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Cope

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"Do you know what victims of child sexual abuse tend to do when they get older?" Leonard asked quietly, eyes not lifting from the PADD in his hands.

"What?" Jim was as tense as a pulled rubber band.

"They either become completely repulsed by sex... or become hypersexual in an attempt to cope."

It's like Jim had swallowed an ice cube. He knows.


On Tarsus IV, after the food shortages started, there was only one unchangeable rule. Do what it takes to survive.

It's hard at first, because Jimmy has to do a lot of things he thought he couldn't. But along the way, Jimmy somehow became JT, and it became easier. JT doesn't hesitate to shove his knife in a soldier's neck, ignore the gurgle as he died. Steal his weapon, and use it to protect the little children he's found throughout the way and keep them alive. They're his kids, after a while, and he steals and gambles and even kills for them. He's the oldest, and has the guts to do what must be done. But one day he's finally overwhelmed by guards and brought in front of Kodos, the man he'd cursed the name of, and Kodos just smiles.

"James Kirk, is it? I could have you executed right now, but you could be… of use. Do you want to make a deal?"

He says yes, and from then on his day to day becomes even more of a living hell.

Is survival really worth it? He thinks, numbly, as Kodos' smooth hands push his thighs farther apart. No, not for him, but then again he's not just doing this for himself. For my kids, he repeats as a mantra, trying to block out everything else. It doesn't work, as a choked sob leaves his lips when something he doesn't want to think about runs down his legs.

"That's it, James," Kodos soothes. "Such a good boy for me."

JT feels like throwing up. Luckily, he manages to wait until after he leaves Kodos' palace. He's a toy, a pet. Kodos' toys don't do anything except please him. The whip scars on his back (covering up the belt scars that were there before) prickle in reminder. Doing something gross is a good way to get punished, and it isn't good for himself either, because he isn't going to even eat the food he received for this, it all goes to his kids.

Every day, his ribs protrude a little more, his cheeks are more gaunt, and the bruises on his thighs and hips increase. He made a deal with Kodos, said yes, and it's killing him faster than the starvation ever could. But his kids are alive.

You chose this. It's your fault, so suck up and deal with it.

Once he's finished throwing up bile, he limps back to his kids with food and a smile. They make him eat, a little, but he only agrees because he needs to live to take care of them.

His kids are alive.


 

"I top," Jim tells the man entering his apartment, like he does to everyone he brings home. The other nods, and Jim feels the tension leave his shoulders. Good. He's in control. Good.

People gossip that Jim Kirk never bottoms, is too prideful, insecure. An egotistical asshole that flirts like it's breathing; has slept with half of the academy (which even the most vocal of said gossipers agree is likely hyperbole), is a sexual deviant, can't get enough.

They're right about one thing. He can't get enough.

Bones never asks, never judges, just grumbles at him to take a shower when he stinks too badly of sex. Jim always laughs and obliges, with a grin far too wide to be real. Sometimes, he almost asks if Bones wants to join him, get a bite of something he gives indiscriminately.

But James T. Kirk isn't made for anything more than one night stands, and it'd be far too easy to slip into something more with Leonard H. McCoy, a man he loves like a brother and maybe something more, but it's for the best this way. Besides, Bones deserved more than Jim could ever give him.

He'd be disgusted if he knew-


 JT can't pinpoint the moment everything gets worse, but it somehow happens slowly and all at once.

Kodos grabs him like Frank used to, roughly, and hard enough to bruise. The praise remains, and while the very early days it would've made him straighten his spine in pride, now his hands shake. Now, getting fucked isn't for food anymore, it's for the right to survive.

"I could've killed you, James. You could've been sacrificed with the others so the better half could survive. This is the least you owe me."

JT allows Kodos to do as he pleases with him, and Kodos' soldiers leave his kids alone. JT is still responsible for protecting them from others and finding them food and everything else they'd need, but it's one problem removed.

It's not enough, because he's already buried enough small bodies that it starts feeling numb now. Sometimes it's sickness, sometimes it's injury, but most of the time it's from starvation. He's not enough, he'll never be enough, and he'll rot in hell when Tarsus IV finally decides to take the last thing it hasn't not yet ripped from him, and he'll finally be allowed to die. But for now, he's got to take care of the last half, the last twelve. Doing what Kodos demands is all he can do to assure that, and he deserves it, for all the ones he let die. And it isn't like JT can decline anyway. Even at twelve, he doesn't go back on an agreement. Kodos changes the contract but his half stays the same. Sex, for something he needs. That's all JT needs to know.

Of course, every time that JT gets used to what his life has become, Kodos flips the world on its head.

