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ST: Doctor My Eyes (4/6)

Chapter Title: Chase the Lone Ranger down
Rating: T
Genre: Angst, h/c, gen
Characters: McCoy, Kirk, Spock, Pike, Scott, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and a mix of OCs
Spoilers/warnings: Movie spoilers up for grabs; mentions of violence and torture; language; heavy, heavy angst
Chapter Length: Approx. 6,000
Notes: Written for startrekbigbang challenge. See master post for notes on the story.
Link to art: See art here.
Link to fanmix: See mix here.

Summary: When the captain is captured and comes back broken, it's up to the doctor to fix him.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |Part 4| Part 5 | Epilogue


“I’m feeling like Tonto,
Riding a pinto,
Trying to chase the Lone Ranger down.”
--Big & Rich, “Wild West Show”

Shore leave in San Francisco during the fall should have been perfect. The city was known for its Indian summers, which meant the weather was beautiful; even better, it was warmed by the natural heat of the sun instead of the artificial heaters on a ship floating in the cold vacuum of space.

McCoy had even grown familiar with the town; it wasn’t quite home, but it served well enough as an anchor, a place he could always return to when space became too overwhelming. A San Francisco fall could never beat a Georgia spring, but McCoy had gradually come to accept it for what it was worth. There wasn’t much point in going back to Georgia at the moment, anyway--not when Jocelyn and, more importantly, Joanna were on some around-the-world tour.

The setting sun was warm on his face as he leaned against the rail of the scenic overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge. The sky was fading into a beautiful blend of fiery red, glowing orange, pastel blue, and deep purple, and the skyscrapers of the city soared magnificently into the air, looking as if they were always meant to be part of the skyline. It was the perfect sunset, the kind he always liked to watch when he was studying at the Academy; he should have been happy.

In reality, though, McCoy was miserable.

Sure, he tried to get out and relax. He’d gone bar-hopping with Scott and Sulu the first night, spent a day at the beach with Chekov, Sulu, and Uhura, and visited some of his favorite professors during his time in the Academy. But the bars weren’t as exciting as he’d remembered, the sun wasn’t shining quite as brightly as normal, and Starfleet campus seemed strangely quiet despite the fact that the fall semester was in full swing.

McCoy didn’t even try to deny it; life just wasn’t the same without James T. Kirk around.

What really irked him was the fact that he couldn’t even get a hold of the younger man. He’d managed to talk to Kirk once, the day after the captain had left for Iowa. The reception had been horrible, and he’d only managed to hear Kirk say he was outside in a storm before the message cut out completely. A quick scan from the Enterprise revealed a huge storm system rolling over the Midwest, which explained why Kirk’s communicator was no longer functioning. Despite the advances in communications technology over the last two centuries, communicators were still annoyingly susceptible to most any type of moisture. Kirk’s communicator had probably been damaged in the storm.

Of course, that didn’t really explain why Kirk hadn’t tried to reestablish contact with anyone in the five days since then. It wouldn’t be too hard to replace a water-damaged communicator, not to mention the fact Kirk had already shown on two separate missions that he knew how to build one from scratch if needed. As Spock had said three days ago, Kirk’s failure to communicate with anyone in Starfleet was illogical.

Not that McCoy was worrying about it.

Much.

He was walking back to the small apartment he’d been renting since his third year at Starfleet when the communicator in his pocket chirped. He frowned as he paused mid-stride to pull it out. “Yeah?”

Admiral Pike’s voice was soft but stern. “Get to a private vid screen and call me using your highest security code.”

Before McCoy could respond, the communicator chirped again, signaling that the connection had been terminated. The doctor’s frown deepened, and he walked briskly toward his apartment, practically sprinting up the steps when he arrived.

Something was up with Kirk. Pike may not have said as much, but somehow McCoy just knew, even without all of secrecy.

He locked the door behind him as he entered the tiny flat and moved to the bedroom, closing the door and lowering the window shades before settling down at his desk. He entered the necessary codes into the vid terminal, and a moment later Pike’s face appeared on the small viewscreen. McCoy could tell the older man was in his office by the bookshelf behind Pike’s left shoulder. “Good,” the admiral declared. “Hold on a moment.”

