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Title: And Therefore I Forbid My Tears, Part 6/?
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Rating: PG
Summary/Notes: written for this prompt at [ profile] st_xi_kink_meme. A rebooted version of the TOS episode Conscience of the King; you may want to give it a watch before reading.
Themes: Angst, hurt/comfort, general Tarsus IV badness.
Note on Canon: I've had to take a few liberties with Lenore Karidian's age here. In the TOS 'verse, she is in her late teens and Kirk is in his 30s. For the purposes of this story, I'm assuming that in the alternate timeline, she was born earlier and is thus closer to Reboot!Kirk in age here.

Also, you guys, every time I type "Karidians" I want to type "Kardashians". So if you see that typo, please let me know!

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

In the turbolift, en route to guest quarters, Jim is quiet. He stares at the floor, worrying his lower lip. Spock has seen this look over the chessboard, not to mention the bridge, countless missions…well, it means that the Captain is deep in thought, and for an individual with something of a reputation for spontaneity, it is a pose he takes up surprisingly often.

Spock reaches out with one hand, gently brushing Jim’s fingers with his own. Something in him gives a little thrill at the boldness of such a small gesture. What will you do, should our visit convince you that Karidian and Kodos are the same man?”

Jim gives him a sidelong glance. “I hadn’t really thought that far ahead,” he admits, scratching the back of his head. “I’m still…everything you said makes sense, Spock. And back there, with the phaser…I mean, all signs point to yes, and I get that. But I’ve got to make absolutely sure.”

Spock halfway expects an armed guard to confront them at the door to Karidian’s quarters, but Deck 4 is dim and quiet in the ship’s artificial night. Jim keys in his override code, and they are greeted by more shadows. The only illumination inside Karidian’s guest room is the dull red glow of the safety lights and the blue of the same standard-issue chronometer Spock has come to detest in his own quarters. The room feels dreamlike. Spock draws himself up, straightening his uniform reflexively, and stands squarely in front of the door. He nods at Jim. He has learned that such a gesture carries a reassuring connotation, and when Jim gives a tight smile in answer Spock resolves to add it to his repertoire.

For his part, Karidian has a weary look on his face as they enter. He barely glances up from the table, where he is bent over a folio, and holds up a hand to still them while he reads. Apparently finished with his sentence, Karidian sets the volume down and places his hands in his lap. “I had hoped that you would honor my request to be left alone, Captain. As you know, our performance approaches; it wouldn’t do to repay the crew with a lackluster performance.”

“Sorry, Karidian. Leaving you alone this long has been a dangerous proposition. I’d say we’re already overdue for a chat, wouldn’t you, Spock?” Jim glances at him.

“Ah, I see you’ve brought your Horatio,” Karidian says drily. Spock raises an eyebrow.

“Yeah, well, considering the fact that both of us were almost blown to bits about five minutes ago, he’s not exactly thrilled about letting me out of his sight.” Jim shoots him another sidelong glance. “And vice versa, I might add.”

“I’m sure I have no idea what you are referring to, Captain.”

“Oh, I don’t know, how about the phaser on overload that almost took out several decks of my ship and killed about a hundred of my crew? And I’m sure you don’t know anything about my crewman Riley being poisoned, either.”

Spock thinks he catches a glint of…something in the man’s eyes, but then it is gone, and Karidian schools his features into a blank mask that the student of Surak in Spock cannot help but admire.

“Poisoned. Hmm. How unfortunate.”

“Are you Kodos?” Jim sets his jaw squarely. Evidently he has elected to take a straightforward approach.

Spock is not sure what he expects, only that Karidian’s measured reaction is not it. “Do you believe that I am?”
Jim appears thrown by the question, but he recovers quickly. “I…yes.”

“Then, Captain, I am Kodos.” Jim gapes at the pronouncement. “I am an actor, Captain. I can be whoever you wish me to be.” Karidian’s lips quirk faintly upward; there is the parody of seduction in the man’s tone. Spock feels vaguely sick.

Jim is silent, though Spock notes his hands are curled into fists at his side.

“Maybe you’re an actor now, but what were you twelve years ago?”

Karidian smirks. “Younger.”

Jim scoffs. “Yeah, well, so was I. Younger than you were. But I still remember. Let’s see if you do.”

He pulls a folded sheet of paper from his pocket and holds it out to Karidian, hand shaking slightly. Without thinking, Spock steps closer to Jim, fighting the urge to reach for his hand, to steady it, to stand with his Captain and challenge this man in whatever fashion Jim might have planned.

