Chapter 1: Kodos the Great
He froze just steps out of the learning pod. Suppressing a sigh, he turned to face Stonn and his lackeys.
“I presume you’ve prepared new insults for today,” he said.
“This is your thirty-fifth attempt to elicit an emotional response from me.”
“You’re neither human nor Vulcan and therefore have no place in this universe,” Lackey #1 said.
“Look. He has human eyes. They look angry, don’t they?” Lackey #2 added.
“Perhaps an emotional response requires physical stimuli,” Stonn said, and shoved him. “He’s a traitor, you know. Your father. The spy of the Emperor, that human’s whore.”
Spock bared his teeth and lunged.
Sarek approached and took a seat next to Spock on a bench, looking down at his hybrid son with a degree of wariness. Green blood dripped from his lip.
“They called you a traitor,” Spock said quietly.
“Many resent me for my status within the Empire. It is the realm of Terrans, and yet I, a Vulcan, have created a name for myself. It was necessary to stray somewhat from the path of Surak in order to accomplish this.”
“You suggest that the Vulcan way is flawed, and yet you teach me to embrace it.”
“As ambassador to Earth, it is my duty to create a figurative bridge between our two peoples. This requires some degree of assimilation,” he said. “Spock. You are fully capable of deciding your own destiny. As a half-Terran, you have certain privileges in the Empire that other Vulcans do not. How and whether or not you use these privileges is up to you.”
When he sends in his Starfleet application, it asks him to check a box for species. There is no choice for mixed or other.
He checks the box for human and applies under the name S. Grayson.
A week later, he gets his acceptance letter.
He steps off the shuttle with a mob of pushing, shoving Terrans.
San Francisco is cold and windy and damp. He adjusts his black gloves and fortifies his shields. He turns into the wind and marches toward the Academy.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Jim?” Frank yelled dragging him back into the farmhouse and slamming him up against the wall. “You think you can just steal my car and crash it with no consequences? I oughta kill you!”
“You can’t,” Jim smirked, refusing to struggle in Frank’s grasp even though he was sort of crushing his chest and making it hard to breathe. “Mom would burn you and everything you love to a crisp if anything happened to me.”
Frank growled and slammed a fist into his gut, making Jim let out an involuntary oof of breath. “All I have to do is keep you alive, kid. And after I’m done with your punishment here, I’m sending you to Tarsus IV.”
The famine hits six months in.
Kodos makes the executive decision to cut off all contact with the Empire and instead run a little experiment. He’d always been interested in eugenics. The universe had dropped the perfect testing scenario right in his lap.
He calls a colonial meeting and saunters up the steps of town hall, decked out in all his Imperial finery. The crowd’s murmurs grind to a halt.
“People of Tarsus IV,” he boomed. “The revolution is successful. But survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the wellbeing of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore, I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered, signed Kodos, Governor of Tarsus IV.”
His soldiers started firing into the crowd indiscriminately and people screamed.
He joined up with some kids in the woods. A boy and a girl, both older than him.
The sound of a scuffle in the night wakes him up.
Tom has all their shared food in a bag and Tamara is trying to wrestle it out of his grasp. They’re both kicking and screaming obscenities at each other.
They don’t know that Jim is awake and Tom doesn’t see the blade coming when Jim plunges it into his eye.
Blood and eye guts spray out, splattering all three of them and oozing, dripping down the blade of the knife, down the side of Tom’s face and he is screaming. He clutches and scratches at his face, howling in pain, begging them to make it stop. Jim freezes, horror washing over him like a bucket of ice water.
Tamara is gone, he notices suddenly, and all their food is gone with her.
Tom falls to his knees, still shrieking and sobbing.
Jim yanks the knife out of his face—it’s his only weapon, he can’t afford to leave it behind—making Tom kick up again, even louder now. Someone’ll be by to kill them soon, with him giving away their position like that.
Jim stumbles back a few steps, and takes off running.
He lays low and eats dandelions for a few days. Then the fungus spreads to the dandelions.
So he starts to starve.
He meets a girl in the woods. His age, a little younger. They see each other at the exact same instant.
She has a spear strapped to her back and she reaches over her shoulder, fast as a viper, and—
Jim’s knife sings through the air and embeds itself in her chest, right below the clavicle and slightly to the right.
Her eyes widen, her mouth forming a surprised ‘o’. Blue blood trickles out.
The Andorian hits the ground with a thud.
It took the girl about fifteen minutes to bleed out. Her body has since grown cold.
If he doesn’t make a decision soon, the insects will make it for him.
He takes the knife out of her chest and straps it back into his belt. The blue blood has dried into a thick dark purple paste, almost a crumbly black in parts. He’ll have to scrape it clean. That much blood would interfere with the balance of the blade, not to mention how the coating would dull its edges.
He stops pacing to stand in front of the body and stare down at it. God. She must have been a middle schooler.
Well, so was he. Or at least, that was the last year of school he had actually completed. Now he was a starving fourteen-year-old dropout, like every other kid on this godforsaken planet.
Fuck this. He had to do what he had to do to survive. It was only logical.
And Jim would be damned if he was going to put respect for a dead girl above the value of his own life. He was still alive and she wasn’t. If Kodos wanted a survival-of-the-fittest society, then by God, he’d get one.
Jim started gathering wood for a fire. He prepared to cook.
He was eating ravenously, like a savage, when a little boy approached his fire hesitantly. Kid couldn’t be older than five.
The boy looked up at him with big brown eyes. Then he looked down to the meat and licked his lips.
He didn’t even have any weapons, what the hell was he thinking?
“Can—“ the boy swallowed. “Can I have some?”
Jim stared at him.
“What’ll you give me in return?” he asked.
“Um,” he said. “I can protect you?”
Jim laughed. Couldn’t help it. That was the dumbest fucking thing he’d ever heard in his life.
The boy’s name was Kevin Riley and Jim decided to keep him. It was the single worst decision Jim made while on Tarsus IV.
He should’ve known better than to try and sneak back into the colony to steal food. It had gotten both him and Kevin caught. But hunger makes people do stupid things, apparently.
They were brought before Kodos in chains and made to kneel.
He rose from his seat and stalked around to the front of his desk. He had a look in his eyes, familiar, what Jim recognized as hunger. But that didn’t make sense. Kodos, of all people, was well-fed.
He grabbed Jim by the jaw and tilted his head, inspecting.
“Leave us,” he said, eyes staying fixed on the young teenager. Jim heard shuffling behind him as the soldiers filed out of his office.
“What is your name, boy?” Kodos asked.
His eyes blazed. “James Tiberius Kirk,” he said proudly.
“Well then, James, I have a proposal for you,” he said. And then he told Jim what he wanted him to do. Jim’s eyes grew darker with every word.
Kodos didn’t give him any clothes to wear. He kept him naked, collared, chained by a leash that went to the head of Kodos’ bed. It was just long enough for him to walk around most of the room and access the adjacent bathroom. Jim was given food when he was good, when he was done servicing the governor.
