Don't own the rights to Star Trek. Or Micho Kaku and his book Physics of the Impossible. Read it. It's epic.
I got a request to do this...So yeah. An academy AU fic. Definitely a tradition in that. As this is really my first of the kind, feel free to gouge it relentlessly if it isn't interesting or divergent enough or whatever.
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James T. Kirk was a trouble maker. Everyone knew that. Most conversations that were going to include discussions of him started with those six words. Seven if you counted his middle initial as a word, but who was?
The problem with James T. Kirk being a trouble maker was that he was also a genius. Insufferable, by many standards, but a genius who somehow managed to bed most everyone he made an attempt to. He was also the son of a hero. Specifically, the first hero the federation had had in a very long time. He was also the only genius-level repeat offender in the Midwest.
One man had dragged him out of that downward spiral. Christopher Pike. Pike picked him up off the bar room floor he found him on, dusted him off, and slapped a Starfleet Academy uniform on him.
That said, James T. Kirk was a trouble maker. He was also a genius, bored out of his genius mind. With that came his tendency to rely on things other than schoolwork for entertainment. Things such as earning a reputation as the most beddable man in Starfleet. Things such as ruining research, simulations, and general miscellaneous activities and items the staff liked to have in one piece, specifically the original piece they came in. It was…a problem, to put it mildly.
Half the teachers on campus clamored for his immediate expulsion. The other half insisted he would thrive under more pressure and began devising ways to make his education more torture then beneficial, perhaps in the misguided attempt to get him to quit.
Neither group was making headway with the problem known as James T. Kirk.
It was about to be the boy's third year, one he was scheduled to graduate in. And no one was looking forward to the day this immature, self-centered, insufferable womanizer was released on Starfleet. There were talks of dishonorable discharge as soon as he made it from the academy, just so he wouldn't be allowed near a ship. Even Pike had trouble denying the damage he could do.
He was, however, known for being the only man who could pull Kirk along by the ears, make him sit down and shut up, and get something remotely productive out of him. So all eyes fell to him after Kirk's latest stunt as they brainstormed how to make an upstanding citizen of him.
They were, after all, tired of the gelatin, explosions, and insufferable sporks.
So it was Pike who, upon the realization that it was only going to get worse during the summer break before classes resumed, called Kirk into his offices. And it was Pike who sat staring down the insufferable genius as he lounged in the chair provided to him, chewing obscenely on a plastic spork.
"Stop that." Pike nearly snapped, frustrated by the distinct sound.
"For one, stop messing with the replicators." Pike didn't buy his surprised, innocent look. "And for another, stop chewing on that. I know you were raised in a barn, but you weren't one of the cows."
Kirk shrugged, tossing the mutilated piece of plastic on Pike's desk. "Eventually everyone will come to realize how very awesome sporks are."
"Not for Jell-o purposes."
And that explain much of the last prank.
"I didn't ask you in here to talk about sporks." Pike sighed, shaking his head at how he managed to be sucked into a distraction again.
"You didn't?" Kirk's voice came out a bit too fast, a bit too surprised.
"No…I didn't." Pike had his suspicious about the mild concern in his eyes.
Either he was worried, because he hadn't done anything else and was expecting bad news, or he was worried they found out about another of his plans. Unfortunately, it was generally impossible to tell just by staring at him, and asking would do nothing.
"You see, the people in charge of your education feel you're something of a bad influence on the other students." Pike gauged his reaction, watching for anything.
Kirk didn't disappoint, scrunching his face up in consternation. "I haven't heard anything about anyone else taking my kind of…liberties."
"Liberties." Pike repeated dryly. "Not at current, no. But they have decided it must stop, before anyone else gets the idea that it's alright."
"Or what?" Kirk asked innocently, charming grin in place.
"Or you'll be made an example of." Pike's voice was low, ominous, straightening Kirk in his seat. "There's been talk of expulsion, dishonorable discharge, bringing up charges against you…"
Kirk went very pale and very still, staring mutely at Pike. He knew he was serious. And Pike knew that, no matter how much trouble he causes, Kirk had come to love Starfleet in his own, twisted way. They stayed like that, locked in a silent moment of negotiation, as first one, and then another minute pass by. Finally, Kirk eased back against his seat, carefully locking his fingers together and resting his hands on his knee. Pike acknowledged this as a sign that he was willing to listen by starting to speak.
