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.
Six weeks later…
Charged with excitement, Kirk stood at parade attention in the Federation Hall, other cadets from the Axanar mission standing close behind him.
Kirk’s gaze swept over the formal auditorium. They’d packed in as many admirals, ambassadors, and other dignitaries as could fit behind the curving sweep of the front dais which was backed by rows of flags from member Federation planets. Countless thousands of diplomatic corps members and Starfleet personnel in dress uniforms – active duty personnel, instructors and cadets – filled the rest of the cavernous room.
He’d never felt this high, never felt this sense of soaring over everything else that had ever happened in his life. Speeches were being made, one VIP after another making pronouncements about the significance of their achievement at Axanar. The past two months had shot by in a blur – random fragments of memory flowed through his mind as he listened to speeches about the significance of this mission. As Admiral Barnett spoke about how the main Federation worlds had truly coalesced into one united force he remembered the multispecies crew on the Farragut, and how he had learned so much about so many peoples in their voyage to Axanar. As Ambassador Jen Shu Ixten of the Fabari spoke about the benefits of peace and the new bonds of friendship that had been formed between the Axanari and his people, memories flashed through Kirk’s mind: he had stumbled upon the assassination plot by some disaffected Axanari rebels against the Axanari Leader and prevented a tragedy at the very last second. He’d woken up in the Farragut Sickbay, being treated for his injuries by a grouchy, verbose doctor named Leonard McCoy, who he’d bonded with on the voyage back to earth over poker and bourbon.
The lizardlike Axanari representative, Mjiëv, imposing in flowing black and scarlet robes, began speaking, the Universal Translator rendering hir words flat and accentless. “We of Axanar welcome our new siblings in peace. We recognize your dichotomy into brethren and sistren, and we hope to learn much from our differences. We have not sought out siblings among the manyworlds, this we now recognize as a false perception on our part. We now welcome the opportunity for our people to be as siblings to others so much different from ourselves. We have much to offer, as do you. May it be of peace and prosperity to all our peoples. “
Awards and medals were handed out. And now, it was his turn. Adrenaline raced through his body as Admiral Richard Barnett called him forward. “James T. Kirk, in commendation for your achievements on the Axanar Peace Mission, I award you the Palm Leaf medal.”
Applause erupted, and he turned to face the audience, aware of the huge smile that had spread across his face. Janice, Gary, and Carol were seated together, and they all clapped enthusiastically. He nodded ever so slightly, then glanced over the rest of the audience.
There, on the opposite side of the auditorium, was Spock. He didn’t smile or clap, but as their eyes met something told Kirk he was as happy for Kirk’s achievement as Kirk’s other friends.
Ambassador Mjiëv stepped forward with a circular red metallic object. “I am honored to present to you on behalf of the Axanari people our highest honor, to thank you for your important service to our people, to show the wide universe that we are all truly siblings.” Ze affixed the medal to Kirk’s upper right shoulder and stepped back. He bowed in appreciation.
After the ceremony was over he stepped outside into the cold night air and was immediately surrounded by wellwishers crowding against him. “Thank you,” he said, and again, to at least half of the plebes at the Academy, and many of the upperclasspersons as well. Spock emerged from the sea of faces momentarily and said something, but in the din Kirk couldn’t make out his words.
He shouted, “Chess game tomorrow?”
Spock mouthed the word, “Affirmative,” and melted back into the crowd.
The crowd began thinning. Janice, Gary and Carol steered him away in the direction of Zephram’s bar. Rounds were ordered, toasts proposed and drunk, and half-conversations held with the crowd of people crammed into the noisy bar. Still high on the evening’s events, already looking forward to the next round of athletic “welcome home sex” from Janice, he knew he’d be equally happy tomorrow to sit with Spock in the student center and see if he could beat the Vulcan’s pants off, metaphorically speaking, in their long-promised chess game. This time I’ll beat him. One part of his mind was already considering chess strategy, even as he accepted another drink and got involved in another political conversation with a half-drunk upperclassman, who was torn between envy that he hadn’t been on the Axanar mission and ecstatic over the new possibilities now opening to the Federation. Then the band started up again, he took Janice out onto the dance floor, and lost himself in the whirl of light and sound and motion.
