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27 June 2011 @ 12:59 pm
Fic: Follow the Leader 3/6 (Kirk/Spock preslash)  
Title: Follow the Leader (3/6)
Author: bigmamag
Universe: Reboot AU
Pairing: Kirk/Spock preslash
Rating: PG-13
Relationship status: preslash
Word count: 3200/10,970
Genre: Drama
Tropes: au counterparts, destiny, friendship
Warnings: spoilers for the fic Refractions
Summary: After the events of Refractions, life is forever changed for one of the universes. Director Spock returns to Vulcan, but finds that his ordered and predictable life is no longer satisfactory. Captain Kirk is faced with the harsh realities of a potential Romulan war and the loneliness of command.
Note: I am SO sorry this took so long to get this out. I had a bit of crisis with this fic and combined with a stint of writer's block, it was a slow time going. However, I now have a good outline and am working steadily on the next part, so hopefully it won't be that long until I finish this thing.. Beta by bostongirl2003.

STORY IS COMPLETED, READ ON AO3 HERE

back to part two



…the Enterprise is heading out for a mission, so we sort of missed the boat on sort-of instant messaging. I figured you were just busy, so that’s fine and we’ll just pick up where we left off and you can tell me your next chess move…

..Haven’t heard from you in a week or so, just wondering if you’re all right. You can tell me anything, I don’t mind. We can talk about how illogical I am to worry and then go over these new warp calculations. Did I tell you about our improvements to the science labs?…

…It’s nice to know you’re still alive after nearly a month of non-communication. Once again, Scotty thanks you for your input. I’d personally thank you for your help, but I’m not sure you care either way…

…I’m sorry for my last message. I get that you’re Vulcan and you may not understand the finer aspects of human behaviors, but if you want to stop talking, it’s polite to tell the other person and not just ignore them. I feel like I’ve said or done something offensive. I know, human emotions. We’re an illogical lot, putting so much weight on everyday conversation…



Jim had purposefully chosen the darkest, seediest, and, above all, the most out-of-the-way dance club on Alpha V to spend his scant few hours of shore leave in. He wouldn’t have taken shore leave at all if he’d been any rank below captain and thus had to appear to all and sundry that he was a strong leader they could have faith in. Otherwise Jim’s first choice would have been to curl up in a ball in his quarters tonight and wonder what ancient god he had pissed off lately.

Five men dead. Five men, three with families and two newly-recruited. He hadn’t been fast enough, hadn’t been smart enough . Jim was alive, and they were dead, and he wondered what made him so special.

He shouldn’t be here, nursing his third beer and suffering through music that vibrated through his body like a steam-powered train.. A haze of smoke hung above the mass of hot, sweaty bodies undulating against each other in filtered blue neon light, and Jim was pretty sure he was getting a contact high from the cloud. It may have been the hint of mind-altering drugs in the air, but Jim felt more and more at ease the longer he sat there.

Here in this club and in his civvies, he was just Jim Kirk, but what version of Jim Kirk, he didn’t know. He certainly never hung around places like this. It was like he was granted a wish, to live someone else’s life until midnight turned him into a pumpkin, and he was soaking up every blissful moment. For just a little while he could pretend that he didn’t have all this responsibility on his shoulders, that lives didn‘t count on his leadership.

Also, he could pretend that he had friends over at the bar or waiting to meet up with him later, and that he was not still broken up about a Vulcan he’d barely seen in person.

Spock had effectively stopped talking to Jim over a month ago. He shouldn’t be still caring about it. Maybe if he hadn’t met three Spocks instead of one, he could have. What did he lack that the other two Kirks possessed that made people stay?

Jim angrily slammed his bottle back on the table and stood up decisively, cutting through the crowd to get to the dance floor. It was sick that he was enjoying working his way through a crowd, hands and arms and torsos pressing in from all sides, like a starving man invited to walk around a banquet table and taste a dish or two, but never allowed to sit and feast. He was so tired that it hurt to walk, muscles screaming for a warm bath and a soft bed, but he felt bold and it was such an odd thing to feel outside of peace conferences or battle that he went with it, watching others dance and trying to copy their movements.

He was unpracticed, but apparently he could summon some sort of rhythm because a girl with dark hair spotted him and moved closer, looping an arm around his neck, inviting him to dance with her. He went with it, moving along with her, trying to focus on her but mind drifting, wondering how drunk she was and if she somehow knew he was a Starfleet captain.

The song morphed into something fast and blitzy, lighting scheme going from blue to a multitude of exploding colors. The girl smiled at him, unfazed by his slight inattention, leaned close and whispered in his ear, “You’re the hottest guy in here. Wanna take this somewhere private?”

Jim shuddered at the warm, moist breath in his ear, actually thinking about the dubious offer. She was obviously drunk or high or both, and it wouldn’t set a good example to the crew if he slept with a nameless woman on shore leave, but he was so damn tired of being alone and the feeling of this much body contact was far more intoxicating than anything you could drink or breathe in.

He felt himself nodding his head, though he was still not completely sure if he was accepting her proposal and the action made his head swim. Her face blurred as she went in for a kiss. Lights exploded around her and the bottom of his stomach dropped out as he kissed back. When he pulled back a little, the room was spinning and black spots were appearing everywhere, and it was a nasty shock when the ground came rushing up at him.

*


“Don’t. Move. A. Muscle.”

Jim hoped opening his eyes wasn’t part of that order, as he really wanted to know what was going on. He was curled in the fetal position on a biobed in sickbay, and saw that the owner of that voice was Uhura.

“What happened?” Jim asked groggily, realizing that he was thirsty and had drooled in his sleep.

“You passed out in a dive bar at two in the morning. The owner of the bar checked your id and hailed us to beam you back up.”

“Oh, god,” Jim groaned, covering his face and slightly burrowing into his pillow.

“Don’t worry, we explained that you experience seizures in bright light sometimes, so he didn’t think you partied yourself into a stupor.”

“He bought that?”

“Well,” Uhura said sharply, and Jim stopped wallowing and snapped his attention to her face, which was forecasting stormy weather. “The fact that you weren’t drunk was a big tip off. Frankly, I’m surprised you made it this long without incident.”

“‘Without incident?’” Jim repeated.

Uhura’s mouth closed in a harsh thin line. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”

“Fire away,” he said, and immediately regretted his wording.

“You have been reckless. You work yourself to death, surviving on a scant amount of sleep and coffee fumes. I have told you time after time that you need rest and rehabilitation, but that has apparently fallen on deaf ears. If I didn’t know you were an actual genius, I’d recommend you for competence testing. You’ve been without a first officer for two weeks now and have not chosen a replacement. So now you’re doing the work of the two most senior positions on board and you’ve been on the brink of total exhaustion for months now. Sir.”

Jim could only stare at her. Uhura had never spoken this way to him, not even close. He should probably be offended and blustering at her, but underlying her harsh tone was a ribbon of actual worry. He’d upset her, and he didn’t quite know how he’d managed to make someone feel like that without trying.

“I’m…now informed,” he said in a small voice. Uhura seemed calmer, the edge in her voice melting away.

“I think you’ll agree that you need less stress in your life. That’s why you obviously need to promote me.”

“I do?” Jim asked, bemused.

“Yes. I already know your schedule from you having a never-ending line of incompetent first officers that always manage to fail at looking after you and the ship, and Gaila will take over half of my shift.”

“She agreed to that?” Jim asked.

“Heck yeah I did!” Gaila sing-songed, swerving from a nearby nurse’s station and plopping down on Uhura’s lap. “Did you tell him he was an idiot yet?”

“You’re edging on insubordinate,” Jim said darkly.

Gaila made a ‘pfft’ sound and waved his words away. Apparently he had failed at instilling any kind of fear in his crew, which while great in face of certain death was hell on day-to-day duty.

“When we have to pick our captain up from behind a dirty bar, the air of majestic authority he possesses just melts away. Let’s celebrate getting the captain back in one piece!” she suggested brightly, nuzzling against Uhura.

“No ‘celebrating’ until we’re off duty,” Uhura said firmly, sounding as if she said those words no less than ten times a day and was only convincing half of those times. Gaila hoisted herself to her feet, seemingly undeterred by the letdown.

“I’ll just ogle you on the bridge and pretend you’re still the stuck up cadet who wouldn’t admit that they liked it when their roommate regularly walked around in her underwear.”

Gaila walked backwards out of sickbay, Uhura following and arguing about who seduced whom. Before Jim could settle down and go over what had just happened, Nurse Chapel came by to give him a shot of something. Jim smiled at her wanly before yelping when she plunged a hypospray into his neck
.
“Ow,” he said petulantly.

“So sorry, Captain,” she said, not sounding sorry at all.

Jim sat nonplussed as she went about her duties. Moments later McCoy arrived with Jim’s chart.

“Well, as anyone with eyes can see, you passed out from a nice mix of total exhaustion, some alcohol, trace amounts of opiates, and oh yeah, the head wound from yesterday. You could have gone into a coma, you know that?” McCoy spat out in frustration, scribbling furiously on his chart.

Was everyone in sickbay bent on treating Jim like he hadn’t two brain cells to rub together? He felt a warm thrill crawl up his spine.

This was great.

“I think I’ve gotten the message.” Jim sighed, leaning back against his pillow as McCoy adjusted some settings on some equipment Jim had no hope of identifying. “I know I’ve been slipping, and usually I can handle the stress. You ever heard of bad things happening in threes?”

McCoy scoffed. “I grew up in Georgia. I’ve heard every down-home superstition ever created.”

“Yeah well, first I have no first officer, then Spock decides to cut communication with me, and then yesterday happened.”

“You didn’t tell me about the hobgoblin ignoring you.”

“Hey—don’t call him that.”

McCoy held up his hands in mock surrender. “Where I’m from it’s open season on insulting anyone who disrespects a friend of a McCoy.”

Jim flushed at the word ‘friendship’ like he was a schoolgirl. McCoy just looked at Jim, trapping the idea between them and not letting Jim let it escape. Eventually McCoy dropped his PADD and pulled up a stool.

“Jim,” he began in a low voice, crossing his arms and appearing hesitant. “I want to talk about yesterday.”

Jim felt like a steel door had been slammed down in his mind.

“No.”

“All right. We are going to talk about what happened yesterday or I neglect to give you medical clearance.”

“That’s blackmail.”

“No, this is a casual psychological screening and I take them pretty seriously when the people I’m treating are in control of this entire ship. You blame yourself for the deaths of those men.”

“Because I’m the reason they died. I’m the one who gave the order.”

McCoy rolled his eyes. “And I’m the reason people die sometimes too.”

“That’s not the same thing.”

“It’s not?” McCoy said sharply, another fit of rage lighting his eyes. “You had to save that colony, and you had to send soldiers off to die. You ever been in a triage situation? Tell me that’s not different, having to leave someone dying on the ground because they’re too far gone and you’ve got a dozen more people who can be saved. Don’t you think I blame myself sometimes, having to leave them behind instead of trying?”

“Then you agree that it’s perfectly healthy to feel empathy and assign yourself blame for the death of a crewman?”

“Very cute.” McCoy uncrossed his arms and leaned forward with his hands on his knees. “Why are you like this, Jim?”

“An empathetic human being?”

“A social recluse. So bound to duty that you’re handcuffed to it and have lost the key. Self-critical. Self-loathing. Should I go on?”

Jim felt a hot flush of anger and he leaned away from McCoy, trying to reign in his temper. He still heard McCoy’s voice inside his head, smug. You’re only this pissed off because it’s true. A couple of minutes passed, and McCoy didn’t leave, didn’t even change positions, waiting on Jim. Jim slowly felt the anger ebb away, and thought hell, if I’m ever going to open up to someone, it might as well be the guy sitting there who is currently giving a damn.

“It’s not just one thing,” Jim started quietly, tired. “But my mind always goes back to it. My mom married Anthony Carter when I was seven. I never had a dad and my mom was emotionally distant when I was growing up. She’d suffered from post-partum depression, so I sort of learned how to blend into the background and just be a good boy so she’d notice me when she was ready. Anthony noticed me right away, took me to see Starfleet Academy the day after I met him. My mom hated that he took me, wanted something else for me, but because she hated it and I had worshipped my dad my entire childhood, I decided I wanted to be a captain someday. Anthony started teaching me how to be an officer. At seven years old, which I get is pretty dysfunctional.

“I graduated early and enlisted at 16. My entire life then was books, manuals, training, never having a social life because Anthony assured me that I could have all that later like he did and that family and friends stand in the way of dreams even without meaning to. I knew it to be true, because my dad died and left his family behind and everything was broken, so I was perfectly okay with reaching for the stars and not paying attention to those around me. After I became Pike’s first officer, I started hearing rumors and whispers about Anthony. He was a commodore by then, and I never wondered why he’d never captained a ship. Then there was this award banquet for Pike and a group of officers were talking about a planet called Tarsus IV.”

“Wait a second, I’ve heard of that,” McCoy said, eyebrows furrowing as he tried to remember. “Something about a famine, right? We learned about it in an ethics class.”

Jim smiled bitterly. “They wouldn’t have told you what I found out. I did the first illegal thing I’d ever done in my life when I heard about this and hacked into Starfleet confidential records. Turns out Anthony had been a captain, for exactly one mission. The USS Odyssey was sent to provide supplies to the colony but was held up through matters of bureaucracy. Apparently there were Klingon ships sited nearby and so they feared an attack. Regulations state that an oncoming threat must be neutralized before engaging in any relief attempt. People were starving, but he just sat there and waited for an order from Starfleet because of a fucking regulation. Three-fourths of the colonists died. It was estimated that only half the colonists were dead when the ships arrived, but a whole other fourth was gone due solely to the fact that Anthony did every single thing by the book. Of course he wasn’t court marshaled for following direct orders, but they gave him a desk job and promoted him.

“I lost all respect for him. Sometimes I’ll slip and refer to him in the past tense unconsciously, because it’s like he’s dead to me. Hundreds and hundreds of deaths would haunt me for years if not my entire life, and he was always in a good humor, never sat brooding by himself. I chose the colonists over the safety of my officers yesterday. I actually had to think about it, because how do you deprogram an entire lifetime being taught by the book, being taught by someone who shouldn’t have been teaching in the first place? The hardest decision of my life came during the Narada incident, when I was made acting captain and I had to make all the decisions on my own. I ended up beaming onto the Narada while we were disarming the drill. How stupid is that? I broke 15 regulations in one act, but it ended up saving Vulcan and Pike. I was lucky. I had no idea how lucky until I learned how it went elsewhere in the space time continuum. I hadn’t realized how one little sneeze alarming an armed Romulan could have changed the course of history. If one thing had been different, just one, maybe Vulcan would be gone, Earth too. I could have been a tyrant from an endangered species, the same monster we met just recently. I didn‘t understand him then, but maybe I do now, and that scares me. How the hell am I to know what order to give?”

Silence reigned as Jim slowed his breathing, not knowing when the hesitant pour of words had turned into a tidal wave. Eventually he calmed down and McCoy had drawn back into his usual surly self.

“You know, I don’t know much about your step daddy, but I can bet a million credits that he never warred with himself the way you do. It’s damn easy to follow orders because there’s no guilt attached. You do you duty, clock in a day’s work, leave the blame on someone else’s doorstep and hope it gets swept under the welcome mat. The fact that you’re even bellyaching about universes you’re not even currently in tells me you deserve that center seat. I know damn well I wouldn’t risk working in a glorified tin can in space, spitting in the face of nature on a daily basis if I didn’t think we had the best man for the job sitting up there and making sure my death is a respectable heart attack at 150 years old rather than having my head sucked out of my ass tomorrow.”

Jim let out a sharp, hysterical laugh at that, smiling for the first time in several days.

“Thank you…Leonard,” Jim said, the name sounding funny when said out loud. “I’ve got to figure out a better off duty name for you.”




TBC
 
 
Current Mood: rushedrushed
 
 
Profiterole: Star Trek - Kirk and Spock_profiterole_ on June 27th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Spock, what are you doing, your t'hy'la is angsting!

Great chapter, as always! :D
Big Mama G: New Spockbigmamag on June 29th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! You tell that silly Vulcan what's up. :)
coeurdesoleil: Kirk AOS captain's chaircoeurdesoleil on June 28th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
I really like that we're learning more about Kirk's past and what has made him so different from the other Kirks. Can't wait for the next chapter!
Big Mama G: kirk/spockbigmamag on June 29th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it since I'm aware that's probably 90% of the appeal of this side fic. :)
littlebirdtold on June 28th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
I really liked this chapter. Jim is ♥ . But wtf, Spock, seriously?
Big Mama G: New Spockbigmamag on June 29th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! I like to think that this Spock is even MORE emotionally retarded than most incarnations, which is quite a feat let me tell you.
spockichi on June 29th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
The long wait is totally worth it when you keep churning out chapters as good as this. It's full of angst that totally lines up with this Jim's characteristics. His total bodily shutdown is absolutely believable as he pushes himself to be the better man to breaking point.And I love it that even absent, Spock is still an influential force in his life. Space husbands are meant to be together, even ones as repressed as these two.
what a piece of work is ann.: aos enterprisecicero_drayon on June 30th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Okay, so I'm a bit late, but a;lkdjfa;kdjfoaidjf;as;djfkjadkf

I still just adore the concept of the other universes, and I like how the calmness of this one doesn't necessarily mean that it's boring. One of my favorite parts about it is all the brand new backstory you've put in. It's still extrapolating on the characters, but in a fresh way.

You know you can just shoot me an e-mail if you're having any trouble at all with the next part--I promise I'll actually get it done, and hopefully in a timely matter.
katrinna_le_fay: Pandakatrinna_le_fay on July 31st, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
This series is truly amazing!
I think this universe is quite interesting (especially because Spock is not next to Jim, who is so lonely)
I am anxious to know how you put them together, because if anything I've learned is that Spock and Jim always, should always be together (a fact ^ ^)
Thanks for writing this wonderful series ^ ^
romanclee: Be with the polar bears?!romanclee on January 4th, 2012 10:13 am (UTC)
Oh my GOD, I love this! Out of all three universes, I think the plight of Kirk and Spock A interests me most. They're separated, distant, an unnatural state for two halves to be, and watching the wrestle with that is a guilty pleasure. I can't tell you how pleased I am that you pursued the three universes ^^.
got_fanfictiongot_fanfiction on June 3rd, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
Omg, I was so happy to see this, you have no idea. I read the others and I was thinking that poor stuffy Director Spock needed some luuurv, AND HERE IT IS. Can't wait to read more! :D
fireflybanner on August 4th, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
so satisfying
This series simply makes me *glow*. It has every that Star Trek must have: smart, savvy people, a sophisticated framework, deep love and loyalty. I sat down and reread the series from the beginning last night (I think this is third time), and it never fails to draw me in.

Thank you.
sierra_scarlet on October 23rd, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
I didn't know you went on to write about this particular universe, and I am so so so glad you did. Even with Spock taking emotionally retarded to whole new levels and Jim never having gotten over his Academy bookish tendencies I adore them. I hope you haven't abandoned this one just when Kirk and McCoy are becoming friends.
But I crumble completely when you cryeiki on December 31st, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
whelp, I hate myself for reading a WIP but I couldn't resist, haha.

And hey, look, the first comment for 2013! :D
rubic_cube on April 14th, 2013 11:55 am (UTC)
I love this universe! It's very unique to have Spock and Kirk separated until they realise it is DESTINY! Can't wait for more! It is soooo good!
Tiferetladytiferet on January 27th, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
This whole verse is one of the greatest things I've read in this fandom, so even if it never gets finished (which would be regrettable, but hey, we all know how life is), I'm still grateful as hell for you writing it :)
Olena Kuchaba: pic#111974247Olena Kuchaba on June 19th, 2019 03:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, I hope someday you would finish this story <3

Update:
I've found the whole story!
Happy!
https://archiveofourown.org/works/852733

Edited at 2019-06-19 05:27 pm (UTC)
Big Mama Gbigmamag on July 7th, 2019 01:37 am (UTC)
You just reminded me to update this site with the completed link, thanks. :D