When James T. Kirk first set foot in Starfleet Academy, someone told him this was the start of the best time of his life. Stupid notion, really. What was the point of doing anything beyond University if that was as good as it got?
But Kirk didn't say that. He just nodded, smiled and kept walking along those corridors.
“Hell of a lot of a difference to what I'm used to, I can tell you that,” the man he had christened Bones murmured at his side. Kirk smiled. Now, that was a man after his own heart. As far as he had witnessed so far, the doctor was a miserable bunch of niceness gone to waste. Good. Jim could use neither a happy-go-lucky sort of fellow nor a notorious dickhead at his side.
“Looks like we have something in common there,” he nodded and stood in line to let his information get processed, the other man never leaving his side.
“Ha! Well, I can deal with that,” the doctor snorted. “But can you imagine just what space will be like? I prefer steady ground under my feet when I have to operate on a patient, thank you very much.”
“It's not too late to turn back, you know,” Jim nodded towards the line in front of them. “This might be your last chance to make a run for it. Sure you don't want to reconsider?”
“Told you I didn't have a choice,” McCoy grumbled in dismay. “Doesn't mean I have to like it, kid.”
“Your optimism is a delightful portrayal of your character, Bones,” Kirk noticed just before he had his picture taken for his file.
“Yeah? Well-” he started peevishly, but was interrupted when it was his turn to look into the lens.
“Cadet Kirk, James T.” an official looking woman standing next to them said. “You signed up for the Command track?”
“Sure did,” he confirmed, throwing a brilliant smile at her. She entered something into her PADD.
“Excuse me, there seems to have been a mistake. This tells me you are completing the training in 3 years, but...”
“That is correct.”
“Cadet, I hardly think you...”
“Lieutenant,” a voice behind them suddenly said. Startled, Jim turned around.
“Captain Pike...” the woman tried to argue, but Pike silenced her raising his hand.
“If Cadet Kirk wishes to give it a shot... Who are we to deny him a unique experience?” The captain smiled warmly. “I saw to the scheduling of his classes myself. There should be no problem.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Kirk nodded.
“Don't disappoint me, Kirk,” Pike said with a stern look. “I had to pull a lot of strings to make this arrangement happen. I have high hopes for you.”
“I won't let you down, sir,” Kirk answered honestly.
“Good. That's settled then. Any further problems, Lieutenant?”
“Alright. I'm afraid I'll have to leave for an urgent meeting now, but be assured that I'll be monitoring your process very closely, Kirk.”
“I would expect nothing less of you, sir,” Kirk smiled and watched the man leave with a mumbled 'bureaucracy'. He exchanged a quick look with Bones that told him that the other man thought he was completely out of his mind, but he slightly shook his had at his inquiringly raised eyebrow. There would be time to discuss this later. Meanwhile, the Lieutenant was speaking again.
“And you are McCoy, Leonard. An MD, I see. Medical track?”
“Of course. What else would I be doing?” Bones asked irritatedly.
“Do you wish to share a room? You should be finished in the same year,” she said professionally, but she couldn't quite hide the small smirk forming at her words.
Anger started to rise in Jim, but he put a hold on it. He would show her. By the end of the next three years everybody would know his name. The boy from Iowa who made it through the Academy in three years. No longer 'the hero's son'. James T. Kirk, wonderboy.
“What would I do without the man who threw up on me in a shuttle? It was love at the first sight!” Kirk smiled and put an arm around McCoy, successfully transferring some of the bile still sticking to his shirt and trousers to him.
“Now wait a damn minute-” the doctor started, but he never got to finish. Jim simply put a hand over his mouth and accepted the two PADDs the woman was handing them. He only released McCoy when they were well down the corridor.
“What was that?” the doctor asked, clearly irritated.
“Well, I figured since you were going to submit to my charm eventually anyway, we might just skip the pointless arguing. Besides, you still owe me a drink for that shuttle-stunt,” Kirk answered while staring at his PADD, which was showing them where their room was located.
“And what if I didn't want to share a room with you? Suppose I didn't even like you!” McCoy said, but he didn't really mean it, Jim could tell. He was just angry at the world and took every possible chance to make sure everyone was aware of it.
