Pairing: Kirk/Spock (reboot. sorta)
Rating: Eventual NC-17
Warnings/Spoilers: This is the fic I've written to complete a bingo line for trek_crackbingo plus indulge myself in a bunch of K/S cliches, so highlight the following to view prompts/cliches fulfilled to some degree - Love Letters, Holidays, Wild Card (I picked Amnesia, and threw in kid!fic with a garnish of Mpreg), Tentacles - scary, and Dad Dancing.
Word Count: This chapter, 5300
Summary: Jim wakes after an attack to find everything changed
For: awarrington ! Happy belated birthday, lovie
Also for:halfbreedchild , ewinfic , soonest_mended , the_deep_magic and 1lostone , who put up with me writing rather than joining in conversation this morning :)
Water. It's slightly cold, muddied and grey. I can't see through it properly and my eyes sting as I see my hand wave in front of me, everything else disappearing into the murk. Something hurts, I don't know what. I try to open my mouth to shout but no sound comes out, just a stream of air bubbles, and I try to kick my way to the surface but the pain increases and I figure out it's coming from my legs and back, and that it's moving.
My lungs begin to scream for air and the pressure around my hips and back moves further up, as something, a thousand small somethings dig into my torso like claws. I look up to see my hands reaching out, trying to swim as I can't feel my legs enough to try to kick any longer, but the surface is slipping away as I sink into darker water that is thicker, colder. The pain's around my shoulders now, wrapping itself around my arms, my neck and something squeezes there, forcing the last of my air out of my throat. I watch the bubbles rise as something muscular and covered in pain wraps itself around my chin, pushing its way in between my lips and into my mouth. A distant splash that I can barely hear, something wetter than the water covering my eyes, my skull ready to shatter with pressure and I'm trying to shout No, no, this can't be it, this isn't right and the water fills my lungs and it feels like I'm floating away in a sea of pain
Sickbay. I've got to be in sickbay as it's the only place I know where there's such a complete lack of any discernible scent. At least, there is until I grab the edge of the bed, lean over and vomit up a gutfull of bile. A nightmare. Fuck, it was a nightmare, that was – that is . . . already slipping away from me. Horrible, my skin still aching like it's cold from the deeper water, head still singing with the pressure as that thing squeezed at me and didn't stop. I've had some creepy nightmares in my time but that was different. Visceral. So real, but it's fading, so fast now that all I'm left with is a weirdly foggy feeling in my head, a hint of lingering fear and a bad taste in my mouth. I start to push myself up on the biobed but I'm weak and shaking and have to flop back down. I guess I must be sick and it was just a fever dream, maybe I'm delirious.
“Jim? You're awake.”
“Bones.” My voice is all cracked like I've haven't spoken in awhile. Guess I've been really sick. “Step careful, I messed up your floor. Sorry about that.”
“Hush, save your energy.” The low whirr of a handheld scanner, Bones' voice softer than usual, not much more than a whisper and I can't see his face, the light too low in here. “I'm going to sedate you, I want you to get some more rest.”
“No, Bones, wait. No more sleep, I had this bad dream and my head's all . . . I don't want to -”
The faint press and sudden sting of a hypospray on my buttcheek and I'm already falling back into sleep when I hear Bones mutter 'Sorry, kid'.
Hands touching my face, brushing my hair back from my forehead. It feels good, it feels like a caress. It feels like love, fingers gliding across my skin. The fingers turn to water. I'm floating now and I'm not sure why, I wasn't floating or in water a moment ago. My head hurts, a deep throb at the base of my neck. The water closes over my face and I'm too dazed to do anything but watch it happen, the ripples on the surface, small circles expanding across it like there's a little rain above. I don't know why everything's so peaceful and all I want to do is close my eyes and float. But then something big, and deep, and very strong touches my ankle, and something impossibly muscular wraps itself around my whole foot, a snake maybe, now another around my knee. They begin to squeeze, and it begins to hurt, and I don't want to float anymore
I wake struggling, trying to kick the sheet off my leg, a shout dying in my throat. The sheet must've got wrapped around me while I slept. I'm not in sickbay anymore. I don't know where I am, the lights are too low for me to really see more than a few blocks of furniture scattered around the place, a pale green light on a far wall indicating the door, another in orange across the way that must be the bathroom. I open my mouth to try to increase the lights to ten percent but my mouth's so dry that all I can do is croak. I try to sit up so I can go get some water but, again, I'm so weak, my head ringing and fogged in a weird way that I can't describe. Then the door opens and lets in a flood of light from a corridor beyond, and I hold up a hand to shield my eyes as it's too bright and hurts. The silhouette of a man is approaching and then I recognize the permanent set of tension about the shoulders and figure out it's Bones, who must be monitoring me if I'm still sick.
