There were two things in life worse than being invisible. But for one James Tiberius Kirk, neither of those things were going to come to pass anytime soon. One was death.
The other was heartbreak.
Since Jim didn't have a significant other and was in the least dangerous profession on the planet, neither of those were his problem. But now, as he sat in front of the broken terminal he was working on, the two people making out in the corner seemed not to see him in the slightest. Or they didn't think he would know what they were doing. Vulcan kissing was so different from human kissing that he was pretty certain that even the majority of those who worked with Vulcans on a regular basis didn't know.
Only one of them was a Vulcan, though. The other was a light skinned, beautiful human woman. Tey were both in the red outfit worn by the cadets. Jim may not be a cadet, but he knew enough about the academy to know that this wouldn't be allowed, especially not in public like this. But he was invisible, the computer repair man who was so ubiquitous on campus and so ignored that everyone knew who he was but no one knew his name, the sound of his voice, or who his parents were.
And that suited Jim just fine.
Except during times like this. All Jim wanted to do was yell at the couple to get a room and leave him to complete repairs on the consoles. He still had three left to look at in this room alone. Instead, Jim would retreat, his fear of what Vulcan strength causing him to shut the open console and gather his things as silently as possible, retreating out the opposite door from where he should have exited and into the far side of the building. It would take an extra five minutes of walking to get back to the dorms he was stationed in, but it was worth not having to cross into the couple's direct line of sight and notice.
As he walked, Jim watched his feet, angry at himself for not speaking up and finishing his work right then. He would have to come back to that same room later, work on that same console, and try to drive the sight of a human and Vulcan making out in a corner from his mind's eye. Other than that, it would be a mostly normal Friday night for him.
Trying to straighten his gray maintenance uniform as he walked, Jim looked up and to the stairwell leading downstairs. At least today he hadn't been accosted by any of the security cadets, or given a hard time by the command cadets, or had to walk through the cafeteria to have random bits of food flung at him. Because he was without a higher degree, did not graduate from Starfleet Academy, and was not a visiting dignitary, it was seen as permissible to treat him as dirt. Or worse.
Jim pushed the door leading out into the San Francisco sunlight open and stepped out, shielding his sensitive eyes from the glare. Spending his entire day indoors did nothing for his eyesight on days like this. Even his days spent outside while he was in Iowa didn't help. Nothing really had prepared him for his life here.
Growing up as a genius freak, Jim had quickly been shunned as a child. His mother wanted nothing to do with him, leaving him with his step father, who was the poster boy for why alcoholics should not live with children. After years of this life, of his running away and being dragged back, Jim finally made it out, made it to the big city, which in Iowa was about one one hundredth the size of San Fran, and took on an apprenticeship to help build the vessels for Starfleet.
His promise in computer programming had led his direct supervisor to put in for Jim to be employed at the academy for more than four times what he was making in Iowa. The way Jim saw it was that if he could work here for a time, save his money, he might one day be able to afford tuition and take classes while he was here, and might be able to join his mother in space.
But that day was not today. Today he was an invisible computer tech without a place of his own. No name, no friends, no future. The only thing he had was his intelligence, his persistence, and his never say die attitude. Unlike every other cadet on the campus, Jim studied the books he found lying around. He knew about Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Andorians, and number of other races. He knew everything there was to know about starship designations, designs, and warp drives. Ranks, insignia, departments, even who commanded what were already in Jim Kirk's mind.
All he needed now was the credits to validate his knowledge. But no one took the corn bred, pathologically shy, abused maintenance man seriously. Most saw him as a good way to earn a bit of street cred among their peers.
So lost in his thoughts was Jim that he barely realized he was walking through an alley on his way home that was far from empty. At the far end, unseen when he entered the alleyway, were three burly cadets. They were watching Jim as he walked, and one elbowed another, gesturing with his head at Jim. This would get painful fast, Jim thought, as he contemplated turning and heading back in the opposite direction. But unfortunately for him, he was already halfway through, and the men were headed over already. There was no where to run to, not now, and he did not want to end up in the hospital again. By the look in the cadets' eyes, however, that was the probably outcome.
At least they started slow before getting to the heavy hitting. Pushing him around, into the wall. Jim would have fought back, and might have won, but part of his probationary period meant that he could not be caught in these sorts of incidents. As one of the bigger males stood over him, holding his collar and whispering something, Jim just shut himself off from physical sensation, choosing instead to go over the computer system in his mind until this was over.
So he didn't notice at first when the punching stopped, didn't hear the sound of bodies being thrown about and hitting solid, brick walls, didn't feel the gentleness of the hands now lifting him as if he didn't weigh a thing. It wasn't until the sunlight hit his face again that Jim opened his eyes, which were already swelling, and looked up at the oddly moving sky above him. Someone was carrying him, someone who could hold him with ease, someone who was extremely warm and extremely Vulcan.
Jim's eyes went to the face of the man carrying him towards the medical buildings. He was Vulcan, his hair cut severe, his face stoic, his eyes...A chocolate brown Jim found intriguing. The Vulcan spared him a single glance before looking ahead again, a slight twitch to his lips.
"I am taking you to the infirmary," he stated, his voice flat. "You have sustained eight broken bones, numerous bruises and lacerations, and may have a concussion."
Trying to thank him, Jim heard nothing more than an undignified sort of wheezing sound leave his throat. How could he have forgotten the choke hold? Not being able to speak, he simply relaxed there and let the Vulcan carry him. There were no more words until the doors to the main hospital were opened and Jim was placed into the nearest wheelchair.
One of the student doctors who worked with Jim when he came in was standing with a chart in his hands talking to a blond nurse. The doctor, Jim affectionately called him Bones after the first conversation they ever had but who's real name was Leonard McCoy, felt his attention drawn to the door, blinked once and hurried over, tossing the chart at the poor nurse who had no choice but to follow.
"Jesus, Jim! What the hell happened this time?"
The Vulcan straightened, pulling the front of his black tunic down before looking at Bones. "I found him in an alleyway with three cadets-"
He never did get to finish what he was saying before Jim blacked out. Unconsciousness was a far kinder way to deal with the pain than any hypo Bones would stab him with.
The steady beeping of a heart monitor and the sound of low, whispering voices nearby drug Jim from his blissful sleep. He was soon aware of the aches over his body, and the surprising amount of numbness he legs. As he lay there, refusing to move quite yet, the voices nearby became a bit clearer.
"Commander, as long as you are here, can I ask something?"
"You may ask as many questions as you like and I may or may not choose to answer, doctor."
Jim heard a sigh and the scratching of a chair against the linoleum tiled floor. "I guess my only real question is why are you here?"
An intake of breath, slow exhalation, then the commander, Jim recognized the voice as that of the Vulcan who had carried him here, spoke. "I wanted to be certain that the young human was not permanently injured by the cadets so when I file the necessary papers I will know what to fill out as the state of the complainant."
"Jim won't file no case, you know," Bones said. Jim could see in his mind's eye the southern doctor lounging over the back of the hospital chair as he had done every time he sat vigil for Jim. "He's been in here eight times since I got here, and never once filed charges. Don't think that's going to change."
Silence took over the small room, save for the heart monitor that beeped steadily. Jim opened his eyes slowly, trying not to draw attention to himself, so he could look over at the two men sitting near his bed. The commander was sitting straight, his posture stiff and uncomfortable looking next to Bones, who had one arm flung carelessly over the back of his seat, seemingly trying to be the polar opposite of the Vulcan who he was eying with definite distaste.
"He may not, but I will be certain that the proper disciplinary actions are taken-"
"Why do you even care? It's not like he's one of your cadets!" Now Bones sat upright, leaning towards the Vulcan with his eyes narrowed. "No one else on this campus gives two shits about the maintenance department until something doesn't get done."
"That is...incorrect." He let his gaze travel to the now awake Jim, his eyes widening slightly. "Mr. Kirk, I am glad you have awoken finally."
Bones jumped from his chair quickly enough to knock it over and rushed around Jim's bed, coming up to the other side to quickly check Jim's vitals. When the patient tried to bat the doctor's hands away, Bones became a bit irritated.
"No, Jim. You've been out for two days. Don't make me sedate you."
Only when Jim's hands fell back to the bed did the Vulcan move slowly to stand next to the bed as well. Leonard looked up at the Vulcan and gave a half sigh.
"Jim, this is Commander Spock. Spock, this is James Kirk." Once those proper introductions were made, Bones went back to his examination, picking up a tricorder from the table and scanning Jim's body. "Seems like everything is healing properly. Had to do some basic regeneration of some of your bones. You might feel some numbness in your legs for a few more hours until the spinal swelling goes down, but then you'll be fine to go out and get yourself near killed again."
"Sorry, Bones," Jim said with a frown, his voice scratchy and barely audible. After a few coughs, he tried again. "Didn't mean to."
"I know you won't, but Spock did point out that charges need to be filed this time," Bones commented, almost trying for casual. "There was a witness this time and I have that suspicion that had the commander not intervened you would have been past resuscitation."
Jim shook his head, looking away. "No. Not needed. I-"
"Screw your probationary period, Jim! I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker! I can't keep putting you back together because you decide that this job is more important than your well being!"
Spock's eyes went sharply to Bones at this point. "Probationary period?"
"He can't be arrested or charged with any crimes against Starfleet personal," Bones explained exasperatedly. He put the tricorder down and picked up a hypo, jabbing it into Jim's neck, causing the other man to recoil and wince.
"Until he is properly enrolled," the doctor continued as if he hadn't just caused his patient to curse. "Because he won't take the tests to get a scholarship, Mr. Kirk-" The name was said with a great deal of sarcasm. "-is insisting on saving up enough money himself. And his post is one of those that requires tenure to be properly protected against being black listed." With a roll of his eyes, Bones ran the tricorder over Jim again. "He calls it his probationary period. I call it sheer idiocy."
"It's self preservation." Jim looked over at Spock. "Thank you for what you've done, commander, but I will not be filing charges and have no further need of assistance."
"Illogical," Spock said quickly. "I discovered you have no form of medical coverage through Starfleet and when I questioned Doctor McCoy about it, he said you always paid with your own funds. If you are truly saving to enroll in Starfleet, allow me to cover the expenses of your medical stay since you are declining your right to press charges against your assailants."
Only a second passed before Jim shook his head. "No. I won't be indebted to anyone." The darkness in his voice was only overcome by the sheer willpower it took to keep his eyes open. Whatever Bones had shot him with was starting to kick in and hard. He leaned back against the pillow and felt his head lolling to the side. "Now...can I sleep again?"
With that he was out.
When Jim woke for the second time, he was glad to find himself alone and his clothes, cleaned and folded, at the foot of his bed. That was McCoy's not so subtle way of letting him know he was free to leave. Changing out of the medical gown, Jim slid from the room and moved to the front desk where the receptionist sat.
"Hi. James Kirk. I'm just checking out and wanted to pay my bill." Or as much as he could. Jim still had his last visit to finish payments on.
"Mr. Kirk," the receptionist said absently, typing his name on her PADD. "I will discharge you, and you are already paid up to date." She gave him a dazzling smile and nodded. "Have a nice day and we hope not to see you back here anytime soon."
Jim stood there for a moment before he could speak again. "Wait, I'm paid up to date? As in...completely paid?"
She hit something on her PADD before nodding. "Yes. You are free to go."
A scowl hit Jim's face. He would find that nosy, irritating, overly helpful Vulcan and pay him back. He would have to otherwise this could come back and bite him in the ass in the most unpleasant way.