* * * * *
The message was waiting for him on his comm the next day – where and when for their chess rematch. Spock had the chess board already set up in the same niche chamber at the student center when he arrived. Kirk settled down opposite him.
“I wish to offer my congratulations on your receipt of the Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission.”
“Thank you. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Perhaps it will be the first of many opportunities.”
”That’s the plan.” Kirk settled back in his chair.
“I understand you were injured in the course of performing your mission.”
“Yes, I got caught in an explosion.”
“When you saved the life of the Axanari Leader?”
“The newscasts have not agreed on the particulars of what happened.”
Kirk grimaced. “They’re good at getting it wrong. I’d been assigned to monitor the navigational patterns of the vessels in Axanari space when I noticed a power anomaly in one of the private Axanari ships. Masters focused the sensors on the ship and I realized what they were doing – punching a pinpoint hole in the security forcefield around the conference center, big enough to transport a person through. I told Uhura to alert planetary security and then had myself beamed through the hole a second after the other person beamed through.”
“You could have died,” Spock observed.
Kirk felt warmed by the expression of concern in the dark eyes.
“I didn’t,” he said. “Kyle could transport a pebble onto the top of a Thringian feather-branch and it wouldn’t fall. He beamed me right into the Council Chamber, behind the Axanari leader. The rebel had a phase bomb. I grabbed it and hurled it back as quickly as I could. Security phasered it in mid air. The shockwaves knocked down one of the structural supports. Security had already put up a protection field but I was caught on the wrong side. I was hit by falling debris.”
“You are to be congratulated for your quick action, which may have saved the entire peace process.” Spock was looking at him intently, which made his conventional words seem something – more, somehow. These were not words spoken as some polite cliché; Kirk had difficulty interpreting what else lay in the Vulcan’s gaze.
“It made me want to go right back out there. I can’t wait until my first deep space assignment. Cpt. Garrovick told me that he already plans to request me for his ship for my first posting.” Kirk gestured at the chess board. “Shall we?”
Spock chose a classic opening move, just as Kirk expected and prepared for. He made his move.
Spock considered the board. “Unconventional,” Spock commented.
“Of course,” Kirk said, and leaned back as Spock studied the board and countered.
They fought a hard and furious game. Kirk had Spock’s king in check at one point. Spock actually frowned at the board. “Your manner of play is most illogical.”
“There’s a certain logic to illogic.”
One of Spock’s eyebrows darted upward. Kirk found himself ridiculously pleased by that gesture.
Spock studied the board again, and then chose a move which allowed him to escape Kirk’s trap. In two more moves he had Kirk in checkmate. “I choose to rely on logic,” he said smugly.
Kirk conceded. “Rematch?”
Spock reset the board and they started a new game. The room had gotten noisier and more crowded, but Kirk tuned everything out in his focus on the board. As before, they went through the moves quickly. Kirk had his goal in sight – he could see the path to victory clearly. He was beginning to understand the path of Spock’s logic; the channels in which rationality guided his play.
Then a group of people passed close by. A man who had been obviously partying hearty tripped and stumbled against their table. The chess set tipped over and several pieces fell to the floor. The man walked on, oblivious. Spock and Kirk reached simultaneously to retrieve the fallen pieces.
Their fingertips brushed together as they touched the same rook. Spock drew in a sudden intake of breath, and Kirk felt a sudden wave of heat from the hand and arm so close to his. Kirk straightened and was startled to see a green flush across Spock’s face. Spock averted his gaze for a moment, and his complexion returned to its normal faint olive shade.
Unsettled, and suddenly very very horny, Kirk was no longer in the mood for chess. He noticed again how very kissable Spock’s mouth was, and wondered what it would be like to suck on the tips of those ears. He wondered suddenly if he was broadcasting these thoughts when Spock turned a startled gaze his way.