“Here. Read this into that communicator in the wall over there. And don’t bother disguising your voice; there’s state of the art speech recognition software in there. WE’ll cross-check it with a sample of Kodos’ voice we’ve got in our files. And we’ve got a Comms genius on the ship to boot. Between that software and Lieutenant Uhura, we’ll know if you try to fake it.” Jim clicks the comm unit on. “Ready for voice test.”

Karidian looks blankly at Jim and Spock. Spock thinks that the man’s reaction to Jim’s accusation is strange; it is as if he expected the confrontation from the moment the players boarded the ship. Karidian opens his mouth, clears his throat, and, wearily, begins to read.

“…therefore, I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered. Signed, Kodos, Governor of Tarsus IV.”

“I…I wrote those words down from memory. I was thirteen, but I still remembered it, all of it. You said those words like you knew them; you didn’t even look at the paper.” Jim’s voice sounds small, defeated. There is something in him that did not wish to find the truth of this matter, Spock thinks. And now Karidian has shown it to him, and he does not know what to do.

Karidian sits down heavily. “Did you get what you wanted, Captain?”

Did you? thinks Spock.

Jim laughs mirthlessly. “If I got what I wanted…you might not walk out of this room.” His voice is unsteady. “C’mon, Spock, let’s get out of here. Mr. Karidian here has lines to learn.”

There is a sound from behind the screen that leads to the cabin’s sleeping area.

“So conscience makes cowards of us all, Captain.”

Lenore Karidian steps out of the shadows, the sequins on her dress glittering faintly in the low light. Spock cannot help but think that her wardrobe thus far is thoroughly inappropriate for life on board a starship. He quickly reminds himself that given the fact that they are potentially dealing with an accomplice to murder, Lenore’s sartorial missteps are the least of his worries.

“How now, a rat,” Spock says.

“What the hell, Spock?” Jim appears baffled by the outburst.

“Is that not the contextually appropriate allusion?”

Jim gives a small shake of his head and shoots Spock a disbelieving look. Lenore smiles, white teeth flashing. “I see you’ve brought a friend! And a scholar at that. How nice. But must say, Captain, I am disappointed. I thought you might spare him your questions. My father, I mean. He is not well, you know.”

“Yeah, well. Sorry for the inconvenience. We’ll get out of your hair now. “

“You think you’re a hero, is that it? Out to save the world? From what? My father is an old man. There’s a stain of cruelty on your armor, Captain.”

“Lenore, you don’t know…you can’t understand…”

“What can’t I understand? You spoke of tools once- when we were together before. I was a tool, wasn’t I? You used me to get to my father.”

Jim looks gutted. He looks down at the floor, and when he looks back up his eyes dart first to Spock, then back to Lenore. They shine with tears, and Jim draws a ragged breath. “Maybe- maybe at first. But I don’t know…I wanted…” Unable to finish, he shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter. We’ll drop you off at Benecia, like I said we would. No harm done.”

“No harm done.” She laughs. “You’re just like this ship you love so much. You’re powerful- but you’re not human. You think you’re merciful- but there’s no mercy in what you’re doing to my father.”

“What the captain is doing,” interjects Spock, is delivering you and your father to a colony where you will be allowed to go about your business freely. Considering what we have learned of your father today, such a resolution to this episode could indeed be described as merciful.”

“Captain, have you brought a computer along with you? Is this what a starship captain calls a friend?” Spock cannot help it; he swallows reflexively at her words and steps closer to Jim. Lenore looks back and forth from one to the other, and then turns back to Spock with a sneer. “I see. Be careful, Horatio. Have you yet thought of what use you might be to Jimmy here?”

Spock raises an eyebrow at this, but Jim crosses the room in two strides, standng face to face with the woman. Spock can see her chest rise and fall with the beat of her heart; Jim is so close to her, so angry, and yet she seems more excited than frightened. “Goddammit, you can stand here and insult me all you want, but don’t you dare insinuate that-“

“Ms. Karidian,” Spock interjects smoothly. “If you will excuse us.” He closes his hand around Jim’s wrist; the fierce rhythm of his pulse beats time against Spock’s fingers. “Captain, I believe we have overstayed our welcome.”

Spock marches Jim from Karidian’s quarters and into the turbolift before allowing him to collapse against the wall. “Thanks, “ says Jim breathlessly. “I kind of froze up in there.”

“I believe you wished to exercise mercy in dealing with the Karidians. I was merely facilitating that wish.”

“By forcibly removing me from the situation before I could kill Lenore?”