“Aw, don't say that, Bones. You're hurting my feelings,” Jim pouted overly dramatic. “It should be down there.” He pointed to a corridor to their left.
“You keep calling me that, kid. It's not my name,” the other noticed.
“Don't you like it?” Kirk asked cautiously.
“It's not that-”
“Then don't complain. It fits you infinitely better than 'Leonard',” Jim shrugged. “And what else would you have me call you?”
“Fine, fine,” McCoy grumbled. “Call me whatever the hell you like. If it makes you happy.”
“It does. Here,” Jim said, opening a door.
They stared into the room for a couple of seconds before Bones finally sighed.
“Let's just hope you're better at commanding a starship through infinite space than finding your own damn room, kid.”
Jim followed McCoy out of the closet, all the while reassuring the doctor that the information on the PADD had been wrong and that his sense of orientation was excellent.
If Bones found their quarters through the same guide at his first try rather than sheer luck, he didn't mention it.
“Now that seems like an overreaction-” Jim started, but Captain Pike interrupted him mercilessly.
“I had expected the days of your reckless bar fights to be over when you signed up for the Academy, but obviously, I was wrong,” he said, glaring at the two men standing in perfect military posture – despite the blood running down their cheeks and noses – in front of him.
“Not only did you show a blatant disrespect for regulations and a clear streak for attracting or causing trouble – you also got another cadet involved in your destructive behaviour; a less than reassuring look into your future as a starship captain. What do you have to say in your defence?”
“He didn't get me involved-” the other man tried to explain weakly.
“Silence, cadet McCoy. The question was not directed at you.”
Pike observed the two men intently. The medical student seemed uneasy, clearly burning to say something in his friend's defence, but the Captain wouldn't have it. If Kirk had something to say, he'd have to do it himself.
“I'm waiting,” he emphasized when a minute had passed and the blond still hadn't uttered a word.
“I apologize,” the Cadet finally said and his friend visibly relaxed beside him. “You asked what I had to say in my defence. I have nothing, so I chose to remain silent.”
Cadet McCoy definitely looked like he was either about to strangle the other man or faint from the sheer shock of his statement now.
“Are you out of your damn mind?!” he yelled at his partner. “Why aren't you telling him-”
“Keep out of it, Bones,” Kirk interrupted him with a warning look. The doctor grumbled a few curses, but remained silent otherwise.
“Is this your final answer, Cadet?” Captain Pike asked. “Your friend seems very eager to deliver an explanation.”
“With all due respect, sir,” Kirk said, throwing a quick glance at Bones who now stood perfectly still, unhappiness clearly visible on his face, “But Cadet McCoy was not the one you asked. I would like to keep him out of this conversation, if at all possible.”
Captain Pike's gaze travelled between the two men in front of him. Then he sighed and abandoned his place on the desk in favour of the chair behind it. He sat down and entered something into his computer. The cadets exchanged a confused look but said nothing.
“As of 0200 hours today, you are officially a student of the Interspecies Ethics course,” Captain Pike declared after he had finished typing. He got up again and walked around the desk until he was standing directly in front of Kirk.
“Sir?” the Cadet asked cautiously, not flinching away.
“It appears you have too much time on your hands, Cadet,” Pike explained. “I would have thought 4 years' worth of studying compressed into 3 would be enough to keep you busy, but it is very obvious to me now that I was wrong. You will finish this course, Kirk, and you will pass it with flying colours, or so help me God, I WILL have your ass for this.”
Bones and Jim looked at the captain in shock respectively. The blond recovered first.
“Sir?” he asked weakly.
“I vouched for you, Kirk. I told you not to disappoint me. I suggest AGAIN that you don't.” He considered the man with an assessing glance before sighing, “Dismissed.”
Just as the two cadets had made it to the door – not quite fleeing, but almost faster than light in their strolling – he addressed them again.
“And Jim,” Pike said to his back. “I'm only doing this because I know you haven't told me the whole story. I have trouble believing you would simply walk into a bar and beat up the person next to you for no reason other than being bored. Why you would choose not to tell me your true motives is beyond me, but I will let it pass this time. JUST this once, Kirk. Don't let it become a habit.”
He watched the man he had spoken to tense, then nod and leave the room. The other one, McCoy, lingered for a bit, looking like he was about to say something; then, seemingly changing his mind, he hurried after his friend.
