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Vitiation: Chapter 3
More than you think you are
annenburg
Title: Vitiation
Rating: R
Chapter: One Two Three Four Five Epilogue
Characters: Jim Kirk, Spock, Bones, Carol Marcus, Amanda Grayson
Warnings: Violence, language, references to drug and alcohol abuse
Summary: Hello, criminal underworld. Jim Kirk is here to fuck your shit up.

Okay, maybe he can’t do it.

Carol and Bones jumped on the bandwagon the second Jim told them that Vulcan was considering abandoning the earth, and their help has been invaluable. All their free time has gone towards researching the sources of much of the crime in the city. So far, they’ve managed to find one mafia bank, which is one more than they’ve found all year. It took a strategic hit and a little more firepower than he anticipated, but Jim managed to reclaim it for the few productive members of the district. But since, they haven’t had much luck.

Crime rates are still climbing, Jim realizes, and it’s a different sort of crime than before. Where the city used to be a haven for drug dealers and cartels, he’s coming across more disturbing crimes now. Violence has become more than just the excitement of his nights; it’s now the entire night, no matter what. Muggings, rape, robbery, assault – he sees it all now, every single night. Even the police have given up on a lot of it.

He’s known since he started this that someone would get the drop on him one day. He just hadn’t realized it would be so anticlimactic when it finally happened.

He hears muffled shouting and a few very obvious thuds two alleys up, and he’s there before he has any weapons drawn. There’s a young man clearly on the receiving end of this mugging – too young, and obviously out of place here. Jim leaps into action, catching one mugger by the collar and slamming him back against the wall. His victim stands frozen, staring and shaking. Jim rolls his eyes.

“Run?” he suggests, and the man startles. Without a second glance, the man rushes out of the alley, and Jim pivots to face the other mugger.

He takes the hit before he even sees him.

The right side of his head bursts with pain, and he finds himself on the ground. There’s a familiar click of a plasma shotgun, and Jim can’t help but laugh internally at the irony of it all. All those hit men, wanted ex-soldiers, and murderers, and he’s about to be taken out by a fucking mugger.

Except the shot never comes. The thud of a body colliding with a dumpster meets his ears, and Jim rolls back to see his surroundings. It’s a bit blurry at first, and for a few seconds he thinks that there are at least six people standing over him. But after he blinks a few times, he can make out a single, slender woman grasping an umbrella like a baseball bat. He frowns in confusion, and her face turns towards his, though he still can’t focus.

“Looks like you’ve got a pretty bad concussion, Mr. Kirk,” she says, voice gentle. Jim blinks. “I’ll get you home. I hear you live with a doctor.”

She reaches down to help him up, and even a centimeter off the ground, he has a feeling this isn’t going to work. The disorientation is maddening, and he struggles with the concept of which way up even is. He tries slapping at his communicator, but it’s not on him.

“It’s okay,” she says quietly. “I can get you home. Just lean on me and I’ll take you back. I know where to go.”

Jim swallows, and his jaw clicks. Ouch. “How?”

She smiles. “I just do.”

<><><><><><><><><>

He wakes up to his best friend checking the inside of his mouth, and he wants more than ever to make a dirty joke about it. But he knows he can’t, primarily because, well, there are fingers in his mouth. He waggles his eyebrows at him instead, and Bones shakes his head. Mission accomplished, then. His head is much clearer now, whether that’s good or not.

Carol will probably argue that it’s not.

Bones draws his fingers out of his mouth, and Jim promptly circles his jaw. It feels like it’s been fully repaired, but he doesn’t want to take his assumptions for reality. He turns his head, checking the area he remembers getting hit, and while it’s still a little sensitive, it seems about healed.

“You’re damned lucky, you bastard,” Bones growls. Jim twists up to look at him. “I mean it. Just one hour of that nonsense and you wouldn’t have had a chance. You owe that woman a lot, Jim-boy.”

“That woman?” Jim asks, and then he remembers. “Oh, right. Her. Who is she?”

Bones blinks, looking altogether too surprised. “I thought you knew her. She brought you right to us. Said she saved your ass and then made us soup. Damn good soup, too. But if you don’t know her, I can kick her out. Pretty sure I've got a few amnesia-inducing drugs in here somewhere...”

Jim sits up, shaking his head. “Nah, it’s okay. I think she’s fine. I do want to talk to her, though. Get a feel for who she is. Where is she?”

Bones stands, brushing some invisible debris off his pants. “I’ll go get her for you.”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Jim says, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “It’s not that big a place. I’ll find her myself.”

His best friend and doctor gives him a hard stare. “You had a grade three concussion, Jim,” he growls. “I’ll be damned if I let you—”

The door opens, and Jim turns his head. He can see her clearly this time; a gentle face, and a slender, healthy-looking body. She’s carrying soup, but that’s no big surprise; Bones said she had made some earlier. Her umbrella is still hooked over her elbow, and she gives him a wink.

“Protection, courtesy of my son,” she says playfully, and he likes her already. “I’m Amanda Grayson.”

“Jim Kirk,” he replies, extending a hand to shake hers. She places a bowl of soup in it instead. Yes, he definitely likes her. A lot. Then he remembers something. “Wait. You already knew who I was. How did you know my name?”

She smiles gracefully. “You look a lot like your father. That’s how,” she says. “He was a great man, you know. Worked very hard to bring some sort of peace back to our city. I think part of the reason you still haven’t been arrested. Everyone wants to see if you’re anything like him.”

