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Weighing the Differences

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Captain James Tiberius Kirk woke to the lights of phasers flashing over him. Truthfully that on its own wasn't as unusual as he would like. Still given the fact that the last thing that he remembered was knocking back one last shot with Bones while Scotty covered the tab, there was certainly a disconnect.

A hand grabbed his shoulder and he glanced up to see what looked like a particularly pathetic version of a Starfleet uniform, and not just any uniform, a rather an old version to boot. Um, seriously? If someone was trying a weird mind screw to get information out of him, they could have planned it a bit better.

He blinked furiously, wanting to get up and move out of the way of phaser fire, but his world was spinning and his head was pounding. It might have been from the alcohol, or whatever had caused him to end up here rather than at a bar with half his senior staff, but the dizziness was bad enough that it took all of his not inconsiderable will to not throw up as the guy in the weird uniform dragged him towards the dubious safety of a storage container. He did manage to stagger a bit to his feet once they finally got him behind cover, helping to get himself out of the way of the people fighting whoever it was they were fighting.

Ugh… He was still going to be sick.

What was going on here?

Suddenly a new man darted from behind another set of the crates that were being used for cover by these pseudo-Starfleet guys and Jim finally understood what Spock meant when he talked about the Ambassador. It was almost like looking at a walking photograph. Something that only looked a bit like you to yourself, but something that other people would instantly recognize as you.

His eyes were different… Hazel. His hair a little darker and his jawline was just a bit less square, his mouth was a bit less large too (which, screw you Bones and everyone else and your stupid pity and pats on the head, his mouth was weird).

He was a bit more built, more muscled all over, especially in the shoulders.

But it was him, James Tiberius Kirk.

Well... crap…

Jim almost stopped fighting the urge to throw up.

“Can you breathe? How are you feeling?” His other self let out in a whoosh as he ducked behind their crates and Jim wanted to punch him on pure principle.

He didn’t look that different from his other self, there is no way that this Jim didn’t realize…

But maybe, just maybe it wasn’t another him? Or maybe someone wanted to make him think it was an alternate version of himself?

Or maybe he was just hallucinating…. Someone had slipped him something even though he could swear he had been careful. That idea was still, unfortunately, entirely possible.

It would certainly account for why his head was fighting between swimming and pounding even though he hadn’t had that much to drink.

The other him grabbed his face to do something, and the quick motion tipped the balance of the battle he was fighting against his less than stable head and stomach, and Jim knocked the man’s hands away to lean over and promptly throw up.

Bones would never let him live that down.

He felt hands move swiftly over his head, and Jim vaguely recognized the pattern as manually checking for any bumps or contusions. The hands maneuvered his head up again, and the other him checked his eyes, measuring pupil dilation probably, and then he did the finger back and forth of evilness thing and Jim had to swallow the overwhelming urge to hurl again.

“You’re tracking alright, and I’m not feeling anything obvious. Can you hold tight for just a little bit? We’re almost done with these guys and then we can figure out where you’re from and how you got here, okay?”

Jim shoved him away and leaned back against the crate. Putting his hand against his forehead to try to put pressure on the throbbing even though he knew it wouldn’t help.

“Where am I?” he managed to croak out. And man did his voice sound horrible.

“You’re at the Sierra Spaceport. We were hunting down some pirates dumb enough to raid a Starfleet Facility, and during all this one of their devices got activated. Next thing, you appeared in the middle of our firefight in a flash of light.”

“Really?” he asked, a little pissy. If this wasn’t some massive hallucination that Bones would be making fun of him for ages over (he was not going to think about balloon hands… nope) that had to be one of the dumbest ways to end up in an alternate reality ever. Well, okay, maybe not… But it certainly lacked creativity.

“Yup, but don’t worry, just stick by me and you’ll be okay, I promise.”

“Really?” That was like, one of the worst lines ever… Sooo cheesy.

“Really. I’m Lt. Commander James Tiberius Kirk of Starfleet, and you are?” Yeah, that level of cheesy, do-gooder niceness was too annoying to be faked.

Jim stared at this other, different version of him. This was a version that the Ambassador called “T’hy’la” - that the Vulcan cared so much for and had so much faith in that it bled over to Jim. That was apparently, honestly, a nice guy, even if his people set off experimental technology in firefights.

He wanted to rip his face off and gouge his eyeballs with their perfect hazel irises out.