Jim was complacent and docile and submissive and he got a ten-minute unsupervised vidcall to Kevin every day to make sure Kodos was keeping up his end of the bargain, that he was safe and fed and no one was touching him.
It had been Jim or Kevin, Kodos had told him.
Jim was never going to give someone that much power over him again. He was never going to get attached to someone like that. He would have nothing that people could lord over him and use to control him like Kevin was being used.
He was starting to resent the kid.
But he wouldn’t have him swap places with him. No, he would only wish that on his worst enemy.
The Empire finally bothered to check in on the colony 527 days after contact was cut off, after the mass shooting that culled over half the population.
They were calling him Kodos the Great. He had saved the other 4000 and some odd colonists, after all. He was brilliant, ruthless, had no qualms about doing what had to be done. Exactly the sort of qualities the Terran Empire looked for in a leader.
Emperor Archer II gave him a seat on his council of advisors as a reward. They were going to build a statue in his honor.
Jim was fifteen years old when he decided the Empire must fall.
Chapter 2: Welcome to the Academy
“So, kid. Why do you wanna join the Imperial Fleet?” Pike asked.
“I wanna be Emperor one day and I figure the best way to do that is to work my way up through the military,” Jim said.
Pike huffed a laugh. “No, seriously. What’s your real reason?”
Jim grinned cockily and just barely resisted the temptation to put his feet up on the older man’s desk. “What can I say, Pike? I’m an ambitious motherfucker. I like power and I want to have it.”
He stared at him levelly, inspecting. Jim allowed himself to be seen through. He allowed the fire and bloodthirst to show through in his eyes, easily there to see beneath the casual, confident exterior.
Ten years had passed since Tarsus and no one had guessed the real reason for that fire yet. No one had guessed his true ambition or purpose.
And it looked like Pike wasn’t going to either.
He nodded. “Well then, Cadet Kirk. Welcome to the Academy.”
A dark-haired cadet barged into Spock’s dorm room and slammed a bag down. He looked up at Spock in confusion. “The fuck are you doing here?”
“This is my dorm room,” he said.
“But you’re a Vulcan. How’d you even get into the Academy?”
“I am half-human,” he said defensively. “As well as an accomplished scientist.”
The cadet cursed. “Figures they’d stick me with the fucking alien. Look, you stay away from me, and I won’t bother you. Are we clear?”
“Perfectly,” Spock said.
“Great,” the cadet sneered. Then he sighed and stuck out his hand. “I’m Gary Mitchell.”
Spock ignored the offered hand entirely and raised his own in the ta’al. Gary’s face darkened. “Spock Grayson.”
“Hm. Well, fuck you, Spock Grayson.”
Spock sat stiffly in Captain Pike’s office.
“Is that your real name?” he asked.
“I assure you it is, Captain. I adhere to human naming customs as my mother is Terran. I adopted her surname in deference to my Earth heritage.”
“But your given name is Vulcan.”
“I had no say in that matter, sir.”
“Why don’t you change it?”
“As my father is the Vulcan ambassador to Earth, I will inherit his position upon the event of his death. As such, I believed it prudent to strive to represent both of these cultures equally.”
“You’re going to be an ambassador,” Pike leaned forward. “Your career, your whole future, is already mapped out. So what are you doing in the Academy? If you think you can just kill time here until your father kicks it, then we can hand your spot over to a Terran who actually wants it.”
“The Vulcan lifespan is over 200 years, Captain, and my father is not even half that age. I assure you I intend to have a full and long career in the Imperial Fleet.”
“Good. You’re an alien in a human’s world, Spock. 98.7% of the Academy’s students are Terran-born humans. If you want to make it in the Fleet, then you’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you. You can’t afford to do anything wrong here. Everything has to be exactly by the book if you want to get a good posting, or hell, any posting. What are you willing to do to ensure that?”
It sounded like a trap somehow. “Whatever I must, sir,” Spock said slowly.
It seemed to be the right answer. A Cheshire grin spread across Pike’s face. “Good. Dismissed, Cadet.”
Spock fled his office as fast as he could with his dignity intact.
Jim walked into his new dorm whistling with a cheery smile on his face. A man was already in there, sitting at the desk with half the room put together, drinking from a flask at two in the afternoon.
“Hiya!” Jim chirped.
“Oh God, please tell me you aren’t my new roommate,” the man said.
“Sure am!” He plopped down on the unclaimed bed and slung his suitcase down next to him. “I’m Jim. What’s your name?”
“Oh wow, I’m so not calling you that. That’s like, the lamest name. Ever.”
Leonard rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to his flask. Jim was half-tempted to go over and take it from him. But it was his first day here, and it was probably a bad idea to goad his roommate into punching him so early on.
“Anyway, I’m command track, and I’m gonna be a captain within eight years, just watch me. What about you?”
“None of your business.”
Jim hummed and shrugged. He pulled a padd out of his bag and flopped over on the bed.
It didn’t take much effort to hack into the Academy’s dorm assignments and find out that Leonard was Leonard McCoy, MD from Georgia. He gave up a private practice to enlist just days after the untimely death of his wife.
A simple enough story on the surface. Grief-stricken man leaves his whole life behind and joins the military for a fresh start. But Jim Kirk never takes anything at face value, so he dug a little further and pulled up Jocelyn’s death certificate.
And then he pulled up the autopsy report.
Jocelyn McCoy had bled to death after her heart had been surgically extracted while she was still living. The coroner hadn’t found any traces of general anesthesia in her body. There were ligature marks around her wrists and ankles where she had presumably been tied down. But the piece de resistance was the carving on her forehead, done with a scalpel and cut so deep it had been scraped into her very bones.
Jim grinned to himself. So McCoy had been cheated on, eh? There was no question as to his guilt, and Jim figured the authorities back in Georgia had to have figured that out too. And yet here he was, still practicing medicine, about to start a career in the Imperial Fleet rather than face a sentence in a county jail.
Someone had struck a deal.
The Fleet could always use someone who was that creative with a scalpel.
“I’m going to call you Bones,” Jim announced.
“What?” McCoy asked. His eyes narrowed. “Why?”
Jim showed him the screen of his padd, displaying the crime scene photo of Jocelyn’s torn up skull.
“Get away from me,” McCoy muttered.
“Aww, but Bonesy, you’re my friend,” Jim said, practically clinging to his arm. Bones slammed his cafeteria tray down, and Jim took the seat right next to him.
“We are not friends,” Bones said firmly. “You are a nuisance that I can’t get rid of.”
“Because you love me.”
He rolled his eyes.
A cadet slid into the seat across from Jim and flashed him a flirty grin. “Is this seat taken?”
Jim returned the look in kind. “Oh, there’s always room for a pretty thing like you.”
“Dear lord,” McCoy said.
The cadet ignored him. “You’re not so bad yourself.” He reached over and rested a hand on top of Jim’s. “Name’s Mitchell, Gary Mitchell.
