Actions

Work Header

Empire State of Mind

Chapter Text

They say that New York city is the center of the universe.

Anyone who has ever set foot in it would be hard pressed to argue. No where else has the energy or the vibrancy of New York. There is nothing one cannot find there, nothing one cannot do. It is where dreams are made and broken, people come and go, and sushi is available twenty-four-seven.

Grand Central Station is no exception to this rule, as regardless of the time of day it can be found buzzing with activity from its shops and travelers. A certain Sunday evening was no different as two teenage boys made their way off a train from Princeton to find their father at his usual meeting spot.

Having clearly done this several times before, the pair deftly made their way through the crowds with their weekend bags in hand. The older brother had dark brown hair and hazel eyes, the younger had curly brown hair and bright blue eyes.

“Do you think Dad's going to bug us about Mom again,” the younger boy asked suddenly. When he didn't receive an answer right away, he turned to look up at his brother. A pair of white earbuds were all the answer he needed; it was like the damn iPod touch had been surgically attached ever since school started. Without preamble, he yanked them out. Music came blasting out of them and he was given a sour look by his brother.

“Jesus, what?”

“Len, I'm talking to you,” Pavel said as he rolled his eyes. “Do you think Dad's going to grill us about Mom like he did last time?”

Leonard shrugged. “I hope not. He should just talk to her himself.”

“Yeah, that'll happen.” The duffle bag over Pavel's right shoulder was shifted to a more comfortable spot. “Come on, stop listening to Elliot Smith or whatever and hurry up.”

“It was Psapp and I'm walking just fine, thanks.” Leonard stopped for a moment to turn off his iPod so that the battery wouldn't wear completely down. When he looked up, his brother had gotten lost in the crowd. “Shit.” He started to run in the direction they had been heading. “Pavel wait up! I'm...”

Leonard was cut off as he suddenly knocked into someone standing in front of him. The person fell over their suitcase and Leonard went down next to them.

“Ow,” the person groaned.

“Oh God, I'm so sorry here let me...” Leonard trailed off as he looked into a pair of startling bright blue eyes.

Oh no.

“It's cool, it's just not the welcome I was expecting.” Blue eyes shook his head a couple of times and smiled. “I'll just tell my mom that one of the power clippers for the Knicks did it. Hey, are you all right? You look all dazed and stuff.”

Leonard knew he was staring, but he couldn't really stop himself. Part of it was sheer mortification, but the other part... He finally shook himself out of it and offered his hand. The blond took it without hesitation and they helped each other up.

“Um, I'm sorry I just...I didn't...my brother...I...assaulted you.” A little part of him wanted to go back to the trains and throw himself on the tracks.

“Hey, no worries. I was kinda standing in the middle of the place with a bunch of luggage.” He gestured to the four Burberry suitcases next to him. “You know, my bad. Here I am standing talking to you and I haven't even introduced myself.” He held his hand out again. “Jim Kirk.”

He wiped his hands off on his jeans. “McCoy, Leonard McCoy.” They shook hands and Jim got a thoughtful look on his face.

“Do we know each other? You look familiar.”

Leonard swallowed. “We go to...I mean, I go to Starfleet.”

“That's what I thought.” The smile on Jim's face was bright and genuine. “Well that's...”

Without warning, Pavel came running back. “Len, what is the hold up? Dad's going to...oh. Oh!” The shorter boy stopped short when he saw who his brother was talking to. “Hi! I'm Pavel,” he chirped.

Jim shook Pavel's hand. “Hey, Jim Kirk.”

“I know.” Leonard gave him a look. “I mean, it's nice to meet you!”

“Mr. Kirk?” A man in a black uniform came up to the trio. “Your mother sent me.”

The driver began grabbing some of Jim's things and if Jim's smile faltered for a moment, the other two boys didn't notice.

“Well, McCoy, Leonard McCoy and Pavel, it was nice meeting you.” He winked. “See you at school.” With that Jim Kirk followed the driver out, leaving the two brothers behind. Pavel smacked his brother on the arm.

“Ow!” Leonard glared down at his little brother. “What's your problem?”

Pavel rolled his eyes. “Making us late to meet Dad so you can drool over the guy you've been obsessed with since ninth grade? Nice.”

“I am not obsessed. I just...whatever, I don't even care.” Leonard sighed. “And I didn't even know it was him until I was helping him up. I didn't do it on purpose.”

“The social skills you have at your disposal? I wouldn't put it past you.”

“You're such an asshole.”

“Hm. Or just smarter than you.”

“One aptitude test said you're a genius, don't give me that.” He grabbed Pavel's duffle bag and started walking. “He said see you at school...so I guess he's back then?”

Pavel smirked. “Thought you didn't care.”

Leonard didn't answer; indeed he didn't have to, his blush took care of that for him.

-----

Nyota Uhura sat primly in the front row of the gymnasium, one ankle crossed over the other. She brushed an imaginary stray hair off her face and kept her eyes forward on the match in front of her.

Once upon a time, the fencing matches excited her. Foil fencing can be such a quick sport, and all it takes is one slight movement for it to be all over.

These days, she simply found herself bored.

At this point the amount of matches she had been to were well in the double-digits and the outcome was very seldom in doubt as her boyfriend was one of the best teenaged fencers in the United States. Still, it was the only thing Hikaru loved more than her and so she went when she could with his family to support him.

It was the last match before his and the competitor on the right was losing. She stifled a yawn.

That was when her phone went off. She reached into her Balenciaga purse and pulled out her iPhone.

Spotted in Grand Central: a certain disappearing Upper East Side prince, with his life and luggage in hand. I'd hardly believe it was true myself if I hadn't been sent photographic evidence. Is Jim Kirk back for good? I wonder if his BFF knew about this and didn't spill, although we hear he left her without so much as a farewell. Give me the dish if you've got it kiddies. XOXO, Gossip Girl.