A moment later, the picture cut in half, and Spock’s face appeared in the other window. McCoy couldn’t tell where the first officer was; the walls behind him were perfectly bland, lit up by minimal fluorescent lighting. “Admiral? Why is there a need for such discretion?” the Vulcan asked, one eyebrow arching in confusion.

“Yeah, what the hell is going on?”

“Do either of you know where Jim is?” Pike said tersely, eyes hard as he stared at both of them.

“No, sir,” Spock answered as McCoy shook his head. “To our knowledge, Captain Kirk has made no attempt to reestablish any form of contact with any members of the crew of the Enterprise.”

“Shit,” Pike hissed, looking at something offscreen for a moment. McCoy heard the sound of a stylus tapping against a PADD, and a moment later Pike cursed again under his breath.

“What?” McCoy demanded, leaning in closer to his terminal. “What’s wrong?”

Pike’s eyes were troubled when he looked back at the screen. “The Etlics have finally agreed to negotiate terms for a treaty with the Federation.”

“That is most unexpected,” Spock declared, eyebrows furrowing slightly. McCoy couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the major understatement. The Federation had been trying to get the Etlics to become an ally for almost a decade. Their home world was filled with plants unlike any ever seen before, and Starfleet’s scientists were itching to analyze it. However, the Etlics were obsessively protective about their privacy and had repeatedly turned down any offer to negotiate with the Federation.

McCoy tilted his head as he studied Pike’s face, and his eyes narrowed with suspicion. This should be great news, but obviously something about it made the admiral anxious. “There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there.”

Pike nodded once. “They’ve requested that the Federation flagship be present for the negotiations. The Council’s just agreed to their terms. You’re not supposed to know this for another three days, but your shore leave’s been cut short.” His lips thinned and a spark of anger flashed in his eyes as he added, “They’re going to send the Enterprise to Etlic. With or without Jim Kirk.”

“Damn it,” McCoy hissed, clenching his fists and scowling.

“What are your orders, sir?” Spock asked.

“We need to find your captain,” Pike replied. “Fortunately, we have some time. The Etlics are sending a small ship over with a diplomatic party. They want to see the Enterprise in action, so they plan on being onboard the ship as passengers when she detaches from space dock. They’ll be here in four days. If we don’t get Jim back here and cleared with the Council before then, his career will be over before it really has a chance to even begin.”

“I’ll do it,” McCoy declared immediately. “I’ll go track him down.”

Pike smiled knowingly. “I figured you probably would. Spock, I need you to help coordinate the search. The Council has decided to let both you and McCoy off with warnings, so you are once again acting captain of the Enterprise.”

The corner of Spock’s mouth turned down in a frown. “Neither Doctor McCoy nor I have made a formal presentation to the Council to defend our case. How then did they come to this decision?”

Pike’s smile turned into a smirk. “I believe your two hundred page report and McCoy’s one hundred fifty page repot might have had something to do with that.”

“Might’ve been the fact that a good eighty pages of my report was spent explaining why I believe that it can be medically proven that Westervliet’s an asshole,” McCoy muttered with a wry grin.

Pike chuckled as Spock’s eyebrows shot up. “Yeah, that might have been it,” the admiral agreed. His expression sobered a little as he eyed the Enterprise’s CMO. “You’re going to have to stay under the radar for this, McCoy. Starfleet obviously can’t stop you from tracking Jim down, but judging from the things I’ve been hearing around here, I wouldn’t put it past Westervliet to try and slow you down.”

“Why is Westervliet so adamant about removing Jim from his position as captain?” Spock inquired. “It seems illogical that he would want to dismiss someone who clearly has been performing his duties well.”

“I’m afraid that’s partially my fault,” Pike admitted with a small sigh. “Westervliet worked hard to become an admiral, but he was getting fed up with deskwork and wanted to get back out in space. He requested to have command of the Enterprise a couple years before it was completed; he was more than a little upset when I was named captain instead, but he tolerated it. However, I think Jim’s age and unusual rise to captaincy was too much for him to handle.”

Pike’s gaze suddenly focused on something offscreen, and a moment later McCoy heard the tinny sound of someone trying to contact the admiral via communicator. “I’ve got to go,” the admiral declared, looking back at the screen. “You better move quickly, McCoy. The next shuttle from San Francisco to Riverside leaves in twenty-five minutes.”

McCoy nodded. “Thanks for the heads up.”

“Good luck,” Pike declared. “I think you’re gonna need it.”