“Take it easy, hotshot. Lie your butt back down.”
“Here. Sip it, don't gulp.”
Nothing in the history of history has ever tasted so good as this water. I do as I'm told, start out sipping but it's so delicious that I start chugging it and Bones grabs it back. “Cut that out or you'll puke it back up.”
“What happened to me? Feel like I was hit by a shuttle.”
He's scanning me slowly, his hand lit up by the scanner unit, his face in darkness although I can make out his outline now my eyes have gotten used to the dark again. “You don't remember anything?”
“Nothing about being sick.”
“You're not sick, not exactly.” The scan stops, and Bones orders lights up to twenty percent, and I pretty much jump out of the bed with shock and into a heap on the floor when my legs give out from under me.
He frowns in concern over the top of his medical tricorder. “That's one heck of an odd thing to shout at me. Here, hold onto my arm, let's get you up.”
“Is it real? How the hell long was I sick, anyway?”
“Is what real? Do I need to drug you again?”
I can't stop looking at it. It's huge. “I know we're a little lax on regs but, fuck, Bones, Fleet's not going to approve of a CMO with a beard the size of Alaska.”
“Okay, I think it's getting clear we need to do some more tests. I'm taking you back to sickbay.”
I shuffle my ass back onto the bed with his assistance, noticing I'm in a medical gown that rides up as I do. Bones uses the comm control by the bed to ask for assistance in Admiral Kirk's quarters, which is when my stomach cramps and I puke up a bunch of water all down the front of my gown.
“Seventeen years? Seventeen? How is that even possible?”
“Give or take. It's tough to say, they've not found it yet and, until we get a good look at it, we can't be sure of the mechanism involved. All we know is that it grabbed you and apparently sucked a bunch of memories right out of your head.”
“Holy shit, I'm old.” My face looks so different in the mirror, broader, kind of beat up with fading, bruised oval-shaped welts all over my skin. My skin's tan and wrinkled, my hair's darker and it's . . . “Wait a sec, did I have – I've had hair enhancement? I was going bald? Jesus, I'm fat.”
“Forty three isn't old and you're always telling me that you're beefy, not fat. You even banned me from using the F word.”
“I'm old, fat and bald, and you've turned into some freaky old man of the woods. This shit ain't right, Bones, nothing about this is right. And my head,” I rub at my forehead, “I swear there's something up with my head.”
Bones reaches behind him to pick up his tricorder. “You can check it out yourself: You're missing a huge chunk of memory engrams but everything else reads perfectly normally. You know, for you.” He pats my forearm awkwardly. “It's gotta be tough, Jim. Losing half your life like this, it's going to be weird. We need to discuss how you can begin to deal with the changes, and any lingering trauma, and what sort of support we can give you until we get your memory back.”
“If we get it back.” I sit down, my legs giving out in distress this time rather than weakness. Half my life, gone. Even if I get my memory back, it's still gone, stolen from me. I'm so angry all of a sudden that I want to grab those fuckers that did this to me and show them how it feels. It's probably just as well we're over a week away from the planet now because this hot, building rage in me wants to go planet-side and start phasing anything that moves. The vaguely fuzzy feeling in my forehead increases and I rub the ball of my palm over it. Seventeen years. Last thing I remember with any surety was getting drunk with Scotty and Bones on my six-month Captainversary. We even made up a song, 'Jimmy Tee, he's so captain-y' that I vaguely remember singing to Spock at my doorway before falling inside to pass out. Then, so far as it seems to me, I wake up, puke down my shirt and I'm an ancient admiral with cloned hair and a gut. I'm aware of how whiny and pathetic this is sounds, but my mind keeps repeating it over and over: it's not fair. I want it all back. The time, not the memories.
