Relationship status: First time
Word count: 15,617
Warnings: Brutal hazing (verbal and physical), offensive language, species-ism.
Other Pairings: Kirk/Janice Lester
Additional Characters: Finnegan, Gary Mitchell, Carol Marcus.
Summary: An AU fic inspired by and extremely loosely based on the 1980s Harve Bennett proposal for a Star Trek TV series titled “The Academy Years”.
Notes: Originally published in March 2012 in the print fanzine Legends # 7. My thanks to Dovya Blacque for her excellent edit.
“Fucking green blood bastard go home.”
Cadet Kirk saw the laser-etched scrawl on the men’s room wall as soon as he stepped up to the urinal – and simultaneously realized the only Vulcan attending Starfleet Academy was standing at the urinal next to him. He resisted the temptation to look, despite all the wild rumors.
Finished, he moved over to the sonic hand-cleanser. As did the Vulcan.
He turned and met the Vulcan’s gaze. They shared no classes, and though Kirk had occasionally seen him walking on the campus grounds, they had never met.
The Vulcan’s face was as stony and expressionless as everyone said. Not a hint of emotion altered the lines of the stern face, the closed gaze.
“We’re not all like that, you know,” Kirk said.
Something flickered in the Vulcan’s eyes and disappeared. “It is of no consequence.”
“My name’s Jim Kirk.” He didn’t offer his hand. Do not touch a Vulcan without their consent. Prof. John Gill had run through Xeno etiquette in regards to current non-Human Starfleet attendees – all three of them – in record time; the slightest coldness in his voice stating his impatience with having to deal with the subject matter at all.
A fleeting expression crossed the Vulcan’s face, so quickly Jim could barely believe he had seen it, much less interpret it. “I am Spock.”
“It’s good to meet you, Spock.”
Spock inclined his head in a brief bow. “Cadet Kirk. You are on command track training.”
It didn’t surprise Kirk that Spock knew this – his reputation for being knowledgeable about all aspects of Academy life was often commented on by people who shared classes with him.
“And you’re in sciences. Prof. McHenry is always using you as an example we should look up to.”
Again, the slightest trace of an expression crossed the near-motionless face. Could Kirk interpret it as surprise?
“If he’s right about the future of warp drive technology, one day we may be able to go beyond Warp 6.” Kirk lost himself for a second in imagining piloting a ship with that much speed.
“Indeed,” Spock said. “The odds are that starships will be able to exceed warp drive 6 within the next five standard years are 97.5%.”
“97.5?” Kirk said, amused. “You’re sure of that.”
“Affirmative,” Spock said, and Kirk recognized the glint in his eyes as being that of a true techie. “Taking into consideration that…”
They continued their conversation in the hallway, then outside into plaza. It was a gorgeous October San Francisco day, sunny and bright. Kirk noticed that Spock immediately sealed his Academy jacket, and remembered that most of Vulcan was a hot desert by Earth standards. He figured Spock would probably feel cold almost anywhere on Earth.
They were deep into a conversation about astrophysics when he saw Finnegan and a couple of his flunkeys heading in their direction. Finnegan’s pale hair and glittering upperclassperson’s tunic flashed in the afternoon sunlight. A grin spread across his face when he spotted Kirk. Kirk didn’t slow his pace, but he heaved an inward sigh. Finnegan’s two pals had seen Kirk as well, and feral anticipation lit their faces. The heavily-muscled Branson, looking like he was about to burst out of his uniform, was slightly to Finnegan’s left, and the smaller-by-a-hair ratfaced Morris was by his right side. Both men, Kirk had long since decided, were clearly headed for brilliant careers as redshirts.
Finnegan stopped dramatically and pulled a face of mocking shock. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t our resident wonder boy.” He made his voice into a high falsetto. “Looks like he’s made a new best bud.”
Branson and Morris flanked him, making a big show of looking Kirk and Spock up and down. “Careful, Jimmyboy, of the company you keep. I’ve heard these green bloods have weird habits.”
Fury filled Kirk. He kept his voice calm. “Ignore them,” he said to Spock, who had gone very still.
Finnegan rubbed his hands together, and aimed a shit-eating grin at Spock. His two pals hulked next to him, wide grins plastering their faces as well.
“Ah, you want the alien to ignore us, Jimmyboy? You keep forgetting – you can’t ignore us – plebe!” He shoved Kirk hard in the chest.
