The answer is √π233/hy7.
Has been for all three months of the first semester. Jim's not sure why the galaxy's best and brightest haven't realized that, but it's not his school, not his problem.
Still…it's three months into the semester and it just sits there, black ink on a white board, expectant, hopeful, just…waiting. And Jim knows the answer, because it's not a hard equation. If h^4=zy/21x, then the answer has to be √π233/hy7. And yeah, he can prove it.
But like he said. Not his school, not his problem.
Still, when midterms dawn with the sluggish cadets with hollow circles around their eyes and messy hair, and still no one even tries, Jim can't really resist temptation anymore. Not that he's ever been good at resisting…well, anything. He glances at his watch; Bones won't be done yet. He ducks into the empty classroom, and scribbles down the answer. He takes a second to make sure it's legible (Jim has been informed he could be a doctor, his handwriting's so bad, which is rich, coming from Bones), and then recaps the pen and goes to collect Bones for a good old-fashioned just-finished-exams-fuck-my-life celebration.
Which for them involves Bones bitching loudly about Jim's bike ("An invitation to death. Do you know what would happen to your flesh and vital organs when you wipe out and are scraped over the pavement?"), the Kikonese restaurant five blocks down the road ("Kikonese III is a dirty backwater full of the obese. It's eugenics in reverse, goddamn it"), lots of fatty, starchy foods ("This is a heart attack waiting to happen. It's heart failure and obesity wrapped in stealthy delicious exteriors").
Complaining makes Bones happy, and Jim is a good friend. There are vast quantities of alcohol (the hard stuff), and a loud enough atmosphere so that swearing and ranting are par for the course. The Kikonese are a bit big-boned, sure, but they're loud and friendly and mind their own business. Which is good, because once Bones gets started on a tear, there is no stopping him, and Jim isn't exactly known for his mitigating personality.
Most other places would chuck them out (Jim knows from experience), but Ms. Hasai, the owner, gave Jim his first job when he came out to the coast after ditching Iowa.
It'd been about four months after Captain Pike's pretty weak attempt to manipulate him to be a Starfleet bullet-catcher ("I dare you to do better" his ass. "I dare you to die quicker", more like) when Jim had hopped on his bike and just rode west. He hadn't even considered the offer, the challenge- you could get into space without being tied to regulations and formalities and a fucking chain of command that was bullshit; and Jim had been "George Kirk's son" all his life. He didn't need that to be his only legacy; having George rubbed in his face usually brought out the worst in Jim. Starfleet wouldn't have known what hit it, and Jim would have been tossed out in a second, and Starfleet would have put him away for a long time, not just a little while like Iowa.
The thing was: he was done being George's boy. And because Starfleet is based in San Francisco the population is wildly varied and extremely transient; easy to to get lost in the bustle of the city, and for the first time since he'd watched Tarsus IV grow larger in the window of his shuttle (and motherfucker, that had been a disaster) he'd felt home.
Two years later, give or take a few months, Jim's a bartender at a bar just outside the trendy section- they get locals, regulars, and cadets, but no businessmen, and no tourists, and he pitch-hits for a few other local bars owned by people who helped him out when he first got here. He knows the circuit well enough to impress the cadets he dates with the clubs and restaurants he can get into, and his life is constant, moving- he's got no instincts itching to be a repeat-offender here.
Here, he's occupied by the constant stream of people running through his life both platonically and…not. But really, the only person who's stuck at all is Bones.
He met Bones his first night bartending in a dump outside the Academy. He'd slouched onto the stool with a scowl that almost cleared the bar, and grouched that he wanted "whatever piss you've got- 'cause I ain't got nothin' but my bones, and they need some goddamn waterin'."
Jim had snorted and poured him a whiskey, straight up. "On the house, Bones."
They've been friends ever since (whiskey is the way to Bones' heart, apparently), and Jim supervises Bone's alcoholism like any good friend would.
"The only one with any sense is Chapel," Bones gripes after the fourth drink and their third plate of fries with cheese and gravy with Kakrasnsi peppers. "And I probably won't even get stationed with her." He ponders the injustices of his future; it makes Bones happy to be upset. "Probably get Banner."
"Probably," Jim agrees blithely, grinning and licking his fingers.
"Jim, don't let anyone tell you you're a good friend," Bones informs him around his scotch. "Because you suck."
"Aww, Bones!" Jim bats his eyelashes, and Bones throws his napkin at him.
"An' stop licking your fingers!" he snaps. "Spreadin' your germs, who knows what I'm gonna come down with because of you."
After he solves the equation, Jim doesn't think about it at all for a week. There are four parties to do, then the consequential remembering that yeah, he can do a straight 50 hours awake, but as soon as he starts nearing 65 he starts to hallucinate (it'd been such good money, though, and Jim likes shiny things).
When he wakes up after a powernap of oh, 24 hours, he fishes out the number one of the cadets gave him. Hot chick, green skin and red hair, rockin' body- Gaila laughs and tells him to pick her up at 1903, after her class.