Jim laughed, a light, tinkling sound. “Nice to meet you Mitchell, Gary Mitchell. I’m James Kirk, but you can call me Jim.”
“And you can call me anytime you like.”
McCoy looked between them. “If you think I’m gonna give up my dorm room for you two to fuck tonight, then you’ve got another think coming. I have a test tomorrow. You can do your canoodlin’ in Gary’s room.”
“Oh, Bones,” Jim said. He leaned in so his lips were almost brushing the shell of Bones’ ear, voice sultry and intimate. “You’re welcome to stay and watch.”
He made some horrified sound of revulsion and shoved Jim away, standing and clearing his tray in a huff. Jim laughed while he stormed away.
There were 65 non-Terrans enrolled in the Academy. Spock was one of them. Gaila Vro was another.
They shared three classes: Advanced Computer Coding, Basic Imperial Standard (which Spock had not been allowed to test out of), and Composition 112. They had been paired as partners in all of them.
It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Gaila’s knowledge of coding was such that she could probably teach the course if it were permitted, but she struggled with Standard comprehension, as it was a language she had just recently learned.
She aided Spock in coding, and he aided her in Standard.
They became friends, of a sort, mostly spending time in Gaila’s dorm or the library or the cafeteria. It was through this arrangement that Spock was introduced to Nyota Uhura.
He came to consider her to be a friend as well.
And then she asked him out.
“I-I beg your pardon?” he asked.
“Would you like to go on a date with me?” she repeated, completely self-assured.
“No,” he said.
“Oh,” she blinked. “I’m sorry, I thought—well.”
“It is no personal judgment against you,” he assured her. “I am merely not attracted to you.”
It was at this point that Spock began to realize he was quite possibly making it worse.
“I see,” Nyota said. “Well then. I guess I’ll just, um… Bye.”
“Nyota, I feel that I must clarify,” he said, halting her. “I am homosexual.”
“Oh!” she said. “Oh, oh my god. Gosh, you must—Look, can we just… forget I ever said anything?”
He nodded quickly. “That is amenable.”
At first, he had been worried the incident would affect their friendship. Spock had never had friends before, and he was loathe to lose one of them over something so inconsequential.
But it did not. They continued on as normal, discussing linguistic idiosyncrasies and galactic politics and cute boys in the dorm with Gaila. It became a haven of sorts for Spock, and a most welcome one, as Gary frequently… entertained company, in their shared dorm.
Spock had determined early on, as per their agreement, that the less contact he had with Gary, the better. So having what the girls termed “sleepovers” in their dorm was a welcome reprieve.
“So Professor MacDonally held me after class,” Gaila said, painting her toe nails a vivid shade of purple.
“Uh-huh?” Nyota said.
“Said I was failing. Which, like, I’m not. I am doing damn good in that class and I work my ass off. But apparently he gave me a zero on the last test on suspicion of cheating—which I totally didn’t!”
“Fuck him,” Nyota said.
“Indeed,” Spock agreed.
“And then—and then!—he said that if I wanted to pass, he would bump my grade up if I did him a favor.”
Nyota set her nail polish brush back down in its container. “Gaila, you didn’t.”
“What choice did I have? I didn’t work this hard to get where I am only to fail because of some horny professor.”
Spock furrowed his brow. “I do not understand.”
“MacDonally threatened to fail her for bullshit reasons unless she had sex with him,” Nyota summarized.
“That is highly unethical,” he said.
Gaila snorted. “Yeah, because the Imperial Fleet tries to be ethical.”
“You should report him.”
“Like they’d do anything about it. It’s the Fleet, Spock, it’s not a paragon of virtue. You do what your commanding officer says and you just shut up and take it.”
“Professor MacDonally should be held accountable for his actions. What he has done to you is not only immoral, but also illegal.”
“Spock, no one enforces those laws,” Nyota said. “If Gaila gets justice, it sure as hell won’t be coming from the Empire.”
Two days later, Professor MacDonally was found tied to a flagpole in the center of the quad, naked. He had been doped on hallucinogenic drugs and was ranting and raving about the devil. Blood ran all the way down his legs and pooled at his feet, along with his sawed-off penis.
The first thing he did when he got out of the hospital was resign his position.
Gaila didn’t say anything, but she baked Spock a tray of Orion cookies and gave him a huge hug.
Chapter 3: Chess Club
Spock knocked politely on Gaila’s dorm. There was a thud, a curse in a deep male voice, some whispering and shuffling, and then the door was flung wide open.
Gaila smiled brightly. “Spock! Come on in, Jimmy was just leaving.”
“Uh-huh,” she gave the room’s other occupant a pointed look, and he cleared his throat.
“Uhm, yeah, guess I was.” The man brushed past both of them and out the door, straightening his shirt as he went. “See you Gaila.”
The door closed behind him and Spock turned to his friend. “That was my roommate’s lover.”
“Spock! How dare you imply that we were doing anything—“
“I can smell your mutual arousal. There is a 93.8% chance you were about to engage in coitus.”
“Gosh damn it, I wish you were fully human. They’re so much easier to lie to.” She sat down on her bed. “So what if I was going to have sex with him? It’s not like he and Gary are exclusive.”
“And how would you know this?”
“He told me they were just fooling around. And Nyota told me that’s a human idiom that means it’s just a casual, purely sexual relationship.”
Spock eyed her. Gaila held up her hands in a gesture of innocence. “I swear.”
“Very well,” he conceded. “How is your nanotechnology class going with Professor MacDonally’s replacement? Are they treating you fairly?”
She brightened. “Yeah! The new professor is this really nice lady named Rodriguez and she said I was one of her most promising students. She gave me an A on my last experiment!”
“Congratulations. I am certain that it was well-earned.”
“Well of course.” She grinned and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “So how are things with you? Anything exciting going on?”
“Negative. My education continues to progress adequately.”
“Ugh, Spock, education isn’t everything. What about other stuff? There any cute boys in your classes? Any professors that you just can’t stand? Any raging parties that you’re looking forward to?”
“I do not make a habit of attending ‘raging parties.’ Furthermore, my education is my foremost concern, as it is the reason for my enrollment in the Academy.”
“Humans have a saying about that, you know. ‘All work and no play makes… is…’ Okay, I don’t know the rest of it, but the implication is it’s bad,” she said. “Even Vulcans have to see the benefits of recreation, right?”
“In moderation,” he conceded.
“See? You should join a club!”
“Yeah! The Academy has tons of clubs. You need to get out and meet people, make more friends.”
“I already have you and Nyota.”
“Yeah, okay, and we love you, really, we do, but don’t you want more than that? Maybe… someone you can be a bit closer to?”
“I am not interested in a romantic relationship at this time.”
“Okay, just let me set you up on one date. Just one. Then I swear I’ll let the subject go, and you’ll never have to hear about it again.”
“I doubt that highly.”
“At least let me introduce you to some people.”