“Precisely.” Spock is silent a momenent, then continues: “Jim, a moment ago. Ms. Karidian spoke of your misleading her- using her as a tool.”

Jim sighs. “Yeah- I don’t know, Spock. These last few days- they’ve been like a bad dream. Half the time I can’t tell if I’m awake or if I’m finally sleeping, and this is just some ridiculous nightmare.”

“But you have had…interactions with Lenore Karidian during her stay on the ship?”

“I guess you could say that.”

Spock purses his lips. “Captain, if I may ask-“

“Boy meets girl, Spock.”

“Boy meets girl. It’s, like, the most basic story ever. Just a teeny bit heteronormative for the 23rd century, but there you go. Anyway- As stories go? This whole thing?”-he gestures wildly at the turbolift- “My whole life? Pretty fucking dramatic, Spock. And I don’t know if Karidian is Kodos, or if Lenore wasn’t on Tarsus, or if she just wishes she wasn’t. But I do know that for a while there, it was boy meets girl on a starship, and it was easy, and I knew how to do it.”

Jim slides down the turbolift wall to rest on the floor. He looks up at Spock. “I don’t know how to do this.”

Spock sits down next to him, crossing his legs. He places one hand cautiously on Jim’s knee. “You wish to be sure of Karidian’s identity?”

Jim nods.

“Then I suggest we begin with the voice analysis.”

Jim smiles at him. “Thanks, Spock.”

“My lack of emotional investment in this situation merely facilitates a state of detachment conducive to problem-solving.” Hypocrite, he thinks. Lack of emotion, indeed- His tongue is thick with it. It is a stone in his mouth.

“Jim, Ms. Karidian likened you to a machine a moment ago. I wish to tell you that that is an inaccurate estimation of your character. You are…most human.”

“Well, I don’t see why I should just sit here and be insulted, Mr. Spock.” Jim raises an eyebrow at him. “Now come on, make yourself useful and give me a hand. We have a xenolinguistics genius to see about a voice analysis.”


The hour is late, but Nyota often remains awake into the small hours of the morning, working, conducting research, or practicing the lyre. Something stirs in Spock at the thought of her playing the traditional Vulcan instrument, of the fact that she remains committed to her practice following the termination of their personal relationship. He wonders if her continued study is a point of pride, but dismisses the thought almost as soon as it arises- Nyota would recognize the illogic of wasting time on an activity that served no practical purpose. The lyre must hold her interest for other reasons.

She meets them at the door to her quarters, leading them into the small office. Spock notices that she has drawn a drape across the entrance to her sleeping area, and he feels an odd sense of loss at her obvious desire for privacy.

Nyota’s hair is down, and she is wearing simple black pants and a tunic with a thick, cream-colored sweater over it. It is tied with a sash at the waist, almost protectively.

“Our apologies for the intrusion, Lieutenant,” Spock says by way of greeting. Nyota looks at him carefully.

“I printed the analysis after I got your comm,” she says, ignoring his platitude. “It’s very interesting.” Crossing to the desk, she places the two readouts side by side. “Here’s Kodos, and this one’s Karidian.”

“They’re close,” says Jim. “How close?”

“They look nearly identical to an untrained eye, but if you see here, and here- there are incongruities.”

“Can you give me a number? A percent error or something?” Spock and Nyota both raise their eyebrows. Jim is not typically concerned with exactitudes. “Don’t look at me like that. It’s a man’s life we’re talking about here- I need to be absolutely sure.”

“Well, there’s always going to be margin for error, Captain,” says Nyota. “But these readings- I’d call them identical for all intents and purposes.”

“All intents and purposes, Lieutenant?”

Spock clears his throat. The thick feeling from the turbolift is still there. “If I may interject- I am familiar with Lieutenant Uhura’s euphemistic reportage. I would venture a guess that ‘all intents and purposes’ correlates to a ninety-five to ninety-seven percent rate of certainty. I could provide you with more exact figures, but I believe I have made my point.”

“Commander Spock is correct, Captain.”

“OK,” says Jim. He pinches the bridge of his nose and lets out a long rushing breath. “OK. Thank you, Lieutenant. You’ve been a huge help.”

“It’s no problem, Captain.” Nyota reaches out and grasps Jim’s arm as he turns to leave. “Captain. My mother had family on Tarsus. This thing you’re doing…it’s a good thing. And it’s brave.”

Jim swallows reflexively, and gives her a small nod of thanks. Spock turns to look at Nyota as he follows Jim from her quarters, and she gives him a sad smile. “Be careful,” she whispers, and then the door slides closed between them with a puff of air.
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