Which means he has to ask an officer what the fuck time that is, because he goes by normal-people time. He stops by at 6:50 and hangs outside her classroom, which is in the same building Bones' exam was in. He glances across the hall into room with the problems, and there's another problem written under the first. Jim watches it quietly, waits for the numbers to slide into the right pattern the way they always do.
He likes numbers- numbers just are. You're either right or wrong with math- no exceptions. Black and whites, and Jim's not actually really good with shades of grey.
No one's in the room- the professor must not teach a late class, so Jim (who, again, has never been accused of having self-control) goes in. He works the problem out, realizes that depending on how you read it there are actually three different outcomes- but he has to work through them to be sure, and it gives him something to do for ten minutes until the sound of voices swells in the hallway.
He quickly steps outside the room because he doesn't want that "You're not a student, what the fuck are you doing in a classroom?" lecture he's already had a few times (perils of dating cadets), or some douchebag like Cupcake to decide to pick a fight.
Gaila seems to have changed out of her uniform in like, the five seconds between the class ending and when she walks down the hall, but she's in this absolutely phenomenal little black dress (and oh, does he mean little), so he doesn't give a shit.
They go out dancing and then she rides him hard, scratching welts into his skin and fuck it's fantastic.
And then there's a solid week of nothing but work again, and then a month where he just pisses time away. The money he's made is enough to actually feel steady, and so he rides around on his bike, tourist-watching, then fucks around with Gaila a few more times, decides to buy a plant for his apartment, considers ordering something called a "Tribble" (it looks cute, but Jim's not good with animals, and he doubts he'd be better with alien animals than Earth animals).
He sees Uhura around a few times: she's still so smoking hot, and now he just likes messing around with her because she is wound so tight, but in that crazy-smart way that he likes.
He thinks he'd just like her- they could be friends… if he was a different guy. Steadier. Calmer. Not constantly sporting a split lip and a fading bruise on his cheekbone.
If he solves another problem in the empty room on the first nice day of March? Nobody's business but his.
Late March he gets an emergency call from Bones that goes something like, "Goddamn it, Jim, if you don't come pick me up I'll give them all Bufarian Ekal Influenza. See if I don't, and I'll smash all the antibiotics, Jim, I swear I will."
Because Bones is a dramatic motherfucker, so Jim calls Brian and asks him to cover his shift (there maybe promises of someone getting blown, whatever), and goes to pick him up. He parks the bike and walks across campus to where he knows Bones will be sitting on the steps of the medical building scowling at everyone. No one scowls quite like Bones does. It's a thing of goddamn beauty.
"- Nobody knows who did it!" a cadet is saying. He seems really worked up about something; Jim'd say touching his first boob, but it doesn't match the conversation.
Still, kinda sad that he looks that excited about something that isn't sex.
"Not even Commander Spock," someone else confides with the air of delivering a trump card. "I mean, the first time, got it right. The second time? All three answers. It never even occurred to me! And now this one! I mean, the Peurlian Theorum has been studied for centuries- even Vulcans have a hard time proving it, and this person- "
"The security feeds didn't catch it?" another kid asks, and Jim pauses with a slight frown, listening, because three answers, and he knew he should have resisted temptation.
"A class was letting out, I guess," another replies with a heavy sigh. "I mean, Chekov got two of the three on the second one, but it's- it's definitely the same handwriting. Spock's leaving them up so we can all feel inadequate."
"Like we don't already while he stares at us," the first guy snorts.
Jim wants to stop them and ask what they're talking about, if it is him- thinks oh shit, I'm in trouble before he remembers this isn't his school- this isn't Iowa, and they can't blame shit on him just for the hell of it. Free Federation, Earth, and country after all.
"Hello, sunshine," he greets, beaming at Bones. It earns him a few incredulous stares, and a nursing student mutters "your funeral" as he runs fast. Christine Chapel smiles faintly at him, tucking a piece of blonde hair behind her ear and standing serenely from her perch a few steps above Bones. Jim winks at her as she turns to go meet her fiancé.
Christine Chapel is a platinum blonde bombshell who's smarter than almost everyone, just fairly…naive. But she's the kind of naive that high school kids have- he's pretty sure once she steps out into the real world some of that will fade. Still, Jim wants her on his side if she's ever in a barroom ball.
"Drinks. Now," Bones insists, wrapping his hand around Jim's arm and steering him straight back off campus to the bike, which he sits on without complaint, just grim fatalistic resolve.
Jim drives him to the seediest bar where Bob won't cut Bones off and where everyone is just as miserable as Bones is. Jim's that kind of friend.
It's his daughter's birthday tomorrow, and after he recovers from the hangover Bones sits in Jim's apartment to have a video conference, and Jim has to get out, go away, because it's breaking his heart how bad Bone's is shaking and how well he's hiding it from her.
And if he goes back to the classroom to see if there's another problem up- it's just that he's going to need to be sober to deal with the fallout from Bones, and the math just sort of…settles him.
And there is, and he sits on a desk in the empty room and surveys it. Physics, this time- properties of motion. He chews on the pen for a few minutes before getting up and dragging over another board, working through it. Not quite- he's missing a variable. So he erases it, and then begins working it out again and there it is- the fourth variable is space.