“Jim, there's something else I need to talk to you about. What's waiting back home.”
“God, I don't know, Bones. I barely know what it means to be a captain, I can't go back as Ops Chief. I'm not even a hundred percent sure what the Ops Chief does. Fleet's going to have to, what, reassign me or something, till I get it all back. If I get it all back.”
He sighs, then reaches down to dig in his desk in a gesture that I remember no matter how many gigantic psi-squids try to suck my brain out. The flask is placed on the table top, two glasses following and Bones pours two shots. Big ones, which indicates that, whatever it is, it's difficult to swallow and therefore needs washing down with an inch of bourbon. “No, Jim. What's waiting back home, is your husband.”
I blink. “My what now?”
Bones sighs. “Dammit, I was hoping you might have some residual . . . You honestly don't remember a thing, do you?”
“I'm married? Me? No. No way. For how long?”
“Bullshit.” I grab my bourbon and slam it back, thrusting out my glass for another. “I'd remember that. You're fucking with me.”
There's something about the way he's looking at me. A weird kind of sympathy, something I'm not used to feeling from Bones. He pulls a PADD off a shelf behind his head, beginning to look through files. “I'm not fucking with you. You've a family, Jim. You've got kids.”
It can't be right. I've always known, my entire life, that I wasn't going to settle down. Ever, it was the one thing I was always sure of, right since I was a kid. Even before I signed up I knew I'd be doing something that didn't sit with being a family man. I mean, what do I know about families? Only that I haven't got a damn clue, that it's the one thing I've never wanted, and that only some kind of monster could forget he's got kids. I grab the glass so tight that my fingers squeak on the glass and I have to force myself to reach out to take the PADD when Bones hands it to me. It feels like I can't breathe. This can't be right. I've fallen through a wormhole or something, because this can't be my life.
It's a holofile, dated a year back. A girl, a teenager, who looks kind of purple is standing by my elbow, looking off to the right. A blond baby is tucked into the crook of my arm, waving a chubby hand at the man standing beside me, who I'm looking at with a soft smile. He's reaching toward the baby with a finger. I drop the PADD in horror, watching as it knocks into my glass, the bourbon spilling over the PADD's surface, blurring Spock's face as he gazes down at the child in my arms.
“I'm telling you the -”
“No. What the – No. No! This is all wrong.” Panic is bouncing around my chest and I feel it again, the squeezing, the breath being forced out of my body like the monstrous thing from my nightmares has got a grip on me again. This can't be right. The foggy feeling in my brain starts up, and I make a visual check to see Bones hasn't come at me with a hypospray because it's almost drugging, a warm wave flooding my head. I screw my eyes shut, trying to focus.
“Jim, sit back down. I can't begin to imagine how disorienting this must be, but your body's been through a hell of a shock recently and I need you to calm down before I have to sedate you again.”
“Spock? Spock thinks I'm an asshole!”
Bones shrugs. “I guess he got over it. Come on, sit your ass down. Have another drink.”
“I can't be married to Spock! I had kids with Spock? Oh God, tell me I didn't – is that why I'm so fat?” I'm not too proud to say that I am freaking the fuck out.
“You're fat because you never met a foodstuff that you didn't prefer in triplicate. Lejiba, your daughter, is adopted. Spock had Gray, your adorable little mid-life crisis there, because neither of us trusted you an inch not to get knocked up and then, I don't know, get yourself attacked by a giant squid monster or something. Sit down.”
“I can't be married to Spock.” I slump down in the chair, grabbing the drink that Bones has righted and refreshed for me. “I guess I realized he doesn't think I'm an asshole anymore. He doesn't think anything about me. He's think I'm trivial and pointless.”
Bones leans forward across the desk, placing his glass down. “Jim, with all due respect, I had to see you through your adolescent pinings for Spock seventeen years ago. I'm not planning to do it again.”
I squint at him, heart in my throat, mind racing. “Spock?”
He nods. “Spock.”
“And kids? I have kids. With Spock. Me.”