*****

The landscape outside Riverside, Iowa, was as flat as it had been when McCoy first arrived almost five years earlier. The air was drier, though--which made sense, since it was fall now, not the middle of summer.

McCoy hadn’t had much of a chance to explore the area then--most of his trip from Georgia to Iowa had been lost in the haze of alcohol and exhaustion and bitter memories. Hell, now that he thought about it, he wasn’t even sure how he’d arrived in Riverside.

He hadn’t stayed long last time, either. He’d signed up with Starfleet only a few hours after stumbling into town and headed out on a shuttle the next day--short enough that he couldn’t come up for a legitimate reason not to be in Starfleet. Aviophobia meant that flying was no picnic, but McCoy had decided back then that having to think about how much he didn’t want to be on that shuttle would be enough to make him stop thinking about how much he wanted to turn around and head back to Georgia.

Although, if he’d known at the time that he would be returning nearly four years later to try and track down his best friend, he would’ve paid more attention to the layout of the city.

It wasn’t as if Riverside was a particularly hard town to navigate. Even with the presence of the Starfleet base nearby, Riverside was still a small town. Everyone knew pretty much everyone else in town, and McCoy used that to his advantage. In the six hours since he’d stepped off the shuttle, he had already walked from one end of town to the other, stopping by every bar in sight, as well as any restaurant and store still open at this late hour, to see if anyone had seen one James T. Kirk. The news was not good.

As he exited the last bar on the main street through town, McCoy sighed and pulled out his communicator. “McCoy to Spock.”

Spock here, Doctor.”

“Jim’s not in Riverside,” McCoy reported grimly. “No one’s seen him since he left to join the Academy.”

That is impossible. The captain beamed down in Riverside. There should be at least one resident that has seen him.”

“I know that, Spock, but I’m telling you, I’ve asked around everywhere,” McCoy shot back. “Either Jim hasn’t stopped at any of the local joints in town, or he has but no one’s recognized him.”

Neither option seemed very likely to McCoy. Kirk seemed drawn to everything resembling a bar whenever they landed somewhere--not for the drinks as much as the chance to interact with people he’d never met before. And it seemed improbable that the young captain would be able to walk around Riverside without being recognized; he was a hometown hero now, even if he was a less than exemplary citizen when he was younger.

There was a brief pause at the other end of the line. “As far as the majority of Starfleet knows, Captain Kirk still has two more weeks of leave. There is no logical reason for Starfleet to be concerned with his lack of communication yet.”

McCoy scowled a little, thinking of Admiral Westervliet’s sneering face. “Especially if they’re hoping he won’t show up in time so they can let him go.”

Indeed,” Spock answered, and the CMO knew the Vulcan’s sharp tone meant that he was also remembering the incident on the bridge.

McCoy chewed his lip in thought as he glanced up at the night sky where the Enterprise was currently orbiting the planet at the space dock. “Pike’s right. We need to get Jim back up there.”

We cannot force him to do something he does not want to do.”

McCoy raised an eyebrow instinctively. “You really think Jim doesn’t want to be captain anymore?”

Spock remained silent for a moment. “It is not a matter of what he wants, but what he is capable of.”

McCoy frowned. “You don’t think he’s capable?”

The silence was even longer this time. “I think that if anyone can overcome severe mental and physical trauma to do what others believe impossible, Jim can.”

“Damn straight,” McCoy agreed vehemently. “Trouble is, we gotta find Jim to remind him of that.”

What do you suggest, Doctor? Our time is short, and we need to ensure the captain is not emotionally compromised so that he may be allowed to rejoin us on the Enterprise.”

McCoy squared his shoulders as a plan formed in his mind. “I need Winona Kirk’s last known address.”

*****

The farmhouse was small, high on a hill, and miles away from the nearest residence. The siding was painted the same dusky shade of red as the small barn a few hundred meters behind the house. Both buildings cast long shadows in the early morning sun. A horse grazed on a patch of grass growing along the fence that kept the animal close to the barn.

The only thing missing from the picturesque scene was a windmill with its blades slowly turning in the morning breeze, McCoy decided as he dismounted the old motorbike he’d purchased from a shipyard worker back in Riverside. Gravel crunched beneath his scuffed leather boots as he walked up to the small fence circling the house and pushed the gate open. The gravel gave way to a cobblestone path surrounded by grass that looked as if it needed a good watering.

