“Tarsus Preparatory School,” Captain Christopher Pike read off.
Jim nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Pike frowned. He was seated behind his desk, going over Jim’s application for admittance to Starfleet Academy. “Rough time.”
“Fortunately, the school was evacuated before the worst of it,” Jim replied. He folded his hands in his lap and tried not to twist them together.
“By your headmaster.”
“That’s right, sir. Retired Starfleet captain Robert April.”
“Yes, I knew April. Left active duty after the partial loss of his left leg. Settled on Tarsus IV.” Pike pursed his lips. “Got you all off but he was not as lucky.”
“How was the school before all that?”
“I learned a lot,” Jim conceded. “My mother taught me not to speak ill of the dead, though.”
Pike smiled slightly at that. “Confidential, James.”
“I prefer Jim for the most part, Captain.”
“Okay, Jim. Tell me what you thought of Captain April.”
“He evacuated all of us students and ultimately saved our lives. For that he’s a hero, sir.”
Jim shrugged. “He could be a strict disciplinarian. Which is why I was sent there in the first place.” He paused. “That being said, I think he should be remembered from his heroic acts.
“I see. You might be interested to know that there’s a currently enrolled cadet who also came from the school.”
“Spock is his name. Son of the Vulcan ambassador to Earth. Know him?”
“Only rather nominally, sir. I spoke briefly to him when we were both waiting for our parents on the space station after evacuation. Not even sure he’d remember me after all these years.”
“Understood. Well, if you run in to him, I didn’t want you to be surprised.”
Jim smiled. “Run into him, Captain?”
Pike returned the smile and stood up, hand thrust forward to shake Jim’s hand. Jim rose too.
“Congratulations on being accepted into Starfleet Academy, Jim. You’ll be starting this next semester.”
“Thank you, Captain Pike, I appreciate it.”
“I want a milkshake. Do you want a milkshake?”
Jim shook his head, amused at his mother as she sat across from him at the diner they’d headed to after he came out of Christopher Pike’s office. They decided to celebrate by coming to this old diner before boarding the shuttle back to Riverside. The next semester didn’t start for a few weeks, so he’d spend most of that time back at the farmhouse.
His mother had told him that back in her academy days she’d gone to this old diner numerous times with Jim’s dad.
Jim laughed. “I’m already getting a cheeseburger. I have to fit in my cadet uniform, Mom.”
“You’re slim and fit. But okay. I won’t push. I’m getting a salad that way I can have the milkshake.”
“Okay.” Jim glanced out the window. “I’ll have to be careful not to come here too often.”
“Just like George. Did you know your Grandpa Kirk was turned down for the Academy?”
“Yep. Idiots. That’s why your father tried so hard to get in there, you know. Wanted to prove them wrong about the Kirk family. I think he’d rather have stayed on the farm to be honest.” His mother shook her head. “I’m not surprised you got right in.”
“Yeah well. Hey, I guess Captain Pike said there’s another cadet there from the school. Tarsus I mean.”
“Spock. From Vulcan. I guess his dad’s some dignitary or something.”
Mom pursed her lips. “Do you suppose he was sent there for getting into trouble?”
Jim laughed again. “Doubtful. I mean not everyone there was sent because they were a delinquent, Mom.” He paused. “Some were, obviously.”
“Jim, if I could change—”
“I know. I know it was Frank. And the experience wasn’t all bad,” Jim said, softly. “Anyway, I am guessing not everyone who was there got there because of someone like Frank, but the truth of it is that I know nothing about Spock at all. Maybe he is a secret troublemaker.”
They both laughed at that. The idea did seem absurd.
Later when they had finished their dinner, they headed back for Riverside. Jim couldn’t wait to return to San Francisco to begin the next chapter of his life.