hack into them systems?"

 

"There has yet to be a time when I have failed. I have corrected many flaws in their systems. They find my work quite satisfactory. Their malicious hacking incidents have dropped down to almost nothing."

 

Erin looked impressed. "Wow, you're a real pro! You should come work for me. Are you going to teach Jim any of this?"

 

"If he wishes to learn," said Spock. "I will teach him."

 

"So, now ya'll get down to business," said Erin. "Jim, how would you say things are working out between y'all?"

 

"Great," said Jim, glossing over the tension and insecurity he'd been feeling. "I love it here!"

 

"That's what we all love to to hear," said Erin. "How about you, Spock?"

 

"I have found Jim to be a delightful and obedient child," said Spock honestly.

 

"Now, all relationships have their problems, even if they're ideal. What problems have ya'll been having?"

 

Jim looked hesitant. Spock decided to speak up for him. "I believe that it is an adjustment for both of us. I am unused to caring for a child, and Jim is unused to being in the company of someone of my age and temperament. Not to mention the cultural differences between us. However, I believe it has caused no undue stress on either of us, to my knowledge." He looked to Jim for confirmation.

 

"I agree with Spock," said Jim, a bit hesitant.

 

"It's all right, Jim," said Erin brightly. "I know ya want to stay with him, and I don't see a problem with it. The court is too political, in my opinion. They like to keep their image up to political ideals, and don't leave much room for personal beliefs and desires. He seems to be good for ya, and ya wanna be with him. Ya don't have to hide any problems to make a good impression. What matters with me is your own opinion, which does not clash against your own best interests."

 

Jim brightened a bit at her support. She seemed kind and a bit feisty. He was confident she'd put up a good fight for him. "I just want to be more certain I'll be staying with Mr. Spock," he said, feeling that would summon up what he was feeling without making him appear weak or needy.

 

"I understand," said Erin. "It's hard ta get involved with someone in your situation. Those damn courts always drag their feet!" She made some notations on her PADD. "So, have ya seen your mother lately?"

 

"Not since I saw her at her house," said Jim. "We went there to pick up my things. She ignored Mr. Spock the whole time." He looked put out at that.

 

"I believe she intends to visit him sometime this week," supplied Spock.

 

"Please excuse my next questions, Jim, but I'm afraid it's required. Do ya miss her?"

 

Jim fidgeted self consciously. "No, not really."

 

"Do ya want her to visit?"

 

"No," said Jim, not meeting their eyes.

 

"All right," she said, signaling she would stop pursuing that line of questioning. She made some casual conversation with them after that, staying for about an hour before leaving. Jim hoped everyone working on his case would be like her.

 

"Goodbye y'all!" she called out as she left. Spock stared once again at her bumper sticker, unable to make sense of it. It did not seem to fit someone so otherwise intelligent, even if she hid that behind her atrocious grammar.

 

Jim's good mood was still prevailing, so Spock decided to risk having dinner with him. Perhaps Dr. McCoy would not have to talk to him after all. They chatted pleasantly, and they both went to bed that night feeling better about the situation. Spock sent McCoy a short message, telling him about Erin's visit, the Jellyfish, and how things seemed to be going a bit better.

 

They next day, McCoy visited, fussing over Jim's new bruises but otherwise approving of his progress. Winona visited after that, and it was intensely awkward. Knowing Winona's preference to ignore his existence, and confirming that it was all right with Jim, Spock went to his bedroom to meditate while Jim spent time with his mom alone. She did not stay long, and Jim was glad to see her go.

 

After her visit, Jim started to relapse into his previous tense behavior. Spock responded by giving him space, as he did before. Perhaps he would just need to come up with another activity, like he had with the Jellyfish, to divert him. However, he needed to make another appearance in court, and he had visits from more social workers, Cogley, and Jim's court guardian to field, so he had to delay his effort to reach out to Jim.

 

The other social workers that came were not as sympathetic to Jim as Erin had been. This worsened Jim's tense attitude, since they kept persuading him to consider another family that had stepped up to take him. Their top choice seemed to be the Marcus's, a well to do family with a daughter named Carol. Jim refused to listen to anything about them at all, repeating his desire to stay with Spock over and over. His court guardian, Carlisle, wasn't much better, and Jim continued in his frustrated stubbornness.