Pike sighed. Stubborn like his father.
“Why didn't you just tell him that you saved me?” McCoy asked angrily when they were back in their room again. “If you hadn't shown up, I'd be lying in a coma in the medical station now!”
“He didn't need to know that,” Kirk said simply and dropped down on his bed like all his energy had suddenly vanished.
“And why not, you goddamn idiot?!” Bones yelled. “Because heaven forbid someone find out you're actually a good guy?”
“Bones,” Jim sighed and closed his eyes. “Those guys were angry at you because you put their drug abuse into their medical files when they showed up in the clinic. As far as I'm concerned, they're already on the verge of being thrown out. We don't need to add to that.”
“You're a hopeless moron, aren't you?” It was McCoy's turn to sigh now. He sat down beside Jim on the bed. “You didn't want to ruin their future.”
“Don't know about you, but I for one don't think 'completely incapable of accepting own failures as that instead of blaming others for own shortcomings' would look too good in anyone's file,” Jim chuckled lightly.
“So you're adding to yours?” Bones asked softly as he took out his medical equipment from the nightstand.
“It's really not so bad, Bones,” Jim assured him. “So I get one more class. Big deal. You've seen my schedule. It hardly makes any difference anymore.”
“Ah,” the older man said impassively in sudden understanding while fidgeting with the dermal regenerator before drawing it over a cut on Jim's cheek. “You don't know about the Vulcan then.”
“The what?” Jim asked surprised. “Why is that important?”
“Because,” Bones chuckled, “He is the instructor of that course and a damn pain in the ass if the number of students passing out from the stress of his coursework is any indication.”
“You're kidding,” Kirk said, horror written all over his face. He had put a hand on McCoy's to keep him from moving it along his cheek for a second.
“'fraid not, kid,” Bones smiled sympathetically. “Bet you wish you'd just busted their asses now, huh?”
“Bones, where is my PADD?” Jim yelled from under his bed into the bathroom. “I need it like RIGHT NOW.”
The doctor lazily made his way to the doorframe, a towel wrapped around his waist, another in his hands with which he was rubbing his hair dry while answering.
“How the hell am I supposed to now?” he asked. “I'm not your damn- Wait.”
He walked to the closet, threw a couple of shirts out and eventually handed the PADD to its rightful owner.
“'You're not my damn' WHAT, Bones?” Jim chuckled as he put his boots on.
“Oh, shut up, you ungrateful little-” the doctor yelled after him, but never got to finish because while Jim was still busy pulling his shirt over his head, he was already running out the door and to his first lecture.
A lecture he had almost missed, were it not for the fact that Bones had woken him up with a surprised 'What are you still doing here? Shouldn't you be on your way to that Ethics thing?' when he had come home from his late shift in the Academy clinic.
Well, Jim thought, I'm not going to miss it at this point, but I'll certainly be late.
He hurried down the halls filled with students whose lectures had either just ended or were about to start, but unlike them he wouldn't make it in time. This class was at the very end of the campus, as far from his quarters as structurally possible. Jim thought for a second that that – coupled with the fact that it's one of the earliest classes available - might have been one of the reasons why Pike had assigned him to this particular one. That and the 'pain in the ass' instructor, as Bones had called him.
The very same who was looking at him like he had personally wronged him now. Jim hadn't even realized he had burst through the doors until he had noticed the eerie silence that suddenly engulfed him.
He cleared his throat uneasily, allowing the panic to overcome him for exactly three seconds. After that time had passed, he put on his most charming smile, strolled cockily towards the instructor and turned to the other students who were overtly staring at him now.
“What?” he asked and looked down on himself for a second. “Never seen an attractive guy like me before? Must have forgotten to turn my charm off when I left my room this morning.” He threw a winning smile into the ranks and was rewarded with bouts of giggling from various girls.
Not that he particularly cared, but at least now the deathly silence had been broken, and he felt a bit more at ease when he heard the speculating murmur rise above his head. He didn't worry when people talked about him in his presence. He worried when they didn't, because that was usually when bad things happened.
Finally able to relax, he turned to the instructor beside him.
