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A Moment's Surrender

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She thinks she should have done something. Forced the pilot to stay. Wrench herself off the bed after the baby was born and go tearing through the ship, grab his stupid ass and bring him with her.

She should have.

But she'd been in labor for 45 hours. She was exhausted, in pain, and he was—and he was leaving her. That was never a fight they'd had: never part of the playbook. They both knew—had known—that she—

"Sweetheart, can you hear me?"

"I can hear—"

"I love you so much. I love you."

Her nightmares are of screaming metal and shattering aluminum and a computer saying "Impact alert" in a dispassionate voice.

They bring her casseroles.

She doesn't understand this fascination with casseroles.

She ends up blasting one out of Becky Hallet née Garland's hands.

"Leave me the fuck alone," she snarls, and Becky flees.

She goes back inside to Sam, Jim still on her shoulder.

For the first six weeks of his life, she doesn't put Jim down except to bathe him and change him. She won't let anyone touch him.

Jimmy saves her life. Maybe that's terrible, that it was Jimmy and not Sam, but Sammy—she's been gone a lot of Sammy's life: a lot of his recent memories have her absent from them.

But when she has Jimmy cradled against her chest or tucked against her shoulder… ("Tiberius, you kidding me? No, that's the worst. Let's name him after your dad. Let's call him Jim.")

Anne and Tiberius come around. They take care of the kids when she can't. She runs. She runs to San Francisco and considers going. Keep running. Taking her phaser and ending it.

Gets a hotel room and drinks herself into a stupor. Cries and sobs until she can't breathe, until she's popped blood vessels in and around her eyes and dried her skin out with tears. She's puffy and swollen, and a maid comes in and finds her shaking in the shower stall under the water.

The girl pulls her out and helps her get into her bathrobe. "My husband died," Winona says. It's the first time she says it. It's not the last. She shifts the cadence: hones it into a weapon.

Brown is sitting on the bed: the agency recruiter. Winona's spent her whole life saying no to this woman.

"Yes," Winona says.

Brown kisses her, strokes her cheeks and her hair as the maid dresses her. Winona shakes and lets them, lets them move around her and comfort her in their own way.

George, that fucking asshole, is still dead.

The hearings are shit, and she doesn't have George anymore to gauge where "normal" is.

She goes to Pike's dissertation presentation.

He plays a recording of the conversation and she goes and picks two guys up in a club.

One guy fills her ass while the other fucks her cunt, and she's stretched and there's a hand around her neck just too tight, and she's fading in and out, but this is what she wants.

They pay her, the fuckers.

She rolls over on the bed and laughs and laughs and laughs at the ceiling.

George is dead.

She's not sure that she's alive.

She marries Frank in the town offices. Frank gives her whatever she wants.

She marries him because she has to tie him to her children. Frank is a good man, he reminds her of Tiberius. He's already good with Sam and he will be with Jim.

George is dead.

But Tiberius was a good father, and Frank will be a good father. She's shattered now into so many pieces she can barely scrape them together: she holds them in her hands and cuts herself on their jagged edges.

But Frank is whole, and he's a good man, and maybe somehow he'll be enough.

He's not, in the end. Frank's not George, and Jim's too like her, and Frank is a man who is disappointed by his dreams.

He always wanted her, but he never really had her. She's always been George's wife.

"There's no one to tell you 'no,'" Brown says. "I can be that for you."

Brown is seventy, but her tongue knows how to delve in and her teeth drag over Winona's clit, and it's not enough: not the same. But she's in free-fall.

She loves her boys, but she doesn't know how to be there for them.

Jim is so much like her it's frightening, but there are parts of him that reek of George.

Winona couldn't make people like her, the way George did. Jim does that. Everyone loves Jim right up until the moment they don't.

Right up to the moment he turns into a shadow of her, and that scares her enough to run, because she won't let him be her. He can't get tied up in someone else: he can't be half of a whole, because you lose that other person.

The assholes blow themselves up, and you're left trying to remember how to breathe. Jim has to be self-sufficient.

She won't apologize for running from him.

She has dreams about George coming back. She wakes up sobbing.

That never ends. It doesn't lessen over time, in intensity or frequency.. She never manages to stop waking up sobbing.

The thing, they say, that makes her exceptional is that she can layer in failsafes. She and Jim speak in codes; she and Sam speak in codes. No one else would think to speak of shows that have been dead for 300 years; no other culture would know to mimic it. Kodos forges one transmission: "I'm good, Mom, stop worrying."

She had called him Rodney McKay, which always makes Jim indignant. She hijacks the fucking cruiser when she realizes nothing's going to get done.