He grins slightly, chewing on his lower lip as he works the equation out.
"You are not a cadet, nor a member of Starfleet."
Jim jumps guiltily, turns to look at whoever is saying it in that mildly interested but somehow detached voice. Takes in the ears and eyebrows and godawful haircut and- Vulcan. Right, that explains the voice.
"No," he agrees.
"And yet you have solved four of my problems." He steps around the desk, tilting his head slightly.
Jim wonders if saying "Yeah, no shit" will get him arrested for trespassing on Starfleet property. That would suck balls. Hairy, unwashed, outer-rim pilot balls.
Not that Jim's had any experience here, or anything.
"I promised an immediate A and a recommendation and commendation for the student who first solved the problem here," the Vulcan continues, looking at Jim's math. "An A would mean nothing to you, a commendation, given that you are not in fact a member of Starfleet, would be superfluous and inconsequential."
He turns to look at Jim, tilting his head to look him up and down. "Would you like a recommendation to get into the Academy?"
Jim snorts, shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "No."
"That is illogical, please explain."
Jim sighs, and scrubs his face. "It's just math. Doesn't mean I want to go up…" he waves out the window. "There."
He looks at the other guy- despite the bowl cut, he's got long lines and clear eyes and Jim is no specist, and he's never actually gone out with a Vulcan before, and what the hell- he can't go back to his place for a few hours anyway. "I won't say no to a drink."
Which is how he ends up in a restaurant that caters to a pretty elite clientele, where the maitre'd smiles simperingly at "Commander Spock" and takes in Jim's leather jacket, grey t, and ratty low-hanging jeans (Gaila loves them, she calls them his "Up or Off" jeans).
Jesus Christ, he's Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. So Jim does what he always does when he's getting the hairy eyeball. He splays his legs, slouches, and grins crookedly.
And despite the atmosphere from the other patrons the food is good, and the view is amazing, and the drinks fizz pleasantly. Jim's never been the kind of guy who just sinks into the floor because someone disapproves.
He has the rap sheet to prove that.
"Are you a consultant?" Spock asks after the first course arrives.
"No. I'm a bartender," Jim replies, leaning his chair onto its back two legs and grinning at him. Spock seems about as distraught as a Vulcan can get that Jim has no ambition.
Join the club- everyone who's ever met Jim is in that fucking club.
It's a good time, though. He likes Spock, for all that it takes him a minute to deal with his Vulcan-ness. He even thinks he can detect a sense of humor- he's not sure: it requires further investigation.
So a week later he shows up at the Academy not for Bones, but to pick up Spock.
There's a tiny Russian kid in the room and Uhura, so Jim perches on the edge of a desk and swings his feet.
Uhura frowns between Jim and Spock before coming to the completely wrong conclusion. She smirks at him, shrugs, and leaves. Apparently because Jim is so formidable in the pretty that he scares off people who are genuinely interested in the person he's supposedly fucking. It makes him grin, but he feels kind of bad for Spock, though, 'cause Uhura is hot.
Spock looks at him, then at the board where there's another problem set up.
Jim rolls his eyes, but what the hell, clearly this is going to take a while because Spock is trying to explain Kirrria's Theory to the kid.
So he settles and chews the pen, works slowly through it.
He realizes, belatedly, that it's gone quiet, and that Spock's shoulder is a warm press against his.
"You solve it in a singularly unique way," Spock observes. He presses a datafile into Jim's hand before collecting his coat. "Your mind is even more Human than most of my students'."
"Coming from you, that's a compliment," Jim informs him cheerfully.
And it becomes a thing- Spock has a problem waiting for him, Jim solves it in his "singularly Human" way, Spock gives him more stuff to work on. Sometimes the datafiles are math theories, but sometimes it's physics or chemistry or astrophysics, philosophy, literature, language, sociology- it's always different, and always interesting, and Jim takes them to work to read when things get slow.
Jim's favorite thing, though, is when Spock stares at him in bemusement when Jim plays dumb in public, but calculates bills, tabs and tips in his head.
"I don't understand why you would not want others to know."
"What's the point?" Jim asked, biting on a straw and handing a new guy his bill. Spock is so out of place here in his crisply pressed uniform and not a hair out of place, but because he doesn't care (or doesn't seem to), no one gives him shit about it. And plus, since Jim's the only one Spock ever talks to, everyone just assumes he's with Jim. And Jim's not bragging or anything, but fucking nobody messes with Jim lately.
"It is illogical to hide a skill set."
Jim shrugs. "I'm not really hiding it. I'm just not, you know, using it for the greater good."
"This is ridiculous," the new guy informs him flatly. He's clearly come into new money or closed a business deal; the celebration had the stink of self-entitled congratulations. "No way did we drink that much."
Sure, the bill's for $4,302.39, but they did order three bottles of the $1,200 wine, and then they had the Romulan Ale, which goes down hard and keeps you ordering (and, because it's slightly illegal, is way overpriced). Not Jim's fault they bought so much.
