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st - kirk

Russian Roulette (Kirk/Spock, ST:XI Mirrorverse, KSAdvent 2010 fic)

Title: Russian Roulette
Authors: snowlight and aprilleigh24
Pairing: M!Kirk/M!Spock (XI mirrorverse)
Rating: PG-13 for general MU-ness and language (no explicit violence)
Note: Written for ksadvent 2010. Plot by aprilleigh24 and text by snowlight. Many thanks to uminohikari for a timely and thorough beta job, and to verizonhorizon for getting us started.
Word Count: ~2,600

*

The one hundred hours directly preceding Christmas Day on Terra tend to be hellishly stressful for most Starfleet officers. Despite Empress Sato's long reign on the Steel Throne, the imperial preferences for Her vessels' annual tributes remain as enigmatic as ever. Kirk can understand why Helmsman Mitchell was summoned back in disgrace after that disastrous attempt at being clever, but to this day, he has never figured out why Security Chief Wyatt lost not only his uniform but also his head.

Regardless, Kirk never second-guesses himself in his choice of tributes to the empress. Some of the confidence comes from what he calls a natural gift for dealing with women, but more importantly, he knows full well that he's not easily dispensable like Mitchell and Wyatt. He's James Tiberius Kirk, captain of the flagship of the Imperial Starfleet. His eventual fate, be it rise or fall, will not rest on something as petty as a single holiday tribute.

On this Christmas Eve, like the three Christmas Eves preceding it, Kirk takes that much-deserved shore leave with the knowledge that his selected tribute will makes its final voyage to Terra in another seven hours. (It's a damned fine choice. Nothing compliments a lady's style and grace more than a full set of Caitian musical instruments made from the crystallized bones of their ancestors.) Back on the ship, McCoy and Uhura are still scheming somewhat frantically; yet as ridiculous as this might sound, Kirk trusts them both to make something work at the eleventh hour. They always do, when it comes to life and death.

And on this Christmas Eve, the first thing Jim Kirk notices when he walks into the Xelta IV base bar is Spock.

Not because Spock has the advantage of colorful feather bras over Orion slave girls, or because Kirk gets a kick out of seeing Spock out of the imperial fleet uniform. (He does, but that's irrelevant at this moment.) He notices Spock because his first officer is drinking what looks like the famous Xelta purple eggnog spliced with hard liquor—with a speed that is, frankly, alarming.

Mild alarm grows into full-blown red alert when Kirk realizes Spock's choice of poison to go with the eggnog: blood magnolia wine, the only alcoholic drink that can lay a Vulcan to waste without any additives. Very much an acquired taste, not to mention prohibitively expensive even before the entire planet of Vulcan went kaput. There are reputed to be no more than twenty bottles left in the entire Empire now, and Kirk knows one of them has been sitting on Spock's cabin shelf in a cipher box ever since the beginning of their five-year mission. Spock doesn't list it on his personal belonging data card, but of course Kirk knows it's there.

It's the same bottle which, according to the list Kirk has received from Admiral Robinson, is due to be sent before the Empress seven hours from now. Kirk may have gotten to the captaincy of the ISS Enterprise through backstabbing and plain old-fashioned stabbing, but he has stayed in the captain's chair by (first of all) instinctively recognizing the things which are simply not going to end well.

"Oh, you damned bastard," he says under his breath. "What have you done to yourself?"

*

He sits down on the stool besides Spock and is greeted by silence. Spock isn't quite looking at him, though Kirk is used to that in their precious few off-duty hours: Spock pretends that Kirk has no sway over him now that the uniforms are off, and Kirk pretends that he can solve this enigma of a Vulcan.

When he places an empty cup in front of Spock, however, there is a response. Spock half-turns and throws him a sideway look before retreating back to the red liquid in his own cup. The Vulcan appears stone cold somber, but then again Kirk has never seen the man drunk before. At least up until now, his XO had meticulously stayed away from all possible recreational vices because, in the words of his CMO, "you need to have actual hormones in order to get high from anything."

With perhaps more force than necessary, Kirk takes hold of the cup again and thrusts it right past Spock's hands. It's an open act of challenge and aggression, the kind Jim Kirk is known for. Spock just pushes the cup right back at him without so much as sparing him a glance, though this time the cup is accompanied by the wine bottle.

Spock, Kirk decides, is definitely drunk. And apparently a drunk Vulcan is a relatively docile Vulcan. Useless information really, as the liquor is all but impossible to obtain now.

That is, except for the bottle placed right in front of him.

Kirk watches as the wine makes a pleasant hissing sound upon contact with air. For all of its fabled ingredients ranging from magnolia spring honey to fermented blood, the clarity of this drink is simply extraordinary. It can't possibly be mistaken for something innocuous, however, because it bears the distinct smell of iron and sulfur. That scent surrounds him and assaults him, finally falling on his senses like the ashes of Vulcan.

Spock's eyes are at last on him as he holds up the half-filled cup. He grins and puts the bottle back on the table with a thud.

"Moment of truth," Jim Kirk says, fully aware of the irony of it all.

