disclaimer: if i owned star trek, there would be many more spock scenes. it's only logical. also, i would be his love interest. that one's not so logical though...

Midterm Madness

"Didn't I already finish school?" Cadet-Doctor Leonard McCoy scowled as he flexed his fingers and glanced at the clock. "An hour?" he balked. "It's only been an hour?" He briefly scrolled through the responses he'd written. "Not entirely thorough," he supposed, but they were complete nonetheless.

He changed the wording around in the first response, not that it made much of a difference, but at least McCoy felt as if he were doing something productive for the seconds it required.

Math had never been Leonard's best subject, so physics was his least favorite subject by association. After completing the requirements in medical school, he'd hoped to never see physics on his schedule again. Apparently Starfleet, namely its ridiculous placement exams, had other ideas. Luckily, he was a doctor, not an engineer, so he could get away with taking only the basic class. However, judging by his progress on this midterm, McCoy feared that he might not achieve adequate marks.

McCoy swore under his breath as he re-read his fourth response. "That doesn't even make sense!" He mentally berated himself and reminded himself that he was very good at coherently writing technical reports. Sometimes. When they were medical, and decidedly not about physics.

A few students had already left the room. McCoy noticed the empty seats as those formerly occupied by the usual suspects: the pretty, over-achieving aspiring doctor from Mexico City; the entomologist from the Draylon system who processed a mile a minute, but typed even faster; and, the engineer who constantly lamented his decision to skip the physics placement test after assuming the credits from God-only-knows-which-university in Saskatchewan would transfer.

As McCoy pondered how to best re-do number four, he allowed his eyes to stray to the occupied seats. A handful appeared worried, while others looked confident, but all were completely engrossed in their task, fiercely concentrating on the testing padds in front of them. Well, all save for one. McCoy did a double-take, unable to believe his eyes, and promptly rolled said eyes when he did believe them.

The great James T. Kirk was slumped over at his desk, fast asleep. To an observer unaccustomed to the nocturnal habits of the already somewhat notorious Cadet Kirk, it would most likely be assumed that the now slightly-drooling young man was making up for a late night study session in preparation for the extremely important exam. If this observer happened to be more unorthodox, one might infer that he was an overly-stressed narcoleptic suffering from a midterm-induced seizure.

However, the observer at the moment was Dr. Leonard McCoy, and, besides having the knowledge that narcolepsy was virtually curable thanks to a decades-old medication, he knew exactly what, and to what hour, his roommate had been up to the night before. Hence the eyerolling.

Truth be told, McCoy was perfectly satisfied with leaving Jim to fate. Let sleeping dogs lie, right? "After all," he mused, "It's certainly not my fault he decided that certain 'social activities' were of a higher priority than properly planning for this god-damned exam." The doctor winced at the memory of Kirk stumbling into their room at an ungodly hour, the alcohol clearly hampering any attempts the younger man might have made to avoid awakening his roommate. Recalling this, McCoy set his jaw and resigned himself to his decision, and to finishing the exam—until, of course, his friend emitted a light snore. McCoy sighed, mostly in exasperation. The kid was his friend.

"Jim!" McCoy tried to find the balance of volume in his whisper so as to catch the attention of the dozing cadet, but not that of the other test-takers or, worse, the proctor. No luck. "Damn conscience," he inwardly grumbled. "Jim!" He hissed, coupling the stage whisper with a kick to the chair.

Kirk's eyes fluttered open and darted around a bit as he raised his heavy head before locking on the stare of his anxious friend. He mumbled a curse and looked at the clock. "Wake me in fifteen," he said groggily with a lop-sided grin. Much to McCoy's horror and frustration, Jim positioned his arm around his sandy-haired head and promptly relaxed.

Against his better judgment, McCoy acquiesced. He settled back into the pattern of reading his answers and changing a word or two as several other classmates sporadically gathered their belongings and quietly exited the room. Well, sporadically and quietly save for the Kaferian nurse trying to suppress a giggle and the dark, stocky cadet from the security track who didn't attempt to conceal his smile. McCoy strongly suspected that the woman had waited for her male companion. "It's fate," he heard her laugh before the door shut. "Aw, hell," McCoy thought, furrowing his brow at the sickeningly ridiculous flirting. "Do they really have to make me lose my lunch before I've eaten it?"

After straightening up a few more of his responses, he figured his answers weren't going to get any better. Making his way to the front of the room, he kicked Kirk's chair again, satisfied with hearing soft groan as the formerly sleeping cadet stretched and resumed his test. McCoy spared his friend one last glance before leaving the room. The younger man squinted and blinked a few times as he read the prompts. At that, McCoy rolled his eyes, and plunged out into the brightness that lay beyond the classroom door.

"And finally, your tests are graded," the professor announced to the room, causing a flurry of hushed tones and restless shifting. "Enter your security codes into the desktops to retrieve your tests, complete with scores and grader's comments where necessary. The key has been added to the class notes. You have the remainder of our time together to review the results."

