Star Trek is property of its respective owners. I only own Mallory.

The day the shuttle left from the Riverside Shipyard, three of its passengers were not in uniform. Only three. The rest had proudly arrived in their 'Cadet Reds' as they called them, showing off their status as members of Starfleet Academy.

Legs clad in dark denim stretched out into the aisle, the rubber soles of her tactical boots peeking out from beneath the ragged hem. Without so much as a peep Mal crossed her arms and settled her MSU cap lower over her eyes in an attempt to fall asleep. It was too damn early in the morning for this crap. Whoever thought it was a good idea to launch a shuttle at eight in the morning was a sick on of a bitch.

"Go change into your reds, Mallory. You look homeless. And unemployed."

Speaking of sick sons of bitches…

Mal smirked and flicked up the bill of her ball cap to look at her father. She had inherited his bright blue eyes, easy smile, and if her mother was to believed, his pigheadedness. "I'll change when we get there." Mal grinned and waved him away. "Go, I don't want to be seen talking to the boss. You'll ruin my reputation."

Her father snickered good naturedly, smacked the bill of her cap back down over her eyes. "I already know your reputation, Mallory. Not quite sure I could ruin it further." She stuck her tongue out at his retreating back as he went to sit in the cockpit. He would pick his battles with his daughter when there wasn't an audience to watch him lose. Cadets were beginning to settle into the shuttle with tired, hung over, and otherwise discontented complaints. Mal tried to ignore the grumbles and whispers around her. She tugged the leather of collar of her coat closer to keep out the chill creeping in through the open shuttle door and wondered what her father would do if she burned her Reds instead of wearing them. Probably make her walk around campus in her underpants to teach her a lesson. It might still be worth it, but maybe she'd wait until the weather got a bit warmer.

No point in catching a cold.

Someone kicked at her sneakers and Mal opened an eye. "Ny," she greeted the dark skinned beauty taking a seat across from her. "I wondered if I'd be seeing you."

"Look who finally caved in." Nyota Uhura offered a dazzling smile and Mal stretched back out with a chuckle. It was no secret among the returning cadets that Mal's father had been hounding her to enlist, but Mal simply hadn't had the time or the inclination to accommodate him. "It only took… What? Five years?"

"Seven. Pop can be a nag when he wants to be." Uhura giggled and Mal smiled dryly. "He told me you had a bit of an adventure last night. Breaking hearts again, Ny?"

Uhura snorted. "Shut up, Mal."

The dark-haired woman under the ball cap obeyed. Last time Mal checked, Uhura was acing her hand to hand combat elective. That would be one of the only good things about enlisting. Mal would finally be able to take part in the different classes and lectures, instead of just sitting in while she waited for her father to get out of one meeting or another. She'd finally be trained officially. She wasn't much of a fighter as she was. She preferred a more... refined approach. Out of the corner of her eye, Mal saw someone dart onto the shuttle. He looked around, slightly panicked, before he bolted into the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind him. Mal rolled her eyes and yawned. "Newbies," she muttered darkly.

Mal was rudely woken a short time later by someone sitting nearby. He was a shit mess, blood all over his shirt, his face pounded into hamburger meat. There were good looks hidden somewhere beneath the bruises and dried blood. He was around her age with sandy brown hair and a lean build. His blue eyes burned brightly as he grinned cheekily at Uhura. Mal was clever enough to put two and two together and chuckled under her breath. "You know that 'hitting' on a guy doesn't actually mean you bloody him up, right?" That only earned her a glare from her friend and an eyebrow raise from the stranger settling in a seat over.

"You want to introduce me to your friend, Uhura?" he said with an arrogant wink at Mal.

"Nope." Uhura turned her attention to a PADD in her lap.

Mal laughed into her hand. "Ouch. Strike one, farm boy."

"Believe me, Mal. That was strike three." Uhura gave the farm boy a pointed look and went back to her PADD. He looked like he was about to say something when there was a disruption in the back of the shuttle.

"You need a doctor!" Sleep was clearly going to be impossible so Mal gave up and decided to enjoy the show instead. The man she had seen flee into the bathroom earlier was being hauled out by a vexed looking Commander Gibbs.