“You do. Turns out, you're a better father than you ever were a captain. And you were a tolerable captain, all things considered.” He clinks his glass against mine. “Mazel tov.”
Turns out admiralcy must have its perks: Home is this huge place overlooking the bay close to Fleet HQ, most of it smart glass and rough-hewn rock. I step out of the aircab, scraping my jaw off the floor as I do. Looks like Little Jimmy Kirk did good and I feel like immediately sending a holovid of the place to every single person in Riverside. Bones gets out to stand beside me, hand coming to rest on my shoulder. “Doing okay?”
“It's just Spock to deal with, the kids are out till later.”
“'Just Spock'? Fat lot of help you are.” I know he spoke with Spock earlier, before we docked. That he's been updating Spock this whole time. It feels indescribably weird.
A pat on my shoulder and he turns, making his way back into the cab and a bite of panic tightens my chest again. “Bones? Bones! Get back here.”
“Come on, Jim. You've dealt with scarier than Spock in your time, you'll do fine.”
“Nothing is scarier than this, not even giant squid attack. Trust me.” I grab his arms, making him look at me. “Please, Bones, don't leave me alone with him. Not yet.”
“Jim . . .” He eyebrows at me. “For whatever reason and, trust me, I don't dig too deep, you and Spock work. He loves you. You loved him. Go talk to your husband, Jim, I'll see you tomorrow.”
“Traitor. Deserter. Bones, come on.”
“For that, I hereby give you medical clearance to resume marital relations.” A mocking two-fingered salute. “Have a nice day, Admiral.”
I pick up my bag as the cab door hisses shut, and I turn back to the house, a lurch of surprise when I see him there. Standing at the door dressed in some kind of robe, arms tucked into his back in his own serene bubble of calm while my heart tries to beat its way out through my sternum. He barely looks older, almost exactly how I remember him what seems like two weeks ago, to my mind. A little more rugged-looking, I guess. I wanted him back then, I wanted him the second I saw him. It never stopped. It's still impossible to believe that he ever wanted me in return. “Spock.”
“Jim.” His face is impassive as ever, but it's all in the eyes with Spock, something I figured out after I'd known him a couple of weeks. And his eyes are warm, relieved, adoring. His eyes are devoted. Something deep inside my chest cramps, my head fogging up once more. He steps back like I'm supposed to go into the house in front of him and I linger for a moment longer before taking the hint and scooting past him like he's on fire.
“Wow. Nice place, I have good taste.” Which sounds like a tacky come-on line the second I say it while looking at him, and my mouth gapes a little in horror with myself. Spock merely holds out a hand to me, making me look at it dumbly.
“Please allow me to take your bag. Perhaps you would care to sit in the living area while I prepare us some tea.”
“Tea? I don't drink coffee any more?”
“Not habitually, no. Although I believe we may have some coffee, if you would prefer.”
“No, tea's fine. I guess I might as well start to get used to, y'know. Everything.”
“The living area is -”
“No, I'll have a look around and find it myself.”
“If you wish.” He looks at me. Simply stands there and looks at me with those fathomless eyes as the seconds tick by. Then, when I'm starting to mentally squirm he bends a fraction, picking up my bag from the floor and nodding at me before wordlessly moving away across a wide, light-filled lobby. I watch him go then take a breath that feels like my first one in five minutes.
It's a great house so far, it's like someone looked into my head and designed it from there. God, maybe they did. It's going to take me awhile to get my mind around the whole telepathy thing. Literally. I find a den that's got my name scrawled all over it, walls lined with actual books, a wide, ring-marked desk piled high with stacks of PADDs and unfiled data chips, and a leather chair that looks well used and like it'll accommodate my fat ass in comfort. A dining room, one that actually looks like it gets used, a baby's high chair at one end of the table. I guess we must have family dinners. The idea of me and Spock yakking cozily around the dinner table with our kids makes my brain spasm and I frown, close the door like the concept will escape and come after me otherwise. One more room, lined in red drapes and smelling of over-spiced incense, one that I label 'Here be Vulcans' on the mental map I'm making of the place. It feels like a private space, like I'm intruding by even sticking my head around the door. I close the door softly like it makes a difference to the room how I exit it.