"Just stopping and apologizing isn't going to be enough at this juncture." Pike muttered, as if he were some councilor helping a student plan out their course load. "You need to show them that you are a mature individual, ready to take on the responsibilities you're asking for in the command track."
"How?" Jim asked patiently, his voice showing no trace of the strain he was feeling.
Pike wondered if he even was feeling strain. He's a genius. Yes, being removed from Starfleet would be a loss to him, but there were so many other places willing to accept him. He could go to any college to complete his education, work in nearly any engineering firm, and any computer firm. He wanted Starfleet, yes, but when it came down to it, Pike wasn't sure he would want it enough.
"I have a proposal for you." Pike hesitated, until Kirk nodded for him to continue. "I would like you to take on the responsibility of teaching a course at the academy."
"I'm sorry, what?" Kirk's brow knit together, blue eyes somehow wide under the bunched eyebrows.
"I would like you to teach a class." Pike repeated carefully, patiently. "It would demonstrate your skills at directing those under you, and your responsibility to your duties."
"I'm not a professor…"
"No. You aren't. You'd only be teaching one class. I already have a professor that would like to hand one of their lectures over to you to have more free time." Pike saw the momentary distaste in his eyes, but kept going. "You wouldn't have to wear the professor's uniform, but you would be free to do so. It's a relatively easy lecture, for you."
Kirk bit his lip, and Pike knew he had him. "What class is it?"
"Terraforming and ecology."
The young blond scowled. "I could teach that in my sleep."
"It's a fourth year class."
"Which I took and passed with flying colors my first semester."
"Then you shouldn't have any problems." Pike gave him a smug smile when Kirk scoffed.
"And doing this will get me off the shit list with the other professors and the admirals?" Kirk had his suspicions, as he should.
"Most likely? So it isn't guaranteed?"
"No, but it is the most likely option to get you 'off the shit list'. Take the offer Kirk. Teach the class and don't play any pranks or sleep with your professors' wives or daughters."
Kirk managed to look affronted. "I never slept with anyone's wives. I don't even know how that rumor got started."
"I'm sure." Pike rolled his eyes, not really concerned with the minutia. "Will you do it?"
"Fine. One class. Work it into my schedule." Kirk flapped his hand at him dismissively.
"I will." Pike agreed, shaking his head lightly. "Will you be wanting an instructor's uniform?"
"They'd let me have one?" Kirk asked suspiciously, fixing him with a look to match.
"If you want." Pike agreed. "They'd prefer if you only wear it while teaching, but it'll be your uniform. Technically, even if you are a student teacher, you're supposed to wear it."
"I'll take it, but I'm not guaranteeing I'll wear it."
"Well alright." Pike smirked. "And remember, you have to follow the rules for the staff here now."
Kirk grimaced, flashing an unhappy look at him. "Do you have any idea how much this is going to crimp my style?"
"Who even say's that anymore?"
"I'm leaving now. Let me know when this torture session is set for and what the general teaching schedule is going to be." Kirk stood, straightening his shirt out of habit. "I guess I have to prepare some lectures for the class."
"I'm sure you'll do fine. The class will be open for registration in a week." Pike stood as well, offering a condescending smile. "I'm sure your classmates will be clamoring to take a class with you as the instructor."
Kirk nodded as he left, mulling the thought over. These were his classmates, his peers, he was going to be teaching. Sure, he had to be all professorly, but he could be the most liked professor on campus. And terraforming was a subject he really got into. This would be great, kind of like the study sessions he had with some of his friends, only he would be providing and helping them through entirely new, to them, material. This could go well.
After all, his fellow students respected and admired him.
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Jim gritted his teeth, picking up the pace. People were whispering again.
"There's Kirk, did you hear he's teaching a class?"
"Yeah, bet it's going to be super easy."
"Do you think he'll give good grades to anyone who sleeps with him?"
"Bet he isn't even going to give tests or homework."
"Filled up the first two days of being open."
"Wish I could get in."
"Easy, like him."
He was sick and tired of hearing these talks about him. They just kept talking, like he couldn't hear their obnoxiously loud conversations. And maybe that was the point. Maybe they wanted him to know how little they actually thought of him. And they did. They thought he was irresponsible, unreliable, worthless. Just like the professors. And they thought they could just get away with anything on his watch.