Tarsus wasn't the first time she killed someone for her boys. But it was the first time they knew. There was a woman who wanted to train Sam, a few others who went after them: Winona makes enemies like most people make their beds.

Kodos dies and Sammy is there for Jim.

Big Damn Heroes.

Winona plays the part well.

Seven other high-level officials close to Kodos are dead within 24 hours, and Kodos' pregnant widow is relocated—to where, no one knows.

Winona is very good at her fucking job.

Both of them.

The marriage lashes Frank to the boys, but Winona is never going to love him. She's never going to be faithful to him, because what is there to be faithful to?

Maybe she expected him to know that, but it's likely she didn't care. She miscalculated: he's not like Tiberius (she doesn't speak to him, not since Jimmy almost froze to death. He tried, once. She shot him. It was set to stun).

He's pathetic: they've broken him and left a husk behind.

There are days she wishes she'd killed him, but Riverside was where she and George grew up, and she's not going to pollute its fields with blood. She's not going to do that, no matter how tempted she is.

They hint about Jim. He's her but he's George: he's reckless and too fast but people like him.

It starts when he's 15.

He leaves the house and agents sleep with him. Happens three times.

The first two he doesn't remember. The third he blinks at and then laughs at, the way he'll laugh at Pike.

"Tell Gorman the answer's 'no,'" Winona says, stepping out of the shadows as the agent buttons his fly. Young. Pretty. It'll be such a shame when he's rotting in the ground.

The agent tells Gorman the answer's "no," and then Winona shoots him in the back of the head. She uses a gun: bullets. Spray of blood hits Gorman in the face, and he looks at her.

"Understood." Jim's 18.

They never try again.

She never worries about Sam. Sam is smart, and stable, and damaged but not fucked up.

Sam doesn't respond to Jim like George responded to her.

Sam is stable, and she wonders how they did that: how she and George created something like that.

George should have lived: he would have done this better. She doesn't know how to do exist on any lesser scale—George was always the thing that grounded her. She saves the galaxy and the Federation and does the dirty work and works on the starships. She can't do little moments: forgot how or never learned.

When Jim goes to Starfleet, she looks at him, in his cadet's uniform, and sees George. There is a scream of metal and a transmission cutting out and she grips the railing hard and thinks: this is what his death looks like.

She doesn't stop by, though she'd maybe planned to—takes off, goes to talk to Gorman,who took over for Brown.

"Aren't you ever tempted?" Gorman asks, her hand fisted in his hair, his mouth shiny with her juices. "Don't you ever want to take over the world?"

"What would I do with it?" she replies, and drags him back in to finish the job.

She wants to kill Spock. She thinks he knows it. Someday her son is going to die alone, just the way his father did, and it will be the fucking Vulcan's fault.

She does think it's funny that Spock's existing parallel to another version of himself.

Jimmy doesn't tell, but she's not stupid, and Sarek can't help but look at the older Spock in wonder sometimes.

Winona does a lot of work on New Vulcan, and she sees things people don't want her to see. Things that Vulcans especially wish they could keep hidden.

She likes Pike, but it kills her to be near him.

Likes him: Pike, she doesn't want to kill.

But Pike loved George, and George liked Pike and it should have been George doing all the things Pike did, on the Kelvin.

George should have gotten out.

Jim is a great captain. He's got a good crew: he's not… She only ever had George.

He's self-sufficient, and where he isn't he has Chris Pike, Leonard McCoy, Nyota Uhura and Spock. She had no one to fall back on: no one to keep her steady when the world tripped.

Jimmy does.

Doesn't mean that when she hears that he's fucking bonded himself to that Vulcan she doesn't draw out a completely workable plan to kill that sonovabitch.

She hates Spock. She really does.

Sam has a family. She knows he thinks he's more like his father: that they were the two sane people in the land of the insane. She lets him think that.

Doesn't say, "You don't understand how fucking crazy George was."

She doesn't talk about George. She can't bear to use the past tense.

And she thinks it makes Sam feel better, to think that.

Winona dies on a planet that reaches into her head and puts her back into the past: George doesn't die on the ship, he gets off, they raise their kids together. He becomes a Fleet Admiral, she designs ships. Sam and Jim's lives are relatively the same.

She sobs at him, when she wakes up in the morning. They're in their bed, and she takes a second to rouse from the dream. He leans over, sleep-warmed and lazy and pulls her in as she screams against his neck because he left her, he left her.

"Shh, sweetheart. Shhh. Can you hear me?" Gentle, loving. God, it was all a bad dream, thank fuck. "I love you. I love you so—"

Winona Kirk's heart stops.

She's sixty years old.

They never find her body.