Chapter 1: Chekov
Pavel Andreievich Chekov has a lot of sex. Too much of it, really. Not as much as Jim had when he was that age, but still, the hypocrisy is strong and not a single person judges Chekov for it because he pulls this sweet and innocent Russian starchild routine. It's just plain unfair, as far as Jim's concerned.
Mostly his series of one night stands get written off as a penchant for high romanticism and young puppy love, and it might even be true, Jim can't tell. But it doesn't really matter, because it's altogether harmless.
Until one day it isn't.
The Halberderonian king started screaming at them that they had defiled his daughter and were honorless pigs and the Federation would pay for this offense with the blood of war.
His daughter-- the princess-- was trying to reason with him, thank god, but he just wasn't listening, and he signaled two guards to pull her away so that he could continue his rant undistracted. She was carted off to her room as punishment.
Uhura was trying desperately to placate the king with diplomatic words and explanations about cultural differences and how there was no intended offense, but he didn't seem too keen on listening to her either. It was a deeply patriarchal society, Jim remembered. Sexist and with a high emphasis on the purity of women.
"Your Most Esteemed Honorableness," Jim said. "I realize a grievous offense has occurred, and for that, I deeply apologize. The Federation abhors war, however. Is there anything we can do to prevent you from initiating it? We will make amends in any way you deem fit and honorable."
The king finally paused in his rant and listened. Jim gave a tight smile. Ah, the inherent power of being a man.
"I will accept your condolences and offer mercy on one condition," he said. "The dishonoring one must undergo the mal'trakk."
"That means 'penis punishment'," Uhura whispered helpfully. Chekov paled.
Kirk looked at the poor kid and made his decision. "Of course, Your Most Esteemed Honorableness. That is a very fair and just punishment. We accept your terms, and thank you for your mercy."
Chekov made a distressed little noise in his throat.
"I am the dishonoring one," Kirk said. The king's eyes flashed, and instantly he was surrounded by a full escort of guards and dragged off.
Kirk spent one whole week in medbay under careful, repeated stimulation of the special dermal regen that Bones used for injuries to especially sensitive areas of the body. He can't have sex for another month yet, and when he finally reports back to duty, it is with especially careful movements and what he hopes isn't a noticeable wince as he sits down.
Uhura looks at him with slight pity and Chekov has big, sad eyes.
The little kid (and Jim will always think of him as a little kid) approaches him after shift. He's hesitant and wavering and altogether unsure of himself. Jim gives him an encouraging smile.
"Keptin," he says. "It was not necessary for you to do that. I did not read the cultural briefing. It was my mistake, and my fault. You should not have let yourself be hurt over that."
"Chekov, it's fine. I'm fine. Believe me, I've had worse injuries. I can handle it. And I've certainly dealt with my share of raging fathers." He tried for a cocky grin. "It's fine if you wanna sleep around, kid, but you've got to be careful about who you do it with, okay?"
"I... Yes, Keptin."
This was not at all how he had wanted this conversation to go, and he wasn't sure how to fix it. He gave a mental shrug, decided he couldn't, and tossed subtlety out the window.
He gave Kirk a big hug, burying his face into the older man's chest. "Thank you, Keptin," he said. "You are a good friend."
Kirk seemed at a loss, and sort of awkwardly patted his hair. "Anytime, Pavel."
Chapter 2: Sulu
In Jim's eyes, Hikaru Sulu was a cool guy. A badass. A solid dude. Jim would even go so far as to call him a bro.
That said, he was a bro who had somehow managed to get married to the man of his dreams and have a daughter with him. There was much speculation as to how, exactly, this had happened. Pre-marriage, Sulu's flirting skills had been about on par with Kirk's. The man himself claimed he had no idea how any of this had happened and thus attributed it all to Ben. The crew accepted this as the most reasonable explanation, though there had been a six-month period when it had been widely speculated that Sulu was making Ben up to get Yeoman Phillips to stop bugging him.
Nevertheless, it was eventually proven that Ben and Demora were both real people and Hikaru Sulu-- resident katana-wielding Starfleet badass-- had been domesticated. Partially. Okay, well, he had a loving family anyway, even if he was not in any way domesticated. Kirk had felt unduly betrayed at first. Sulu was the only member of his bridge crew who was genuinely cool and tolerated his company. He had had a vision for them, a glorious vision of five years worth of bar-crawling and one night stands and epic wingman-ery across the galaxy. Sulu had been his designated Bro (tm) for the five year mission. And then he went and got himself married.