Her eyes widened. She quickly scrolled down the rest of the blast and opened the picture file. Sure enough, it was a picture of Jim holding a suitcase over one shoulder. She closed the message and threw her phone back into her bag.

“Nyota, it's Hikaru's turn,” Mimi Sulu whispered excitedly. Nyota quickly raised her attention back to the mats in front of her.

“Thank you,” she smiled back.

So Jim was back. Which meant he was going to be back at school. And that meant...

“Fencers, on my mark!”

The fencers saluted each other and took their places. She easily spotted Hikaru to her left, the familiar gold bib shining out like a beacon.

“Begin!”

As tiresome as she may have found the matches herself, there was something to be said about watching her boyfriend in his element. He moved with an incredible grace, his footing always swift and sure. He was beautiful when he was in motion and it always reminded her of how much she loved him.

His opponent made a misstep and Hikaru took full advantage, the tip of his foil touching right over where the heart should be.

The opponent tried to launch a counter-attack, but it was unsuccessful. As a result, Sulu quickly took advantage and got another touch of his foil on the blue jacket.

The blue jacketed man regained his footing and went in for an offensive strike. Sulu parried flawlessly and neatly dodged the riposte. Lunging, Sulu went in for the kill and with a shout he once again touched the tip of the foil to the man's jacket.

The buzzer sounded.

“Victory, Sulu!”

Nyota let out a breath she hadn't even known she was holding. She stood to join his parents in applauding. Hikaru took off his face guard and went to shake his opponent's hand. His coach then grabbed him in a brief hug as he smiled warmly at the crowd. He jumped down off of the platform and grabbed his equipment. The Sulus and Nyota made their way to personally congratulate the victor.

“Son, you did it again,” Ken Sulu exclaimed as he clapped him on the back. “At this rate, you'll have a perfect season.”

“You were wonderful,” Mimi said as she fondly swept the sweaty hair off his face.

“Thanks Dad, Mom,” Hikaru said with a smile. Noticing his girlfriend, he moved over to her. “Hey, you came.” He kissed her on the cheek. She smiled up at him and his parents went to talk to his coach.

“Of course I did, honey,” she sighed happily. “I know how important this is to you.” She took one of his hands in hers. “I was thinking, if your parents aren't taking you out after this, that you should come back to my place to celebrate.” She looked up at him through her lashes. “Alone.”

Hikaru looked at her thoughtfully for a moment before clearing his throat. “Oh, I'd...love to but I told Spock I'd meet up with him.” He smiled crookedly. “I can't bail on him, he said he had something to talk to me about.”

Her smile froze a little. “Oh, well of course. You're always such a good friend to him, I'd not want to get in the way of that.” She continued to lightly rub the back of his hand with her right thumb. “What about tomorrow then? After school?”

“After school works.” He kissed her on the cheek once more. “I should go hit the showers before I head out. Are my parents taking you home?” Nyota nodded. “Okay then. I'll see you at school? The Met steps?” She nodded. Hikaru began to walk away from her and she eventually, regretfully, let go of his hands.

As soon as he was out of view, the smile faded into a decidedly colder expression. If Jim Kirk thought he could waltz back from wherever he ran away to as if nothing had happened, well he was about to learn a lesson the hard way.

-----

“Mom?” Jim Kirk called out to the darkened suite as he opened the door. “Hello?”

He pushed the dimmer switch on the wall and faced an empty hotel room. It figured that Winona Kirk couldn't even be bothered to be home to greet the son she hadn't seen in a year.

The bellhop that was with him immediately pushed the cart of his bags into one of the side rooms. After a moment, he came back out.

“I placed everything at the foot of the bed, sir,” the bellhop said.

Jim tried to smile but he felt it came out wrong. “That's fine, thanks.” He pulled out his wallet and tipped the man. The bellhop politely bowed and went back on his way, leaving Jim alone. He gave a cursory glance around the room when he saw an envelope with his name on it.

Jim opened the envelope and found a note in his mother's familiar handwriting.

“James,

We must catch up sometime this week, for now I'm at the Hearst Foundation benefit. Order whatever you like from room service, but don't be up too late. You have a meeting with Headmaster Barnett at 730 tomorrow morning.

It is wonderful to have you home at last! Sleep well, my darling!

Your mother

PS – Sam is doing better, he should be out of the hospital next week. I'll try to make time for us to go see him on Tuesday. Give my love to Nyota and Hikaru.”

Jim rolled his eyes as he threw the note in the trash.

He could deal with moving into the Palace, as undoubtedly his mother was redecorating their real home in the wake of her latest romantic disaster. Everyone on the UES knew that decorating was Winona Kirk's defense mechanism. The fact that his mom couldn't even be here to see him and had posted that comment about Sam like an afterthought...it wasn't very surprising, but it still hurt.

For a moment, he thought about going downstairs to the Palace bar and knocking back a shot of vodka or twelve. However, that was something Jim Kirk would have done before he left. No, he wasn't going to go down that road again because of one disappointment, especially not right before his first day back at school.

He pulled out his Macbook Air and connected it to the room's wireless connection. After checking his gmail and Twitter feed, he paused for a moment. He had to do it sooner or later, after all he was back home and on her turf. May as well get it over with.

He bit his thumbnail as Gossip Girl's homepage loaded quickly in front of him. “Oh, God dammit,” he couldn't help but exclaim as he saw the front page.

So much for the element of surprise.

Jim put his school uniform along with his toothbrush in a bag and went to jump in the shower. There was no point in staying there alone: the whole reason he had come back was for Sam, so the least he could do was pay him a visit.