Their eyes met and held. He drew in a deep breath, and suddenly needed to move. Now if only his dick would cooperate by settling down. “Would you like to go for a walk? We can play another game some other time.”
“I can reset the board - I remember where all the pieces were.”
“How about we go to the Centauri for some lunch? I’m getting a bit hungry.”
Spock was still staring at him, then suddenly looked away. “That would be acceptable.” He busied himself packing the chess set.
Kirk welcomed the slap of foggy cold air as they exited the student center. Not quite a cold shower, but good enough. Almost. Spock still looked good enough to fuck. He wondered how Vulcans handled propositions. A month away from Janice and a week back dealing with her complaints and her envy of his achievement had gotten on his nerves.
Kirk mentally changed the subject. “I was going to win.”
“That is an erroneous assumption,” Spock said smugly as they headed in the direction of the Centauri.
The small off-campus lunch place was bright with winter holiday decorations, and warm, a welcome contrast to the dank cold outside. Spock ordered an eggplant and tofu dish, while Kirk got a hot chicken sandwich and coffee. Kirk smiled when Spock ordered hot chocolate. With marshmallows. It seemed such an unVulcanly thing to do.
“Do you have plans for the winter break?” Kirk asked, a half-formed idea of inviting Spock to join him in Iowa for at least a few days crossing his mind.
“My preference would be to remain on campus. The quiet of the winter break would be an opportune time to pursue some research projects I have not been able to undertake during the regular school year. However, my uncle has invited me to stay with him in Seattle, and I have accepted.”
“Seattle?” Kirk asked. “Is this a temporary post?”
“Negative. My uncle was born there.”
“Do many Vulcans live on Earth permanently?” Kirk didn’t think this was common, but there were always exceptions.
“My uncle is Human – my mother’s brother.”
Kirk was equally startled and fascinated. “I hadn’t realized that was possible.”
“It was, I understand, quite a technical achievement.”
“How did your parents meet?”
“Here in San Francisco, at an embassy function. My mother taught xenolinguistics at San Francisco University. She had been studying the Vulcan language and welcomed the opportunity to attend this event.”
“So you’re connected to both our worlds. What’s your uncle like?”
“He is a very intelligent Human and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss many matters with him. However, he has three small noisy children and four rambunctious dogs. At last count. There may have been additions he has neglected to inform me about.”
Kirk laughed at the mental image. “So you’d rather stay here and work.”
“It would be a more productive use of my time.”
“Well, good luck.”
“And you – what are your plans for the winter break?”
“I’m going back to stay with my mother in Iowa for the first few days, then I’m meeting up with Janice in Zurich. We’re going skiing.”
Spock leaned slightly forward as he asked, “Is Ms. Lester a temporary or permanent mate?” At Kirk’s startled look, he pulled back in his seat. Something closed down in his eyes. “That was inappropriate of me. I offer my apology.”
Kirk wanted, very badly, to ask why he was asking. The energy that had passed between them when their hands had touched was still singing through his body, and he was now very aware he wanted this man in front of him.
“Janice and I are dating, but we haven’t known each other for very long. We met at the beginning of the term.” She’d been taking part in an intense debate with their xeno-poli instructor during the first class of term, and her sheer intensity had attracted him right away. He’d taken her out speedskating, then to a late dinner, and then to bed, intoxicated by her mercurial energy and quick intelligence.
Spock was watching him closely. “Do Vulcans take temporary mates?” he asked.
“It is… not common.” Kirk heard, very clearly, the hesitation in Spock’s voice, and considered the implications. Was this a Vulcan proposition?
“But not unheard of?”
“No.” Spock’s deep voice hit a lower register. “No, it is not.”
“Is there someone you’re interested in?” Kirk leaned forward, intent on Spock’s answer.
Spock held his gaze for a moment. He seemed on the verge of speaking. Then something shuttered in the dark eyes and he straightened. “There is much I still need to learn. I have only lived among Humans for a short time.”