“Vulcans do not form relationships with such casual bases.”
“Really? You won’t even give it a shot?”
“I have no desire to, Gaila.”
“One club. Just one club,” she said. “To make friends.”
Their gazes locked and Gaila steeled herself, drawing on all the intimidation she could muster.
Spock suppressed an affectionate, long-suffering sigh. “One club.”
“Hey, man. I’ve been looking all over for you. Where were you?” Gary asked, falling into step with Jim.
“Yeah, you know. Orion girl from computers class?”
Gary’s eyebrows shot up, but he didn’t say anything.
“What?” Jim asked.
“Nothing. I just… didn’t peg you for an alien fucker,” he said. “I mean, to each their own. I don’t have anything against it. Everyone’s got some weird kinks, right?”
“It’s not a fucking kink, man. They’re people.”
He snorted. “Almost-people, maybe.”
“You’re just—you’re sounding pretty xenophobic right now.”
He rolled his eyes. “And next you’re gonna be calling me sexist for hating on some chick. Whatever, man. Here’s my class. Later.”
Jim shook his head and kept walking.
Chess club meets once a week on Tuesdays.
Jim founded it.
He saw a Vulcan playing against himself alone at a corner table and made a beeline over to him, Gary’s words still ringing in his head.
“Hey,” he said. “You feel like playing a couple games?”
The Vulcan blinked up at him. “It is amenable.”
He smiled, and a faint green blush dusted the Vulcan’s cheeks. Jim found it endearing.
They began rearranging the pieces, Jim taking white by silent agreement. He liked playing white, and not just for the presumed advantage. He liked making the first move, being the aggressor, seeing how his opponent would react.
But the Vulcan gave nothing away, impossible to read. A real challenge. His dark eyes peered at the board studiously, then lifted up to meet Jim’s, as if he was trying to stare right through him. Jim’s lips quirked.
They played in silence for the first game. 78 moves later, Jim tipped over his king and leaned back in his chair.
“Damn,” he said. “You know, no one’s beaten me since I was eleven. What’s your name?”
“Jim,” he said. “Hell of a pleasure to meet you, Spock. Play again?”
They switched colors and reset the board. Jim wasn’t gonna let another game pass in silence. This was too delectable of an opportunity. He wanted to pick the Vulcan’s brain and watch how it worked, take it apart just to understand it, take him apart and learn what made this delicious creature tick.
And small talk was not the way to do that.
“So, a Vulcan in the Fleet. How’d that happen?”
He stiffened. “I believe my academic record is sufficiently impressive. In addition, I am half-human.”
Jim laughed. “No, sorry, I guess that came out wrong. What I mean is, what inspired you to join up? You’re clearly intelligent, I have no doubt of that, but aren’t most Vulcans pacifists?”
“Indeed.” He moved a rook. “However, I have deemed such a stance to be illogical given the circumstances of our race and our place in the Empire.”
“Really? How so?”
“Pacifism and refusal to fight is what allowed the Vulcan race to be subjugated,” he said, eyes never leaving the board. “We are now part of an Empire which runs on violence and ambition and as such, has no place for us. We have no say in its dealings or policies. We are considered the bottom rung of the Empire’s species, and easily taken advantage of. I believe it is illogical to allow this treatment to continue. I believe we should show the Empire what Vulcans are truly capable of.”
Jim’s eyes gleamed and he couldn’t help the shark’s grin that spread across his features. “Well, I’ll be damned. A Vulcan with a backbone,” he said. “You’re setting out to change the Empire.”
His eyes finally lifted up to meet Jim’s. “You seem pleased.”
“Oh, I am. I definitely am,” he leaned in. “I’d like to propose an alliance.”
“Why should I agree to such a thing?”
“Well, first of all, because you’re going to need help. You really think a single Vulcan can get anywhere in this Empire without a human on their side?” he said. “And secondly, because I believe our goals line up quite nicely with each other’s, Spock. You help me, I help you, and together we change the galaxy.”
“These goals of yours,” Spock said. “What are they?”
“Ambitious ones, to be sure.”
“Do they involve genocide?”
“Would you back out if they did?”
Spock pierced him with his gaze and considered it. “No,” he finally said.
Jim grinned. “Then we have a deal.”
“Bonesy, this is Spock. Spock, this is Bones. He’s my roommate and lackey.”
“I’m no one’s lackey. And certainly not yours.” Bones closed his book and set it back down on his nightstand.
“I am gratified to meet you, Mr. Bones,” Spock said. Jim laughed brightly, and Bones rolled his eyes.
“Bones isn’t my real name, dummy. It’s Leonard McCoy. Doctor Leonard McCoy.”
“I see. You have my apologies.”
“Jim, where’d you even find this guy?”
“Chess club! He’s going to be my ally.”
Bones eyed him warily. “In what?”
“Taking over the Empire, of course.”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “You did not state that that was your goal.”
“One of them. Is that a problem?” Jim ran his hands down Spock’s arms, stopping at his gloved hands and holding them loosely.
Spock took a step back, out of his grasp. “Negative. I am merely curious as to how you intend to accomplish such a thing.”
He laughed. “Oh, you’ll see.”
“You aren’t seriously buying any of this, are you?” McCoy asked.
“We shall see,” Spock said.
“See, Bones? Spock believes in me.”
McCoy rolled his eyes and went back to his book, muttering about gullible hobgoblins.
Chapter 4: Swear to Me
The next day, Jim plops himself down next to Spock in the cafeteria, dragging McCoy along with him. Nyota catches herself midsentence, and all three of the table’s original occupants turn to stare at the newcomers.
“Hi!” Jim said. “’Sup?”
“Who are you?” Nyota asked.
“Jim Kirk. Remember that name, it’ll be important one day.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Oh, Ny, this is Jimmy. I’ve told you about him, haven’t I?” Gaila said. “Don’t you usually eat lunch with Gary though?”
“Eh. I’m not really seeing him anymore. He’s sort of a dick.” He dug into his hamburger.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Gaila said.
“Maybe you can stop by my dorm later and I can… cheer you up,” she said salaciously.
He leered. “Well, how can I refuse an offer like that?”
“Trying to fucking eat here,” Bones said.
“And you are?” Nyota asked him politely, seeming to approve of his disapproval of Kirk.
“Leonard McCoy, miss. How do you do?” he asked, dripping with southern charm.
“Fine, thank you. Call me Nyota.”
“Beautiful name. Almost as lovely as its owner.”
Jim whined. “Oh come on, I can’t flirt, but you can? What sort of double standard is that?”
“I believe it is a matter of the comparative decency of content,” Spock said. Nyota half-suppressed a laugh. Jim scowled.
“I can be decent,” he said.
McCoy huffed. “Kid, there ain’t nothing decent about you.”
“Don’t you know it,” he smirked. Bones rolled his eyes.
The table lapsed into a brief silence, broken only by the clink of silverware.
“I heard tomorrow they’re gonna start fitting the cadets for agonizers,” Nyota said.
