Sam was in staying with some friends, and they were in-between stepfathers, so Jim had no choice but to accompany his mother as she returned to Starfleet Academy. Winona was on shore-leave, but the ship she was stationed with would be done with it's upgrades in about a fortnight, and she and the other nurses had to report in early to learn specific xenobiological concerns for their upcoming mission.

Sam had promised he would pick Jim up in San Francisco in about a week's time.

Winona didn't quite know what to do with Jim. He was no longer a bouncing baby, happy to just be fed and changed; he was more man than child, a man she hardly knew. Once Jim had turned eight, she had decided to return to active duty and let the care of her son be left to her eldest and their stepfather, a decision she regretted now. Jim probably resented her, and she couldn't blame him. She glanced over at the shuttle seat next to her, and felt a vague ache at what she saw.

Jim looked like George more everyday. His eyes sparked blue electric from his tan features, and he was glaring at her, at the look on her face.

The shuttle set down none too gracefully, and Jim shot up and headed straight for the door. Winona gathered her bags, and followed the rest of the passengers out the door, where she knew Jim would wait for her.

Her quarters at the Academy were meant for only one, which meant Jim would have to sleep on the couch, but she heard no words of complaint. It felt strange to mother him, to make up rules that he wouldn't follow, so she didn't bother. She only told Jim he could explore the city, as long as he was back each night.

Her days were filled with the familiar rituals she had become accustomed to at Starfleet; her nights were spent listening for her son, eyes falling shut only when she knew he was safe.

Tonight, however, she was still waiting.

Jim took advantage of his freedom and roamed the city. When that got boring, he decided to go to a bar.

This particular bar catered to many varieties, but mostly cadets from the Academy. Jim was almost carded, but a quick grin on a pretty face could get you many places. He slipped in, and was glad to see the general crowd didn't look that much older than him. He perched on a bar stool, and leaned his elbows against the counter. He got a rum and coke from the bartender, and gulped it down, hoping his mother's fake sincerity and awkward hugs could be bleached from his mind. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his back, and turned to see a sandy-haired man in a Starfleet uniform smiling at him.

"Lose yer mom, kid?"

Horrified, Jim wondered if this man knew Winona, and if he could be bribed not to tell her where exactly he had met Jim.

" 'Cause, you look a lit'le young to be here." The man's Scottish accent lilted over the words, and Jim breathed a sigh of relief.

"I'm not as young as I look. I promise."

The man looked skeptical, but nodded as if he was humoring Jim. "Let me buy you a drink, and you can tell me why you're lying. Name's Montgomery Scott, but Scotty will work jus' fine."

Jim laughed, and held out his hand. "My name is Jim. And was it that obvious I was lying?"

Scotty grinned. "A bit."

Scotty bought Jim drinks, and Jim opened up as the alcohol flowed. Eventually, Scotty had to leave, and Jim fuzzily nodded his goodbye, nursing his drink. He sat at the bar, wondering if he would meet up with Scotty before Sam came to pick him up, when he felt wet breath on his ear.

"Wanna go somewhere?"

An obviously drunk man nearly twice his age was leaning heavily on the bar, and staring at Jim hungrily. He made an attempt to grab at Jim, but Jim hopped off the bar stool, and sneered.

"With you? Not a chance."

A gleam of anger cut through the drunken haze of the man's eyes, and he lunged at Jim. Jim felt the air knocked out of his lungs as he hit the ground, than man's bulk landing heavily on top of him. Jim had enough time to get oriented before a punch clipped him on the side of his face. He tried to roll out from under the man, but the drunk was sitting on Jim's chest, effectively trapping him.

The man's fist was poised for another punch when he was suddenly lifted off of Jim and deposited rather heavily on the floor. Jim blinked up into a pale, fuzzy face that came into view and seemed to be checking him, peering at his bruised cheek.

"Can you hear me?"

Jim nodded, and his savior helped him up. Jim staggered, and leaned onto the stranger, noticing vaguely that he smelled like incense.

"Do you remember your place of residence?"

Jim tried to remember Winona's room number in the Academy, and her door code, but all he could focus on where the intent eyes of the stranger and the curious shape of his eyebrows and ears.

"Not...not really."

"Do you reside in San Francisco, or have family that do?"

Jim didn't want to see his mom, not like this.

"I'm alone."

The man was wearing a cadet uniform. Despite his mature attitude, Jim could see that this stranger was very young--perhaps even Jim's age. He was also alien...Jim couldn't focus enough to recall the name of the species, and instead decided to focus on the way this man's mouth would shape his words.

"I will take you to the infirmary, where they will be able to adequately provide you--"

"No! I can't go to the hospital. I'm fine, I just need a place to crash for the night." Jim widened his eyes and tried to look endearing. "I'm just alone in this city, all I need is a place to stay for the night until I'm sober, I swear I wouldn't take anything, and you look around my age..." Jim trailed off hopefully.

The Vulcan (Vulcan, that was it), raised an eyebrow, but something Jim had said seemed to have had an effect.

"None of my possessions are worth great monetary value, and as my quarters are in Starfleet Academy, the likelihood of you successfully pilfering them is slim."

Jim beamed, and unless his was imagining it,a flush of green appeared on the young Vulcan face.

Maybe this trip wasn't so bad after all.

Written for a prompt on st_xi_kink, but I will finish it here.