Kirk staggered back a couple of paces. Regaining his footing, he saw his fist impact with Finnegan’s face, crushing his nose, sending blood and snot flying--
Stop! He froze, about to raise his fist, adrenaline demanding he fulfill his fantasy. Finnegan sneered. He forced himself to breathe, to stand rock still. He had to just stand here and take it. He had learned how to take much worse years ago. Finnegan and his minions were nothing. He met Finnegan’s condescending expression with what he hoped was a blank gaze.
“Now that expression doesn’t look all that respectful, Jimmyboy. Want to spend the night shining my boots?”
“No, sir,” Kirk mumbled.
“I can’t hear you!” Finnegan put a hand to an ear and pushed his face forward.
“No, sir,” Kirk repeated, more loudly this time.
“That’s better.” Finnegan smirked. He shoved Kirk hard backward; Kirk sprawled on the hard sidewalk.
Kirk leaped back to his feet and got into Finnegan’s face. Finnegan grinned and pointed at his chin. “You want a go at me, Jimmyboy? You want a go?” His two friends showed their teeth and cracked their knuckles. Spock remained standing a pace or two away.
Kirk took a deep breath and stepped back.
Finnegan cackled gleefully. “Farmboy here is wetting his pants, he’s so scared! He’d rather hang out with that scrawny cow he’s dating or – ” he glanced at Spock, “ – suck up to aliens. This guy’s daddy is so important. What do you think, Jimmyboy, that this green blood here can give you a leg up? In a manner of speaking?”
“You piece of shit!” The words escaped before Kirk could prevent them.
“Ah ah ah!” Finnegan said. “That’s a reportable offense, Jimmyboy”.
“And I’ll just bet you’ll report it.”
They glared at each for a moment, then Finnegan turned his attention to Spock. “Since when do green bloods hang out with humans? Aren’t you all ever so much better than us?”
Spock directed a calm gaze back. “It is logical to associate with humans, since I am enrolled at this institution, and humans comprise the vast majority of beings here.”
“Slumming, are you?”
Spock paused for an instant. “I do not recognize the idiom.”
“Well, recognize it or not, you’re doing it by hanging around with farmboy.” Finnegan sketched a mocking salute. “See ya, Jimmyboy. Be good now.”
Finnegan’s mocking laughter trailed off into the distance as he and his two compatriots headed toward campus center.
“Most illogical behavior,” Spock commented, gazing thoughtfully after the three men.
Kirk bunched his shoulders, adrenaline racing through every cell in his body. “We can’t all be logical, like Vulcans,” he snapped. He turned to glare at Spock, then some of the anger drained out of him at the sight of Spock’s quickly-concealed startled look. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
“I understand that you are not permitted to respond to his verbal or physical provocations.”
“No. It’s something I have to live with right now. It won’t be forever. I’m a ‘plebe’ – we’re expected to just ‘take it’.”
“I am familiar with the custom.” There was a slight stiffness to Spock’s words, and Kirk suddenly realized how many different intonations he’d already heard in the Vulcan’s supposedly nonemotional voice. “It is my understanding that upperclasspersons are permitted great latitude in both verbal and physical abuse of underclasspersons.”
Kirk shrugged. “I guess things like this - or what happened back there – “ – he jerked his head in the general direction of the building they had just come from, the memory of those laser-etched words burned in his mind – “ – don’t happen on Vulcan. It’s not very logical, is it?”
Spock hesitated a moment longer than necessary. “No. It is not logical.”
His gaze hinted at some hidden pain. Kirk wondered suddenly why he had had thought the Vulcan was completely unreadable. “He’s just so damn juvenile. Can you believe it, he left a cold soup-pak in my bed – one of the big ones.”
“I had a similar experience 22.7 days ago. It was not, however, soup.”
Kirk paused, and then didn’t ask. “I’m sorry.”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “You have no need to apologize – you had nothing to do with the incident.”
“Our customs must seem odd to you.”
“No more so than any other cultures. I expect that Vulcan customs seem similarly unusual to those from other planets.”
“I can’t wait to go offworld. There are so many places I’d like to visit, to explore.”
“Have you ever visited another world?”
Kirk felt every muscle tighten. “Only one.” He tried to lighten his tone. “Well, and Lunaport, of course.”
“Did you have a chance to study another culture at that time?”