“What do you mean, fitting us for agonizers? Don’t they just pass them out?” Gaila asked.
“No, each one is tailor-made to the maximum amount of pain its wearer can handle without passing out. That’s why everyone has one instead of just superior officers. They always punish you with your own,” Jim said.
“The way they test ‘em is fucked up. Always get a few of the scrawnier cadets in medical because of it. They start you off at human base normal, but see, some people can’t handle that. Sometimes it takes days for them to get the calibration just right,” Bones said. “One year, a cadet slipped into a coma halfway through and never woke up. The really fucked up part is that they didn’t notice right away, so they just kept zapping and zapping him until there was no hope of him ever waking up again.”
“So, it’s…” Gaila swallowed. “Electrocution?”
“Negative. Agonizers work by sending an electrical impulse directly to the pain centers of your brain, which in turn stimulates all of your nerve endings simultaneously. The effect is extreme pain that seems to come from everywhere, all at once,” Spock said.
“It’s their way of thinning the herd,” McCoy said. “If you can’t even handle simple agonizer calibration testing, then you certainly aren’t cut out for Fleet missions.”
Gaila bit her lip nervously.
“Look alive, cadets,” Pike called out to the assembled students. “Today is Torture Day.”
Thirty cadets stood before him at parade rest, uniforms impeccable. Last names starting with G. Each professor had been assigned a letter of the alphabet to work with. Being involved at all with such a distasteful task was, of course, done on a volunteer-only basis. Luckily, there had been no shortage of volunteers.
“Gallagher, you’re up first,” Pike said. “Come stand up here with me.”
A girl with hair done up in a long red braid hesitantly stepped forward. She stood before Pike and visibly steeled herself. The captain picked up an agonizer from the table behind him and attached it to her chest.
He pressed the button.
It took 2.64 hours to do her calibration. She passed out twice and lost control of her bladder at one point. Tears and snot smeared her face. Her braid had become a disheveled, tangled knot. She kept trying to pull her hair out.
Spock had focused on Captain Pike fairly early on, not keen to watch the cadet’s agony. Pike, however, was. His pupils dilated and the pace of his respiration increased. He seemed to be utterly transfixed, watching the girl writhe and scream. Spock half-expected him to touch himself. He knew the only reason some of the other observing cadets were not was because they would be punished for breaking their stance.
Next was Garcia, then Gilmour, then Gomez. Goode. Goulding.
“Can’t use the standard setting for you,” Pike said, adjusting the controls. “Thankfully, we have a baseline for Vulcan pain tolerance levels. Otherwise this would take forever.”
He put the device on Spock’s chest and pressed the button.
Spock woke up to the steady beep of biobed monitors and the chill of hospital air. Voices were shouting. They sounded familiar, but everything was foggy and distant. Spock couldn’t make anything out.
His eyes started drifting back shut and there was a loud clap right in front of his face, startling him to alertness.
“Good, you’re awake,” Jim said, sitting on a chair pulled up right next to Spock’s biobed.
“Yes, I believe you have seen to that,” he said dryly.
The curtain encasing the biobed was thrown back and McCoy stormed in, whipping out a tricorder and shoving it in Spock’s face. Spock arched an eyebrow.
“Don’t give me that look. Damn near gave me a heart attack, almost got yourself killed. You’re only alive by pure fucking luck, kid.”
“May I inquire as to what happened?”
“Pike happened,” McCoy said. “Bastard set your agonizer to Vulcan normal.”
“I am Vulcan.”
“You’re half-human, is what you are.”
“They’re gonna have to redo your testing,” Jim said. “Starting at human baseline and working their way up.”
“Ah. How fortunate for me,” he said.
Jim chuckled. “Was that sarcasm, Spock?”
“Such human concepts elude me, of course,” he sniffed.
“Of course,” Jim grinned.
Jim nudged a pawn forward. “I’m going to be a captain.”
“Indeed?” Spock asked.
“Uh-huh. The youngest one ever. This Empire is going to quake at my feet by the time I’m done with it.”
“And then what will you do, after you have conquered the Empire and remolded it in your image?”
“I’ll find some young beauty to keep by my side and I’ll lead the whole damn galaxy to greatness. Peace and prosperity for all, Spock,” he said. “You’ll of course be my second-in-command.”
“My most trusted advisor. And bodyguard. The whole Empire will fear you, I’ll make sure of it. No one’s going to think of Vulcans as the Empire’s lapdogs anymore. You’ll be fierce, intimidating. A force to be reckoned with.”
“The Empire’s fighting force, then?”
“No. Equals. I won’t take advantage of your people like that, Spock.”
“That is your endgame then? Equal rights for Vulcans?”
“Equal rights for all. My Empire is going to be glorious, Spock.”
“Have you not considered that many species would leave the Empire had they the freedom to do so?”
“On a widespread scale, that would lead to its downfall.”
“So it would.”
Spock stared at him. “You propose treason.”
Jim’s lips twitched. “If you try to turn me in, I’ll know before you can get the words out of your mouth and I’ll kill you in a heartbeat, Spock.”
“On the contrary. I support you wholeheartedly.”
“Swear to me.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Swear your allegiance to me. You will follow me across the galaxy, you will kill on my command, you will die on my command. On your honor as a Vulcan, swear that to me.”
His eyes hardened. “What will you do if I do not?”
“Oh, Spock,” he grinned. “I’m going to take over this Empire. You know it in your bones, I can feel it. The question is, do you want to be on my good side or my bad side?”
For a moment, all was silent, fraught with tension.
“Meld with me,” Spock demanded.
“It is a Vulcan mystic art. The sharing of minds, of thoughts. I will see into your katra and then I will determine if you are deserving of this absolute loyalty.”
“This mind meld,” Jim said, toying with his queen. “What are the side effects?”
“In certain cases, emotional transference can occur,” Spock said. “It is doubtful that will happen in this instance. There are no permanent effects, and I will not be able to exert any influence over you. It is a means of communication in which lying is not possible.”
Jim eyed him. “Okay. What do I have to do?”
Spock removed his gloves, setting them next to Jim’s captured chess pieces. “Do not resist.”
Brief, thrilling fear gripped Jim’s chest at those words and then Spock put his hand on his face and suddenly—
He was in him, a new form of intimacy, Spock had failed to mention how this would feel, it felt like—
It felt like sex, like purely mental sex, he had never been this close to another person before, had never fit so perfectly with another, had never—
Had never felt this perfect in his life, it was pure contentment, utter safety and utterly thrilling, how was this possible, it was pure pleasure—
He felt amusement bubbling up in his mind, but it wasn’t his own, and he suddenly realized he was just sitting back and taking it, allowing the intrusion and letting Spock do with him what he would, and like hell was Jim Kirk going to accept that—
He pushed forward into Spock’s mind and it was gorgeous there, it was utterly perfect, this was where Jim was meant to be, always in Spock, consuming and being consumed, and god, he could stay here for eternity, and—
Spock broke the meld and pulled his hand away. Jim almost whined in protest.