McCoy climbed the trio of steps leading up to the front porch and hesitated for only a moment before rapping on the wooden door twice. He rocked his weight from his heels to the balls of his feet and back, suppressing a yawn as he glanced over his shoulder at the vibrant sunrise painting the eastern sky. He rubbed his bleary eyes and tried not to dwell on the fact that he hadn’t really slept since he’d seen the sun setting in San Francisco, other than about an hour of uneasy sleep on the shuttle ride over.

He turned back as the door swung open, revealing a woman with graying blond hair staring up at him. Her hair was mussed from sleep and she was dressed in only a nightgown and bathrobe, but her blue eyes were alert and there was a knowing smile on her face despite the fact that they’d never met in person before.

“Leonard McCoy,” Winona Kirk greeted, leaning against the door as she eyed him. “I wondered when you’d come after him. Come on in.”

There was a brief, awkward moment before McCoy hesitantly crossed the threshold. “Thank you, ma’am.”

“Call me Winona,” she replied as she closed the door behind him. “Go ahead and take a seat in the kitchen while I change into something a little more acceptable.”

With that, she left him standing in the living room as she ascended the stairs on the left. McCoy’s eyebrows furrowed as he watched her feet disappear at the top of the steps. It was more than a little unusual for a woman to leave someone who was barely more than a stranger in her living room, but then, this was Jim Kirk’s mother. McCoy had learned long ago that anything or anyone associated with Jim Kirk seemed strange.

McCoy scanned the small living room. The furniture was sparse--a sofa and loveseat sat in one corner with an end table between them, and an antique hutch sat along another wall. There was a fireplace in the wall near the entrance to the kitchen; judging by the layer of dust in the bottom of the grate, it wasn’t used much.

A small trophy case on the fireplace mantel caught McCoy’s attention, and he moved closer to examine it. Nestled on the velvet inside the case sat a medal and a small framed picture. McCoy didn’t have to look at the engraving on the frame to know the man in the photo was George Kirk; Jim Kirk’s resemblance to his father was almost uncanny. The medal, too, was easily recognizable.

“The Starfleet Medal of Honor.”

McCoy spun around when he heard the older woman’s voice. Winona stood at the bottom of the stairs in jeans and a green flannel shirt, one hand resting on the balustrade as she stared at him with a sad smile. McCoy glanced back at the display case and nodded once. “Quite the accomplishment,” he said.

“It’s one of the few things I keep out to remind me of what happened,” Winona told him as she walked up next to him. “They used a piece of metal from the hull of the shuttlecraft Jim was born in to make it.”

“Why?”

Winona touched the glass over George Kirk’s face with a finger. “I asked them to,” she replied softly. “George may have saved eight hundred people with his sacrifice, but he died to save his son. People might say otherwise, but that’s why he got this medal.” There was a pause, and then she added, in a voice so soft McCoy wasn’t sure if he was supposed to hear it, “That’s the only thing that makes his death worth it.”

She sighed and let her hand drop as she walked into the kitchen. McCoy swallowed as he stared at the picture for a moment longer before tearing his eyes away and leaning against the wall at the entrance to the kitchen. He glanced down at the frame and saw a few gouges in the wood. Crouching down, the corner of his mouth quirked into a small smile when he saw “Jimmy, age 9” in faded pencil near one of the marks.

“Go ahead and have a seat. Would you like something to eat?” Winona asked.

McCoy straightened and looked at her. “No, thank you. Coffee will be fine,” he replied as he sat down in the nearest chair.

Winona’s back was to him as she stood at the counter pouring coffee grounds into an antique percolator. For a moment, McCoy was reminded of his own childhood, sitting at the table during breakfast and watching his mother make coffee while his dad read the latest medical journal.

Surprisingly, the reminder of his father wasn’t as painful as usual. McCoy wasn’t sure what that meant; it had been years since he’d been able to think of his father doing anything besides laying in his deathbed.

“I hope you don’t mind waiting a little while for it, then,” Winona declared, jerking McCoy from his thoughts as she set the percolator on the stove and turned on the burner. “There’re some drinks that can get away with being instant, but good coffee isn’t one of them,” she added as she turned to look at him.

McCoy nodded. “I know exactly what you mean, ma’am.”