“It was a colony world.” Kirk managed to speak normally. “I didn’t see much of it.”
“Were you quite young?”
“Not so young. I was 13.”
“May you have many opportunities to explore other cultures in the future. “
Kirk smiled at the formal words. “And you? How many worlds have you seen?”
“19,” Spock said without hesitation.
“So many – how did you get the opportunity?”
“I travelled with my family.”
Remember Finnegan’s implication, and suddenly curious, he asked, “What kind of work do they do?”
Spock glanced past him, toward the campus center. “I cannot continue our conversation now. I am due at an astrophysics class in 4.25 minutes. Perhaps we can continue our conversation at some other time?”
Kirk smiled, “I’d like that. It’s been good meeting you.”
Spock hesitated a moment, and Kirk got the impression he was mentally sorting through his knowledge of human customs. “It has been interesting meeting and speaking with you.” He walked away without another word.
Kirk took a moment to watch him walk away. He was still seriously pissed off at Finnegan, and he felt equally furious about the way Spock was being treated. But he also found himself intrigued by – what? His new friend? Not that friendship with a Vulcan was likely, or even possible. But still…
He was heading toward the History building when his comm buzzed with Janice’s signal. He detached it from his belt. “Hi Janice.”
“Hey Jim, I got out early so Carol and I are heading to Zephram’s. Meet you there?”
“Prof. Gill’s called a meeting on the Axanar mission. I’ll meet you after it’s done.”
Her eyes narrowed a bit, and Kirk forestalled her inevitable complaints about not being among the cadets chosen to participate in the upcoming mission by saying, “I met that Vulcan today – Spock. Interesting guy.”
“Really.” Janice didn’t seem all that interested. “What are Vulcans doing in Starfleet anyway? They’ve got their own fleet. Listen, Carol was telling me that Gary was able to rent an MX-3000 for our trip up the coast.”
“Yes! It’s a sweet one, too – I can’t wait to pilot it.” Kirk, quite passionate about speedboats, as was Janice. He reached the history building while still praising the merits of the MX-3000. “Hey, Janice, gotta go. See you later.”
“See you later, Jim.” She winked at him and cut the comm.
He was smiling to himself as he entered the history building, Finnegan and his chance meeting with the Vulcan forgotten. He’d only known Janice Lester for a few weeks, but she’d already become a large part of his life. She was nothing like the girls he’d known back in Iowa. Intense, passionate, and full of coiled-wire energy, she was always ready to try anything new, and was equally vocal about her passions and her dislikes. He was sorry she hadn’t been chosen for the Axanar mission, but he was determined not to let her disappointment interrupt his focus on what was now the chief priority in his life – preparation for the upcoming mission. He would be going back out into space soon – this time, by his choice, this time being a part of those who were going out to help others – just as Starfleet had saved him on Tarsus just a few years ago.
He stepped inside the meeting room. The seats were filling fast. He turned his entire attention to Professor Gill and Captain Garrovick, who were already present; Janice now out of his mind as well.
* * * * *
Several days later, Kirk decided to do his Saturday run near Telegraph Hill. It was nearly noon, and he was warming up and enjoying the bright fall sunshine when a familiar figure stepped out the vegan restaurant to his left.
He stopped in surprise, realizing he’d never seen Spock off campus.
Spock stopped and regarded him solemnly. “I regret being the cause of your demerits, Cadet Kirk.”
“Finnegan was the cause of my demerits.”
Silence stretched out. Kirk broke it by glancing at Telegraph Hill. “I was thinking of climbing up to Coit Tower. Want to join me?”
Spock contemplated the white tower on top of the imposing hill. “I would like to view the historic structure. Early 20th century construction. I understand it has a number of art murals of note.”
“That it does, but the view from the top of the hill is the best part of going up there.” Kirk headed toward the footpath leading to the summit. Spock fell in by his side.
The sidewalks were crowded at this time of day; the shops and restaurants busy. And yet there was always room for them to pass others on the sidewalks. Kirk noticed it, the subtle, or blatant ways, people flinched back from Spock.
Spock seemed unaware of their response. Kirk bit back his words and led the way up the hill.
* * * * *
It was another gorgeous clear sunny October day. The view from on top of the hill was spectacular. Spock had proved knowledgeable about the murals inside the tower; he was equally knowledgeable about all the structures of interest visible from their vantage point, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island.