"You're staying now, James." And the doors lock, and JT is filled with a righteous anger he didn't think he was capable of feeling anymore. He fucking hates the room he isn't allowed to leave, hates this house, wants it to burn like the anger deep in his angry stomach. He becomes what Kodos declares 'difficult', and the sex increases, but the rest is pain.

He's long ago stopped feeling hunger pangs, so that stops being a punishment. When he tries to escape for the fourth time, Kodos chains him outside and has him whipped again, and again, and JT loses count of how many times after a while. But nothing hurts like the pain inside, knowing his kids are alone and there's nothing JT can do about it. After leaving him to bake with a bloody back for a few days, he's brought back inside and hosed down and Kodos fucks him again.

He can't regret the life he's chosen, but he can sure as hell hate it, hate himself for saying yes.

He hates himself more than anything.


"Truth."

It's a stupid game, truth or dare. But it's something to do in the wee hours of the morning, and Jim's never been too smart with a beer in his hand.

"When did you lose your virginity?" The girl is all eyelashes and sweet smiles, but Jim's always known there was something spicy beneath. The question is her way of flirting. But what she doesn't know is the question makes Jim's blood run cold and the answer is something no one wants to hear. He's sober in an instant.

Twelve, but don't feel bad for me because I said yes. It was my decision.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" he purrs with a wink. She starts to protest that isn't a real answer but he pulls her up to dance to nonexistent music, and she laughs and forgets they were even playing a game. But it isn't her he tastes when she pulls him in for a kiss.

She is probably offended when he makes a half assed excuse and leaves, but he doesn't care because he spends the next two hours puking his guts out in the toilet, and furiously brushing his teeth when he isn't, trying to forget.

It was his decision, yes, yet every time he thinks about he feels sick.


JT is thirteen now, he thinks, but he doesn't have long to celebrate. After all, he doesn't know how long it's been since Kodos left him chained outside to die. At this point, though, he knows Kodos is sick of him and didn't even have enough fondness left to give him a quick death.

He's sunburned to hell and doesn't even have the strength to move anymore. Laying on the ground, held up only by his chained, bloody wrists and waiting for death, he wonders if this is how his kids felt. Were they scared, terrified? Angry? All JT can feel is acceptance, numbness now. The only thing he regrets is he didn't die saving them. Instead of a sacrifice worthy of them, he dies like he lived- Kodos' now broken toy.

Darkness creeps from the edges of his vision, and this time, he knows once he closes his eyes it's unlikely they'll ever open again. That's okay, he's decided. He's done. Jimmy never believed in no-win scenarios, but this is JT, who knows better. This is JT, who has had corpse stench buried so deep in his nostrils he had forgotten what it was like for it not to be there. This is JT, who saw a two year old reduced to a bloody mess in front of his eyes while he reached for her. This is JT, who doesn't care anymore.

A wave of calm washes over him, and his eyes finally close.

When they open, he's in a medical bed and he doesn't answer to Jimmy, and flinches at 'James'. He's not JT anymore, can't be Jimmy anymore, doesn't want to ever be James, but what does that leave? Kodos and Tarsus IV have burned, and he can't help but feel he had died along with everything (everyone) else.

When he finally has the strength to walk out of the hospital months later, he's Jim Kirk.

(He buries JT so far inside no one knows he exists anymore, and tries to forget James exists.)


"Why do you have a three year gap in your medical history?" Bones asks, his usual frown deepening. Jim can't tell if it's annoyance or worry, but he knew something would happen once he agreed to let Bones be his primary care doctor in Starfleet ("Who else could put up with your bullshit?"). However, he thought he'd have more time before Bones read through everything.

"Dunno," Jim replied with a false smile, but Bones wasn't even looking at him. "Maybe nothing happened. Contrary to popular belief, I can stay out of trouble, Bones."

"Dammit, Jim. We both know that's not it." The doctor's brow furrows, but he doesn't push after that. Jim relaxes. That's the good thing about Leonard. He could be damn stubborn, but he usually knew when to stop questioning him.

Jim should've known that didn't mean he wouldn't stop digging.

(The last thing JT ever did before he became Jim Kirk was hack into his own medical records and delete everything he could. No one would ever know he was on Tarsus IV, nor read the doctor's too accurate conclusions.)


 

It's been a year since Tarsus, and the nightmares haven't stopped.

He used to wake up screaming and sobbing, but Jim's learned to stay quiet now. Frank beat him with his belt last time he was too loud and woke him up. The belt has nothing on Kodos' whip, but it isn't sunshine and rainbows, and despite that Jim's very purpose in life seems to be making himself as much as a nuisance as possible, there is no pleasure in making Frank mad when it's because of something he can't control. Mom's on another year mission again, too, and Frank never holds back when she's gone. Not that she's ever stayed long enough to make a difference.

