kianspo (kianspo) wrote,

Don't Stop Believing 2.7A/?

Title: Don't Stop Believing 2.7A/?
Beta: secret_chord25 
Pairing/Characters: implied Spock/Pike, Uhura, Gaila, Kirk, McCoy, Gary Mitchell
Rating: PG
Summary: Christmas time at the Academy.
Notes: Please visit the Master Post for elaborate navigation/pairings/summary.
Also, I'm sorry about cutting this into so many pieces. If anyone can teach little stupid me how to make larger lj posts, I'll worship at your piedestal.


The slope of December finds Spock predictably busy. He spends a lot of time preparing the final tests for his students, and even more so covering for his fellow professors. He has noticed that his human colleagues tend to invoke the leave time they have accumulated by the end of the year, leaving the Academy understaffed. Of course, they aren’t allowed to leave unless they find a suitable replacement, and after three years, Spock knows he is going to be approached many times with a similar request starting the end of November.


As a result, this year Spock finds himself teaching twelve different subjects, varying from his own xenolinguistics and CCC to advanced astrophysics and temporal mechanics, and even a course of basic combat training for first year cadets. Scheduling becomes a problem.


The Enterprise has entered the final stage of its construction, and Pike spends most of his time at Riverside, overseeing the works. Spock is secretly grateful. Pike has adopted an unfortunate habit of lecturing him on the virtue of the ability to say ‘no’ to requests, and Spock hasn’t quite mastered that one. He doesn’t mind helping out. His colleagues most certainly benefit from spending time with their families during an event of cultural significance, which Spock as a Vulcan does not observe. It’s just that he’s stretched a little thin at the moment, but he can manage. He’s collected a lot of favors he’s never going to recall.


Pike doesn’t approve of Spock’s easy acquiescence. He’s convinced that Spock allows his colleagues to ‘shamelessly use him’ and overworks severely as a result. Spock agrees that filing twenty hours a day is perhaps not ideal, but he can do it – therefore, he must.


This is one of the things about Spock’s Vulcan upbringing that Pike doesn’t understand. On Vulcan, the only legitimate ground to deny assistance is being unable to render it. The matter of personal convenience does not enter into the equation. Nor does any kind of gratification, because it’s not logical. After all, having one’s services called upon is an honor.


There is perhaps but one aspect of this situation that Spock truly dislikes. One of his newly adopted duties is to inform those students who have not shown satisfactory results about their expulsion. Starfleet only accepts the best of the best, and the Academy gives a lot of chances to any cadet to find his or her optimal career path. However, if those chances are wasted and all the correction work fails, expulsion remains the only option. Incompetence is not something easily tolerated in a Starfleet officer.


Logical as the system is, Spock doesn’t enjoy this particular task. It always pains him to see potential wasted, even though he understands that Starfleet’s terms are far less severe than those of any Vulcan institution. If the person in question does not fulfill the standards, there is no other logical alternative. The price of a mistake in space is too high.


As such, he does not relish the prospect of a meeting that is scheduled, due to his overactive timetable, for the morning of December 22. The Academy halls are almost empty by now, and Spock’s steps echo in the deserted corridors as he walks toward his office. Given that he has only left here three-point-two hours ago, Spock muses that perhaps he should not have left at all.


The cadet is already waiting for him at the door, straightening up at Spock’s approach nervously. He’s tall, approximately Spock’s height, but decidedly broader in the shoulders and of a richly muscled constitution. His red uniform all but bursts on him, either too small for his size or deliberately so to make an impression. He’s got blond hair, neatly combed but for a single lock falling across his forehead, and an open, classically proportioned face. His silver-grey eyes look at Spock nervously, and it’s somehow distinctly clear that for this man, it’s an unusual expression.


“Sir. Cadet Gary Mitchell, reporting as ordered.”


Spock inclines his head subtly, reaching to open his door. “Please, come in. Have a seat.”


They settle on the opposite sides of Spock’s desk. The cadet sits primly, hands clasped on the desk, and Spock can’t shake off the impression that the compliant posture is as uncommon for this human as a smile on a Vulcan’s face.


“Cadet Mitchell, it is my unpleasant duty to inform you that the Academy board has decided to dismiss you from the Academy,” Spock says impassively, studying the PADD with Mitchell’s service jacket.


At once, the young man bolts. “You can’t do that!” he exclaims emphatically. “I worked my ass off this semester to catch up!”


Spock levels him with a dispassionate gaze. “I fail to see how this may come as a surprise to you. Your grades have not improved since the last evaluation, remaining well below satisfactory. In fact, they seem to have slipped lower.”


“I concentrated on field training, sir,” Mitchell says hurriedly. “I was told it’s the first area they were gonna look at. I did really well on that one, sir!”


Spock taps the PADD to access the cadet’s field training records. “You did better,” he notes calmly, “but far from acceptable as well.”


“It’s all Lieutenant Gaber, sir,” Mitchell says hotly. “He has it in for me, sir, I swear it.”


Spock can’t help an inquisitive eyebrow. “You believe you have been unfairly judged?”


“Well, sir…” Mitchell looks down at his hands, then back at Spock. “It’s like that, sir. I didn’t want to speak ill of my instructors, sir, but he’s biased against me. He always looks the other way whenever I do something right, but he’s always there when I slip, even a little. He’s always looking over my shoulder, breathing down my neck – I can’t work like that! Imagine going about your business with someone attached to your right arm telling you all the time that you’re gonna fail!”


