spock: logic is sexy

Fic: The Place Where They Have to Take You In (Kirk/Sulu's Mom)

Title: The Place Where They Have to Take You In
Characters/Pairings: Kirk and Sulu's mom, somewhere between het and gen
Summary: Kirk and Sulu's mother meet in a bar after the destruction of Vulcan. The evening doesn't turn out the way either of them planned.
Rating: PG-13
Notes: Way back in October, roflolmaomg asked for "Kirk/Sulu's mom, HBIC cougar." This is probably not at all what she had in mind. This story now has a prequel, Lucky in This Life.
Word Count: 3000



Eight hours after the Enterprise docks at Utopia Planetia, Jim reckons he's the only member of the crew who hasn't gone home. There are reasons for this. Plenty of good, valid, non-dysfunctional reasons he will try and fail to make Bones believe if -- no, when -- he comes back from visiting his daughter. The truth is, he just saved the world; he figures he gets at least 24 hours to come up with a way to apologize to his mother for being a complete and total dipshit for at least twenty-three of the last twenty-five years.

So he goes to the other place he calls home: a dirty bar hidden in the basement at the edge of the city where he knows he can find a fight or a fuck or both. Not that he's really in a condition to do either. The bar beats the hell out of his empty dorm room though, so he stays even though there's an unfamiliar woman sitting on his favorite stool. She doesn't belong here; he can tell that right away. She holds herself too rigid to be a woman on the prowl or a drunk burying her sorrows in the bottom of a bottle, but some faint slump in her shoulders suggests that it takes all the effort in the world to hold herself upright.

He sidles up to the bar and pulls out a stool with his toe, watching her out of the corner of his eye. Nothing about her suggests she wants to talk to anyone, much less a man, but he's Jim Kirk - what the hell else is he going to do at the end of a day like today? When his beer comes, he inclines it toward her, and he's surprised to see she looks a little grateful to catch his eye. Okay, Jim thinks, maybe she does want a little company. He's about to scoot over closer when he catches a glint of gold fabric beneath the sleeve of her leather jacket. He watches as she lifts her glass, and sure enough, more of her sleeve pulls back, revealing three thick, white captain's stripes.

Jim ducks his head to hide a grimace. He's not sure he wants this to go any further. Sure, the brass had been all "thanks for saving the world," but he's pretty sure he's in for the biggest disciplinary review in Starfleet history once they stop smiling for the news cameras. And for all he knows, this woman might be the chairperson of his disciplinary committee. But then, it's a Wednesday night, there's no one else here but her, and if he doesn't talk to her, what else is he going to do with his night? Yeah, he's tired as hell, but he's not going to sleep, and he's not spending the evening crying into his beer and missing the Enterprise. Attractive-yet-mysterious Starfleet captain it is.

He slides off his stool and steps a bit closer to her, hoping the way that he's leaning against the bar suggests attractive nonchalance rather than complete exhaustion.

"Come here often?" he asks.

She snorts, which he figures is exactly as much of an answer as the cheesy line deserves. Even in the dim light, he can see she looks almost as busted as he does. He wonders why but thinks of Vulcan and decides it's better not to ask.

"Rough day at the office?" she asks, and now it's his turn to snort.

"You could say that."

The smile ghosting around the edges of his lips aches a little, and he chooses to believe that's because he got hit in the mouth at some point and not because it's somehow metaphorical for his frame of mind.

"Join the club," she says, and downs an impressively long gulp of beer.

Something about her eyes is familiar, but he can't quite put his finger on what. He likes them though; they look like they'd be wild and mischievous if she weren't so tired. He leans a little more heavily against the bar and wonders if the circles under his eyes are as dark as hers.

"My best friend says I shouldn't join any club that would have me as a member."

"Yeah," she says, "mine too."

