Jim was five the first time he saw a picture of his dad. He had been looking for something fun to do. And for some reason, he thought he’d find some in the attic. But all he found in the attic were memories. Winona had gathered up and hidden almost everything that reminded her of George. There were only two things she couldn’t hide away or do away with: her two sons Jim and Georgie, or rather Sam, as he preferred now. Just another way to not be compared to George or be reminded of him.
The picture was framed instead of just being on a holopad. In the picture were George and Winona on a beach, both in swimming suits. George’s arm over Winona’s shoulders, George a pic grin on his face, facing the camera while Winona’s face was turned to give George a kiss on the cheek. It seemed like a much happier time.
He had heard his whole life he looked like his dad, which rung true. Of course, he looked like his mom too but those features seemed smaller, less noticeable than his dad's. The blond hair and blue eyes stood out so much when compared to Winona’s nose on his face.
When Jim saw that picture, he realized how much it rang true. They even shared a birthmark, a smallish brown spot on their upper left ribs. At that moment he realized why mom always seemed sad while helping him get dressed. She'd see his birthmark and remember dad.
His dad seemed like a really cool dude from that picture, and from the small stories he got from his brother. He only wished he had the chance to have gotten to know and remember him. Sam on the other hand thought Jim was lucky to have never known their dad. He didn’t have memories to look back on and be sad. Jim only had dreaming and his wishful thinking.
After that afternoon, Jim never asked mom to help him get dressed and he never let her dress him. Winona seemed taken aback yet relieved the first time Jim did so. He learned to do it all on his own. But not without a little help from his big brother. Jim didn’t want to hurt his mom anymore and maybe this way, she wouldn’t hate him as much.
Jim didn’t know how to react, he wasn’t much older than the moment he discovered he shared a birthmark with his dad. He was angry, shaken, crying, and all the emotions in between. There was blood dripping down his lip while his face and his arms hurt. Frank had been mean in the past but he had never been physical. Before this event, it was always verbal. Jim knew Frank didn’t like him, or Sam for that matter. Frank just ignored the two as much as possible, or if he had to acknowledge them it was always very terse and rude. Jim wondered why Frank had married his mom.
This one was one of those moments, Jim was grateful he didn’t know what a dad was like. He didn’t have anything to compare Frank to besides his dreaming. Jim never knew his dad but he knew Frank wasn’t what a dad was and that he never would be a dad. He was horrible and cruel.
This was the first time Frank had been physical. All Jim did was ask for a cookie. Was it so wrong to ask for a cookie? It wasn’t like he was asking before dinner, not that Frank would have cared. It was such a small thing to ask for. Not like he was asking for money or for Frank to take him somewhere. Jim had tried in the past for things like money and going out but Frank just shrugged him off, ignored him.
But Frank this time slapped him and roared “Don’t you ever shut your damn mouth, Jimmy?!”
FUCK was the only thought that ran through his head. He made the dumbass decision to steal the car but that he would stand by. No way in hell was he going to let Frank get his hands on it/sell it. Then like a DUMBASS , he decided to drive the car off a cliff AND somehow he had barely made it out alive. But there was a long cut on his right arm, just slowly dripping onto the sand he stood on. More blood ran down his arms from sand scratches as well. The car door had nicked him badly on his way out and up and the sand ate his arms as he made his way to solid footing. The blood slowly sank into the sand, almost disappearing.
That was the last day he ever saw Frank, his mom, and Sam. It was the last day before his life went even further downhill and became worse. But Jim didn’t know that. He thought his life was about to get better, forever. He was getting to go off-planet, a new start for him. No Frank, no mom, no expectations. He was going to have his best life on Tarsus IV.
This was the first of many times in his lifetime Jim was going to wake up in a hospital bed, although he didn’t quite know that. He just hoped he could get out of the hospital soon and be able to forget everything. But he knew that was wishful thinking. He’d never be able to forget, the amazing time he had at first turning into a dark dark hellhole. One he wished he would never have to return to. But he would many a night - the lack of food, his kids, the running, all the deaths...the last time he had seen Sam and the set of scars his ‘adventures’ had given him.
Jim blamed himself for all of this. It was his fault (though more Frank’s) he had gone to Tarsus IV. The kids, if only he had been able to get enough food, get them hidden fast enough, if only he had been able to survive on less food, if only he could have gotten medication, if only he had known more, if only he could have gotten help sooner. If only Starfleet had gotten to Tarsus sooner, then maybe Sam, Jade, Sarah and Will would still be alive, and those who were alive wouldn’t have had to lose things, like their innocence and for some, their body parts.
At first, it was just him and a few others in charge of all of the younger one kids. Then it was just him and Riley - and then Riley got hurt really bad and he was left in charge, alone ...Why is it that he was one of the ones that survived? And not one of his kids? He didn’t feel like deserved to get off alive, and relatively unscathed, off that planet. He should have done more for them. Why?
A shrill alarm broke the silence. Jim rolled over, groaned, turned off the alarm and put his arm over his head. Moving his arm like that hadn’t been the best decision, the pressure upon the cuts on his face and arm, as well as that stretch of sorts on his ribs.
Everything from his head (Galaxy damn that shrill whistle of that captain ... admiral?) to his body. He had taken quite the beating last night.
Urrghhhh. Why had he hit on that cadet?? But side note - she was hella fine!!! Or rather, why had he taken upon himself to take on five guys? And what the hell did Pike see in him to goad him into joining Starfleet? Why did he decide in his mind last night that he was going to take upon Pike’s goad and join Starfleet?? GALAXIES FISHING DAMNIT!!! Why the fish was he sooo easy to goad and provoke.
Jim looked up from his chest, tears in his eyes and a huge grin on his face. He took a deep breath, trying to gather his words, his gratitude, his love.
“No need to say a word, kid. I know,” came Bones' gentle response as he strolled over from the doorway, next to Jim’s bed to check his vitals. But before Bones did the checking, he ruffled Jim’s hair and dropped Jim a kiss on his head, who had gone back to looking at his scars.
“Bones… Thank you for this. Thank you for these two scars,” came out Jim’s quiet voice, but not so quiet that Bones couldn’t hear.
“You know we can get rid of those if you want, Jim.”
“No, these ones are perfect. The ones I want, among all the others ones I have that I can’t get rid of. These are the ones I want, ones that remind me of the good stuff and not like the ones that remind me of the bad times.”
Jim looked up from his scars, tears in his eyes but also so much love and gratitude, and gave Bones a kiss on the lips. A way to try to convey all the emotions he had. Bones knew anyways and they sat there in silence, soaking in each other.