spock: logic is sexy

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

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 2

Spock waits 11.3 minutes before he follows Gaila down the stairs. She is applying purple lipstick to the statue of George Kirk. Suppressing his desire to criticize this behavior requires extreme self-discipline.

“Would you like to talk?” he asks, uncertain how to begin the conversation.

Gaila crosses her arms over her chest. “You have problems,” she announces.

Spock raises an eyebrow. “If you understand me better than I do, please enlighten me,” he says.

He has failed, once again, to fully eliminate the sarcasm from his tone. Both his mother and father have criticized this failing many times.

Gaila snorts.

“You do everything everyone ever tells you to. That is a problem.”

Her gaze is unyielding, and Spock stifles an illogical urge to shuffle his feet. Though it is difficult to admit, the statement is accurate.

“You are correct. This is a problem.” He pauses, wishing for a moment to possess his father's diplomatic finesse. “Everyone has problems, however, you seemed to invite discussion of yours by spilling your purse into my lap. I apologize for failing to discuss them in a more considerate manner.”

Gaila's eyes soften infinitesimally. The effort required to recognize and interpret these small shifts is overwhelming.

“If it is not an intrusion, I would like to better understand the problems you have faced.” He recalls that many of today's conversations have revolved around familial difficulties. “Is the problem your parents?”

“I don't have parents.”

She does not say idiot at the end of her sentence, but Spock can hear it quite clearly in spite of his difficulty interpreting emotion.

“They sold me to slavers when I was four, you know.”

“I did not know. I am sorry.”

Gaila snorts and shakes her head.

“Yeah? Sorry for what? Not like it was your fault.”

“I am sorry that you have felt pain.”

“Yeah,” she says. “Me too.”

She doesn't look like she wants to hit him anymore, and Spock considers this progress. Hesitantly, he sits next to her at the base of the statue. He is gratified that she does not move away.

***


“I really can't do this anymore,” Pike says to the bare walls of his office. The assignment's not going anywhere though, not unless he quits the Fleet, so he has to find a way to make it more bearable somehow. That, he figures, will require him to understand the children under his care, and to do that...well, he isn't really sure. He wanders down to the empty counseling center because he can't stand being in his own cheerless office anymore, and maybe, just maybe there's something in there that will help. The students' personal files are supposed to be off-limits unless he has some clear and pressing need for their contents, but Pike has always had a secret knack for hacking, and a high school's privacy encryptions aren't exactly challenging anyway.

Of course, Rand would catch him the second he sits down at the head counselor's desk.

“The counselor's files are supposed to be confidential, you know,” she says from the doorway.

Pike winces, but he manages not to turn red, which he counts as an accomplishment.

“Yeah, I, uh, did know that.”

Nothing quite like being caught breaking privacy laws by your school custodian.

“So why are you looking at them?”

He scrubs a hand over his face.

“I just wanted to know who they are. The students, I mean. I don't understand them.”

“Did you ask them?” she asks.

“Yeah, I did as a matter of fact.”

Rand shrugs her shoulders.

“Then listen to the answer.”

“You really think it's that simple?”

“I think it's a good place to start.” She takes a Thermos off her cleaning cart and holds it aloft. “You look like you could use some coffee.”

“That's the same thermos I had when I was a kid. Still have it as a matter of fact,” he says. White starships shimmer against a twinkling starscape on the thermos' body. “Mine wasn't holographic though.”

“Yeah? This one was my mom's. I always liked it when I was a girl.”

Janice pours him a cup and he takes a sip of the coffee. It's ten times better than his. Janice always has nice things, he realizes. Plain, simple things, but nice ones. Her cart is always perfectly organized, she keeps to a schedule, but her efficiency doesn't stop her from looking out for people's needs.

“Say, Janice, what did you want to be when you were a kid?”

“Don't laugh.”

“I wanted to be a dinosaur. I have no room to judge.”

Janice giggles.

“I wanted to be a dinosaur too. Pterodactyl, to be exact. But when I grew up a little, I wanted to join Starfleet.”

“Why didn't you?”

She shrugs her shoulders.

“Oh, life got in the way, I suppose. My mom got sick when I was finishing high school, and it was just her and me, so I stayed at home to take care of her.”

“And now?”

“After she passed, it was like...life just stopped. She was my best friend, you know? I think I thought that if I kept living the same life I had when she was alive, I'd always be a little closer to her. So I stayed, and I'm still here.”

She pauses and licks her lips. If she were a member of his crew, she'd be preparing to ask permission to speak freely.

“You're nice this way, Chris. Easy to talk to. I don't tell that story to a lot of people, you know.”

He considers the implication, that he's normally not nice, and he can't say it's not true. Even on his best days here, he's desperately confused and he misses the stars.