His hands twist in the sheets. He really wants to give her the benefit of the doubt. “Am I?”

She tips the soup up towards his mouth and forces him to take a sip. For a second, he wonders if this is what it’s like to have a mother who cares about more than her next hit. “No, nothing at all like him,” she answers. “You’re a lot better. And you ought to know it.”

Bones laughs. “Believe me, he does. Get a few drinks into him and he’ll tell you all about how ‘awesome’ he is.”

Jim’s eyes flick to the floor. Yeah, he can talk shit when he’s drunk, but that’s about it. This is the first time anybody’s ever said it for him. And to be honest, he doesn’t really have a choice but to shove his face into the soup to keep himself from admitting that.

She stays the rest of the night, as well as a good portion of the next day.

<><><><><><><><><><>

Things grow worse in San Francisco, and a part of Jim wonders if the Vulcans might actually be right in their considerations. He can see where people might think the earth is beyond saving. Since Ayel arrived, things have only gotten worse and worse, and Jim can’t find anything about him. All he knows are the whispers.

Even the population of the city has given up. People stay locked indoors, and even the police have upgraded their weaponry. Businesses are closing, and people are leaving. It’s as if the city has been lost for a long time, and they’ve only just realized it.

Amanda Grayson has become a fixture in his life, and in a life as chaotic as his, that’s rare. He comes upon her every other week or so, and she always greets him with that kind smile of hers. She’s warm and delicate, and despite her apparent prowess with umbrellas, she’s undoubtedly in danger if she stays here.

“You really ought to leave,” Jim greets her one day. She shakes her head, swinging her umbrella on her wrist.

“Jimmy, this city was a part of who I was for a long time,” she explains. “I can’t leave it any more than you can. And hello to you too, by the way. The new holsters are rather dashing.”

He raises an eyebrow, and she laughs. He can only imagine why. “I’m serious, Ms. Grayson. It’s not safe here anymore. I won’t always be around to protect you, and there’s a good chance things are only going to be getting worse. Your umbrella-fu won’t save you from everything.”

Ms. Grayson sighs. “Jimmy, I’m serious too,” she says. “I’m not leaving this city. All the forces in heaven and earth couldn’t make me leave.”

Please,” Jim hears himself say, and to his shock, he hears desperation in his tone. “Please leave the city. At least leave until I’m able to clean it up a bit more. I want you as far away as possible. I want you safe.”

The older woman pauses. A strand of her hair slips out from under the wrap she keeps on her head, brushing across her cheek, her nose, and her lips, and then she moves it behind her ear again. Her wrists are so small, he realizes. A man half his size could break them. “I know you do,” she says softly. “But Jim, you have to understand. This city is always getting worse. No one can ‘clean it up’ enough for everyone here to be safe. I’m not leaving. I can’t.”

Jim steps forward, taking those tiny wrists in his hands. They’re small, but they’re also deceptively strong, he realizes. It’s like she’s got metal bones. “I can arrange a safe place for you,” he whispers. “My brother lives in Iowa, you know. A nice little town, with corn fields and little blue cottages with window boxes, even though there’s all the room in the world for flowers in the yards. You would be safe there. Or—”

Ms. Grayson brings her hands together, and his, still grasping her wrists, do the same. “That isn’t what I meant,” she murmurs back. “I spent years running away from this city. But home is home, no matter how much you try to deny it. And I won’t leave my home.”

He lets go of her wrists, and her hands move to cup his face. She smoothes them over his cheeks, ears, and neck a few times, and then she pulls him into a hug. His eyes burn, and he squeezes them shut against her shoulder.

“Please, Ms. Grayson,” he says, muffled in her collarbone. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“Nor do I, Mother,” a familiar voice sounds from his right. Jim picks up his head, and Spock comes into his field of vision. Ms. Grayson loosens her hold on him, but she keeps a hand on his shoulder. “As much as I disagree with him on a regular basis, I must echo his request. Return to Vulcan.”

Jim can’t help but stare at Ms. Grayson. She doesn’t seem to notice, eyes locked with Spock’s. “I’ve told you a thousand times, Spock,” she says evenly. “I am not leaving this city.”

Spock approaches, and Jim can’t remember ever seeing him so closely before. His chin is covered in stubble; Jim hadn’t realized Vulcans could grow facial hair. His hair is just barely ruffled out of place, and his hands – so strong and violent, especially compared with Ms. Grayson’s – are clenched into fists. He reaches out a hand in a gesture Jim has never seen.

“Every day you remain in this city, you are put in greater risk for harm,” Spock tells her, brow even more severe than usual. “You must leave the city at once. You are not safe.”

She reaches out her free hand and brushes her fingertips against his forearm. “I know,” she says. “But I won’t leave you alone here. I won’t leave you in this city without anyone to take care of you.”

So, Ms. Grayson is Spock’s mother. He supposes he ought have seen that, though he can’t quite figure out why he didn’t know it in the first place. Perhaps it is because they are so different from each other that he never saw it. But he knows now, and he doesn’t think he can ever forget.

“I do not need a caretaker, Mother,” Spock informs her. “I need you to be someplace safe.”

The older woman smiles, a bittersweet curve that Jim has never seen in his life. “If you’re here, I’m as safe as I would be anywhere,” she says. Spock shakes his head. “Honey, you need to relax a little. I’ll be fine. I won’t die while you’re here to protect me.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

Amanda Grayson dies two days later.

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