Kirk pointed out something far more interesting: the many sailboats and other watercraft dotting the water.
“Let’s sit here and watch.” They settled on the sun-warmed grass, a light breeze caressing their faces and sifting through the leaves of the trees behind them.
“Look at that one.” A ship, rigged out with the masting and sails of centuries past, sailed regally toward the bridge.
“A historic recreation for the coastal exhibition on the 24th,”Spock reported, but Kirk noticed the trace of a gleam in his eyes.
Kirk followed the passage of the ship. “The ocean was endless back then… all those years ago. You’d set out with no idea of what you’d encounter, what people you’d meet, what the places would look like. You’d set out with no idea if you’d ever return.”
Startled at this evidence of imagination, Kirk turned to contemplate the angular profile next to him. Eyes the color of his favorite Ghirardelli chocolate and cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass. The sunlight on what had seemed the blackest of hair brought out a hidden reddish glint and highlighted the faint green undertone to his skin. Green blood, Kirk remembered. Curious, though, the pink tone to his lips. Kirk smiled inwardly at himself for noticing that detail.
Spock was watching the ship as it headed for the ocean, but his eyes seemed fixed on some further shore.
“You feel it too.”
Spock turned to him, a raised eyebrow signaling indignation as clearly as if he had said it out loud.
Kirk laughed. “Sorry. I meant to say, the prospect of exploring deep space and encountering new lives and new civilizations holds intellectual appeal for you.”
Spock raised another eyebrow. “You are most perceptive, Cadet Kirk.”
“Call me Jim. That’s what my friends do.”
“’Friends’,” Spock said, as if tasting the word. “A term denoting a close acquaintanceship.”
“That it does.”
Spock regarded him for a moment, an unreadable expression in the alien eyes. “Then I will do so, Jim.”
Kirk turned his attention back to the bay. “Look – there’s a MX-3000.” He pointed out a sleek powerboat cutting through the waves. “I’m going out with some friends on one of those later this month – we’re going to go up the coast. Want to join us?”
“I – “ Spock uncharacteristically stammered, then fell silent.
“It’s just for the day,” Kirk said encouragingly.
“I… appreciate the invitation,” Spock said slowly, picking his way carefully through the words, as if he had suddenly lost his command of Standard. “I would be… pleased… to accept.”
“Great!” Kirk said. “I’ll comm you the details.”
Spock turned his attention back to the sundazzled water and began describing the various watercraft models and their capabilities. Since Kirk also liked to expound on that subject, it was easy to get lost in mechanical capabilities and specifications. When at last they left, Kirk realized he was starved and suggested the same vegan restaurant Spock had patronized earlier. To his surprise, Spock agreed.
The small space was decorated with Academy posters done in a retro style and holo images of Federation worlds mounted on tangerine-colored walls. The place was crowded with Academy cadets and civilian students from San Francisco University and the place was cheerily noisy with conversation and cutlery.
Once seated, Kirk scanned the holo-menu at their table. “What would you recommend?”
Spock indicated a selection. “I find this pasta casserole to be acceptable.”
Kirk smiled, and mentally decided to translate ‘acceptable’ to ‘delicious’. ”All right, I’ll try that.”
The restaurant had a selection of alien drinks. Spock chose a sharp-smelling tea. Kirk tried it as well, winced at the bitter taste, and went for water instead. The casserole, however, was excellent, full of mushrooms, eggplant, and some broccoli-like alien vegetable from Alpha Centauri that was the latest fad. He ate it with gusto.
“Tell me what space is like,” he said. “You said you’ve been to 19 different planets? Does that include Earth and Vulcan.”
“Yes,” Spock said. “My father is in the diplomatic corp. We have been to 17 worlds other than Vulcan and Earth.”
Kirk finished his meal, sipped coffee and asked questions. He learned that Spock had visited all of the other founding Federation planets, Andoria, Tellar, and Alpha Centauri, as well as worlds currently being considered for membership.
“What was the most interesting race of beings you’ve ever encountered?”
Spock considered. “There are beings on Draymus IV that are non-aggregate beings. They resemble, in earth terms, a hive. Individual components can be hundreds of kilometers apart from each other, and yet all are mentally linked and comprise a unified being.”
“How was first contact made?”
“Telepathically, and then by means of an adapted Universal Translator. They do not share many frames of reference with most known intelligent life forms. Communication has remained difficult.”
