Pike fucking hates Iowa. Why the Empire thinks it's going to get decent recruits out of a godawful place in the middle of landlocked farms and shipyards, he doesn't know. Then again, if people are desperate enough to show up to BFE, Iowa, in order to land a spot on a ship, at least that says something about their commitment. Or their utter insanity. In other words, it makes them Imperial Starfleet material from day one.
Okay, okay, so there's a reason behind Iowa. Doesn't mean Pike has to like it.
His transport craft docks at the Riverside Shipyard, and he takes a good, long look at his ship. It's coming along well, although if it's actually ready in a year, he'll owe a shitload of credits to his first officer. Pike wonders if she's got some contacts in the shipyard he doesn't know about or if she just goes out there every time she hits Earth to threaten people. It wouldn't surprise him either way, and if she is visiting the shipyards and threatening people, the Enterprise will probably be ready early. It can't come soon enough for Pike; he's tired of watching his back while Number One counts the days until she inherits the Adrasteia.
The one good thing about Iowa is the wealth of cheap, off-the-books bars. On a good night, Pike can hit three of them, checking out the scum he's about to recruit in their natural habitat. He's not above paying someone to fuck up some cadet-wannabe's night just to see how the wannabe in question acts in a bar fight, either; he wants to know who plays dirty, who's willing to kill over a spilled drink. Always know them better than they know you.
But it's not all business. If Pike's being honest with himself, it's not even mostly business. There are a hell of a lot of boys who work the shipyards by day and the bars by night, and recruiting them is a hell of a lot more fun than recruiting cadets who are Academy-track.
Tonight his first stop's a little hole in the wall called Greer's. There's already a lot of noise coming from inside; there must be a good crowd tonight. Pike grins--and steps aside as the door comes banging open, a kid in a leather jacket hitting the ground followed by three cadets-to-be, in full uniform, no less. Pike takes another step back and crosses his arms over his chest; this ought to be good.
The three cadets don't have a shred of tactical instincts between them; that much becomes clear pretty quickly. Instead, they seem to be waiting for each other to make the first move. It'd be smarter to surround the kid, kick him while he's down. A single good soldier could take him out before he could get himself off the ground. Not one of these cadets seems to qualify.
The kid struggles to his feet and wipes some blood off his face with the back of his hand. He's got his eyes fixed on the cadet on the left, the black-haired one who's shorter than his two friends. Shorty sneers at the kid and takes a step forward, and his friends pull back, one of them even going back in the bar.
"He's done, Darren," says the leftover. "C'mon."
"What, you hit me a couple of times and I'm done? They don't know how to fight where you come from?" The kid's got balls; Pike'll give him that. He comes forward like a predator, one-two-three steps, and both cadets flinch back a pace. He launches himself at Shorty, and Shorty goes down. The kid lands on top and slams his fist into Shorty's face, a second one to his throat, and by the time Leftover grabs his arm, Shorty's choking on his own blood, both his hands going up to his neck.
Leftover's almost twice the kid's size, most of it in girth, and he swings a fist at the kid that would probably take the kid's head off if it stood half a chance of connecting. Of course, it doesn't; Pike can see it coming from ten feet off, and the kid ducks it, weaving just a little as he rolls over on the ground. He comes to his feet, and this time he can't dodge Leftover's punch. It clips him in the jaw, and the kid goes spinning off, hitting the ground again, landing on his hands. It's not a bad landing, though, and he looks around, growling, grinning--a mouth full of blood and he's smiling anyway.
That's enough. Pike comes forward and lands a punch to Leftover's right kidney that takes him down to one knee; he gets Leftover's neck in a deadlock and squeezes hard.
"You fight like a fucking Denobulan," Pike growls. Leftover starts choking, and Pike shoves him onto the ground, then kicks him hard in the crotch and, while Leftover's reaching down to cover his balls, steps calmly and carefully on his throat.
"Take a look at me," he says quietly. Leftover looks up, and his eyes go wide. He goes perfectly, deadly still. "Do you know who I am?"
Leftover nods. A few feet away, the kid's still on the ground, watching them. He spits a mouthful of blood onto the ground. Pike's peripheral vision isn't good enough to see the kid's expression; he wonders if the kid knows who he is, too.
"You don't deserve to wear this uniform. You step onto a shuttle in the morning, and you'll be shot on sight. You got that?"