“I imagine that would be inconvenient,” Spock allows mildly. “Why have you not brought up your difficulty with your curator?”


“Oh, believe me, I tried, sir,” Mitchell says sourly. “But he and Gaber are old pals, so he doesn’t believe a word I’m saying. You know,” he chuckles mirthlessly, “I would totally understand if he treated everyone like that, sir. I’m not the whiny type, I could handle a little stress on my back. But it’s like I’m his punching bag or something. He’s perfectly sweet with everyone else, always asking if they need assistance and everything. But me – no way. It’s like I killed his hamster when he was a boy or something.”


It doesn’t help that Spock isn’t familiar with any of the mentioned officers, but the bitter tone of the cadet seems remarkably sincere. Prejudice is something Spock knows only too well. From his early childhood, he always had to be three times as good as any other Vulcan to eliminate any doubts that he’d earned his place in his class and in his school. If that is indeed the case with Cadet Mitchell, Spock can certainly sympathize.


“Why do you believe Lieutenant Gaber is prejudiced toward you?”


Mitchell sighs. “He served with my father, sir. From what I can tell, they didn’t get along.”


“Did your father speak to you of this?”


Mitchell lets out a harsh snort. “My father dumped my mother when I was three, sir. I haven’t seen him since.” He shakes his head. “The funny thing is, if I knew him like Lieutenant Gaber did, I’d probably hate him, too. You’d think we could bond over that, but no – instead, he treats me like I’m my worthless runaway dad. Guess I can’t say that my dear daddy never did anything for me. At least he taught me that the world is unfair.”


Spock surveys Mitchell carefully, sensing the long-carried pain beneath the cynicism. He taps the PADD again. Perhaps the board should not have acted so hastily?


“Mr. Mitchell, there is still the matter of your poor grades,” Spock observes. “You passed the entrance tests with distinction, then failed seventy-five percent of the examination following your first year. You improved your performance temporarily to pass the midterms, then failed your second year finals with a sixty percent decline rate. You have been granted the chance to rectify this and retake all of the obligatory examination, yet failed those as well by ninety percent. I observe a pattern here, Mr. Mitchell, and it is not an inspiring one. Are all of your professors prejudiced against you as well?”


“No.” Mitchell shakes his head with a sad, self-accusatory smile. “No, that’s my own fault, sir. I was so distracted, I guess, with my mother’s health that I didn’t pay due attention to my studies.”


Spock stiffens. “Your mother’s health?”


“Yes, sir.” This time Mitchell’s sigh is profound; his mouth twists into an unhappy bow, eyes losing their spark. “She suffers from Borellias-Dows syndrome, sir.”


“That is a degenerative condition for humans,” Spock recalls, frowning slightly. “If memory serves, incurable.”


“Yeah.” Mitchell purses his lips. “There’s no cure. She was in remission when I entered the Academy, but then it ended, and it all just went to hell. You wouldn’t believe how much it costs to buy drugs for this thing so that she could feel even a little better.” He parts his hands helplessly. “I guess somewhere between my three jobs, my studies just slipped.”


Indeed, Spock thinks, studying the desolate cadet in front of him. For a human, it would be impossible to maintain the level of concentration necessary for the complex education and training the Academy provides while being occupied at three different working positions. Very few cadets can manage even one job, and only do so if it’s absolutely crucial for them, with the Academy allowance covering their immediate expenses. And the emotional stress for someone in Mitchell’s position must be intolerable.


“Why did you not ask for a sabbatical to care for your mother?” Spock asks, almost gently. It seems like a reasonable solution, and he knows that the Academy gladly grants those when needed.


Mitchell sighs heavily. “Sir, my mother’s illness is degenerative, but not fatal. It’ll only be getting worse, and by the time my supposed sabbatical would be over, I’d probably be in my sixties.” Something must have showed on Spock’s face, because Mitchell nods at him grimly. “I know it sounds cynical, sir, but it’s the truth. I love my mother, but my staying at her bedside won’t help her. If I graduate, then as an officer, I’d be able to afford better conditions for her, better care. That’s why I couldn’t quit, sir. I needed every chance.”


Spock stares at the young man silently, his own problems suddenly seeming so insignificant and shallow.


“Well,” Mitchell sighs again, “I guess it’s all over now. Thank you for listening, sir. I’m glad it’s you who brought the bad news, not my curator. I’ll be going packing my things, sir, if that’s all?” He half-rises from the chair, looking at Spock questionably.


“Wait.” Spock stops him. “If I convince the board to postpone your expulsion, how will you be able to improve your performance? Obviously, your circumstances will not change.”


“They will, sir,” Mitchell says, sounding carefully hopeful. “I’ve got a promotion and a raise at one of my jobs. I can dump the other two now, and it’ll leave more time for studying. I’m confident I can do it, sir.”


Spock looks him in the eye and finally nods. “Very well, Mr. Mitchell. I shall speak to the board on your behalf. In view of your difficult circumstances, I am positive they would be willing to give you another chance.”


“Thank you, sir!” Mitchell leaps to his feet, reaching for Spock’s hand exuberantly, then stopping just short of touching him. “Sorry, sir. I appreciate what you’re doing for me, sir! You won’t regret it!”


“We shall see,” Spock says, tapping the PADD significantly. “Dismissed, Cadet. And merry Christmas.”


Mitchell sends him a blazing grin and leaves.


Tags: dnsb, fics, pg

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