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Nine Lives

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James Tiberius Kirk was bored. And hungry. Both were conditions Jim particularly hated.

He was on a space station waiting. And waiting. Jim had been told to wait in this particular area for his mother to collect him. That was hours ago. Jim guessed it had taken her longer to make it there than anyone had thought.

When first they’d told him to come sit in this garden and wait, they had given him a sandwich. He’d devoured it in less than a minute. He was still so hungry.

He flopped down on the bench and stared up at the faux sky. They’d made it to look the outdoors on Earth or something. They’d even programmed puffs of fake clouds here and there. Jim was largely unimpressed.  

“Mew.”

Jim frowned. The hunger was getting to him again and making him hallucinate like he had before. He could swear he’d just heard a cat.

The good news had been, when he’d talked to his mother via video chat when he’d first been rescued or taken off Tarsus IV, however you wanted to say it, she’d told him that Frank was gone. Out the door and good riddance. He would never need to see that asshole again. And sure, maybe Jim had fist pumped the air.

The bad news was that his mom still had no idea what had happened to Sam, his brother, and so it was going to be just the two of them when she brought Jim back to Riverside. She’d been crying when she told Jim she couldn’t locate his brother.

“Mew.”

He sighed and sat up, looking around. He expected to see absolutely nothing and so was, therefore, quite surprised when a little black kitten sat beside the bench looking at him.

“Oh. Hey. Are you fake too?”

The kitten cocked its head. Sure looked real enough. And damn the little thing was super cute too. Jim found himself smiling.

He bent down to pick it up and it—er—he—began to purr.

“Oh, my God, you are too cute.” The kitten rubbed against Jim’s face. “Who do you belong to, little guy?” The kitten whacked Jim’s cheeks with his paws. He laughed. “Me? I don’t think so. Looks like you have a little collar.”

Jim pulled the kitten back a little to read the tag. His little paws swatted in Jim’s direction. “Spock? That’s kind of a strange name for a cat. Hello Spock.”

Jim glanced toward the door that led back inside. “I’d better see who lost you.”

He took the kitten indoors and went up to the desk where the Federation lady was busy typing away on a computer.

“Excuse me.”

“Look, kid,” she said tiredly. “”I told you, your mom will get here when she gets here.”

“Right. I just want to know who this cat belongs to.”

“Cat?” She didn’t even look.

“A kitten. A little black kitten. Found him outside in the garden.”

“Uh huh.”

Jim sighed. There wasn’t really anyone else to ask around so he decided to take the kitten back outside to wait.

He’d been sitting on the ground playing with the little ball of fur when finally the door opened.

“Jimmy? Honey?”

“Here, Mom.” Jim stood up and she ran at him.

“Oh my poor baby,” she said, immediately beginning to cry.

“Mom, stop squishing me.”

She loosened her hold just a little. She stared at him, her blue eyes, so like his, assessing him. “God, you’re so skinny. Have they fed you anything?”

“Pancakes when they first brought me here yesterday and a sandwich this morning.”

“You’re going to be eating morning, noon and night when we get you back to Riverside,” she vowed. “I’m not going out again, Jimmy. I resigned.”

He nodded. “So no more Franks?”

“Definitely not. If that bastard was in front of me right now I’d kill him. Sending my son away without my permission.” She took a deep breath and then released it. “We don’t head back until tonight, so first thing is we’re going to a restaurant and you can order anything you want.”

“Mew.”

His mom looked down and noticed the kitten. “Who is this?”

“Spock, Mom,” Jim replied. “Um. He’s-he’s mine. I found him. Can I keep him? Can we take him home with us? Please?”

For a long time she just stared at the kitten but then she switched her gaze to Jim. Okay, so maybe he was manipulating her just a little by making sure his eyes were a little watery looking. It helped to be able to cry on cue.

“Well—”

“Please, Mommy?” Okay, that was laying it way thick, but Jim was pretty sure he had her.

“All right, but we have to get a carrier for him if he’s going to travel with us.”

Jim nodded eagerly. “We can get one on the way to the restaurant.”

****

“Mom, he doesn’t seem to like meat,” Jim said, as Spock ignored the bit of chicken he thrust through the holes of the carrier.

“Or chicken anyway. We can try fish or something later. I’ve never known a cat who wouldn’t eat meat. Eat your chicken fingers, honey.”

Jim dipped a strip into barbecue sauce.

“You know, when we get home, well, they want me to take you to see someone.”

Jim paused the strip just below his lips. “See someone?”

She stabbed at her salad. “A doctor.”

Jim groaned.

“Jimmy. The trauma you just went through, it’s a good idea.”

“I don’t want to see anyone.”

“You’re going to,” she said. “You’re lucky they allowed me to come get you. Some of the others they locked up in an institution.”

Jim knew that and he hated it. His stomach churned but he took a bite of the chicken anyway.   

“Some of them were really messed up, Jimmy.”

“Yeah,” he whispered.

“Considering that and that I let you keep that kitten, I think you can talk to a doctor a few times, don’t you?” She eyed him, seriously, but with a lot of sympathy.

“Okay, Mom.” Jim tore off a piece of lettuce from his mom’s salad and stuck it through the carrier hole. Spock opened his mouth and started munching on it. “Mom! He likes salad!”

She laughed. “I think I’ve seen everything now. Never saw a cat who eats lettuce before.”

“Right! He’s so cool. Spock, you and I have to stick together from now on.”

“Hey, stop taking my salad,” his mom admonished.

“Well, maybe we can order one for him.”

“Jimmy.” She shook her head, but she was smiling. “Okay. Go ahead.”

Jim gestured to the waitress and ordered Spock a salad, without dressing, because he couldn’t imagine the cat would want that.

Okay, so he would have to talk to a shrink or whatever, but he was going home, his mom was staying, Frank was gone, and he had a new best friend.

Sweet!