On another night, he might have bantered back, but this time he settles for a quiet laugh and suddenly feels about ten years older. He wonders if that's a permanent thing, or if it will go away with a good night's rest and a couple good benders. He considers asking her -- she's been doing this longer than him, after all -- but then, she looks like she might be wondering the same thing, and don't ask, don't tell seems to be the order of the evening. They nurse their beers in silence for awhile, and when hers is empty, she sets it on the counter with a decisive clink and slides off her stool.

"You coming home with me?" she asks.

He tries to answer with his patented Jim Kirk grin, but even he can feel how awkward and unnatural it looks.

“Yeah, I'd like that,” he settles for instead. Truth is, what he really wants is just to curl up next to her and sleep, and one look at the weariness in her eyes makes him wonder if she wants that too. But no, if she were looking for someone to literally sleep with, she wouldn't be in a bar like this, and she wouldn't have propositioned a man like him.

Her apartment's not that far away, but by the time they arrive, his eyes feel like they're full of sand and he has a bad feeling he's swaying on his feet. He really ought to be kissing her or unzipping her jacket or something, but instead he blurts, "it smells awesome in here," which is not exactly a graceful way to begin a one-night stand.

She's nice enough not to laugh. Something in her eyes goes soft for the first time that night, and he suddenly notices the faint network of lines at the corners of her eyes and mouth.

"You want some soup?" she asks.

"I, uh..." This has got to be the most embarrassing thing he's done to himself. Not because he picked up a woman his mother's age -- he's done that plenty of times before and never regretted it -- but because he is actually standing in her apartment ready to ask her to treat him like she's his mother.

"Come on," she says, shrugging out of her jacket. "There's leftovers in the fridge. My son came home this morning. I made more sinigang than even he could eat."

Jim has absolutely no idea what sinigang is, but if it's the source of the smell, he knows he wants it. Bones' protests notwithstanding, he really hasn't eaten anything but protein bars since the battle, and there's really no point denying his hunger when his stomach's growling loud enough for both of them to hear.

"Kitchen's this way." She tugs gently on his arm. "And I assure you that no one who comes into this house turns down my cooking."

She looks like someone who does not expect to be contradicted, but he's still rooted to the spot because the phrase 'my son came home' is still rattling around in his head. Meet-the-man-I'm-about-to-fuck is so not a moment he's looking for.

"I'm sorry. Did you just say that your son came home?"

"Yes." For a split second, she looks deeply, blissfully relieved before she switches on her tough-lady-in-charge face again. "And he's asleep. For at least the next twenty-four hours. You're safe."

The kitchen is cozier than he expected considering she's probably not here much. The walls are a nice buttery yellow and decorated with lots of pictures, mostly of her with her kid, who looks to be about the same age Jim is. While she's busy digging bowls and spoons out of the cupboards, he steps a little closer to the nearest set of pictures, which seem to be from a fencing tournament.

"That's funny," he says. "The helmsman on my ship is a fencer too."

He mentally kicks himself as soon as the words come out of his mouth. He really shouldn't call the Enterprise his ship anymore. She's a captain, so she'll probably want to know what he means by it, and then he'll have to explain about how for one brief and blindingly joyful day he was the captain of the best ship in the entire galaxy, and as soon as he'd sat down in the chair in the center of her bridge, he'd known what it had meant to be home. And now, if he's lucky, he'll be demoted to ensign, and he'll work his way back up, but by then, the Enterprise will belong to someone else who will not possibly appreciate her as much as he does. But then, she's a captain too, so maybe she'll understand. He turns around to say something about that, but she's latched onto the wrong part of his sentence, and she's saying that her son is a pilot too.

He turns back to the photo, studying it more carefully this time. There couldn't be that many fencing pilots in the fleet, could there? And now that he's really looking at it, the guy in the picture is obviously Sulu. Ten years younger, maybe, with a rounder face, but indisputably the guy who'd killed Romulans and plummeted off a giant drill with him.

"Uh," he manages before he starts backing slowly toward the door. He may not be the captain of the Enterprise anymore, but nailing the mother of a former crew member is definitely not cool. Especially not if the crew member in question is good with a sword.