"Yeah, Peaches, you did," Jim replies just as flatly, because this is just not what he wanted to be doing tonight. He hasn't been in a fight in a few weeks, Spock's here and after they were going to go see some exhibit so Spock could further Jim's cultural horizons or some shit like that.
"Yes, I can see how this is preferable," Spock says drily, lifting his eyebrow at Peaches.
"Vulcan pig, dunno why we even put up with you," Peaches' friend says. JIm decides to call him "Cream".
"Because if you had attempted to conquer Vulcan we would have destroyed you," Spock replies very logically.
Jim buries his face in his hands with a groan. There's a muffled gasp, then another, and the bar goes quiet. Jim peeks out, and then stares. Peaches and Cream are on the floor, and Spock is handing him the money.
"Jim," Spock urges patiently, holding out the money. Jim takes it, still staring at the collapsed forms.
"Spock, tell me you didn't kill them," he says finally.
"Humans are a melodramatic race," Spock observes. "I merely sedated them."
Jim looks at the huge guys on the floor, then at Spock, then back again. "You have got to teach me that," he decides.
And that's how Jim starts sparring with Spock.
"This is highly illogical," Spock informs him almost dispassionately as sweat drips into Jim's eyes. "You are progressing, but not at a rate which enable you to win."
He offers Jim a hand up, looking at the split and bloodied lip, and the fading scabs under his eyes. His hand reaches like he wants to trace them, and Jim's breath hitches, his whole body waiting, but there's nothing. Spock just tilts his eyebrow the way he does when he's amused or intrigued.
"That's not the point," Jim informs him. "You get to beat someone up, which is good for your whole repressed thing- "
"I beg to differ- "
"- and I," Jim continues over him grinning, "get to figure out how to drop badasses."
He also jerks off every fucking night to the remembered feel of Spock against him, wondering what it would feel like to have Spock arched over him, fucking him hard, or to settle on top, bouncing on Spock's cock and making him crazy with it-
Not that Spock needs to know that.
"Hey, cocksucker!" Cupcake shouts. Jim rolls his eyes, keeps walking, because Cupcake was so two years ago, and Jim isn't in the mood. "What, you only suck Commander Spock's cock these days? C'mon, sunshine- "
A fat, meaty hand lands heavy on his shoulder as a big foot kicks his knees in, and Jim's not even thinking about it, not really, just falls into it, and when he stands up, he's the only one standing.
Two days later the cops show up at his door and arrest him for attacking Starfleet Cadets, and the charges leveled against him are every charge in the book.
Bones shows up to offer support, and Uhura stops by and says, "Why don't you tell them what happened? I'm sure Captain Pike would speak on your behalf, considering last time."
Even Chekov, the tiny Russian kid, stops by and offers him a datafile from Spock. History, this time. Jim settles and reads.
He's got a record for assault, lewd and licentious behavior, grand theft auto, breaking and entering, and possession of an illegal weapon (most of those his stepfather lodged against him, but Jim's no angel). He's had psych evaluations since birth, practically, and they all say he's a walking time bomb- that he's a repeat offender with a rage problem, some of them even suggest sociopathy. They all say he's too smart.
Spock doesn't show up at the holding cell.
Jim's not disappointed. He's not. It wouldn't be logical for Starfleet's golden Commander to show up to see the delinquent. Jim's not disappointed at all.
Except three days later a guard hands him one of those Starfleet Academy uniforms. Jim puts it on because his clothes reek, and hey, he'll go with it.
"I spoke with the judge. I convinced them that I would take responsibility for your actions, but as such you must be placed in my care. I have enrolled you," Spock informs him, rounding the corner.
Jim's fingers still on the buttons. "What?"
"You have already tested out of three years' worth of classes, your curriculum is centered in command classes. Captain Pike will be willing to tutor you in areas which I am not an adequate advisor," he continues as if Jim hasn't said anything, as if Jim's not staring at him like he's out of his fucking Vulcan mind.
"Are you out of your fucking mind?" Jim demands.
Spock looks at him, amused (and Jim thinks it's possible he's one of the few people who could actually identify it as amusement). "I am not. This is why it is illogical for you not to enroll. Even in this city, the world is too small for you. If you would?" he asks the guard, who sighs and unlocks it.
Bones is waiting, glaring at Spock like he's the one who locked Jim up.
"So you're enrolled."
"Apparently," Jim agrees, shooting a look at Spock, who's filling out paperwork.
Jim's confused why Starfleet wants him, though. Despite Spock and Pike's added influence, he put five cadets in the hospital.
"We testified, you idiot," Bones groans a week later when Jim brings it up- Starfleet let them room together (Jim suspects because they can't believe anyone wanted to room with Bones) as he works on a lab.
Jim is writing a paper, trying to remember how to write a paper, as facts rattle around in his brain, jockeying for attention. "That green-blooded goblin rounded up me, Chapel, Uhura, Chekov and- what's the other one's name? The one with the swords you go running with, hangs out with Chekov a lot."
"Right. Got us all in with Pike and had us testify for the judge." There's a pause, and then Bone groans. "Goddamnit Jim, keep your fucking hardon to yourself."
Jim hurls a book at his head- he is not hard, Jesus. "Shut up, Bones."