If looks could kill, Vulcans would have patented the ability ages ago. Seeing this one, Jim had to mentally check they hadn't to be sure. He was nervous again, but this time he wouldn't show it. As far as he knew, Vulcans were a race that was built almost entirely on foundations of mutual respect and logic. Showing weakness was not logical, Jim was certain of that.
They eyed each other for a few seconds, neither of them making the first move. Jim felt like a sitting duck being assessed before it got shot. He didn't enjoy the similarity.
When it became obvious that the Vulcan wouldn't break the silence first – because heaven forbid he would make this easy on Jim – the blond took a daring step forward and held up his hand in a perfect Vulcan salute. He didn't trust himself to get the pronunciation of the native wording right, so he settled for an apologetic smile and a whispered 'Peace?' instead.
“James T. Kirk, sir,” he added loudly, still not lowering his hand. “Captain Pike enlisted me for this course.”
The Vulcan didn't move for a very long time. Jim could tell it was long because his fingers hurt worse than a bunch of thumbscrews would have by the time his instructor seemed to finally have pity on the man trying to make amends.
“Commander Spock,” the Vulcan introduced himself and raised his hand in the same manner Kirk had. “You are late, Cadet.”
“I am,” Kirk nodded, willing his hand to stay where it was. Spock still hadn't lowered his, and Jim knew a test of power when he saw one. If he gave in now, the Vulcan would never respect him again.
“Excuses?” the sharp voice demanded, but Kirk almost hadn't heard it. He was too busy trying to stare the other man down. His object wasn't to win over the alien; everybody knew Vulcans had insane control over their bodies. If Spock wanted to break Kirk, he could do so without any effort on his part. Jim was pretty certain the Vulcan could stand and stare at him like this for hours - perhaps even days - if he had to. No, he had to bring the Commander to respect him, that was the trick. And if Jim had to endure a lot of pain now and even more grumbled curses from Bones later... well, he would just have to deal with that.
“I have none, other than my human physiology making me susceptible to oversleeping,” Kirk explained, his eyes never leaving Spock's.
The Vulcan continued his statuesque observation of him before he finally lowered his hand. Jim almost sighed with relief when he followed this example, but he controlled himself. He was so close now, he couldn't risk losing the slowly forming respect of the Vulcan through such a careless action. Jim thought of all the cadets complaining to Bones about the instructor in the clinic. He suddenly wondered whether they had been forced to endure this Vulcan form of torture too.
“Captain Pike has informed me of your presence,” Commander Spock stated. “Sit down, cadet.”
“Aye, sir,” Kirk nodded and hurried to an empty spot in the front row. He would have preferred to sit further in the back, but apparently he wasn't alone with that thought, so the only free spaces available were almost close enough to reach out and touch one of those skilfully crafted ears.
Jim violently shook his head.
No way, Kirk, he told himself. You're not going there.
But even as he was thinking it, he felt his resolve crumble away when Spock leaned down to enter something in his PADD lying on the table and the regulation tight pants showed off just WHAT he was trying to deny himself.
Well, Jim thought. If you're going to do this, you might as well do it right.
“And what have we learned today, Jim?” Bones asked patronizingly while bandaging his right hand in his clinic room.
“Not to challenge Vulcans with their own culture,” Jim answered dutifully as he watched his friend do his work.
“Damn right, you won't,” Bones mumbled. “When did you learn doing that anyway?”
“Last night, after you told me my instructor would be Vulcan and you left for clinic duty,” Kirk shrugged. “I figured I might as well walk in prepared. And it paid off!”
“Why do I have the feeling that if your hand could talk it wouldn't agree with you?” Bones sighed, entering something into his PADD. “Damn stupid, if you ask me. You should try and pretend you're not even there, not attract unnecessary attention to your idiocy.”
“Hey!” Jim protested in mock hurt. “I won, didn't I?”
“No, you didn't, dumbhead!” McCoy told him angrily. “You unleashed the goddamn Vulcan! Don't you know that he'll be up your ass every goddamn minute now?!”
“Well, I certainly hope so,” Jim smiled as he remember HIS ass.
Bones looked at him in horror.
“You DIDN'T,” he whispered, clearly horrified.
“Didn't what?” the younger man asked innocently, fluttering his eyelashes.
“Don't give me that bullshit!” McCoy yelled. “You went and developed a crush on the green-blooded hobgoblin, didn't you?”
Jim never got to answer because just then a nurse (whom he recognized as Christine Chapel – good old times) walked in and interrupted their conversation. Kirk seized the moment and stealthily extracted himself from the room, but not before Bones could yell 'Don't think we're finished here!' after him.
Jim smiled. Big softie that he was, Bones could always be counted on. Even if the Vulcan ended up breaking his heart or – more likely – his ribs, the doctor would be at his side, grumbling curses all the way through the mending of either the organ (with brandy) or the bones (with bandages). That in itself was comfort enough to give it a fair shot, Jim thought.
He honestly hadn't noticed the very Vulcan himself standing approximately six feet in front of the door he had just come through. Not until he walked straight into him, that was.
Their shoulders clashed painfully, and Kirk winced. His whole body was still sore from the bar fight yesterday, especially that part of his anatomy as it had made close contact with a wall, a table and the floor of the establishment.
“Sorry,” he mumbled and proceeded to walk away whilst rubbing his abused shoulder. This was harder than it should have been because of the bandage on his right hand Bones had just applied.
“Cadet Kirk,” a voice behind him noted, and he abruptly came to a halt. No way.
“Commander Spock,” he said and made a face before he turned around to face the man he had just run into.
“You seem to have an uncanny ability to attract trouble,” the Vulcan said matter-of-factly.
“You can hardly call running into someone 'attracting trouble', sir,” Jim almost-but-not-really pouted.
Spock merely raised an eyebrow at his bandaged hand.
“Oh,” Kirk said flatly. How was he supposed to explain THAT? He could hardly admit his own pride had forced him to sacrifice the satisfying usage of his hand for another two days a mere 20 minutes earlier.
“You entered my class today already wounded. Now you seem to have acquired another injury. The logical assumption to make is-” Spock tried to explain, but Kirk interrupted him.
“I didn't know Vulcans 'assumed',” he said, and he knew instantly that he had hit a nerve.
“Indeed,” the Commander said, and his face suddenly seemed... cold. Kirk didn't know how to explain it, since the man hadn't looked exactly friendly before, but now a shiver ran down his spine, and Jim fought the urge to run.
“Doesn't mean they shouldn't do it every now and then,” Kirk offered. There was no reaction. He wasn't even sure Spock was breathing anymore. Had he broken him?
“You were right, by the way,” he continued as he slowly stood in front of the other man. “I DO have an 'uncanny ability to attract trouble'.”
“Indeed,” Spock said simply, but something about his shoulders seemed a bit more relaxed now. Just a fraction, but Jim noticed it nevertheless. He felt daring all of a sudden. Something – he couldn't explain what – told him the Vulcan was open for a conversation.
“So we have now established why I'm here,” he said, gesturing around the clinic. “What drives a strong Vulcan like yourself to the deepest pits of hell?”
Spock was just about to answer when a shout from inside the room they were standing in front of was audible.
“I heard that, Jim!” Bones yelled. Spock looked slightly startled (for a Vulcan – which meant he barely raised an eyebrow, but it was there), and Kirk could sympathize. He too hadn't expected anyone to listen in on them.
“Erm... Sorry about that,” he offered weakly. “That's my friend. He thinks what he does MATTERS.” He yelled the last part facing the door.
“I'll remind you of your cocky attitude next time you need a hypo for a space STD, you careless little-”
Spock really didn't need to hear that. Jim had grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the clinic faster than light – faster even than Bones' curses.
“And that would be my worse half, Bones,” Jim introduced the man still inside the building. “He thinks he's better, but don't listen to him. It's obvious that-”
He stopped when he noticed Spock wasn't even listening. The Vulcan was staring very intently at the hand Jim still had wrapped around his arm. A few seconds passed in which neither of them moved.
Was that another power game? Who would give in first? Jim wasn't certain and because he knew Vulcans were insanely touchy about... well, being touched, he let go. Carefully, slowly. He didn't want to startle the other man. He felt like he was dealing with a wild animal, but that was ridiculous, of course. He almost laughed at himself for being so foolish.