The classroom was silent for a few seconds while the cadets accessed their records. The silence was broken by a flurry of gasps, sighs, soft cheers, and a stifled squeal or two. McCoy, however, was more interested in the array that graced his own desk. Finding the number he was looking for, he blew out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding in relief. His marks were sufficient. Scanning his paper, he noted his mistakes, recognizing many that he'd identified through his notes following the test. Though, there were a few that he'd missed. "Good thing I'm a doctor," he intoned. "I highly doubt that even basic warp physics will come into play in medical. At least, not if I'm CMO anyway." He immediately swallowed that thought—he'd have to pass physics for that to happen, and while this midterm didn't hamper his progress, he wasn't out of the woods yet.

McCoy sat back and looked at the main screen that was currently displaying class statistics, noting that his score was, mercifully, fairly average. He heard a muffled giggle and turned to see the nursing cadet from Peru covering her laugh and tucking a strand of her shiny blue hair behind her ear. Judging by her slightly damp cheeks, she hadn't done exceptionally well on the exam, so McCoy was glad someone was cheering her up. Not to McCoy's surprise, that someone happened to be a beaming Jim Kirk, charismatically recounting a tale of his childhood mischief. "Delinquency's more like it," he corrected.

"Ah, Bones!" Jim noticed his friend's glance. "Welcome to the land of the living," he proclaimed, eliciting another giggle from the woman whose desk he was leaning over. "I assume that since you're not cursing more than usual, you haven't spoiled your chances at Starfleet?"

"Yes, Jim," McCoy answered. "No thanks to you, of course."

At this, the cerulean-haired cadet shot Kirk a curious look. Kirk gave a small laugh. "McCoy here doesn't exactly approve of my nocturnal 'social activities'." He coupled the last part of his statement with air quotes and a smirk. The nurse snickered.

"Yeah, while I was actually studying, you were out downing Slushos or some other god-awful, liver-rotting—" McCoy broke off, realizing that he was waxing a bit parental, maybe even a little hypocritical. "Dammit!" "And what did you score on your exam, hm?"

"Aw, c'mon, Bones, don't do that." Kirk was hamming it up a bit. McCoy recognized it as a tactic to try to keep on the good side of his lady friend, though, the way she'd been giggling, McCoy figured Kirk wouldn't have to try too hard. "You're just upset that you had to turn down the invitation."

He couldn't necessarily argue there. "Apparently studying doesn't do me much good," sighed the Peruvian. "I really did try, but physics is a bit beyond me."

"Cadets," the crisp tone of the professor cut through their conversation. "If you're not specifically discussing the exam, I'd appreciate it if you considered moving your conversation elsewhere. The information provided will be available to you for the remainder of the semester."

Mumbling their thanks and apologies, the three moved outside, fastening their jackets against the crisp breeze coming across the bay.

"Y'know, Marisol," Jim addressed the woman.

"Gotta hand it to him," McCoy thought. "Even with all the girls he chases after, he's awfully good at keeping their names straight."

"I bet you'd be pretty great at physics if you had a, uh—" he cleared his throat here, "—a study partner."

"I don't think that'd help that much," Marisol grinned, her cheeks flushing a bit closer to the shade of her uniform.

"Smart girl," McCoy chuckled. "Glad to know you're in the nursing program. Won't need much physics to know how to use a hypospray."

"I hate those things," Kirk lamented.

"Speaking of the nursing program, I have a class to prepare for." She beamed. "See, alien physiology I can understand."

"I might need a study partner for that," Jim piped up.

The blue-haired girl laughed easily at that. "I'll keep that in mind, Jim. Have a good afternoon, gentlemen." She nodded to McCoy and flashed Jim another smile before setting off in the direction of the medical library.

As soon as the cadet was out of earshot, McCoy let loose a laugh of his own. "You really went for broke with that one."

"Hey, she'll come around," Kirk simpered. "I'm laying the groundwork."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," McCoy smirked. "I hope you don't intend on seducing all of the women in medical."

"Are you kidding? I already have," Jim declared.

Realizing that he wasn't going to be able to argue, McCoy changed the subject. "So what did you score on that exam, anyway?" He figured that his friend hadn't done quite as poorly as Marisol, but judging by Kirk's earlier avoidance of the subject, he was willing to bet that the score wasn't fantastic either.

"Raw score? Three-twenty."

Jim kept walking, but McCoy had stopped dead in his tracks. "Are you serious?"

He turned around. "Yeah," he shrugged.

"Jim," McCoy caught up to his friend. "That was one of the highest scores."

Kirk shrugged again. "Yeah."

"How on God's green earth—? You fell asleep during the test! Did you even study? And you were up practically all night before…" McCoy trailed off. Kirk wasn't bragging about this one. He was just that damn good. "And I suppose that you didn't bother taking the placement test?"

"Nah. I didn't really know the concepts that well anyway," Kirk shrugged yet again.

"If he keeps doing that, I'll have to 'prescribe' him a hypo for shoulder injury," McCoy snickered a little at the thought.

"Besides," Jim straightened up a little. "As a result, I have more time for building social connections with my peers. That's important if I hope to attain a command position."

McCoy chuckled in spite of himself. "For as many gray hairs as this kid's gonna end up giving me, he certainly keeps me young." The epiphany, however, didn't do much to quell his exasperation. "Dammit, Jim!"

a/n- as always, thanks to my beta'ing bfitew, carynna, who, in this case, served as a source of inspiration (how she falls asleep through tests (let alone ib exams!) and still manages to get the scores she does is beyond me!). more importantly, thank you for reading! xoxo~xan