At seventeen Jim says that he wants to leave, and T’Sol suggests the Vulcan Science Academy, and that’s that.
That’s not really that, because even though Jim has spent the past four years on a Vulcan research vessel, he’s not actually Vulcan, and it’s an uphill battle against sehlats and windstorms and thousands of years of thinly-veiled xenophobia masquerading as traditionalism, but six months after his seventeenth birthday Jim is accepted into in the Vulcan Science Academy, and two weeks later when the ship docks on Vulcan Jim packs up his one bag of belongings, wishes his 300 stand-in parents peace and long life, and steps out onto Vulcan.
The less that is said about the heat, the better.
He survives on tri-ox and vitamin supplements and wonders how Amanda Grayson—the human who has lived on Vulcan for the longest time in history—stands it. He builds up his muscle mass and learns how to fight and collapses more times that he would like to admit and works ten times harder than anyone around him because he’s human and has to.
At twenty-two, he joins Starfleet.
Sivan informs him that the decision is illogical, as he is an otherwise satisfactory graduate of the Vulcan Science Academy and as such has access to Vulcan research that is not otherwise available. Jim informs him that he misses the stars. Sivan does not find this a satisfactory response, as T’Khasi has significantly less light pollution than San Francisco and as such provides greater opportunities for viewing any star that Jim intends to study.
Jim leaves anyway.
He becomes a cadet at Starfleet Academy, and in another life he would have chafed under the rules and regulations, but Jim has lived with Vulcans for nearly half his life, he just left a school where emotion is forbidden and rooms are not labeled because students are expected to remember their location, and Starfleet feels astonishingly lax.
Jim makes friends with a doctor from Georgia, and hits on every woman he can find and doesn’t sleep with any of them because he hasn’t had casual touch in ten years and isn’t quite sure he likes it anymore, and he keeps an IDIC pin on his undershirt but does not show it to anybody.
Despite his clear aptitude for science, he takes few science classes, his focus is instead on Command—the one subject he could have not learned at the Shi’Oren t’Ek’Tallar T’Khasi. He intends to graduate in three years; he has no need to spend that long at the Academy, but it is long enough not to draw undue attention to himself, and to reacclimate himself with Terrasu culture. He will need to be able to act adequately Terran, should he wish to Captain a ship. While the Federation espouses itself as being all-accepting, it still favors those who are Terran.
Sometimes, when nobody is looking, Jim forgets that people smile.
Watching the cadet take a bite from his apple, Spock reminds himself that anger is illogical, no matter how much disrespect grates on his nerves. He is a professional, and an officer of Starfleet; he will not succumb to petty tantrums no matter how gratifying they may feel in the short term.
About to inform the Lieutenant in charge of administering the test that he is unaware of how the cadet subverted the testing scenario, Spock sees a notification on his PADD informing him of the receipt of a file. The file, Spock sees upon opening it, is a sourced and annotated explanation of the logical reasoning behind the subversion of the testing parameters of the Kobayashi Maru , as well as a detailed description of the method used to alter the subroutines necessary to effect such a change.
Spock decides it would be logical to reserve judgment on the cadet.
For the second time in Jim’s life, the world is ending around him.
He grabs T’sai Amanda’s hand, saying, “Sanu, T’sai, come with me,” and even though he is psi-null he feels the surprise in the stiffening of her hand before she begins running with him. The walls are falling around him, and through the running he feels a wave of grief at the loss of such history.
There will be much to grieve, but at the moment he has no time for grief.
When they are outside the katric ark, Spock calls for a beam-up. T’sai Amanda begins to pull away, and Jim grabs onto her wrist, saying, “There is a higher probability of successful beaming when lifesigns are in close proximity.
And then the world turns to light, and they are on the beaming pad in the Enterprise .
Jim releases T’sai Amanda’s wrist, and she turns and wraps her arms around Spock, saying, “My son, my son.”
Kevet-dutar Sarek faces Jim and says, “I thank you for insuring the safety of my ko-telsu.”
Jim inclines his head. “I am pleased to have been of service, kevet-dutar.”
The less that is said about Delta Vega, the better.
Spock’s hand is around Jim’s throat, and Jim is saying, “It is illogical for you to claim to be anything but emotionally compromised when you are currently performing violence on a member of Starfleet and of your own crew, who has thusly committed no violence against you,” until his air runs out and the darkness begins to fold in on him and he thinks, my world is gone twice-over, and perhaps it would be logical for me to die as well.
Jim finds himself in Medical as the ship limps back towards Earth; he has several cracked ribs as well as other injuries, that the medical staff insist be seen to. He is still Captain, technically, but Sulu has the conn.
Beside him, Bones—Jim’s one attempt at creating a nickname—is attempting to treat pid-kom T’Pau despite the fact that all that she is suffering from is bond-failure due to the loss of T’Khasi and the Vuhlkantra rather than any physical ailment.
Jim turns, bracing one hand against his side so that he can move despite the pain in his ribs, to say, “Bones, you’re not going to be able to help. Pid-kom T’Pau isn’t injured.”
Bones squints at him, then says, “You’re not a doctor. What would you know about it? And what the hell is a pid-clam?”
“My title,” T’Pau says, and Jim straightens painfully at the sound of her voice, “is pid-kom. It indicates my position as the matriarch of the Clan Surak.” She turns her gaze on Jim. “You are James Kirk.”
