team 2

Star Trek Fic: The Most Convenient Definitions (2/3)

Title: The Most Convenient Definitions
Author: igrockspock
Link to Art: Here by deliciousny
Mixer: vertrauen
Beta: circ_bamboo
Character/Pairing(s): Spock/Uhura, Spock/Gaila, Kirk/Uhura, Pavel Chekov, Christopher Pike, Janice Rand
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: References to past child abuse
Word Count: 23,000
Summary: Five teens meet in detention at George Kirk Memorial Preparatory School: Jim Kirk, perpetual misfit. Spock, star of the debate team, perpetually under pressure from his overachieving parents. Nyota Uhura, linguistics expert and resident ice princess. Pavel Chekov, small, brilliant, utterly incapable of fitting in. Gaila, an escaped Orion slave who doesn't fit in and doesn't want to. Together, they are trapped under the command of Headmaster Christopher Pike, and they just may discover they have something in common after all. A twenty-third century adaptation of The Breakfast Club.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to circ_bamboo for her patient work tidying lines of dialog, spotting typos, and fixing my endless paragraphing mistakes. The story would not have been the same without her watchful eye!



Back to Part 1

At 11:30, Pike drags himself away from the model starship he's building and enters the library. Jim Kirk, who had been whistling a Starfleet marching tune, begins whistling a song Pike believes is associated with a twentieth-century villain known as Darth Vader.

“All right, boys and girls, time for lunch.”

“Here?” Spock asks.

When did Vulcans start asking obvious questions?

“Here.”

“I believe the cafeteria would be a more suitable place for us to eat. Sir.”

“I don't care what you think, Mr. Spock.”

“Um, Chrissy? I mean, Chris?” Pike doesn't need to look up to recognize the mockingly subservient tone of Kirk's voice. He feels a vein pop in his forehead, and he wills himself not to respond.

“I mean, Chris, will milk be available to us?”

“We are extremely thirsty, sir,” Spock says.

“I have a very low tolerance for dehydration,” Uhura adds.

“I have seen her dehydrate. It is disgusting,” Chekov says, and Kirk laughs, then looks surprised.

“I'll go get the milk, sir.” Kirk stands and salutes.

“Sit down,” Pike snaps.

“You.” He points at Spock, then surveys the rest of the crew. “And you.” He points at Gaila.

“There's a soft drink machine in the teacher's room. Let's go.”

It's not regulation, and they probably all packed their own drinks anyway. All the same, if this crew is learning to stick together, they deserve a reward, however small. Not that they'll realize that's what he's rewarding them for.

***


Nyota wipes a fingerprint from the screen of her padd with a corner of her gray cashmere sweater. Pike had disabled the network access and deleted everything except the help tutorial, which she begins translating into Klingon.

“Hey, Uhura,” Kirk says behind her. She conjugates the verb “to kill” in her head. “Wanna see a picture of a guy with elephantitis of the nuts? It's pretty tasty...”

She turns, shielding her eyes carefully from his padd. She hopes Spock and Gaila return from their errand soon; she doesn't think she can endure Kirk by herself.

“I hope you choke to death on your own saliva,” she says in Klingon, then resumes translating her help tutorial. She wishes she had a Klingon example to work from; right now, she's choosing the most polite words she can manage, but she wonders if the Klingons prefer straight commands. Possibly laced with death threats.

“I wonder how he rides a bike,” Kirk says behind her.

She ignores him.

“Would you date someone like that?” he asks.

Nyota writes there are several ways to search the documents folder in Klingon.

“I mean, if he was...”

Were,” she snaps without looking up. “It's a hypothetical, so use the subjunctive.”

“Okay. If he were a good dancer and had a great personality and a cool car... Of course, you'd probably have to ride in the backseat because his nuts would take up the whole front.”

She refuses to turn around. Absolutely refuses.

“Could you please leave me alone?”

Use the keypad to type the document name into the search bar, she writes. Then press the “go” button to begin searching. This is the most boring day of her entire life.

“Hey, Uhura, if you could be anywhere, doing anything right now, what would it be?”

That's actually a decent question, and she's about to answer when Kirk says, “Careful what you say though. Pasha here is a cherry.”

“I am not a cherry.”

“When have you ever gotten laid?”

“I have laid lots of times.”

“Name one.”

“At Niagara Falls, I met a girl.”

“Ever laid anyone around here?”

Nyota is doing her best to ignore them because she has as much interest in their sex lives as she does in eating ptagh, but the next thing she hears Kirk say is, “Oh, so you've done it with Uhura here?” She spins around so fast her stylus drops to the floor.

What?”

Chekov turns a livid shade of red. Kirk leans forward and whispers conspiratorially, “Well, Chekov here assures me that in addition to a number of girls in the Niagara Falls area, he is presently boning you.”