I'm at the back of the house now, passing under a big staircase that winds upwards, and through an open archway into a room that makes me grin instantly. I live here? I live here, this is my house. Man, I'm still awesome. The room stretches what I guess must be the length of the house, one big seamless floor to ceiling window taking in the view across the bay. The floor dips into a big seating area that looks like something you'd sink into, which must be pure nirvana after too long on those Starfleet issue couchettes that are like trying to get comfy on a mortuary slab. A woodburning stove with a big pile of logs next to it, which I'm guessing comes from the woods beyond the big window. I always did enjoy chopping wood, it was one of very few chores I didn't bitch Mom out over. A cloud drifts away and the late Fall sun breaks out across the bay, the water glimmering a clear blue from this distance, the bridge stretching away in a slight curve. I can hardly tear my sight away from the view but the rest of the room calls, Spock's harp case propped in a corner next to an ornate stool and a baby grand piano, which I'm guessing has nothing to do with me because I'm about as musical as a houseplant. There are framed holos everywhere, the kids, Spock, me, Bones, some people I recognize, others that I don't. One of Mom with Sam on a shelf by the door and I reach out to pick it up, still unable to believe they're both gone. I've got so many questions about everything that I don't know where to begin.
I'm wound so tight that I almost drop the photo when Spock walks in carrying a tray. It feels like I'm trespassing in someone else's home, like I shouldn't be here, an intruder caught in the act. He takes the few steps down into the seating area, placing the tray on a low coffee table there and sitting elegantly upright on one of the couches, looking up at me expectantly so I put the photo back down, move to join him. But once I'm down there, looking between a space next to him on the long sofa where I guess I should sit and the one across the table from him where I'd feel much more comfortable, it's tough to make myself take the next-to-Spock option. It feels weird to sit here next to him, and how ridiculous is that? I've sat huddled up next to him a hundred times that I remember, in my quarters, in meetings, in stupid little chairs on planets that have never heard of ergonomics. But the context is all different now. So I sit next to Spock because I don't want to seem like I can't stand to be near him, and it feels intimate to a degree that has me ready to jump up every time he moves. He reaches out to pour the tea, handing me a cup wordlessly before pouring his own. I sit back, cross my legs away from him, taking a sip of hot tea that tastes like compost and just about managing to disguise my grimace. I feel as if my skin's humming with his nearness, so aware of him in a way I've never been before, that I remember.
So strange, how easily my name falls from his mouth. He was always so awkward with it before. Not strange at all, I guess, when you think about it, he's has a long time to practice saying it. "Bones explained everything. Right? About how I can't . . . how I don't know . . ."
What am I supposed to say? 'How I can't remember a damn thing about our marriage? About how I'm supposed to be in love with you? Any of it, our kids, the life we built together. Sorry, it's all gone.'
He inclines his head, brow slightly furrowed as he tastes his tea and places the cup down on the table. "I have been fully briefed as to the particulars of the incident itself, and as to your current condition. I believe that Starfleet Medical intends to run more in-depth testing on your condition than Doctor McCoy was able to perform within the Endeavor's facilities, when you feel that you are sufficiently resettled. Captain Giotto reports little progress in the search for the creature that attacked you, due to the size and unusual depth of Ibahn's oceans, and Starfleet is updating me with the status of the search in two-hourly intervals. The Jules Verne's scans have been regularly identifying large marine lifeforms that are consistent with the reports -"
"Spock, wait, thanks but I'm attending a debriefing session in the morning, I don't need you to cover everything. Besides, Ibahn's not a Federation planet, progress is going to be slow, I get that. They gave Cupcake his own ship? Wait, that's Operations - did I give Cupcake a ship?"
"Huh. A nice one?"
"The Jules Verne is a serviceable vessel. Jim - I do not wish to discuss Captain Giotto's command." A pause, those dark eyes dropping to stare at my mouth for a second before looking directly into my own once more. "I wish to express to you that I regret that you have been through a highly traumatic experience, in addition to the physical harm you have suffered. I am sorry for your pain, and for that which you have lost. I hope that you will be able to seek support in me where you believe it to be warranted and appropriate, and I wish to assure you that I am available to you in whatever manner best serves your needs."
