Chapter Three

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Disclaimer: I own none but the plot and the characters of Kate and Leia. All other characters belong to Paramount and CBS. I also do not own “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift, so now the lawyers can’t sue me.

AN: Betaed by Bebedora. Thank you for challenging me to do better, all your love and your support. Hugs.

Chapter Three

        “Win, I found him.” The soft words echoed throughout the empty room. Chris waited for the all-important declaration to affect the woman whose image flickered in front of him on his holoscreen.

        Tears formed in Winona Kirk’s green eyes. “You... did?” She appeared to have trouble catching her breath. Her response came in the form of a soft gasp. “Where?”

        “He was on Tarsus IV. He was almost killed because of an execution order passed by Kodos. He managed to escape with a group of kids into the forest, where they hid for God knows how long. Some of them were starving and barely alive when we found them.” Pike’s brow creased as an angry frown overtook his face. “What the hell was he doing there? And why didn’t you tell me that you sent him away? Damnit, Win, I promised George that I would take care of you. How in the hell did this happen?” Chris asked, taking a deep breath, trying but failing to curb his anger. He clenched his fists, trying to keep them out of the view of the camera.

        “I honestly don’t know. Frank told me that he was out of control when I left. So I told him that I thought it might be best if Jim should take a small vacation to where my brother and sister-in-law lived. I never imagined that he would just leave him there. Chris...” she took another deep breath, seemingly preparing herself for the worst. “Chris... how is he? Is he... dead?”

        Pike shook his head. “No, Win, he’s not. Surprisingly enough, he’s in reasonably good shape. He was dehydrated and malnourished. The doctor said that all he has to do is eat more. He’s been given a clean bill of health. He’s in the shower right now, getting cleaned up.”

        Winona gave a cry of relief. “Can I talk to him?”

        Pike shrugged. “Win, he doesn’t even know that you were looking for him. He’s been traumatized so much by everything that’s happened. From what he and a friend of his told me, Jim narrowly escaped getting out of the town square the first night.” He shook his head in disbelief. “Then he actually went back and saved someone else, and they both took refuge in a cave in the mountains with the group of kids. They were almost captured several times trying to forage for food. He thinks that everyone who cared for him is gone.”

Winona sobbed, the tears running down her cheeks and onto her desk where she was sitting. “Oh, my God! My poor baby. My poor Jimmy,” she whispered.

Chris took a deep breath. He hated to see his friend like this, but he knew that he had to make a point with her. He stiffened in his seat, his eyes boring into her from across the quadrant. “I’m going to let him know later that you want to talk to him, but I’m not really sure he’ll want to talk to you.” He sighed. “Win, he’s changed. Before he left Earth, Frank really did a number on him. I’ve seen his medical records. The man you left him with was abusing him. Then with everything that he’s been through on Tarsus IV, he’s not same kid you remember. He’s had an awful lot happen to him.”

        She leaned closer to the screen. “Chris, how bad was it, really?”

        Chris swallowed. “It was bad—really bad. The town square was littered with bodies. Jim had sixteen kids with him, ranging in age from four to sixteen, including your niece and nephew. They were holed up in a cave for about three months. They had supplies saved up, and from what I gathered, they became really good hunters and foragers, but all of them were really hungry. He’s not a little kid anymore, Win. He’s a man.”

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