A drunk Vulcan is still a fast Vulcan, because Spock all but snatches the cup out from his hand and flings it to the floor.

*

They're both staring at the small red stain and broken glass shards on the carpet. There is hushed interest from the other club patrons in the immediate vicinities, but they avert their eyes hurriedly when they realize that they're looking at the captain and first officer of the ISS Enterprise. Still, Kirk can hear the sound of at least five different species' ears perking up for a potential information leak.

He begins light, because open insubordination is so unbecoming for both parties involved.

"You realize you've just spilled about seven thousand credits on that one square inch of carpet, don't you?" A pat on the shoulder is too risky under these circumstances, so Kirk opts for a quick finger snap, as if that would help Spock to wake up from this sleepwalking debacle. "If you keep this up, Spock, you might as well get yourself killed on some barbarian planet out there on some mission; you certainly can't afford the retirement."

As he expects, this Spock doesn't talk back. The Vulcan studies the floor for another moment before turning back to his drink, offering only a low murmur: "You're welcome to the wine, captain. However, upon reflection, I must inform you that I cannot guarantee that it's free of poison."

Spock sounds…sincere. Quietly wounded. Kirk pauses at that even as several questions rage quite unrestrained in his head: Was Spock planning to assassinate Sato with the tribute? No. That would far too obvious and unreliable, and Spock has never exhibited any reason for that kind of ambition. Is this an imposed death sentence because Sato finally decided that having Spock as his XO was too politically dangerous? She could have just reassigned the Vulcan then, and Kirk refuses to believe that Spock would leave the ship without even a fight. Kirk can think of half a dozen reasons why the universe want to sabotage him by taking Spock away, yet not a single one of them makes logical sense. And—forget logic, him not having Spock simply makes no sense. None.

All those speculations, however, would have to wait for the most obvious question: "Then why the fuck are you drinking it?"

"I have scanned it and have found nothing to indicate it has been poisoned." Spock takes another sip of the mixture in his cup, and Kirk relaxes slightly until he continues. "Of course, any poison used would have to be completely untraceable, and the resulting death would appear completely natural. Even Dr. McCoy would not be able to prove any irregularity in such a case."

Kirk feels the anger flaring up in his solar nexus like a cold dark flame: His XO had designated a possibly poisoned wine to the Empress as an annual tribute. The same XO is now playing Russian roulette with the same wine plus inviting the imperial wrath by neglecting the tribute duties. Spock has managed to betray both the Steel Throne and his captain with a single bottle of liquor. Oh, will the wonders never cease with these god-damned Vulcans?

In lieu of punching somebody and getting himself into unnecessary trouble, Kirk orders a pint of Romulan ale on the ice from the bartender who's clearly trying her best to leave them alone.

"Talk," he orders once he has gotten enough alcohol into his system, even as the undiluted ale burns his tongue with a biting bitterness. . "Now."

Spock finally looks at him with those dark eyes, still oddly calm.

"For the record, captain, it had not occurred to me that the wine might be poisoned when I selected it as the tribute for this year."

"And you had since found out that Vulcans poisoned all their wines for both fun and profit?"

"Only now-dead mothers who possibly despised their children." Spock actually almost-smiles at that, which is disturbing as fuck.

Kirk has read the ship's personnel files (in fact, he has maintained his own set of personnel files), so he knows exactly who Spock is talking about: his infamous mother—a human Section 31 operative who fell into the clutch of her highborn Vulcan target, the star of an inherently doomed romance which ruined careers but sold tabloids on an unprecedented scale. An outcast amongst both Terrans and Vulcans, Amanda Grayson died along with the planet Vulcan before she was ever permitted to return to Terra. It's all dreadfully sentimental and teary, but it has never affected Spock much on the outset. Kirk even calls him "bastard" to his face sometimes—because what's the point of being a starship captain if you can't call your crew bastards when they act like one?

"So what? It's taken you this long to figure that out?" The thought of Spock as a mama's boy is beyond disgusting.

"I hadn't realized this because my logic, where my mother was concerned, had been tainted by foolish human fantasies. In all my enlisted years, I held onto the belief that my mother wanted to have affections for her wayward son, how inconvenient he might have been for her. Never more so, after her death and the destruction of Vulcan."

He really is drunk. That's the only thought Kirk can muster. He has an irrational urge to wrestle the wine bottle out of the Vulcan's hands, but the bottle is nearly empty already, and nothing good will come with creating a scene—yet since when did he start thinking like a damned Vulcan? Spock hadn't believed in "creating a scene" when Amanda's name didn't appear in the rescued list from the planetary collapse. No body. No funeral. No tears.

And Spock certainly isn't creating a scene now. He's holding up rather well, in fact, considering the topic and the drink. "My recent cultural reconstruction meeting with T'Pau has forced me to reconsider my naïve prejudice. Yet even then, the human half in me persists and instigates—so much like you, captain. I failed to resist the curiosity because I was weak. I wished to know if she meant to kill me with her parting gift to me when I left Vulcan for the Service. It is a most unfortunate turn of events that by the time I met with T'Pau, I had already promised the same gift to the Empress."