And no, Kirk wasn't jealous, no matter how ridiculously happy he seemed. Because Kirk didn't want that for himself. No sirree. He was married to the Enterprise, and the Enterprise alone. Commitment? Not for him. No thanks. He was good with his one night stands and the one picture a year of David that Carol sent him. He certainly wasn't sad about it.
Anyway, they were on a First Contact mission with the Raplodunonians of Alphenimus VII. It wasn't going particularly well, and Jim was already preparing to write this particular planet off as a loss.
But then things got so, so much worse.
"Oh shit," Sulu said. "Fuck. I'm sorry."
The Raplodunonians' scales all flashed dark blue, eyes glinting and hard. The entire ballroom was dead silent.
Jim was really, really hoping that this was one of those situations where they could just offer to buy them a new vase and get the heck out of their hair.
"That was the Vessel of the Love of the Hearth," the Grand Priestess said. "It contained the spirit of Melchizadek, an ancient hero from our most sacred legends, practically a god. His love for his family was preserved and used to fuel all familial love for everyone on Alphenimus VII. Without it, our culture is gone."
Buying a new vase totally wasn't going to work.
Sulu privately thought that if it was so important then they shouldn't have left it just lying around in the middle of the room on a giant pedestal. I mean, their whole culture hinges on it. It should be under heavy lock and guard. They could at least put up a velvet rope or something so that unsuspected officers didn't accidentally knock into it and break the thing.
"We are very sorry," Uhura said.
"We demand recompense!" the Grand Priestess shouted. The other Raplodunonians cried their agreement, chanting "Recompense! Recompense!"
Which. Was generally never a good thing.
"Tell me, Hikaru of the Sulus," the Grand Priestess hissed. "Do you have love within your heart?"
"The love of a parent for their child?"
"Yeah," he said, a hint of a smile on his face.
"Good," she said. "Seize him!"
The crowd of courtiers and diplomats had now fully devolved into an angry mob, and they swarmed around Sulu and dragged him away, pushing and pulling him over to a chair-like in the back of the room that Jim had assumed was a throne. He was shoved into it, restraints snapping out and cuffing his limbs to the chair. A metal band even slid over his throat to hold his head in place.
Definitely not a throne, then.
"His love will be harvested," the Grand Priestess said.
"What do you mean, harvested?" Kirk asked.
"We shall take it and put in a new vessel and use it as fuel. He will feed the love of all Raplodunonians everywhere."
"What will happen to Sulu?" Uhura asked.
"He will of course no longer be able to feel love for his child. It will be taken from him, and impossible to regain. He will forget all memories of them thus far as well. There is no physical harm."
"No!" Sulu said, thrashing against the restraints. "No, you can't do this to me!"
Sulu's family was everything to him. It would destroy him to look at Demora and be incapable of ever feeling affection for her again, to not even recognize who she was. It would ruin Demora's life too, and destroy Sulu's perfectly happy marriage.
This would end him. This would destroy his life utterly in a way he couldn't recover from.
An ominous metal helmet was being lowered down over his head. Sulu was still fighting every second of the way, tears streaming down his face. He looked like he was whispering to himself, probably reminding himself of things he desperately wanted to remember.
"Take me instead!" Kirk shouted. "I'm his captain. My crew's actions are my responsibility. I accept full accountability."
The Grand Priestess held up a hand, and everything halted. "We were unaware of this aspect of your culture," she said. "It is most unusual. It reminds one of the tales of the ancient heroes."
Kirk held his breath.
"We will abide by your customs," she said. "I was unaware that you are a father."
"I'm not," he said. "But you just harvest love, right? You asked earlier if Sulu had the love of a parent for a child, and I have that. Kevin Riley. Look into my mind. It's the same."
The Grand Priestess closed her eyes, and a sharp-toothed smile spread across her face. "I see. You sacrificed much for this one. Your love is truly great."
She snapped her fingers, and the metal bands popped open. Sulu flew out of the seat as if burned, getting as far away from it as he could. Kirk walked over and took his place.
The restraints snapped on.
He thought of Kevin. He thought of Tarsus, of playing mancala with stones in the dirt, of reciting Shakespeare's comedies late in the night as bedtime stories, anything to keep their minds off the hunger. He thought of sneaking back into the colony, going straight up to the guards at Kodos's warehouse, and making them an offer. He thought of just how much he had done to make sure that little five-year-old made it.