Sometimes he wakes up and thinks he's JT, and it takes hours to push JT down and become Jim again. But he can do it, and that's all that matters. The eight of JT's kids that survived don't need him anymore, and no one else understands or tries. But in times of fear, nightmares, he forgets that. Today's not one of those days, but..

Right now, he wants to forget everything.

It was early, but late enough that the sun had risen. Alex Nelson from his math class, who lived on his street was probably awake, right? Alex was always down for a good fuck. Anything, to make that shame buried deep in his chest to disappear.


"Oh James!" screams the man beneath him and Jim freezes mid thrust, his heartbeat accelerating in his chest. No, no no no-

"It's Jim," he corrects gently, firmly, but he's not really in the mood anymore, and leaves soon after. He doesn't care for the lingering hands on his neck and arms, begging him to stay. It doesn't matter anymore.

That night, his hands curl over his ears and he doesn't sleep, just tries to push down the memories until the sun finally rises.

Never forget, James, you belong to me.


 

Little Tommy of the Tarsus 9 was Thomas Leighton now, and was sure Kodos was alive. If Jim hadn't long ago perfected his facade, he would have shown some form of weakness at the suggestion. But as it was, he froze for just a moment. That moment was Thomas needed. Of course, he'd always known exactly what to say to get under his skin, but now he had the confidence to say it.

"Jim, I know you're content for the past to stay in the past, but have you forgotten what he did to you-"

Jim's resolve nearly cracked, but as it was, his jaw merely clenched. He was thankful he had gone alone to meet with an 'old friend'. This was not how he wanted any of his crew to see him.

"That was uncalled for, Tom," he calmly replied, like those words had not just pierced his soul.

"Maybe so," Thomas replied, deflating. "But I'm not wrong… JT."

Somehow, that name hurt even worse. Jim closed his mouth, his disapproval of that clear by the heavy silence in the air.

"Please, Jim," Thomas begs. "You know his face, his voice, better than any of us. Come to the performance with me. I'll let it go if you don't think it's Kodos."

Jim frowned at him "I shouldn't, with how you just tried to manipulate me, but… if it is Kodos, I…"

And he does what they both knew he'd do at the very start. He agrees. JT may not exist any longer, but he still protects those he did so long ago.


Jim has been nursing this crush on Leonard McCoy for years at this point, so no one was more shocked than himself when he finds himself staring at his Vulcan First Officer for longer than appropriate, smiles coming more freely than he ever expected. He can't help it, with that dry wit and slender frame, and god, his face-

He loves them both in all the soft, gentle ways he's only heard about in stories, and it scares him.

It's all just a reminder of what he cannot have. Besides, why would Spock want him of all people? He's seen how the rest of the crew look at him; Spock could have his pick if he wanted. He knew Bones cared about him, had to with how he'd always dragged him back from the brink of death, but he knew more than anyone Jim wasn't boyfriend material. Besides, he can't just assume either of them swing that way anyway. Even if they decided he was something worth loving, they'd change their mind. If not because of his personality, his problems would surely drive either away.

Sitting in his captain's chair, it's more clear than ever that they deserve better than him, no matter what his heart claims.


The moment Jim sees that face, his mind stutters and suddenly he isn't 30 year old something Captain Jim T. Kirk. He's little twelve year old JT again, bleeding and hurting and terrified.

In another life, maybe he wouldn't be sure. Maybe some doubt, if that face didn't haunt his nightmares. But things are the way they are, and he isn't allowed the comfort of uncertainty. He's unbalanced in a way he hasn't been in twenty years, and it isn't until Thomas elbows him in the side that he realizes he hasn't been breathing.

"Yes," he agrees quietly. "It is him." By the look on Thomas' face, being right doesn't take as sweet as he expected.

"What are you going to do about it?" About him, he means.

"I don't know," Jim replies, eyes closing. It doesn't help. The past burns beneath his eyelids, anyway.

(He's been running from his past for years, in sex and adrenaline and starships, and it never works. But he never stops trying. He can't.)

Chapter Text

Spock likes to vet the transfers to the Enterprise, and Jim has never seen a reason to stop that, even as he's sure that the Vulcan has probably even denied a transfer because of something fishy he'd found. But, he's found a trust in Spock that only rivals his trust in Bones. If Spock decides someone shouldn't be on this ship, Jim is inclined to believe him.

Nevertheless, it usually only takes a few hours for Spock to get through the list, and then he returns with the approved names. Jim never told him, but he still knows somehow that the Captain likes to learn the names of his crew and obliges him. It's those little surprising things that Jim loves him for makes him the best First Officer in the fleet.

It's all very usual, at least until he hears a certain name.

"-Ensign A. Reve, Lieutenant K. Riley-"

All of a sudden, Jim sits up straight from his slouching position in the Captain's chair. Spock just pauses because of course he noticed, an eyebrow raising in a silent question… well, not so much a question as an expectation for an answer.

