Title: Playtime (5/?)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: AU. Fun times ensue at Little Star Academy. Pike begins to realize that while he may be the adult, he’s definitely not the one in charge.
Previous Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
“Good morning, Ms. Kirk.”
“Winona,” the woman corrects absently as she releases her son into the throng of children. Then Winona turns to him with a bemused smile. “Jimmy has been very excitable since breakfast, Mr. Pike. Is today special for some reason?”
Pike pushes at his glasses, then slips his hands into his pockets. “Not that I recall.” He smiles ruefully. “Though I can assure you that your son makes each day uniquely… special for me. And please, call me Chris.”
Her eyes are dancing. “If it’s any consolation, Mr. P—Chris, I know for a fact that Jimmy likes you very much.”
Chris’s eyebrow goes up.
“No, really!” Winona laughs. “At dinner, it’s ‘Mr. Pike said this’ or ‘Mr. Pike let us do that.’ I swear, you’d think Mr. Pike is a regular fixture in our home!”
Chris hopes he is not blushing. He’s too old for that. Instead, he clears his throat. “Well, I’ll endeavor to live up to the Kirk standards.”
He is probably still red in the face even after she leaves. Maybe that’s why Janice is smiling at him in obvious amusement. Pike takes a moment to shake off the absurd happiness which feels suspiciously like a young man’s nervous butterflies in his stomach. It’s Friday, and he steels himself for the massive force of energy preparing to bombard him on all fronts.
The hours up until nap-time went rather smoothly. That should have been his first clue. Everybody remained agreeable and happy. Even Spock seemed accepting of the glitter that Jimmy wanted to add to Spock’s carefully drawn Standard alphabet. Pike did notice that the Vulcan boy had his gold star pinned to his shirt again. Who pinned it? Spock himself or his mother?
The second clue would have been the giggles that seemed to overtake the children like a tidal wave during random moments in the morning. Both Janice and Chris were at a loss to delineate why it would happen; they only knew that it did, and after the third time the titter of giggling rose up, Pike found himself swallowing a giggle too. It was infectious, the children’s happiness. (That’s one of the things he loves most about kids… their unadulterated happiness.)
Everyone woke up from their naps like clockwork, though Scotty still had to be rolled over and quietly coaxed awake (not unusual for Scotty, who loves napping almost as much as chocolate chip cookies). When Pike sent the children out to play, they scattered into the yard in groups of three. But again, Pike failed to notice these things until much too late.
Pike, as usual, starts with a slow walk around the playground, occasionally calling out to a child or another not to run so fast. Once he is squatted down by Pavel in the sandbox, attempting to explain to the boy that shoveling all the sand to one side won’t be as satisfying as, say, building a tiny row of sandhills (rather than an enormous one), the sound of crying catches his attention. Janice calls him over for assistance because Christine Chapel is balling her eyes out and Rand cannot figure out why.
They are distracted for some minutes, until Pike sighs and collects the little girl in his arms. When he steps through the entrance way into the building, he almost knocks over Scotty who is coming from the other direction in haste. Pike pauses, then, with Christine’s tears wetting his shoulder to watch the boy pelt across the yard, his stubby legs working furiously. How strange. Scotty never runs, only ambles.
The moment he sets Christine onto the counter, she quits crying and says “I better.”
Pike blinks. Slowly turns on the faucet and wets a soft rag. She looks satisfied as he wipes the tear tracks off of her face. Chris asks gently, “Do you want to tell me why you were crying, Christine?”
Her blond ponytail swings as she shakes her head fiercely no.
“Are you sure there is not something you want to tell me?”
“No, Mr. Pike.” Her eyes are round.
The door opens and Rand hastily comes in with Galia.
“Chris, Galia says that she feels sick to her stomach.”
Damn. “We cannot leave the others alone, Jan. Christine’s okay, I’m going—”
Christine bursts into tears again. “M-Mr. P-pike,” she wails his name loudly. Her arms go out and Pike has no choice but to scoop her up before she tumbles off the counter.
Then, out of nowhere, he hears a sound like a cat screeching from the yard. His gut goes Outside NOW.
“Jan, I have to go. Take Christine.”
Galia whimpers and Janice looks torn between her bundle and the one in Pike’s arms. He barks, “Now, Miss Rand!” Galia is placed carefully onto the floor and it takes them both to pry the sobbing Christine off of Pike. But they manage it and Pike is out the door at a run.
It’s not hard to spot the trouble. The most of the playground is eerily empty; an abandoned swing creaks as it sways, buckets have been discarded hapzardly in the sandbox. The children are gathered in a large huddle around the playhouse, a wooden cabin of sorts with a tiny opening for a door and one window. He cannot tell, at first glance, who is missing from the circle of children attempting to peer between the spaced boards. Pike slows to a jog and drops to one knee. Most of the little ones scamper from the entrance except for Hikaru who, with a wide stance and arms spread, is guarding the entrance.
“This is NOT a game, Mister—”
Pavel appears from behind Hikaru, inside the little playhouse. Pike can see that there are others inside as well, but for the gaggle of children and their instant chattering, he has no clue what is going on.
Until Pavel says, “Mr. Spock is dying and the Doctor must fix him.” The child giggles.
Pike fells the blood drain out of his head and wastes no more time. Hikaru is summarily plucked up and put to the side, Pavel ordered to come out this instant.
The scene probably looks hilarious, a fully grown man on his hands and knees attempting to wedge himself inside a child’s playhouse. He is greeted by Jimmy’s “Hiya, Mr. Pike!”