He thought of nights spent looking at the stars and talking about dreams of Starfleet coming and rescuing them all. He thought of the grand tales of exploration and adventure he had made up for both of them. He had told Kevin he was going to be a captain one day, and Kevin had looked at him with big, innocent brown eyes and said he wanted to serve on his ship, then.
He thought of the day that rescue finally came and separated them all and how Kirk had needed to be restrained to a biobed and sedated because they wouldn't let him near his kids and he needed to be with them. He thought of the day he had turned sixteen, gotten status as an emancipated minor just so that he could have hope of adopting Kevin. He thought of the day that hope was crushed, of them both crying and holding each other in the social worker's office. He thought of how he tried again and again and again after that, until he was eighteen and Kevin finally had a stable foster family who weren't shitbags, and Jim was living on the streets and he backed off, because he knew Kevin deserved better.
He thought of the day the kid came aboard the Enterprise as an ensign and looked at him with big brown eyes and called him captain, so proud and awed and fucking happy to be there. Jim had dismissed the transporter techs and hugged the hell out of him right then and there. And then he had given Kevin a personal tour of the Enterprise.
Kevin had said it was good to be home.
The helmet lowered over his head, and Jim closed his eyes.
I love you, little buddy.
Sulu came up to him after, back on the Enterprise, when everything was safe. He stammered through an awkward apology and an even awkwarder expression of undying gratitude. When he talked about what had almost happened, he nearly started crying, and so Kirk tried to play it off as a joke and nip that in the bud.
Only Uhura and Sulu had beamed down with him, so only they knew what had happened first hand. Spock and the admiralty would hear about it through the mission report, of course, but the report was brief and contained minimal details.
Uhura approached him, about a week later, and asked if he wanted to know who he had forgotten.
He said no. He knew it wasn't anyone he typically associated with day to day. He remembered all his bridge crew, all his friends. He thought. He even still knew the names of all his crew-- though he had forgotten the name of one of Uhura's lieutenants in the communications department. Hadn't even recognized the guy. It had been a little awkward, but Uhura had politely reminded him that this was Kevin Riley and then pulled the kid aside to go talk about a project or something.
Jim had concluded it must not have been anyone important. He sort of figured maybe he had tricked the Raplodunonians into taking the memory of a childhood pet he had really liked or something. Maybe one of his exes had gotten knocked up and had a baby that he was never allowed to see, though. But no one had contacted him with a surprise kid, so he figured that wasn't the case, or if it was, then he wasn't allowed in the hypothetical kid's life and it was probably less painful this way anyway.
He personally favored the childhood dog theory.
Uhura had nodded, given him a sad smile, and walked away.
Jim forgot about that mission. It faded into the background in unimportance, crowded out by thousands of other pressing memories and missions and incidents. In the end, a pain he didn't remember wasn't a real pain at all. That was what he decided, what he told himself. Whoever he had forgotten had clearly never been that important to him, if he couldn't even figure out who they were.
And he forgot, and then he forgot that he had forgotten.
It's months later before it comes up.
"Kodos file: Of all survivors, there are nine actual eyewitnesses who can identify Kodos," the computer said.
"Stop. Give list," Kirk commanded.
"Kirk, J., presently Enterprise captain; Leighton, T.; Molson, E.; Riley, K.; Eames, D.--"
"Stop," he said. "Is that star service lieutenant Kevin Riley?"
"Affirmative. Riley, Kevin, presently assigned USS Enterprise, communications section."
How the hell hadn't he known that? There was another Tarsus survivor-- an eyewitness, no less-- aboard his ship and Jim had never realized?
And he knew Riley was young, Chekov young, young enough to have barely been in kindergarten-- if that-- when the massacre took place. There was no way he would have survived on his own. Someone else must have looked out for him. Older relatives, probably, parents or siblings.
He was aware that there were nine eyewitnesses. He remembered living in a camp with three other kids, and he knew four of the other witnesses had been from Kodos' personal guard and granted immunity for their testimony. He hadn't known about Kevin Riley, though.
Chapter 3: Uhura
The landing party consisted of Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, and two redshirts.
Then McCoy jumped through the Guardian of Forever and things got grim.
"Captain, it seems impossible," Uhura said, as gently as she could. "Even if you're able to find the right date--"
"--Then even finding McCoy would be a miracle," Scotty finished.
"There is no alternative," Spock said.
"Spock," Kirk said. "When you think you've waited long enough, each of you will have to try it. Even if you fail, at least you'll be alive in some past world somewhere."