"That wouldn't happen to be a Kevin Riley, would it?" Jim asks, excited despite himself.

"This is indeed his name, Captain," Spock replied smoothly. "Is he an acquaintance of yours?"

"Yeah," Jim replied, features softening. "He's an… old friend."

Would Kevin even remember him? He didn't know. He was the youngest of the surviving eight, after all. But in the end, whether he knew it or not didn't matter. Jim buried JT deep inside, yes. But there was a part of him that remained that would always, always protect his kids.

(They met again when Lt. Riley is beamed up to the Enterprise, and the other's eyes light up in recognition, and he almost says something before Jim sticks out his hand.

"Captain Jim Kirk," he introduces, and Kevin understands.)


Jim's nursing something that smells like the alcohol content is higher than what is legal, but it's just for show. Despite the fact that he'd love something to calm his nerves and settle his mind, he doesn't dare let down his guard here. Being alone was enough of a risk. But there wasn't another option. It's a party, after all. One Starfleet officer is easy to write off. Two, three, more? More suspicious than could be afforded.

He smiles when appropriate, makes small talk when approached, but for the most part just watches from the sidelines. It might surprise some to see him so reserved, but his friends and crew know that it really isn't so out of character. This is not the charming, easy going Jim Kirk. This is Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk, who does not give up, who does not play games, who does not, under any circumstances, let down his guard. If there is even a remote chance Kodos is here, he cannot be anything else.

He lingers for an hour, another, with some appearance of the other cast members, but none of the famous actor Karidian- otherwise known as the infamous genocidal general Kodos. It surprises him, really, that someone so egotistical didn't come to a party in his own (fake) honor. But all he's met with is empty expectations.

A whole lot of nothing, and he leaves frustrated and needing a new plan.


It's late at night, staring at the ceiling that he's already mentally making the calls and arrangements for Plan B.

Neither Jim nor JT ever fully understood Kodos, but he knows one thing: now that he's a forbidden fruit, he's the perfect bait to draw Kodos out of hiding. But the problem comes down to this- will he even be able to stay in the same room as the man without losing his composure? Well, to be fair, there's also another, equally difficult problem.

What should he tell his crew?

Telling them all every little detail of the past he's tried so hard to forget is obviously not the answer. Besides horrifying them, who would have respect for him after that? But there is the option of telling his closest friends, his crushes, something. He desperately wants to explain why this man undoes him so completely, why this mission is so personal it shakes him to his very core. He wants to be truthful with them. Wants them to comfort him.

But it's not to be.

How would they react, knowing their captain, their friend they've trusted and respected, had let himself be someone's sex slave in a contract always meant to be broken? What would they do, once they saw him as he truly was? He doubted Spock would think he was capable of command after that, and he could almost see what scathing things Bones would write to Starfleet HQ about how he was unfit to lead. Friendship, or more, would be unthinkable if they knew. So what to say? He certainly couldn't be bait without backup, or even a plan of attack. It would just be a self made trap at that point.

No. He had to bring Kodos to him. Force his hand. It was the only way he could both keep his dignity and have the advantage.

He doesn't eat breakfast that morning, walking by the mess hall without a second glance. Why bother? He would just end up throwing it up. It would be the third time since he woke this morning. Maybe it wasn't healthy, but Jim didn't care at this point. He had to shove down his panicked emotions and frustratingly stubborn problems to get this done, and he couldn't let Kodos get away with what he'd done to the colony of Tarsus IV.

(Jim couldn't let Kodos hurt anyone ever again.)

He doesn't notice the sharp dark eyes of the Vulcan First Officer watching him walk by, before leaving himself and heading for sick bay.


The message comes right on cue.

It'd been easy, to set the pieces. Get Karidian's travel canceled with a well-timed personal favor. Let the word spread that the Enterprise was in the vicinity, headed by the well known James T. Kirk. All he needed to do was wait and hope he'd take the all too enticing bait. Sitting in his captain's chair, his posture is seemingly relaxed and careless, but he can feel Spock's eyes on his too tense shoulders. Spock was always too damn perceptive. At least Bones hadn't cornered him somewhere yet. There was a reason he'd avoided sick bay since this debacle began.

Bones couldn't worry about what he didn't see.

As suspicious as it was that Bones hadn't cornered him yet and demanded to know why Jim hadn't stopped by for a drink or even just poked his head in for some quick banter, Jim didn't have time to worry about that. When this was all over, he'd make it up to him. In just a few days, everything would be back to normal and everything would be fine. It was that thought that kept him calm in the wave of stress and terror that threatened to drown him.

Everything would be back to normal soon.