“So... Do you-” Jim wanted to ask him something, but Spock was gone almost the same instant he had released his grip on him. Perplexed, the blond looked at the now empty spot in front of him. Did Vulcans invent the warp drive? He would have to look into that, but not today. Today, he had to write one hell of an assignment for none other than the man who had just left.
Sighing, he made his way back into the building and opened the door to the room he had abandoned only minutes before, ignoring the patient now sitting in his old spot.
“Bones, are you up for drinks tonight?” he asked wearily. The doctor gave him a stern look, telling him just how much he appreciated being disturbed when he was working, but nodded nevertheless.
“About damn time, if you ask me.”
“Shouldn't you be doing your homework?” McCoy yelled over the loud music. The club they had chosen was one of the few they were still allowed into, and the doctor suddenly wondered just when exactly he had allowed the kid to interfere with his alcohol intake.
Jim snorted and downed another shot. Leonard tried to remember how many he had had before that one, but he too hadn't been idle, so doing the maths was harder than it should have been right now.
“Finished everything this afternoon,” the younger man finally explained as he gestured the waiter to bring them substitutes for the empty glasses around them.
“Really? Even the one for the blasted Vulcan?” McCoy asked, impressed. He nodded a thank you to the Andorian waitress and took one of the vials in his hand. He scanned it with the pocket tricorder he always took with him because he was a doctor, but more importantly because Jim was allergic to pretty much everything and he considered it his responsibility to keep the guy alive.
“God, Bones, you're such a mother-hen,” Jim complained, taking the drink from his hand before he was done determining its composition.
“And you are reckless, idiot,” he snapped, wrestling the vial out of his friend's grip before he could drink it. “Do you remember how we found out you could be allergic to a drink?”
“Yes, mother,” Jim sighed and leaned back into the cushions. He liked this bar. It was a bit farther from the campus than the others, meaning it wasn't crowded and less people looking for a fight showed up here. Besides, it had dishy personnel. Jim grinned. That waitress had given him a look, he was certain.
“There you go,” Bones grumbled as he handed him the pink liquid. “You do realize it would be easier for both of us if you'd just stick to one drink all night, right? Not to mention the hangover you could avoid.”
“Jeez, Bones, aren't you fun this evening!” Jim rolled his eyes. “Had I known you'd be such great company, I'd have skipped the homework and come here with you straight away!”
“You wouldn't have dared, doofus,” McCoy replied. “Risk making your precious Vulcan angry? No way. Ouch!” He swore as Kirk kicked him under the table.
“He's not MY Vulcan,” the blond pouted. “And anyway, that's got nothing to do with anything. You heard Pike. I have to do this. He might even kick me out of the Academy if I don't.”
“Pike wouldn't do that,” Bones said surprised. “He loves you. You're like the son he never had! He wouldn't throw you out for not acing a course you don't even need for your command track.”
“Maybe,” Jim shrugged vaguely. “But I wouldn't count on it.”
“All right,” the doctor sighed. “I'm certainly not gonna tell you not to take this seriously, kid. Although I admit I'm a bit curious.”
“Really? How so?” Kirk stretched lazily on the couch he was sitting on and winked at a girl on the other side of the bar that had been staring at him for quite some time now.
“Well, you obviously don't wanna talk about Pike or your coursework, so there's really only one thing you could have wanted to discuss with me when you dragged me here,” Bones elaborated. “And you usually don't – and I don't mean that in a bad way, really. I'm glad you don't, so don't get any wrong ideas about this, right? - but you usually don't talk to me about your love life.”
Jim almost spit out his drink at that, but he managed to preserve at least a tiny fraction of his pride and swallowed it down.
“Bones!” he whined accusingly. “I don't... I'm not... There is NOTHING-”
“All right, keep your pants on, kid,” Bones chuckled, clapping him on the back a couple of times until the last bits of the drink were out of his airways and he was breathing normally again. “I'm not saying there's really anything to talk about, but you seem anxious to do so anyway.”
Kirk said nothing. He sat there in silence and listened to his best friend's babbling, but his thoughts were elsewhere. He was right, of course. He HAD wanted to talk about this, but he didn't know how to. He couldn't understand it himself, but something...