He was doing his best to shake her off, but Gibbs was determined despite her rather laughable size. "I don't need a doctor, dammit, I am a doctor!" Mal had to admire his spirit as he faced off with the much shorter woman, cowering from her all the same. He was scruffy and ill-kept and smelt like he had showered in bourbon, but his jaw was strong, his hazel eyes intelligent, if just a bit glassy, like everyone else aboard the shuttle.

Apparently Starfleet was raising its standards. Smart, badass, and beautiful seemed to be what all three of the new recruits had in common. That and an apparent disregard for the rules since none of them were in uniform or even remotely dressed to impress.

"You need to get back to your seat, now!" Gibbs snapped.

"I had one in the bathroom...with no windows," he griped right back without missing a beat. Mal and the farm boy watched with barely concealed amusement, silently cheering him on. "I suffer from Aviophobia. That means the fear of dying in something that flies." He gestured to the shuttle as though he thought the commander was particularly thick and needed the visual aid.

Gibbs had lost her patience. "Sir, for your own safety, sit down… Or else I'll make you sit down."

The man looked like he was ready to keep arguing, but he suddenly noticed the cadets watching him with rapt attention. He went for the first open seat he saw, right between Mal and the farm boy.

"Next time hit her," Mal mumbled as he settled in next to her. "She sucks."

"A southern gentleman never hits a lady," he groused, trying to strap himself in.

Mal snorted. "Bro, you wouldn't be breaking any rules. Gibbs is no lady. She's a barracuda."

He didn't seem sure of what to make of that. "I may throw up on you," he was finally buckled and blanketing those in his immediate vicinity with a warning.

The farm boy glanced over. "I think these things are pretty safe." He didn't sound terribly convinced himself and Mal snorted, adjusting her cap and stretching her legs out into the aisle again. She was tempted to kick Uhura just to stir up some more ruckus, but she got distracted by the litany of woe being recited at her side.

"Don't pander to me, kid." There was a distinctly southern lilt to his words, his accent flaring as he panicked. "One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in 13 seconds! A solar flare might crop up and cook us in our seats! And wait 'til you sittin' pretty with a case of Andorian shingles; see if you're so relaxed when you're eyeballs are bleeding! Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence!"

Mal turned in her seat and stared at him. "You're one of those guys who yells fire in a crowded movie theater, aren't ya?" she demanded, half laughing. "Andorian shingles… You're adorable."

"I hate to break this to you, but Starfleet operates in space." The farm boy realized Mal was trying to distract the nervous man but his attempt to help failed miserably. Their nervous new friend slumped against his seatbelt.

"Yeah, well, I've got nowhere else to go," he pulled a flask out of his jacket and unscrewed the top. "The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I've got left are my bones." He helped himself to a remorseful swallow before offering it over to the younger man.

Mal grinned. That explained the bourbon cologne.

"Jim Kirk," the farm boy finally introduced himself and saluted with the flask before he took a sip.

"McCoy. Leonard McCoy." He was about to put the flask back into his jacket when he looked over at Mal and offered it to her with a gentle elbow to the ribs. "Got a name, darlin'?"

Out of the corner of her eye, Mal saw Uhura glance over, waiting expectantly to hear Mal's answer. "Mal P-Parker. I'm Mallory Parker." Uhura smirked but stayed out of it. If Mal wanted to lie, that was her business. Mal accepted the flask and cautiously sniffed the neck. Bourbon. Duh. "Booze at eight AM," she said swallowing a mouthful and letting it burn its way down her throat. "We're going to be friends, I can tell already."

The doors were closed and the shuttle lifted off. "This is Captain Pike…" as soon as he started speaking, Mal scowled and closed her eyes in an effort to tune him out.

"Do you not fly well, either?" McCoy asked. "Mal?"

"Huh?" Mal opened one eye and fixed it on him. "No, I've been traveling on shuttles most of my life. I'm just sick to death of them. It's enough to almost make me wish for Andorian shingles." Jim laughed at what was clearly a joke, but the doctor between them stared at Mal like he was regretting offering her the flask.

"You're odd."

Mal shrugged, settling back down under her cap. "You wanted to ride in the bathroom. Glass houses, McCoy."

"I like her," she heard Jim say, laughter coloring his voice.

McCoy looked down at the girl feigning sleep and almost smiled. Almost. "Yeah, she's alright."