“I can’t wait to get out there. Everything that I’ve read, everything that I’ve watched shows me there’s so much we can discover, so many new things to learn.”
Spock nodded. “There is an infinite wealth of knowledge in the universe.”
“What are your ambitions in Starfleet?”
“I would prefer to be assigned to a Constitution Class ship, one designated for a five year exploration mission. An assignment of that nature would offer multiple opportunities for scientific exploration and discovery.”
“I want to be assigned to a Constitution class, as well.” Kirk didn’t add, out of respect to Vulcan sensibilities, ‘with a fierce burning passion’ or that he’d dreamed about this for the last several years. Had dreamed about it every since he’d spent so many days in a tiny cramped crowded filthy room on Tarsus, searching the night sky through a single slit of a window, waiting for the ships, and help, to come. “And I’ll have the chance to see what it will be like – at least in some small way – very soon.”
“You have been assigned to the Axanar mission,” Spock said. “That is a most prestigious assignment.”
Kirk whistled. “Gary told me you know everything.”
“Not everything.” And there it was, just the faintest hint of a smug smile on Spock’s mouth.
Kirk chuckled. He couldn’t help it, and when Spock raised one eyebrow entirely independently of the other, he laughed out loud. “Sorry.”
“I have said nothing amusing.” But the sparkle in Spock’s eyes said something else entirely.
The waiter suggested dessert, some kind of nut and apple concoction, which they both agreed to try. Kirk had coffee; Spock had more tea, and they kept right on talking until the restaurant closed for the evening.
* * * * *
The next time Kirk saw Spock was just after he stepped out of the security conference room at the Student Center, head filled with the details of everything he needed to prepare before the upcoming Axanar mission. The light-filled lobby was filled with students clustered in the various seating groupings, conversing intensely or sprawled on couches focused on their padds.
Spock was in one of the small niche-chambers, seated alone at a table for two, concentrating on Tri-D chess set.
Kirk walked up behind him and studied the game in progress. “Bet I can beat you,” he said.
Spock didn’t seem in the least bit surprised by his presence. “Wagers are illogical.” He nodded toward the other seat. “No Human has ever ‘beaten’ me in chess.”
Kirk gave him a cocky grin. “Then I’ll be the first.”
Spock reset the board. Kirk took white and went first, playing aggressively, his opening gambit gaining him quick ground. Spock matched him move for move, taking only seconds of contemplation for each play and had soon taken the advantage again. Pawns were sacrificed, rooks met their fates, heavy losses were taken on both sides. Then Spock found his opening. Kirk stared ruefully at the board. His king was in an indefensible position. He tipped his king.
Spock sat up straight and the tiniest of smiles played on his lips. “As I informed you, no Human has ever beaten me in chess.”
Kirk, pleased at more evidence of Vulcan emotion, promised, “I will, next time.”
“Rematch?” Spock indicated the board.
“Not today.” Kirk checked the time. “I have a student meeting to attend.” Kirk stood.
“I, too, have duties to perform.” Spock packed away the chess set and they walked side by side out of the student center and stopped in the outside plaza. Kirk gestured to his left to indicate his destination. “I’ll see you Saturday.”
“I anticipate our next game.”
There it was again, that tiny smile. Kirk responded with one of his own, and they parted to head to their separate destinations.
* * * * *
The MX-3000 cut through the coastal waves, racing north with Kirk at the controls. Kirk felt intoxicated by the sun, the sharp salt tang of the air, and the sheer glorious beauty of the California coastline. To his right craggy cliffs jutted up sharply from the water, then flattened, their tops coated with trees. To his left, an infinite ocean. And ahead, a challenging, rock-strewn coastline. Just the kind he liked.
“Faster!” Janice, to his right, urged, and he obliged, stepping up the speed a notch, mirroring the path of the coastline. Behind him Carol Marcus, sitting next to Gary, was laughing over some joke Gary had just told. He was very aware of the silent presence of the Vulcan, also behind him.
Janice had been pissed last night – at him for inviting the Vulcan along – “This is a couples trip! Why do we need an extra?” – and at her professors who “had it in for her”. He had made the mistake of suggesting she spent a bit more time studying, and she had raged on for a several minutes about how everyone in the world was mistreating her. He had stopped her complaints the usual way, with his mouth on hers and his hands on her body. They’d torn their clothing off, caressed and fondled and grasped. They’d grappled for position, and she’d wound up on top for most of the action, a ferocious goddess seized by passion. Sex with Janice was like grabbing electricity; the angrier she got the better the sex was.
