Jim stared at the file before him, mouth tugged down at the corner. He scrolled through it, but there was no wiggle room- after the whole Kobayashi Maru incident, Starfleet probably knew better than to leave any loopholes for him. He didn’t like it. Not one bit.
“I don’t get it,” Jim moaned. “Why can’t I just bring my own XO?”
“You’re already getting almost all your bridge crew,” Uhura pointed out. “Starfleet probably can’t imagine having all your hand picked people in command. We’re all likely to agree with you on, well, just about everything.”
“She’s got a point,” Bones said.
“Of course I do.” Uhura smiled. “If you had your own, hand-picked command officer-“
“Your own ex-boyfriend.” Bones added.
“Well, who’s going to reign you in if you start getting out of hand?” Uhura asked.
Jim said, “Gary would reign me in.”
Bones and Uhura both gave him a look.
“What? He would!”
“And then you’d smile at him and slip a few select words and he’d be all about your hair-brained schemes.” Bones drawled. “We’ve seen it before- glad to know we’re not gonna see it again.”
“You guys are the worst.” Jim said. “We haven’t even been on board one day and it’s already mutiny.”
“Sorry, Captain.” Uhura winked. “We’ll be professional on shift, promise.”
“I won’t.” Bones said. “I’ll be out there reminding you how stupid it is that we’re out there. Did you know-“
“Is it a scary fact about spontaneous combustion? Because in that case, yes, you’ve probably said it before.” Jim smirked at Bones, who only scowled.
“Why I even bother…” He trailed off.
“Because you love us,” Jim reminded him. He looked back down at the PADD he’d been skimming. “I admit, maybe you guys do have a point about Gary. But still- giving me a commanding officer I’ve never even met? Command teams are practically a marriage.”
“Well, arranged marriages have worked before.” Uhura pointed out.
“If they don’t kill each other.” Bones said. He peered over at the PADD. “And he’s a Vulcan? I’ll be certain to attend your funeral when wifey offs you, Jim.”
“Oh, Bones, you wound me. I can get along with a Vulcan.” He squinted at the screen. “I swear every Vulcan ever is named Spock.”
“You’ve met another Spock?” Uhura laughed.
“Two, actually. But one, well...” He straightened back up. “I haven’t thought about my Spock in… damn, it feels like a lifetime.”
Uhura laughed. “Don’t start daydreaming now.”
“Yeah,” Bones said. “Don’t know what the Spock’s you met were like, but this one is a damn piece of work.”
Jim’s brows raised. “You’ve met him?”
“Did you not listen to my griping in freshman year?” Bones snipped. “Pretty sure I complained about that damned hobgoblin about twice a day.”
“I don’t recall.” Jim drawled.
Uhura said, “Be nice, he wasn’t that bad.”
Jim sighed. “Has everyone but me met my Commander?”
“Just about,” Bones said. “And no one’s pleased, I can tell you that much. Man wouldn’t know a sense of humor if it walked up and bit ‘im on the nose.”
“He’s really not that bad.” Uhura said. “He’s just… Vulcan.” She shrugged.
“Vulcan I can handle.” Jim promised. “Asshole, not so much.”
Bones snorted. “Well good luck then, kid.”
Jim turned to Uhura, hoping she’d have a saving comment.
She smiled apologetically and shrugged.
“Really?” Jim groaned. “He’s an asshole? I’m spending five years chained to an asshole?”
“He’s smart.” Uhura tried.
“So they’ll be a perfect match,” Bones snorted. “Two genius assholes.”
“I hate you,” Jim said.
Bones said, “Love you too, dear.”
Jim opened his mouth to retort when he spotted the rest of his bridge crew making their way over. Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov- all talking animatedly between each other. They sat without interrupting their discussion.
“It’s clearly class three,” Sulu was saying. “You saw the engines on that thing, Scotty.”
“Aye, I did, and they ‘ere clearly class five if I ever seen one.”
“Plees,” Chekov drawled. “Zey vere class sewen.”
“Took you guys long enough.” Jim said. “Ready to meet our new XO?”
They paused in discussion. Sulu furrowed his brow, turning to Jim. “I thought Gary was gonna be Commander?”
“He got hawked by the Bradbury.” Jim muttered.
“That aside, they told Jim he’s already got an XO.” Uhura said. She picked up the PADD from where Jim had abandoned it on the lunchroom table, and slid it over to the three at her side. They all eagerly made a grab for it, but it was Scotty who won out, grinning smugly at the other two as he opened the document. Uhura continued, “Jim’s pulling all of us from other ships; he knew us in the Academy, we’re his friends. Not to mention Chekov.”
The boy grinned.
“You sure yer graduating in time for us to leave?” Bones drawled.