-----

A few hours later, Hikaru Sulu found himself sprawled on a sofa in the penthouse suite of the Palace Hotel. His best friend had wordlessly handed him a glass of scotch and water once he stepped through the door and they had since been sitting in companionable silence. Spock's father, Sarek, was in the Middle East looking into new properties in Dubai and was not due back home for several weeks.

Not that there was anything really different about that compared to any other time.

Spock didn't mind, it meant he was left to do whatever or whomever he wished, whenever he wished.

“Aren't you going to ask me if I won?”

Spock sighed. “You always win, Hikaru. I fail to see how today would have been different from any other time.”

Sulu nodded. “Right.” He tilted his head to one side and cracked his neck. Spock looked at him disapprovingly before he continued. “So, I think Nyota's trying to get me to sleep with her.”

“You do not sound enthusiastic at the prospect.”

“It's...not that I don't want to,” Sulu said as he bit his lip for a moment. “It's just out of nowhere. She was always going on about waiting and all of a sudden tonight she wanted me to go home with her , when I know her folks are off at some UN conference. It's weird and I'm not sure how I feel about the change in attitude.”

“The two of you have been involved in some romantic fashion since kindergarten. It would be logical for you to take the next step in the relationship.”

“I guess.” He shrugged again. “I told her I'd go home with her tomorrow after school, so we'll see.”

Spock raised an eyebrow. If it had been him, the question of Nyota's virginity would have been a moot issue ages ago. He privately had always been intrigued by her: she was, after all, the only person in their circle who could keep up with him intellectually, let alone be as...intense as he was.

“So,” he began slowly as he swirled the amber liquid around his glass. “I was alerted to something of interest on Gossip Girl today.”

“I still can't believe you subscribe to that, it's so stupid.” Sulu took a sip of his scotch.

“In this age, Hikaru, it is logical to have as much information at one's disposal as possible.” Spock shrugged. “Regardless, I thought you might be interested to see for yourself.” He pulled out his iPhone and handed it to his friend. “Here.”

Sulu rolled his eyes and looked down at the phone. What he saw was enough to make him sit up straight, his scotch forgotten.

“Wait, what? When was this?”

“This afternoon.”

“He's...really back?” Hikaru suddenly had a life to him that had not been present within him for quite some time. Not that unexpected, not really, but it was still fascinating.

“It would appear that way.” Spock finished the rest of his scotch and got up for another.

“Hm,” Sulu said as he sat back again. The look on his face was unguarded and soft.

As he poured the liquor from its decanter, Spock rather uncharacteristically smiled. After all, the Upper East side had become a bit monotonous. Now that Jim was back, maybe things would get interesting again.

-----

The fastest way to commute from the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn to prestigious Starfleet Prep was the subway. It still took about fifty minutes due to rush hour, but it was far more sane and less costly than a taxi or car service and walking was right out of the question if Leonard and Pavel wished to get to school anytime before lunch.

Christopher Pike was head of the academy's history department and for once, he did not have any early staff meetings. In the interest of spending as much time with them as possible, he was riding the train with his two adopted children. His youngest sat to his left as he thumbed through sheet music for orchestra practice, while the eldest was oddly fidgety as he picked at a loose thread on his cuff.

“You keep doing that, you won't have a shirt left,” Chris said with a smile to his son.

“He's just nervous because of Jim Kirk,” Pavel said without looking up from his booklet. “He kept staring at pictures of him online all night.”

Leonard stared at Pavel as if he could silence him through the sheer force of his will.

“What? You left your laptop open and there it was Gossip Girl dot com, the 'Jim Kirk' tag.”

“You're such an infant.”

“I'm just saying.” Pavel started humming a few bars under his breath.

“Boys,” Chris warned. This was starting to go beyond their normal scope of friendly teasing.
Despite the busy hours of being a teacher at Manhattan's premiere private secondary schools, Chris tried to play as active a role in his kids lives as possible; doubly so ever since he and his wife had separated. He hadn't had the...privilege of teaching Jim Kirk yet, but he had heard plenty about him from other faculty members before he transferred out the year prior.

It would also appear that his eldest son had something of a fascination with the boy.

While he wasn't sure that he approved as Kirk had quite the reputation for partying, he wouldn't have exactly frowned upon his son having a friend at his own school. Ever since his best friend had started at Stuyvesant, the only person Leonard ever spent any significant time with these days was Pavel. As Pavel was busy with his own activities since starting at Starfleet, this meant that Leonard was spending more and more time alone and Chris was worried about him.

Kirk probably wouldn't have been let back into Starfleet if his boarding school record had been less than exemplary. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Leonard found someone new to spend time with.

Christopher was reminded of something he had been told by one of his colleagues. “Pavel, Doctor Archer tells me you had the highest score out of all of his classes on his exam last week.”

Pavel stopped humming. “Oh.”

Chris smiled. “Well, why didn't you say something? We could have celebrated.”

“Oh I just...I forgot.”

Leonard raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at his younger brother while their dad was simply confused. It wasn't really like Pavel to forget much of anything, let alone something as wonderful as that. He must have been feeling modest.

“While we're talking, um, they're thinking of moving me to first violin next semester.” Pavel brightened. “And Doctor Komack really wants me to try out for the chamber choir. I mean, I'm only a freshman but I'm pretty sure that I can...”

“That's fine, Pavel. As long as your schoolwork doesn't suffer.” Chris smiled. “You know how proud your...mother and I are that you're following in her footsteps.”

For some reason, at this Pavel deflated. “Yes, Dad.” Leonard was still looking at Pavel as if he wanted to say something. Uncharacteristically, he decided against it and went back to watching the scenery quickly pass them by.

After another few minutes, the train signaled their stop and the three found themselves standing up. Pavel began to hum the little syncopated rhythms from before as he led the way, Leonard and Chris quickly following.

-----

Jim made it through his meeting with thankfully little incident.

It was pretty straight forward: he was allowed back into Starfleet Prep on a probationary basis to be reviewed at the end of the fall semester. Provided he did everything by rote, he would be allowed to continue his enrollment. Barnett made it clear that he so much as came to class smelling of Vick's Vap-o-Rub or took a cough drop and he would be gone.

Jim nodded where it was appropriate, smiled where he was allowed, and signed on the dotted lines.

The easy part was over.

Brass key in hand, he made his way to his locker. He turned the key in the wooden door and opened it up as he placed his gym bag inside. It was too late in the term for him to rejoin the cross country team, but he could still use the school's track for a quick run.

As he closed his locker, he was greeted by the sight of Hikaru Sulu walking in his direction. He tried to subtly turn in the opposite direction but he was too late.

“Jim? Hey.” Sulu stopped at the locker next to his, leaning up against it. “The rumors are true.”

The blond half-smiled. “Hey. Yeah, I'm back.”

“Well, you look good.” Sulu ran a hand through his dark hair. “It's really great to see you.”

“Yeah, um, you too.” Jim sighed. “I don't mean to cut out, but I have to get to class.”

“Hey wait, we should catch up.”

Jim had started to walk backwards away from Hikaru when he faltered. “That's...not a good idea.”

“We could go somewhere, there's a little time before...”

“No.” Jim shook his head. “No. I'm not doing this.”

Sulu looked confused and maybe a little hurt. “Jim?”

“Look I didn't...I'm not here for you, okay?” He shifted the weight of his messenger bag. “You have a girlfriend, my best friend. And just...no.” He started to take off in earnest this time. “I'll see you around.”

Sulu watched Jim take off around a corner, the same confused look on his face. Sighing, he went down the hallway to his locker; at this rate, he was going to be late for class. Not that he really cared, but he also didn't feel like getting in trouble.

As Sulu grabbed his calculus book and headed on his way, Leonard and Pavel came through the hall. Leonard's locker was a few down from Sulu's, and he got out his key and opened it to switch out some textbooks.

“So when are you going to tell Dad?”

Pavel looked up from his sheet music. “Tell dad what?”

Leonard rolled his eyes. “About the part where the thought of a life in science makes you want to kill yourself and instead you want to be the next Ben Gibbard.”

“Shut up!” Pavel looked around them for a moment. “Don't do that here, Dad's friends with like all of the faculty. They'll rat me out!”

Again, Leonard rolled his eyes. “You're paranoid.” He put his lit and Latin books on the shelf and put his psychology text in his bag. “I'm sure he'll only stop talking to you for a month or so.”

Pavel made a face. “Not helping.”

“Not trying to.” Leonard closed the door and turned his key. “Look, it's not like he'll disown you. Yeah he'll be disappointed, mom's number one in her field and I know they're hoping you'll take over her research someday. The sooner you're honest, the sooner you can deal with the fallout.”

“I'll tell him.” Pavel sighed. “Just..maybe after I've declared majors and it's too late for me to switch back.” Pavel pulled out his Sidekick to check the time. “I have to get going, my Russian teacher's been on the warpath lately. Try to get something accomplished other than making an ass of yourself in front of Kirk, okay?” And with that, his little brother took off but not before he noticed the one-fingered salute his big brother had given him.

Leonard turned to head to psychology a little too quickly and knocked into someone. Not again.

“Oh, sorry.” He looked up into the face of Spock S'chn T'gai. The taller boy smoothed out an imaginary wrinkle in the patchwork scarf he was wearing over his uniform blazer and raised an eyebrow.

“It would appear I am the one that is sorry.” The tone in his voice dripped insincerity, causing Leonard to narrow his eyes. With that, Spock was gone.

Leonard glared after him. “Well golly, I hope you'll still share your notes with me in study hall,” he muttered to no one in particular. As the warning bell rang, he quickly stalked off to his class.

-----

It was lunchtime before Jim had a chance to make his way over to the girl's side of the building and he found himself pacing a little by the lockers. It may have been almost a year, but he was pretty sure he still knew which one was hers.

Soon enough, Nyota came around a corner, Christine and Gaila in tow. The girls were laughing together about something they were looking at on Gaila's cell phone. As always, they caught the attention of the other girls at Starfleet; some were looking on with envy, others with something akin to fear. Jim found himself growing a little nervous as they approached.

When they were only about ten feet away, Christine finally noticed his presence and stopped laughing. She lightly nudged Nyota in the side. Nyota flipped her hair out of her face and slowly began to glare at him.

“Jim,” she said coolly. “Why are you on the girl's side?”

“Nyota!” Nervousness forgotten, he immediately pulled her into a hug. Not returning the embrace, she quickly extracted herself from it.

Jim tilted his head to one side. “I'm sorry I didn't call, I was really busy.”

“You mean yesterday or the whole year you were gone?” She pulled out her keys and opened her locker without so much as a glance in his direction.

“Yeah, about that...” He felt himself faltering a bit. “I was hoping we could go to out somewhere, get some lunch, catch up.”

“I have plans already.”

Of course. “Well, what about after school? I haven't been to the Modern in a while, we could go there. I know it's your favorite.”

“I'm booked, sorry,” she chirped from behind the wooden door.

He sighed. “Well, tomorrow? Breakfast, my treat.” Jim put his hands in his pockets. “Come on, Nyota.”

The locker door closed, and she finally looked at him then, her eyes hard. “You know, since I only allow my friends to call me Nyota, perhaps you should call me Uhura like everyone else.”

Jim recoiled for a moment as if he had been slapped, before getting a resigned look on his face. He had figured she'd be upset but this was a little different than he was expecting. He never had been one to back down, however, and so he quickly put a smile back on his face. “Okay, Uhura, but you haven't answered me. Via Quadronno, tomorrow morning?”

The two of them stared at one another for a moment, as if sizing each other up for the first time. Finally, Nyota inclined her head in the slightest nod.

“I suppose I can spare a half an hour.”

Jim smiled. “Great, I'll pick you up at 7:00.” At that, Uhura turned and walked away. It left Christine and Gaila to look at each other oddly before they finally followed her.

Jim exhaled once loudly; going a round with Nyota was not something he had planned on and he frankly found it exhausting. He really needed to get out of the building, but he still had four classes before the end of the day.

-----

It was finally eighth period and Leonard found himself in his least favorite class, art.

He still didn't understand why this was necessary: he was going to be a doctor, not a bohemian. Unfortunately, Starfleet Prep prided itself on its “well-rounded graduates” and thus every student was required to take several electives throughout their time there. Pavel had gotten all of the musical ability pretty much in the world, so that left Leonard with little other option. Next year, he would have to take a drama class as the seniors were required to put on a production in order to graduate but for now he suffered through watercolors and impressionism.

Leonard sat in his usual place at the back of the room and took out his sketchbook and charcoals. He just happened to glance up at the door as Jim Kirk walked into the room. He stopped what he was doing instantly and stared. Jim looked around the room once, scanning it for a place to sit. Blue eyes met hazel and Jim lit up a little as he made his way over to the empty seat next to Leonard.

“Anyone sitting here?” Leonard shook his head. “Good.” Jim immediately sat his bag down on the table as he sat next to the dark haired boy. “It's nice to see you again, McCoy, Leonard McCoy.”

“...Hi.” Leonard cringed. Least original greeting ever. Clearing his throat, he decided to try again. “Having a good first day back?”

Jim fumbled with his bag for a moment as he got his art supplies out. “Not really.” He then looked at Leonard with an interested expression. “Although, I have to say it just got a lot better.”

He was not blushing.

He was not.

All right, so he totally was.

Before he could say anything, their teacher made her way in and turned on the soft classical music she played during class. Unsatisfied with its location, she adjusted the vase of peonies on a table in the front of the room. “All right everyone, you can come up front if you need to for a better view of the subject. Try to catch as much of the depth of the shadow as you can, it's particularly dramatic this time of day. Remember, peonies are a symbol of bashful romance and compassion, so try and convey that with your line work.”

Leonard sighed. “It's a vase, not a Hallmark card,” he mumbled. Jim started snickering, which pleased Leonard quite a bit.

The teacher gave them a look. “And remember, no talking please. I want you to concentrate.”

Jim's face went comically serious as he grabbed a charcoal pencil and got to work, Leonard quickly following suit. They worked in silence for quite a while, and soon Leonard found himself focusing very intently on the shape of one blossom in particular.

Without preamble, a folded piece of paper suddenly dropped onto his drawing. Leonard glanced up at Jim, who was focused very intently on his still life. He unfolded it carefully, trying not to get charcoal all over the paper.

What are you doing after school?

He blinked several times before grabbing a regular pen. He rapidly scrawled out an answer.

Nothing. Why?

Leonard refolded the note and, after making sure the teacher wasn't paying attention, gently passed it back across the table.

As he went back to drawing, he heard Jim unfold the paper. It wasn't long before it was passed back to him and he opened it up once more.

Want to hang out?

Leonard felt his heart start to thud in his chest. Jim really wanted to hang out with him? What about his other friends? This didn't make sense, it had to be some sort of prank or something. He wrote back.

You really want to spend time with some guy you don't know?

After he passed it, he saw Jim smile a little out of the corner of his eye. It took Jim longer to reply this time, and eventually the paper was back on his side of the table.

Well, you can't be any worse than the guys I do know. I know a place that serves a mean grilled cheese. :D

Wow.

Well there was only one way to reply to that, wasn't there? He wrote his answer out with more confidence than he really felt.

I never could resist the pull of a good sandwich. You're on.

Leonard surreptitiously passed it back to Jim and went back to work, this time with a rare smile on his face.

And if it made him happy that Jim was smiling too, well, that was nobody's damn business but his.

-----

Pavel opened his locker and grabbed his sheet music for rehearsal. On Mondays, he had sectional practice for the orchestra and if he wanted to make first violin he had to make sure he was on time and warmed up.

As he closed his locker door, his older brother ran up to him with a strange look on his face. “You have to cover for me with dad.”

“Well, hi Pavel. Nice to see you, how was your day? Oh it was fine, Len, thanks for asking.” He frowned at his brother. “What's gotten into you?”

“I don't have a lot of time, but just...tell Dad I went to the library to read up on some new medical procedures or for a chemistry paper or something. Text me with what you say so I don't mess things up when I get home.”

Now Pavel was intrigued. “Where are you going?”

At this, Jim Kirk walked up to the brothers and put a hand on Leonard's shoulder. Pavel's eyes widened. “Hi, Pavel. Nice to see you.” He looked down at Leonard. “Ready to go?”

Leonard looked at him expectantly. “Please?”

Pavel's jaw had dropped a little. Quickly recovering, he slyly grinned. “I can do that. But you owe me. Not like 'waffles for breakfast' owe either, like 'my bathroom cleaning duties for two weeks' owe.”

Leonard scowled. “Whatever.” He turned to Jim. “Let's go.” Jim grinned and the two were off.

Pavel stood by his locker smiling to himself before heading on to practice. He could be a little late this one time.

-----

Nyota Uhura was waiting in the courtyard of Starfleet when her boyfriend finally got out of the building. She smiled and ran up to him.

“Hi honey,” she kissed him on the cheek. “Have a good day?”

Sulu shrugged and unwillingly thought of his conversation with Jim. He hadn't been able to concentrate much after that. “Not really.”

She frowned. “Want to talk about it?”

