Jim Kirk had a crush.
Stupid, of course.
He didn’t lack for attention from those who thought him attractive. Women and men flirted with him and easily expressed interest in him. Which, generally, he appreciated. And, if it was not bragging, it wasn’t just Humans. He was able to garner the interest of Andorians, Orions, Tellarites, and well, lots of others, really, with just a well-aimed smile.
It was just a fact of the looks he was born with, really.
Not that he didn’t try to look good. Of course he did. He didn’t spend far too many credits on that bomber jacket just because. He looked good in it, Jim knew he did.
Jim didn’t lack for dates, sexual partners or company.
Unlike back in Riverside where he was perhaps too well-known, here at Starfleet Academy, he had a lot of friends. He was popular. Generally well-liked. Though there were always those that found him to be irritating. Jim didn’t bother to give them much thought. No one was liked by everyone and Jim accepted that.
The problem was that the one he wanted the most…didn’t want him.
And it hurt.
It was only a crush, he told himself. It wasn’t love or anything… because well, let’s face it, the object of his affection barely spared him a thought. And definitely few words.
Jim had convinced the instructor, because yeah—he had a crush on an instructor, how cliché was that—to go for tea once. Well, tea for him, Spock, a Vulcan of all things, and coffee for Jim. He’d thought it went really well. He sensed they had great chemistry.
And in fact, he had been planning on asking Spock out again.
But he’d excused himself to go to the bathroom, three cups of coffee will make you have to pee, and when he went to return to their table, his seat had been taken over by an Andorian male Jim had seen Spock talking to before. He was pretty sure the Andorian was an instructor as well, though Jim didn’t know what subject he taught.
He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but, well, they hadn’t noticed him.
“Cadet Kirk? Certainly not,” Spock told the Andorian. “He is known to frequently engage in illicit liaisons, make unwanted advances, and has a criminal background. I am not even certain how he gained admittance to the Academy.”
“Pike, as I understand it,” the Andorian replied. “Apparently he has tested as a genius.” He shrugged.
“Nevertheless his character is questionable at best. As far as I can ascertain his only redeeming quality is a pleasing physical appearance. I am not certain what he hoped to gain by inviting me out, but a relationship with someone like him is absolutely out of the question.”
Jim had certainly heard enough. And there was absolutely no way he was returning to the table. So he went up to the cash register where he was greeted by a very pretty brunette.
“Listen, I need to pay for my tab at that table,” Jim said as he handed over his credit chip.
“The one with the Vulcan and the Andorian?”
“Right. Just pay for the whole thing. And if you could just tell the Vulcan something came up and I had to leave, I’d appreciate it.”
Not that Jim figured Spock would even care.
“Sure thing, honey. He’s cute. I thought you were together.”
Jim smiled. “Nope.”
“His loss.” She winked and handed him back his credit chip. “But you looked hot together.”
“Thanks. Hope you gave yourself a nice tip.” He glanced at her name tag. “Denise.”
Jim didn’t look back as he left the little tea and coffee place. But he felt like he’d been struck across the face and maybe punched in the chest.
He vowed that from now on, he would do his best to avoid Spock at all costs. That would take care of his stupid, fucked up, one-sided crush.
And the first thing he had to do was transfer out of Spock’s class.
Bones looked up from the terminal in their dorm room when Jim walked in. “You’re back already?”
Jim went straight into the little kitchenette and into the fridge to remove the wine there. “Yeah.”
“I thought you’d be gone longer. How’d it go?”
Jim leaned up to reach the wine glass on the top shelf. He shrugged.
“Well, what happened?”
“Nothing, actually.” Jim poured himself a generous glass of the sour white wine and then returned the bottle to the fridge. “It, uh, it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.”
Bones frowned and leaned back in his chair. “I don’t understand.”
Jim lowered his gaze. “He doesn’t…” His voice cracked. He cleared his throat. Tried again. “He doesn’t like me, Bones.”
“I thought maybe, but-but no. He-he…” Jim stopped, took a sip of wine. “I was wrong. I liked him but he doesn’t like me. At all. Basically he thinks I’m a shit.” Which still hurt.
He thought-he thought-
Bones slammed his fist down on the table causing Jim to look up at him in surprise. “Fucker. Who cares what he thinks? And who doesn’t like you?”
If his laugh was a little watery sounding who could blame him?
“Him, I guess. I should have realized a Vulcan was never going to be into a screw up like me.”
“You are not a screw up.”
Jim managed a smile. “Thanks, Bones. Anyway, I already submitted my request to transfer out of his class. I did it on my way back. I didn’t even really need that class, so I transferred to something that will be better for command.”
“What about the Kobayashi Maru?’
“What about it?”
“You know that hobgoblin programmed it.”
Jim laughed. “Bones. Where’d you come up with that nickname?”
Bones smirked. “It suits him. Still gonna take it?”
Jim grimaced and finished the rest of his wine. “It’s too late to withdraw now.” He leaned against the counter. “I’ll take it. And pass it, damn it.”
“How? Nobody passes it. They say it’s unpassable. Something about teaching you how to face death.”
Jim snorted. “That’s bullshit. And anyway, I think I know a way.”
