“You’ve been staying at the embassy, correct? I’m sorry it’s taken us this long to get you situated at the Academy. I tried to get you a private room, but unfortunately there are none available at the moment,” said Captain Christopher Pike. He didn’t shuffle his papers or fidget like most of the other human instructors Spock had met the past seven days; rather, he sat straight and looked Spock in the eye.
This was just the second time Spock had met Captain Pike, but his father never spoke negatively about him. In fact, although Sarek would not go out of his way to compliment someone, it was clear that he held Captain Pike in high regard. Spock could see why.
“You’re on the waiting list. We do have a room for you, though it’s not exactly--ideal. For the time being, we’ll need to put you with a roommate.”
Spock nodded once in acceptance. “His name?”
“He’s in the command-track,” said Captain Pike, breezing past Spock’s question as if he hadn’t heard it at all. Spock lifted an eyebrow. In the short time he had known the captain, he had already determined that the man was straightforward and too the point. Prevarication seemed out of character. The logical conclusion, then, was that Captain Pike was nervous about something. Due to their topic of conversation, it was likely the ‘something’ to be his new roommate.
“His intention is to become a captain in three years.” Captain Pike gave an odd, disbelieving little laugh, but then contradictorily said, “He’ll do it, too, if only to say ‘I told you so’.”
“I understand,” said Spock.
“Do you?” Captain Pike asked, shaking his head. “I don’t think so. You will soon, though.”
He stood and handed Spock a packet. “This has the code to your room and the standard welcome packet. Normally, a counselor would go over everything with you, but I’m confident that you likely already know far more than any of our poor counselors do.”
Spock took the packet, standing as well. He made to leave, sensing a dismissal.
“Oh, and Spock?” Spock turned back to Captain Pike, lifting an eyebrow. Pike smiled, and he sounded somewhat fond when he said, “Whatever you do, don’t listen to your new roommate. And don’t believe anything he says. Hell, just try not to even speak to him at all, all right?”
“It is irrational for me to live with a person with whom I cannot communicate,” Spock said.
“Just trust me on this.”
“Yes, Captain,” said Spock, and left.
This was how Spock ended up in front of the door to room 3F 121, with several bags from the embassy at his feet and a passcode that did not work. He had no reason to believe that Captain Pike would issue him an incorrect code, and yet. Setting the one bag he was still carrying down, he quickly bypassed Starfleet’s security locks and pulled up the door’s programming. Lines and lines of intricate code greeted him. It was--sophisticated. It took Spock a whole five minutes to unravel his new roommate’s algorithm, and another five minutes to successfully overwrite it.
Spock was conscious of a pang of satisfaction when the door finally slid open, but stopped mid-step when a pair of vibrant blue eyes smacked him square in the side. Spock had only seen a blue like that once, when his transport from Vulcan approached Earth.
“How did you get past my security loc--oh.” The man’s face cleared of confusion, taking in his ears. “You’re a Vulcan. Pike didn’t tell me you were a Vulcan, crafty bastard.”
Spock stiffened. Logically he knew that he would not completely escape prejudice on Earth. He just hadn’t anticipated being roomed with a xenophobe. “If you have a problem with my heritage, then I will put in a transfer request immediately.”
“Problem with your heri--what? No, no, jeez, sorry, that came out all wrong.” The man stood up, lifted his hand as if to offer the standard human greeting, then thought better of it and held it up instead, attempting the ta’al. He was surprisingly inept at it, but nonetheless Spock appreciated the gesture. “Jim Kirk.”
Spock lifted his own hand. He found he was having some trouble associating this man with the intricate coding in the door’s security. “I am Spock, son of Sarek.”
“Well, Spock, son of Sarek, what are you in for?”
Spock puzzled over this question, first getting stuck on the preposition at the end, then the one right before it. “I am ‘in’ because I was assigned to this dorm,” he tried.
Kirk laughed, even though Spock had not been joking. “No, I mean, what’s your track?”
It appeared that Kirk was attempting to engage in the human practice of ‘small talk.’ Spock went to the free bed, setting his bag down. The room was small, but not uncomfortably so. A couch took up one corner and a desk with two chairs the other, with just enough space for his meditation mat.
“I am studying Computer Sciences.”
When Spock did not press for details about Kirk’s life, Kirk said, “Oka-ay. I’m on the command track.”
“I am aware.”
“Right.” Kirk coughed a little. “I see we’re off to a good start.”
Spock turned to him, folding his hands behind his back. “Although we are currently forced share a living space, it is not required that we socialize. Vulcans value privacy. I ask that you not continue in your attempts to pry.”
Kirk’s eyes widened, and then abruptly narrowed in anger. “Oh, I see. All right then, have it your way.”
Spock nodded, satisfied at Kirk’s acquiescence. If Kirk respected the Vulcan need for solitude, cohabitation would be practicable, if not satisfactory.
Jim, on the other hand, was decidedly not satisfied. It wasn’t that Jim automatically expected everyone to like him; contrary what some people might think, Jim did not have an ego the size of the moon. He just didn't expect for people to automatically dislike him. So far at Starfleet Academy he was batting two for four. First Uhura, now Spock. At least Bones and Gary didn't hate him on sight.
It wasn’t that Jim was really sensitive to what people thought about him--for the most part, he was fine with letting people draw their own conclusions based on his name or his past--but it stung a little to be hated before first impressions could even really be made. It made him feel nine again, meeting his mother’s new boyfriend for the first time.
