A/N: I've read so many fics where Frank is portrayed as drunken bastard who abuses his stepchildren/nephews that I decided to follow the stream of the few who portray the man in different way. Don't worry, Frank – although you have villain-ey name ever since Frank Burns from M*A*S*H, some of us may still like you at least a bit. :) Something still irks me about this - just can't decide what it is. It's also my first try at the fandom. Feel free to read and review, I will love you forever, if you do so. Just no flames, please, nobody expects the Spanish inquisition. :)
Disclaimer: I own or won nothing, although if you have free Spock Primes or Enterprises, feel free to gift me one. *nudge, nudge*
Summary: He only rarely calls him other than James - but when he does, it always means something. When everything fails, you can always count on your uncle.
He heard about Kelvin attack, as the whole affair was now called. Well, everyone knew about that. Captain Robau handed the conn to his First, George Kirk, and left for the strange enormous ship. The ship itself appeared out of nowhere from something what looked like tropical storm taking place in open space. The fact that the Captain got killed, making George captain, was also well-known. Saving 800 lives in 12 minutes. Something probably no one managed to do since then, when it came to spaceships.
He mourned the loss of his friends and family who served there. At least Winona – his sister, Sam and her newborn James managed to survive. He came after them after the disaster, to make sure they are being taken care of. Winona was almost unrecognizable – sometimes he had the feeling that she is dead, just her body continues to function. Sam was definitely confused by all what was happening and James… well, James was such a charming baby that he instantly fell for him. He stayed with them, helping them as much as he could.
After the few months he intended to stay turned into years, Winona wrote him into the children's papers as their caretaker and left for Starfleet, losing herself in the space which robbed her of her beloved husband, almost never to be present in the lives of her children while he stayed with them, being there when the monsters appeared under their beds, helping them to build a tree house, exchange scary tales with them during the storms.
It was him who had been there for them when they came home strangely silent. The other children teased them about their dad being a hero – but in that cruel way only children are capable of, saying that he rather got himself killed than to stick with them and their mother. Not to mention that said mother also vanished, just so she wouldn't have to stick with the two failures of sons she gave birth to. He explained to them what he knew – he even messaged that Christopher Pike to send him a copy of his dissertation about USS Kelvin, so he knew every single thing about it, so he could answer their questions to the best of his ability.
Things took rather abrupt turn since then. Both boys started to excel in their studies and he was as proud as a father would be. They had almost no friends at all, so they mostly stuck at the farm, their noses kept in books, and their young minds absorbing knowledge as a sponge would absorb water.
But that was when they had that terrible fight about something none of them could remember afterwards. Before he could do anything, both boys stormed to their rooms, leaving him alone in the living room, sitting with his face in his palms. The sudden silence had been broken by the sounds of motor starting. He run up the stairs, to boys' rooms. Empty.
And his corvette had been missing from its place.
He had been beside himself before the cops finally called him. The corvette ended on the bottom of ravine several miles away from Riverside. James was currently in hospital being treated for broken arm and shock, Sam was missing.
For the first time in years Winona returned to the farm – and only to break the fragile peace which was between Frank and James after the corvette incident. In her never-ending wisdom she decided that the best for both of them will be change of scenery. Namely, change of scenery for James. And she had him shipped off to Tarsus IV, to stay with family of George's sister Alison. That was all she deemed necessary. She didn't even see him to transport. James didn't want to leave; he could see it clearly in the depths of his blue eyes. All of sudden, James threw himself at him, clinging to him for a moment before running off to the transport ship.
Every few days James called, telling him about what he had been doing. He looked rejuvenated – there had been one of the Officers or starship Enterprise, Hoshi Sato, and she took him under her wing. Frank even talked to Alison several times – she had much of George's personality. But the last few calls she seemed worried. "There are starting to be rumours about crop failure," she told him when he asked bluntly. "Hopefully it will be just that – rumours."
But it wasn't. Soon afterwards, all messages from Tarsus stopped. He tried to call himself, when James failed to check in the time he set as his calling time. By each failed try to call he became increasingly agitated and he let Starfleet know that something is probably wrong. They brushed him off, saying that probably just one of the transceivers is faulty and that they will look it. It took several weeks before something finally happened. And that was already too late for four thousand people.
When he saw James next time, the boy had been pale and bony, both making him seem smaller than he was. Reports said that he led small group of children younger than him and protected them. When their luck failed in the end and they got caught by Kodos' men, he was separated from his group and dragged to Governor Kodos himself together with eight other people, to be made an example of what happens when you oppose him. That was when the Fleet finally showed itself and saved the rest of the colony which managed to survive so long.
He spent several weeks in hospital with James, trying to wake him from his ready-to-die state. When the Fleet Intel finally lets him have his peace, Frank couldn't help but breathe in relief. James said he doesn't want to die – but his body is of completely different opinion, determined to die as soon as possible. He thought that all the history stuff about prisoners from concentration camps dying even when those who freed them were trying to keep them alive by feeding them sugary water was just imagination of novelists. But when his nephew, whom he started to view as a son, was dying in before him, he suddenly got an idea.
"You say you want to live, but your body is trying to die. I dare you to best your body."
And Jim's eyes got their lustre back, because it's challenge – and what better challenge is that the one where you have to best yourself? He would even go so far that his PADs are buzzing every time he was supposed to eat, so he doesn't forget to do so.
