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.
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.