Spock nodded somberly. "I shall go last, to ensure everyone's calculations."
"Take care of my crew, Spock."
"Of course, sir," he said. "The Guardian will be approaching the appropriate time within seconds now."
"Luck be with you," Scotty said.
Kirk and Uhura looked to each other, and linked their hands together, approaching the Guardian.
"Now," Spock said.
"We look a little out of step with fashion here," Kirk said. Uhura pressed her lips into a thin line. All officers had the choice to wear either the skirted uniform or pants, regardless of gender identity, and she almost always went with the dress because let's be honest, she has nice legs, but now, in the 1930s--
"I look like a prostitute," she hissed.
"A really high-end one," Jim assured her, and she punched him in the arm.
"We need new clothes," she said.
"I know," he said. "Come on."
He took her by the hand again and pretty soon, they found an offshoot alleyway with clothes hung out to dry on the fire escape. Jim quickly clambered up and took a huge pile indiscriminately, before shimmying his way back down.
"I think I'm going to like this century," he said. "Simple, easier to manage. We're not going to have any difficulty explaining--"
A police officer cleared his throat at the entrance to the alley, looking pointedly at their bundle of stolen clothes. He had probably witnessed the entire act.
"You were saying, Kirk?" Uhura asked.
"Yes. Officer, this is actually very easy to explain. You see-- Run!"
They both took off sprinting in the opposite direction, the police officer running after them, his whistle shrieking attention.
The police officer was a somewhat portly middle-aged man and Kirk and Uhura were young Starfleet officers with extensive physical training. It didn't take them long at all to lose him and take shelter in the basement of a mission.
They stripped out of their uniforms and began picking through the stolen clothes. Kirk put on dress pants that went up to his waist and a red plaid shirt that he barely buttoned up more than halfway.
"You look like a lumberjack," Uhura said.
"Um, the plaid is symbol of how gay I can be. You're a cultural expert, Uhura, you should know this."
She shimmied into a long, high-waisted skirt and wrapped a soft pink shawl around her shoulders. "Wrong century, honey. That was the twenty-first, this is only the twentieth."
He shrugged. "Still counts."
She brushed down her clothes for imperfections and slipped into a pair of cream-colored flats. "We should have about a week before Len gets here."
"Here? Or will he show up in like, outer Mongolia or something?"
She shrugged. "Hope and pray, Kirk. I don't know what to tell you. We don't exactly have many options. I think we should assume the Guardian dropped us where we need to be and stay put."
"I've heard theories that time is fluid. Like a river. Maybe it'll push us all in the same direction."
"How poetic." She held up the tricorder. "This thing could tell us everything we want to know and exactly what to prevent Len from doing if we could just hook it up to a computer for even five seconds."
"Maybe we could build a computer."
"You want us to try and reinvent the computer from scratch within a week?"
He shrugged. "I'm a hacker, you're used to dealing with delicate technology. I know for a fact that you tweak the ship's UTs at least once every month. Between the two of us, we should be able to come up with something."
She scoffed. "You're impossible. You expect the impossible."
And then Edith Keeler appeared at the top of the steps, drew what conclusions she could, and offered them both jobs.
Edith Keeler found them a "flop" in her building. She promised that the landlord was discreet and welcomed all sorts. Even an interracial couple living in sin, apparently.
Edith made a point to call Nyota "Mrs. Kirk," on the assumption that they would of course be married, were it legal for them. A gracious gesture, or at least it would be, if anything she thought about them was true.
They didn't correct her because the truth was too weird. Also, she got the most puzzled look on her face the one time Uhura slipped up and called Kirk "Captain."
That? That they couldn't explain.
Besides, as the computer array grew in size, it ended up overtaking one of the beds and forcing them to share the other. Edith came over often enough to talk to them that she had to realize this. At this point, they really had no choice but to just roll with it.
They both helped Edith out running the soup kitchen and the mission, and Kirk sometimes worked additional odd jobs doing manual labor that Uhura couldn't get. She devoted her extra time to working on the computer array.
Except one night she had run out of copper wire. They had over two dollars saved up at the moment, and the radio store was just down the street.
It was just down the street. Wouldn't take five minutes.
Kirk was walking home from work and he saw a small crowd gathered around the corner to an alleyway, talking amongst themselves.
He kept walking and something about the crowd seemed off to him, a gut instinct that wouldn't be ignored. Their voices were too serious. Their posture was aggressive. There were four men that he could see and he suspected another person that he couldn't.