It wasn't happening. Setting his jaw firmly, he slowed his pace to a dangerous swagger. He wasn't going to let this go on. He was going to prove to them that this would be the hardest course they ever took, from 'Piloting in Asteroid Belts' with Professor Mande to 'Physics of Improbability in Mechanics' with Professor Kaku. He was going to make them work their asses off for their grades and no one, quite literally no one, will be able to say he's some easy grade.
That said, classes started in a month. He needed to seriously review and re-do his lectures to make them worthy of the title 'hardest course in the history of Starfleet'. And he needed to memorize and finish most of the work for his other classes so he would be free to torture his fellow cadets. That was going to take the most time.
Leonard McCoy, his unwilling roommate, glanced up at him as he stalked into their dorm. Though they had hit it off when they first met, McCoy was slowly beginning to realize just how frustrating living with a Kirk could be. And by slowly, it's meant that it took him one week to start throwing things. Somehow, they survived two years of each other.
"What have you got there, Jim?"
Said Jim threw a scowl over his shoulder. "Required reading for my lecture."
"Aw Christ. I'm glad I don't need that course." McCoy whistled at the enormous pile of data chips. "How many books and journals is that?"
"Thirty-two! That's way too much for one semester!" McCoy put aside his PADD, fixing him with a horrified look.
"This is all due before the midterm." Jim sat down at his desk, already organizing the material.
"The- Oh lord, Jim are you trying to fail everyone?" McCoy shook his head, shocked. "What are you doing, exactly, with all that?"
"I won't fail everyone. It's a few texts a night. And it isn't like I'm asking them to write a report on it, just know it for discussion." Jim scowled, trying to decide the order he wanted the material read in. "Besides, that one linguistics professor made his students read one hundred short stories and such and translate them in one semester."
"That's different. It's a linguistics class. And besides, he was a full time professor, with office hours and everything."
"That's why I cut the number down. Do you think a couple research projects would be too much or should I throw them in? I know I want the final project to be a terraforming plan that could actually be viable, but should I have them do little projects first to help them figure it out, or make them do extra research all at once to get it?"
"You've lost your mind." McCoy threw a hand over his face, sighing. "You've gone flat crazy with power."
"I have not. I just don't want anyone thinking this is going to be some easy A, no-work class."
"Oh trust me, no one will think that." McCoy drawled, fixing an unimpressed look at the back of Kirk's head.
"Okay," Jim said firmly, mostly to himself, "I think I'm done with this for right now. I'm going to get started on the work for my other classes. Can't be doing homework instead of grading."
"You know..." McCoy snorted, returning his attention to his PADD. "Just because a few students think it'll be easy doesn't mean they all do. I'm sure several of the people who signed up for the class actually expect you to be teaching the exact same thing as the other lecture. They probably think you'll get the lecture material and assignments from who ever that professor you're taking over for is."
"If I do that I'll just prove that I can't do anything." Jim scowled, as he'd been doing quite a bit lately.
"Sure, but consider just making it an average class." McCoy shrugged. "See how the first class goes, what they actually think. Then decide what you're going to do."
"Sure." Kirk sequestered himself with a PADD at his desk, ready to do school work. "But I still have to make plans for the tough course load. Now shut up, I'm trying to study."
"Since when did you study?"
"I study all the time."
"Reciting physics equations to the girl with 'talk nerdy to me' underwear isn't studying."
"Helped me remember the equations, didn't it?"
All jokes aside, Jim was exceptional at his schoolwork. He had a knack for retaining information and translating it into real world situations. That was what made his work go so quickly, frustrating his teachers with near perfection and resigning him to destructive idleness. If McCoy was apprehensive about him working ahead to give himself more free time…well, that wasn't his problem. He wasn't the one who had gotten it in a Kirk's head to devote himself to educating others.
He was really wondering how well thought out that was.
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Jim scowled down at the list in front of him, trying to decide what to do with it. A very temping option was to chuck it back at Pike. He probably wouldn't be pleased with him breaking a PADD though. Another option was to set it down and pretend he never saw it. Somehow, that seemed useless. In the end, he simply glared at it, reading and rereading the names printed there.
"You've got to be kidding me."
"You expect me to teach these people?"
"I don't see the problem."