“I will serve you, Jim Kirk. I swear it on my honor as a Vulcan,” he said solemnly.
“Good,” he said. Right. This was important. He dropped his hand to rest on top of Spock’s, and he was almost certain the Vulcan shivered under his touch. Jim’s eyes widened with delight. He traced slow circles on Spock’s hand with his fingers, and yeah, that was definitely a green blush staining his cheeks.
“So,” he said, voice low and sultry. “Why don’t we go back to my dorm and celebrate this new arrangement, hm?”
Wordless, Spock nodded.
Chapter 5: Sex
Okay I’m really bad at writing sex and this scene in particular did not turn out well or the way I wanted but I’m too lazy to rewrite it and I can’t cut it out because this one part is important to their relationship development
Also there’s a rape scene after the second line break which isn’t particularly explicit but I feel like it’s graphic enough to go outside the warning I left in the work notes, so. It is important to the plot however, so I’ll put the relevant information in the end notes for if you want to skip over it
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As soon as they were in Jim’s dorm, he slammed Spock up against the wall and kissed him roughly, tongue plundering his mouth. Spock let out some small, surprised noise that Jim thought was just adorable and earned him a long swipe of Jim’s tongue against his.
He snaked a hand up Spock’s cadet uniform shirt and began to play with his nipples, simultaneously working kisses along the length of Spock’s jaw until he reached his pulse point then bit down and sucked hard, garnering a gasp and a deliciously wanton moan.
“Off,” he ordered, tugging at the shirt until he wrangled it off of Spock. He threw off his own shirt in the process, relishing the way Spock’s eyes widened and traveled the length of his body, as if he had just received permission to look and now he was a starving man at a feast.
Jim grabbed him by the waistband of his pants and pulled him along into his bedroom. Spock allowed himself to be pushed down onto the bed, his wrists captured and pinned while Jim kissed him senseless. He arched into the touch, helpless to do anything else. Jim grinned against his lips.
He traced his tongue over the tapered shell of Spock’s ear while he worked at the fastenings of their trousers. He bit and nipped and licked all over Spock’s skin until he had both of them fully naked, Spock breathless and hopelessly aroused underneath him.
“These gloves,” Jim said, running his hands back up Spock’s arms to clasp their hands together. “Why do you wear them?”
“My telepathy,” he said. “Vulcans are—touch telepaths. My shields are usually sufficient, but this ensures—it prevents… accidents.”
Jim nodded. “One more barrier between you and the outside world.”
He suckled Spock’s middle finger into his mouth and yanked the glove off with his teeth. Then he did the same with the other hand, stroking his fingers all over the bare, sensitive skin. Spock’s eyes fluttered shut.
“You like that, don’t you?” Jim murmured.
“My—Vulcan hands are sensitive. We-we kiss with our fingers.”
Spock arranged Jim’s hand so that two of his fingers were pointed out and traced over them with two of his own. Jim watched the movements for a few moments to learn, and then started mimicking them. He ran a nail down the seam between Spock’s fingers, and the Vulcan visibly shuddered beneath him.
Jim captured his lips again, biting lightly, kissing to soothe, and then biting sharper. He pressed a leg between Spock’s thighs, inching him open, and reached over into the nightstand for a bottle of lube. He spread Spock’s legs and poured out a portion of slick onto his fingers.
“What are you doing?” Spock asked.
“Preparing you,” he said. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, you just lie back and let me take care of things.”
Spock seemed tense, uncertain, and Jim pressed a quick kiss to his lips, waiting until he relaxed into his touch.
A thought occurred to him. “Have you ever done this before?”
Jim’s eyebrows shot up. No one made it into the Fleet with their virginity intact. Hell, it was shocking he had lasted this long at the Academy without having to sleep with at least one professor. It made Jim feel sort of glad for him, in a way, that his first time got to be on his terms before he was thrown into the bottom rung of a ship’s hierarchy and at the mercy of every superior officer he came across.
Jim pressed down to kiss him desperately again, murmuring reassurances, determined to make this good for him. He rubbed one finger over Spock’s entrance, gently circling before slipping in. Spock gasped and Jim kissed away the sound.
“God, you’re beautiful,” he said.
“You are—hnmgh—aesthetically pleasing as well, Jim.”
He laughed and pushed his finger in deeper, watching Spock’s pupils blow wide and his breaths grow ragged. Jim crooked his finger, rocking it inside him, and then when he thought he was ready, he inserted another, scissoring and stretching him apart.
Spock was mumbling phrases in some language Jim didn’t recognize—probably Vulcan—and Jim seemed to grow impossibly, achingly harder at watching all shreds of his control fall away in tatters.
He removed his fingers and Spock cried out in Vulcan when he entered him.
He groaned at the tightness around him and gave Spock a moment to adjust. Then he rocked his hips forward, and Spock arched up desperately. He was perfect around him, beautiful and undone, something precious and reserved only for Jim.
He fucked him slow and long, taking his time, unravelling this man, tearing Vulcan propriety to shreds beneath him. Spock keened when he hit that sweet spot, gasping out phrases in his native language, repeating certain phrases and words over and over again.
Jim thrust in, hard, going faster, stroking Spock’s dick in time with his thrusts. He bent down to kiss him and it was like he was getting addicted to Spock’s lips—to every part of his skin, honestly. Jim could do this every day and never get tired of it, never get enough of Spock, of his body, of his mind.
The memory of their meld put him that much closer to the edge and he knew exactly what he wanted then.
“Meld us,” he said.
He used his free hand to take Spock’s and press it to his temple.
And then his mind exploded.
The pleasure doubled, an impossible sensation, something entirely alien that no human was ever meant to experience, could ever reasonably handle, and Jim felt like he was drowning. It was too much, too much, too much, and god, it was perfect. He was in a cloud of ecstasy, not even aware of his body any longer, the pleasure too intense to reasonably translate into something physical.
He felt like he was dying.
He was pretty sure he blacked out, but he had no clue for how long. When he came to, he was draped half on top of Spock and breathing hard. He tipped his chin up for a kiss, messy and desperate. For a while, they just laid there, basking in the afterglow.
Jim ran his hand down Spock’s chest, tracing lazy patterns into his skin. It was almost impossible to resist touching him, and Jim had absolutely no desire to try.
“That word you said, t’hy’la,” he said. “What’s it mean?”
Spock blushed, and Jim grinned and gave him another quick kiss before he answered. “It is an ancient Vulcan term,” he said. “It describes a type of relationship.”
“Oh yeah? What type?”
Spock looked distinctly uncomfortable. “It is an ancient warrior bond, between shield mates. Literally translated, it means friend, brother, lover.”
“That sounds…” he paused. “Intimate.”
Spock nodded. “It is. It is also extremely rare. Such a bond has not been seen on Vulcan for over 200 years.”