It was a non-answer. Kirk didn’t press the point. He changed the subject, to their academic plans for the next semester, and spent the rest of their lunch talking about safe, technical subjects.
* * * * *
Kirk didn’t have the chance to see Spock again before the winter break, but found himself often thinking about him, and that sudden charged heat between them. Spock’s lips, Spock’s hands, the deep timbre of his voice all came to mind at odd moments. He managed to keep his sexual thoughts at bay while he completed finals projects; however once he no longer had classwork to distract him, fantasies ran wild. His mother had arranged for a whirl of activities while he was in Iowa. Relatives showed up, old friends visited, holiday parties were held, and still he thought of Spock. At Zurich, he threw himself into skiing, partying with Janice and others at the hotel club, sitting on the enclosed verandah at sunrise admiring the breathtaking mountain view, having ravenous, passionate sex with Janice – and still he thought about Spock. Janice was voracious, and he tried – unsuccessfully – to bury the part of his mind which was fantasizing about Spock even as he buried himself in her body.
Once he was back at the Academy for the spring session, the first few days flew by as he settled into new classes and a new routine. He thought about Spock, but he didn’t have time for chess or much of anything but study and Janice. She’d been on a high since Zurich, and while her spiky personality could be wearing it could also be exhilarating. They were having some of the best sex he’d ever had, and he knew he had no business thinking sexually about anyone else. He didn’t know anything about Vulcans after all; the rational part of his mind reminded him he needed to focus on studies. Janice and he had a tacit agreement, as did most cadets, that it was way too early to think of exclusive relationships, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t get jealous as hell. No need to complicate things at this point.
He settled into place for the first lab session of his latest class. Branson, one of Finnegan’s flunkeys, was also in the class and Kirk inwardly groaned when he saw the huge man had been assigned the table directly to his right. Fortunately, Finnegan himself was not in this class. He hadn’t seen much of the upperclassman recently, though the second day back Finnegan had managed to catch him in a minor infraction, which required Kirk shine Finnegan’s boots every night that week. Not for the first time Kirk had considered the hazing system ridiculous and outdated, but there it was: tradition.
Kirk studied the notes for the holographic project they’d been assigned. A deep space vessel’s baffle plate was in danger of rupturing, potentially exposing the crew to lethal Delta rays or even causing a catastrophic breach of the warp core. They would be given 30 minutes to program a holographic solution to the problem.
Professor DeLeon entered – and so did his TA.
It was Spock.
The sight of the Vulcan jolted Kirk pleasantly, and he smiled when the Vulcan’s gaze settled on him. One eyebrow twitched slightly, but otherwise Spock did not react to his presence.
Professor DeLeon gave a quick overview of the assignment, expounded a bit on his notes, and then the timed session began.
Kirk concentrated on the problem. Fingers and voice commands flew as he developed a model of a triple-pinpoint focused forcefield using standard engineering deck equipment to hold the baffle plate in place while conventional repairs could be effected. He finished the last equation just as the “time” buzzer sounded.
Professor DeLeon settled at the front of the classroom. “Mr. Spock, please comment on the projects.”
Spock proceeded to each holo display, commenting and critiquing the solutions. Most of the students had found a workable solution, some similar to Kirk’s.
Spock stopped at Kirk’s table and examined the holo. “Very good, Mr. Kirk. You have a more than sufficient power source for your force fields, and the trajectories of the beams are optimized for best results. An elegant solution.”
“Thank you, sir.” He kept his expression professional and businesslike.
Spock passed on to the next student and Kirk settled back into his chair, absurdly pleased by the praise. He decided he’d comm Spock and suggest another chess game.
Spock had stopped at Branson’s table, to the right of Kirk’s. “Mr. Branson, the J3 class servos you chose are inadequate to the task. I estimate that if these were used in a real situation, your crew would have less than 35 seconds before the baffle plate blew, resulting in the deaths of the entire crew. If you would recall the situation in the assigned reading regarding the destruction of the SS Hamilton, where they attempted a similar solution, the power component was inadequate to the task at hand.”