"With some of them won't be a big deal, sure. But Gaila's just taking the class in the hopes that I'll take up role-playing with her since she can't get a real professor to sleep with her." Kirk ignored the eyebrow raise he got for that. "Giotto is taking it in the hopes he'll get to beat me up eventually. Lester is taking it because she's crazy and stalking me. And Uhura's probably taking it in the hope of catching me doing something I shouldn't so she can get me booted out of here faster than Warp ten."
"I highly doubt that."
"All of it."
Kirk growled, leaning back in his chair. Pike had called him into his office to give him the official list of students for his class which was going to start in a week. He suspected that it was timed precisely so he couldn't voice his objections. No matter how much he insisted the student list was going to be a problem, he had to work with it.
The problem was, most of these students had either seen him naked, or had him steal their girlfriend. No matter how he looked at it, he saw some kind of confrontation coming to a head in the class. He couldn't please everybody. And in not doing so, he was going to piss everyone off.
He took a deep, clearing breath, and briefly wondered why anyone advised those things since it just made him want to scream in frustration with all this new found lung capacity. Pushing the air forcefully out of his nose, because he didn't trust himself to open his mouth without said aforementioned scream, he tried to focus on the probabilities. He wanted to convince himself he was exaggerating. He wanted to roll his eyes and say everything would be fine.
But his gut insisted otherwise. And he had long learned that if his gut told him disaster was coming, it was damn well coming. At current, his gut was blaring foghorns and flashing argon signs (because apparently his gut liked the color purple) in the most obvious way that this was going to go down in a ball of flames. So, trusting his gut, he was ready for this to be a natural disaster.
"Watch it." Kirk warned him. "You'll see exactly what I mean."
"You're being paranoid." The elder man sighed, shaking his head. "You'll find that it isn't nearly as horrible as you seem to think it is and who knows, you may even enjoy yourself."
"I seriously doubt that." Kirk tried, through sheer force of will, to convey his utter skepticism through his impressive look of disbelief and cynicism, succeeding only in showing how little faith he had in the system and his (now) fellow professors.
"Don't worry so much Kirk. There are people here you can come to if you need help. Believe it or not, a lot of first time professors need help learning how to deal with the kind of people you get here in Starfleet Academy. A lot of veterans that have never taught here need it."
"You honestly think the other professors will help me?" Kirk snorted in derisive amusement.
"None of them want to see you fail at the expense of your fellow students." Pike reminded drolly. "At the very least, they're expecting you to come crying to them and giving up. If they don't even expect you to keep the class for more than a month, there's no reason not to help you if you need it."
Jim straightened in his seat, seething internally. They doubted him. They all doubted him. Everyone kept thinking he couldn't do it. Everyone just wanted to see him fail.
With a push, he stood up, hands slapping down on the desktop with quite a crack. Pike jerked back, brow knitting together in surprise. He opened his mouth to scold Kirk, but froze. Kirk's eyes were electric, a cold, sharp blue, hard. Outwardly, nothing else was different, with the possible exception of the stiffness in his movements. But his eyes shone clearly with the well contained defiance.
Pike would have worried, as Kirk left his office, had he ever seen that look in his eyes before. It was the look of a man that could do anything, and would have no regrets about it once it was done. But there was a direction there, just then, that spoke of the kind of determination one couldn't fake. There was a purpose. Kirk was going to prove himself. Pike could see that so very clearly. That look…
That look was the look of a man who was staring down a battle he knew he couldn't win, but was going to anyway.
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Jim took a deep breath, just before remembering that that only made him more anxious. So he took two shorter, shallower breaths and splashed cold water on his face. The bathrooms in the dorms were fairly cramped, and if he took a step back, the sonic shower would take a bite out of his calves. He leaned bodily on the little counter, scattering a few of his and McCoy's things. Water was dripping onto his red collar, something that was bound to be absolutely infuriating in his first class as the damp material chafed at his skin.
All he could do was poke gingerly at the pale purple bags under his eyes, not really noticeable unless you were up close looking at him. He'd been up all night, worrying over his first day teaching. It was smack dab in the middle of his morning, right after his first class and right before his third class, leaving no time to breathe. He figured he wasn't going to get a chance to change, so he might as well go for low-profile his first day and wear red.
And that was an endearingly ironic statement.
It wasn't like his students didn't all know he was a student too. The least he could do was make himself less of a target in his other classes. Most of his other courses were on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a frustrating number of labs on Friday, so he was free for the entire day after his third class on Mondays and Wednesdays. Only two classes that would see him in black besides the one he was taking. That and the entire school he had to walk past.
