Summary: Pre-slash (can be read as gen). Kirk/Spock. Academy AU, into which I've crammed about as many in-jokes as I could think up. A collection of drabbles/moments places in (loosely) chronological order.
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one.
Sakuri: I may have taken a few liberties with technology in this fic. It's not that I don't know how PADDs and transporters work (okay, I don't) but a few artistic licenses makes for humour people, so try to suspend your disbelief.
The first time he had ever encountered James Kirk had been memorable, to say the least. Particularly as he had not once laid eyes upon the man throughout the entire experience.
He was meeting with a second year cadet at the time, specialising in xenobiology and medicine. As one of the few alien graduates still at the predominantly human Academy, Spock had been assigned as his personal tutor. He was, in truth, finding it a far different experience than originally anticipated. While the cadet was undeniably intelligent and possessed an enviable understanding of medical and biological knowledge that sufficiently impressed the Vulcan, there was something a little unusual about his attitude. It was not exactly disrespectful, but nor was it the least bit intimidated, as many of Spock's other students were. If anything, he had the feeling the cadet saw him more as a colleague than a mentor. If Spock admitted to emotion, he would have felt curiosity.
He greeted the other man with a slight nod as he approached the table Spock was already seated at.
He received a grunt in return, which he suspected may have been a reluctant, "Sir."
Waiting only for the doctor to take a seat opposite him, Spock asked without preamble, "You completed the research I assigned you last week?"
Accustomed to his abrupt manner, McCoy just extracted a data chip from his pocket and slid it across the table, replying in his own irritable way, "There's your damn essay."
"Thank you, Cadet. I believe I will be able to contact you with an appropriate grade no later than 14:25 tomorrow afternoon."
They had a routine. Spock cast a perfunctory glance around the library while he waited for the cadet to extract a PADD from his bag and set it up, ready to take notes. Again without further ado, Spock launched into his prepared lesson.
It only broke from the customary routine about 10 minutes in, when an instant message notification popped up on the cadet's PADD. McCoy stopped writing in surprise, paused for a moment to read it, before a startling flush of colour spread across his face. He swiftly closed the message, although not before Spock had read it too. Accidentally, of course.
Bones! OMG, how do you know if you have an alien STD?
One Vulcan eyebrow itched to rise, but he kept the impulse in check and even managed not to break stride in his lecture. The cadet scrambled to catch up with his note-taking, and after a few minutes the colour even faded from his cheeks, the air of professionalism returning after the minor hitch.
Right up until another message popped up.
Seriously, Bones, I may need your help here. As in, ASAP!
The doctor cast a mortified look across the table, expecting rebuke. Spock, however, managed to be staring at a computer console somewhere to his right, and at the edge of his vision could see the other take advantage of his apparent 'distraction' to type back the succinct response, Not now.
Yet another missive arrived exactly 53 seconds later, and read, But I need your medical expertise! You swore an oath!1!
Spock could not honestly say why he was allowing the procrastination to continue, except that it was at once both shocking and fascinating to follow their covert conversation. His own people would never even consider discussing something of the like, regarding it as far too personal and distasteful.
McCoy, it seemed to Spock, would tend to agree with him. A thunderous scowl had settled over his face to compliment the rising colour, and he did not attempt a reply for several long minutes. When he did, Spock expected a curt reprimand or dismissal to be sent to whoever was inundating the doctor with messages.
This time, the eyebrows succeeded in twitching upwards when he read what McCoy wrote instead.
What's the matter? Your dick falling off again? What'd you sleep with this time?
The response arrived immediately. Uhm... She had feathers? And NO, it's not falling off, but it hurts like hell. You gotta get over here.
McCoy wrote, Dammit Jim! and closed the message box.
Spock expected him to call a stop to the lesson and make an excuse for why he had to be on his way, presumably to the rescue of his promiscuous friend. But the doctor did not move, and seemed quite intent on continuing to pretend he had been paying complete attention to the lecture. His note-taking resumed, and it was Spock who faltered as he studied the human in bemusement, realising slowly that it was not surprise or even horror emanating from McCoy, but simple exasperation. Like he was used to being placed in such a situation. Like it was a common occurrence.
The Vulcan wondered faintly who 'Jim' was, and how anyone in this day and age could be so lax in taking the necessary precautions during sexual intercourse.
As the doctor did not deem the call urgent enough to cut the lesson short, neither did Spock. They finished up 20 minutes later, and Spock could not resist the urge to break from routine yet again by turning to his companion as he was about to leave.
"Cadet, as your education in xenobiology is not yet complete, I feel it is my responsibility to inform you that, from the brief description provided, the female your friend engaged in intercourse with is most likely to be a Kaylite. Approximately a 98% likelihood, in fact, as feathers are not a common distinguishing feature in Federation space."
McCoy stared at him, looking poleaxed.
After waiting a minimum of 5 full seconds to be certain that no reply was forthcoming, Spock went on. "Furthermore, had you been 3 weeks ahead in your education of xenobiology, you would know that intercourse of that nature between members of the human and the Kaylite species is highly inadvisable, as the sexual lubricants of the Kaylite female have a pH level that can greatly irritate human epidermis. If left untreated, contact can lead to a number of medical complications."
The doctor just continued to stare at him, expression transforming before Spock's eyes from astonishment to acute, almost painful embarrassment. "I –"
"You are welcome, Cadet."
With that, the Vulcan turned smartly on his heel and strode away, his sensitive ears picking up from the doctor a litany of Terran words he had never heard before, but which he doubted meant anything complimentary, and interspaced continuously with the name 'Jim'.
"How about you and me don't make eye contact for the next month or so?" Leonard muttered as he stripped off his latex gloves and threw them away, glaring after them as if he'd very much like to incinerate them and be done with.
"You always say that."
"And yet you never take the hint... Put some damn pants on will you? God, I need a drink."
He turned away in disgust as Jim wriggled his jeans back on. Clearly, he hadn't known what he was letting himself in for when he'd been talked into acting as the kid's primary physician. Jim was a walking disaster. If he wasn't getting into bar fights, he was coming home with alcohol poisoning, or an allergic reaction, or having injured himself doing something fundamentally stupid (like the time Sulu had cut him open because Jim had sworn up and down that he knew how to fence, lying through his teeth all the while for god only knew what reason). And if it wasn't any of that, it was his goddamn libido landing him in trouble, as today's minor incident had proven. And it was minor, believe it or not, on the sliding scale of predicaments Jim's sexploits had landed him in.
Leonard had never had his medical knowledge so thoroughly tested before, and the bitch of it was that he wasn't even getting any credits – academic or monetary – for the sheer effort he expended just keeping Jim Kirk alive.
"Ah, Mister Spock. Y're a wee bit early, I'm afraid."
"The transporter is not yet fully operational?"
"Well, not that it's not working exactly. It's definitely transporting out..."
"...Probably best not to go into all the technical details right now, Mister Spock. On a completely unrelated note, if ye come across a stray Beagle –"
"I shall be certain to inform Admiral Archer of its whereabouts. Please contact me when the repairs are completed, Mister Scott."
"Oh my god, Bones! You would not believe what Smitherson just posted!" The words came out pretty mangled around a mouthful of potato chips, but by now Bones was used to translating.
He got no response anyway, not even the usual distracted grunt of acknowledgement.
Not in the least bit deterred, Jim clicked a few more links on his PADD, grinning as he read what popped up. "I didn't know she was a lesbian, did you? No wonder I wasn't getting anywhere with her..."
That, at least, seemed to get Bones' attention, although to say that the glance he cast Jim was reluctant would be an understatement. It seemed almost against his will, in fact, and he was wearing that faintly bemused expression he sometimes got when he couldn't figure out how they'd ended up on a particular topic of conversation. Then he glanced down at the PADD Jim held and his expression just got exasperated.
"You're on that chat site again, aren't you?"
"It's called Spacebook, grandpa. You should try it some time. The stuff you can find out on here is awesome..."
"Don't you have anything better to be doing with your time? My God, Jim, my daughter isn't as gossipy as you."
"I'm not gossipy, I'm just a social creature." He shoved some more chips into his mouth and glanced across at his friend.
Bones was sat on his bed, back braced against the headboard, his own PADD resting on one bent knee. Whatever was on it must be damn interesting, because he hadn't looked up for over an hour. He was dressed in blue and white pyjamas, the bottoms of which were quite a few inches too short (but if Jim remembered correctly, Joanna had sent them for Bones' last birthday, which naturally made them the best thing since replicated bread). A mug of black coffee sat on his bedside table, and for once it wasn't even spiked.
"What're you doing?"
"Research," Bones answered sharply.
"Boring," Jim deemed, and went to go check out Uhura's profile pictures.
"How do you even have time to mess about on there, trying to complete a command course in three years? Don't you have work to be doing?"
"I'm a genius, Bones. I make it work," Jim shot back, the unsaid 'duh' hanging audibly in the room.
Bones didn't say anything to that, which counted as a win. Satisfied, Jim went back to browsing.
It was only a minute or two before a notification appeared telling him a comment had been posted on his own profile. He navigated over, and blinked down in surprise at the anonymous message:
For a genius, James T Kirk is kind of a moron
One person had already 'liked' it.
He continued to gape for maybe ten seconds, before turning a disbelieving stare over towards his companion. Bones wasn't looking at him, was in fact staring rather fixedly at the screen of his PADD, coffee mug in hand.
Jim pointed at him somewhat melodramatically, extending his arm to its full length. "You!"
The doctor gave him the blandest look Jim had ever seen on the usually expressive features. "Yeah? What's up?"
"Youhave Spacebook!" And how had he not known this before now?
"Don't know what you're on about."
"Uh huh. Sure you don't." Oh, this was priceless. Bones had Spacebook.
The comment was posted anonymously, so there was no contact information attached to it, but he wasn't about to let a little thing like that stop him from accessing this previously undiscovered well of harassment potential. He flexed his fingers and began hacking.
Minutes passed and Bones wore a small, self-satisfied smile as he tapped idly at his PADD, researching god-only-knew-what. Every now and then he'd sip from the black sludge he called coffee, wince, and set the mug back down. Unfortunately, it was during one of these intermittent sips that Jim chose to retaliate.
He managed not to look up at the sound of the good doctor's gasp and consequent choking fit, but couldn't quite keep the grin off his face at Bones' indignant, "Dammit Jim, I'm a fully qualified doctor – not a 'quack'. How do I delete this?"
"Not telling." He lounged back, deliberately aggravating. "Shouldn't start something you're not prepared to finish, old man."
...And so began one of the most immature half hours of his adult life.
"A hick? Bones, seriously, that's the best you can come up with?"
"Yeah, well, I'm not a redneck, Jim. Who even uses that anymore?"
"Hey, you started in with the antiquated racist slang."
"Oh don't throw your big words at me. It's not impressive."
"I beg to differ."
"Functioning alcoholic? That's a bit below the belt! ...And it's highly functioning alcoholic to you."
"Sorry, sorr– Oh my god, you did not just post that I'm a slut! Bones! I have a reputation!"
"Yeah. As a slut."
"Jim, for the love of– I do not 'need to get laid'. Goddam, just because some of us aren't sleeping our way through Starfleet Acade– Will you stop posting this shit? I didn't even reply that time!"
"Sorry. Caught up in the moment."
"Yeah? Better be worth it Jimmy, 'cause I've still got those holovids of you at Gary's party, and we wouldn't want those floating around out there in cyberspace, would we?"
The doctor just blinked calmly at him, before raising a stylus to the PADD screen, threatening.
Jim was in motion without warning, scrambling off his bed and diving towards his friend's. But Bones had roomed with him for over a year now and had come to anticipate moves like that. Not to mention he was pretty quick on his feet for a guy on the wrong side of 30. He held up the PADD mockingly from the other side of the mattress.
"Oh come on, you can do better than that. Wouldn't want anything damaging that precious reputation of yours..."
He made another grab for the PADD, sprawling across the bed in the process while Bones darted easily away, smirking. Jim glared up at him, jabbed an accusing finger. "Okay, firstly, you've had too much caffeine. Secondly, this isn't funny! I told you to delete those vids!"
"If and when Starfleet has the poor judgement to promote you to captain, you can reprimand me for disobeying orders."
"Bones, no one wants to see those vids."
"Oh, I think they do."
But while Jim's mind was still working on deals he might be able to strike with the suddenly malicious medic, his body was working on autopilot. The next thing he knew, he was seeing Bones' dawning expression of surprise a split second before Jim tackled him solidly around the waist and the pair went down with a dull succession of thuds, already grappling for the PADD.
Never let it be said that Bones was a lightweight. He'd made that mistake once upon a time and been hastily corrected. There was also something to be said for a doctor's knowledge of the body, knowing exactly where and how to hit a person.
Already Bones had a grip on his forearm, trying to restrain him. Jim twisted sharply and with such force he ended up landing atop the older man, practically sitting on him. Grinning, he snatched at the PADD and held it triumphantly over his head, far out of the doctor's reach with Jim's weight pinning him to the floor. Bones seemed to admit defeat, lying there with folded arms, rumpled and unimpressed.
"Aha!" Jim crowed his victory, laughing despite himself because – alright, yeah – maybe this was a little funny now that he wasn't in imminent danger of social ruin. He brought the PADD down to examine, and froze.
"...Uh, Bones, there's no holovids on here."
"Jesus, Jim, you think I wanted to scar myself reliving that experience any time soon? I deleted them as soon as I was sober enough to hit the right buttons."
The next time he encountered James Kirk was not face to face, either.
He had been using the cadets' lavatory on the second floor of the main science building – something he was not in the habit of, understand, but circumstances were that he had not been presented with an opportunity to visit his personal rooms all day, and the staff toilets were out of order.
Graffiti covered the walls. Spock had actually frozen upon first entering, taken aback by the chaotic scrawls all around him. It was beyond him why the vandalism had not been punished, the damage repaired. Still, it caught his attention.
Alone for the moment, he took to studying some of the scribbles once he had relieved himself. He justified his actions with the thought that he was a student of human behaviour, and a strange phenomenon such as this deserved closer inspection. Truly, from an anthropological standpoint, it was fascinating.
And so he found himself inching slowly along the defaced walls, his hands clasped behind his back, with all the air and studious expression of someone visiting an art gallery.
Some cadets had written out short quotations they considered, for whatever reason, valuable. Once you have eliminated the impossible, one read, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. He liked that, and automatically committed it to memory.
Someone else had written out a mathematics equation, but left its solution blank, supposedly as a challenge. No one had solved it yet, although there were a few jotted numbers and symbols around its edges, as though people had tried and given up. He gave the problem a second glance over, ran it through in his head, and was impressed despite himself.
Other scrawls were less enlightened. The vast majority of them were stick figures or crude drawings, apparently designed to be pornographic in nature. He gave a somewhat perplexed look to these before moving on.
Whole conversations were conducted in various coloured marker pens. Names and contact details were freely listed (which he thought remarkably unsafe). The names of lecturers and tutors were scattered randomly, some framed by hearts, others by insults. He discovered a caricature of himself over by the sinks, a little unflattering.
His examination took him back to the door, which he was about to step through – none the wiser about the strange behavioural patterns humans sometimes exhibited – when he hesitated. He did not know why the sudden and illogical urge had come to him, and he stood there a long moment debating whether or not to allow it. There was no reason, no reason at all, to contribute to this eclectic and pointless montage found upon the walls of a public lavatory, and yet...
Permitting a sigh at his own irrationality, he nevertheless slid a pen from his pocket, turned back, and with quick, precise movements, wrote down the answer to the unsolved mathematics equation.
He left, then, before anyone could observe him.
It was kinda embarrassing to be taught physics by a sixteen year old – Jim still laughed unrepentantly whenever the subject was brought up – but for a kid, Pavel Chekov wasn't that bad. Sure, he had the whole curly haired, blue eyed, puppy thing going on, but he was also proving himself to be bitingly funny, scary smart, and man could he hold his liqueur.
"Ah, American alcohol is nothing, Hikaru. Is like vater."
"Hmm, don't tell me? You prefer vodka, right?"
"Da, da. That is real drink, inwented in Russia."
"You should try sake some time."
The kid was a prodigy. The first time Hikaru had introduced him to Jim, the two had rapidly become involved in a discussion of mathematics and physics that had left him and Leonard McCoy staring cluelessly, unsure if they were even still speaking Standard anymore.
"I was never too good at math and science. Well. Biology, yeah, but not physics."
"But you are vanting to become pilot, nyet?"
"Yeah. Real smart move there..."
"I vill just haf to teach you is all. You should like math, Hikaru. Is beautiful."
"Beautiful? Never heard anyone call it that before."
"Ewerything in math make sense. Is flawless, uniwersal language. No 'lost in translation'. Same vith physics."
They usually met outside on one of the campus lawns, and after finding themselves a tree or wall to camp next to, would sit down and litter the ground around them with Pavel's innumerable data PADDs. Each study session was a blur of numbers and theorems and calculations and graphs that would spin around Hikaru's head for hours before settling into any kind of sense. This kind of science would never come naturally to him, he suspected, but it had to help that his tutor (teenager or no) was probably the best physicist at the Academy, bar some of the graduates. Nevertheless, it was gruelling work. At the very least, Pavel wasn't averse to taking study breaks. They took more than a few study breaks, in fact.
"Okay, okay, what about that one over there?"
"Her? She is... wery pretty."
"Pretty? That, my friend, is an understatement. That's Gaila. She's an Orion."
"This is relewent?"
"Relevent? She's... It means... Okay, yanno what? I'm so not the person who should be giving you The Talk."
"You can be wery strange. My turn. Ower there, that one."
"Uh, that's a guy."
"Da. Is not tventieth century, you know. Is perfectly natural to think same sex attractiwe. You vould score...?"
"Alright, alright. I'd give him... maybe seven out of ten? What about you?"
"Me? Oh, I do not like boys, Hikaru."
"...That was sly, Pavel. That was very sly."
As difficult as he found the subjects he was being tutored in, he was determined to see it through. He needed to. He needed to get the best damn grade he could possibly manage if he wanted to be a Starfleet pilot. God knew there were enough people competing for the position. Maybe in the beginning, but these days Hikaru couldn't imagine taking a different career path.
"Vhat made you choose to be pilot?"
"Huh? Oh I dunno, really. I was going to be a botanist, to start out with. I ever tell you that?"
"Nyet. You liked plants?"
"Yup. Still do. I've got some growing in my dorm rooms, and my friend in the biology department lets me use the greenhouse labs sometimes."
"You do not strike me as gardener."
"Oh yeah? What do I strike you as then?"
"You... You are..."
"You vant to be daredewil."
"A daredevil? Why that?"
"You haf sword. I haf seen you in gym vith Cadet Kirk."
"My fencing? That makes me a daredevil?"
"Da! You are going to be crazy pilot who plays vith swords and does not know his physics. You must make sure to haf good nawigator, to know it for you."
"Jeez, Pavel, I'm only going to be flying the ship, yanno, not sky diving from it or something. You make me sound like a... a space pirate!"
"You vould make wery good space pirate."
"Oh. Well, that's okay then..."
"Spock, are you interested in me?"
"I regard you as a very promising student, Nyota. You are extremely intelligent and proficient in the field of linguistics. You are far more culturally sensitive than the majority of individuals I have encountered here on Earth. I am... not averse to your company. As a result, yes, I find you a very interesting specimen of humanity."
"That's not exactly what I meant. Are you interested in me – romantically?"
"Ah. I... am not. I apologize."
"Right. Well. That clears that up, doesn't it..."
The staff lavatory was not fixed by the next day. Even with all the advancements in technology Terrans had made over the years, speedy plumbing repairs were still not among them. Had Spock been human, he would have felt frustration at being forced to once again use the cadets' toilets.
As he stepped through the door, he glanced instinctively towards the math puzzle, and blinked in surprise to see a new message written there, printed clearly beneath his answer. Stepping closer, he could see it read:
Who solved this?
Spock raised an eyebrow. He had no intention of answering, of course. Bad enough students writing all over the walls, an individual in a position of authority such as himself should not be setting the same bad example. Not for the first time, he wondered incredulously what had caused him to indulge his human side's spontaneity, in this of all things. Pointedly ignoring the request, he turned and left.
By the third day, the message had expanded:
Did Chekov write this?
A fleeting and entirely uncalled for flash of irritation caught Spock by surprise. He knew of only one Chekov currently attending the Academy, and that was the sixteen year old Pavel. Something in him did not appreciate being mistaken for an adolescent human boy.
Before he could think better of it, his pen was out and he was writing on the tiles:
I am not Cadet Chekov. Why do you wish to know?
The reply took only a day in coming.
I want to know who the hell besides me can do that kind of math! Didn't think anyone would manage it. Not a cadet, anyway.
Spock felt quite sure that he should be glad that his mysterious correspondent, whoever they were, had not guessed him to be someone other than a fellow cadet. He found himself considering a response. The staff lavatory, he was ashamed to say, had been repaired the previous day. His sole purpose for being here was to answer this odd form of correspondence. At last, he wrote out:
And who are you, to set the puzzle in the first place?
His answer was as concise as Spock could hope for:
The Vulcan blinked when he read it, the only sign of his shock. He did not write back this time, and did not visit again.
Leonard just happened to be on call at the campus medcentre when Jim and Sulu stumbled in, the latter holding a wad of material tightly to his own chest. Blood was seeping swiftly into the makeshift bandage and had already trickled down the kid's shirt.
Jim saw him first as he strode towards them, blanching at the thunderous expression he was wearing. Hands went up defensively. "Now, Bones, calm down, okay? It looks worse than it is."
"Easy for you to say..." Sulu muttered darkly, casting him a sidelong glare. He peeled the wad of ruined material away slightly to get a look at whatever wound was underneath. A few red droplets immediately splashed the floor at his feet.
Leonard reached over and pressed firmly on his chest, applying pressure. With the other hand he took his arm and began guiding him towards the exam room. Over his shoulder he snapped out, "Jim, make yourself useful and go fill in his forms."
"Sure thing, Bones."
The exam room door slid shut behind them, privacy lock engaging, and Leonard gestured vaguely for Sulu to take a seat. "Well, go on. What stupid thing did you do that's brought you here?"
Sulu grinned, a disarming flash of white against tan skin. Leonard blinked. "We were fencing."
An eyebrow crooked upwards as he pulled away the bloody material to reveal a sizeable gash running from left shoulder down across the centre of his chest. "So why isn't Jim in here bleeding all over my floor? Thought you were supposed to be good with a sword. Take your shirt off."
Sulu obeyed, gingerly unsticking it from the congealing blood before pulling it up over his head. He ran a sheepish hand through mussed up hair and gave half a shrug. "He's been practicing. He got a few good moves in and I was so surprised I forgot to parry."
"Hn." Unimpressed, Leonard went about efficiently preparing the antiseptic swabs. To give him credit, Sulu didn't whinge or flinch when he began cleaning the wound, like a large percentage of his patients, Jim most notably. In fact, he watched the process closely with a detached sort of curiosity.
"Not too bad," Leonard judged after a while, squinting critically at the injury. "It's not deep, just a bleeder." He tore open a bandage packet with a practiced motion. "I can book you in for regeneration treatment some time tomorrow."
Sulu was poking at it until Leonard lightly slapped his hand away. He looked up with an inquisitive expression. "Think it'll scar?"
Leonard rolled his eyes. "Well it will if you don't get it treated. Any preference time-wise, or should I just make an appointment for –"
"That's okay, Doc." Sulu grinned again, dark eyes dancing with something like amusement, head tilted back carelessly to look up at him. "I always wanted to be able to say I got a scar in a swordfight."
Leonard let out a bark of dry laughter before he could stop himself. "Too bad that in actuality it was just Jim getting a lucky pop at you."
Sulu scowled at him with mock annoyance. "Yeah well, that part doesn't have to become common knowledge. Uh, right?"
Leonard hummed noncommittally as he pressed the adhesive bandage into place, smoothing it down over muscled flesh. "And what do I get in return for keeping your oh so badass reputation intact, hm?" He wasn't entirely sure why he said that, when they both knew the doctor-patient confidentiality policy would keep him from telling anybody.
But Sulu seemed to take it as the joke it was intended to be, happy to play along. "I'd offer to do your homework for a month, but I'm assuming you actually want to pass your course."
Leonard chuckled. "I'll let you know when I think of something," he promised, vaguely aware that he was grinning what Jim would call a dorky grin, and quickly snapping his expression back into his customary near-scowl.
He was spending far too much time with young people.
Nyota returned to the table and placed the cups down, mocha for herself and green tea for Spock. They were in the cafeteria, having just finished up a somewhat informal tutoring session on the merits of pre-Warp English.
"Pre-Warp E makes no sense as a language," she complained yet again, aware that the statement made the Vulcan's eyebrow twitch as if he really wanted to correct her but was restraining himself from doing so. "It's entirely descriptive in nature, heavily dependent on word order, the grammar is all over the place – how did anybody learn to speak it back then?"
Her companion sipped stoically at his tea. "I believe it served humans adequately for several hundred years before Standard was adopted. Logically it cannot, as you seem to be implying, be entirely without sense."
She smiled despite herself at the gentle reprimand. "You know what I mean. It just feels ridiculously complicated."
"I recall you having difficulty with the Northern Orion dialect as well, which is similar in structure to pre-Warp E."
She nodded, wincing at the memory of exams for that particular semester. It hadn't been her best work, even with Gaila around to give her extra lessons. Morose at the thought of a similar disaster taking place all over again, she drank her sweetened coffee quietly and glanced around the room–
–only to wish she hadn't when her gaze was caught and held by a pair of startlingly blue eyes staring straight at her from over the heads of the other diners.
Spock tilted his head curiously. "Is something wrong?"
Nyota didn't have to look up again to know that Kirk was sauntering his way over, but she did wonder if by staring at her cup with enough focused intensity she could will him to turn around and walk away again.
"Looking good, Uhura."
She turned her head slowly to give him a measured stare, trying to communicate wordlessly how truly unimpressed she was by his cocksure grin and so called 'charm'. She was a linguistics student. She was good at all sorts of communications like that.
Kirk stood with his hip braced against the table edge, arms folded and eyes dancing with amusement. She was pretty sure he wasn't genuinely interested in her anymore – she'd exchanged enough barbed comments and scathing insults with him since enrolling in Starfleet for even Jim Kirk to get the picture that it Was Not Happening. No, she was fairly certain he was only continuing the charade to annoy the life out of her.
Behind him stood that doctor friend of his he was always with, Leonard something-or-other, who was currently casting increasingly uncomfortable glances in Spock's direction.
"Cadet McCoy," the Vulcan greeted in his even tone.
McCoy grunted back something that may have been an unhappy, "Sir."
"So," Kirk said, leaning down towards her, "when are you going to give in and go out with me?"
"When every other man evacuates Earth," she answered promptly, then smiled with too much sweetness. "Maybe not even then, if Gaila's still around."
He jerked back, looking surprised and intrigued all at once. "Oh. That's kinda hot."
"Try not to overheat..."
In the background, the doctor rolled his eyes. "I don't need to watch this spectacle." Taking his friend's arm, McCoy attempted to pull him away from the table. "Jim, the lady's got you beat –"
Three sets of eyes turned in surprise to stare at the Vulcan, who was in turn looking up at Kirk with what, for Spock, passed as shock. That was the most inflection Nyota could remember hearing in his voice, and she couldn't begin to imagine the reason for it.
But, clearly, she was missing out, because something had just shifted in the body language of the three men. Leonard McCoy covered his eyes and half turned away, not before she'd seen the flush of coloured embarrassment settle on his face.
"You –" Spock actually stalled for words, and dear god was it her imagination or had his eyes just flickered unwillingly down towards Kirk's crotch? The Vulcan cleared his throat, visibly composed himself, and started again. "You are the individual responsible for setting the mathematics puzzle in the second floor lavatory?"
Kirk blinked, frowning. "Yeah, how'd you– Wait, you're the one who solved it?" He gaped, turning the force of his full attention on Spock for the first time. "That's... that's cheating! You're a graduate! And a... Vulcan!"
Nyota winced as one slanted eyebrow shot up.
"You find objection with my world of origin, Cadet Kirk?"
"What? No. But like, aren't you guys supposed to be super-smart or something?"
McCoy, looking like he wanted to sink into the floor, gripped Kirk's upper arm hard and growled out, "For the love of god, Jim, stop talking!" Kirk brushed him off like a gnat.
"My IQ is significantly higher than the average Terran's, yes. I fail, however, to see how that qualifies as 'cheating'."
"Because... Because it is!" Kirk was half laughing now, apparently discovering some obscure humour in the situation. Nyota wondered irritably what the hell they were talking about. "You could have at least left your name, yanno."
Spock was silent and impassive, retreating into himself with an embarrassment only Nyota identified for what it was.
Kirk glanced between them, his expression turning wry. "You two are just a match made in heaven, aren't you? What is it with you people and names?"
She opened her mouth to snap out a reply, but Spock spoke over her.
"Nyota and I are not romantically 'matched'." He glanced at her as if for confirmation. "If I am correct in assuming that was your implication, of course."
Kirk snorted, shook his head and grinned. He was regarding the Vulcan with new interest, and Nyota had to fight the impulse to jump to her feet and place herself between them, just to stop Kirk staring like that, a stare she'd first seen in a bar back in Iowa.
Apparently McCoy shared her sense of dread, because at last he got a grip on Kirk firm enough to yank him backwards, snarling something stern into his ear too low for her to hear.
He waved a dismissive hand. "Relax, Bones. We're going now, okay?"
"Damn right we are..." muttered the older man, steering him away from the table and casting Nyota an apologetic glance as he passed. Kirk just allowed himself to be towed along, all loose-limbed tolerance, but as he walked away he turned to look over his shoulder, blue eyes fixed on Spock.
And Nyota couldn't help but notice that Spock was looking right back, face unreadable as ever.