Kirk was riveted by the look of sheer hatred that flashed across Branson’s face as he glared at Spock. Branson’s muscles bunched, and for an instant Kirk thought the other student would leap to his feet and go for Spock. He half stood himself, in hyper-alert to potential danger, when Brandon slumped back into his chair. “Yes, sir.”
Spock proceeded on to the next student, but Branson’s gaze travelled with him and Kirk noticed that even after Spock had finished his comments and Professor DeLeon had begun his conclusion, Branson’s gaze was never far from Spock.
Kirk’s comm sounded the moment he left class and he paused by the sidewalk, breathing in the damp cold air. It was Gary. “Hey, gotta cancel tonight’s festivities. Ran into a problem with the assignment for Cherng’s class, and Carol’s too busy to help me out.”
“In other words, you’re going to have to do your own work. Tough luck. I thought you and Carol had gotten back together.” Gary and Carol had had an epic blowup over the holidays; he’d heard quite a lot of about it from Carol, who he’d run into at his favorite hole-in-the-wall. He’d intended to spend some serious study time with his padd and an endless supply of coffee. She’d told him more than she’d intended about the argument she and Gary had had. She’d then apologized for being a whiner, but couldn’t resist saying she expected he knew all about it. He told her truthfully that Gary had grunted a few words about his sucky holiday when he returned from the break, but hadn’t said anything else except that he and Carol were on the outs. They’d since gotten back together, but quite clearly things were still rocky.
“Nothing that won’t blow over.” Gary waved a dismissive hand. “Later,” he said and clicked off. Kirk turned – and stopped, startled. Spock was standing a few feet away.
The Vulcan was wearing a long black coat and a dark green muffler around his neck. His head was bare. The cold damp air had brought out patches of green on his cheeks, which made Kirk want to press his lips there.
He decided to ask about Spock’s holiday instead. “How were the children? And the dogs?”
The tiniest of smiles quirked Spock’s lips. “Noisy and badly behaved because of the new playthings they all received.”
“Including the dogs?”
“Affirmative. All of the playthings flashed lights and made raucous sounds which caused great exuberance among them all.”
Kirk laughed at the image Spock’s words conjured. “I hope you managed to have a good time anyway.”
“While Vulcans are hesitant to endorse the concept of ‘good times’, I did have a number of productive discussions with my uncle and some of his colleagues.”
“Was your holiday satisfactory?”
“It was great,” Kirk enthused. “Going home was nice, but Iowa was freezing cold. So I traded the snow there for the snow in Zurich. Have you ever been to the Alps?” At Spock’s negative, he described the gorgeous scenery, the great skiing, the sheer sense of aliveness he felt when he was in the mountains. He didn’t mention Janice at all, and Spock did not inquire about her.
They had walked across half the campus without either asking about the other’s destination when Spock paused at the sight of Branson coming out of one of the campus stores. Branson stopped at the sight of him, and Kirk and Spock both came to a halt. Kirk felt his hands form fists, but he kept his mouth shut.
“Mr. Branson,” Spock said. “I have been considering your solution to the holo program.”
Branson’s entire body stiffened and his brows furrowed together. Kirk groaned inwardly, thinking it would have been better to have just walked on and ignored Branson.
Spock continued, “A better choice would have been the B4 servos which would have sufficient power to hold the baffle plate in place before a more permanent repair could be made. I would recommend reading—“
“Mind your own business, Spock! I don’t need your half-breed interference!” Branson was right in Spock’s face, screaming at him, specks of spit flying. Kirk stepped forward, but Spock did not back down, nor did he change expression. Branson jabbed a finger at Kirk. “I see you had plenty of praise for your boyfriend here! What did you do, give him the answer ahead of time?”
“There is no logic to any of your statements. Your accusation of cheating is unacceptable.”
“You people just can’t be trusted! Watching us like some kind of freak nannies!”
“Branson, you’re out of line!”
Branson swung his head toward Kirk. “Shut up, plebe!” He glared back at Spock. “Fuck you, greenblood, you think you’re so fucking superior! You and all those other pointyears. How could a human woman let herself be polluted by one of your people?”
