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Inevitability. A state of being in which a particular outcome is guaranteed. Destiny. One’s path through life, a calling, predetermined by unknown forces. Fate. One’s destined end, final and immutable.

Three words to define a future. Future—what did that mean, now? The future was once what could happen after the now; and yet, now, future was not what could or should happen, but what would. The future held his inevitable, destined fate. Didn’t it? How many times had he asked himself what the future held? How many times did he think he knew the answer? How could the unlimited possibilities for a person’s life, his life, be narrowed down to one by a single decision?

Christopher Pike had no regrets in his life. There were things he knew he missed, things he wanted more of, but he knew they were out of his control. There was nothing more he could do in those situations, under those specific circumstances. Though he had no power over these things, he had never felt powerless until the moment on Boreth when he saw what was now his own inevitability. Powerless to move, to change, to save.

Taking the time crystal was a choiceless choice. He did not regret it—he couldn’t. The fate of all life in the galaxy was more important than his own life; he had acknowledged that when he joined Starfleet. He had always accepted that a day may come when he would not return home, when he’d join the ranks of officers, captains, and admirals who accepted their fate in service to the greater good. That was what Pike had done—accepted his fate. Accepted his duty. He could not make that choice for everyone else who would be affected by his actions.

There were some days, particularly in the aftermath of the battle against Control, that he questioned himself. He never doubted the decision to take the time crystal; he wouldn’t still be here without it. But he wondered what would bring about the future he had seen, that he had already lived. He wondered how much time he had. He wondered if he’d have a family by the time that the future delivered on the promises of the crystal, if they would be able to love him, after. If there would be anyone left to mourn him when he died, or if he be would dead to the world once the moment passed.

These questions were themselves inevitable, but then again—so was life. No use dwelling on the past, people say; Pike knew that there was no use dwelling on the future. He could live in fear of a future he had never envisioned for himself. He could spend hours agonizing over decisions, in the case that they might lead him closer to his future. He could live with his mind in the future, or he could do one better.

He could live.