There is a little of what he worried about- there are people who look at him as George Kirk's boy, but he's like some sort of wunderkind here, and more people look at him and go, "He's the kid Spock vouched for."
And somehow he's not tied up in a father he never knew, but rather a Vulcan who kicks his ass every Thursday and has drinks with him every Saturday. And it's a different kind of pressure, because Bones expects him to do well, and Pike expects him to do well, and Spock expects him to do fucking perfectly, and Jim is-
If he'd known this could be like this, he'd have gone as soon as he could drive (which was…8).
He gets straight As. Admiral Archer pulls him into his office and says, "I never knew your father, but I'm told he was an exceptional man. I think he'd be proud to know I'm recommending you for a commission as soon as you've graduated."
Jim grabs Spock and takes him out to celebrate, and after they go to Spock's place because Jim doesn't want to bug Bones, and then Jim has Spock pressed against a wall, kissing him hard and deep.
"Fucking amazing," Jim mutters, tearing his mouth away from Spock's and biting his neck sharply, then laving his tongue over that greenish mark. Spock arches his neck in a silent plea for more of the same, which has Jim huffing a laugh over his skin as he trails his fingers over the palm of Spock's hand, causing him to shudder (because Vulcan erogenous zones are bizarre, and sort of awesome).
And then Spock is shoving him onto the bed, stripping off his shirt, his pants, his boots and socks. Jim is still shoving his pants down his hips, boots on, when Spock bends to assist him. He stares down at Jim's body for long enough that it gets awkward (though Jim's cock, which is leaking against his stomach, approves). There is a twitch of lips that means Spock is totally onto him before he braces a hand on one of Jim's shoulders, shoving him down, settling his other forearm across Jim's hip bones. He takes a moment to examine Jim's cock like it's some sort of fucking specimen before he licks up the underside.
Jim muffles his groan by shoving his fist into his mouth, because Spock seems to enjoy that first taste and he's not- not deftly talented, but he's so fucking thorough, sucking the tip and sliding his tongue along the slit, mouthing and licking and sucking and fucking unpredictable, and Jim's hips keep on bucking up, especially when Spock sucks while swirling his tongue, but Spock holds him down. And Jesus, he's just so fucking strong and that's hot as anything.
Spock travels lower, sucking on Jim's balls experimentally, licking the smooth skin behind them.
"Fuck, Spock, want you- c'mon, you bastard, do me, fuck me," Jim pants, pressure building in his balls, at the base of his spine, at the fucking base of his skull and then Spock reaches under his pillow for the slick he keeps there, grinning with his eyes in a way that seems so much fucking better than even Gaila's wide grins.
Jim lifts an appreciative eyebrow at him and then flops back with a groan, because that bastard. He can't bear to watch if he has any hope of not coming his brains out before Spock's even in him, and then Spock's bending his legs back, positioning his cock at Jim's entrance and Jim manages, "Spock, just do it."
And so Spock's cock slides in, big and Jim shudders, tries not to clench down, tries to force his body into relaxing and Spock really doesn't even give him a second, just fucks him, deep and hard and Jim wraps a leg around Spock's hip, arching shamelessly into it because fuck, yes.
And then Spock is biting his neck and that's it, he's exploding and striping both of them, and Spock exhales raggedly, the air skating over Jim's neck hot and wet, and then he's coming- didn't pull out, just filling Jim and Jesus that's hot, and Jim yanks him up for a kiss. It's irresponsible and totally unsafe sex, which Jim thinks is completely illogical but he's always been a bit of a slut, and he gets tested pretty regularly (and, you know, there's always Bones with the newest vaccine), and it's hot and Jim never claimed to be smart about Spock.
In the morning they do it all over again in the tiny shower.
"I don't think this," Jim manages between kisses as the water beats down on their heads, "is what the judge had in mind when he told you to 'take me in hand'."
Spock shuts him up with a pretty clever twist of his wrist.
The Kobayashi Maru is a bitch. Jim hates it. Fails the first two times- fails, and he hasn't failed since he got here.
So he hacks it. Because it's bullshit. Because it asks you what you'd do in the middle of a clusterfuck- assumes you'd get into the clusterfuck in the first place, and Jim won't.
So he hacks the test.
And Uhura stares at him as he munches his apple, rubbing her temple and trying hard not to smile, and Bones is looking at him with resigned amusement. The lights go up, and someone has turned to look at- Spock.
Who is watching him speculatively.
Get it, Spock, Jim wills him. Get what I'm saying, here.
"How the hell did he do that?" the man on the other side of the glass repeats, and Spock tilts his head slightly.
"I do not know."
Later, Jim gets summoned to Spock's office.
"Logic dictates that I should have you brought up on charges of violation of the ethical code of conduct pursuant to regulation 1-7.43 of the Starfleet Code."
Jim licks his bottom lip, looking at the desk, at the books, at the computers. Anywhere but Spock. "Is there a "but" here?"
"The purpose of the test is to feel fear. Hopelessness."