 

Jim arrived home from school one day, expecting to see Spock waiting for him as usual, but he wasn't. Jim set his bag in his room, and went to look for him. Maybe he was in the Jellyfish? Now that he knew about the ship, Spock would sometimes go out to work on it while Jim was around and awake.

 

However, Jim found him rather easily. Spock was in his room and invited him in, his voice completely neutral, and Jim discovered he had a face and posture to match the complete neutrality. Jim had never seen Spock look so emotionless before. Jim paused just inside the door uncertainly. What was wrong with Spock? Was he upset with him?

 

"Jim, I have just conversed with Cogley," he stated. "The court has ordered me to release your temporary guardianship to the Marcuses. They wish to observe how well you interact with a fully intact and younger family of your own species. The Marcus family was one of those saved by your father, and they wish to repay him by taking you on. You are to leave tomorrow."

 

"What?" Jim said, barely being able to breathe.

 

"I believe Erin had a similar reaction and was kicked out of court temporarily for her use of colorful metaphors," stated Spock, still emotionless.

 

"No," breathed Jim, running from the room. He did not want Spock to see what a crybaby he was being about this, especially since Spock seemed to be feeling nothing at all. He locked his door and collapsed on his bed, muffling his sobs in his pillow. He felt like his body was being excruciatingly torn in half. He couldn't leave Spock! He just couldn't.

Permanent Home by Rimilea

 

A/N: Thank you MyriadProBold for reviewing!

Chapter 12: Permanent Home

 

Jim knew he was expected to pack, but he didn't. He would resist the move with everything he had. The next day was not a school day. Jim got out of bed early, not wanting to miss any of his remaining time with Spock, if they forced the issue. "Hi Spock," said Jim by way of greeting.

 

"Jim, I trust you slept well?" Spock asked him, his face blank and unreadable.

 

"Not really," Jim confessed. "If they force me to go, will you be able to visit?"

 

"No," stated Spock. "They believed a clean break would be the best, to shift your focus from me to them."

 

Jim's heart sank. That had been the one thing he had tried to comfort himself with last night. He sat down to eat with Spock, a slightly awkward silence pervading the air. Jim did not know what to make of Spock's distant behavior, and part of him was beginning to believe that Spock had requested the change himself. He had never been able to believe that Spock truly wanted him, and it was much easier to believe he was sorry for him, and didn't want him anymore.

 

Spock kept his mental and emotional shields tight, not wanting Jim to have to deal with his own devastation at the news. He had enough problems on his mind as it was. Once again, Spock considered stealing Jim away on the Jellyfish. However, Jim would have a better life here, on Earth. He would not be so selfish as to kidnap him away from that.

 

"Are you all ready to leave?" asked Spock.

 

"No," said Jim. "I'm not going."

 

"You are court ordered to go. I cannot interfere. It would be wise for you to be prepared for their arrival."

 

"I'm not leaving!" said Jim desperately. "You're a genius, Spock, can't you do something?"

 

"I cannot," said Spock neutrally.

 

Jim's eyes filled with tears, and he walked out of the room. It really seemed like Spock didn't want him. He didn't even seem sorry he was going. Maybe he should just go, since no one he wanted, wanted him anyway. Jim started packing slowly. He didn't have much. He packed his dad's things first, then his clothes. Spock stopped in at one point and told him he could take anything of his from this room that he wanted, then left to be in his bedroom. So Jim packed a few of the books and antiques on the shelves, his mind and emotions numb with the intense pain.

 

When the Marcus family arrived, Spock was barely courteous, advising them of the fact that Jim was ready to go, then went to Jim's room to collect him. Jim met him in the doorway with his bags, his throat tight and unable to say anything. Spock did not say anything either. They just looked at each other for a minute. Then, at some invisible signal, Spock took the rest of the bags and helped Jim put them in the Marcus's speeder. Just before Jim climbed in, Spock finally said something, and his face softened a fraction. "Remember," he said, his hand touching Jim's face lightly before dropping at his side. Jim was still unable to say anything, and watched as Spock left him, feeling like his life was ending.

 

The Marcus's unsuccessfully tried to get Jim to talk on the way to their house, but Jim just nodded and blankly stared out the window. They weren't too offended, as they had been warned that he would probably react something like this.