At first, he had been certain it was just physical attraction, and really: who could blame him for that? The Vulcan was hot, everybody knew it. It was like an open secret in the Academy. He spent all afternoon overhearing conversations about the man, his appearance, and his demeanour without looking for it. Had he always been such a hot topic? How could Jim not have noticed the guy unofficially voted 'hottest piece of ass in the Academy' until he had stumbled into his lecture room? He was the only Vulcan on the campus so how Jim could have missed him was beyond him.
Well, not entirely. The Commander was apparently – like all Vulcans – insanely private and never left his quarters for anything other than lectures or meetings, so stumbling over him would have been odd, Jim guessed.
And yet that was exactly what had happened only hours before. He still didn't know what the instructor had been meaning to do in the clinic, but, considering his hasty departure, Jim was certain that whatever it was – he hadn't got to do it. He could almost kiss himself – almost – for being the reason.
Kirk wasn't an idiot. In fact, he was everything but. He knew something he had done had shattered that Vulcan control in some way. Should he not have touched him?
The problem was that while Jim appreciated getting under his skin, he didn't know whether it was in a good way or not. He certainly didn't want to anger his soon-to-be-new-conquest. He could think of better ways to go than being crushed by a Vulcan.
Not any Vulcan. This one.
Jim almost sighed. Yes, at first it had been physical. Or at least that was what he'd thought. But he'd been wrong. He'd realized his mistake as soon as the lecture had begun. He'd done his very best to convince himself that Interspecies Ethics was boring and unnecessary for his track.
Only it wasn't. One word out of that delicious alien mouth in his 'you better listen or you're gonna have a bad time' lecture-voice had been enough to keep Jim hooked the entire lesson.
It wasn't physical. When he had turned around one last time before leaving the class for the day, he saw the Commander pack up his things while explaining something to an Efrosian student, and he had had to fight the urge to knock the girl out right then and there. Shocked at this thought and disgusted with himself, he had fled the building. It had taken him almost 10 minutes to calm down enough to visit Bones in the clinic.
No, it wasn't physical. Or at least not exclusively. He was feeling jealous and possessive in a way he never had in his whole life. He'd never had a long-term relationship before and never wanted one. Except... now he did. A cold shiver ran down his spine. He didn't even know the guy. What the fuck was wrong with him?
“Earth to Jim, come in, Jim,” his friend's voice suddenly intruded his thoughts.
“Hm?” It took a lot for Kirk to focus on the man in front of him once again.
“Thank God, I almost thought you'd gone into an allergic shock or something,” Bones said, half-joking.
“Sorry, I was just thinking...” Jim murmured.
“Yeah?” Bones snorted. “That's a first. What about?”
Jim hesitated. Should he tell him?
He violently shook his head to get rid of that thought. Where had that even come from? This was his best friend he was thinking of lying to. Bones would understand. He always did. He'd make a couple of snide remarks, come up with a dozen Vulcan-specific jokes and then offer either advise or alcohol until the problem had been solved, one way or the other.
“The Vulcan,” Jim admitted slowly.
“Yeah? Does your mysterious Vulcan prince have a name to?” Bones asked, but it was soft and with concern in his eyes.
“He does...” Kirk nodded. That was another thing. He didn't like using or even thinking his name. Somehow doing so was making his whole misery even more real. Everytime it popped into his head – unasked for, he thought bitterly – his heart began to stutter and he felt oddly hot. Perhaps desensitization would help.
“Well?” Bones pushed gently. “What is it?”
“Spock.” As he said it, he could feel the symptoms he had feared to experience rise inside of him. Unwelcome images of the lean muscles - hidden beneath the black shirt - and the alien ears that made Jim itchy to touch them, flooded his mind. Good going, boy, he thought. You are so screwed.
“Okay,” the doctor said simply and leaned back on the couch. “Wanna tell me just how bad it's got you?”
“Wha-” Jim wanted to protest, but something in McCoy's eyes told him it was a lost cause; the doctor had seen through him. “How did you know?”
“Kid, even someone who doesn't know you as good as I do would be able to put two and two together,” Bones sighed. “First you wreck your hand trying to impress a guy you just met, then you drag me to a bar in the middle of nowhere to discuss things you are too anxious to talk about, and as soon as you mention his name you space out and your pupils dilate like you're on Rhuludian crystals and your hands start shaking to the rhythm of your elated heartbeat. I don't need my medical scanner to figure that one out, but I'm sure if I use it, it will tell me to give you something to calm your horses down, boy.”