Now, she seemed to have forgotten her anger in her glee over speed and getting away from the campus. She gripped the safety bar with one hand. The other gripped his waist. Flashes of last night, of her face and body, ecstatic in orgasm as he pumped into her, shot through his mind and into his dick. Half-hard now, intoxicated with the speed, the rush of salt air and the dazzle of sunlight on the water made him laugh for sheer joy. He brushed her knee with one hand, then gripped the wheel, all his concentration on steering the motorboat to avoid the rocky islets spattered along this curve of coastline. Each turn brought more gorgeous scenery – furrowed wooded cliffsides plummeting to the water, tiny patches of rocky beach - as they flashed past. He shot the boat straight along the cliff-face around the next bend.
“Hey Jim!” Gary yelled over the sound of the engine. “My turn!”
Kirk brought the speedboat to a halt, where it lay bobbing in the choppy water. Gary took his place, Carol beside him, her gleaming blond hair tied in jagged-pattern net. He settled in the rear seat. Janice had positioned herself as far away from Spock as she could get, so he settled between them. Gary gunned the boat and they were off like a rocket blast.
The Vulcan, wrapped warmly in heavy clothing and hood, was silent, staring at the coastline with what appeared rapt fascination. In the small space, their bodies were pressed close together, creating a cocoon of warmth in the lower half of his body, with the contrast of the cold sea air on his head and shoulders. Spock turned to glance at him. “You handle the boat most capably.”
“She’s a beauty,” Kirk enthused, speaking loudly to be heard about the engine noise. “Best of her class.”
“Would you like to own one of these yourself?”
“I can’t afford one. Besides, I have bigger ideas than that.”
Spock raised a brow. “Bigger ideas?”
Janice grabbed Kirk’s hand, leaned in front of him and shouted, “He wants his own ship.”
“What type of ship?”
Kirk squeezed Janice’s hand. “I don’t intend to stay planetbound for long.”
Gary took a curve at speed, and Kirk found himself leaning against the Vulcan, barely aware of Janice leaning against him. Quick impression of strength, whipcord muscles, heat. Spock had pulled his hood back, and his face, cheeks green-flushed with the wind and cold, was inches from his own. What would it be like to kiss those stern lips? Kirk smiled at his own fantasy. Then Gary straightened their course and they righted themselves.
Janice tapped Kirk’s arm, and he turned toward her. She squeezed his hand tightly, her eyes gleaming. Her gaze shifted past him to Spock, then back to him again. She offered Kirk her lips and he tilted into the kiss, devouring her mouth for a moment, then pulled away, suddenly aware that the man on his right had shifted slightly away from him.
Right. Vulcan’s are not much for PDA.
Janice looked at him questioningly, and he caressed her hand, his eyes promising, Later.
They pulled into Bodega Bay for an early lunch. They chose one of the beach restaurants. The restaurant, built on a pier, was a ramshackle wooden affair, built to mimic the look of buildings that had been in style centuries ago. Netting, shells, and excellent reproductions of swordfish were hung on the exterior walls, meant to imply that fisherman had just brought in huge catches of local fish.
A host led them at an outdoor wooden table. Janice followed Gary and Carol, and as soon as they were seated she touched Kirk’s left shoulder as she chose her own seat, motioning to the seat to the right of her. He settled in, noticing as he did so that Spock had taken the only empty seat, the one at the end, furthest away from him.
“So how did you meet Jim?” Gary asked Spock. Kirk gave him the eye; he’d told Gary the details of their meeting the day it happened. Gary grinned at him impudently.
“In the lower level men’s room in the political science building,” Spock replied.
Kirk said warningly, “Gary!”
“I fail to see what I said to provoke amusement,” Spock said, and Kirk could see a trace of irritation on his face.
“Don’t mind him.” Carol covered Gary’s hand with her own and gave him a fond look. “I think he thinks he’s still in middle school.”
Gary looked entirely unrepentant. “Seriously, I hear you had problems with Finnegan. Don’t worry; we’ll get our turn when we’re upperclasspersons.”
“I have never seen the logic of ritualized harassment between one group of beings and another.”