He shrugged again. “Just a normal bad day, no big deal,” he lied. “How was yours?”

“It was fine, I got an A on my Pride and Prejudice paper and it looks like I'm getting that solo for chamber choir. I have a meeting tomorrow regarding the Ivy Week mixer, but I still haven't picked a charity for that.” Hikaru nodded in silence as they walked hand-in-hand down 73rd. She hesitated for a moment before continuing. “Jim came to see me at lunch.”

He startled for a moment. “...Oh?”

“He and I are having breakfast in the morning.” She chuckled. “I almost told him no, I mean he left without saying a word, was gone for the better part of a year, and he expects to come back here like nothing happened?”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “That...is what he's doing isn't it?”

“It's so arrogant.” She tossed her ponytail over one shoulder. “Enough about that. I've got a surprise for you when we get back to my place.”

Hikaru looked at her for a moment with a serious expression. “I can't wait.”

Nyota smiled.

-----

In a certain bar that was a part of a certain Madison Avenue hotel, Jim Kirk sat across from Leonard McCoy with a smile on his face. They sat towards the back, partially hidden from view, with Jim having long ago discarded the rep tie and school blazer in his book bag. He was also having fun watching his companion.

Leonard was glancing over the menu with a confused look on his face, his uniform still in tact. He saw the aforementioned grilled cheese but he didn't quite understand why there were truffles on it or, more pertinently, why it cost thirty dollars.

“You look lost,” Jim whispered conspiratorially. “Let me guess, you don't come here often?”

“Whatever could have possibly given me away.” There were like forty pages of just tea selections and some of the cocktails had the most ridiculous ingredients in them. Rose water, just...what? Who drinks that?

Their server came to the table and poured water in their glasses. “Are you ready or do you need a few more minutes?”

“I think we're good,” Jim said as he looked at Leonard, who looked up from the menu with a raised eyebrow. “I'm going to have the Gilt burger, medium-well, and a San Pellegrino with lime.”

The sever nodded. “And for you, sir?”

Leonard sighed. “Well I was lured here with the grilled cheese, so I'll have that. Um, and a Coke.”

Jim smiled and then looked back up at the waiter. “Oh and this is all to be billed to the Kirk suite.”

The server studied the pair for a moment, his smile growing a bit wider. “Of course, Mister Kirk.” He was then off to place their order and fetch their drinks. Both of Leonard's eyebrows were raised at this point.

“You have a suite?”

Jim shrugged. “My family's living here while my mom remodels. Anytime she breaks up with someone, it's like everything must go.”

The waiter brought their drinks to the table. “Thanks. So it's just you and your mom?”

“I...have a brother.” All of a sudden, Jim was very intent on squeezing the lime into his drink. He recovered after a moment and a smile formed again on his face. “What about you?”

Leonard shrugged. “Not much to tell. Pavel and I live with our dad in Williamsburg, and we commute in every day.”

“Gotcha.” Jim narrowed his eyes slightly, as if he was giving Leonard a more thorough inspection. “So what do you go by?”

“What?”

“What do you go by? What do your friends call you?” The blond grinned. “You can't really just go by Leonard all the time.”

He felt like he should feel insulted. “What's wrong with Leonard?”

“Oh it's not a bad name or anything, although it is a bit grandfatherly now that I think about it. It's just...it takes too long to say. ” Jim appeared to be concentrating really hard. “Don't you have a nickname?”

Leonard took a sip of his soda. “My family calls me Len sometimes.”

“No, Len is like...a trucker. ” Jim shook his head. “I'll figure something out.”

That sounded ominous. “Please don't.”

Jim looked affronted and started to flail like an old Southern woman. “I'm hurt that you wouldn't want me to bestow a nickname upon you. Why, I'd be clutching my pearls if I had any.”

Leonard blinked twice and then snorted. “You're ridiculous.”

“I was going for charming.”

“You missed it by a mile.”

“I guess I'll just have to try harder then.” Jim was giving him that appraising look again. “You're a little different than I thought you'd be.”

“Yeah, well you're nothing at all like I thought you'd be.” Leonard folded his napkin into his lap. “I mean, you're actually...nice.”

“...You agreed to hang out with me and you weren't sure if I was nice?” It was Jim's turn to raise an eyebrow. “Why would you do that?”

“Because you're hot.” Leonard could not smack himself in the face hard or quickly enough.

He also couldn't shake that feeling that, wherever his dear brother was, Pavel had started laughing his ass off with no idea why.

Peeking through his fingers, he saw that Jim had a pleased look on his face. Well okay, that was definitely better than him running in the opposite direction.

“Let me see if I have this straight. The quiet, sort-of grumpy guy from school turns out to be kinda shallow, is that the size of it?”

“I am a teenage boy. Shallow's in our job description.” Leonard shrugged.

“Touché.” Jim looked as if he was about to make a witty reply when his eyes widened. “Shit.” Leonard was about to turn around to see what caused the reaction, but he didn't have to as the person responsible made himself known.

“James,” Spock said as he strode over to their table, having changed out of the school uniform into a blue suit complete with, of all things, an ascot. Holding a scotch in one hand, he stood imperious over his two schoolmates. Leonard couldn't help but glare up at him.

Jim sighed. “Hello, Spock.”

“I trust the staff is treating you and your mother with the utmost care and respect.” He took a sip of the liquor and regarded Jim with a raised eyebrow. “We have not had a chance to reconnect with one another. I find this unfortunate.”

“I'm sure you do.” Jim suddenly looked like he felt the need for a shower. “But I'm in the middle of something right now.”

“I do see that, yes.” Spock's left eyebrow was raised. “We should spend some time together.” He placed a hand on Jim's shoulder and Leonard decided he genuinely did not like Spock. “Preferably sooner rather than later. Perhaps in my suite?”