Winona laughed and shook her head. “Jim wasn’t kidding when he said you were a Southern boy,” she declared, crossing her arms and leaning back against the counter. She tilted her head as she studied him. “I’m glad, though. It’s refreshing.”

McCoy’s cheeks flushed, and he instinctively looked down at the table top. There was a deep three-inch gash in the wood, and McCoy could feel a ripple in the varnish when he rubbed the area with his fingers. “Quite the mark.”

Winona chuckled as she opened a cupboard door and grabbed a couple coffee mugs. “That one’s from when Sam was trying to show Jim a magic trick. He was trying to bury a playing card in the table or some such nonsense, but Jim thought the trick was Sam proving how fast I could sense that they were up to no good. Of course, Jim was barely four at the time, so he was easily impressed.”

“Sounds like they were quite the handful,” McCoy declared.

Winona’s smile faded a little, and McCoy saw a flash of something that looked like regret cross her eyes before she turned away to pull the percolating coffee off the stove.

McCoy tilted his head in thought as he watched her work. When he’d been thinking about how his interactions with Winona would go, this type of scenario had never crossed his mind. Kirk had never talked about his past much, but McCoy had always suspected his friend had a less than happy childhood--and he’d always suspected Winona of being an absent mother, whether she meant to be or not.

Yet here he was, sitting in Kirk’s childhood home, listening to a woman who clearly loved her children. It made McCoy wonder (and not for the first time) just what had happened to Kirk when he was young to make him so convinced that he was worth less than anyone else.

McCoy blinked as Winona placed a cup of coffee in front of him. “Jim left three days ago,” she informed him.

The doctor’s eyebrows furrowed as he took a sip of his coffee. It was strong and bitter. “Did he say where he was going?”

Winona shook her head as she sat down across from him, sipping at her own mug of coffee. “Didn’t say much about where he’s recently been, either,” she added.

“Do you know what happened?” McCoy asked.

“If you’re talking about how my son was kidnapped by Romulans and came back so mentally broken that a large part of the admiralty is questioning his capability of being in Starfleet, then yes,” Winona answered. Her eyes were troubled as she stared at the CMO. “If you’re asking about what happened to put him in this state, then no.”

McCoy sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. “I just wish he would let me help him,” he said wearily.

The older woman studied him over her coffee mug. “How much do you know about Jim’s childhood?”

McCoy’s forehead furrowed in thought. “Not a whole lot, actually. He told me he didn’t get along with his stepfather, that he acted out as a kid, and that he hasn’t seen his brother in years.” He kept his tone carefully neutral as he added, “He never talked about you much.”

“I see,” Winona murmured. She took a sip of her coffee before setting it on the table with a sigh. “As much as it pains me to admit this, I think you’re the first person that’s shown a vested interest in Jim since he was young. I tried,” she added when McCoy visibly stiffened. “Believe me, Leonard, I tried. But I didn’t try until after it was too late.”

“What do you mean?” McCoy asked, setting his coffee cup down on the table and leaning forward in his seat.

Winona remained silent for a moment, tracing the lip of her mug with a finger. “When Jim was six, I decided that it was time for me to return to Starfleet,” she began slowly. “I wanted to show both Sam and Jim that there was nothing to be afraid of in space. I wanted to prove that even with a loss such as ours, we could still move forward. But I didn’t want to take them with me. Not yet.”

“Space is no place for children,” McCoy murmured softly, thoughts traveling back to Georgia momentarily.

Winona’s lips twisted into a small smile. “Exactly,” she murmured. “Eight months before I left, I married Frank. I wanted the boys to have a parental figure around--someone they could depend on. Someone they could look up to as a father.”

“Did you love him?” McCoy asked before he could stop himself.

Winona hesitated for a moment. “As much as I was capable of,” she replied softly. “But if I had known what would happen…” She sighed and tilted her head as she looked at McCoy. “You ever do something you thought was right but ended up being absolutely wrong?”

McCoy smiled wryly, eyes hard. “Too many times.”

Winona nodded once, looking down at the table top. “Frank was a good man. And the boys were good boys. Especially Jim.” The corner of her mouth lifted in a fond smile as she traced a mark on the table with a finger. “Jim was quiet growing up. He was mischievous and curious, which got him into a lot of places he shouldn’t have been, but he managed to keep himself out of any serious trouble. And it stayed that way for awhile after I left. There were a few rough patches, but overall everything was going well.”