Besides, black would only accentuate the dark circles he was stressing over. He'd rather look like a lobster, if a rather fetching one, then a walking skeleton.
Not that he had a problem with any alien species that vaguely resembled lobsters or skeletons in any way, of course. That was cool. Though, presuming he found any that actually met that description, he wondered just what kind of reaction they would have to the school colors. It wasn't like every alien looked at them and went 'Oh, red? Yeah, that's a normal color where I come from, not creepy at all' or something like that.
He splashed water on his face again, jarring himself from his completely unproductive thoughts.
He could do this. Today was just cover material. He literally had to go over the course expectations and walk them through the same bull they'd been hearing since their first class and he'd be done. It was almost foolproof. He couldn't actually manage to screw this up when he was trying to do it right. He didn't have so much faith as to say he couldn't screw it up if he did nothing, let alone if he tried, but he figured actively trying to get it right had to count for something.
For good measure, he swiveled on his heel and dry heaved into the toilet for a good three minutes before McCoy started pounding on the door in a rage.
"Damn it Jim! Open this door." McCoy hollered. "You're making yourself sick."
"I'm fine, Bones." Jim groaned, ordering the door open. "Swear. Haven't even eaten yet, so I've got nothing."
"That's hardly reassuring." McCoy huffed, pressing the back of his hand to Jim's forehead. "You don't feel like you have a temperature."
"God, Bones, I'm fine." Jim swatted his hand away, maneuvering himself around him to get back into the dorm room. "You are such a mother hen."
"Well excuse me for giving a damn about your ass. Someone has to."
"Plenty of people give a damn about my ass." Jim flashed a charming smile.
"Yeah, but they care how good it looks in a pair of jeans. I give a damn about how healthy it is." McCoy folded his arms across his chest, leaning on the door frame.
Jim pulled a face, scrunching his nose up in dismay. "This conversation is so weird. Can we just agree that you're a mother hen, I have a hot ass, and I'm fine?"
McCoy looked ready to protest, but simply glanced at the clock. "Go eat. You have class in thirty."
"Jim." McCoy's voice took a cold, warning tone.
"Sorry." Jim mumbled. "I'm'a go get an apple now so leave me alone for the rest of the day."
"That doesn't actually work!" McCoy howled after him in complaint.
Down the hall, out of sight of his dorm, Jim sagged against the wall. A few passing students gave him curious glances. Jim immediately straightened himself. He was in public. He couldn't let anyone see him looking less than his best and thinking he wasn't up to the job.
As far as first days for a semester go, this was a fairly decent one. Sun shone down across the campus, a smattering of clouds keeping it from being too bright. A stiff breeze drove across the grounds, gently whipping skirts around legs and cooling students under the enormous weight of their jackets. Jim took a deep breath, relishing the mixed scents of fresh cut grass and saltwater. It was pungent and sweet, settling on the back of his tongue in an almost bitter mix of scents.
Not as good as fertilizer and growing things for calming him, but still wonderful. Jim grinned, biting into his apple and ignoring the way the juice sprayed across his face. It was hard not to grin with everyone in their summer uniforms. Girls in pretty red skirts rushed across the grass, a controlled step below running to make it to their classes.
Kirk sauntered along naturally, having already memorized the exact time between every point on campus at his current speed. He was almost never late unless he wanted to be.
That said, he knew he was going to have to walk quickly from his first class to his lecture. The professor had a bad habit of going over the time and they were almost on the opposite sides of campus. Being late to your own class would just look bad. Fortunately it was the first day and, if there was one thing this professor was known for more than running long in his lectures, it was that he never used his whole first day, rather despising it. Jim wondered if he could actually get away with something like that or if everyone would think it was unprofessional for a new teacher like him.
If there was one thing that was disturbing Jim, it was the utter space around him. No one was coming over as he walked, no one saying hello, no one waving. They just watched from a distance, like they weren't sure what to do. Jim wasn't sure what to do. It wasn't like it had fully sunken in yet, the fact that he was straddling a razor fine line between teacher and student with a lot hanging over it.
Jim polished off his apple as he headed into his first class, trying not to over think something as stupidly simple as teaching people a lesson.
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A depressingly Spock-less chapter, sorry. He will be in the next one. As will Jim's first attempt at teaching.