“You know he's lying right? Please, Nyo-- I mean, Miss Uhura, I am very afraid of you and would not say...”

“I swear on my father's grave that when I asked if he laid anyone around here, he pointed at you.”

“His father has no grave. Please do not believe him.”

“Were you or were you not pointing at Uhura?”

“I... Yes, yes I was pointing at Miss Uhura. I am sorry. It is only because I did not wish you to know I was virgin.”

Chekov looks so pathetic that Uhura laughs.

“Why didn't you want me to know you were a virgin?”

“Because it is my personal business. My personal, private business.”

“Well, Chekov, it doesn't sound like you're doing any business,” Kirk says.

“I think it's okay for a guy to be a virgin.” She glares at Kirk. “The galaxy could use fewer testosterone-driven douchebags.”

Chekov beams. Kirk looks disappointed. Nyota feels like she's won.

***


Gaila removes her lunch brown paper lunch bag from beneath her seat. It comes from the Youth Shelter's cafeteria, and she has no choice about what is inside it.

Spock throws her a can of soda, a gesture she had not expected since they had not spoken at all on their errand to the vending machine. She catches it without looking. Kirk looks impressed, but she doesn't look at him. She knows she could best him in a physical fight, but she doesn't want to risk a verbal exchange.

Lunch is a hierarchical ritual, she knows. What each student brings reveals her personality, her economic class, her family life... Gaila had inspected her fellow students' lunches when she realized this, and then she stopped coming to the cafeteria. Today she opens her soda can to avoid revealing her own food in such close quarters. Allowing others to see how much she has to eat contravenes years of training. The soda fizzes out of the top of the can and spreads across the desk, and she slurps it up, the better not to waste. The others stare, and she stares back until they look away. They fear her because she does not care about their opinions.

“Hey, Uhura, what's in the bag?” Kirk asks.

Uhura carries small, silver-gray shopping bag, embossed with the logo of an expensive department store. An elegant – and unnecessary – way to communicate her family's wealth. From it, she removes a plastic tray of sushi, a tiny bottle of soy sauce, and a pair of red and gold chopsticks that make Gaila wish she owned something that pretty.

Kirk has no lunch. Spock's is like hers, a sandwich, fruit, and a cup of pudding. She removes the meat from her sandwich and tosses it in the air, where it lands with a splat on a statue of George Kirk. No one notices; Kirk is too busy staring at Spock, and the rest are waiting for the inevitable confrontation to unfold. She opens a small box of sugary cereal she had stolen from the school cafeteria and two purple pixie stix she had swiped from another student's bag. She pours these onto her bread with a layer of tortilla chips in the middle. It isn't Orion food, but it's as close as she will ever come in Iowa.

Kirk is still staring at Spock's lunch.

“What is your problem?” Spock asks.

Kirk darts to the next table to inspect Chekov's bag. Coward, Gaila thinks. Kirk always chooses the easy target.“What're we having?” he asks.

“It is a standard lunch. Very American,” Chekov answers because he still prefers being teased and humiliated to being ignored.

Kirk removes a thermos. “Milk?”

“Soup.”

Kirk pulls a carton of juice from the bag like the ones the smaller children at the shelter drink.

“That's apple juice,” Chekov supplies.

“I can read.”

Chekov reaches toward the bag, but Kirk slaps his hand. Chekov doesn't fight back.

“Peanut butter and jelly with the crusts cut off...a cup of oranges... Well, Pasha, this is a very nutritious meal. All the food groups are represented. Who did your mother marry, Mr. Rogers?”

“No, Mr. Johnson, actually. She met him here in Iowa.”

Uhura smiles. Gaila can't tell if she's laughing at Chekov or with Chekov. Maybe a little of both.

Kirk stands and stretches, like he's preparing for something big.

“Here's my impression of life in little Pasha's house.” In a deep voice, he says, “Hello, son! How was your day?” He changes his voice to a high-pitched squeal. “Swell, Dad, how was yours?” The deep voice again. “Super, son! Hey, how would you like to go fishing this weekend?”

“Stop it!” Chekov's face is turning red. “I do not call my stepfather 'Dad'. He is not my father.”

Gaila watches, intrigued. She wants to know if Chekov can really stand up for himself, and whether human families are really like what Kirk was describing. But unlike Chekov, she knows better than to reveal her weaknesses to Kirk, who now looks like a predator closing in on prey.

“What's your family like, then?” Uhura asks before Kirk can say anything cruel.

Kirk's smile looks a little jagged.

“That's easy.” He slumps in his chair and mimes holding a remote control in one hand and a drink in the other. “You stupid, worthless, no good, know-it-all, asshole, jerk stepson!” he says, slurring the words a little. Then, in a high-pitched voice, he adds, “I'm sorry, Jimmy, he doesn't mean it. If you just wouldn't upset him like that...”