Bones crossed his arms in front of his chest. “This I gotta see.”
“Believe me, you will.”
A few days later, Jim walked out of Pike’s office and headed straight for where Bones stood waiting for him.
“Well?” Bones prompted.
Jim grinned and put his arm around Bones’ shoulder. “A commendation for original thinking.”
He laughed. “I was surprised too because I thought for sure I was going to get kicked out when I got the notice, but Pike says a committee got together and rejected Spock’s recommendation that I be expelled from the Academy.”
They started walking out of the HQ building.
“So, he did recommend they kick you out?”
“Oh, yeah. Accused me of cheating.”
“I just came up with a way to beat it is all. I don’t like to lose. Anyway, Pike says I’d better stay squeaky clean for the rest of my time here and I promised I would.”
Bones sighed. “Unbelievable. Not that I’m not sorry you beat that green-blooded—”
“Yeah, whatever. Now that the test is over and I’m not kicked out, I’m through with him. You know what? I’m starving, want to go get something to eat?”
“Are Gorns lizards?”
Jim grabbed Bones’ arm and pulled. “Better watch it, Bones. Someone might think you’re a xenophobe.”
Spock looked up from his PADD at the familiar voice that drifted across the hallway. He was seated in the waiting room of San Francisco Memorial waiting for his mother who had an appointment there.
“What is he doing here?” Spock found himself asking the nurse nearby.
“James Kirk.” Spock hadn’t had any contact with Kirk since he’d skipped out from the tea and coffee place a few weeks ago. At first he had believed Kirk had left him the responsibility of the bill, but he’d learned from the waitress that Kirk had paid before his departure.
Since then, Spock’s only involvement was to file papers to accuse Kirk of cheating on the Kobayashi Maru, which he most certainly had done, and then later to file a formal protest that Kirk had been let off “scot-free” as the humans would say. His concerns had been dismissed. He’d learned that information that very morning.
It seemed clear to Spock that favoritism was at play due to certain members of Starfleet admiring Kirk’s late father, George Kirk. He also speculated such favoritism was how Kirk received admission to the Academy in the first place given his criminal record.
“Oh, him. He’s such a sweetheart,” the nurse beamed looking down at where Kirk had bent down to speak to a small child. “He’s a volunteer.”
“Yeah, he comes to spend time with the sick kids. That little boy has cancer,” she said with a shake of head. “It’s terminal. Jim comes to see him several times a week because that little boy just adores Jim. He’s so sweet to him.”
Spock rose from his chair and made his way down to the vending machine that offered hot tea. In truth he was not at all fond of the tea sold in such devices but he wished to observe Kirk and the child from closer proximity.
“You want to play with the ship, Tommy?” Kirk asked the boy, handing him a small toy starship of the type you could get in any gift shop close to HQ.
Tommy took the ship with a bright smile and made little noises that Spock surmised signified flight as he moved around the toy.
“You want to keep it?”
“Can I?” Tommy asked shyly.
“Of course you can. I have dozens of those.”
“Because you’re going to be captain of your own ship someday,” Tommy recited as though he had heard this declaration from Kirk more than once.
“Sure am,” Kirk said, as he gently ruffled the boys sandy colored hair. “And maybe you can even be one of my officers.”
“The helmsman. Or hey, maybe even my first officer.”
“That would be awesome!”
At the end of the hallway a dark haired nurse appeared. “Come on, Tommy. The doctor’s ready for you.”
Tommy, who couldn’t be more than five, threw his arms around Kirk’s neck. “Bye, Jim. See you next time?”
“You sure will. Tuesday right?”
Kirk released him and the boy hurried down the hallway toward the waiting nurse, who took his hand and led him away.
Kirk stood and glanced toward where Spock stood by the vending machine. It occurred to Spock, somewhat belatedly, that he had not yet selected his hot tea. He turned toward the mechanism.
“The child has a terminal illness, does he not?”
“It is illogical to give him false hope.”
Kirk’s jaw muscle jumped. He shrugged. “I’m illogical then.”
“Not to mention it is hardly a given that you will one day command a starship.” He bent down and remove the lukewarm cup of tea.
“If you’ll excuse me—
“You transferred out of my course,” Spock said before Kirk could walk away.
When it appeared Kirk had nothing further to say regarding that, Spock said, “If there is anything you wish from the machine, please advise me, as I owe you from the other night.”
“You don’t owe me anything, Professor.”
The same dark haired nurse appeared at the end of the corridor. “Jim! Sally’s asking after you.”
Kirk dashed down the corridor toward her without a backward glance at Spock.
He shook his head and turned back toward where he had come only to find his mother standing there, her floral scarf retied around her head, after having removed it for her appointment. She gave him a quizzical look.
“A friend, Spock?”
He ignored the rather hopeful tone in her voice. Spock was not on Earth to make friends. And certainly not those of ill-repute.
“Negative. A mere acquaintance only. How did you fair in your appointment?”
Mother smiled. “There appears to be no sign of reoccurrence. “
“I am gratified.”
She linked her hand into his arm. “As am I. And I’m starving. Shall we try that vegetarian restaurant on Mayfair?”