Jim closed his eyes and rested his head against the crate.

XxXxX

Jim sighed as the civilian next to him proceeded to have some sort of mental breakdown. He patted him on the back and resigned himself to staying crouched next to the poor guy with Ryan and Dominguez covering them rather than moving back to the front of the firefight. The blonde looked completely out of it, and Jim wasn’t sure if that was from whatever transport method the experimental device had used, or the alcohol that he could smell from where the man had vomited.

From the sounds of things, the Constitution’s Security Officers were finishing up with the last of the pirate stragglers, so it wouldn’t be long before Jim could get this guy safely to the medics. They also need to figure out which of the facilities scientists had been working on whatever device was triggered so that they get them here to help just in case. It wouldn’t do to have them miss something in their medical check on the man before sending him home because it whatever had happened was too new or experimental for normal scans to pick up the anomalies.

What a perfect complication to an already crappy mission. This one had been a nightmare from the get go. They’d had to deal with the facility’s outdated security, six false leads, and the panicking head researcher constantly on their case even though there hadn’t really been anything too high priority in their labs.

Which, as far as he was aware really hadn’t held any type of transporter research, so he’d have to go back over his own notes as well to find out what he missed.

Lieutenant Colins quickly slid next to him and the civilian behind cover.

“Commander, we captured one of the raiders who claims there’s a bomb.”

“Brillia-”

“You have got to be kidding me,” the civilian hissed, leaning his head to the side to glare at them both. “This is NOT. HAPPENING.” Before Jim could really do much, the guy had somehow slipped around them and was darting in the direction that Colins had come from.

“Hey!” Jim called out darting after him, barely managing to dodge a stray phaser bolt, Colins right after him. By the time that he caught up to the civilian, the kid had already gotten to where several security guards stood anxiously around another man who seemed pretty close to panicking.

“A bomb. Really?” the golden blonde snapped with a rather impressive glare made all the more worrying for the way it turned his pale blue eyes to icy shards.

“We need to get out of here! It’s going to go any second!”

“Where is it?” Jim asked. “And if that’s true, why haven’t your comrades transported out?”

“We tried! Some interference from when he showed up jacked that up!” The pirate looked wildly at the civilian who scowled.

Spurred on by a niggling doubt, Jim pulled out his communicator out and flipped it open. “Kirk to Constitution. Can you lock onto our signals to beam us out?”

There were a few beats before the answer came. “Negative, Commander. We’re getting some type of interference.”

“Where’s the bomb?” the civilian hissed. “I’m going to make a logical guess and say that you knew about it because you placed it, and you’re worried enough about distance to know that the radius is pretty large.”

“It’s supposed to take out the entire hangar area! For a clean getaway, man!”

Jim froze. “There are over 20 civilian ships docked here!”

“Like that matters! We gotta leav-” the man was cut off by the blonde gripping him about the throat and throwing him to the ground before Jim or any of the security guards could really do anything.

“If that bomb goes off, you’re going with it. Where is it and which one of you nutcases set it?”

“We ca-” Jim started.

“Danny set it, but we bought the thing! None of us know how to unset it!”

“Where. Is. It?”

“We nee-” Jim barely managed to block the rather vicious kick that the civilian aimed at the pirate’s head.

“You cannot harm a prisoner!” He practically shouted, trying to figure out why he wasn’t just stunning the possibly crazy person to stop him getting in the way of trying to solve this problem.

The civilian, who merely glanced at him dismissively, turned back to the pirate who was whimpering and scrambling away as much as the security guards and his bound limbs would let him. There was a particularly vicious look on his face that had Jim wanting to step back a bit. “Where is it?” The man snapped again and the pirate shuddered and pointed at a crate with caution and warning stamps over to the side.

The man shoved Jim off of him before he could really say anything and after a lightning fast considering glance at both sides of the firefight, darted through the fray towards the bomb.

There were shouts from both sides, but in a rather unique display of dexterity the guy managed to make it to the crate without getting shot. He was running his hands over the edges, checking for something, and right when Jim was getting ready to yell at him about being an idiot and trip wires, the man paused in a spot, pulled a knife out of his boot and made quick work of whatever he had checked, swinging the lid of the crate open, keeping the knife pressed against the area he had identified.

“Commander? Are we stunning the crazy guy?” Colins ground out keeping pace with Jim as they made their way towards the civilian. Unlike said civilian, they managed to take a slightly roundabout, smarter way that included actual cover.