"Well," she says, and seems a little stuck for words. "That could have been awkward."

"Yeah." Understatement of the century. Thanks for saving my life. Sorry I banged your mom while you were sleeping in the next room. "I think I should probably go."

Not that he has any idea where he's going. The dorm room, though technically still his, feels like a relic of another life, and his request to join the Enterprise's maintenance crew had already been denied. But then, not knowing where to go has never stopped him from leaving a place before. He's already at her front door when she catches him and presses a plastic container of soup in his hands.

"Not by yourself, okay? I'll take you home. You can eat in the car."

"Listen, that's really kind of you, but I can walk to the transit station on my own."

"No, you can't," she says in the you-are-straining-my-patience tone that he had heard so often from Captain Pike. "You are exhausted, you don't know where the transit station is, and it's closed after midnight anyway. You need a ride, and I am taking you home."

She shrugs her shoulders and puts the black leather jacket on again.

"Besides, what else am I going to do with myself at this hour?"

She looks a little lost when she says it, so what can he do but agree? It's not like he wants company or likes feeling taken care of or anything; he's just too tired to argue.

He follows her to the street outside, where a black compact car is waiting. He registers dimly that she must have walked to the bar because she planned to get too drunk to drive home.

"So where's home?" she asks once they're settled in the car.

He snorts and gestures vaguely at the sky.

"Up there somewhere."

Dry dock #14, Utopia Planetia Station, to be precise. But he can't go back.

"You?" he ventures, cracking open the container of soup. The smell that wafts out is tangy and unfamiliar but somehow still homey.

"Same."

The car moves slowly through dimly lit streets, and Jim wonders if maybe they could just drive aimlessly all night. The soup is warm and just exotic enough to be interesting, and he feels more peaceful than he has in, well, longer than he cares to remember.

"I don't think I ever got your name." He hates to break the silence, but he's afraid that he's about to fall asleep.

"Matapang. Captain Matapang."

She sounds terse, reluctant even. He wonders what it is with him and women who won't disclose their names.

"Matapang," he repeats absently. It sounds familiar. Then the name clicks into place and suddenly everything about her makes sense -- the scrapes and bruises, the quiet sadness in her eyes, the defeated slump of her shoulders when she thinks nobody's looking.

"You were the captain of the Farragut," he says slowly.

"Yeah. Yeah I was."

She looks over at him.

"Don't say anything, okay?"

He doesn't answer, just nods quietly. There really is nothing to say anyway. He's never lost a ship; he's barely even had one. But the last few lonely, directionless hours have taught him how much it sucks to call a ship your own and then not have her anymore, and he knows how hard she must have fought to keep the Farragut in one piece. He can't imagine how hard she must be fighting to keep herself in one piece right now. He wishes, more than he has ever wished for another human being in his life, that he could make this better. He can't, though, so he lets the silence rest.

"Jim," she says, and he really shouldn't be surprised that she'd figured out who he was before he ever asked her name, "I am going to ask you this one more time. Where's home?"

"Iowa."

He's going to have to stop running from that some time.

"Is someone alive there who loves you?"

He nods, feeling ashamed. Letting his mom find out he survived via news footage was probably not the kindest decision he could have made.

"Then you have to go back."

He realizes they are pulling into the parking lot of the medium-distance transporter station and wonders if they've been heading here the whole time. This would probably be a good time to explain that he would rather fight ten more crazed Romulans than face his mother with nothing better to say than, "Sorry I'm an asshole." But that would require him to tell Captain Matapeng exactly what kind of asshole he is, and for reasons not entirely clear to him, something about her makes him desperately want her respect. He figures that must make her a pretty good captain.