“Yees, sir.” Chekov beamed.
Jim said, “Apparently they need someone to keep us all in check. We’re getting Pike’s old science officer. He’s been on the Enterprise a while, so I guess it makes sense that they’d give him to us.”
“He’s not a pet, Jim.” Bones snorted. “They’re not giving him to you, they’re assigning a watch dog to your ass.”
“Ah, I remember him.” Scotty frowned. “Not a very nice fellow, if I recall.”
“Oh my god, Commander Spock? Are you kidding me?” Sulu groaned.
“Seriously?” Jim said. “You’ve all met him?”
“Not me,” Chekov said. He squinted at the name on the PADD. “Oh, I have heard ze horror stories of Professor Spock.” He looked back up at Jim in horror. “Zis is ze XO?”
“I guess so.” Jim groaned. He dropped his head into his hands.
“You could have met him before now, too- you should have taken xenolinguistics,” Uhura laughed.
Jim said, “I took Orion.”
Uhura snorted. “Ah, yes, and what a useful language that’s going to be.”
“This guy,” Sulu said, “Is ruthless. He made my friend Mia cry at least four times.”
“Aye,” Scotty nodded. “Perfection or nothing fer him, Captain.”
“Great.” Jim looked at the clock at the top of the PADD screen. “Well, we’d better be going. Wouldn’t want to be late meeting Mr. Perfect.”
They stood in unison. Jim lead the group down the halls of Starfleet headquarters, feeling more and more nervous by the minute. He’d dreamed his entire life of captaining the Enterprise- he’d grown up watching her become herself from just beyond the shipyard. What if this guy ruined everything?
Spock. It was the ‘Jim’ of Vulcan names, he supposed. The name flushed images through his mind, rapid-fire. An old pair of eyes, deep with understanding and unfathomable compassion. A gnarled hand reaching out to him from the light, trying to draw him out of the shadows. A thick blanket dropped over his back while Jim was busy slurping chicken noodle soup from a thermos, and a kind command not to get too overzealous drinking it.
A small open hand. A young voice, saying, “Jim.”
He startled back to the present.
“You daydreaming again?” Bones teased.
“Something like that,” Jim said.
“Nervous?” Bones asked.
Jim shrugged. “In a way.”
They were coming up on the conference room, Jim caught sight of Pike walking their way from another hall just ahead. Jim smiled and waved, and Pike nodded back. Jim turned to his crew.
“You guys head into the conference room,” he said. “I’m gonna grab Pike for a sec.”
“Damage assessment?” Uhura teased.
“I like to have a battle plan,” Jim replied. He started up a slight jog, heading off towards Pike while everyone else filtered into the conference room.
“Well don’t you look eager,” Pike greeted him.
“Hey,” Jim said. He smiled. “Long time no see.”
“Lucky for me.” Pike said.
“You want to talk about Spock,” Pike guessed.
Jim nodded. “I hear he’s…”
Pike laughed. “Well, he can certainly come off that way.”
Jim deflated. There went his last hope.
“But.” Pike paused just outside of the conference room. “Don’t go in there with any preconceived notions about him, Jim. I’ll be the first to admit, he takes some getting used to, but he’s a damn good officer.”
Jim looked up, hopeful.
“Don’t blow this, Jim.” Pike said. “Spock is one of the best officers in the fleet, and he’ll make a damn good First. Number One has always been the balance I needed, but if it had been Spock standing up there next to me, I know we would have gotten along just as well. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and more sense than you do.”
Jim laughed. “Well, that’s not saying much.”
Pike grinned. “Hm, you’re right.” He reached out, clapping his hand over Jim’s shoulder. “I’m not saying you have to be his best friend. I don’t expect you two to meet and start hugging it out right then and there. Just… give him a chance.”
Jim nodded. He felt better after talking to Pike, and most of his apprehension had melted away. Maybe this Spock was a jerk, but Jim had a good track record with all his past Vulcans named Spock, and he was determined to make this new Spock a good experience too.
“Now come on,” Pike said. He touched the door and it slid open. “Let’s boldly go.”
Jim laughed. He stepped into the room after Pike, and took in the conference table. His team were already all seated, sitting straight and at attention. He was filled immediately with pride for them; they looked ready. He turned his eyes up to the front, then, steeling himself for first contact.
His eyes met the Vulcan’s from across the room. Jim froze. Time stopped. He could feel the crew watching him, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away; he couldn’t stop his mouth from falling open in shock.
Spock looked about the same. He was standing stiffly in surprise, eyes wide as dinner plates.
Jim was slammed in the face by childhood memories, one flashing by after the other. he barely felt his lips move to drop the name, but when he said it, the sound came loud to his ears. “Spock.”