Leftover nods again. Pike takes his boot off Leftover's neck and kicks him hard in the side. Leftover groans and rolls on his side, facing away from Pike; Pike gives him one more kick in the back for good measure. "Get out of here."
He crawls the first few steps away, then staggers back into the bar. Pike goes over to the kid and grabs him by the back of the jacket, pulling him to his feet.
Pike keeps his grip on the back of the kid's jacket and drags him into the alley next to Greer's, halfway down, past the dumpster and the back door, near the old-fashioned barbed-wire fence. He spins the kid around and pushes him back against the wall. The kid's still staring at him, and his eyes narrow a little bit, but whether that means recognition or whether it's just a matter of him trying to figure out how much Pike is worth, Pike can't tell. The kid's got a good poker face.
He comes in hard and fast, gets a hand into the kid's hair, and pins his head back against the wall. The kid grins, teeth still bloodstained, and Pike kisses him. It makes the kid yelp, but it doesn't stop him from kissing back. Pike tastes the metallic tang of copper layered over some kind of cheap beer, and he groans in spite of himself--the kid tastes fantastic. Pike shoves a hand between them and unsnaps the kid's pants one-handed.
"Jim," the kid gasps. Pike unzips the kid's pants and gets his hand into them, and oh, gee, what a shock, the kid's hard. "My name--it's Jim--"
"Shut the fuck up," Pike says. He wraps his hand around Jim's cock and starts working it, rough and fast--let's see how much you like getting knocked around, boy. Jim grunts, eyes slamming shut, and he spreads his legs apart, getting his hands onto the wall behind him. His knuckles are bruised, fingernails crusted in blood, too, and he digs his fingertips into the wall, like he's looking for support there.
The angle's awkward, too awkward for Pike to keep it up forever. "Come on, bitch," he growls. "Don't you dare tell me you can't come like this."
Jim reaches up with one hand and gets it on the back of Pike's neck, and Pike lets Jim jerk him forward. His teeth knock into Jim's, one of them nailing Jim right in the busted lip, and he feels the blood start flowing over his mouth as Jim kisses him again. Pike licks that trail of blood off Jim's chin, and Jim grunts, fingernails digging into the back of Pike's neck as he comes. Pike knocks Jim's hand away from the back of his neck, but he doesn't stop jerking Jim off, not until Jim's scrambling for a grip on Pike's shoulders and trying to push him away.
"C'mon, c'mon, motherfucker, let go, let go--"
Pike squeezes Jim's cock hard. "Be glad I don't have you by the balls," he says. Jim collapses back against the wall, head slamming into it, and he squeezes his eyes shut. "Then again, near as I can tell, your balls are solid brass. Might not hurt a bit. You want to find out?"
"Do whatever you want," Jim growls. Pike gets his hand out of Jim's pants, and he gives Jim a hard slap across the face. Jim's head snaps to the side and stays that way; he doesn't look up.
"There's such a thing as biting the hand that feeds you," he says. He wipes his hand off on Jim's shirt. "Or the hand that's going to."
That gets Jim's attention; he looks at Pike and frowns. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Oh, God, don't tell me you're as stupid as those three pieces of dog shit you were fighting back there. We've got plenty of shit in the Fleet already."
Jim's eyes narrow into slits, and he nods. "I thought so."
"You're Captain Pike, aren't you? Christopher Pike?" Pike nods. "I'm James Kirk."
"You keep telling me your name like I'm supposed to give a damn." Kirk, though. Pike remembers one Kirk in particular, the guy who smashed up that crazy Romulan ship back in '33; if the bastard hadn't been stupid enough to die in the fight, he'd have earned a commendation. That kamikaze head-on impact took the lives of most of Kirk's crew, but it crippled the Romulans hard enough for the rest of the Fleet to take them down.
Pike looks Jim over again, head to foot. Fights until there's nothing left. Doesn't give a damn if he lives or dies. About the right age, if Kirk had a son floating around...
He shakes his head. It really doesn't matter. "You've got a choice, Kirk. You can stay here on this godforsaken rock, or you can come with me. What's it going to be?"
Kirk straightens himself up, even gets his pants zipped. He wipes his palms on the fronts of his thighs, and he nods, once, like he's trying to convince himself he really had a choice in the matter.
"I'm with you," he says, and he tilts his head back slightly. "Sir."
"You're goddamned right you are," Pike says. "Come on."