Jim spotted Spock sitting in a booth at the café they often all frequented. It was about two blocks away from Starfleet Academy, so close to get there, but often not swarming with other cadets.
But he was not alone.
Standing next to the booth was Finnegan with his usual shit-eating grin. And though Jim had tried to wipe that same annoying grin off his face earlier that day, it was still there.
Jim stayed away because the last person he wanted to deal with in that moment was his nemesis. So he hid himself by the hostess stand, ignoring the amused looks of the hostess, Christine Chapel. He could still see them, mostly.
“Why don’t you just go down there and interrupt them?”
Jim glanced at her. “Because I’d just want to finish what I started.”
“Kicking the shit out of him?’
“Something like that. And I’d end up kicked out of the Academy. Wouldn’t that just prove everyone right?”
Christine frowned. “Who’s everyone?”
“Frank,” he muttered.
“That’s hardly everyone, Jim.”
“Well.” He shrugged. Turned his attention fully to her. “What are you doing here anyway? You’re a nurse.”
“Picking up extra hours at an easy job. I’m looking to get an apartment off campus.”
“Smart. I want one of those too. Spock has one.”
“I’ve heard. Lucky.”
Jim snorted. “It’s luck all right, in the form of fatherly connections. Something neither of us have.”
“Hmm. Finnegan’s leaving.”
“Good. Hope he trips on the way out.”
Christine laughed. “Hate the guy that much huh?”
“You have no idea.”
“I have a pretty good idea. And I think it relates to Spock.”
He gave her a dismissive look and went down the aisle to the booth where Spock sat with a pot of tea and some vegetable tart thing.
Jim slid in across from him. ‘Hey, Spock.”
“There you are. I did see you over speaking with Christine.”
“Oh.” So much for being incognito. “Was trying to avoid the asshole.”
“You are a harsh judge of Finnegan.”
“You might as well say it’s sunny outside, because yep, that’s a fact. He’s been a pain in the ass to me since day one when he tripped me in the aisle of our first class together.” Jim grimaced. “The bigger question is why a guy like you, as brilliant as you are, would give that guy the time of day.”
Spock inclined his head. “I will agree that he can be…”
“The biggest douche bag.”
“I was going to say tedious,” Spock replied with some amusement. “But he has his positive side as well.”
Jim stared at Spock incredulous. He shook his head and then smiled as a waitress appeared. “Coffee lots of it. And the biggest cheeseburger you have. With fries.”
“Is this as a result of your bad day?” Spock asked, when she had moved away from their booth.
“Yeah. I mean, none of it was my finest moment. But that first few hours of that assignment was just a disaster. I’m pretty sure if we are ever on a real landing party together one of us will die. Probably me because Finnegan will think everything’s a great big joke and shove me in front of a giant Jim eating monster or something.”
Spock arched a brow.
“I swear. Imagine being partnered with a guy who yucks it up all the time.”
“Yucks it up?”
“Yeah. Yuck-Yuck-Yuck. That’s what his laugh sounds like. The assignment is on this hostile planetary simulation. We’re to take turns being in charge of the landing party and there’s this holodeck thing that throws stuff at us. Like you know old-time army games or something. Only me and him are real, the others are holograms for the assignment, but you’re still supposed to make sure everyone survives the ordeal, including the fake people. Finnegan doesn’t take any of it seriously. When someone is captured or killed, he just laughs and says, ‘It’s all fake anyway” and I finally just had enough of his stupid attitude and decked him. While we were fighting, the rest of the crew of the landing party was decimated and Lucas threatened to fail us both.” Jim sighed. He smiled as the waitress returned with his coffee. “Thanks.”
“It does sound like a difficult situation.”
“I’m pretty sure you would have taken Finnegan out yourself. Anyway, Lucas said we could take it again tomorrow. I asked that I be given a new partner.” Jim waved his hand. “You know the rest. And seeing Pike…well, I can imagine what he thinks of me now.”
“He still greatly admires you.”
Jim laughed. “Uh-huh.”
“He does,” Spock assured him. “He does think you used poor judgement in Lucas’ exercise, though. But he is correct when stating that it is a requirement of all Starfleet officers to get along with their peers.”
“As a future captain, there will be members of your own crew that might not be your favorite people, but you must learn to accept and deal with them.”
“I know, Spock. But that asshole’s never going to be on my crew.”
“I bow to your good judgment. What are your plans for this evening?”
Jim smiled. “Got a date with a hot babe. Or a couple of them.”
“You remember that Caitian lovely we met a few months back? She contacted me and I guess she has a sister.”
“Indeed. How…nice for you.”
“What about you, Spock? What are your plans?”
Spock sipped his tea serenely just as Jim’s cheeseburger arrived.
“I guess you’re probably studying or something, right?”
“Not tonight. I, too, have a date.”
Jim had just taken a big bite, so he chewed and swallowed. “You…do?”
“Yes with Finnegan.”
Jim was dumbfounded and his chest hurt too. He rubbed it. Must be the cheeseburger giving him indigestion.
“Indeed, Sean. We are going to see a movie. Just before you came he asked and I accepted.”
“Yes, Jim. While I am aware you are not fond of him, he does have his charms.”
“He does? Mind telling me what those are?”
“Jim,” Spock said reproachfully. “I hope your enjoy your date.”
“Yeah,” Jim said mulishly. “You too.”