"No, it's to tell you won't ever be good enough- "
"It is not a test but a lesson, a lesson you failed to absorb- "
"I had a father die in one of those goddamn no-wins, Spock, and he had a win. I know better than anyone exactly what the fuck lesson you wanted to teach, and- "
"I am recommending they forgo the inquiry."
"- I know exactly what the- what?"
"Over the past year I have studied the way your mind works," Spock says. "To expect you to take that test in the way it was intended was illogical. I have submitted that my encouragement of you to persist in repeated attempts at taking the test was to determine how you would react in a no-win."
Jim frowns at him. "Wait- what?"
"The test it designed as a psychological test and evaluation of cadets nearing graduation."
Spock touches his face lightly before lifting an eyebrow with a faint smile. "Captain Pike and I agree that you have passed it as it was intended in your case. We do not hold a little sway in Starfleet Command."
"That's favoritism. I think you're emotionally compromised," Jim says, starting to grin and leaning into him. Spock looks down at him.
"Yes," he agrees simply. "I am."
And that deserves a bent-over-the desk kind of fucking.
They get word that Vulcan is sending out a distress call. And Jim remembers the lightning storm, and Jesus Christ- it's a fucking trap, and Vulcan is history. So he grabs Uhura, who complained how no one listened to her reports about the Klingon planet that got destroyed by a Romulan ship, and then runs (with Bones behind them, because someone has to be sanity on the Enterprise).
And Jim explains that it's a trap- Vulcan is being attacked, with Uhura backing him up, and Spock watches them before backing them up.
And then it's hell, with suicide missions, and Jim and Spock having it out (because he's wrong, and Jim loves the man and he feels horrible about his mother but he's fucking wrong, because now that bastard's going to Earth and having a little pow-wow with Starfleet isn't going to fix anything), and Spock fucking marooning him.
And then meeting older, alternate universe Spock (which is just so weird, with the mindmeld and getting it that this is about Spock but that it's not about his Spock and getting Scotty and coming back, watching Spock stare at him incredulously and then having it right on out, taking over command and-
And then the real suicide mission, aboard the Romulan ship to save Pike, and the Romulans are strong motherfuckers, but Jim's smarter.
"The statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is 4.3%," Spock informs him.
"It'll work," Jim says with a grin, because it will. It has to.
"In the event that it does not I would like for you to know that I- "
"Spock," Jim interrupts. "It'll work. Tell me later." Because goodbye isn't an option.
Sulu and Chekov fire, Scotty gives them the energy they need, and he finds Pike, who is still a bit of a badass, even miserable and weak.
"Enterprise, now!" he shouts, and then the three of them are on the transporter pad, and Jim grins.
"Nice timing, Scotty."
Scotty's completely beside himself with joy- give the man an impossible task and he's happy- with Bones, Uhura and Chapel running in.
And then Spock doesn't want the logic, and Jim has to deal with Nero instead of kissing him, but the press of Spock's arm against his is a promise that Jim can't wait to cash in.
And it's strangely beautiful- poetic maybe, to see the ship die in its own lightening storm, and then it's gone…. And they can't get out.
Which is problematic, but Jim is smart enough to know when to trust someone else's genius, and Scotty is a crazy kind of genius, and it works, and when he looks over at Spock, there's that faint smile of "See? This is why I pushed."
"Pretty exciting, huh?" he asks later, in quarters with Spock's hands on his hips, pressed together with everything just a warm promise of what's coming. "I mean- "
"You have a singularly illogical mind," Spock informs him, kissing him.
"Nah, you love it."
They get back to Earth and the press is fucking everywhere.
Stepping off the shuttle Jim's blinded by the flares and flashes, by the shouts of his name.
Everyone wants to talk to Jim- and suddenly he's George Kirk's kid again- wants to talk to Spock, because Spock is one of the 10,000 Vulcans left, and he's the one who was on the ship.
"Commander Spock!" a woman shouts. "What was your role in the events that transpired in the skies today?"
Jim makes a face at her- Uhura elbows him sharply and says through her own gorgeous smile, "Stop it."
"Never leave me," he mutters back.
She grins at him, real and vibrant. "I guess someone should keep you in line. Captain."
She doesn't leave him, though, in the whirlwind of press and hearings.
He moves back to his old apartment because the dorms are too quiet, hallways ringing with echoes of footsteps that won't fall ever again.
Bones shows up on his door with a haggard look, and Jim steps aside and pulls out the sofa bed, no questions asked.
Chapel tells him that now that her fiancé's dead she's more determined than ever to go into the sky, if he'll have her.
And that's what's freaking him out more than anything else: the assumption that even though he provoked Spock into a rage blackout they all assume that the admiralty will give Jim the Enterprise.
"Yeah, of course- I mean, if they give me the ship," he says. She smiles at him, and then at Bones, who nods solemnly at her.
"Uhura and I are in a long-term hotel suite," she says as an after-thought, handing him an address and number. "If you hear anything…"
"Yeah, I'll let you know," he says.
"No one wants to stay in that ghost-town," Bones grunts, flipping on the TV.
"Can you blame them?" Jim asks. "You figured out a staff?"