Kirk stands up and ambles forward, his face looking oddly intent. He reaches out and pretends he's his stepfather hitting him.

“Fuck you!” he shouts with every strike. “Fuck you!”

“Is that real?” Chekov whispers.

“You wanna come over sometime?”

“I do not believe you. It is part of the image you have created for yourself,” Spock says.

Kirk looks hurt, and Gaila would think it was a ploy except for the pain is in his eyes and she doesn't think he could fake that. He ambles toward Spock and rolls up his sleeve to reveal a fat, round burn that looks like the one Gaila has on the inside of her thigh.

“Do you believe this, huh? That's what you get when you spill paint in the garage when Frank is home and Mommy is off planet.”

He begins to walk away.

“I don't think I need to sit around with you assholes anymore!”

He jumps on top of a table, grabs the railing of the second floor balcony, and swings himself over.

“You shouldn't have said that,” Uhura hisses, loud enough for them to here but not so loud it will reach the balcony.

“It was logical to believe that he was lying. James Kirk often lies for effect.”

The rest of them are silent.

***


Pike eats his lunch at 12:00 p.m., the exact midpoint of the day. His thermos is silver and embossed with images of old NX class starships; he's had it since he was ten. When he tilts it to pour coffee into his mug (technically the property of the Yorktown), the lid falls off and a torrent of scalding coffee rains onto his desk.

“Shit,” he mutters to himself. “Motherfucking shit.”

He pretends not to notice the five students slipping past his office door. At least they're sticking together.

***


Pavel does not understand why they have left the library. They have been told to stay in the library. It is the first rule of detention.

Uhura was the first to follow Kirk out. Pavel does not understand this either, but maybe it is for the same reason that he hates James Kirk but keeps talking to him anyway.

“How do you know where Pike is?” Uhura is asking. Pavel thinks this is a very important question. Perhaps Pike is in his office, but perhaps he is in the lavatory, or getting a drink of water, or inspecting the science and engineering labs...

“I don't.”

Uhura looks as scandalized as Pavel feels.

“Then how do you know when he'll be back?”

“I don't.” Kirk flashes the broad grin Pavel has seen him use on women with great effect. “Being bad feels good, doesn't it?”

This time Uhura smiles back. Pavel's stomach clenches, but Spock's presence beside him makes him feel reassured. If Spock has left the library, he must have a logical reason, right?

“Why are we going to Kirk's locker?” Pavel asks.

“I do not know.”

“But this is stupid, right? We are risking getting caught, for what?”

Spock seems unconcerned.

“I do not know.”

“Then why are we doing this?”

“I have told you repeatedly, I do not know. If you did not wish to come, you should not have. Please stop asking questions.”

They arrive in front of Kirk's locker, which Pavel thinks will make him feel better. At least now they are finished with their journey, and they can go back to the library soon. Then he sees what Kirk retrieved from his locker. Six metal cans, joined together by recyclable plastic rings.

“Beer!” He exclaims before he can stop himself. “He has beer!”

He knows that some teenagers consume alcohol, of course. He has seen it in holovids, and in Russia, where his cousins drink vodka with their dinner. But in this part of the planet, it is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages before the age of 18, and Pavel does not partake.

“He has alcohol at school.” The idea is almost impossible to comprehend. Kirk is removing large bottles of clear liquid from his locker now. Alcohol and school. The two do not mix.

“Please return those to your locker,” Spock says.

Kirk shakes his head and saunters down the hall. Uhura follows, looking contemptuous, and Spock walks quickly to catch up with her. Now it is only him and Gaila. Normally, she frightens him, but now he is too shocked to be afraid.

“Do you approve of this?” he asks.

Gaila clicks a few words of Orion in response, and Chekov darts toward the rest of the group. From the corner of his eye, he sees Gaila caress the lock on Kirk's locker. She slips it reverently into her pocket, and Pavel pretends not to notice.

***


Jim surveys his crew. Uhura looks angry, Chekov looks worried, and the Orion girl looks stunned. Spock is disappointingly expressionless. But they're all following him, which is a good feeling. He beckons them with his hand, and they crowd around close.

“We're going to cross through the science labs, then double back through the library.” He whispers even though he's sure Pike's nowhere close enough to hear them.

“I hope that you are correct. If Pike catches us, it will be your fault.”

“Trust me. It'll work.”

He winks. Uhura smiles. The science lab is way out of their way and probably locked, but they don't have to know that. He's having way too much fun to go back to the library, and so are they.

Pike almost catches them at the end of the astrophysics hall, but Spock has special Vulcan hearing or some shit, and they run they opposite direction. Chekov gets in the lead somehow – lots of experience running away from bullies, Kirk guesses – and whistles and motions them toward the language lab. He thinks that's exactly the direction Pike was going, but then, that's the point. Leading your crew into danger is fun, and leading them out of it makes you look like a hero. It's a good game, and he keeps it going for half an hour, till he realizes that Pike is probably headed back to the library to check on them.

“Come one,” he stage whispers. “We have to go back to through the cafeteria.”

Spock shakes his head.

“Going through the activities hall is more efficient.”

“You don't know what you're talking about.”

“No, it is you who does not know what you're talking about. You have been leading us on an extremely circuitous route.”

Kirk sees the warning look in Spock's eyes. He knew exactly what Jim was up to. But he followed anyway, which was a cool feeling.

“We are finished listening to you. We are going to the activities hall now,” Spock says. He walks away, and the others follow. Uhura shoots him an apologetic look, but the others don't even look back. Jim stands there for a moment, feeling cheated and a little bereft. That asshole stole my crew, he thinks. His first impulse is to strike off in the opposite direction, but for once in his life, he doesn't feel like being alone, so he jogs a little to catch up...which means that he's there when Spock leads them to a corridor blocked by a forcefield and a sign that says NO STUDENT ACCESS in three Federation languages.

“Fuck,” Uhura says.

Kirk smiles, but he makes sure to wipe it off his face before she turns around.

“Why didn't you listen to Jim?” she asks.

“When did you begin addressing him by his first name?” Spock asks. Uhura rolls her eyes.

“We're dead,” Chekov whispers.

“No,” Kirk says. “Just me.”

He thinks he feels his chest puff out a little. He's a captain sacrificing himself for his crew. He thrusts the beer into Chekov's hands and the liquor into Gaila's.

“Take care of these for me,” he says, mock-dramatic. He looks around at his crew. “And take care of them.”

Then he runs down the corridor toward Pike's distant figure, singing, “Can't stand it, I know you planned it...”

***


Pike catches Kirk in the gym, where he's throwing basketballs through the hoop with remarkable accuracy, considering that Pike has never seen him participate in any team activity, athletic or otherwise.

“Good afternoon, Captain,” Kirk says, tossing him a mock salute. “I hope you don't mind my being here. I know it's not regulation and all. But see, sir, I'm planning to go out for a basketball scholarship, so I hoped you'd be understanding.”

“You could, you know,” Pike says.

Kirk doesn't have a comeback to that, just blinks and looks surprised.

“I can see it's been a long time since anyone's told you something like that. But it's true. You could go out for a basketball scholarship. You'd probably get it. I imagine you could do anything you wanted to.”

Kirk smirks.

“Right, Chrissy. You can cut the touchy-feely crap anytime you like.”

He hurls the ball right at Pike's midsection, but Pike catches it in mid-air and tosses it neatly onto the rack at the side of the gym.

“Takes a lot more than that to catch me off-guard, kid.”

“Right. Your illustrious Starfleet career and all. Must be quite a let-down, being a high school principal. You must have really pissed off the brass if they sent you all the way down here. What'd you do? Lose the ship? Somebody die on your watch? Somebody special?”

“Yeah, a lot of people. Not all at once, but they were all special.”

“That's very touching, Chris.” Kirk places a hand over his heart. “I think I might just turn my life around. Thank god you were here to say that to me. I mean, nobody's ever tried to connect with me before, step into my dead father's shoes, give me the role model I need and deserve...”

Kirk removes his hand from his chest and rubs his hands together, as if wiping away something dirty.

“Well, now that we're done with our little heart-to-heart, what's it going to be? Another week of detention? Community service? Push-ups?”

He drops to the floor and begins doing one-armed push-ups.

“Just tell me how many, sir!”

“Dammit, Jim, I don't enjoy this. You think I want to punish you every day?”

Kirk stands up, his eyes strangely unreadable.

“You know, that's what Daddy Frank always said too.”

He shoves his hands into his jeans pockets, looking oddly defeated.

“I'll just go and get my things from the library.”

In the end, Pike puts him the janitor's closet because he has no idea what else to do with him. There's a light in there, at least, and some cardboard boxes to sit on. He tosses Jim one of the padds he'd passed out this morning.

“Go on, Kirk, tell me who you are. I dare you.”

He closes the door and realizes ten minutes later he ought to have checked the ceiling for a maintenance hatch.

***


“Where do you think Jim is?” Nyota asks Spock when they return to the library, chests heaving.

“I do not know,” he replies stiffly. “Leaving the library was his choice. He must face the consequences.”

“You went with him. And don't say it was just to supervise. Admit it. You like breaking the rules once in awhile too.”

She smiles at Spock, but he's already writing a physics problem on his padd and doesn't notice. She returns the Klingon translation of her padd's help guide, but it's no use. She feels wild and awake, just like she had when she'd crashed the linguistics conference with her fake ID.

“Hey, Chekov, wanna learn some Klingon pick-up lines?” she asks.

“Absolutely!” he replies, beaming. His puppy-like eagerness is cute, especially when she compares it with Spock's stoicism and Kirk's cynicism.

“Okay, repeat after me. Now that I have slain my enemies, let us mate,” Nyota says slowly and clearly, savoring the harsh Klingon syllables on her tongue.

“This is irresponsible,” Spock whispers to her. “He would be killed if he said that to a Klingon.”

“If anyone understood him,” she whispers back.

Now that I have slain my enemies, let us mate,” Chekov repeats solemnly – and unintelligibly – in Klingon.

And then Jim Kirk falls through the ceiling.

“You're an idiot,” she says, even though she's kind of happy to see him. “How many more detentions do you want to serve?”

She still helps him up, and doesn't think about the little electric jolt she gets when she feels his big hand wrapped around hers.

“Pike is coming,” Spock says. “I believe he may have heard your entrance.”

“The entire galaxy heard your entrance,” Chekov says. “We're all dead. Again.”

“Not if I can help it,” Nyota says as she pushes Jim under the table seconds before Pike bursts into the room.

“What was that noise?”

“What noise?” Spock asks blandly. Nyota shoots him a small, grateful smile. She's glad he's still part of their crew, even if he doesn't like Kirk very muc.

“You know what noise. One of you made it.”

“Could you describe the noise, sir?” Chekov asks.

“You'll watch your mouth, young man.”

Kirk sits up under the table. His head thunks loudly against the wood, followed by a groan.

“What was that?” Pike snaps.

“Banged my shin on the table leg,” Nyota says at the same time Spock says, “I believe I am experiencing indigestion from lunch.”

Nyota feels Jim's head brush against her knee and realizes suddenly why he had sat up. She can positively feel him looking at her panties. Heat rises to her cheeks and she snaps her legs shut only to discover Kirk's head between them. She shrieks. Gaila shrieks too, a wild and high-pitched keen that obliterates Nyota's tiny squeak. The hairs on the back of her neck are standing up, but she has to admit it's a fabulous distraction.

“Was that the noise you heard, sir?” Gaila asks.

Pike's face looks oddly pale beneath his suntan.

“No, it was not.” He fixes them all with a captain's stare one by one. Nyota blanches. “You know what the first lesson of Starfleet is? Obey. In space, people's lives depend on it. Each one of you have said you want a Starfleet career, and if you thinking breaking petty rules makes you brave, not a single one of you is fit for it. I might not have caught you this time, but I will. Prove to me that you can do better.”

Nyota feels guilty in spite of herself. Pike might not have the best rapport with his students, but she knows that he works hard here, and she hates the feeling that she let him down. Heat flushes over her cheeks, and she doesn't dare meet Pike's eyes.

Not that her guilt distracts her for long. As soon as the door closes behind Pike, she drags Kirk from under the table by his hair and slaps him as hard as she can.

“You must have some practice at that,” Kirk says, clutching his right cheek, where the vivid red outline of Nyota's hand is glowing.

She does, but it's not his business.

“I hope your penis turns green and rots off,” she snaps.

Kirk holds up his hands.

“Sorry. You're too hot not to look.”

He turns away from her because he's a coward and looks at Chekov.

“Hey, Chekov, do you still have it?”

“The beer? Yes, it is in between my legs, where Pike could not see!”

He hands the cans to Kirk, who looks faintly revolted.

“Thanks, man. I, uh, knew I could count on you.”

Kirk waves the cans in the air, where they gleam silver and blue in the light.

“Who wants to come with?” He's already ambling toward the balcony.

“We are not drinking alcohol here,” Spock says, but Gaila stands up dreamily and follows Kirk up the stairs. Chekov shrugs his shoulders and walks after them.

Nyota smooths her skirt and settles back into her seat; she's not letting Pike – or herself – down again today. The next sentence of her translation is if you cannot find the correct document, double check your spelling and try again. Pike's essay prompt glows at the bottom of the screen: who do you think you are? She wants to be a Starfleet officer; she's known that almost from the time she was born. But she does not want to spend her life blindly following rules. She stands up.

“Sorry,” she says to Spock and walks toward the balcony.

***


Now that the others have gone upstairs, the library is silent. Spock is grateful; their absence will allow him to complete his physics homework as well as this morning's assignment. He considers Pike's question: who do you think you are? It is a worthy essay topic. In light of his infraction, careful examination of his character is necessary.

“Before last week, I believed myself to be a logical individual with a strong sense of integrity,” he writes. The truth is difficult to face. Laughter drifts down from the balcony, and he resists the urge to turn and examine what is happening. The purpose of detention is punishment. Being punished is logical because they have all violated school rules. Therefore, turning detention into a party is logically contradictory and perhaps morally impermissible. Consumption of prohibited substances is also illegal. Furthermore, he has completed satisfactory academic work in the face much greater distractions than distant laughter. Why, then, should he find it so difficult to focus on his assignment?

The answer arrives without much reflection: he desires their companionship. He is the only half-human, half-Vulcan in the universe. Though he strives to rise above emotional desires like “fitting in,” they are undeniable. Racing through the hallways under Kirk's command, he had felt as though he were a part of a group. The sensation had been agreeable. There is no shame in acknowledging emotions, he reminds himself. The shame is only in acting upon them.

If a shuttlecraft leaves Titan Starbase 1 traveling at one-half impulse speed and another leaves Charon Spaceport at full impulse speed, and both are traveling along the same trajectory, where will their courses intersect? Spock solves the problem easily in his head but writes down the equation because it is required by their instructor.

He looks back at his essay. Who am I? The question has plagued him for his entire life. He erases the sentence he had written before and writes, “I am a child of two worlds.” Then he walks up the stairs. He had worried that the group would no longer accept him now that he has criticized their actions and refused to participate, but they scoot together to make room for him in their circle. Someone hands him a can of beer, which he drinks in one gulp.

“I believe the expression 'I have some catching up to do' is appropriate here,” he says, and extends a hand toward the pile of beer cans on the floor.

James Kirk slaps him on the back and hands him another drink.

“Welcome to the team.”

***


Two hours later, Spock is playing truth or dare. He had prudently arranged to be the last to offer the required question or challenge, but now it is his turn. The game is so illogical he finds it difficult to grasp, even in his inebriated state. He has no desire to watch a classmate do something stupid, much less demand it of a friend. Unfamiliar with the emotional nuances of conversation, he cannot generate a question that strikes the right balance between scandalous and cruel. His silence stretches so long that Chekov begins to fidget beside him, which Spock interprets as a sign of nervousness. He considers his classmates' persistent attempts to belittle their younger colleague and selects the most innocuous question he can summon.

“Truth. What is your middle name?”

Lame,” Uhura says, and Spock observes that she can roll her eyes in a uniquely scathing way.

“I am quite interested in middle names. Vulcans do not have them.”

This much is true. While he had deliberately chosen a mundane question, he has found that human middle names reveal an unusual wealth of familial history.

“Andreivich,” Gaila calls from the bottom of the stairs, where she has taken her drink and several of Kirk's cigarettes. Like him, she is an outsider among humans, yet she does not seem to desire their companionship. Spock would like to discuss this difference with her, but he is not sure how.

Gaila comes up the stairs and sits in the narrow space between himself and Chekov. Spock considers that he has never been so close to a female of any species before.

“Your birthday is March 12, and your Federation Citizen ID number is 4890087,” she says to Chekov. Her curly red hair brushes against his nose, and Spock finds the sensation surprisingly agreeable.

“Oh, and you weigh 62.4 kilos,” she adds.

“Are you psychic?” Chekov asks. Spock doubts it.

“No. I stole your wallet,” Gaila replies. She rummages in her bag and removes a slender leather wallet. Once, it might have been expensive; now, the edges are so scuffed they are nearly white, and one of the seams appears to be bound with duct tape.

“Give it to me!” Chekov exclaims, reaching toward it with a faintly embarrassed look on his face. Gaila shrieks a few words of her native language and dances away from him, smiling.

“It's mine now!”

Moving stealthily, Spock steps behind her, slips the wallet from her hand, and returns it to Chekov. A few meters away, Kirk rolls his eyes, but Spock does not allow himself to feel regret. He desires companionship, but he will not obtain it by banding together against a weaker member of the group.

“Thank you,” Chekov says quietly. He opens the wallet and examines his contents carefully. “Everything is still here.”

“I'm not a thief!” Gaila snaps. “Besides,” she says more quietly, “there was nothing to steal. Two credits and a pussy shot are hardly worth my time.”

Gaila looks triumphant; Chekov is bright red. Clearly, something happened which Spock did not understand. Something emotional, most likely. He remembers suddenly why he so rarely socializes with his human peers: he never understands them.

“I do not understand the term pussy shot,” Spock says.

Chekov flushes deeper, Gaila laughs wildly, and Kirk whispers, “Told you he was a virgin,” to Uhura. Spock takes solace in the memory of Uhura telling Chekov that she found virginal males unobjectionable.

“It's a picture of a vagina,” Uhura calls.

“Thank you,” Spock says, and the rest of the group whoops. He wonders if he is intended to feel embarrassed. Instead, he is grateful for the information and faintly curious. He waits until Kirk and Uhura have become absorbed with one another again, then whispers to Chekov, “May I see your pussy shot?”

***


“I don't know why I like you,” Nyota tells Kirk. Jim, actually. Nobody else calls him by his first name, but she'd like to.

Jim leans in close. A grin spreads slowly across his face, and Nyota can't help but be captivated.

“I know exactly why you like me.”

He wiggles his eyebrows, grinning lasciviously now, and Nyota rolls her eyes. He is gorgeous – bright blue eyes, white teeth, undeniably well-muscled beneath the tight white T-shirt. She lets her eyes roam down his body, and he watches her frankly, appreciating her appreciating him. It makes her flush, makes heat spread all the way from her belly down to the spot between her thighs, and she can't deny she likes it. But that's not why she likes him.

“Give me your wallet,” she says, watching Gaila cavort around with Chekov's.

“All right.”

He looks a little baffled, but he hands it to her. Maybe that's what she likes, she thinks. Making him look confused when he's usually so in control. But no, that can't be it either. She's a beautiful woman, but she won't flatter herself into thinking she's the only person who makes him lose a little control.

At first, the wallet is what she expected: black leather, a little worn around the edges, stuffed with condoms and comm numbers written on napkins from bars Jim is too young to enter. Then she sees the tiny name embossed along the bottom right corner. George Kirk, it says. Jim sees her looking and looks away, so she slides a holo frame out of the front pocket to divert his attention. And that is exactly what Nyota expects, slide after slide of girls, some dressed, some naked, some wearing nothing but lingerie, and not an image of his mother or the family farm in sight.

“Are these all your girlfriends?” she asks.

“Some of them...” He doesn't look even the least bit sheepish.

“And the others?” she snaps. What she had seen in a man like James Kirk she couldn't imagine.

“Well, some are girlfriends. And some I'm considering.”

“Considering for what? Whether they're good enough for you?”

“Well, yeah. Don't tell me you believe in one guy, one girl? With a body like that?”

“You're such a pig,” she says, but the words don't come out with the bite she had intended. Jim's gross, but then, she already knew that. He's still different from anyone else she knows, and anyway, she's too tipsy to flounce away gracefully.

“Whatever, Princess,” Jim says. “You're not leaving.”

“What makes you so sure?” she asks, resenting his easy certainty a little.

“I've got your purse,” he says smugly. “And there's no way you're going to leave me alone with it.”

Nyota tugs on the strap, but they both know the effort is half-hearted. Jim smiles at her and rummages theatrically in one of the pockets.

“Dirty panties...condoms...naked pictures of your exes. Why, Uhura, I had no idea!”

“Be quiet!”

She glances at Spock, but he and Gaila and Chekov are still immersed in the drama of the stolen wallet.

“No, seriously, why do you have so much shit in here?”

“It's very well-organized,” she says, feeling a little defensive. It is well-organized; she has an endless supply of resealable, biodegradable plastic bags – one for make-up brushes, one for the make-up itself, one for her first-aid kit...

“Yeah,” Jim says. “Well-organized shit. I ask again, why do you have so much?”

“Why do you have so many girlfriends?” she snaps back. Liking Jim isn't the same as trusting him. She's not about to tell him that she never knows when the sound of raised voices and shattering crockery will make her want to walk out the door and never come back.

“I asked you first.”

“I like to keep things close.”

It's a decent approximation of the truth, though why she doesn't just lie to Jim she doesn't know. It's not like even half of what he's said today was true. But Jim just nods and slides the holo frame of girls back into his wallet, which he puts back in his front pocket. Where he won't lose it, she thinks.

“Yeah,” he says, suddenly quiet. “Me too.”

And there it is, the reason she likes Jim Kirk. He's the only man who's ever shown her the vulnerability under his bravado.

***


“This identicard is fake,” Spock says. Chekov, perhaps moved by his interest in the “pussy shot,” has allowed him to examine the remainder of the wallet.

“It's worst I've ever seen,” Gaila adds. “I know a better forger if you want one.”

At this moment, Spock feels like an alien, moreso than he ever has in his life. He is drunk yet unwilling to outwardly alter his behavior. Though he has violated ethical rules – he would not be serving detention or drinking alcohol if he had not – he cannot comprehend the felonious desire to possess fake identification. He is aware that possessing bad fake identification is doubly illogical; it heightens the risk while reducing the possibility of reward. And Gaila is even more problematic. She had previously shown no desire for their companionship today; it would be illogical for her to attempt to win it now through blatant lies. Yet, it is exceedingly unlikely that a fellow sixteen -year-old would know reliable document forgers. He would like to understand, badly. But to do that he will have to ask questions, and if he asks questions, the other students will laugh. He will therefore lose what little of their esteem he possesses, and his drunkenness has only strengthened his desire for their approval. But clearly it is necessary to say something; they are looking at him as though it is his turn to say something.