“I am amenable.” He discarded the awful tea in the nearest recycling receptacle and led her out of the hospital.
Jim stepped into the lift and leaned against the wall, exhaustion seeping in and making his shoulders droop. He’d had two tough tests that day and though he was certain he had done well, they’d drained him.
“Hold the lift, please.”
Jim hit the open door button just as they were about to slide closed.
Spock stepped through.
He barely refrained from rolling his eyes, but he thought he managed it.
“Floor?” he asked Spock politely.
“The twelfth, please.”
Maybe they could polite each other to death.
The lift sort of lurched as it took off after Jim gave the command for the twelfth and fifteenth floor.
They’d passed the fifth floor before it began to back a loud whining noise. Jim winced at the ear piercing sound.
“Perhaps we should stop the lift,” Spock spoke up.
“I’d rather just get to my floor.”
Even as he said it and they passed floor seven the lift suddenly shook, lurched and then stopped altogether with a rather violent thud.
Jim almost lost his footing but he gripped the side of the wall and remained on his feet. Spock looked as cool and steady as he ever did.
“Are you all right?” he asked anyway.
“Affirmative. We will need to call for assistance.”
“Call? Get real. That’ll take hours. They never care about this sort of thing.” Jim went over to the mechanism on the wall. “I can fix this.”
“You? As far as I am aware you have no particular expertise in lift engineering.”
“Blah, blah, blah.” Jim opened the panel.
“That response is illogical and irritating.”
Jim nodded and reached inside. “I know how to program things. You should know that. And my mom is an engineer. If I do this and do that, then I can twist these two wires together and—” He glanced above them. “I still have to climb up there and move that little thingy.
Spock followed his gaze upward. “If you do not even know what it is called you should not touch it.”
“Seriously. Do you ever get tired of being snooty?” Jim twisted the wires. He closed the panel and stepped back. He craned his neck to look up.
“I do not approve of this plan.”
“What a surprise.” Jim glanced at him. “Give me a boost up, will you?”
“A boost up?”
Jim cupped his hands down low. “Do this and I’ll stand on your hands and get up there.”
Spock just stared at him.
He rolled his eyes. “Okay. I’ll climb up the wall I guess. You’d think you’d be just as eager to get out of here as I am.”
When he received no more response than before, Jim gave up and started scaling the side of the lift.
“Wow, this is higher than I thought.”
“Cadet Kirk, I insist that you come down at once before you do yourself or this lift irreparable harm.”
“Gee, let me guess which one you care more about.” Jim looked at the mechanism. “It’s fine. I was dizzy for a second, but I have my bearings now.”
Jim flipped the switch and the lift began to move again, jarring him from where he was. He began to fall.
This was gonna hurt.
Jim blinked at Spock, whose face was very near his. He’d caught Jim before he fell to the floor. “Uh.”
“An expression of appreciation might be in order,” Spock said coolly.
“Yeah. Thanks. Want to put me down now?” Jim squirmed until he very carefully removed himself and stood on his own feet. “Thanks for the save.”
Spock inclined his head. “Your restart of the lift was successful.”
The lift stopped on floor twelve and Spock got out. So did Jim.
“Were you not going to the fifteenth floor?”
“Yeah, but I’ll walk the other three flights. That thing is scary.” Jim gave a half wave. “See you.” He turned toward the direction of the stairwell.
“If you are free after the business you are conducting here, I offer to purchase a coffee for you. After all I owe you from before.”
“I already told you, you don’t owe me.”
“Nevertheless, the offer still stands.” Spock paused for a few seconds. “You may, of course, decline.”
Jim nodded. “Okay. Good. Because I do want to decline.”
“You are busy.”
“No. Actually I’m not,” Jim said. “But you see, Spock, I’m actually a pretty nice guy once you get to know me.”
Spock’s brows furrowed. “You refer to your activities at the hospital. I presumed that was court ordered community service.”
Jim actually laughed at that. “Of course you did. But no, it isn’t. I actually don’t have a record.”
“Captain Pike arranged for it to be expunged when you were accepted into the academy.”
“The point is, Spock, my being a nice guy has nothing to do with the hospital. I just am. I’m also pretty smart.”
“I have seen your academic record.”
“There’s that, sure, but I’m also street smart. I think on my feet and can get out of a lot of scrapes.” Jim held up his hand. “I know, I’m a loser for getting into scrapes in the first place. I get it. You come from Vulcan where everything and everyone is logical and perfect and never do anything wrong.”
“You have an exaggerated view of Vulcan.”
“Sure. My point is—”
“I was beginning to wonder if you had one.”
“If you actually took the time to get to know me instead of listen to rumors and innuendos—”
“I have read factual reports.”
Jim sighed. “There’s just no getting through to you, is there? Your mind is made up. Okay. But that is why I’m declining. I’ve been judged all my life as lacking in some way or another, so I’m used to it. Bye, Spock.”
He turned away and began to head toward the stairwell again, but then he stopped and turned around again.
“By the way, a word of advice. If you’re going to talk behind someone’s back about them, make sure they really aren’t around at the time.”
With a shake of his head, he opened the door of the stairwell and went up the flight of stairs.