“The truth is, Janice, I don't know what I'm doing here with these kids. Nice isn't something you think about when you're a Starfleet captain. You think about keeping your ship in order and your crew alive, and they do the same. These kids, though, I don't know what they need or what they want or what they think about. I'll tell you one thing though, I swear I wasn't this disobedient or disrespectful when I was their age.”

Janice giggles again.

“Yes, you were. We all were, you especially. There is no way you'd be a Starfleet captain if you didn't have a wild streak.”

Chris shifts uncomfortably in his seat, feeling a bit like a schoolboy who'd just been caught doing something naughty.

“I can see I'm right. And you know what else?” She leans across the desk, looking like she's about to reveal the meaning of life. “They're people, just like you and me. They're petty and selfish and sometimes even cruel because every last one of them is confused. And they need a leader, someone like you.”

“Janice, it's going to be a real shame to lose you.”

“Oh? Are you firing me for telling the truth?”

“Wouldn't dream of it.”

She reminds him a bit of Number One, actually. Not afraid to be honest, even when the truth wasn't pleasant. That was what made her such an asset. He removes a small data chip from his padd and hands it to Rand.

“This is a letter of introduction to the Riverside Recruiting Office. Promise me you'll at least visit them.”

“I will. Sir.”

“I'm giving you Monday off. I'll expect a report at 0800 Tuesday morning, my office.” He eyes Rand's steaming Thermos. “And don't forget the coffee.”

This time she beams.

“Aye-aye, sir.”

He'd rather be a Starfleet captain than a high school principal, but if he's got to be here, he might as well do his job.

***


They're sitting on the floor in a circle again, mellow with the influence of beer and boredom. No truth or dare this time though; Nyota's had enough viciousness for the day. She looks around the circle, surveying her handiwork. She's sitting next to Jim, who's behaving like a real human being for the moment at least. Chekov is on her other side, where she can keep an eye on him. Spock sits next to Gaila, who is sitting next to Jim. It's a good arrangement; the potential for conflict is minimized, and people are sitting next to people they want to know better. She's sitting next to someone she wants to get to know.

“Okay, easy question,” she says. “What would you do for a million credits?”

“As many women as I had to,” Jim says.

She rolls her eyes. She seems to do that a lot around Jim.

“The question was what would you do, not who would you do. Spock?”

“I would do as little as possible.”

“That's a cop-out,” she accuses.

“Vague questions yield vague answers. My response was logical.”

Nyota stifles another eye roll and reminds herself that Vulcans probably don't play games like this. Spock might not understand the point.

“Look, the object of the question is to search your mind for your absolute limit.” She casts about for something she could never imagine Spock doing. “Like, would you walk into first period calc completely naked?”

“Yes.”

Chekov splutters beside her.

“That's it? You would just walk into class naked? It is not a problem for you?”

“Vulcans do not feel shame.”

Jim narrows his eyes.

“Prove it. Take off your pants.”

“You desire to see me naked?”

“I can take it.”

“I do not remove my clothing at your request.” Spock looks around their circle, attempting to ascertain the expectations of the group. “In any case, no suitable reward has been proposed.”

“Wuss,” Kirk says.

Nyota holds up her hands.

“No one is taking off their clothes. How about you, Gaila? Would you go to first hour naked for a million credits?”

Nyota smiles at her tentatively. Of everyone here, Gaila's the one she knows the least. It's hard for her to believe they could ever be friends, but then, a lot of people have surprised her today.

Gaila tosses her unkempt hair like a girl in a shampoo commercial – or a porn holo – and smiles wickedly. The gesture looks practiced somehow, even though Nyota can't really picture her seducing people. Or anyone wanting to be seduced by her.

“Oh, I'll do anything sexual,” she says, sounding strangely offhand about it. “You don't even have to give me a million credits.”

Nyota narrows her eyes. The point of the game is to tell the truth and get to know each other, not make up more bizarre lies.

“I don't believe you.”

“I've done everything,” she says. Her smile is lascivious and oddly jagged. “I've done things you can't even imagine, princess. Things that are illegal in the Federation.”

“Do your parents know about this?” Chekov asks, and Jim Kirk snorts. Nyota nudges his ribs before he can say anything.

“I told the head counselor.”

Jim smirks and Nyota glares at him, not caring for the rapt attention he's suddenly paying Gaila.

“And what did she do?” he asks.

“Well...I don't think it can be construed as statutory rape. I'm over seventeen, you know.”

“That's fucked up, Gaila,” Nyota says. “She's an adult.”

“Yeah, and she's married,” Gaila says, sounding bored.

Nyota remembers the nights her mother hasn't come home, her father sitting in their empty living room, knuckles clenched tight around his martini glass while he smiles and says good night to her little sister.

“You're disgusting.”

“I do not believe it is our place to judge,” Spock says softly. Both Nyota and Gaila stare at him, surprised. He shrugs his shoulders, the most human gesture Nyota can ever recall him making. “Infinite diversity in infinite combination.”

Gaila leans back, propping herself up on her elbows, and looks at Nyota appraisingly.

“Anyway, what do you know? Have you ever even had sex?”

Nyota fidgets under Gaila's steady gaze.

“Didn't we cover this already?”

“You did not answer the question,” Spock says mildly.

“Well, that's because I don't care to discuss my sex life with strangers.” She hates how prim she sounds, but she doesn't know how to stop. Everyone calls her the ice princess, and it's probably accurate. Most days, she doesn't mind; it's only because she's ten times more confident than they are. But sometimes, she wishes she knew how to navigate a conversation like this and sound normal.

“You're scared.” Gaila's voice is almost a whisper, and it makes Nyota shiver. “You think there's a right answer and a wrong answer, and Nyota Uhura always picks the right answer. But now you don't know which one it is. Which one will make us like you? But if you admit that's what you want, you have to admit you want our approval, and then you'd be weak. You hate to be weak. It's why you don't have sex. You're afraid to be vulnerable in front of anyone, even for ten minutes.”

“Or you're just a tease,” Jim says.

Nyota glares at him, but secretly she's relieved. It's much easier to respond to Jim's taunting than Gaila's.

“I am not a tease.”

“Well, you're only a tease if what you do gets people hot.”

“I don't do anything.”

“And that's why you're a tease.”

“It's okay,” Gaila says. “All you young, delicate Earth girls are. That's why I had to fuck an older woman.”

“Fine. If it makes you feel better to think of me as a tease, then I'm a tease. I could care less. But I have a few questions for you.”

Let Gaila see what it's like to be scrutinized and criticized by people she wanted to befriend.

“Oh no. I already shared. It's your turn.”

“Not any more. I'm a tease. We're done with me. What I want to know is why it doesn't bother you to sleep with people you don't love. Don't you want any respect?”

“I don't fuck to get respect. I fuck to have orgasms. That's the difference between you and me.”

“Not the only difference, I hope.”

“You use sex to get respect?” Jim asks. “That's pretty fucked up.”

“That's not what I said. You're putting words in my mouth.”

Nyota hates to have language used against her; it's her ally, her friend, and her weapon, and she can always count on herself to wield it better than someone else. Jim wouldn't understand that though.

“Then what do you use sex for?” he asks.

“I don't use it for anything. It's not a tool.”

She doesn't know what it is; that's the problem. All she knows is that everyone wants it from her, and that makes her afraid to give it. How can she choose rightly among so many different options, and so many people whose interests might or might not be sincere? Seeking an ally, she looks around their circle. She shouldn't have expected better from Jim, and she can't ask Chekov to stand up for her. But Spock should; he had defended Gaila earlier, hadn't he?

“Stop putting words in my mouth, all of you. Please.”

Jim snorts. “If you'd just answer the question, we wouldn't have to.”

In desperation, she looks at Chekov. It's hard to picture him resisting the group, but maybe if he sees she needs help...

“Why won't you answer the question?” he asks. “I told you have I have never had sex.”

“During the course of the day, you have solicited personal information from all of us,” Spock says. “It is logical that you should share something personal as well.”

Her hands are folded neatly in her lap, and she clenches one of them hard enough to feel her fingernails biting into her palms. She doesn't even know why it bothers her so much to tell the truth; it wasn't as if she would really judge anyone for their answer. But Gaila was right. She doesn't like to be vulnerable, and she'd rather be judged for a non-answer than for saying something true. And she doesn't want to be called an ice princess any more. At least, not by them.

She unclenches her hand and carefully smooths her skirt, even though it probably makes her look more prim.

“All right,” she says softly. “Fair's fair. I haven't had sex.” She looks around their group in warning. “But if you call me an ice princess, I'll tear your head off.”

No one does.

***


Spock speaks first. Among Vulcans, engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage would be regarded as a shameful lack of self-control; even within a relationship, sexual activity was considered deeply private. He had not expected the matter to be so sensitive among humans, but now he regrets that he did not intercede in the conversation earlier.

“I do not believe any of us has reason to judge one another. We are all...atypical in some way,” he says. The others in the group, except Gaila, appear to be skeptical.

“How are you atypical?” Uhura asks finally. He is surprised by her question; he is the only half-human half-Vulcan in the galaxy. He is like no one else. Yet, he reflects, he has hidden that well. He fulfills the expectations of his teachers admirably. To human eyes, he is a model Vulcan with no human qualities. But, though he had chastised Uhura for failing to share private information, he does not wish to explain his predicament to the group. He does not believe they will understand. He is relieved when Gaila answers for him.

“He can't think for himself. That's a problem.”

“Bullshit,” Kirk says. “Spock does nothing but think.”

“Yeah, but not for himself,” Gaila says, and Uhura looks at her sharply.

“It is true. I do not think for myself. I am here because of that.” The group looks startled. Even Spock is startled by his own frankness. Yet, he is aware that he has not been punished adequately for the transgression that brought him here. Perhaps confessing will ameliorate that.

“How can you receive detention for refusing to think?” Chekov asks.

“It's pretty easy, whiz kid. I do it every weekend,” Kirk says.

“The Terran planetary debate tournament took place last weekend. I had advanced to the final round, and I desired to win it more strongly than I can recall desiring anything in my life.” Even the admission of desire is shameful, but he wills himself to continue his confession. After all, many others have shared secrets today. “I did not believe that I could beat my rival. Therefore, I purchased a copy of her cases and evidence from a disgruntled teammate. I did not believe that my own skills and my own thoughts were sufficient for victory.”

“Did you win?” Kirk asks.

“Yes. By unanimous decision.”

Spock does not consider his actions admirable, but Kirk extends his hand toward him in a human gesture known as a “high five.” He had received several such high fives from his teammates when his dubious victory had been announced.

“That's awesome, man! Didn't know you had it in you!” Kirk exclaims. When Spock does not return the high five, Kirk claps him on the shoulder instead.

“It is not 'awesome.' When I realized what I had done, I confessed to my debate coach, however his emotions overwhelmed his ethics, and he refused to inform tournament officials. I then confessed to my father, but he believes that acknowledging my...indiscretion would jeopardize my admission to the Vulcan Science Academy. He and my coach therefore arranged for me to receive detention for a trivial offense, and I lack the courage to defy my father and confess to Captain Pike.”

“Why was winning so important to you?” Uhura asks quietly. Her eyes look kind.

“I did it for my father.” This is the most shameful truth, one he had not dared declare to either of his parents. “He has suffered for marrying a human and having a hybrid child. If I were bested by a human in a contest of logic, the shame would have been too great for him to bear. I wished to spare him.”

“That's awful, Spock. He ought to accept you for who you are,” Uhura says, and Kirk glares at her. Spock wonders if he fears losing her attention.

“My father has done nothing wrong. It is I who lost control of my emotional desires.”

“That's not awful, Spock. It's human.”

He cannot decide whether the statement is comforting or not.

***


“I understand why you did it,” Pavel says. It is a strange feeling, saying something true to people, but now that he's let the words out, it's hard to stop. “I am only my grades. And when I look at myself, I do not like who I am. But I do not know who else to be.”

“Why don't you like yourself?” Uhura asks. Her eyes are kind, and Pavel is surprised that he used to be afraid of her.

“I am not intelligent. I am only good at repeating what my teachers want me to say. So they recommended me to take Captain Pike's special seminar.”

He sees Uhura's eyes widen, and even Spock looks a little envious, and he shakes his head hastily.

“But I do not deserve to be there. I am failing the class. He wants us to write what we think, but I do not know what I am supposed to think unless my teacher tells me.”

“This place is fucked up,” Gaila pronounces, and Pavel looks up, surprised. She had been painting her fingernails with black nail polish no one else had seen her steal from Uhura's bag; he thought she wasn't interested in the conversation anymore. “It's all rules and order and shit, and Pike's likes that. Then he gets in a classroom and tells you to think for yourself and he's surprised when you can't. Why could you when everybody else here just wants you to repeat what they want you to say?”

“That's bullshit,” Kirk says. “It's an excuse. You don't want to think for yourselves because you're afraid.”

“What do you know? You're probably failing all your classes,” Chekov shoots back, ignoring the fluttering of panic in his chest. He's not used to standing up to someone like Kirk.

“He's not. He's first in our class,” Uhura says, looking both admiring and disgusted. “Saying that made me throw up in my mouth a little.”

Kirk grins.

“It's true. You think there's a single teacher in here who likes me? But they have to give me an A because what I write is good.”

“Okay. I am stupid and also a coward,” Pavel says, dizzy with how quickly even this small group can turn on each other. They were kind about Spock's problem, but they have insulted him. He should have known better.

“Hey, nobody said that,” Uhura says. She is no different from everyone else in her group. They always deny when they have hurt someone; they do not like to admit bad things about themselves.

“I can write with my toes,” Gaila says, smiling crookedly. They all stare at her. “I can also eat and play the zathar. That's an Orion instrument.”

“With your feet?” Uhura asks.

Gaila dips an elegantly pointed foot into her bag and retrieves a stylus.

“I can do all kinds of things with my feet. People used to pay good money to watch.”

Pavel scoots back from the circle a little, relieved that the previous conversation is forgotten. Gaila winks at him when no one is looking, and he realizes that she had done this on purpose, to rescue him.

“I can't make borscht!” he blurts out before someone says something cutting to Gaila. She had helped him; he doesn't want her to suffer for it, even if it means he has to endure their attention again. “What can you do, Spock?” he asks, safely diverting the group's focus once more.

“I can...purchase your debate arguments before you are able to use them against me.” Spock pauses. “In the event that any of you choose to join the debate team.”

“Was that a joke, Spock?” Kirk asks, raising his hand for another high five.

“I believe it was,” Spock says. “However, it was not a good one.” He looks disdainfully at Kirk's upraised hand. “Please refrain from high fiving me.”

Kirk lowers his hand without protest and turns his mischievous grin to Uhura.

“I want to see what you can do.”

Uhura shrugs her shoulders.

“I can speak seventeen languages.”

“Yeah, I think you told us that before. Like twelve times. I'm talking about stupid shit here. Like writing with your toes.”

“I can't do anything like that. I'm just me, straight-laced ice princess,” Uhura says, which surprises Pavel because he thought she didn't want to be thought of that way.

“You are really hard to understand sometimes, you know that? You tell us not to call you an ice princess, but then you say it about yourself and you get pissed off every time someone asks you to be real for ten seconds,” Kirk says. Pavel had wondered about this too, but he had not been brave or important enough to ask.

“Being real means giving up power. That's why she doesn't want to do it,” Gaila says. “She doesn't know that it makes her lonely.”

“Don't talk about me like I'm not here,” Uhura snaps. She pulls something small and gold from her bag, but Pavel can't see what it is, and he doesn't want to look like he's watching her too closely. “I have something to show you, but you have to promise not to laugh.”

“I promise,” he says immediately, then feels stupid. He should learn not to show how much he wants people to like him; it makes him look weak.

“Thank you,” Uhura says, smiling at him, and suddenly he's not sorry anymore. He knows that he will never have her; he is skinny and small and does not know how to think yet, and he is no competition for Kirk or Spock. But having a pretty girl smiling at him instead of laughing at him is nice, and he enjoys it.

“I'll laugh if it's funny,” Kirk says, but his smirk shifts to awe when Uhura begins to unbutton her shirt.

“What are you doing?” Spock asks. His face is green.

“Some people play music with their toes. I can put on lipstick with my boobs.”

Pavel tries not to look. Kirk and Spock are staring, and even Gaila is leering. He would like to be the gentleman of the group, but it is very difficult. He has seen bras before, large cone-shaped white ones that belong to his mother. But he has never seen a bra on a woman before, and it is beautiful. Uhura's bra is simple and white, trimmed by tiny scallops of lace that look bright against her dark skin. Her breasts are not large, but they are real and so close that he could touch them. He won't, of course, but he could, and that makes today better than any other day of his life so far.

The bra presses them together and lifts them, and Uhura squeezes them with her upper arms until they are pressed very closely together indeed. Then she nestles the small gold thing from her purse between them, and now Pavel can see that it's a tube of lipstick. Very bright red lipstick. Very slowly, Uhura bends over and traces her lips over it. When she raises her head, the lipstick is perfect, but Pavel can barely make himself look at her face. His pants feel too tight, and he shifts to hide the bulge. Beside him, Spock does the same.

Kirk claps, slowly and theatrically.

“That is hot. My image of you is totally blown.”

Uhura is buttoning her shirt now, and Pavel can see that her dark skin looks faintly flushed. He begins calculating the digits of Pi in his head so he will not make up his own stories about making her look that way.

“That skill is most unusual. Where did you learn it?” Spock asks, sounding so matter-of-fact that Pavel almost laughs before he thinks better of it. He thinks they may be friends, but he isn't sure if it's okay to laugh at each other yet.

“Summer camp. Seventh grade.”

Pavel pictures a cabin full of topless girls bending their heads toward their cleavage. His pants begin to feel tight again. He must stop this before he embarrasses himself. And so he blurts out the first question that comes to mind. It is a very foolish question indeed.

“When we come back to school on Monday, are we still friends? If we are friends now, I mean?”

The silence in the room is deafening.

***


Fear used to make Jim Kirk weak; now it makes him dangerous. When he was a kid, his stomach used to clench in knots every time Frank stood in his bedroom door, casting a long and looming shadow over the wooden floor. He had endured the slaps and kicks and cigarette burns stoically; what he had hated was the moment when he knew pain was coming, but not how much or when. When Chekov asks if they will still be friends when they leave here, he feels the exact same sour-sick fear that Frank's threats had once instilled. He remembers how good it had felt with the four of them running through the corridors on his heels, and he doesn't want today to be the last time he experiences that sensation. But he knows that people like this aren't friends with people like him. So he does the thing he always does in situations like this: he strikes first.

And he knows exactly what he's doing. Not liking it isn't the same as not doing it.

“You think the ice princess here is going to be friends with you?” he asks Chekov and takes savage pleasure in watching the kid's face fall. “Let me tell you exactly what is going to happen on Monday, Pasha. You are going to walk up to her in the hallway and say hello because that's exactly the kind of naïve idiot you are. And she'll be nice to you because that's exactly the kind of fake bitch she is. Then, when you're gone, she's going to cut you up in front of all her friends because she can't bear to admit that she actually does like you.”

Chekov's mouth opens and closes a couple times, but no sound comes out. It hurts a little to look at it. He and the kid had wanted the same thing, actually; Jim just wasn't dumb enough to say it out loud.

Uhura, of course, has no trouble finding her tongue.

“Is that what you really think of us? After all this time, everything we talked about? Just because you're an insensitive prick doesn't mean the rest of us are. And it doesn't mean you can walk all over all our feelings any time you choose.”

“Your remark was inappropriate,” Spock interjects. “You ought to apologize.”

Spock's voice is low and flat and dangerous, and Jim admires it, he really does. In another life – maybe the one where his father had lived, or maybe just the one where Jim had managed not to fuck himself up so badly – he might have asked Spock how he could make such an ordinary sentence sound like a threat. But this is not that life.

“What do you care what I think? I don't even count, right? I could disappear forever and it wouldn't even matter, remember?” He turns to Uhura. “And you don't even like me!”

“Not right now, I don't!”

“Good!”

Not like the last few hours could really have erased what they had thought about him before. He was an idiot if he had ever thought they could.

“And you know what else? Keep your princess friends and your diamond fucking earrings! Did Daddy buy those for you, by the way? Some weekend when your mom got drunk and warped out to Risa to fuck someone else? Or was it to say sorry for the one weekend he had the balls to pack up a suitcase and leave her?”

“Shut up,” Uhura says. There are tears in her eyes, but her voice is quiet and vicious. “You know, I thought you were different. I thought what everyone said about you was unfair. But I was wrong. You are an asshole and you deserve every horrible thing that anyone has ever said about you.”

She doesn't add including Frank the way Jim would've done. He loves her and hates her for it.

“You're turning into him,” Gaila says.

“Who?” Jim snaps. And what the fuck do you know about me anyway? he thinks.

“Your stepfather. Right now, you are him.”

It scares him into silence.

***


Nyota's still a little shaky when she moves to sit next to Pavel. She wishes she could have this conversation some place private, but then, what Jim had said wouldn't have hurt her if it didn't hold a grain of truth. She and Pavel probably aren't the only ones who are aware of that.

“You know, what he said about me would've been true a year ago.” She smiles ruefully. “Or maybe even a week ago. But it's not now. I'd like to be able to call you my friend.”

“Why?” Pavel looks skeptical, and Nyota can't blame him. He's probably been set up like this before.

“Because you're kind and honest and genuine.” She shoots a glance at Jim, who won't meet her eyes. “And not a lot of people are.”

“So today I am worth being friends with, and a week ago I was not. What changed?”

It's a hard question, but she owes an answer to herself as much as she does to him.

“I don't know. I just look at my house, and I want out, I guess. And all I could think about was knowing the right people, and saying the right things, and being as perfect as I could be so I could get into the Academy and get away. Sometimes there's just so much pressure, you know? I hate going home, but I had this one comfortable niche with my friends, and I forgot to think about other people. And I forgot to look at who I was becoming.”

“I know about pressure,” Chekov says quietly. He looks around at the group. “Did you know that I am here because I had a gun in my locker?”

“A what?” Nyota asks.

“Whoa,” Jim says.

Gaila looks excited; Spock says nothing.

“Why did you have a gun in your locker?” Nyota asks, even though she's sure she already knows. He wouldn't have it to hurt anyone else.

“I really tried. Before the last test, I read command textbooks from Starfleet Academy. Pike's doctoral dissertation. Captain's personal logs. But it was not good enough. I got a C. My mother said we must have a conference with Captain Pike, and we did. He said, 'well-researched but no signs of original thinking.' I am not good enough. All I have wanted in my life is to go to Starfleet Academy, and I am not good enough.”

“That does not explain the purpose of the gun,” Spock says.

“Just forget it,” Chekov says savagely.

Nyota shakes her head. “We can't forget something like that, Pavel.”

“It was your choice to tell us about it. It is logical to believe that you wish to discuss it,” Spock adds.

“It is nothing...I only wished to consider my options.”

“Suicide is not an option,” Nyota says.

“I know. I didn't do it, did I?”

“What kind of gun was it?” Gaila asks. “If it was a real phaser, I might want to buy it.”

Pavel colors slightly.

“It was not a real gun...it was a flare gun. It went off in my locker.”

Gaila giggles.

“It isn't funny.”

“I believe it is,” Spock says. “If I had a sense of humor, of course.”

Nyota can't help it; she laughs. Pavel resists for a moment, then gives in and laughs with her.

“Do you know why I'm here?” Gaila asks.

“Romulan Ale,” Spock says.

Gaila shakes her head.

“Sex in the corridors?” Nyota asks.

“There's nobody in this school good enough to touch me.”

“All right then, what did you do?” Jim asks. It's the first thing he's said since his outburst. Now that she thinks of it, he's the only one who hadn't laughed at Pavel and his flare gun. She'd like to ask him about that, later maybe. If she decides to talk to him again.

A smile spreads across Gaila's face.

“Nothing!” she exclaims. “I don't even have detention. I just didn't have anything better to do.”

***


Gaila has always liked making the people around her go quiet; now she knows she likes making them laugh even better. It's sad-funny, not funny-funny, that she went to detention to get out of the home, but she can make them overlook that with the sound of her voice. That's a good power.

When they all finish laughing with her, she fetches her music player from her bag, using her toes because her feet are elegant and she likes when people watch them. The music player had once belonged to Nyota's friend Desirae, who was too stupid to zip her purse. Gaila might have felt bad about taking it, except that Desirae had had a new, better music player the next day. She had wanted that one too, but she let Desirae keep it because she did not steal things she did not need. That was one of the differences between being a pirate and being a thief, although she didn't expect the Federation children to understand it.

She slides the music player across the floor to Chekov because he likes to feel important, and it is not difficult to make him feel that way.

“You pick the music,” she says. She doesn't smile because her smiles are all predatory or seductive, but he smiles at her anyway.

It was his admission of weakness that had brought the group back together after Kirk's outburst. She will have to think about that carefully later. For now, when Nyota comes to her with a hairbrush and a bag of cosmetics, Gaila acquiesced. Nyota thinks she is teaching Gaila something she does not know, which bothers her. Gaila used to do these things for herself every day, and she does not doubt that her mastery far exceeds a Federation girl who had never depended on her body for a living. But she doesn't say it because she likes the feeling of Nyota's caring fingers tangling in her hair, a sensation she has not known since the last of her sisters was sold to a distant station.

“You know, all this black stuff on your eyes only covers up how pretty you are,” Nyota says, retrieving a tissue and a bottle of make-up remover from her purse.

“Yes,” Gaila says. That had been her objective.

“It makes you look so unapproachable.”

“Beauty makes people think they can talk to you,” Gaila agrees, though now she finds it hard to remember why she had been so afraid of that. The people here lack the power to hurt her in the ways her masters had; they lack the knowledge of that kind of cruelty.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Gaila asks.

“Because you're letting me,” Nyota says.

***


They are sitting on the railing around George Kirk's statue. Gaila is beside Pavel, which makes him feel warm inside, and Jim Kirk is crawling into the ceiling. Pavel isn't sorry to see him go, although there was a time today when he thought they might be friends.

“I'll teach you to kill people who fuck with you,” Gaila offers.

Pavel isn't really sure of the right response to that. Sometimes Gaila is nice; sometimes she frightens him. Like now.

“Maybe you could teach me to disable them instead?” he suggests.

Gaila laughs, pretty and musical. Because she thinks he is funny.

“Okay,” she says.

Nyota is on his other side. Pavel does not think he has ever sat between two beautiful women before. He is not a fool; he knows that Nyota likes Kirk and maybe also Spock, and he thinks he saw Gaila looking at Spock too. All the same, it's nice to be noticed.

“Are you going to write your essay?” Nyota asks.

“Yes.”

To refuse to complete Pike's assignment is unthinkable.

“Well, I was thinking that you should write it for all of us,” Nyota says.

“You do not want to do your own homework?” he asks. He has done homework for many people. He doesn't mind it exactly; only, he knows that it's not the same thing as friendship, and he had hoped for a better ending today.

“I don't mean it that way,” Nyota says. “It's just...I think you see more than you realize. Your answer would be good.” She hops off the railing and smiles. “It wouldn't hurt to show Pike that you can think originally. But if you don't want to do it, we'll still be friends on Monday.”

Pavel hesitates. Speaking up for himself is hard; speaking for a whole group of people is even harder. Maybe that's why he's stood on the sidelines for so long. It is time to do what Pike is always saying, to dare himself to do better. He picks up the stylus.

“I can do that,” he says.

***


Gaila pulls out the chair across from Spock, but she does not sit on it. Instead, she pushes it away and sits on the table.

“What are you doing?” she asks

“I am contemplating a dilemma unlike any I have experienced before.”

“Which is?”

“I have been instructed by my father that logic provides serenity that few humans will ever know. Yet, denying my emotions completely does not cause me to feel serene. I have reason to believe that this is true for my father as well, or he would not have married a human. Based upon this analysis, I am considering pursuing a course of action which I had previously judged undesirable.”

“That's very vague” Gaila says. She tilts her head, causing sunlight to fall on her copper-colored curls. Spock wonders if she desires him to look at her; she has made substantial alterations to her appearance in the past thirty-two minutes. The effect of the simple cosmetics around her eyes is particularly pleasant.

“I am considering engaging in a romantic relationship,” he clarifies.

Gaila's eyes flick toward Nyota Uhura. It is a logical supposition based upon his actions earlier in the day, however, it is erroneous.

“I believe that one is best served by pursuing relationships with an individual very different from oneself,” he says.

Gaila narrows her eyes.

“Are you asking me out?”

“The alterations made to your appearance are pleasing. However, more importantly, you are extremely observant and unafraid to speak difficult truths. I therefore believe I could learn a great deal from you.” He pauses. “This is not an acceptable proposal. Therefore, I will rephrase. Gaila, would you accompany me to dinner on Friday of next week?”

She smiles. The effect is startling, and startlingly gratifying.

“I accept your proposal. One one condition.”

“And that is?”

“That you promise to start thinking for yourself.”

“To the best of my abilities.”

She slides a hand into the pocket of his jacket, steals a stylus, and walks away.

***


The janitor's closet is cold and dark. Jim doesn't bother to turn on the light. He lights a cigarette but decides to watch it burn. Truth is, he doesn't like smoking, and there's not anyone to put on a show for anyway.

The door opens; light falls in.

“You lost?”

Uhura's standing there, arms crossed, eyebrows raised. Still, she came back. That has to be a good thing.

“I'm sorry,” he says. He doesn't have a lot of experience apologizing, so he's hoping simple is better. “For what it's worth, I really am sorry.”

“What you said was thoughtless, insensitive, cruel...” She hurls every word like it's a vile Klingon epithet.

“Yeah. Yeah it was,” Jim says.

She uncrosses her arms and leans against the door frame. Jim tries his best not to stare at the long, lean lines of her body silhouetted in the warm afternoon light.

“It was also a little true.”

“Yeah. That too.” He pauses. “But if we were going to say true things about me, I have a feeling they'd be worse.”

A lot worse. She's still here though, and that has to count for something. He grins.

“You think a princess and a guy like me...”

She smiles back.

“Maybe.”

And then she leans in. Silky hair brushes against his arm; the scent of her expensive perfume washes over him. For one incredible second, he thinks she's about to kiss him. Instead, she drops a diamond earring in his palm and sweeps out the door.

He'd pierced his ears last summer, mostly for the hell of it. The holes are closing up now – earrings made him look like he was trying too hard – but he pushes the post through anyway. The pain feels good.

***


At 15:30 hours, a single essay arrives in Pike's mailbox. It is one hundred and thirty-one words long.

Dear Captain Pike,

You asked us who we are. We're not sure how to answer because we don't know what you want us to say. The truth is, you see as you expect to see us, as we once saw each other – in the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions.

Today, we discovered that each of us is a brain, an outcast, a princess, and a delinquent. We have all felt the pressure of expectations we cannot fulfill; we have all felt lonely; we have all lashed out in anger when kindness would have served us better. In other words, though we are not the same species, we are all human. And, though we are all different, from this day forward, we are a crew.

Does that answer your question?



The essay is signed by them all, but it comes from the padd of Pavel Chekov.

“Not a bad answer, kid,” he mutters. “Not a bad answer at all.”

He opens a file that had been empty until this morning. It is a list of potential Starfleet recruits. Under the name of Janice Rand, he writes Spock, Pavel Chekov, Nyota Uhura, and Gaila. He pauses, taps the stylus against the edge of the padd, and adds one final name: James T. Kirk.

He sends them all a single message: PROVE IT.

He hopes they do.
Thank you - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Kirk/Uhura is not a pairing I have ever cared for, but it did seem to make sense here. In the film, I think Uhura is much too mature to be attracted to a bad boy like Jim Kirk, but as a teenager who's never stepped out of line before, I think it makes sense.
YAY! I agree that the the last paragraph and "we are a crew" was perfect!! I love that you explored their inner emotions and reactions, and that their personalities and motivations were so nuanced.

“You think a princess and a guy like me...” LOL :-D love it!

A Breakfast Club AU was so necessary - you did a great job with this!
Thank you so much! I was really worried about characterization in this piece, so it means a lot to me that you liked it. And yay for gratuitous Star Wars references!
Late to the party on this one, but I quite enjoyed it! I was ready to smack Jim on several occasions, but I like how you made all of the characters sympathetic in the end. And poor Pike! Going from a starship to watching bored teenagers all day must've felt like quite a comedown. but I like how he considers them a crew of sorts, or a potential one. :-)