He altered course and started heading towards the group just in time to see one of them make some jerky motion followed by the sound of flesh hitting flesh and a woman's gasp. Kirk started running.
The others joined in, and there were more hits and kicks and cruel laughter and comments that Kirk probably didn't want to hear. He ran over, making some of them turn in idle curiosity, and slammed his fist into the first man's face.
They instantly retaliated, and Kirk saw that the woman had been shoved to the ground, her clothes torn and partially torn off. And he also noticed that it was Uhura.
Starfleet training or not, she was a pretty tiny person, trying to defend herself while in a pencil skirt, and being ganged up on by four hulking men.
"Why don't you go on your way and mind your own business?" one of them suggested.
"Yeah? Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" He shoved him.
"Hey, we're just having a little conversation here," another said. "Ain't none of your business."
"The hell it ain't my business," he glared. "That's my fucking wife, asshat."
They all laughed. "You're a pretty shitty liar," one said. "You want a piece of the action, you coulda just said so."
"Let her go."
"Nah," he said. "Think we're gonna have a little bit of fun with her first."
Jim cursed the fact that he couldn't whip out a comm device and call the police. Not that they'd let him get that far even he did have one. But still, it was the principle of the thing, the knowledge that they had no way to call for help. The most they could do was scream and hope a second person happened along this street and decided it was worth their while to get involved.
Not good odds. If Spock were here, he would tell them precisely how bad they were. And then he and Kirk and Uhura would very efficiently deal with these thugs, making heavy use of the Vulcan neck pinch in the process.
But this wasn't the first time Jim had leapt without looking into a fight he couldn't win. He had a brief flash to a situation startlingly similar to this back on Tarsus. He had been thirteen. Dani had been nine. There had only been three guards then, instead of four thugs, but it had been more than enough. And Jim had only saved Dani through... creative thinking.
Maybe that same creative thinking can work here.
"I think you're limiting your options here, boys," he said. "I'm a hell of a lot more fun, I promise."
"Faggot," one hissed in outright revulsion. Jim looked around at their faces, and yeah, none of them were gonna take him up on his offer. He had pretty much expected that.
But he had drawn all their attention away from Uhura now. They abandoned her entirely, coming to circle Jim instead.
"I think this little dirty queer needs to be taught a lesson," one said, in a stroke of brilliant originality. "'Bout minding his fucking manners."
He punctuated that word with a hard punch to Jim's gut, making him wheeze and double over. He gripped him by the shoulder and just kept going, his friends joining in.
"Go!" Jim shouted. "Run!"
Uhura shook her head, rushing the group and trying to pull one off of him. He backhanded her into a wall. She was back on her feet in an instant, and then froze in hesitation.
"Go call the police!"
That snapped her out of it, and she took off running.
It took her two minutes to find a pay phone and make the call. When the police got near, the thugs scattered, taking off with the police in pursuit.
Jim was unconscious and bloody in the alley. Uhura had to get Edith's help to drag him back into their apartment.
They both set him on the bed and Edith went to go boil water, fetch a clean rag and bandages. Uhura stripped Kirk down to his boxers to expose the full extent of his injuries.
He was just covered in bruises.
There was an area of his ribs that looked especially bad off, and she worried he might have broken bones underneath. His skin was broken in several places, and for all she knew, he had a concussion.
Edith returned with the supplies, blushing furiously when she saw Kirk nearly naked. She politely looked away.
Uhura wet the rag and began cleaning out the cuts and abrasions. "What I wouldn't give to let Leonard McCoy at him for just five minutes."
"Leonard McCoy?" Edith asked. "The doctor? He's down sleeping on a cot in the mission right now."
Uhura stood up abruptly, rushing out of the room with Edith close at her heels and calling after her.
McCoy had just stepped out of the mission when Uhura reached him, and Edith was crossing the street after her, and--
She died with a scream.
"Do you have any idea what you've just done?!" McCoy asked, outraged. "I could have saved her!"
Uhura swallowed. "I know," she said. "Come on. Kirk is hurt. He needs your help."
Uhura visits him later, when Kirk finally wakes up in a biobed back aboard the Enterprise.
"Hey," Kirk said, grinning lazily. He is... slightly high on pain killers. He searches for an appropriate witty remark but can't find one.
"Kirk, I'm only going to tell you this once, so you're going to put aside your issues and your... personality for a few seconds, and just listen," she said. "You're an idiot. You can call me Nyota."
She leans in and kisses his cheek. "Thank you."
She leaves the room with Kirk dumbfounded.