“Are you nervous?” Vanik asked Jim as Spock’s significant other stood in front of a full length mirror dressed in his red cadet’s uniform.

Jim glanced down at him. “Nervous?”

“About the first day.”

Jim smiled. “It’s not really the first day. I had summer courses.”

“You did, but this is the first day of the regular semester and I thought…you might be.”

“Course not. What’s there to be nervous about?” He turned away from the mirror. Then he looked down at Vanik again. For a moment he said nothing, then the smile returned to his face, but this one was a little different. Very gentle and affectionate, rather than amused.

To Vanik’s surprise, Jim suddenly crouched down on his haunches until he was closer to Vanik’s own height.

“A little nervous about your first day at the new school, huh?”

Vanik swallowed heavily and nodded.

“You know you’re really smart, so that’s not it. Don’t think you’ll make any friends?”

“Well.” Vanik looked down toward his feet. “I am different than everyone else. They’ll all be fully human.”

“Now, I doubt that. A lot of families around here are in Starfleet or the Federation and come from everywhere. And you are different than anyone else. I’m different too.”

Vanik raised his gaze. “You are?”

“Sure. Everyone is unique. There’s not one of us that’s exactly the same and how great is that? You’re going to do fine, Vanik. You’ll see. And if you have any issues with anyone, you tell me, and I’ll come kick their as…butts.”

Vanik returned Jim’s smile. “They are kids. You can’t kick their butts, Jim.”

“Right.” Jim grinned. “Their parents then.”

“Okay. And if you have any trouble at the Academy I will kick their butts.”

“Deal.” Jim held out his palm and Vanik slapped it.

****

“Jim!”

Vanik’s uncle, Spock, watched as his nephew ran to Jim when they arrived to pick Vanik up from school as Sybok and Anoria had asked them to.

“Hey, kid. How’d it go?”

“It went great! You were right.”

“Right?” Spock asked with a questioning brow.

“There were lots of other students who were not fully human. Some weren’t even a tiny bit!”

“See?” Jim ruffled Vanik’s hair. “Who’s up for ice cream?”

“Me!”

Jim glanced at Spock. “Or you know, frozen non-dairy yogurt or whatever.”

Spock took Jim’s arm, showing his own amusement, though not to the extent his nephew did, and they walked away from Vanik’s school together.