"Chapel as head nurse- hopefully she'll go for her doctorate so we can have her as a doctor on the team, but I think at this point we'll just be takin' the cadets who managed to survive."
"It would be an illogical decision for the admiralty of Starfleet not to consider bequeathing the Enterprise to Captain Kirk. I can think of no one better-suited to the job, and I will be submitting that assessment to them at tomorrow's meeting." With a nod, Spock departs the cluster of media who shout after him.
"You haven't seen him in a while," Bones observes. "We've been on Earth a week."
"Yeah, and remind me again why you haven't gone to see your daughter?"
"You know," Bones says, getting up and ordering a ticket to Jim's utter shock, "you're right. I don't have to be here, I've got my team assigned, and no one's changin' my status as CMO on the ship."
"Yeah. Goin' into space, might as well go see her and the goddamn shrew." He stops and looks at Jim. "You're gonna get it, you realize. But you gotta talk to the green-blooded hobgoblin, because five years of the two of you drivin' each other to the edge will make us all commit harakiri."
"Shut up, Bones."
And then Jim realizes that no where in any of the interviews has Spock ever mentioned that he's joining the crew of the Enterprise.
His mother visits, which is bizarre, and Sam sends congratulations.
"Your father would be proud," she says. She looks around the bar, watches Spock walk in. "I would cite regulations," she remarks with a wry smile, "but I don't suspect either of you will be walking around pregnantly flouting the no fraternization rules of officers."
He leans against the bar, grinning slightly. "Probably not."
His mother is a tough subject for him- she wasn't ever there, but they never had a rough relationship. She was always easy to be around, not like the other moms but somehow cooler. She drinks her beer and nods to Spock. "Hear you're the one who got Jim to join," she says.
"I - "
"He manipulated me."
"As I recall that was the only way to get you to do anything," she observed lightly, paying her bill. "I'm proud of you, Jim. Don't screw it up."
He kisses her cheek. "Awesome pep-talk, Mom."
"Yay team," she replies and walks out.
Okay, so his mom is kind of awesome.
"Your place?" he asks Spock.
"If you wish," Spock agrees.
"Brian! All yours again," Jim shouts, jumping over the bar.
The paparazzi flash photos of him and Spock leaving the bar together.
It doesn't get better when they get to Spock's.
"I have not yet made my decision," Spock admits. Jim gapes at him.
This is one of those moments he should probably think back to the list that Uhura gave him of acceptable phrases and responses, color-coded for ease of understanding and use.
"My race is endangered, logic dictates that- "
"Spock, sperm donation."
"- I must assist in the cultural rebuilding of my people- "
"I can't do this without you, you know we- "
"- my wife was among the casualties- "
"- work well together…wait, what? What wife you never- "
"- and it is likely that you could take another first officer from a- "
"- I don't want to take another first officer, goddamn it, Spock- "
"- wide pool of applicants- "
"- Spock!- "
They both break off, looking at each other.
"This is neither an affirmation nor a rejection," Spock says.
"If this is about the bridge- "
"Jim. It's not about that, it was a logical decision given the circumstances, I do not- "
"You sent me to Hoth."
"Also a logical decision," Spock maintained, and there was a flicker of amusement. "Jim. I will let you know first."
Jim grips his shoulders. "Spock. You- "
Spock leans in and kisses him, and Jim lets himself be distracted, pressed against Spock's bed with the sudden realization it's been almost two weeks since they've been even close to each other in the madness since Nero.
"Don't leave me," he mouths against Spock's skin, too afraid to say it out loud. Spock has responsibilities, but he chose Starfleet once, and there's a chance (65.039%) that he'll choose it again.
Jim does the math into Spock's skin, clenching against him with fingernails biting into Spock's shoulders.
They don't speak, and after, Jim leaves.
She's very blond, probably 19, pretty, and very cheerful.
Oh, and it's seven am.
"Goddamn it, Jim," Bones grunts from the sofa bed.
"I- yeah?" he says, blinking.
"Janice Rand, I'm assigned to the Enterprise? Yeoman, I'll be working for you." She sticks out a very enthusiastic hand.
Jim stares at her. "I- what?"
She doesn't flag. "Captain Pike and Admiral Archer sent me over to get you tell your senior staff that there's a meeting scheduled for tomorrow at 1300 hours. Captain Pike instructed me to tell you to make sure that the "Scottish one""- she actually uses air quotes- "isn't drunk. Well, I can see you're very busy, have a great day! I look forward to working with you!" She gives him a perky salute, and then struts off down the hall.
Jim looks at Bones over his shoulder. "I am not going to enjoy this at all."
"Shouldn't have saved the world," Bones mutters, and then he's fast asleep again.
"They assigned me a perky blonde," he tells Spock, sitting in his office. Jim is slowly but surely co-opting it. Stealth campaign. "As yeoman."
"Unusual, but given the slightness of choice…"
"She showed up," Jim informs him, "at seven in the morning."
"I imagine Dr. McCoy was perturbed by that."
Jim snorts. "Yeah."
He does a lot of math, these days. Stupid problems, but calculations, too. Likelihood of failure. Likelihood of failure with and without Spock.
Those calculations make him feel sick, but he can't stop doing them.