"Jim, listen," she says, and he does because she's got that whole magnetic captain thing going on, and it's nice to know that doesn't go away just because the ship is gone. "You have to do this. I don't know your mom. I don't know what happened between you and her that you didn't go straight home as soon as you got off your ship. I do know that I haven't been a perfect mother, and my son? Has not been a perfect son. But the reason -- the only reason -- I got off that flaming wreck of a ship was to see my kid again. A whole hell of a lot of awful things happened out there that I'm sure you and I will never want to think or talk about again. But if you need to take one good thing away from it, it's this: life doesn't provide you with a whole lot of opportunities to go home and start over with no questions asked, but this is one of them. Believe me, your mother wants to see you."

He looks at her, her fingers clenched tight around the steering wheel and tears gleaming in her eyes. It's kind of shocking that he could be worth that kind of passion from a stranger. Just him, Jim Kirk, pretty much naked at one of the worst moments of his life.

She touches his knee lightly, and the gentleness of it catches him off-guard after her angry tirade.

“Jim, picking up strangers in bars isn't going to give you back what's missing.” She smiles wryly at that. “Not that I'm judging. But go home, okay? You have to be with who you love.”

“Okay,” he says dumbly. For once in his life, it's a relief to blindly obey. It's a surprisingly good way to block out fear.

They walk into the transporter station together, their footsteps echoing in the empty halls. Hers are still quick and precise, like a captain's. He keeps up with her, but only just. He thinks he'll salute her from the transporter pad, but instead, he pulls her into a tight hug and scrawls his comm number on the back of her hand. Not exactly classy, but he's got a pen and no paper, and besides he is Jim Kirk.

“Don't be alone, okay?” he says, tapping the number on the back of her hand. Grinning cockily for the first time tonight, he adds, “That's an order, Captain Matapeng.”

She looks slightly dazzled and slightly bewildered, an expression he's used to seeing on the faces of his more understanding superiors, and it makes him feel a little more like himself. As he climbs the steps to the transporter pad, he decides to toss her the salute after all, and the last thing he sees before he faces the strange new world of his mother's house is the smile on Captain Matapeng's tired face.
That is awesome. I love Sulu's mom to distraction and I am so very much glad that Jim will be going to talk to his mother.
Thank you so much! I really enjoyed creating her, so I'm happy that you enjoyed reading her :)
You are wonderfully prolific lately! I love this one too. I want to hug your weary Captain Matapeng. I like how this encounter turns into something both of them need in some small way, even if nothing is going to fix what's happened. And I like that Jim goes home. ♥
Lovely, intense, beautifully sad-yet-hopeful story.

But if you need to take one good thing away from it, it's this: life doesn't provide you with a whole lot of opportunities to go home and start over with no questions asked, but this is one of them. Believe me, your mother wants to see you.

Whoa. What a line. Great.

♥ i know we both thought i wanted something cracky and silly but i like this so, so much better. i love when people explore the aftermath of what was shown in the movie and i LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE that sulu's mom is so kick-ass.

very, very well done and worth waiting for.
Oh, this is lovely, and Sulu's mother is lovely, and this line is so telling about Jim:

It's not like he wants company or likes feeling taken care of or anything; he's just too tired to argue.
I should say something graceful about how awesome this is and how much I love Captain Matapeng, but, um, I can barely see to type through how hard I'm crying. Which is to your credit.
I adore this. Sulu's mom is fantastic-- sweet and loving but hard as nails. I love that she made soup for Hikaru and tucked him into bed for 24 hours of sleep. Seriously, my heart. And Kirk wandering around, not knowing where to go always breaks my heart. *cuddles both of them* And her slightly dazzled/bewildered look at the end in response to that patented JT Kirk grin? Perfect way to end it. :)
Aw, thank you so much! I was pretty unsure whether this story would make sense to anyone other than me, so it means a lot that you liked it :)
HOW MUCH DO I LOVE THAT SULU'S MOM MADE SINIGANG??! A HECKUVA LOT.
AND NOW I'M CRAVING IT KTHNX. :P
Seriously, this whole fic is just GORGEOUSNESS. GAAAAAHHHH LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT.
Thank you so much (and sorry for the extreme lateness of my response!) This story means a lot to me, so I'm so happy you enjoyed it :)