Jim shrugged the hand off his shoulder. “Thanks but no thanks.”

“Very well. Enjoy your...charity work.” With that, Spock was off. Jim smiled at Leonard apologetically, who at first was too busy fuming to notice. The server brought their food at this moment, and they began to eat somewhat awkwardly together.

Leonard finally broke the silence. “So he's both creepy and an asshole. That's good to know.”

Jim sighed. “He's...not used to being told no.”

“Got that impression, yeah.” As much of a loner as he was, even Leonard knew of Spock's reputation. Just from the few interactions they had together at school, he definitely was not impressed with his attitude. It was nice, at least, to have this instinct confirmed.

What was also nice? The sandwich. He still wasn't sure if it was worth thirty dollars, but it was rather good.

“I keep my promises, don't I?” Jim pointed to his grilled cheese.

“I wouldn't send it back.”

The blond gave him a funny look. “It about kills you to give a real compliment, doesn't it?”

“You catch on pretty quick.” Leonard tried the gazpacho on the side of the sandwich, which also was pretty good.

“I do okay.” Wiping his mouth between bites, Jim leaned in closer. “You'll see.”

Leonard regarded him with a thoughtful expression. He was hoping so.

-----

Hikaru Sulu had been in the Uhura penthouse hundreds of times in his life but this was the first time it had ever made him feel sick. He stood by one of the windows that over-looked the park and stared at the greenery below.

Nyota had been up in her room for going on a half an hour getting his “surprise” ready.

A sigh escaped his lips, and in the silence surrounding him it felt like the whole city could have been deafened by it.

"Hikaru?" He looked up the stairwell in the direction of Nyota's room. "I'm ready."

Sighing once more, he slowly made his way up the stairs and and slowly pushed open her door.

The curtains had been drawn tight and her bedroom had a soft glow to it, as the only light source were dozens of lit candles. Nyota herself sat on her bed in a gold silk and black lace neglige, complete with black stockings and shoes on her feet. Her hair, for once, was unadorned and loose about her shoulders. She looked absolutely beautiful and Hikaru felt his heart break a little over what he was about to do.

“Is it too much?” Her smile was beautiful and not a little shy. He didn't say anything, still taking it all in. Nyota noticed his hesitation and sat a little straighter. “Is it not enough?”

He sat down on the bed, far enough away that he couldn't easily be touched by her but close enough that he wasn't being too standoffish. “No, it's...there's something you need to know.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “You remember how about a year ago, you, me Spock, and Jim had all gone to the Sheppard wedding together?”

She nodded.

“Well, remember at the reception where Jim and I had been doing shots all afternoon? And you told us to go take a walk and get some air?”

As soon as they had left the reception, Jim had stripped off his jacket and bow tie. He had thrown them over his shoulder and laughingly grabbed Hikaru's arm. “Hey, you know? No one's in the bar right now, let's go.”

“We're supposed to be sobering up!” Sulu laughed. “How is the bar gonna help?”

Jim didn't really care, the suggestion only made him laugh harder. “Sober, whatever. Your girlfriend's not our mom. Let's go have an adventure, yeah?” He moved his hand down Hikaru's arm to his hand and they went off together to the closed room.

Once inside, Jim had promptly dropped his jacket on the bar itself and ran behind it. “Let's see what we've...oh. Oh hell yeah!” He emerged, holding a bottle of Cristal in one hand. “Jackpot!”

“Oh wow, we so can't do that.” The grin on his face completely undermined Hikaru's words. “That's messed up, who's going to pay for it?”

“Who's going to...? The happy fucking couple, that's who.” Jim was already peeling the foil from around the cork. “Hey, if they didn't want to put up enough cash for the premium bar, they should have made the wedding B.Y.O.B.”

In his drunken state, Hikaru felt he couldn't argue with that logic. Instead he tried to get the bottle away from Jim. “Here, I'll do it.”

“No!”

“Come on, let me do it.”

“I said no, 'Karu!” The two of them were play wrestling over the bottle, when suddenly Hikaru got the advantage and took it away. Jim wasn't having that and tackled him to the floor. Somehow, Hikaru managed to still hold the bottle upright and the two of them struggled more with each other.

“Hey we have to sit up if I'm gonna open this,” Hikaru said. He found he didn't really want to move though, Jim felt and smelled really good for some reason. The blond groaned softly and he complied, kneeling in between Hikaru's legs. Hikaru slowly sat up, and went to delicately open the bottle. The champagne had other plans after being tossed around so harshly and it virtually exploded open. Jim clapped his hands together and laughed hysterically.

“Smooth!” He covered his face as he got sprayed with the champagne. “What a fucking waste.”

“There's plenty left,” Hikaru shrugged. “Here.” He held the bottle out to Jim. “It was your idea, you take the first drink.” Jim took the bottle, but he didn't take a swig from it. Maybe it was a trick of the light, but his eyes seemed oddly dark.

Just like that, the serious expression was gone. “Open up, sweetheart,” he chirped as he held the bottle towards Hikaru's face. Hikaru grinned and titled his head back, his mouth wide open and his eyes completely closed. Jim poured the champagne in as slowly as he could manage. “There we go.” He stopped what he was doing and put the bottle down.

His eyes closed, Hikaru felt Jim's hands cup his face and it caused a shiver to go through him. Lips met his and he shivered again. With no hesitation, he parted his lips slightly and Jim lapped some of the champagne out of his mouth. They kissed lazily for a while.

“That's...where it ends, right?” Nyota had an expectant look on her face. “He just...you just kissed. Right?”

Hikaru looked down at his hands.

When the kiss broke, Jim licked the champagne off Hikaru's chin with a wicked smile. “Hey, 'Karu. I think you got some on your shirt.”