Well. At twenty-five, Jim really didn’t have the patience for that kind of bullshit. He got up and left the room to find Pike. They needed to have words about Pike saddling him with a Vulcan chaperone, especially one as snotty as Spock, son of Sarek.
“Deal with it,” said Pike, when Jim burst into his office.
“I’m not going to have the Ambassador of Vulcan come down on my head because some bratty human doesn’t want to room with his son. It’s not worth it,” said Pike, when Jim argued his point.
“Get out of my office,” said Pike, when Jim resorted to whining.
“Fine,” said Jim, straightening his shoulders. He tried the most effective tactic his mom used on him. “I’ll have you know, however, I am very seriously disappointed in you.”
“Duly noted,” Pike said, cheerfully. “Now go away.”
Jim went away.
That evening, after thoroughly examining the science labs and finding them lacking, Spock made his way back to his dorm. He got so far as lifting his hand to punch in his code when Kirk spoke from in the room:
"I don't know man. He's just so weird! I mean, okay, he's a Vulcan and all, but it's like he took one look at me and decided that I'm not worthy enough to breathe the same air as his."
"Pointy-eared hobgoblin," said an unfamiliar voice. Spock took a step back.
“Is he really that bad?” asked a third voice that Spock also did not recognize. “I’ve seen him in the computer labs and he seems like an okay kind of guy, for a Vulcan. Maybe it’s just you.”
“Shut up, Gary,” said the second voice, identifying the third voice.
“It’s just that he’s the only Vulcan in Starfleet, you know? Must be tough.”
“He doesn’t need your pity,” said Kirk, which was accurate. “Besides, it’s not like I went up to him and said ‘hey, you, get off of my planet.’ I even did the Vulcan salute thingy. He just told me to stop talking to him and mind my own business, or something along those lines. Only with more syllables and synonyms, since he’s Vulcan.”
“Lay off the obscure ancient musical references,” said the still unknown third voice. “To be fair to the guy--Vulcan--you’re real nosy. Why don’t you put in a transfer request?”
“I can’t, unless I have a ‘really good damn reason,’ says Pike,” Jim said with a sigh.
“All right,” the second voice said, “Suck it up and stop complaining, then.”
Kirk laughed. “You’re a real friend, Bones. Come on, let’s get something to eat.”
Spock withdrew from sight, waiting as the three men pushed each other out of the room before entering himself, unseen. Alone in their dorm, Spock pulled up every file about James Tiberius Kirk he could find. Most of the information he found was public knowledge. George Kirk sacrificed himself and saved eight hundred members of his crew. Winona Kirk was an engineer on board the USS Archer. Kirk had a brother who lived on Deneva with his wife.
What was unexpected was the string of juvenile criminal records Spock found when he investigated a little further. He did not understand how someone as unstable as Kirk could be admitted into an elite institution such as Starfleet Academy. Nor did he understand why Captain Pike would deem him a suitable roommate for Spock.
Interestingly, there was a gap in his file from ages ten to thirteen. Every one of Spock’s attempts to uncover the missing information met a dead end. Kirk’s criminal behavior began at age fourteen, indicating that whatever events transpired during this period of time was a cause that led to this effect.
Spock closed the file and opened a new communication channel.
“Spock!” Amanda greeted, pleased. “I’m glad you called. What time is it there?”
“0200 hours.” At his mother’s slight frown, he added, “As you know, mother, Vulcans do not require as much rest as humans.”
“I know,” said Amanda, with a small sigh. She was smiling again in an instant. “Well? Tell me about Starfleet.”
"I find--" he paused, somewhat uncertain on how to logically explain his time on Earth. "I find humans to be irresponsible, excessive, and overly emotional."
Amanda quirked a wry grin. "You really know how to make a woman feel special."
Spock said nothing, aware that the had unintentionally offended his mother but that the descriptors were applicable to her as well. He couldn’t take it back to make her feel better, but he also did not want her to feel insulted. Instead, he settled on speaking a truth he knew would appease her:
“I hypothesized that because I grew up with a human mother, I would be able to adjust to living amongst humans. Now that I have been on Earth for a complete week, I see that I was in error. You are clearly a superior specimen by comparison.”
Amanda’s smile softened. “There are other good humans out there. We’re just different from Vulcans. Is there a particular irresponsible, excessive, overly emotional human you’re referring to?"
“Those adjectives can be applied to the majority of humans; however, the man with whom I cohabit is the embodiment of illogic.”
Although his mother had adopted the Vulcan way when she married Sarek, she never could completely suppress her emotions. She frowned, worried. “If he’s making you uncomfortable, you should ask Captain Pike to change rooms.”
“I have taken that into consideration. However, I believe that Captain Pike had a reason for assigning him with me. I will maintain residence for a month and request a transfer if he proves to be intolerable.”
“If you’re sure,” said Amanda, still concerned.
“It will be a social experiment.”
“Social experiment,” repeated Amanda. “Well, as long as you don’t use that as an excuse if everything goes pear-shaped.”
“It is impossible for future events to assume the dimensions of produce,” Spock said.
“It’s a human expression,” said Amanda, smiling brightly. “Get some sleep. I love you, son.”
Spock lifted his hand in the ta’al in response and ended the transmission.