He has that quiet intensity I recall so vividly, that depth of seriousness to him. He's so very sincere and I'm touched by his honesty, at a loss how to respond. He looks at me as if he's waiting for me to say something so I open my mouth and let whatever's there come out. "Uh, thanks?"
Insensitive jackass. His eyes move away from mine, focusing out the window somewhere over my shoulder, a slight frown once more as he looks back at me again, his face close enough for me to reach out to touch, if I wanted to, his elbow two inches from my own. "I also wish to convey to you that I have no expectation so far as the practicalities involved in our resuming any form of intimacy. Considering the number of missing memory engrams, I understand that you have no recollection of our personal relationship, and I hope to reassure you that I understand I am not, to your mind and to any meaningful measure on your part, your husband."
My throat's so tight with discomfort that I have to take another sip of compost tea. "Oh. That."
"Am I in error?"
"No, Spock, you're correct." I sit back with a sigh, feeling helpless and mean. "I'm sorry, but it's not there. It's all gone."
"I understood as much from Doctor McCoy."
"I know. It's got to be different, though, coming directly from me."
A flicker deep in his eyes, something I can't read. "It is. But not entirely unexpected."
"I am sorry. Honestly."
"Please do not be concerned on my behalf. The situation is less than ideal but your recovery is my primary concern - beyond the issue of your relationship with the children."
Hah, I recognize that voice. A stern hint, almost disapproval, like he's about to tell me off. It's so completely familiar that I start to relax for the first time since I got back to Earth. I fight a yawn, take a deep breath instead. "What's on your mind?"
He places his tea down once more, turning slightly towards me and I scoot back unconsciously. "The children do not have the same capacity for emotional resiliency as you and I. I do not expect you to lie to them, or to pretend that you feel anything for them that you do not. However, children are perceptive beings, and I am concerned that the impact your memory loss may have on them will be detrimental to their well-being. I know you to be an emotionally-sensitive man with great depths of empathy and compassion, and trust that you will use those sensibilities in your dealings with the children. It is of utmost importance that you consider them first, in everything. I cannot accept less."
I'm unexpectedly touched over Spock getting all Papa Bear. I can hear it in his tone, the underlying message of 'hurt the kids and I'll kick your ass, husband or not'. I didn't know he had it in him, and I'm oddly proud of him, glad he's a good dad. Especially since he's practically the only one they've got now. "I'll do my best, and respect that it needed to be said. I can't promise that I'm not going to screw up but you'll be there to set me straight. Right?"
My head's beginning to throb, my body exhausted so soon after I've done so little. It's like that fucking thing sapped my ability to maintain any kind of energy level and I've been napping more than a puppy all the way home. I don't want to flake out on Spock yet but the urge to lay flat and close my eyes is becoming more difficult to suppress. I close my eyes, wanting to rest them briefly but the idea of opening them again is one that I'm not sure I'm able to entertain right now. I sense Spock moving beside me and I'm about to apologize but my feet are lifted in strong hands that help guide me into a reclining position on the comfiest damn couch I think I've ever experienced and it's nice, having someone to do something so simple as put my feet up when I'm tired. Something new and, well, it's nice, simple as that. I have to fight drowsiness in order to crack open my eyes to see Spock standing beside me, looking down at me with perfect composure, such total impassivity.
"Doctor McCoy has asked me to ensure you have adequate opportunity for rest. The children are due to return home in approximately one hundred and fifty minutes so you might sleep now if you are able to. I will wake you prior to their arrival, if you wish."
"I do. I'm anxious to meet them." In more ways than one. His footsteps are almost silent in that way he has, padding off up the little steps. "Hey, Spock?"
I crank open one eye this time, too tired to manage both. "Thanks. For being so understanding about all this."
I swear it's a smile. A hint of one, in the way his expression warms by the slightest amount. It's familiar, something I'd begun to notice the longer I'd known him, but I'd never been sure. "If our situations were reversed, I am entirely certain that you would do everything in your power to ensure my comfort." He touches a control by the door, the smart glass instantly turning grey, the room falling into semi-darkness. "Please rest. I will return shortly."