Jim felt some amount of vindication that it wasn’t just him. “Not yet, but let’s keep that option handy.” Colins growled something that Jim was happy to not catch.

As soon as the lid had been fully opened the bomb rose on an automatic platform. It had a design that Jim couldn’t place, but even though he wasn’t an expert, he could tell that this wasn’t a usual bomb. A series of wires and tubes connected four clear cylinders containing differently colored liquids, all fitted into a series of exposed circuit boards next to other cased-in components along a metal base that had a sealed box at the center.

The civilian looked it over for the few moments, muttering a bit under his breath, brushing wires here and there and running his fingers along the casing to what had to be the ignition explosives in the sealed box.

“I can disarm it! We have a minute and 57 seconds! I need a sealant, another knife, a tritrite battery with a full charge, and a base liquid, now!” The guy yelled in Jim’s direction, a level of confidence there that he trusted more on instinct than anything else.

Maybe it should have been less surprising than it was, but a shout came from the pirates’ side, “I’ve got a gamer with a full charge!” And it skidded along the ground under the barricade that they’d built. Apparently, that was the signal for the rest of the pirates to cease fire.

At least they were smart enough to not want to get blown up. Maybe they finally realized this was their only shot? Good. Actually, that might explain why they’d put up the fight they had. Wanting to get away from an upcoming explosion could do strange things to people.

Jim glanced around, trying to find the rest of the list, spotting a pallet of chewy candies from Earth that if he melted with his phaser would most likely be particularly gummy and probably work as a sealant…

Meanwhile, in a display of top notch training and teamwork, Dominguez quickly ran towards Jim, handing him a knife from his own boot (Jim made a note to find out if that was within regulation and how to get special consideration if it wasn’t) while another two were making quick work of disassembling a water cooler to get at the barrel of liquid. Thank Heaven that speed of access and energy constraints kept outer rim stations on non-replicated water in common areas. While water could lean towards either an acid or a base depending on the substance it was measured against (or the particulates found in it), it was probably the safest bet, especially given that they didn’t know how much they would need.

Jim finished prying open the casing for the candies and he and Colins quickly started ripping open packages and dumping them into a metal container that two more security officers had dragged over. It was a rather gangly mess as all four of them moved towards the bomb in a weird scramble of carrying and dumping packages. The guy was using both hands now, having disconnected the trip wire at some point. He stripped wires and adjusted circuit boards with a calm, professional efficiency, and Jim had rarely been more grateful for his gut instinct to trust that other people knew their skillsets.

Jim triggered the setting on his phaser that would get it to a temperature that would melt the candies but not burn them and fired, praying that he would be done by the time that the guy needed it. He couldn’t help but glance at the timer, which in true annoying fashion, was glowing red and ticking down.

He eyed the man, who had broken open another layer of casing and was wrist deep in the innards. “When I say so, jam the sealant into that hole,” he pointed at a tube and Jim nodded, getting ready by stripping off his shirt to use as a glove so that he could handle the hot goo without burning himself, “and then dump the water here!” the man indicated somewhere that Jim couldn’t see, but the officers with the tub of water gave a grunt of understanding.

The guy barely looked up as he triggered something with one of the knives, leaving it embedded in the machinery before he quickly stabbed the other into the battery, biting back a hiss as the acid got on his fingers even as it poured onto a circuit board, causing a round of sparks. Jim instinctively started reaching for the guy’s hands in horror as he saw them literally bubble from the acid burns only to have the man ignore them with a grim efficiency and yank the first knife out to cut another set of wires.

“Now!” He yelled at Jim, who quickly scooped up as much of the gooey substance as he could with his padded hands and started shoving the quickly hardening gunk into the tube. The smaller portion solidified fairly quickly and just in case Jim grabbed the tube with his hands, covering it as much as he could as a backup and shouted at the guards who dumped the water where it was supposed to go.

The timer hit zero, and Jim instinctively recoiled. Luckily there wasn’t an explosion, although there were several parts of the bomb that made some screeching and grinding noises, causing even more flinches from Jim and the others. The civilian (if he was a civilian given the way he’d handled the bomb) had already staggered to his feet and over towards a beam that had the markings for a medical kit. Dominguez had anticipated this and raced ahead to pull out the compounds that would neutralize the acid on the man’s hands and minimize the spread of the burns.

