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.