 

Jim barely took in the surroundings of their mansion as he was led through it in a tour, ending in his room. It was about five miles down the road from Spock's. His mind was not here, but in plotting ways to see him again. The separation was unbearable. Yet, did Spock even want him back? Jim doubted it. Spock had not seemed sorry at all that he'd left.

 

Jim unpacked his things, his body language robotic. The Marcus's were very friendly and helpful, and then they all ate dinner together afterwards, which Jim merely picked at. Carol repeatedly tried to engage him in conversation. Jim distantly could see how, in a different situation, he might like her. But all he could see now was that they were taking him away from Spock. He answered with single words in a monotone, hoping she would leave him alone. She eventually took the hint and did.

 

Jim hardly slept that night at all. He wondered if Spock missed him, even a little. He'd given no indication that he would. Well, what did he expect? That something that good would really last? He was really foolish to think that.

 

He was allowed to have friends over, or go to his friends houses. He opted to go to Ben's and Gary's houses, just to get away from the Marcus's. Besides, he'd never been there before. He was slightly happier there. Ben and Gary soundly abused the court and the Marcus's, saying they were idiots. Jim was glad they didn't bother to try to convince him he was being foolish, like his social workers and court guardian was doing. He hadn't seen Erin lately. He'd been informed that she had been temporarily banned from the case, but would be back on it soon. He hoped to see her. Something about her Southern charm and determination made him feel better, and it seemed like she was one of the few on his side. McCoy came once, and swore several times at Jim's emotional condition, which offended the Marcus's. Though they did not ban him from the house, it was clear they wished to limit his visits. This did not do anything more to endear him to the Marcus's, either. As time went on, he could see liking them all in a different situation. Just not this one.

 

Finnegan had been leaving him alone for the most part lately, but one day that changed at lunchtime. The bully approached his table, looking smug. Jim had pretty much recovered from his experience with Frank, so he felt ready to face anything that came his way from him.

 

"So, apparently that Vulcan didn't want you after all, huh? Saw the logic of the situation?" he taunted. "I saw that new family of yours drop you off this morning. You're a regular charity case."

 

"Lay off, Finnegan," said Gary, who was sitting next to Jim. Jim did not react except to glare at Finnegan.

 

"Can't get anyone to want to keep you? I bet that Vulcan is gloating at how easy it was to get rid of you - "

 

With a strangled sound of pain that sounded like it should have come from a wounded animal, Jim snapped and came at Finnegan with his fists. The bully was a little more prepared this time, and defended himself better. This only fueled Jim's fury, and it turned into an all-out brawl. Gary and Ben tried to separate them before Jim got into trouble, but it was too late. Mr. Kalomi himself strode over, separated them, and led them to his office.

 

Once again, he saw Jim in private first. "Well, Jim, what is it this time?"

 

Jim was in too much pain, emotionally, to repeat the words. He just stared at the floor.

 

"I understand you're having a hard time dealing with being separated from Spock. Does this have something to do with that?"

 

Jim nodded blankly, still not looking at him.

 

"Jim, you're a good kid. I can tell, not just from your essay, but from your history here. Don't ruin your life by getting into fights. It's not the way to fix things. I know you miss Mr. Spock, and I'm sympathetic to your plight and what you're going through, but I'm going to have to suspend you from school for a day, in punishment, since this is not your first offense."

 

All Jim could think was that he was glad he would at least not have to face Spock's disappointment in him. He would probably never hear of it. Heck, he probably wouldn't even care.

 

"I'm sorry, Jim. Now you have to get back to class. Your day of suspension is tomorrow. I'll inform your guardians of this."

 

Jim barely acknowledged him before he left, ignoring Finnegan on his way out.

 

Mr. Dave Marcus was not happy with Jim when he came home that day.

 

"Jim, we have been kind and patient with you. I know you're not having an easy time, but I expected more than this! You are grounded for a week."

 

Jim nodded blankly, his heart sinking further. Now he couldn't even get away from here at his friend's houses.

 

Jim spent a miserable day on his day of suspension, reading some of the books Spock had given him in attempt to comfort himself. Carol came in his room when she got home from school, and Jim finally engaged in a real conversation with her. She really wasn't that bad, and even admitted that although she would like him for a brother, she would prefer him to be somewhere where he was happy, like with Spock.