A few times he thinks about contacting Ambassador Spock.
As time for departure draws closer he finally does.
"You have to talk to him- you- him," he says. "He's convinced he has to go back and I- "
"You cannot do it without him," Ambassador Spock says without a trace of self-consciousness. "You must convince him- your destinies are entwined."
Jim thinks of nights of quiet blow jobs and fucking- the words that he can't say stuck in his throat and the fear that Spock is somewhere else- somewhere not-with-him- ever present. The realization that he can't bludgeon Spock into this is… terrifying. He also thinks, uncharitably, that clearly Ambassador Spock was never so goddamn stubborn as Jim's Spock.
"I can't," he says softly.
Uhura, Scotty, Bones, Chekov, and Sulu, Arnold Carlisle and Jim are the only ones who show to the meeting. Jim's still not accepting anyone but Spock as first mate and science officers aren't growing on trees. There were few enough of them as it was- and there are four or five who are ready to head an exploratory expedition.
"Present your crew," Admiral Archer instructs.
"Lt. Nyota Uhura as head of communications," he says. "Dr. Leonard McCoy as Chief Medical Officer, Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineering Officer, Pavel Chekov, Head of Navigation, and Lt. Hiraku Sulu as Primary Helmsman, and Lt. Arnold Carlisle as Armory Officer in charge of security personnel. Positions for chief science officer and first mate are yet to be filled."
Pike looks at him. "I would have thought you would have approached Commander Spock."
"I have. He's playing hard to get," Jim replies. Then, as an afterthought, "Sir."
Pike's lips twitch.
They're leaving in two days.
Two days, and Jim still doesn't have a first mate.
He's going to take Keenser on at this point. Uhura could probably function as science officer, or he could transfer Chekov to science officer- maybe Lt. Tormolen, but that guy is so accident-prone he'd probably be more of a hazard than trusting the entire Science division to a seventeen year old.
"You could ask Dr. McCoy," Rand offers, biting on her pen. "Or Chapel. Or…Rodriguez. I mean, he's a botanist but…"
"I don't want to take away medical personnel if I can help it," Jim says. "I'm also not big on Rodriguez. I mean, he's a decent guy, just a little…flaky." She nods, looking over personnel again. She's grown on him.
"Well," she muses. "I guess you just have to convince Commander Spock."
"Isn't it great how it keeps coming back to that?" he mutters. She just grins at him.
"Mira," is Scotty's suggestion. He was besotted. "She's a Lieutenant, y'know?"
She's not a bad choice, and besides looking a little nervous, she agrees to the post of interim Science officer if none can be found.
Jim realizes that his ship's composition of high-ranking officials is entirely Human and groans.
"No one will care," Uhura says when he tells her. "It's not a bias anywhere at all- most Vulcans have resigned their commissions, and- well. The fact that most of us are Earth-strain Humans can't really be helped. It's the best and the brightest right now." She squeezes his hand. "Don't be so sensitive."
He makes a face at her. "Thanks."
Bones doesn't care about Jim's recruiting problems, because he's trying to get Geoffrey M'Benga to join the crew. Apparently M'Benga studied at the Vulcan Academy.
Bones does care when he comes back to the apartment to find that Jim is proving the Adlorian Theorum all over their walls, because he ran out of paper.
"My God, man," he sighs. "Pull yourself together."
He makes dinner anyway, because he knows that sometimes the only way for Jim to quiet the other really terrifying numbers in Jim's head is for Jim to work with other, less terrifying numbers. Calculating their chances for failure and death will make him go crazy.
"You have to come," he says to Spock. "You're the one who dragged me into Starfleet, you're the one who made me a captain- this whole damn thing is your fault. So you have to be my first officer because- you owe me. "
Spock kisses him gently.
"You needed only a push, and I regret none of it," he informs him. "Jim. You do not need me."
"I do. We all do. Spock. Imagine what I'll do without you- "
"You believe too much of your own negative press."
Okay, fine, so some enterprising reporter had gotten ahold of his psych evaluations and the headlines have been "SOCIOPATH TO CAPTAIN THE ENTERPRISE?".
Someone does a poll of Federation planets: Jim has a 87% approval rating. He buries himself in the numerical break down of the polls for a while to steady his nerves.
Spock walks onto the ship, literally right before they're about to take off. If it were anyone but Spock Jim would say it was making a grand entrance.
"Lt. Romaine, you're relieved as Chief Science Officer," he says as they glide into unknown space. "Commander Spock will be taking over the position."
Spock lifts an eyebrow in agreement, sitting in his position as Uhura grins at them all as though they're dense children who've managed to color inside the lines. Bones rolls his eyes and mutters something about updating his VD vaccine supplies at the first stopover.
They have a serious conversation about that that night.
Jim attempts to tell Spock what an asshole he is while Spock does his level best to suck Jim's brain out of his dick.
"You calculated the odds of my accepting."
"After Ambassador Spock I put them at 98%," Jim gasps, bereft at the sudden lack of suction.
"That was cheating."
Jim grins, spreading his arms. "Don't worry," he says. "I'll teach you."