“Tradition, what can we poor humans say? I hear Vulcans are big on that.”
“That is accurate.” Spock surveyed Gary serenely. “Certain traditions are logical.”
“Well, you won’t find much logic around here,” Carol commented, aiming a look at Gary.
The server returned, and he, Gary and Carol ordered fish tacos. Janice selected a complicated salad, and Spock chose a bean casserole dish from the vegetarian portion of the menu.
“Spock – is it appropriate to call you that?” Carol continued, “We’re off campus; I hate saying ‘cadet this’ and ‘cadet that’ all the time.”
“It is appropriate,” he said.
“Do you have another name you’d prefer we use?”
“’Spock’ corresponds to what you would refer to as a ‘given name’. My clan name is for use in formal occasions.”
The server came back with drinks and a huge basket of appetizers. He and Gary grabbed slices of cheese jalapeño bread. Seagulls, perched on the railing separating them from the ocean, squawked and shrieked. A forcefield kept them away from the tables, but didn’t block their raucous calls or the sight of their greedy eyes.
“So,” Gary fixed Spock with an intent gaze, “Since Jim here will be part of the Axanar peace mission, and as we know we all have to keep an eye on him,” he grinned at Janice, “What does your dad think of the chances of it being a success?”
“My father and I have not had occasion to discuss the matter.” Spock’s tone was forbidding.
“There are serious political questions,” Carol pointed out. “Have they actually eliminated their caste system? And should we be bringing worlds into the Federation when a significant portion of their population is opposed to the Federation?”
Janice nibbled at a roll. “Axanari medical compounds are a valuable resource. Just because a few malcontents want to stay in the stone age, why should they be allowed to drag the rest of their world down? There are three planets that would have been decimated by plague without those medications.”
Gary interjected, “Don’t forget, they make aphrodisiacs as well.” Carol elbowed him again. He gave her an impish smile.
Kirk said, “Captain Garth’s victory is one of the most brilliant and significant in the last century. If the peace talks are successful, an entire sector could move into a new era of peace and prosperity. Spock? What do you think?”
“Despite Captain Garth’s victory, that system remains highly politically unstable. There are many in the Fabari government who opposed Federation membership for Axanar. The Axanari themselves are a fascinating people – they have nearly twice the Vulcan lifespan, and are among the few peoples considered for Federation membership who are truly andrognynous.”
“Twice the fun!” Gary chimed in.
Janice commented, “Ick, Gary. Would you want to do it with a lizard?”
“Hey, I’ll try anything once.” Carol punched his arm. He winked.
The server brought the rest of their food, and they dug in.
Janice forked a lettuce leaf, and fixed Spock with an intent gaze. “Remember, it was Captain Archer’s crew who first encountered the Axanari – not the Vulcans, who were advising against the contact. Why do Vulcans not consider first contact important?
Spock fixed Janice with an equally intent gaze, “I have studied that mission. It was one individual Vulcan, a woman named T’Pol, who expressed that opinion. Vulcans find much value in what can be learned from contact with other beings.”
“I think the Vulcans and Humans agree,” Kirk said. “There is such potential in every first contact – there is so much to be learned from different cultures and species.”
Gary broke in, “Now you’re sounding like a Starfleet recruiting vidcast.”
Carol chuckled. “Oh Gary, don’t be a butt.”
Gary laughed. “Kidding! Hey Jim, it’s a shame you’re going to miss the Speedball matchup – I have my money on Köhler making the biggest score.”
“No way that’s going to happen. Solovyov will wind up on top.”
Sports talk consumed most of the rest of the meal, with everyone but Spock ardently supporting their favorite. Finally, after they finished paying the bill and were heading back to the dock, Gary said, “Hey Spock, who would you pick?”
“Logically, Solovyov will win.” Spock then proceeded to list so many particulars of Solovyov’s career and why his talents were clearly superior to those of Köhler that Gary rolled his eyes and Kirk gave Spock his best smile. Janice gave him a funny look over that, but he shrugged it off and suggested she pilot the boat back to the halfway point.
Janice’s piloting made Gary’s piloting look like a model of prudence and his positively tame. She seemed determined to beat all water speed records, and when she stopped and let Carol take over her good mood was entirely restored.
She settled in next to Jim in the back seat and rested her head against his shoulder. He took her hand. But he was very aware of the Vulcan warmth pressed close to his other side.
Link to Part 2: