Chapter One: The Handyman
Hikaru Sulu was having a terrible day, the kind of day that made him wonder why the Hell he’d EVER thought going to Starfleet Academy was a good idea. It had started when his alarm didn’t go off (ok, he’d forgotten to set it, but why the fuck hadn’t somebody invented an alarm clock that read his mind?). He’d been late to Professor Spock’s class, Computers for Stupid Humans Who are Only Slightly Smarter than Monkeys Because at Least They Don’t Fling their Own Poo. Of course, that’s NOT how it was listed in the course catalogue, but Sulu was convinced that it was how Professor Spock thought of it. When he’d entered the Academy, Sulu had thought he knew enough about computers to get by; he’d soon discovered he was wrong. Professor Spock was a genius, and he saw no reason why hiss students shouldn’t be geniuses too. Professor Spock was also a Vulcan, and Vulcans were never late for anything, so he had little sympathy with Sulu’s excuse about the alarm clock.
“Cadet,” he’s announced, standing ramrod-straight at the front of the class, “every Vulcan child learns by the age of six to use his or her internal chronometer to awaken at whatever hour is required.” One severe eyebrow shot upwards. “If a Vulcan child can do it, you can as well. One demerit for tardiness.”
And that was that. Sulu knew better than to argue. Professor Spock did not take well to arguing unless it was backed up by a shipload of logic, and Sulu knew he didn’t have that at his disposal.
The final insult came when Sulu had arrived home at the end of the day, tired, demoralized, and famished. He’d plugged in his electric wok, and the whole apartment went dark.
“Kusottare!” Sulu yelled. He seldom swore in Japanese; Standard had a much richer variety of curse words to choose from. However, “shit-drip” seemed to sum up his day in a way that no other word could.
Hoping against hope, Sulu unplugged the wok and tried the light switch. No luck.
“Fucking ancient slum,” Sulu muttered. He was being unfair. The apartment house he was living in, while old, was meticulously maintained, and just as important, the rent was reasonable by San Francisco standards. Having Starfleet Academy and Headquarters in the city meant that housing was as much at a premium as it had been ever since the Great Earthquake more than 200 years before.
Sulu thought for a minute. When he’d moved in two months before, he remembered the landlord mentioning that there was a super living on-site, somebody to deal with tenants’ problems and perform minor repairs. Let’s see; the guy was in the basement apartment, if Sulu remembered correctly. He grabbed his keys and ID, left his darkened apartment, and rode the creaking elevator down to the basement. Once there, Sulu looked around. Sure enough, at the far end of the hall was a door with a neat sign:
Building Overlord, Knock Loudly; Usually Rocking Out
Sure enough, even from twenty feet away, Sulu could hear some kind of loud rock music seeping out through the door. He was no expert on classical music, but it sounded like Led Zeppelin, a late 20th-century band. Sulu grinned to himself. This super was probably some old fart who’d lived down here for a hundred years. Sulu just hoped he actually knew something about the building. With a mental shrug, Sulu stepped up and pounded on the door. The music died, and the door opened.
Sulu blinked. Whatever he’d expected, it wasn’t this. There on the threshold stood a very young-looking man, maybe 20 or so at the most. He was a couple of inches taller than Sulu, with wheat-colored hair and piercing blue eyes. He was dressed in only a pair of very ragged cut-off jeans, which displayed his toned chest, abs, and arms to perfection, since they were all uncovered. Sulu blinked again. He’d been known to play for both teams, and this hunk was well worth consideration.
The hunk gave Sulu a blinding white smile. “Hey,” he said again. “You need something?”
“Um…yeah,” Sulu managed to pull his head together. “I’m looking for the super.”
“You found him,” the blonde said. He stuck out a hand. “James Kirk. Call me Jim.”
“Let’s see—Pacific Rim Asian, Starfleet cadet uniform. Sulu from 6-B, right?”
“How did you know?” Sulu was frankly impressed. There were more than 100 units in this building, and as far as he knew, this guy had never laid eyes on him.
“Gotta know who my tenants are.” Jim stepped back from the door. “Come on in. Let me get a shirt on.”
“Don’t bother on my account,” Sulu replied, suddenly feeling frisky. The blonde gave him a quick, almost startled look.
“No, I’m supposed to present a professional appearance. Be back in a second.” He disappeared, leaving Sulu standing in his living room. Sulu took a look around, getting a quick impression of comfortable, over-stuffed furniture, lots of lights to make up for the fact that this was a basement, and a whole wall full of books, real books, the kind with paper pages that no one published anymore. With that, the super—Jim—was back, a pale blue t-shirt pulled on over the shorts.
“So, what can I do for you?” he asked.
“Lights just went out in my apartment,” Sulu explained.
Jim nodded. “Probably the fuse box,” he said. “Let me grab a light, and I’ll go look.” He turned and started rummaging through a drawer.