 

At dinner that night, Mrs. Marcus told Jim some important news. "Jim, your mother has officially lost her rights to you, except for some limited visiting rights. It took so long because courts don't like taking rights from both parents, and they wanted to be sure that she hadn't been abused as well. I thought you should know."

 

Jim nodded his acknowledgment, not real surprised nor caring much.

 

Time seemed to drag as the days went on. He didn't hear so much as a word about Spock, how he was, or what he was doing, which apparently was a banned subject. His only hope for any news came when he'd heard that Erin was now allowed back on the case. He bet if anyone would rebel and tell him anything, it would be her.

 

However, he did not end up seeing her, and the day he'd been dreading finally arrived. At the dinner table, Dave spoke up with a smile. "Well, Jim, it's official. The court has given us permanent custody of you. It isn't official yet, and we'll be under observation for awhile, but for all intents and purposes, you are going to be our son."

 

All the blood left Jim's face. "That's - great," he choked out, not wanting to be rude.

 

Misinterpreting his response, Mrs. Marcus said, "Oh, he's overwhelmed. Jim, do you want to be alone for awhile in your room?"

 

"Yeah," he croaked, then got up and left. He went to his room in a daze. This couldn't be happening. He didn't want to be their son. Spock had, apparently, sat by and done nothing through this whole ordeal, so he must not want him. Jim breathed fast, in agony. He loved Spock so much. Although the Marcus's were okay, they weren't family to him. They weren't HOME.

 

Feeling completely lost, Jim began to pry at his window. He had to get OUT, away from here, somewhere. He couldn't stay anymore. Succeeding in getting it open, he climbed through and did his best to get it shut after him. Then he set off in the vague direction of Spock's house, not really intending to go there, but wanting to be in the proximity.

 

It took a while for the Marcus's to figure out that Jim had left. When they realized he was nowhere on the premises, they were frantic, searching down the street and calling the neighbors. No one had noticed Jim anywhere. Finally it occurred to them to call Spock. He might know something about Jim they didn't, and where he might go.

 

They called the Vulcan, and Spock answered in flat, neutral tones. When informed that Jim had disappeared, his inflection changed slightly. "Do you believe that he was forcibly taken, or did he leave on his own power?" Spock inquired. If Jim had been taken by Nero, he would have to go through with his own kidnapping plan, laws be damned.

 

"He seems to have left of his own free will," said Dave, frustrated. "We'd just told him we're going to be his official family. He didn't take it as well as we hoped he would."

 

"I will make my own inquiries. Please keep me informed." Spock cut the connection. While he was relieved that Nero did not seem to be the cause, it was worrying that Jim had run off like this. He could have gotten into any kind of trouble. Spock went out to the Jellyfish and entered the ship, hurrying as fast as he could. "Jellyfish, scan area for Romulan life signs."

 

"Ambassador Spock, welcome back. Scanning. No Romulan life signs detected within range." Spock sighed with relief. Still, Jim was missing. where would he go? Spock pulled up the map on the screen, eying different areas thoughtfully. On a hunch, he scanned the cliff where Jim had totaled the car. There! One life sign, where there should be none. It could be him.

 

Spock called McCoy, but the doctor was unavailable, and he was unwilling to wait on hold, wanting Jim to be retrieved now before he got into serious trouble. While he did not believe Jim would kill himself, he did not like to think of what other things he could be up to. It suddenly occurred to him that there was someone else he could call, who would know how to handle the situation and be willing to be discreet about his interference. Decision made, he called Erin the social worker.

 

Erin responded promptly in her cheerful, if grammatically incorrect, tones. Spock told her his hunch of where Jim was. Erin agreed to go check it out, and to let him know if she found him.

 

Jim sat by the edge of the cliff quietly, his mind mostly blank. If he looked closely enough, he thought he could see the remnants of the car among the rocks below. Kind of poetic symmetry with how his life felt like right now. He didn't know how much time had passed until he heard a speeder approach and stop. He didn't bother to move. He had nowhere to go, anyway.

 

"Hey Jim!" he heard, 'Jim' coming out like 'Jee-im.' There was only one female southerner that he was on first name basis with. It must be Erin. He glanced up, noting she was standing beside him now, then moved his gaze back to the car below.

 

"Jim, I'm so sorry. Those courts are fucking idiots. Some days I don't know why I continue to work with em! Especially after this fucking mistake of theirs. I don't care what they think, I'm going to give them a piece of my mind."

 

Jim was faintly surprised that she would use such foul and blunt language in his presence. All the same, in distant sort of way, he was glad of her fury for his sake.

 

"Ya know, Spock was right about ya, he knew ya would be here," she commented rather deliberately.

 

Jim turned to her, his interest finally having been caught. "Spock told you to look here?"

 

"That he did, Jim," she informed him cheerfully. "He called me up, and asked me ta come looking here. Said he felt strongly that this is where ya'd go."

 

Jim's mind conjured an image of Spock, with a southern accent and Erin's grammar, saying "That's where ya ought ta go." If he wasn't so depressed, he'd laugh. "How did he find out that I'd left? How is he? Will I be able to see him?"

 

"Slow down there, Jim! The Marcus's thought he might know where ya were, so they called him. He seemed fine, but suppressing the hell out of himself, by the sound of his voice. I don't know when ya'll be able to see him, Jim. They want ya ta settle in completely with no distractions. Which is bullshit."

 

"I don't know if he'd want to see me anyway," said Jim glumly. It had been a while since anyone had really listened to him, so he couldn't help but open up to her. "He - I don't know, just got so distant with me sometimes. And he was so distant when I left. It was like he didn't even care. I really thought he did want me, he said so, it had seemed like it with all he did, but then he started to get real confusing when - "

 

"Whoa, wait a second there, Jim," interrupted Erin. "Ya are forgetting something. Now, in my social work, I specialized in xenopsychology. Especially Vulcans. That's why I was put on the case. Ya are forgetting that he's Vulcan. Now, I know you can probably count the number of Vulcans ya've met on one hand, if ya've even met any before. But I've studied them extensively. Jim, for them ta say anything remotely affectionate is HUGE for them. They are always about logic this, and logic that, all the time, and affectionate statements just don't have a place in their society. If he said he wanted ya, he definitely wants ya, and being the most stubborn and constant of species, he won't change his mind."

 

"But he's only half - "

 

"I know, Jim. He's only half Vulcan, but it's a dominant gene, he was raised on Vulcan, and spent much of his long life there, so for all intents and purposes, he's Vulcan. I'm serious about this, Jim. Ya have ta consider, too, that the way Vulcans raise their children is very different from the way humans are raised, and he's not as free and knowledgeable about emotions as humans are. Most likely, ya've got a communication problem. Not too surprising, and perhaps I should have brought it up ta begin with. But unfortunately, it's all water under the bridge now. I'll do my best to arrange for you ta see him, but there's not much more I can do for ya at this point. Except kick the judge's butt."

 

Jim gave a faint smile at her offer, beginning to feel better.

 

"He was distant with you when you left, because that's how Vulcans deal with extreme emotions, is by suppressing them. When they run particularly flat, ya'll know something's bothering the hell out of them. Believe me, Jim, he didn't want ta see you go."

 

Jim was starting to believe her now. In a way, though, it made him feel worse, knowing what he had lost, and might never see again. He slumped away a bit from her again.

 

"Jim, I'm sorry. But now I have to get you back to the Marcus's," she informed him. Jim reluctantly followed her into her speeder. He was jolted a bit out of his depression by her crazy driving. A small thrill came over him, and he cracked a small smile. He wondered if he'd ever see Erin after this, since his case was over. Probably not.

 

When they arrived, Erin texted a quick message to Spock, saying she'd found Jim alive and well and had returned him. She walked up the drive with Jim and rang the doorbell, waiting for someone to answer the door.

 

Mrs. Marcus answered. "You found him!" she said happily, but her smile fell from her face when she saw Jim's expression. "How did you find him?" she asked Erin.

 

"Mr. Spock told me where ta look," she informed the other woman. "He was absolutely right!"