Kirk saw something flare in Spock’s eyes and the Vulcan raised one hand.
He grabbed Spock’s arm. “Spock!”
Spock froze, so still, every muscle bunched and rock-hard, so that his arm felt like Kirk was grasping that of a statue.
Then Spock drew in a deep breath and stepped back.
“Mr. Branson, your language is unacceptable.” Their gazes, hot as lasers, still held.
Then Branson noticed they’d attracted a crowd. “Shove it up your ass,” Branson spit and stalked off.
“I’d love to smash his face in,” Kirk mumbled, then glanced toward Spock.
“Violence solves nothing.” Spock’s eyes were distant, and he was still tense. Kirk realized he was still grasping Spock’s arm, and let his hand drop. Spock didn’t look at him or at any of the people surrounding them, who were now quickly dispersing.
Kirk pulled in a deep breath, then another. Spock remained absolutely still for another moment longer, and then something in him relaxed. When he looked back at Kirk, his face was entirely devoid of expression, reminding Jim forcefully of the reputation Vulcans had for complete nonemotion. I guess they can just turn it off like that.
Quick, think of some other subject. “I’m looking forward to Ruth Gardner’s practice sessions for the upcoming advanced placement pilot qualifying test. I saw that we’re in the same sessions. I hear Ms. Gardner’s the best.”
“It will be a fascinating challenge.” Spock relaxed fractionally, and Kirk could see a gleam re-enter his eyes.
They’d resumed walking, and began discussing the finer points of the shuttlecraft and other smaller vessels that were commonly used in the qualifying tests for Gardner’s class. They ended up having coffee and tea in a tiny café just off campus, still deep in discussion about previous pilot challenges. By the time they headed off to their separate destinations, Kirk had almost forgotten about Branson.
* * * * *
Stark naked, Janice paced back and forth in her small room, tapping at her comm, pausing by the window for a second, then tapping again. “That shit!” she said murderously.
“Who is it this time?” Kirk said, having a hard time mustering up the energy to stay awake. They’d just had a very satisfying fuck and he had been enjoying lying collapsed in a heap on her torn-apart bed. Then her comm had sounded a tone announcing the arrival of a message, and she hadn’t been able to resist checking it.
“Professor McHenry, that’s who! He said my last paper ‘lacked citations’ and that my conclusions were ‘weak’. He demanded! demanded! a redo! He’s out to get me, that’s it!”
“Janice, he’s not out to get you.”
She whirled on him, eyes flashing, gooseflesh on her bare skin. “Whose side are you on anyway?”
He stood and took her by the shoulders, then caressed her hair. “Yours, Janice. But you need to pay attention to what McHenry wants. This is crucial for your grade.”
She let him rub her back, but angry intense energy was radiating from her like a solar flare. “I’ll look at it again,” she said grudgingly. “I think it’s fine the way it is, though. Hey, I hear you got into an argument with that Branson. Over the Vulcan. Why do you hang out with him anyway?”
“Because I like him.”
“He’s so cold. It’s hard to believe he’s part human. That just bothers me – gak. Carol said it has to be bioengineering. But what’s the point?”
“Janice. Spock is my friend. Don’t disrespect him.”
She pulled back from him and gave him a cold glare. “Don’t disrespect me.”
“Janice, look.” Kirk paused, trying to fight down exasperation and anger. “Spock’s my friend. Branson’s an asshole. He’s just looking for another way to cause trouble for me.”
A smile quirked her lips. “Watch out; he’ll be having you polish his boots next.”
Kirk groaned. “I’m sure that’s coming. I can’t wait for this year to be over with; then I won’t have to put up with Finnegan and his shit anymore. And one thing – I swear this – I’m never going to act like any of them.”
She laughed. “Who knows how we’ll act in a year or three?”
“I mean it, Janice. I’m never going to act like that.”
She shrugged, then headed toward the shower. For once, he decided not to join her.
Link to Part 3: