Jim Kirk had great instincts when it came to people.
He could read them in a flash...it was second nature to him. It wasn't something he thought much about, or discussed at all with anyone. He rarely used his abilities for anything other than getting himself out of trouble, or manipulating situations for his own satisfaction. But the truth of the matter, something that he had figured out by the time he was five, was the world was composed of two types of people: idiots who richly deserved any trick at his disposal, and the smart people who saw through Jim's games, but which propriety disallowed them to do anything about. Either type was fair game, in his opinion, which meant, essentially, that everyone was fair game in the unending match of Kirk vs. the universe.
As harsh as it was, Jim’s lessons in people reading came honestly, if not ruthlessly. Jim’s stepfather had been a loud, overbearing, oppressive type of individual - the type of bully who picked on those smaller than him because he could and because it made him feel better and more powerful about himself as a person. But, by luck or evolution (survival of the fittest and all that), Frank had the intelligence of a grapefruit, as insulting as that was to citrus everywhere, and was utterly easy to manipulate. Jim knew which of Frank's buttons caused anger, which would cause apathy and which buttons, if pushed, would come to physical blows. It had become a sort of game during his childhood: piss off Frank for having the nerve to persecute children, for daring to try to play the role of tyrant to Jim and his brother, but do it in a way that wouldn’t earn Jim a black eye.
And thus the pattern continued. Learn people, see what makes them tick, and cajole around their defenses to benefit his person. It wasn’t until one night, while drinking away the fact that he had to live in a universe in which stupidity existed, that he began to reevaluate his hard-earned take on the psychology of man.
A lesson came, and her name was Uhura.
She was strong, she was smart, and she had a way of looking at Jim as if to say, ‘I’ve got you all figured out, you’re not that much of a conundrum, and you offend me by breathing; kindly stop.’
She was Jim in female form - in that she was quick, and she clearly saw through actions to garner intent - only with less baggage, a more blatant way of using sense and way more condescension.
So… perhaps there were three types of people in the world. The third category belonging to a select, enlightened few… those who read others and had low tolerance for pointlessness.
Leonard McCoy was the first person Jim had ever met that made him sit back and say, ‘this man is such a paranoid oddball, he’s awesome, and I want to be his friend.’
Like Jim and Uhura, Bones could read people and read them well; he just didn’t give a shit. He knew the world was composed of idiots, and he wasn’t ashamed to voice that opinion, loudly and as often as he could. He did what Jim often had the urge to do, but usually didn't...not that it mattered if Jim kept his mouth shut. People still found reasons to jump him.
Everything annoyed Bones, just like everything annoyed Jim, but Leonard took annoyed and made it an art form. No one could do bitter like Bones and make it so damn lovable.
The first time the two of them had gotten shit-faced drunk at the academy, celebrating a successful term of knocking other, lesser, idiots out of the grading curve, Bones had turned to Jim and said, “It’s you and me, kid, you and me. The rest of the universe is too blind to see that life as a whole is completely disturbed and that everyone and their mother’s-brother’s-cousin are all a couple of cherries short of a fruitcake. There is no sanity in this quadrant of the universe.”
Bones had followed this proclamation with a wave of his wrist and an air of indifferent acceptance, and Jim squelched his own, “And how! What he said!”
Instead he just smiled at his friend and said, “I love you, man.” And he did, in that platonic, affectionate, delighted kind of way.
So maybe there were four types of people: the fourth type being the people that just got it, who understood how things in life worked beyond the bullshit, like Bones.
Jim adored him for it.
If anyone was a couple cherries short of a fruitcake, it was Scotty.
Scotty was living proof that if someone had an abundance of one trait, which in Scotty’s case was complete, utter, and undeniable brilliancy, they lacked in others, like social graces.
God but Jim applauded him.
From the moment Scotty had asked the alternate universe version of Spock if there were sandwiches in the future, Jim had decided then and there that when he became captain of a starship, he wanted Scotty on his crew.
The man could calculate a formula to beam aboard a ship moving at warp-speed, but still retained the ability to recognize what was really important in life: food, any other necessity listed on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and whatever else felt good at the moment.
And once they had accomplished said beaming, and Scotty had born the brunt of a quietly livid, young Spock’s Vulcan-y glare by asking for a towel, Jim wanted to declare his undying devotion. This was the man he wanted as his number two friend.
Scotty had balls, Jim would give him that. And he’d also given Jim his new favorite catch phrase…’so, do you think I could get a towel,’ a.k.a ‘things are way too tense around here, you guys need to lighten the fuck up.’
So perhaps there was a fifth category of people, too: those who were genius beyond the telling of it, but crazy as all hell and blatant about it.
Jim thought there should be more Scottys in the universe, but didn’t think the universe could handle it.
It took Jim a while to figure Sulu out.
The young helmsman was nice. He was compassionate. He was actually supportive of his new captain, despite the obvious doubts of others. And he was completely sincere in all of those things. He didn’t seem to do the compassionate thing for personal gain, like most other so-called ‘benevolent’ people that Jim had met throughout his life.
It was weird.
For a while Jim had regarded Sulu with open puzzlement. Like, ‘okay, what’s the catch, here? There has to be a catch.’
Sulu was just as sharp of the rest of the Enterprise crew, and Jim’s crew was the smartest in the universe, and all completely exceptional, thank you kindly, but Sulu was just so unassuming about it.
Jim just knew that Sulu had been a fucking boy scout when he was younger, he just knew it. He was also a bit of a lesson in diffidence. Not that Jim took it to heart or anything. Being reserved utterly worked for Sulu, but didn’t quite work for Jim Kirk. No one would believe it if he tried.
Still though, the universe could definitely use more Sulus and be better for it.
He existed in a newly invented sixth category of people – those precious few who were actually, honest to God, genuine.
If Jim ever had a son -- which was doubtful because Jim would be a crap father and he understood that clearly about himself -- he was going to name the kid Pavel in hopes that the name carried similar traits for all those who used it.
The young ensign was smart as a whip and hid his smirk at being more intelligent than most under a veil of innocence. Jim had a feeling that Chekov was secretly assessing the crew and monitoring who he could swindle out of their lunch credits. The victims would never realize they were being swindled, because the kid had the whole ‘I’m such a sweet, harmless little guy, deviousness would never, ever cross my mind’ thing going for him.
Jim admired that about him.
It also made him wary. Jim knew better than most that one should never underestimate their opponent in the chess game of life. Chekov was the knight that everyone thought a pawn. He was that nerd in elementary school who always had his hand raised in class, but grew up to redefine Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ and then laugh about it all the way to the bank in that evil genius kind of way.
‘Take that, mother fuckers. Showed you. Bask in my genius. Yes, you may touch my hand in the hopes that my brilliance will seep into you through osmosis, but I wouldn't count on it.’
Jim was not going to be the one to hold the kid back from taking over the universe, if that’s what he wanted. Chekov was certainly welcome to it, if only for being that hypothetical little brother that Jim never had.
Chekov was category seven: the prodigy.
One should never doubt the short, smart and spry – they had it going on.
Jim could not define Spock. At all. And not through lack of trying.
Every time he thought he came close to categorizing Spock, the Vulcan did something to throw Jim’s theory out the airlock.
He was a logically minded, unemotional automaton… except Spock really did do emotional when pushed, and he did it so intensely that humans, by contrast, seemed to only play at their feelings and not really mean it.
Spock did severe like it was no one’s business.
He was moral and a stringent upholder of the law, unless someone he loved was threatened, in danger, or genuinely unhappy, and then, watch out lesser beings, because Spock was going to go apeshit on you and it won’t be pretty.
When Jim had first met Spock, he'd hated the self-righteous, rigid prig, but the more Jim got to know him, the more enthralled he became.
Spock was more than the sum of his parts. Not entirely Vulcan, definitely not human, but strong, and vivid, and so completely startling – just so relentless in everything that he did- that sometimes Jim couldn’t help but just stop and stare in dazed amazement.
Everything Spock did just drew Jim’s attention more, and Spock’s utter refusal to be defined just made all the confusing turmoil Jim felt towards his first officer that much more poignant.
Bantering ideas back and forth with Spock made Jim feel smarter. He felt he could accomplish anything just by having Spock at his side. All the infinite possibilities in the universe spread out before them, with Spock there to see Jim personally through each and every one.
It took Jim months to realize that he no longer felt the urge to define Spock, that he was rather intrigued by the fact that Spock was inexplicable, and felt he should remain that way. Jim kind of liked that he couldn't figure out Spock; it added a hint of mystery to life and had Jim feeling that maybe the universe wasn't so flawed after all. Maybe it had gotten something, or someone, just right.
Love, soul-deep love -- the ‘I would give up orgasms, chocolate sundaes and picturesque walks through sandy beaches for you and be fine with that’ (well, maybe not ‘fine’, but sort of ‘okay’) -- kind of love, was not really a phenomenon that Jim had believed in, ever, really.
Yet Spock even made that seem possible and even attainable.
Eventually Jim did come up with a category for Spock.
It was a word Spock taught him, one that meant everything, and anything. One that encompassed possibility, love, acceptance, and the best that life had to offer.
Jim still had great instincts when it came to people. Read them naturally -- it was just a part of his make-up. But, he liked it when Spock read him even better.
Spock saw Jim in a way that no one else ever had and no one else ever would. Jim was strangely fine with that.