Pid-kom T’Pau switches to Vuhlkansu, saying, “Though your choice to leave Vulcan following your graduation from the Vulcan Science Academy was illogical, it served as the catalyst for your survival. The decision will thus no longer be viewed as a loss. Your service honors us.”
Jim swallows down the urge to gape at her, because that’s frankly the nicest thing a Vulcan has ever said to him, and it’s T’Pau , instead saying, “Shaya tonat. Tushah nash-veh k’odu, pid-kom.”
“No thanks are needed for the truth, khart-lan. Tushah nash-veh k’du.” She looks back at Bones, saying in Standard, “I will meditate now.”
Bones blinks at her before turning on Jim to glare at him and demand, “What on Earth was that? Since when do you speak Vulcan?”
“It is illogical for you not to have informed your colleagues of your abilities,” T’Pau says reproachfully, and Jim sags a little, which hurts like a knife through his side. He should probably actually get his ribs dealt with sometime soon.
For the moment, though, he just says, “Restricting dissemination of my history ensured a meeting with my classmates on a more even ground, leading to greater bonds that will aid me in a leadership role in the future.”
T’Pau looks at him for a second, then says, “Your logic is sound.”
“What the actual fuck?” Bones breathes, then mutters, “Ma’am,” at T’Pau.
“I’ll tell you later,” Jim says. “Any chance you can fix my ribs now?”
Bones swears at him through the whole procedure.
“So,” Bones says at the start of gamma shift; the ship is almost back to Earth, so most of the crew is still awake. “The Vulcan thing.”
Jim leans his head back against the wall behind his seat, careful in how he moves so as not to agitate his partially-healed ribs. “The Vulcan thing,” he agrees, then sighs. “You must have guessed I wasn’t raised on Earth.”
“Given that you’re allergic to half the planet and didn’t know a single reference from the last ten years, yeah, I guessed that. I figured you were raised in a colony or something. Your whole family dropped off the earth until you showed up at the Academy.”
Jim lets out a slow breath, considering how much to tell Bones. There’s no logical reason to keep anything from him, but he finds the idea of telling Bones everything difficult regardless. Finally, he says, “I spent a few months on a colony, beginning when I was twelve and ending when I was thirteen. Following the evacuation, I lived on a Vulcan research vessel for approximately four years, after which I spent approximately four and a half years at the Vulcan Science Academy. Then I joined Starfleet.”
Bones whistles. “I’ll get to that later stuff in a minute—though, Vulcans, that explains a lot, actually—but evacuation? When did they have to evacuate an entire colony?”
“Following the massacre on Tarsus IV.”
“Fuck.” Bones lurches up out of his chair, pacing around the small office space with his hands clenched in his hair. Jim watches him walk, unsure of how he’s supposed to react. “ Fuck . Why didn’t I know this? Why aren’t you on the survivor list?”
“As I remained on the first-response ship and never boarded the Starfleet vessel for patient intake, I was never added to the survivor list. To avoid the additional scrutiny, it was logical to not alter that.”
Bones stares at him, then asks, “How did I never notice that you talk like a damn Vulcan?”
“It gets stronger during times of stress.”
Bones paces for another fifteen seconds, glancing at Jim twice during the time, before saying, “What about your family? I can’t imagine they were too happy with you living on a Vulcan ship instead of with them after Tarsus.”
Jim looks down at his hands. His knuckles are still scraped raw after his fight on the Narada . “My brother ran away from home when I was ten, and my step-father was the one who sent me to Tarsus. And I haven’t spoken to my mother in eleven years.”
“As far as I am aware, she is still alive, though I suppose she could have been on one of the ships sent to the battle.”
“A science officer. Last I checked, she was stationed on the Gagarin , though that could have changed.” Jim shrugs. “She didn’t give a fuck about me, and as far as I know she never found out about Tarsus, though I suppose Frank could have told her.”
“Shit,” Bones says again, “I’m sorry.”
Jim drums on his thigh. “So anyway, that’s the Vulcan thing.”
“Does that mean you’re an honorary Vulcan?”
“I am not a Vulcan citizen, if that is what you are inquiring. I was raised—for some of my life—by Vulcans, and then I lived on Vulcan for another set of my life. I am connected to the Vulcan culture, and I had colleagues with the Vulcan Science Academy, most of whom are likely now dead.”
“Oh,” Bones says, then, “shit. Once we’re planetside, are you going to reach out and see who’s still alive?”
Jim shakes his head. “Those who did survive would not appreciate the distraction.”
“Damn emotionless hobgoblins.”
There are dual pings from their PADDs, halfway across the room from each other, and Jim leans over just as much as necessary to grab his and look at it. His ribs protest even that little amount of movement.
“An hour from atmospheric entrance,” Bones reports as he swipes across his PADD. “They need you on the bridge for that?”
“I’ll head there in fifty minutes. Given the amount of damage on the ship, we’ll need to be careful.” He swallows, shifting again with a hand pressed against his side to brace against the pain. Rib injuries are the worst. “It’ll probably take at least three hours from there to dock, and it might get a little bumpy.”
Bones nods. “I’ll notify the med bay, make sure they’re prepared to take on extra patients if needed. The beds are pretty much filled, but we can still triage if necessary until we can get them to the Starfleet hospital.” Bones’s eyes narrow. “Are you okay?”
“I am adequate.”