 

"Mr. Spock does seem to have more success with him than we have," observed Mrs. Marcus thoughtfully, looking at Jim with compassion. She hadn't realized, even with all the things Jim had said, how deep the boy's feelings ran for the old man. She had thought the stress and helplessness he felt at the situation made him act the way he did, wanting to hold on to something permanent. She had thought offering him something permanent would solve the problem. She had been wrong. It seemed the kid truly loved Mr. Spock, and would thrive no where else.

 

"Why don't you both come in? I need to let everyone know you've been found, Jim!" Mrs. Marcus said after a moment.

 

"All right," said Erin, squeezing Jim's hand and bringing him along. Jim wordlessly followed her in with a nod. The whole Marcus family was there. Mr. Marcus looked like he wanted to give Jim a stern talking to, but Mrs. Marcus pulled him aside, into another room.

 

That left Jim, Carol, and Erin together. Erin asked Carol all about herself and her ambition to get a doctorate in laboratory work, seeming to know that Jim wanted to be left alone right now. There was only one person he want to see, and it wasn't her. She didn't take it personal. In fact, she thought it was kind of cute, in a sad sort of way.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Marcus came out after a bit, asking to speak with Erin alone. She left. Now it was just Carol and Jim. An awkward silence pervaded the air. After all, he'd just shown how upset he was at becoming part of her family.

 

"Hey," said Jim finally, feeling he should give in to the inevitable. If he was going to be forced to live with them, he might as well try to get along. "I didn't do it to hurt you. It's not that I don't want to become your brother."

 

"I know, you want to be with the person you feel is your parent, just like I would," she said. "Can we still be friends?"

 

"Yeah," said Jim, suddenly feeling bad about how he'd been treating her. "Look, I'm sorry about how I've been. You've been very nice to me, and I haven't been very thankful."

 

"It's okay, Jim," she said. "I understand."

 

He smiled at her, and she smiled back. They waited patiently for the adults to come back, wondering what they could be talking about.

 

Erin came out several minutes later, looking quite cheerful, her blue eyes sparkling. "Well, Jim, I'm all finished here, so I'll see ya later, okay?"

 

"Okay. Thanks for everything, Erin," said Jim.

 

"You're welcome! Bye ya'll!" she called as she went out the door.

 

It was now quite late. "Why don't we call it a night?" suggested Mrs. Marcus. "We have somewhere we all need to go early tomorrow morning. We need to go back to the courthouse to finalize some business."

 

Jim nodded in defeat. He couldn't escape what would happen now.

 

The next morning, they arrived at the courthouse bright and early. Jim thought he recognized Spock's speeder there, but thought he definitely must be mistaken. He wasn't allowed to see him. Firmly attempting to banish all thoughts of Spock from his mind, he continued inside. He didn't pay much attention as they filled out a bunch of paperwork. Carol kept looking at him with a smug air of knowing something he didn't. It was very annoying, and insensitive, in his opinion.

 

Finally they were done. They turned to Jim, with sad but understanding smiles on their faces. "Jim," said Dave, "We would love to have you as a son. But the events of last night has shown us that we really aren't the ones for you, and the judge agrees. Your new, permanent father is waiting for you in the next room." They gestured for him to go.

 

Jim went, scarcely daring to hope, scarcely daring to believe. He opened the door, and saw a very familiar and welcome face.

 

"SPOCK!!!!" Jim shouted with glee. Unable to hold himself back, he launched himself at the stoic Vulcan, hugging him with all the strength he had. He sobbed lightly a few times, then began babbling, "I've missed you, I've missed you so much Spock, are you really my father now?" Jim looked up at Spock in adoration.

 

"That is correct, Jim," said Spock, his eyes sparkling happily. "You are my son now." Spock was now hugging him back quite firmly.

 

"Can I call you dad?" asked Jim a bit shyly.

 

Spock warmed at the thought of Jim using that affectionate word in reference to him. "You may," he said, his eyes continuing to sparkle. With one hand, he stroked Jim's face and hair in an intimate gesture, then bent down and kissed Jim's forehead several times.

 

Jim felt his face heat up with pleasure from the intense and unfamiliar affection, especially considering everything Erin had told him. When he could speak, he said, "I love you, dad."

 

"I love you too, Jim," said Spock. "This time of separation with the possibility of it being permanent was not to my preference. I have - missed you also, Jim."