He could bury his past again, bury JT, and no one could think any different of him because no one would know. If nothing else, his main goal was to shoulder this entirely by himself, like he always has. But that… that was going to be difficult. Spock and Bones always seemed to meddle themselves in his affairs, and generally he didn't often mind. After all, he did the exact same thing. But this time… this time was different.

This time was about Kodos, and Tarsus IV, and everything he'd run from. They were just his friends. His best friends, yes, but they shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of his past.

"-ptain? Captain!"

Jim was dragged out of his thoughts by the voice of his most trusted communications officer.

"Ah. Sorry, lost in my thoughts. What is it, Uhura?"

"There's a message for you, Captain."

Yes, right on time, but Jim felt underprepared.

(Honestly… He knew he'd never be ready to face Kodos again, and this time for the other to face him right back. But it was happening anyway. He shouldn't be surprised. That's always how it was with Kodos. He didn't want it, want anything, but it happened anyway.)


A migraine was forming, unsurprisingly.

Jim was always prone to them in times of stress, and knowing his tormenter was on board his ship definitely counted. He usually was a pretty calm leader, but he tended to be a bit… irritable when he was stressed, and the crew and ship knew him well enough to let him be when that happened. Rubbing his temples and grimacing must've been a huge warning sign to stay away. After all, as he'd wanted, his crew didn't know what was going on, just that their captain was in a bad mood… and, accordingly, not talk or approach him unless necessary.

Or at least, that's what most of them did.

Spock had forgone his usual position on the bridge, and instead took his place next to the Captain's chair.

"Are you sure this is the course of action you wish to take, Captain?" Spock asked cooly, seemingly unfazed by Jim's frown and general aura of annoyance.

"What's done is done," Jim replied, bitterly despite himself. "They're on the ship. There's no going back now, Mister Spock."

Spock did not reply, but Jim didn't even have to look at him to see the simple, single eyebrow raise in response. That unspoken sass that Spock would surely deny if pointed out (such things being… unbecoming of a Vulcan, but perfect in Jim's opinion) was one of the many things that he loved about him. But right now… Right now it made that slow-building irritation just grow. Yes, Jim was hiding things, but he'd done that before and things had turned out fine, so why didn't Spock just trust him?

(He knew, of course, that he could never expect Spock to be anything other than a being who challenges him, and that was a good thing. But right now, it stung, stung like a betrayal and right now he just could not handle that)

"If you are in pain, Captain, perhaps a visit to Dr. McCoy is in order." Spock's voice is smooth as always, a calm suggestion but it ignites something furious and uncontrolled in the blond.

"I'm fine." It comes out snapped, more vicious than Jim intends, but the Vulcan falls quiet once again and that's all that matters. Except Jim doesn't feel satisfied, just a cold regret filling his insides instead. It wasn't fair to Spock, or any of the crew, to deal with his moods, with his fucking inability to deal with his past even with years to do so. It wasn't fair to them.

It has to stop now. He stood, shoulders rigid and back rimrod straight as he headed for the door.

"Captain?" This time, it was a question. Perhaps he thought Jim had changed his mind and decided to go to the med bay after all. It was laughable, if he did.

"The bridge is yours, Mister Spock. I'm going to… visit Karidian."


Jim stands outside Kodos' door for longer than probably appropriate, trying to perfect his Captain facade and reinforce his walls. He knew he might fall apart if he didn't, and now wasn't the time for such things. Any weakness would be exploited, so there could be no weaknesses. Five minutes passed before he took a breath and finally entered.

"It's about time, James. At this point, I'd assumed you'd lost your nerve."

Kodos was waiting for him. Of course he was waiting for him.

And just like that, all his hard work preparing himself went to waste. Hearing that name, Jim wants to throw up all over again. It's worse, so much worse hearing it from those lips than any other person who was stubborn enough that they didn't listen when he asked to be called Jim. But he should've expected it, he knows. Entering Kodos' cabin on his ship had risks.

Kodos is fishing for a reaction, but Jim's fists just clench by his sides, his face emotionless even as he sees the glint of a phaser in Kodos' hand.

In contrast, Kodos is relaxed, leaning against the wall with his usual smirk, despite the fact he's pointing a weapon at a Starship Captain and his personal former victim. It's what Jim has expected. Of course he would have set up his own trap. But Kodos is no longer the genocidal dictator with thousands of lives in his hands, and Jim is no longer a powerless preteen at his mercy.

Things have changed, and Jim suspected he wasn't the only one unbalanced with this flip of power. Jim could easily kill Kodos right now, and would be justified to do so with that phaser pointed in his face, and that wasn't even counting the hell that man put him and so many others through. But he was still one of the lucky ones. He'd survived.

Anger burned deep in his chest.

Kevin was on his ship, and protecting him was top priority. He had to be calm. He couldn't let rage overwhelm him.

"Nothing to say, James?"

It was only then he had a voice, and it took everything to keep it steady and calm.

"No. I have a million things to say to you, Kodos. I could tell you all the things I've accomplished despite what you did to me on Tarsus IV, or try to scare you about how they treat people like you in prison. I could try and intimate you, tell you all the things I've done so you're properly scared. But as it is, I've nothing that's worth saying to someone like you, except that if you give yourself up now I'll take you to the brig unharmed. I can't promise the same if you resist, and I doubt the ship's doctor will be sympathetic enough to treat non lethal injuries."

Kodos huffed, smirk not even wavering as he took a step towards Jim. "You're like a little boy in his father's suit. All this bluster? Your composure? You may have everyone else fooled, but not me. You're no captain, not really. Once a whore, always a whore, James. You'll never be anything else, and we both know it."

Something unreadable sparked in Jim's eyes.

Suddenly, overwhelming calmness settled over his body, and then he just felt... nothing. Just like back then, he felt numb.

Because, he knew, Kodos was right.

"This isn't about me," he stated flatly. "This is about you, and your crimes, Kodos. Your undeserved freedom ends here."

"What are you going to do?" the other replied with a huff. "Find a way to overpower me and kill me yourself? Parade my head through the hallways for all your crew to see?"

Whatever was there before faded away, and now a fire burned in Jim's eyes. "Didn't you hear what I just said? This isn't about me. For all the pain you've caused, every death, you will face in court. As angry as I am, as much as I want to choke your life out of you, I am not who I used to be." He is not JT anymore, and that's the only thought that keeps his fists firmly at his side. "Besides, killing you out of anger would be too merciful for what you deserve."

Kodos then took a step forward, another and another until the phaser was just inches from Jim's chest.

"You're forgetting who holds the power here." Fury instead of amusement laced his tone. Was it me who made him so angry? Jim wondered. It's in that moment that he finally understands. Kodos wanted Jim to lose his temper, allow himself to be beyond anger, but he couldn't. And it was Kodos' fault in the first place that he was this way. It's your fault, yet you blame me.

"What, you don't like that?" Jim couldn't stop the sickening satisfaction that dripped from his words, taking his own step forward so the weapon poked into his shirt. "Then maybe you shouldn't have broken your little toy soldier. Or, should I say your little se-"

"Captain." He would know that voice anywhere. It's a statement all on it's own, should be reassuring, but Jim's blood runs ice cold. Kodos' own eyes widen, and in that moment he's at least a little thankful that he was such a good damn distraction that the other didn't notice the now open doorway suddenly becoming accompanied. Jim takes the moment to swipe the phaser from the other's frozen hands, and turns.

It's Spock, of course, as he expected. Facing a Vulcan with his own phaser, and a couple armed red shirts, and now disarmed himself, Kodos wastes no time raising his hands in surrender. With power ripped away, a coward always shows his true colors.

He quickly walks past Kodos, and his crew, with only a rushed 'take him to the brig'. Spock doesn't stop him, but the way his arm lifts slightly before returning to the side practically shouts he wants to. But Jim doesn't stop, doesn't look back until he gets back to his quarters and locks the door. Even Bones, with his medical clearance, can't get in.

It was all over, in a moment.

(Except it's not, because Spock heard everything, and that only means he's going to lose everything)

With that thought, now alone, he finally falls apart.

Chapter Text

With the door closed behind him, Jim wasted no time in falling to his knees and curling into a ball, falling into a panic attack as easily as putting on an old shirt. Now that he was alone, there was nothing left to keep him from falling apart. After a moment, he realized he couldn't just sit and immediately stood and began pacing, trying to breathe slowly to calm his anxiety and panic and failing.

What was he going to do? Sure, they were already headed for the nearest Starfleet base, but what was he supposed to say? That he'd found and caught the presumably dead Kodos, the infamous genocidal dictator, and his personal tormenter?

A knock on his door shook him out of his thoughts, and with an almost not-quite irritation, he stood. After all, the last thing he wanted was to shove on a mask right now when he was at his limit. But, odds were it was probably Bones, right? Him, or Spock. But probably Bones, since he'd been avoiding him so much… Oh well, he'd find some sort of way to get him to leave Jim alone for a while so he could recharge enough to be Captain James T. Kirk again.

He finally rose and walked to the door, already speaking as soon as the door opened.

"Look, Bones, I-" An involuntary gasp left his throat, cutting off all intended words, as a sharp pain suddenly entered his side.

A woman he'd never seen before in his life pulled the knife out of him and immediately shoved him back inside his room, so hard he slumped against the back wall. Not even blinking, she stepped inside a moment later and the door closed.

"Hello, James T. Kirk," she greeted with a familiar smile that was all teeth with cold as ice eyes. With impending horror, the reality of who she was hit his brain like a starship at the highest warp speed.

"You thought your plan to catch my father was so clever," she said casually, walking over to the nightstand by his bed and picking up the communicator he'd thrown there after the last away mission. "If you'd been more subtle, perhaps it would have worked."

She then dropped Jim's communicator on the floor, slowly lifted her foot, and with a dramatic stomp, broke it to pieces.

If it wasn't for that familiar expression and actions (and the growing affections for his two crewmates he'd locked inside) he might have found her enchanting. She was beautiful, slim with blonde hair and wearing a form fitting blue dress. Clearly, she'd meant to look as disarming as possible, and succeeded.

"Let me assure you, I saw it coming a mile away." She then pulled out a PADD, sat on his bed, and began typing casually. "It's a shame, really. But you shouldn't feel bad. We already had you at checkmate and you hadn't even known we were playing yet."

A satisfied look settled upon her features as she finally sat the PADD down and stood.

"...Perhaps it would have been quicker and easier to kill you with a phaser, but personally?" She shrugged, the crimson stained blade in her hand glinting as she moved. "I've always liked the old fashioned weapons. Besides, I think you need to suffer a bit before you die, knowing you can't stop my father from escaping once again as you bleed out. And even if we are found, one day, without you there isn't much of a prosecution, is there?"

Jim didn't reply, but the look in his eyes must have betrayed his agreement because a moment later, a laugh left her lips. She wiped the blood from the knife on the bed, and lifted her dress to mid thigh, and carefully slid it back into the hidden sheath. She then picked up the PADD she'd discarded and began walking towards the door.

"Don't worry your pretty head about trying to get up and leave, James. You won't believe how much it took to get top-notch hacking software, but it was worth all the trouble to know that no matter what, you are going to die here and there's nothing you can do about it but simply wait. And with you gone, we'll be safe."

She flipped her hair over her shoulder, and shot him a sweet smile as she walked towards the door, and out of it.

"Goodbye, James."

With that, the door closed, and he was alone.

Jim grimaced as he pulled his hand back from his sticky side, glancing quickly at his crimson hand before quickly pressing it against his side once again. He gritted his teeth and glanced down at the pieces of his ruined communicator, and then at his broken door. He was in pain, the exhaustion pulling at his limbs from days of so little sleep, but none of that mattered.

He couldn't just lay here and wait to die.

It was difficult, but he managed to use the bed to pull himself off the floor into a standing position. Better not sit again, he told himself internally. He didn't think he could manage to get up again if he did, after all. At least not on his own. The first thing he tried was banging on the door, and he quickly found it wouldn't budge. She hadn't been lying when she said she'd hacked it, huh? He made a mental note to bump up security.

As quickly as he could manage, he dragged himself over to his nightstand and began digging through a drawer, only stopping when he found the spare phaser he kept for emergencies. He shouldn't have one in there, via Starfleet regulations, but he was more than grateful at the moment he'd had enough insight to plan for the inevitable.

With a combination of determination and pure luck, his hand was steady as he aimed at the door and fired.

As he'd hoped, the sparking, damaged door swung open. He silently apologized to Scotty and all the other engineers that would have to come up and fix it, but this was a serious situation. He couldn't find it in himself to feel too bad as he quickly paced down the hallway, pain replaced by (short lived, he knew) adrenaline. Moving so fast, no one paid too much attention to him besides just moving out of the way. It was best, considering the slowly blossoming red stain on his yellow command uniform, and the phaser in his free hand.

Bones was going to be beyond livid with him for not going straight to sick bay (once Jim was stable and he was done being worried, anyway) but he had to stop Kodos and his daughter from escaping. If he was being honest with himself, he knew he wouldn't sleep at night until he knew that man was in Starfleet custody and on his way for his trial and sentencing. In the end, however, it wasn't his feelings that drove him. It was far more than just him that had been wronged by that man's actions. He wouldn't deny justice to all those other victims.

Now, there was a choice: Go to the bridge and get some help from his fellow crewmen and risk Kodos escaping, or go straight to the brig, surely soon enough to stop him and his daughter, but have to do it alone and injured? It was a difficult decision.

He entered the elevator, that was thankfully vacant, and leaned against the wall as he considered his options.

As much as he wanted to go to the brig and take care of it himself… The way his vision was swarming, he could barely stand, much less fight. He physically couldn't do anything, even with a phaser. That one good shot at the door was likely the only one he could manage. So the bridge it was.

It probably wasn't a great sign that he couldn't remember telling the elevator to take him to the bridge, or the ride there, he noted in the back of his mind. The next thing he knew, he was walking out- and almost right into Spock. Upon realizing who he almost walked into, Jim cursed his bad luck.

"Captain?" the Vulcan inquired, and Jim tried to move past him before he noticed anything, but he knew it was too late when the other's eyes widened minutely at the blood. That was as close to shock as he allowed anyone to see. "You are injured," he stated, and Jim had known him long enough to know this was said gently. "You should go to medical. I'm sure the doctor would insist if he knew."

Jim shook his head. "Listen, I promise I will soon, but I think Ko- Karidian is going to escape. He has an accomplice on the ship. She's a human woman, blonde hair, and wearing a blue dress. She's armed, and headed for the brig to break him out. I need to-"

"Jim." Somehow, Jim's words died in his throat once Spock had spoken his name. "I am more than capable of handling this situation. I will send more men to the brig to await this woman. I assume she is the one who injured you?"

He just nodded.

Was it just his imagination, or had something in Spock's eyes (the one thing he could never truly hide) grow cold?

"She will be dealt with appropriately." That cold look only hardened for a moment before his eyes flickered back to Jim's wound again and it was replaced by its usual warmth. "Now please, Jim; I will escort you to medical. In this case, medical care is not optional."

For a moment, Jim almost faltered. After all, Bones would only be worried and slightly angry at him if he went in of his own accord vs if Bones had to find him and drag him there. But… as much as he trusted his crew, this was something he absolutely had to do himself.

"I will, after this is taken care of. But I need to…" He took a deep breath. It was crazy to try to explain this to Spock. He didn't know the real reason of why this was so important to Jim, and without that it didn't make sense why he was insisting despite being injured. "I need to do this. I need to know this is taken care of. We both know Bones won't let me leave the med bay for days once I go in there, and I can't just walk in there willingly until I know my crew is safe and Karidian can't escape."

For a moment, nothing, and Spock's eyes seemed to bore a hole in Jim's head as they locked eyes.

"I will go with you," he said finally, to Jim's shock. "We will quickly resolve this, and then you will go see the doctor." Jim felt his entire body relax. Good. That he could agree to. Knowing Bones, he'd still be mad, but at this point, Jim knew he could handle one of his best friends yelling him a lot more than knowing Kodos got away and he could have stopped it.

This time, the elevator ride was a distinct memory, because Jim could not remember ever seeing Spock that stiff and… well, if he didn't know better, angry. Why was a good question. Was it simply because Jim had gotten hurt, or was it just the thought of someone that hostile on the ship? It couldn't be just Jim, right?

But he quickly shoved all thoughts away as the elevator stopped, and the doors opened.

"Here," Jim said as they walked out, holding out the phaser for Spock. "I'll miss if I fire right now. It's better in your hands."

Spock took it without comment, simply nodding and continuing on.

For a moment, there was no sign of anything, and Jim allowed a tiny hope to rise that maybe, just maybe, they'd beat her here. But then, the still warm body of a red shirt came into view. Spock quickened his pace and knelt by the man. Jim just watched, hand subconsciously increasing pressure against his own wound.

"Already dead," he declared after a minute of studying. "I am not the doctor, but it seems to be from a single stab wound. But perhaps there are more ahead we can still save."

Fire burned in Jim's stomach. His own crew was dying because of Kodos, his family was dying again, and he couldn't do anything about it. He had to find her. He had to find her now, and end this once and for all.

Luckily, it was not another minute of walking when a flash of blue came into view, moving so quickly it took Jim's sluggish mind a few moments to process. She paused when she saw them. She was fully unhinged; nothing remained of the cutesy defenseless girl now. Her dress was stained with blood and ripped, hair sticking up everywhere, lipstick smudged, and to top it all off, an almost animalistic rage burned in her eyes.

"Kirk," she hissed, her grip tightening on her knife. It was like she didn't even see Spock, but Jim wasn't too surprised. It was fairly obvious she wasn't entirely… there. "Father said you'd be tough to kill. But this time, I'll make sure to finish the job!" She raised her knife, and with a guttural scream, began running towards him.

Spock didn't even let her get close.

With the almost eerie calm that only a Vulcan could possess, he moved forward. She probably didn't even see him until his fingers were by her shoulder, and by then, he'd already nerve pinched her and she crumpled to the ground.

A slight embarrassment settled into his chest at that. It was easy to forget with how composed Spock always was that he didn't need a weapon to disarm or best someone, and usually preferred not to use one. He hadn't needed the phaser Jim had offered... but already, those thoughts were quickly fading away.

All of the adrenaline finally gave out at that point, and this exhaustion and tiredness overwhelmed his body and mind. Jim stumbled over to the wall and leaned on it, and soon found himself sitting. Strange, he didn't remember sitting… Everything was slowly fading away after that, words sounding far away and colors bleeding together.

Ahhis last coherent thought began, perhaps I was bleeding more heavily than I thought.

Damn it, Jim, a voice said that he wasn't entirely sure was real. He registered a pain in his neck, and then nothing at all.