“Oh?” Hikaru looked down at his chest, where Jim was already undoing the buttons one by one. Dimly, Hikaru felt like this was wrong but he also felt like he was more turned on than he'd ever been in his life.

“Yeah, I better...” He didn't even finish his thought, he just slowly ran his tongue down Hikaru's chest. Hikaru sighed and arched his back into the contact, sliding one hand onto the back of Jim's neck. His mouth was like a maddeningly slow burn and it felt like he was going to short circuit. Jim took one of his nipples into his mouth and he couldn't help but cry out.

Hikaru shifted and one of his knees pressed up gently against Jim's groin. Jim swore under his breath and Hikaru could feel that he was enjoying this just as much. He made his way further down Hikaru's chest until he was practically lying on the floor, his hands running over the waist of his pants. He slowly unbuttoned and unzipped them, his hand deftly maneuvering into the fly of the brunet's boxers.

After that, there was nothing more to think about than Jim's hand and Jim's mouth.

Her hands were shaking and she felt incredibly cold, almost like she'd never be warm again. “I think you should go.”

Hikaru bit his lip. “Nyota, I'm sorry. I...”

“Hikaru.” She wouldn't even look at him, for which he couldn't blame her. He had earned it, after all. “Go.”

Without arguing, Hikaru stood up and walked towards her door. He paused for a moment to look at her again, before he made his way out of the door and her apartment.

To her credit, not a single tear was shed until after she heard the elevator arrive.

-----

“So this was fun.” Jim smiled at him.

Leonard half-smiled back. “I can't complain, yeah.”

After they had finished their dinner, Jim had walked Leonard out into the courtyard of the Palace. They had continued talking and getting to know one another and before long it was seven o'clock.

“I'd invite you up, but I actually have to be somewhere by eight.” Jim looked genuinely apologetic.

“Don't worry about it. Maybe some other time.” He straightened the strap of his messenger bag. “I need to get back anyways.” They stood kind of awkwardly for a moment, before he finally half-waved and turned to walk away.

“So hey. How about you ask me out for Friday,” Jim called after him.

Leonard stopped dead in his tracks. “You...what?”

“Friday night. Ask me what I'm doing Friday night.” The smile on Jim's face was open and carefree.

What could it hurt? “So...what are you doing Friday night?”

The smile turned coy. “I don't have any plans.”

He inhaled sharply before finally asking, “Well how...how about a movie then?”

“I'd love to,” Jim replied before Leonard had even really finished his sentence. “Pick me up at seven?”

“Seven's good.” Leonard smiled at him again. “I'll see you at school tomorrow.”

“See you.” Jim waved at him as he went on his way.

As Leonard made his way into the subway, he felt like his steps were lighter than they had ever been before. He was actually going on a real date with Jim Kirk on Friday.

He smiled the whole way back to Williamsburg.

-----

Spotted leaving the Palace: Jim Kirk's unknown new suitor. Is this just another one of Kirk's flings, or does this romantic attachment come with strings? Looks like only time will tell, but when it does you know I'll come running to pass the info along. You know you love me, Gossip Girl.

-----

While debating his entertainment options for the evening, Spock poured himself a drink in his suite. It was far too early to head to STK or 1OAK.

His train of thought was interrupted when the door buzzer sounded. “Mr. S'chn T'gai? You asked that we page you with any visitors? A Miss Uhura is here to see you.”

This was a surprise. “You may allow her entry.”

“Yes, sir.”

He finished the rest of his drink and made his way over to the door.

“Ah, Nyota.” He showed her the way in. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Save it for someone it'll work on, I'm not here to visit.” She pushed past him in her red trench coat with a strained look on her face.

“May I make your usual? Or would you care for something different?”

“Did you know?” Nyota whirled around and her stare was piercing. This visit was clearly all business. More was the pity.

“I cannot answer if you do not specify the context.”

She rolled her eyes. “Jim. Hikaru. Did. You. Know?”

Ah. He thought back on the night in question, when he had left the wedding with one of the bridesmaids in the pursuit of a...more private area when he had come upon his friends in the middle of their tryst.

“I may have been aware of the nature of their last meeting.” He shrugged.

More than understandably, Nyota was furious. “And you never told me?”

Spock raised an eyebrow. “I am uncertain as to why I should have. Logically, you would have simply dismissed me as lying to you. Especially as you have a tendency to speak about how much you and dear Hikaru love each other so very, very much.”

She hated it when Spock was right, which he infuriatingly often was. “Fine. I'll concede the point for now.” She crossed her arms.

“If I may ask a personal query, how did you come upon this information?”

“Hikaru told me.” If Spock noticed the hitch in her voice, he wisely did not comment. “You know, he cheated, and I doubt I will ever forgive him for it. But like it wasn't bad enough that Jim just...left me without so much as a goodbye...” She laughed and it came out bitter and cold. “Some best friend, at least now I know the reason why he disappeared. I don't think I even have words for how betrayed I feel.”

“Indeed.” He went to the kitchen in the suite and pulled out a chilled bottle of Belvedere from the freezer. After pouring a double, he brought it to her. Nyota took the glass from him with a nod of thanks and began to sip on the liquor. “The more important question is, what are you going to do with this information?”

She focused on the vodka for a moment before answering. “Something along the lines of complete social destruction.” Spock nodded; it had been far too long since he had seen Nyota work her magic. The Upper East Side was overdue. “Although, where to begin?”

Spock grabbed his phone from the table and passed it to her. “If I may?”

Curiously, Nyota took the phone from him and unlocked it. Instead of being on its home screen, the phone was open to a web browser window. The window contained Gossip Girl's most recent blast, a picture of Jim Kirk and a boy who was wearing the Starfleet Prep uniform smiling at one another. A slow smile formed on her face; Spock truly was brilliant.

Oh yes, she was going to teach Jim Kirk a painful lesson indeed.