“Really? But we have it?” he asked. “But wait, what does that mean, a Vulcan bond? Isn’t that—isn’t that marriage?”
“There are different types of bonds. You speak of a spousal bond. Ours is not of that sort. It means that we were always destined to find each other, to be the most important person in each other’s life in some form or another.”
“Destiny,” he laughed. “You make us sound like soulmates.”
Spock didn’t say anything and Jim slowly froze.
“Wait,” he sat up. “Spock, are you saying we’re soulmates?”
“…The bond can be interpreted that way, yes.”
“When were you planning on telling me this?”
“What?!” he said. “So if you hadn’t blurted it out during sex… Wait, how long have you known about this?”
“Since our shared mind meld.”
“Why weren’t you going to tell me?”
“I saw no purpose in it, as we cannot pursue a romantic relationship and must deny the bond’s existence anyway. I am prepared to content myself with being your friend and second-in-command.”
“Why? Spock, you just told me you’re my soulmate. And now you’re saying you don’t want a relationship?”
“I did not say that. I find the idea of a romantic relationship with you most agreeable. However, such an attachment would be… inconvenient, to say the least. It could too easily be used against us.”
“Oh,” Jim said. “Oh.”
He could see it now. Spock captured, tied up, beaten, held as ransom until Jim surrendered his ship. The Empire was a dangerous place. It was fucking stupid to get married to anyone, especially someone else in the service—but to have a soulmate? Jim may as well give up on all his life’s goals right now and throw in the towel.
A soulmate. The ultimate leverage to hold over his head, the ultimate weakness.
“If—If you wish to release me from my vow and have us go our separate ways, I will understand,” Spock said, almost nervously.
“No,” Jim said. Every fiber of his being revolted at the very idea. To lose Spock entirely was completely unacceptable. He’d only known him for a short while, but the thought of never seeing him again made him sick.
Like hell was he going to let his soulmate be ripped away from him just because he’d been born into a shitty universe.
“No, we’re going to make this work. We just have to—to keep it a secret,” he said.
“That is hardly a sustainable plan,” Spock said.
“It’s not forever.” He took one of Spock’s hands and brought it to his lips, kissing his fingers. “Just until I get enough power that no one can touch us. Then I’ll make sure the whole galaxy knows that you are mine.”
“That is a long way off.”
“We can do it,” he said. “We can do anything.”
“Jimmy, are you mad at me?” Gaila asked, brushing locks of hair out of his face.
“Because we haven’t had sex in like, a week.”
He shrugged. “I’m focusing on my classes, Gaila. I’m gonna be a captain in eight years. I can’t afford to slack off.”
She pouted. “You didn’t replace me with someone prettier to sleep with, did you?”
He laughed and cupped her cheek, pulling her in for a sensual kiss. “There’s no one prettier than you.”
“Good,” she said, appeased for the moment.
Spock reentered the astrometrics classroom to ask the professor a question that had just occurred to him, only to find Professor Davis pounding a cadet into his desk, soft grunts and the sound of slapping skin coming from them.
Why hadn’t they locked the door? “I apologize, I will come back at a—“
“No,” Professor Davis said. “Come over here and watch. That’s an order, cadet.”
Spock obediently came around to the other side of the desk to get a better view of what was apparently to be a show.
The cadet on the desk was Jim.
Spock’s breath caught in his throat, and he felt numb, his ears ringing loudly. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t do anything. Professor Davis looked up at him and grinned, thrusting into Spock’s mate at a punishing pace.
He could nerve-pinch him—
One of the professor’s two bodyguards cleared his throat as Spock took a step forward. The guard very pointedly rested a hand on his phaser.
Spock stilled, and was forced to watch with cold fury mounting while his t’hy’la was brutalized.
A teacher forced himself on Jim and made Spock watch. Spock felt rage.
Chapter 6: Murder
Bit of a shorter chapter than usual, but I thought that was a good stopping point
“It’s no big deal, Spock,” Jim said, walking in step with him back to his dorm. Spock whirled on him.
“On the contrary, t’hy’la,” he said. “It is in fact a ‘big deal.’ For you to be treated in such a way is abhorrent to me.”
“C’mon, Spock,” he said. “Like you’ve never had to sleep with a professor.”
“Indeed I have not.”
“Jim,” he said. “Such an occurrence should not be treated as if it were normal.”
“But it is,” he said.
Spock’s eyes were all but glowing with rage. “Then this has been done to you before?”
“Yeah, of course. Me, and like half the student body.”
“I want the names of all those who have hurt you.”
“Spock, as much as I appreciate your enthusiasm for becoming a serial killer, you can’t just do that.”
“Because…” he trailed off. This was too ridiculous. He couldn’t believe he was trying to talk his boyfriend—his soulmate—out of going on a killing spree.
Spock took his hands. “Jim. I am quite serious in this. You are my t’hy’la, my ashayam, my everything. I would vanquish all your enemies and lay their skulls at your feet for you to crush.”
A thrill ran through him at the words, and he leaned forward and captured Spock’s lips, knowing he could sense his devotion, his adoration through the skin contact.
“You know what?” he whispered. “I don’t know why I’m fighting you on this. Have at it, sweetheart. Just be careful. Can you promise me that?”
Spock lurked in a dim side alley that night, his Academy-issued dagger drawn.
Jim had given him the names and he had set to work immediately. It was more of a list, really, to Spock’s utter disgust.
Five names. They had been burned into his mind. Their deaths would not be pleasant. Such vile creatures could not be allowed to live any longer and further prey on their students.
Spock may not be able to claim credit for the acts, but he would make sure it was very clear to everyone that all who dared to touch his t’hy’la would not live another day.
He heard the professor approaching.
He jumped out of the alley and slapped a hand over the human’s throat, lifting his dagger up to strike—
A stun blast hit him in the back and he fell to the ground, dagger clattering harmlessly along with him.
“Attempting to assassinate a professor is grounds for expulsion,” Pike said.
Spock didn’t reply.
He sighed. “What were you thinking, Spock? What, did you just forget that all professors have personal bodyguards?”
“I thought that I could handle them in due course. Vulcans have three times the strength of humans.”
Pike smiled at him condescendingly. “Strength alone will only get you so far. You need gut instinct too, the intuition to guide you. Hairs on the back of your neck that stand up and sense danger before your logical mind can. And that’s something that Vulcans just don’t have.” He chuckled. “It’s why they were so easily conquered. Ambition is illogical. The destruction of a mutually beneficial alliance for the sake of conquest is illogical. It never even occurred to you guys to be suspicious. Of course, that’d be an emotion anyway.”
Pike drummed his fingers on his desk. “Well? You going to say anything?”
“I will accept any consequences you deem proper, Captain.”
“Proper. Right.” He smiled. He looked Spock up and down and seemed to ponder something, then shook his head. “I’m gonna let you off easy, since this is your first offense. But remember what I said about towing the line here. I was dead serious, Spock. Another screw up like this and I’ll make you wish you never enrolled in the Academy in the first place.”