They stared at each other in silence for a long time before Jim was finally able to pull himself together again.
“Wow,” he eventually groaned. “Am I really that obvious?”
“Painfully so,” his friend nodded seriously, but he was smiling despite himself.
“And what's so funny about that, huh, Bones?” Jim asked, his pride hurt.
“Nothing,” the doctor replied slowly. “Just never thought I'd see the day James T. Kirk falls for someone this crushingly hard. 'Starships are my only true love', my ass.”
“Oh, shut up, Bones,” Jim hissed and threw a cushion straight at his friend's face.
“Sorry,” McCoy laughed and reached over the desk to playfully pat his companion's head. “Anything I can do to help you?”
“You could find out some things about Vulcan physiology for me,” Jim suggested as casually as possible with his most innocent smile in place, the one that had won over more than its fair share of girls.
“I'm not going to-” Bones immediately started arguing, but Kirk raised a hand to stop him.
“Not like that,” he calmed his friend down. “I'm gonna find out about that myself.” He grinned, suddenly self-assured again. “I just need some info on a couple of things that might be considered to be a cultural taboo.”
“Like what?” Bones asked cautiously. He didn't trust that smile one bit.
“Like touching them in a completely non-sexually-harrassing manner, for one thing,” the other elaborated. “I touched his arm today and he was gone faster than a ship entering warp 10.”
“Hm...” The doctor seemed to think about it for a moment. “I don't know, Jim. I mean Vulcans obviously don't like being touched, what with their telepathy and all that, but since he hasn't ripped your arm off...”
“You think it was something I thought?” Jim asked in horror. Had he...? No. No, he was absolutely certain he hadn't been thinking about anything that wasn't meant for this Vulcan's mind.
“Probably not,” Bones shrugged. He was obviously not concerned, so Kirk allowed himself to relax. His roommate would tell him if he'd fucked up, that was one thing he could always count on. “In my opinion it was most likely just the touching-thing that freaked him out. I'm not even sure Vulcan babies get touched after delivery, they're so damn wound up. That's probably why their planet is so hot: to make up for the iciness they radiate.”
Jim laughed as his friend kept going on about how 'damn illogical' the 'whole bunch of them' were in all their 'mighty stick-in-the-assness'.
Nevertheless, Bones promised to look up what he could on Vulcan physiology, but he warned Jim that it probably wouldn't be much. They were a ridiculously private race and never revealed more than strictly necessary, something that made the older man angry in a way Kirk had often observed when his roommate had come home in the middle of the night, mumbling about how 'damn stubborn' some 'idiots' were when they didn't tell their doctor something he should know about in order to help them.
It was a professional thing, Kirk mused. Bones didn't care about other peoples' secrets. He did care about losing someone on his operation table though, and incomplete information about a species was just as dangerous as hiding the consummation of illegal substances. That was something the doctor had tried to tell the guys who later beat the two of them up, but they wouldn't listen, of course. Jim hadn't even tried to quell the hot anger overcoming him when he'd found them hurling his friend halfway across the room after he had saved their lives (as it turned out, the stuff they'd been sniffing was laced with substances poisonous for humans).
He carefully put a finger on his left eye and winced. It still hurt like a bitch. Looked good, too. It was of a radiant violet-green combination that clashed violently with his red uniform. Bones wasn't looking any better. He smiled. At least like this everyone would know they'd been in trouble together. Jim hoped that that would keep any other unhappy patients from laying hands on his friend. Bones despised violence of any kind, he hadn't chosen to become a doctor for nothing, after all. He loved the man dearly, really, but he was shit in a fight. Jim decided to instruct him in hand-to-hand combat so he'd at least stand a chance to get out of one conscious.
“Does it still hurt?” Bones asked suddenly.
“What? This?” Jim laughed. “Nothing I couldn't handle. My hand, however...”
“That's what you get for trying to impress a bloody Vulcan. Serves you right, idiot,” Bones muttered and ordered another round.
“Love you too, man,” Jim yawned and closed his eyes.