“So what changed?” McCoy asked, folding his arms as he leaned back in his chair.

Winona sighed again. “Frank decided to sell George’s antique Corvette. We’d talked about it for a long time, because it was worth a lot of money and we didn’t drive it all that much. Frank wasn’t into cars, and neither of the boys seemed interested in learning mechanical engineering--Jim liked to tinker with things, but he’d never even wanted to step foot in the barn where the car was kept. It really was pointless to keep it. But it… it was one of the few things we had that belonged to George, so I was always reluctant to get rid of it.”

McCoy frowned as a thought crossed his mind. “Is this the same Corvette that Jim destroyed?”

Winona’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “He told you about that?”

“Once,” McCoy replied. He hesitated momentarily before adding, “On his birthday a couple years ago.” He didn’t mention that Kirk was drunk; if she knew her son at all, McCoy wouldn’t have to mention it for her to know. And if she didn’t know, then it wasn’t really McCoy’s business to tell her.

“I see,” Winona murmured. She sipped her coffee. “But yes, it’s the same car. And ‘destroyed’ is very much an understatement. It’s still sitting at the bottom of the quarry, actually.”

“Quarry?” McCoy queried, lifting an eyebrow.

“Ah, yes, Jim would neglect to mention that little detail,” Winona answered wryly. “He drove the car off a hundred-meter cliff. Nearly followed it over the edge.” Both of McCoy’s eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline, and she laughed softly at his expression, brushing a stray hair out of her eyes.

Her smile faded after a moment. “After that, Frank and Jim never got along. They constantly fought. Sam didn’t stay around the house very much--he threw himself into his studies. I think he wanted to avoid being at home with all the tension--he often ended up in the middle of arguments between Jim and Frank.”

“And Jim?”

Winona took a sip of her coffee. “Jim started skipping school--to be honest, I think it was out of boredom more than a decision to act up, even if he claims otherwise. Jim’s just too smart for his own good. We talked about putting him in classes with older kids, but it never happened. Oftentimes he was more of a handful than Frank wanted to deal with. Between that and the fact that our relationship suffered because of distance, Frank decided that it was time to move on. I was still in the middle of an assignment, so I couldn’t take the boys with me when we divorced. But we all decided it would be good for Jim to get off-planet for awhile, so I sent him to live with my brother and his family.”

Winona paused and looked up at McCoy. “You’re probably wondering why Jim’s taking this particular mission so hard.”

McCoy blinked, startled by the apparent non sequitur. “I figured he was feeling guilty because of all the colonists who died--not that he needs to, since it’s not his damn fault.”

“I’m sure that’s part of it, but unfortunately it’s not the first time he’s seen this much death and destruction,” the older woman replied grimly.

McCoy’s forehead furrowed in confusion. “You mean the destruction of Vulcan?”

Winona shook her head and sighed. “What do you know about Tarsus IV, Leonard?”

“It failed miserably. Half the colonists starved to death,” McCoy answered, wondering just where the conversation was going. “It was all over the news for weeks back when I was just starting college. Four thousand people died because Starfleet failed to check in with the colony when they didn’t send any messages for months. There were protests and riots at every Starfleet base in the world.”

Winona shook her head again. “That’s just what Starfleet wanted everyone to think. Yes, they failed to check in with the colony when they went too long without reports. But the colonists didn’t starve--they didn’t have the time.”

The CMO straightened up in his chair. “What the hell are you talking about?” he asked sharply.

“The colony was struggling, and people were starving, and it probably would’ve failed within a few months, but starvation didn’t wipe it out. Governor Kodos killed those he thought were genetically inferior and therefore ‘draining’ the colony’s resources. My brother and his family were counted among them.”

McCoy’s eyes widened. “You mean Jim--”

Winona nodded once. “He was there, Leonard. Jim was on Tarsus.”

“My god,” the CMO whispered in horror. His stomach churned violently at the thought of a young Jim Kirk surrounded by that much death and destruction. “How… how did he escape?”

Winona drained her mug, blinking her watery eyes several time. “As far as I know, he’s never told anyone that,” she said. Her hands tightened into a white-knuckle grip around her mug. “He was the only one from my family to make it out alive.”

“Damn it,” McCoy hissed, slamming a fist on the table as he surged to his feet. “Why didn’t I know about this? Why wasn’t this in his medical files? If the conditions were that bad on Tarsus, he should have needed medical attention. There should have been some mention of it in his records!” he fumed, pacing the short length from the table to the wall. He paused by the table and hit it with his fist again. “Damn it, this entire fiasco would have made a hell of a lot more sense if we’d known!” His shoulders slumped as he looked at Winona. “Why didn’t he tell me?” he finished in a whisper.

Winona stared back him with a small, rueful smile on her face. “You should know that better than anyone, Leonard.”

McCoy sighed and sat back down in his chair. “Jim internalizes everything,” he said, folding his arms. “Especially if there’s a chance he’ll seem weak in front of everyone.”

Winona nodded and sighed. “Something he picked up from me, I’m afraid. Something he learned too well on Tarsus.”

“I’ve been trying to convince him for years that he doesn’t have to do that all the time,” McCoy told her. “A good majority of the time, I can see through him, anyway. I just wish he’d realize that.”

Winona tilted her head as she stared at the doctor. “Don’t give up on him yet,” she said after a long moment. “Of all the people onboard his ship, you were the one that managed to get through to him. Jim’s a smart kid, but sometime’s he’s a real slow learner.” When McCoy eyebrows rose in surprise, the corner of her mouth lifted in a smile. “Don’t act so surprised, Leonard.”

“No, it’s not that,” McCoy cut in. “It’s just… I never thought… I guess I was under the impression that you didn’t pay all that much attention to Jim when he was younger.”

Winona’s smile faded. “I always thought of George whenever I looked at him,” she admitted quietly. “What George was missing, why Jim didn’t have a father, why George had died in the first place. Part of me…” She cleared her throat. “Part of me hated my own son. And I… I didn’t want him to see that because I knew it wasn’t true. No matter how much it hurt to remember what had happened the day Jim was born, I knew I could never hate him--not really. So when I tried to hide any resentment, I ended up hiding how I really felt, too.”

She lifted her chin as she looked McCoy in the eyes. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes when it comes to raising my son, Leonard. I could blame it on George’s death, on Jim’s personality, or on a million other things, but I’d be lying. I failed my son. I’m not proud of it, but Jim and I have reached an understanding. Even so, we’re never going to be close.” She propped her arms on the table and leaned forward. “You are the first real friend Jim’s had since Tarsus. You’re closer to him than I will ever be. Jim’s changed a lot over the last few years, and I think it’s because of you.”

“And Starfleet,” McCoy replied quietly.

“And Starfleet,” Winona agreed with a nod. She smiled a little. “Jim’s not just living for his own survival anymore. For the first time, he’s got a real purpose. You’ve given him that purpose. You and everyone else on his ship. And for that, I thank you.”

“Don’t thank me just yet. If a few of the higher-ups in Starfleet have their way, Jim’s not going to have a ship for much longer,” McCoy told her. “I need to find him, Winona. Do you have any idea where he could have gone?”

“Jim’s a traveler. He could be anywhere. He loves the East Coast, though.”

McCoy resisted the urge to sigh. There were close to a billion people living on the East Coast; it would take much longer than a few days to search for Kirk there. “Was there a place he liked to retreat to when he was young? Anywhere he might want to revisit?”

Winona chewed her lip for a moment. “My family owns a small cabin up in Montana. In the Bridger Mountains. No one’s been up there for decades, but… it was the last place that I spent time with my boys before I left for space. I can’t make any guarantees, but--”

“It’s a start,” McCoy declared. “Thank you.”

Winona leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms and staring at him. “No need to thank me. Just bring him home, Leonard.”

McCoy nodded, knowing instinctively she wasn’t talking about this house. “I will.”

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Comments

( 2 thoughts — Your Thoughts )
hope_calaris
Nov. 14th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
“I believe your two hundred page report and McCoy’s one hundred fifty page repot might have had something to do with that.”
SO.MUCH.LOVE.

And Bones riding Jim's motorbike? (At least I assume it's Jim's) Loved it.
weavingthewind
Feb. 19th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm loving this, and McCoy's eighty pages on why the guy could be medically proven to be an arsehole made me laugh so much.
Also, I'm not sure, but is that Jim's old bike that he bought?
( 2 thoughts — Your Thoughts )
Put me in the Son's light, and I will glow in the dark.

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