six year old jim kirk has a comic collection he keeps in a battered box beneath his bed. he reads under his blankets at night and wonders if his dad saved as many people as iron man, as captain america, as superman. six year old jim kirk wonders why superheroes never seem to die.
twelve year old jimmy kneels in the snow on tarsus iv, the cold wind gnawing at his exposed skin as he stares at the hilt of the knife he’d buried in a man’s chest; there are so many colors, too many, the white and the globs of crimson and the deep brown of the tree branches against the flat iron sky. twelve year old jimmy stares at the knife and sees the huddle of kids he left crouched around a fire less than a mile from here. he sees the gun at the man’s belt, sees kodos’ insignia sewn on his chest. jimmy sees the man’s eyes, the color of leaves in the middle of spring, sees how they are wide open and sees how they see nothing. twelve year old jimmy kneels in the snow and learns why superheroes wear masks.
eighteen year old jim plants his feet on the cracked asphalt and tells himself he likes the taste of blood on his tongue. he doesn’t know the first thing about the man in front of him except that he currently wants to punch jim’s face in, and if there’s anything jim is good at it’s anger. everyone wants to fight sometimes. it’s a human itch. besides, this guy is an asshole anyway. eighteen year old jim tells himself this as he spits at the other man’s feet, as he dances back from a punch and lets his fist slam into flesh, crack bone. fighting bad guys, see, dad? he wonders if all superheroes have holes in their chests like him.
twenty year old jim forces a smile when his mom says happy birthday, sweetie. she says i’m so proud of you. your father would be too. she says you look so much like him. she is grinning, but there are tears threatening to fall, too, and when she hugs him he feels them soak into his shirt. he holds her tightly and whispers i love you and wishes those words didn’t always come out sounding like i’m sorry.
twenty-three year old jim t. kirk stops his bike at the shipyard as the sun is rising and stares at the skeleton of a starship. i dare you to do better. the ship will not be complete for another year or two; jim can see the sky through the holes in her. she looks so out of place here, in the middle of nowhere, stuck on the ground. she belongs to the stars.
jim kirk decides that all superheroes should be able to fly.