Jim looked at him and grinned. “The fuse box,” he repeated patiently. “This building is more than 150 years old. The apartments have electrical wiring, not individual power cells. All that wiring comes down here to a central board called a fuse box. If anybody plugs in more crap than the system can handle, a specific fuse ‘blows’ to keep everything from catching fire. Pretty efficient fail-safe, actually. Here we go.” He grabbed a portable light. “Come on; I’ll give you the historical tour.” He headed out of his apartment and down the hall, Sulu right behind him. “Here we are, one 21st century fuse box.” He stopped in front of some kind of metal cabinet, throwing the doors open and peering in with his light. “Yep. Right here.” He touched a toggle with the little finger of his right hand. He turned back to Sulu. “Did you unplug anything after it happened?”
Sulu nodded. “My electric wok.”
“Ok.” Jim flipped the toggle. “That should do it. Do you mind if I come up and look around your place, check the outlets for signs of sparking, maybe figure out which things you can have plugged in together?”
“No, I don’t mind; I’d appreciate it,” Sulu replied. “I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.”
“Not wrong, exactly, just more than this system could take,” Jim replied. “Lead on, and I’ll give you my sage advice.” They re-traced their steps and got into the elevator.
“How do you know about all old this stuff?” Sulu asked.
Jim shrugged and grinned. “I grew up in a state called Iowa; we’re about 200 years behind the Amish when it comes to technology, so all this stuff is familiar.” They got off on 6 and made their way to Sulu’s unit.
“Nice place,” Jim said as he looked around. “Wow.” He stepped towards the back wall of the living area. “Is that an authentic katana?”
“Oh, come on,” Sulu laughed. “Don’t tell me they have those in Iowa!”
“No,” Jim chuckled. “I’m just sort of a history buff.”
“Well, you’ve got a good eye; that belonged to my great-great-great grandfather,” Sulu said proudly.
“Sorry.” Jim collected himself. “I’m supposed to be scoping out your wiring, not ogling your heirlooms.”
“Hey, that’s ok; I keep that there so people will admire it,” Sulu assured him. This kid puzzled him. He was such an odd mixture of friendliness and timidity, of knowledge and diffidence.
“So, what did you have plugged in?” Jim asked.
“Mostly stuff in the kitchen, and that’s where the wok is, of course.” Sulu gestured towards the galley-shaped cooking area. Jim walked in and looked around.
“Yeah,” he said. “I can see why you’d have problems.” He pointed to several items. “You can probably have the coffee maker, the waffle maker, and the sound box all plugged in at once, but if you add anything to that mix, it’ll blow a fuse again. If you want to use the wok, be sure to unplug something else first.”
“Thanks,” Sulu said. “I just bought the sound box; I never thought about it. I just took it out and plugged it in.”
“Well, that should solve the problem,” Jim said. “Let me know if you need anything else.” He started towards the door.
“Hey,” Sulu said, “have you eaten?”
Jim paused and turned. “No,” he said, “but…I mean…”
Sulu shook his head. “Look, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable earlier with that crack about your shirt,” he said sincerely. “If you don’t swing that way, that’s fine; no harm, no foul. But I’d still like you to stay for dinner. Frankly, I get tired of eating alone.”
That shy smile flashed again. “Ok,” Jim said. “I’d like that.”
Sulu grinned back. “One sort-of-authentic stir-fry coming up.”
Commander Spock, the head of both the physics and computer departments for Starfleet Academy, stood in the living room of his elegant townhouse, looking out into the night, sipping a cup of his favorite tea, imported at no little cost from Vulcan.
It had been a very long day. He’d had four classes today, three of them with first-year cadets. Spock accepted Starfleet’s logic in insisting that all professors teach all levels of cadets; it made for a more cohesive faculty, and the cadets were challenged from their very first day. Occasionally, however, it was simply wearying. These young humans were so…so flighty. They were intelligent enough or they never would have been admitted to the Academy. But most of them still had a great deal of growing to do, and it was Spock’s responsibility to help that happen.
It had been a tiring day in other respects. Spock glanced at his comm. unit, where the last message from his father was still displayed. As he had anticipated, T’Pring had formally petitioned the High Council to dissolve their bonding, and her petition had been granted. Spock was unsurprised by the decision; he knew that the High Council had not approved of his decision to first attend and then teach at the Academy. He also knew that at least two Council members, both members of T’Pring’s Clan, had thought it a pity that a fine young female from such a sterling background should be bonded to an odd, half-human babysitter for Starfleet cadets.
Spock allowed himself a sigh. He had never cared for T’Pring, and she had loathed both him and the idea of living on Earth. Therefore, breaking the bond was logical. However, it still—hurt, for lack of a more accurate term. Spock could feel the cold empty place within him, that part of him that longed for a connection, a true bond with someone whose mind and soul truly complimented him.
Spock drained the last of his tea, a weary, bitter expression fleetingly crossing his features. He knew that there was little chance of him every finding someone to complete him. Spock had long ago accepted that he would always be solitary.
However, as illogical as it was, the hope still lived in his heart, the feeling that somewhere, somehow, he would find the one.