 

Still holding on tight to Spock, Jim demanded with excitement, "Are we going to go and get my things now? Am I moving back in with you today?!"

 

"That is the plan," confirmed Spock. "However, if we are to accomplish that, it would be more efficient if you were to stop hugging me."

 

Jim let go immediately, looking like he was about to apologize, but Spock stopped him quickly. "Jim, being more efficient does not mean I think it would be more desirable. I was engaging in what you humans refer to as a joke."

 

Jim beamed at him. "You mean, you like it when I hug you?"

 

"They are to my preference," admitted Spock.

 

"Okay," said Jim happily, giving him another one, which Spock returned. Spock reveled in the feeling of being returned with Jim. He and Jim, either one, never did well separated. Now, Jim was HIS son, and no one could take him away.

Epilogue by Rimilea

 

A/N: This I wrote up tonight per reviewer request. :) If I do end up writing a sequel, this will probably be integrated with it. I do have ideas for one but unless inspiration strikes, unfortunately, it won't happen. And if anyone is interested, here is the youtube video (take out the spaces) that started it all: http:// www. youtube. com/ watch? v=19_zMK8q0wc Hopefully it will show up correctly here! If it doesn't, go to youtube and search for "it is you i have loved kirk spock" and the video should be at the top.

 

Thank you MyriadProBold for reviewing and many thanks to whomever might review in the future!

 

All Along: Fortune

 

Epilogue

 

Jim found himself in a strange room. He had a vague feeling that he shouldn't be here. He should be at home, with Spock. He started walking around the house, and it just seemed to get bigger and bigger and emptier and emptier the more he looked. Starting to feel frantic, he finally found the door to the outside and stepped out.

 

But the sky was the wrong color. He wasn't even on Earth anymore! He started to search around for someone, anyone, or a comm, but there was nothing. He looked back, but he could not find the house. He was lost, and alone. Panic welled up in him. What would he do now? He was abandoned, forever, helpless...

 

Abruptly Jim shot up in bed, panicked and breathing hard. It dimly registered in his brain that he'd been dreaming, but the fear was real and overwhelming. He shot out of bed and headed for the living room. Spock, he learned, did not sleep much, so he expected him to be there, meditating as usual.

 

He was. Jim relaxed marginally at the serene figure sitting on the meditation mat. He wasn't alone anymore. His new dad opened his eyes as he approached. As the blind urgency of his panic wore off, Jim grew more hesitant and a bit embarrassed.

 

Spock interrupted his thoughts. "You had a nightmare," he stated calmly with a hint of empathy.

 

"Yes," Jim admitted, stopping a few feet away from him and sitting down. His breathing was slowing down to normal now.

 

Spock regarded him thoughtfully. "It is understandable. You are experiencing some major changes in your life." He paused a second, considering, then said, "You fear being alone. Logic informs me that recent events have done nothing to ease that fear."

 

Jim's gaze sank to the carpet, reliving the dream, and he nodded, withdrawing into himself slightly.

 

"I am due for some sleep. I do not want you to feel alone." Spock stood. "Come with me."

 

Jim followed Spock into his bedroom. Spock climbed into the far side of his queen size bed, saying, "Make yourself comfortable, Jim."

 

Jim stood a moment, unsure. Someone his age should not be sleeping with his parents anymore! Yet, the idea of being alone again was scary and the caring affection and consideration Spock was showing with this gesture was compelling and irresistible. Quite frankly, (pun intended) he could not remember ever being offered this.

 

Jim climbed in and snuggled up to Spock as close as he dared. In the privacy of his own mind, he allowed himself to savor the moment. Just being with Spock was reassuring. He didn't think he'd have any nightmares now. He'd never admit it, but he loved snuggling. Spock liked hugs, so maybe he liked this too? He sure hoped so.

 

When Jim woke up the next morning, he found that he'd migrated a bit in his sleep. He was now snuggled into Spock's chest, and one of Spock's arms was loosely draped over him. Jim did not move, despite his embarrassment returning. He would stay until Spock decided to get up. He felt quite comfortable.

 

Spock, meanwhile, was awake and perfectly aware that his young charge was too. Through their touch, he could discern vaguely some of Jim's contentment. There was no logical reason to move at the moment. He could give Jim more time.

 

More time now, and for the rest of his life.

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