He selects the truth.

“This card states that you are sixty-eight years old.”

Gaila guffaws, but not at him. Spock considers the remark a success.

Chekov appears unperturbed.

“Yes. I typed it incorrectly.”

“You produced this document yourself?” Spock asks. “For what purpose?”

“Yes. I wanted to vote for Admiral Archer in the presidential election.”

“Most laudable.” Relief floods his beer-addled brain; he can understand the desire to participate in democratic political processes. Though he had attempted to discipline the emotion, he had envied the eighteen-year-old students who could participate in the election. “Were you successful?”

“No, but I ran away before the police came.”

“With the ID,” Gaila says admiringly. “You're smarter than you look.”

Chekov beams, though the quality of the compliment seemed dubious at best. Yet, Spock cannot deny he feels envious of her attentions. He has no story which could conceivably win the approval of an eccentric and possibly criminal Orion.

Gaila hefts her bag from the floor. It seems to place considerable strain on her muscles, and the contents rattle and clink. “Wanna see what's in my bag?”

“That is not necessary,” Spock says. It is not prudent to risk exposure to contraband, and he is certain that the contents of Gaila's purse will only result in even more problematic conversation topics.

Gaila glares at him and dumps the bag into his lap.

“That was unnecessary,” Spock says.

“Pussy,” Gaila answers.

“Do you always carry this much sh... stuff?” Chekov asks.

“Grow a pair and say the swear word next time. And yeah, I carry this all the time.”

Gingerly, Spock lifts a half-eaten sandwich and a laser-guided plasma torch from the pile on his lap.

“My human psychology teacher told us about a disorder called hoarding. I believe you have it.”

“Aren't you supposed to be a diplomat's child?” Gaila snatches the plasma torch from his hand, which is illogical since she had stated a desire to share her possessions. “You Federation children take much for granted. If you'd lived my life, you'd know I need this.”

Spock shifts his weight and three stubby orange crayons roll out from the pile. He raises an eyebrow, feeling unaccountably pleased that someone else's behavior is more aberrant than his own.

“For what conceivable purpose does one need three broken orange crayons?”

Gaila shrugs her shoulders.

“In case I want to draw something.”

“Something orange?”

“Fuck you. You don't get it.” She snatches items randomly from his lap and shoves them back into her purse. “Mommy and Daddy give you everything you ever want, every day of your life. You want crayons, you buy them. You want a sandwich, you buy it. You don't ever have to ask yourself what if have to run away or what if you'll die without a laser torch or what if you want to draw something orange and you can't. And you're lazy and weak and spoiled and stupid and you don't even know it.”

“I apologize. I did not intend to cause offense.”

Her reaction is contradictory; her voice is angry but tears are pooling in her eyes.

“Yes. Yes, you did. You wanted to feel superior, to point out that you are so much more logical and intelligent than the rest of us. It's what you do, every single fucking day and I don't know why I thought this one would be different.”

“I am sorry. It appears that my understanding of your life situation is...inadequate.”

It is also likely that his self-understanding is inadequate; Gaila's comment perhaps contained a grain of truth. He will have to consider it in his evening meditation.

“I believe it would be beneficial for us to discuss this issue further,” he says, but Gaila swears at him in a pirate language and flings an apple at his head.

“If you were wondering, I said fuck you.” She storms down the stairs.

Beside him, Chekov shakes his head.

“She is...what is the expression? An island unto herself. Okay?”

Metaphorical communication has variable definitions. Spock does not like it.

“You believe that her emotional reactions are unpredictable and that causing her offense was therefore inevitable?” he asks. He does not understand how these characteristics are related to islands but believes this is the most likely interpretation of Chekov's statement, given the context.

“Yes. Exactly. An island.”

Spock cocks his head.

“Your metaphor also implies a degree of uniqueness and isolation. I find these traits most intriguing.”

Kirk ambles toward him, and Spock readies his verbal and physical defenses.

“I would prefer to avoid any further altercations today.”

“Relax, Spock.” Kirk settles on the floor next to Chekov. “You pissed her off. Give her ten minutes, let her cool down, then go apologize again.”

“I do not believe it wise to take your advice.”

“He's right, you know,” Uhura calls from her corner of the room, where she is carefully re-packing her purse. “It's a gesture of trust for Orions to show their possessions. She's upset because she wanted you to be interested in her, not criticize her. Go talk to her if you like her. She wants you to.”

Kirk claps him on the shoulder.

“Good luck, man.”

Part III
I haven't read any of this, but I am pretty much in love with the summary, so.
“May I see your pussy shot?” - LOL! oh spock. pretty much loving all of the characterizations in this :-D