When the immediate death threat is finally banished, Winona appears again, near hysterics that her baby almost died. And he finally has enough. She never really cared; otherwise she wouldn't spend almost all her time in the space but on the Earth with her children. Now, Sam is still incommunicado, James barely survived and she comes back as if nothing happened, as if it hasn't been her decision?
There was a shouting match between Frank and Winona, when she threatens to delete his name from James' caretakers. She slapped him, hard, accusing him of stealing her children – when Jim finally spoke up. He said he wants to stay with Frank, that he doesn't know her and clung to him in all his eleven-year-old glory, his eyes staring at Winona, who could only wordlessly stare back before she left again. It's just the two of them again – but finally, both of them also knew the other one had their back.
The next few years are full of studying for both of them. James gets to high school earlier because of his excellent results and Frank decided to finish the degree he was working on when the Kelvin disaster happened. But when they finished and James got invited to join Starfleet Academy, the problems started anew. He refused to join, opting for university, getting degree in several specializations (amongst those were computer programming or advanced linguistics, together with courses about how to pilot almost everything what is meant to fly). And in between classes he's drinking and getting into fights.
Every time, it was Frank who got him from police station. Every but the last time he ever got into a bar brawl, it was Frank who had been chastising him while taking care of the bruises and other wounds James managed to get.
The infamous brawl took place in the bar near Riverside shipyard. The bartender later told him that Jim had been flirting with one of the cadets – and some of her fellow cadets found it highly offensive that a country bumpkin would dare to talk to one of them. Fight broke off very quickly, only to be stopped by Captain Pike. The two of them talked afterwards – barkeeper didn't know what has been spoken by the two of them, but the results are clear. Next day, Frank's comm unit sounded and James' battered face appeared on the other side of the screen.
"Hello Frank – I've got news for you."
He listened to everything James got to say. James even mentioned what Pike had told him and Frank had to hid a small smile. "I dare you to do better." Sounded like something he definitely heard before.
"I just hope you know what you are doing, James," he said in the end. His nephew just smiled humourlessly. "Yeah, me, too."
For the next three years James called him few times a month, telling him what he had been up to, sharing bits of Academy gossip mills and even returning to Riverside during the holidays. He's always gone sooner than Frank would have liked, the house too quiet and empty for just one person. But Winona made it clear that by no chance she is ever going to step on Earth, and she couldn't care less about her traitor of a brother and brat of a son.
It was almost as if a storm appearing out of nowhere – one day James telling him about Kobayashi Maru and his incoming third try at it, only to be notified as his next to kin that James had been caught cheating an is placed on academic suspension. He was able to be at the hearing – if only through comm screen and unable to speak, only to hear what is happening there.
He was no computer programmer – but from what he gathered, it was pretty much impossible to hack into the source of the whole. Sure, hacking is still hacking – but when a human is able to hack program written by Vulcan, it should count, too. His blood boiled in his veins when the Vulcan instructor raised from his seat and accused James of not getting what the whole simulation is about and told him that he of all people should know that a Captain can't beat death… It was unclear what would have happened afterwards, since the communication ended when one of the ensigns rushed into the room with PAD in his hands and one of the Admirals announced that all cadets are to report at their ships.
What followed were moments of panic when he learnt that Vulcan is destroyed, together with most f the ships which were close enough to be called to help Vulcan. Farragut, ship where James was supposed to be posted, is amongst them. The only ship which remained was Enterprise, ship captained by Christopher Pike. When finally came reports that the spaceship which destroyed Vulcan and attempted to destroy the Earth, too, ceased to exist, he sent message to Captain of Enterprise, inquiring to know what happened to Jim.
His message went unanswered for several long weeks. According to reports of relief ships, the Enterprise was limping her way back to Earth on impulse speed and her communication was mostly destroyed, so there was no chance of long-distance calls. When his comm signalled incoming call, part of him was scared that they are going to tell him James was dead. Not even when he learnt about Jim surviving the Tarsus massacre had he been as happy as he was now, when it was Jim's face on the other side of screen.
After another two weeks he found himself standing in the dockyards, together with several hundreds of people waiting for their loved ones to return. Then the first crew members were being transported down, each of them running to their families. He was there alone. Part of him doubted that Winona even bothered to check what was happening to her son in the last fourteen years.
Finally, the officers were transported. Next to him, a small girl squeaked in delight and run towards a dark-haired man in blue uniform, who caught her and swung her around several circles, earning several more squeaks. Next to them, a group of women of obviously African descent were hugging young woman in red uniform, talking excitedly in language he didn't understand. All around had been people hugging, laughing, crying… he had to see James yet.
And then finally James appeared out of nowhere in front of him. In the first few moments they just stared at each other, wordlessly. After time which stretched as eternity itself, Frank opens his arms, something passes over Jim's face and then he's finally embracing him. And just like so long before, Jimmy just clings to him, face hidden in his shoulder. He feels someone watching them, as he hugs his nephew tight.
When Pike shakes his hand with Jim while telling him: "Your father would be proud," and Jim just flashed him a smile, looking over the heads of his classmates to where he was sitting and said: "I hope he is," he can only return the smile and nod.
No one can be prouder. No one.