Jim grinned resolutely. Good. They’d need to get him to sickbay quick, get those looked at before nerve damage became permanent, and make sure that whatever had caused him to be sick earlier was taken care of, whether it be intoxication or aftereffects from the transport. He tentatively moved his hands away from the tube in the bomb and eyed the congealed mess of candies still in the tin, debating adding more just to be sure, but decided it was holding for now.

He pushed himself to his feet, calling out to the pirates. “The bomb is disabled. We have you surrounded. Are you going to come quietly, or are we going to have to draw this out?” Muttering came from behind the barricade before several hands slowly appeared in the air over it, weapons hanging loose or clattering to the ground.

“Good,” Jim sighed. He had not been looking forward to a firefight near a live, even if disarmed, explosive. “Colins, get them processed and in the brig. Maxwell, take some men and sweep the area for any leftovers. Ryan, contact the Captain and the Base Commander and give them a heads up, and get a bomb disposal specialist to look over the remains.”

“Sir!” They all chorused and Jim moved towards their mysterious savior, slightly reassured by his hissing as Dominguez covered his hands in a mix of powders and creams. If he could still feel pain that meant the nerves weren’t too badly damaged. And they may have been a little old fashioned, but Jim was still equally pleased to note that he recognized some of the substances as being about as high quality as one could get without moving to full on dermal regenerators and other technologies that would probably be a bit too expensive to keep in the docks for a long range, civilian station like this.

“That was some quick work,” he stated with a grin. “How’d you know to do that?”

The man eyed him with a glare, “Why do I have the feeling that you’re asking if I should be in cuffs with the rest of them?”

“Paranoia, maybe? Or are people really out to get you?” Jim couldn’t help but ask, his smile widening a bit and the man sighed, dropping his head back against the beam he was leaning on. Jim was only half joking though. It was a concern that the man knew how to diffuse something like that. Most civilians, heck, most members of Starfleet, Officers or enlisted, wouldn’t be able to do what he had just done. It was actually fairly standard to just beam possible threats into space unless beaming wasn’t an option because the transportation would set it off or something. “Are you with Starfleet? Or a planetary defense force? Were you in the middle of transporting somewhere when your beam was redirected here?”

The man gave a strained laugh, closing his eyes, and for a moment Jim really did get nervous. Then the guy met his eyes, “I am pretty certain that I don’t belong to any organization that you can get the records to unless you count your own.”

Jim pulled back, confused. “What?”

“I was not in the middle of transporting, and heck I doubt that whatever brought me here could still be classified as a transporter, considering that I am pretty sure that I am in a different reality.” Before Jim could really say anything, the man gave a little wave. “Name’s James Tiberius Kirk, I’d shake your hand, but you know, burns and all.”

“What?” Jim gaped, and he was peripherally aware of the Dominguez choking a little to the side.

“Aww….” The other guy winked a bright blue eye at him. “The last time someone looked at me like that, I showed off what my tongue can do to a cherry stem, doll face.”

Jim’s jaw snapped shut on reflex and he glared at him. “It’s Lt. Commander Kirk, not doll face, and impersonating a Starfleet Officer isn’t a funny joke.”

“I agree, getting shifted into an alternate timestream by use of what is most likely faulty, poorly designed technology isn’t funny at all unless you’re using funny or joke as an adjective to weird, bizarre, anomaly.... That sort of funny. Factor in that the device most likely utilizes ion based technology which caused the interference to your own transporters and could be causing various issues with other, unshielded systems on a civilian space station, and that my hands really hurt so this isn’t a dream… I am in an alternate reality. And I am, James Tiberius Kirk.”

The guy raked an icy gaze over him in a way that was just this side of condescending. “Unless you have a better idea about how I ended up in a completely different location that is now suffused with ion particles and other various distortions, on what appears to be the opposite side of Federation Space surrounded by a firefight that includes someone claiming to be me?”

Jim bit his tongue a bit on the retort he wanted to snap at that, this was rather odd to say the least, but he was pretty much willing to take him at his word for now unless the evidence proved him wrong. “Okay, Mr. Kir-”

“Oh, and if we’re going to be pissy at titles and being accusatory about supposedly impersonating officers, Lt. Commander Kirk, you can call me Captain Kirk. Or Doctor if you really want, but I prefer Captain.”

Jim blinked. “WHAT?”