At first he thinks he is going to have a heart-attack at the age of thirty-seven because Spock is flat on the ground with Lenny hunched over him and all three boys are covered in green blood.
Then Spock says, calmly enough for somebody injured, “Doctor, have you finished your procedure?”
Lenny is muttering. Then, “Stop it, Spock, you’re gettin’ that nasty green stuff everywhere!”
“I have not moved. That would be the Captain.”
Pike is working around Lenny so that he can get to Spock when Jimmy ducks under his arm and reaches out to pat his face. His shoulder crams against the roof as he brings his fingers up to investigate what Jimmy’s hand has left behind.
His fingers are covered in shining green. Pike’s nose finally recognizes the smell.
It might be hysteria that bubbles in his throat. Or maybe he’s just going to pass out from the quick rise and fall of his blood pressure.
“Paint,” he croaks.
“No, sir, it’s Spock’s life’s blood,” Lenny corrects. Pike stares at McCoy, and the six-year old stares back for a moment before his look skips over to Kirk. “I’ve done what I can, Captain. It’s up to Spock now.” The gravity of his voice is unnerving, though he sounds like he is reciting lines.
Pike needs to have a talk with McCoy’s parents about what sort of entertainment is appropriate for a six-year old.
Jimmy’s head bobs up and down. Then the blond-headed boy wiggles between Lenny and Spock and says to the Vulcan, very seriously, “Dwon’t die, Spock.”
“I shall attempt a healing trance, Captain.”
Pike runs a hand over his face and interrupts the show. “Enough, boys. Just. Enough.”
Even Spock turns his head—despite his dying scene—to look at Chris.
“Play-Time is over,” he informs them and twists his body with a grimace to get a handhold on the doorway. It’s awkward and fairly embarrassing as he bends and creaks and crawls to right himself. All the children, including Rand with Galia and Christine holding onto her skirt, are watching him.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy exit the playhouse with the ease of babes. His face must look particularly grim because no one says a word.
“Inside.” The word is clipped.
Now that his adrenaline rush has subsided, that his brain can think, it starts piecing together a puzzle he does not like. For the first time in a long, long while, there is true anger in his stride as he marches back into the daycare center.
Everybody runs to the center rug and huddles there for the explosion. And for some reason, Kirk, Spock and McCoy do not sit down. They walk right up to the front and face Pike.
Jesus. Do they think this is a court martial?
That takes his anger down a notch.
Then Jimmy says, “I did it.”
He stares at Kirk but, surprisingly, the boy does not fidget.
“Did what, James?”
“I st-st-took t’paint.”
He says nothing for a moment. Then looks over at little Scotty who is hunched over his shoes and poking at a loose carpet thread.
“Captains should not lie,” he comments idly.
Kirk’s eyes blaze.
Pike addresses the other two boys. “You cooperated with Jimmy’s plan.”
Spock tilts his head as if Pike’s words are fascinating. “The Enterprise requires a doctor to treat medical emergencies, Sir,” the Vulcan states. He indicates that Pike is, perhaps, a slow Human to think otherwise.
Pike asks Lenny, “And you’re the doctor, Mr. McCoy?”
The boy shrugs. “Maybe.”
Jimmy puffs up. “You’re my doctor, Bwones!”
“You saved Spock ‘n you’d save me too!”
Pike wants to patent the McCoy glare. It will be a thing of beauty one day, when the boy has better control of his facial muscles.
“‘Cuz you said I had to or he’d die!” Lenny’s finger is dangerously close to Jimmy’s eyeball. “I said I don’t wanna be a part of your stupid crew!”
Jimmy hops in place. “Yes you do!”
“I don’t like you!”
“Yes you do!”
“No, I don’t!”
“STOP!” Pike bellows.
Everyone falls silent. A few mouths tremble.
“First,” Pike begins. “I know you did not take the paint, Jimmy, but I would bet that it was your idea. I do not need to hear why you thought having Spock die would be fun. You will not play that type of game at Little Star Academy. Being injured is a very VERY serious matter.”
Pike slowly looks across the room, lets the other children know that his lecture to the three boys also applies to everyone.
“If one of you is hurt, it is my responsibility to help you or to get help for you. If Spock was actually hurt, and I thought that he was pretending and ignored him, what would happen to Spock?”
Pike looks directly at Lenny. “Could you help him then, Leonard?”
The boy shakes his head.
Chris pretends that he does not see the way Jimmy pats Lenny comfortingly. He speaks to the Vulcan instead. “Spock, I am disappointed. It is okay to play, but some things cannot be treated as games. Do you understand?”
The little Vulcan answers quietly, “I… understand, Sir.”
Pike pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. “Miss Rand, please escort these three to the restroom.” He will decide later how to approach the issue of the boys’ green-stained clothes to their parents.
When Kirk, McCoy, and Spock come back, freshly scrubbed, Pike is in a chair with a book in his lap. He points at the three boys to sit down in the front. Janice quietly retreats to the back of the room to wash out a stack of green spotted towels. Pike clears his throat and opens the book.
He begins, “This story is called The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
Later, close to midnight, as he tiredly closes his eyes in his own bed, the thought occurs to him:
How did they know where the extra key was hidden? Was it Jimmy who…? Had to be. It couldn’t have been Spock. Could it?
Pike groans and buries his face into his pillow. Two days of child-free bliss.
Only two days.