Pike turned to his guards. “The booth for him. Double duration. He’s Vulcan, he can take it.”
Jim levelled a phaser at his best friend. “Bones, get the fuck out or I’ll shoot you in the ass.”
The doctor rolled his eyes. “You know, other roommates just put a sock on the door or something. You act like I want to stick around and watch you get it on with some girl.”
He huffed. “Please. You wish you could watch. I look damn good in the middle of sex, and you know it.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” he said. “Hey, speaking of which. How come we haven’t been sleeping together lately?”
“Aww, Bones, are you saying you miss me?”
“Miss that ass, maybe.”
He laughed. “Whatever. See you later, Romeo.”
Jim affectionately flipped him off and reholstered the phaser. He waited until he was sure he was out of earshot. “Coast is clear.”
Spock stumbled into the dorm room, pain etched into every line of his body. He winced at the sound of the door shutting behind him.
Jim ran his hands up his arms to comfort, but Spock flinched at the touch. “I’m sorry, baby. I’m sorry. What do you need?”
“I—“ he scrunched his eyes shut. “I do not know. Everything—everything hurts. My clothes…”
“Hurt on your skin?” Jim finished. “Here. Let me help.”
Gently as he could, Jim pulled his boyfriend’s clothes off of him, careful not to touch his skin and trying to keep the fabric from doing that as little as possible. On instinct, he almost pressed a kiss to his lips, but stopped just centimeters short.
Now naked, Spock sat on the edge of the bed, keeping as little contact with it as possible.
When the tears he hadn’t allowed himself in the booth started coming and his skin started desensitizing, he clung to Jim and somehow they ended up under the covers together, Jim stroking his hair holding onto his lover like he would never let go.
Chapter 7: The Kobayashi Maru
There's a bit of a timeskip between this chapter and the last.
Also I'm sorry in advance
"So I see you've signed up for the Kobayashi Maru again," Pike said.
"Yes,sir," Kirk said.
"I wanna beat it."
"Kirk, you can't beat it, that's the whole point."
"Okay, but I totally could, though. In a real world scenario, my last solution had a 47.8% chance of working."
"Yeah, and a 52.2% chance of blowing up your entire ship, destroying all the escape pods, and killing your whole crew. Which is what actually happened."
"It blew up the Klingons too!"
"I don't see why we need an unbeatable test anyway. Like, what kind of message is that sending? 'Yeah, death and defeat is inevitable, accept that now'? Why? What if I wanna live and win every battle I come across?"
"That's unreasonable," Pike said. "This is exactly why you need to take the Kobayashi Maru. Losses will happen. You can't save everyone, and you can't win every time. Kirk, you're like a son to me, and you've got the potential to be a damn fine officer. I want you to be my First Officer when the Enterprise ships out this spring. But I need you to have a solid head on your shoulders. Your idealism is sweet, frankly, but it's got no place in the real world."
Kirk scowled. "I'm not an idealist. I just think the test is a cheat."
Pike sat back and looked at him. "Okay. Fine. You can take the test again. But this is your last chance, Kirk. Don't do anything stupid."
"Cadet Grayson," Pike said. Spock waited for him to offer him a seat, but he did not.
"Sir," he said neutrally.
"When you first enlisted," he said. "I asked you what you were willing to do to make it in the Fleet. You said anything. Is that still true?"
Spock thought about the past three years. About Professor MacDonally and Gaila. About the botched agonizer calibration and its repeat. About Professor Davis and Jim. About his attempted murder and being sent to the booth for it.
He thought about three years of casual xenophobia, of being held to a different standard whether higher or lower, of the everyday degradation and outright pain that comes with being a Fleet cadet.
He thought of Jim's mind, his eyes, his arms around him. He thought of the fire in his t'hy'la's spirit and the oath he had sworn to him. He thought of the Empire brought to its knees, burned to cinders, and remade to suit Jim however he wanted.
"Yes," he said.
"How would you like a position on the Enterprise?"
Spock arched an eyebrow. "It is my dearest ambition." The thought of being separated from Jim as their postings took them to different ships on different missions was abhorrent, especially seeing as it could be years before they were reunited. But both of them were willing to accept it as necessity. What is, is. Nothing could separate them indefinitely.
"You're going to be an ensign after graduation. And you're a Vulcan on top of things. Now, you're one of the most impressive scientists this Academy has ever seen. But you're on the very bottom of the barrel as far as postings are concerned. Right now, Komack has you set for a very minor research outpost on Delta Vega, indefinitely. But I can pull some strings and change that. I can make you a junior science officer on the Enterprise."
"That would be much appreciated, Captain. I thank you sincerely."
"I didn't say I was gonna do it," Pike said.
"You're willing to do anything, yeah?" he said, undoing his belt. "Why don't you start by taking off your clothes?"
Mitchell was out that night, doing who knows what. Jim was already waiting for him in his dorm when Spock got home, sprawled out on his bed reading a textbook off a padd.
"Hey babe," he said. "How'd your meeting with Pike go?"
Spock calmly and carefully set his satchel down and removed his jacket. He toed out of his boots and moved robotically over to his meditation area. He sat down slowly, carefully, folding in on himself.
Spock took a deep breath. It was meant to be steadying. It was not.
"Spock?" Jim asked. He climbed out of his bed and went to kneel in front of him. "Is everything okay? What happened?"
And so Spock told him.
"Cadet Kirk, evidence has been submitted to this council suggesting that you’ve violated the ethical code of conduct pursuant to Regulation 17.43 of the Starfleet Code,” the dean said. “Is there anything you care to say before we begin, sir?”
“Yes. I believe I have the right to face my accuser directly?”
The dean nodded, and Professor Fucking Davis stood up.
“Step forward please," the dean said. Davis did, shooting Jim an insufferably smug look. “This is Commodore Davis. He is one of our most experienced professors. He’s programmed the Kobayashi Maru exam for the last sixteen years. Commodore?”
“Cadet Kirk," Davis said, smirking. "You installed a subroutine on my test."
“Your point being?” he asked.
“In academic vernacular, you cheated,” the dean said.
“Let me ask you something I think we all know the answer to, the test itself is a cheat, isn’t it? You programmed it to be unwinnable.”
“That's the point, Kirk. It's a no-win scenario."
“I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.”
“Then by all rights, you deserve to fail. You took the test three times and didn't learn the lesson once.”
“Oh then why don't you teach me, Professor?”
“You of all people should know, Kirk. A captain can't cheat death.”
Cool rage built slowly in his chest.
“I of all people?” he asked.
“Your dad. He took command of his vessel before being killed in action, didn't he? A hero's death for the Empire. He was almost a great man."
“I don’t think you like the fact that I beat your test.”
“I think you're a--"
The dean held up a hand. The whole auditorium went silent. “We’ve received a distress call from Vulcan. With our primary fleet engaged in the Laurentian system, I hereby order all cadets to report to Hangar 1 immediately. Dismissed.”