A/N: So this is the first chapter in my saga of Christine Chapel and Hikaru Sulu where they know or at least encounter everyone at the Academy including Kirk/McCoy, Uhura/Spock, Gaila, Chekov (of McStories' 'Grischa'), and even Scotty. It will span the Academy years through their first five-year mission. The only canon I follow is the movie (the novelization totally emasculated Bones), but I do have a couple of favorite long stories which constitute head canon for me: 'Switch' by Ceres_Libera on AO3, the aforementioned 'Grischa', and another unnamed fic where Spock meets Uhura in the rain in Hawaii. Everyone is played by the actors in the last movie; Christine Chapel is played by Julia Stiles regardless of who they may have cast for the second AOS.
I became obsessed with the idea of Chapel and Sulu after reading a Kirk/McCoy story where the three of them plus a few other aliens are locked in Sickbay due to a suicide attack bearing a bleeding sickness. Said story is mostly about McCoy dealing with keeping the rest of the ship safe and finding a cure and worrying about Kirk who is fortunately locked outside, but the antagonism between Chapel and Sulu made me wonder if maybe Chapel has some of McCoy's same gruff anger that only comes out at her lover who gets into trouble way too often for her liking. The story is wonderfully written, but also part of a painfully depressing series, so it didn't make my favorites list. However it is worth reading, so if anyone can remind me of the title or author I will cite it here.
I have started from Christine's POV, but there is no guarantee I'll stay there. The reader can understand all languages, please remember that the characters cannot.
Ny had such a beautiful voice.
If only it was more annoying, Christine was sure she could manage to stay awake during her first Intro to Basic Xenolinguistics class, actually her very first class at Starfleet Academy. As it was, Nyota's voice was much too mellifluous to qualify as the requisite "nails on chalkboard."
Christine knew the sound and linguistics engineer at the front of the class was saying interesting things, informative facts, facts every cadet should know before making contact with other planets, judging by the canted forward stance of just about everyone else in class. IBX was one of the few classes that was mandatory for every cadet, regardless of study track, but that did not mean every cadet wanted to learn all of the mandatory information.
If everyone was interested, it must really be fascinating.
If only she could focus.
If only she could sleep.
After this class, she had 45 minutes before her two back-to-back afternoon classes, and then she could get back to lugging her damn boxes up four flights of stairs to her dorm room.
Slouching down in her chair at the back of the room, she lolled her head to her left to see the guy that had snuck in with her ten minutes late to the lecture. He looked equally relaxed, but laidback rather than exhausted. He was not taking notes, but still seemed to be absorbing everything, his sharp eyes following Nyota at the head of the class.
She hoped she would recover her own focus for the class - after the delays in her Xenobiology-pathology dissertation defense back in Honolulu, she had already missed the first week of the quarter, eleven classes in all. At least for this class, Nyota had assured her that she would be happy to meet her for some extra tutoring, teasingly adding that she could be paid in Cardassian Sunrises on Saturday night.
He was really a very good-looking guy - pan-Asian, tall and lanky with that boneless slouch only achieved by all-around athletes truly comfortable with what their bodies can do. His thick black hair, a bit longer than regulation, swept back from a high brow. A little smirk flickered on and off smooth lips, probably whenever Nyota said something particularly witty.
His dark eyes suddenly cut to her, interrupting her as she tried to decide in an increasingly pathetic day-dreamy manner whether his chin was stubborn or strong. She felt like she was drowning in his focus, caught like a leaf spinning faster and faster down a bottomless drain to elsewhere, until he looked down.
He wrote something on his PADD and put it on her lap. Christine pulled her head up and with bleary eyes, read, "I won't let you snore". She closed her eyes and let her head drop back with a little thunk, but then opened her eyes again, grinning and wrote back, "Thanks. That does it." A little adrenaline in her system first from the gaze and then the humor, she straightened in her seat and finally pulled her focus to what Nyota was saying and showing down at the front of the class.
Twenty-five minutes later, the class was over and Christine thought she might barely understand which phonetic types which Federation species were capable of producing. She had no doubt that the normal human range was a small sub-set of what Nyota herself could produce. They had listened to a few non-human sounds, which sounded more like industrial noise pollution to her ears, and Nyota had spoken a contextual phrase for every example. She had also told everyone that sound range tools would be next class and requested that several people, Christine included, come meet with her after class at the front of the room.
Christine stood up from her chair to allow the others in her row to exit, but did not move out herself, preferring to let everyone exit out the back rather than bucking the tide to head to the front lecture pit. The Asian guy did the same showing her just how much taller than she he really was, the top of her head barely came to the point of his broad shoulder. He leaned over and said quietly close to her ear, over the noise of the exiting students, "Hikaru Sulu. Are you heading to the front?"
"Christine Chapel. Yes, I missed last week, Ny partially grades on practiced conversation with a lab partner, so she'll want to know who we pair with for grades."
"Yeah? I missed last week too. You have someone yet?"
"No. You offering?"
"Sure. Always good to be partners with someone who is on a pet-name basis with the professor."
Christine laughed a little bitterly as they started down the mostly empty steps to the front of the room. The other two students Nyota had asked to speak with, a Tellarite and a bald human girl, were already walking back up the stairs to the exit together. "Usually true. Although I have to warn you I'm not great at languages - I only know Standard and a little patois French."
Hikaru smiled at her. "It's all good. Most of language is nonverbal anyway. I know seven fluently - Standard, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and French. And a little Swahili and Vulcan. But when you get around my family, it's usually better to shut up and smile."
Christine laughed again, this time with more genuine amusement. "A little Swahili, huh? Ny's going to love you."
By this time, they had almost reached the dais where Nyota was taking notes on her PADD. At Christine's laugh, she looked up with a small smile, "Are you getting along with your new lab partner, Ti?"
With a bow and a small smirk at Christine, Hikaru answered in Swahili before she had a chance to. "TA Uhura, it is my pleasure to be taught by such a brilliant linguist as yourself and work with such an engaging lab partner as Cadet Chapel. Hikaru Sulu, at your service."
Nyota's face lit up, a huge smile gracing her lips as she answered. "Cadet Sulu, it is an honor to teach such a polite student. Thank you for greeting me in my own language."
She continued in Standard for Christine's sake. "Welcome to my class. You both missed the first week, so we'll have to make it up as soon as possible - from your syllabi, you know we have already covered auditory phonetics by race norm. We will need to schedule some time to do the test you both missed last Friday morning. Every Friday morning you will be tested with your lab partner on pronunciation and presentation on a set of standard cultural greetings. Once I put you into the system as lab partners you will be sent your testing times for each week. My office hours are after class and Tuesdays and Thursdays at the same time."
Nyota continued. "However, I already offered Ti some more flexible times if she would like them, and since you are her lab partner I am happy to extend the same."
Christine piped up this time, "Actually, Ny, you said you would be happy to be bribed with alcohol into more flexible times. But since it is lunchtime, maybe we could go and discuss?"
Hikaru grinned at the two of them. "Sure. I've got about 40 before my next class."
Nyota smiled coyly, turning and waving them ahead of her towards the exit. "And so it begins. I'll show you the cafeteria, which is really the only place to eat on campus unless you are an officer. And then, Ti, you can tell me why you almost fell asleep in my class."
Christine groaned as Hikaru nudged her with his elbow. "Don't worry, TA Uhura. Now that she's my lab partner, I take full responsibility for keeping her awake in class."