There is another stretch of insufferable, dry silence. Kirk is dimly aware of the cacophony surrounding them, but he can't hear anything except for the sound of Spock sipping wine, the blood-stained liquor disappearing into that pale, thin mouth.

"You stupid, stupid bastard," he hears himself saying.

Why does Spock suddenly have to be human, here and now? This is the same man who becomes insulted whenever Bones calls attention to his Terran heritage, the one who uses it as an insult himself in rare moments of unguardedness. Spock has always associated the Terran race with words like "illogical" and "impulsive", but Kirk knows what he really means is "weak" and "dissolute." For all their impersonal logic, there is no way to wash that haughty pride from a Vulcan. Even after Naradda, when most of them have been reduced to living on a sparse re-population colony far away from the center of the Empire. And yes, even now.

He repeats himself after another gulp of the ale. There is no reply.

*

The bottle is emptied. Jim Kirk watches as Spock's head slowly droops and his upper body's straight line comes undone by an ungraceful dive through the air. Spock's face lands sideways onto the table after that, left cheek first. He is quiet to the last.

Ignoring the markedly unnatural hush around them, Kirk carefully extends out a hand and puts it against Spock's face.

Warm breath hits his fingers like a jolt, wet with heat in the artificially cool air. Spock is asleep, with his body apparently trying to stabilize itself despite the alcohol. Kirk has only seen Spock in a healing trance twice before, both of them during the first year of the mission, but it's not something one can forget.

He stares at that still form for a moment and flips out the communicator.

"Captain to sick bay. McCoy, you are to beam down to the planet surface at once and report at the base bar—yes there is only one. Bring your Vulcan medkit and have only Chapel to come with you."

At McCoy's confirmation, he sits back in the chair and orders another fill of ale. The world surrounding him comes alive again, with vibrant colors and unstifled laughter. Ah yes, the meaning of Christmas Eve—here's to having survived yet another year in the wilderness that is space, and to ambitious dreams and hopes which spring eternal. May you conquer and live.

A human woman smiles at him from a smoky corner of the room, wrapped up in a black little dress and fiery red tresses like magma. Kirk flashes a grin in return, only to elicit angry glances from another woman standing close to her. Kirk has no interest in becoming a part of the lovebirds' games, so he shrugs and lets it go. McCoy will be here any moment now, and there is business to attend to.

He'll need to contact tell Robinson once he beams back up to the ship. Spock will be sending that lovely set of Caitian musical instruments to the Empress this year. As for Kirk himself, a missing Christmas tribute or two should not land him at the eye of the hurricane that is imperial wrath. He has won enough campaigns as of late, and has enough support from the echelons of power that though things might be tense for a while, he'll come out fine. Sato isn't nearly as flighty as she pretends to be, and they both know that she needs him on the Northern front now more than ever.

He's Jim Kirk. He has a ship called the Enterprise, a Vulcan called Spock, and a battlefield full of stars.

Yeah. Pretty sure he'll be fine, after all.

*

Fin

Comments

Oh wow. That was impressive. Thanks. Would love to see more.
This was wonderfully written, and a beautiful study of what a relationship between Spock and his mother might be in the XI mirrorverse (which, admittedly, had not much occurred to me to be curious about until reading your story... and that I shall now think about excessively, I'm sure).
I'm with afallenseraphim, it never cross my mind that in the mirror verse, Amanda might not actually LIKE her son.

*kinda of wants to hug Spock*
Excellent, as usual. Almost makes me...
No. Ah-uh. I cannot handle two fandoms at the same time. *squashes thought thoroughly*
I really loved this intake of the mirrorverse. I'd like to see more. ^^
great fic!
This was EXCELLENT. I have to echo some of the other comments here; it had never even occurred to me before that there might be a universe out there, no matter how twisted, in which Amanda did not love Spock and where she might even consider poisoning him. That's an absolutely chilling thought... but it also makes for a fascinating world and I would love to see more from this version of the XI mirror!verse!

Some things never change though: loved that Kirk made sure that the Empress would receive a tribute from Spock after all, even if it meant that his own position would be a little strained for a while.
What a wonderful story! Loved your Mirror!Amanda and Spock-Amanda backstory, loved the gift politics and the Kirk-Spock relationship. Wouldn't mind, would in fact love to read more of the two in this 'verse. ;-)

Thank you so much for sharing. :D
(finally back at my computer after the holiday)

I am so happy with this story. I know that you gave me credit for the idea, but it really is you who made it come to life. I love this fic, and I feel honored (and lucky!) to have contributed to it.
Wow. Dark and awesome. Spock, you are a stupid bastard, but rather than for what you did, it's because of what you don't see. I think.

Very thought-provoking and gripping. <3
When I saw that this was a mirror!verse fic I was totally jumping up and down. But than my brain couldn't really connect mirror!verse to Christmas. So, I was a little apprehensive, but in the end I love how these characters still hold true towards the spirit of Christmas except more prickly and dangerous compared to their normal counterparts.