A/N: So, in keeping with my new and shiny Star Trek obsession, I present you all with another one-shot. I'm not quite sure where this one came from, exactly, but I do like it. I think I was just thinking to myself: okay, so they go on missions and they fight in battles and they negotiate...well, what about all the times in between all that. And thus the plot bunny scurried onto the page. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I wish they were mine. Does that count for anything?

In Between

When Star Fleet advertises and goes to high schools to recruit bright eyed youngsters they mention a lot of things. The mention the glory and the excitement, the chance to travel the galaxies and discover new worlds, to meet alien races beyond imagination. They mention the chance to make a difference in the world, the ability to keep peace and protect the world from destruction. They mention the fierce, exciting battles—glossing over the details of course, because no one wants to mention the casualties and the blackened, bloody faces of people you are friends with. No one mentions the crushing fear or the feeling of someone's life slipping through your fingers, or the guilt that chokes you and wakes you in the middle of the night.

They also don't mention the sheer boredom.

Oh yes, the missions are usually exciting. Unless they're diplomatic situations, and even those can end in running for your life. The shore leave is always fun, especially when you get drunk off your ass. But the rest of it, those in between moments (and there are a hell of a lot of those)…painfully boring.

Sometimes Jim Kirk wishes that someone had told him about what else being in Starfleet meant. He'd assumed adventure and fighting and negotiating peace and rescuing people. Making a difference. And true, he does get a lot of that.

He also gets a hell of a lot of paperwork.

No one ever mentioned paperwork.

Of course, the down time between missions isn't all bad. True, he does have to slog his way through mountains of paperwork, but he can usually con Bones into helping him with it. A few times he even manages to trick Spock into doing it, although the Vulcan usually gives him a look that says he knows what he's trying to do and he won't get away with it.

Outside of the endless sheaves of paper that leave his wrist cramping and his fingers littered with paper cuts and his brain feeling like mush, he tries to fill his time. He practices hand-to-hand combat with Sulu. Most of the time the smaller man kicks his ass, but sometimes he manages to turn the tables. He plays chess with Spock, and is proud to say that he can hold his own against the Vulcan. He loses often, but his win count isn't that much lower. He regularly strolls through his ship, checking over every little part to make sure she's in good shape, with as much loving care as Scotty. He finds his way down to engineering, where he torments said chief engineer—the man still thinks that he doesn't know about that little distillery and he loves to make Scotty squirm by poking around the engineering deck. He eats lunch with a different set of crew members every day, and makes his rounds so that he can acquaint himself with every single person in residence upon his ship. He knows everyone by name, rank, and face, and he usually knows at least something of where they're from and what their life is like outside of Starfleet.

He bothers Bones down in the medical bay until the man throws him out. He bothers Uhura, teasing her like an older brother. He teases Chekov in exactly the same way, making the kid blush and trip all over himself. He pulls pranks—his favorite victims, of course, happen to be Bones and Spock, but no one is safe. Anything to make the endless hours a little less dull.

But mostly, it's the paperwork. God, he hates paperwork.

And yet, he wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.

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