Title: Playtime (7/?)
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 | 5 | 6
Flu season is year-round in a daycare center. Pike is used to pinpointing the early signs of sickness, and with the way children are apt to touch everything and never wash their hands, it makes him rather more alert and epidemic-preventive than the average teacher. He is trained in basic nursing skills for this reason—ended up taking just enough courses at night for over a year so that he had an understanding of how to handle a sick—or soon-to-be sick—child.
Back then, his male friends had thought it was hilarious. Christopher Pike the Nurse.
“Why do you care about brats so much?”
“Hell, Chris, it’s not like you receive anything but a paycheck. I don’t get you, man.”
But he hadn’t paid them any mind, not at all. There are many reasons why Pike decided to dedicate his life’s work to looking after small children. For one, he is rather good at it—enjoys the challenge and the knowledge that someone, at least, will care for each child that passes through Little Star Academy.
He also cannot have biological children of his own. With that said, he has considered options such as adoption since his early twenties. Then Little Star Academy had taken off the ground, and there were so many children in and out of his life on a daily basis that he found himself satisfied caring for other people’s children. Perhaps he feels a tinge of mild regret now and then; maybe during that time of year when Father’s Day rolls around and everyone is happily making cards for their fathers. For those cases in which one of his children is fatherless—for whatever reason—he has the child make a card to a father figure in their life, perhaps a grandfather. The subject is touchy, but over the years Pike has perfected smoothing jagged edges and soothing emotional wounds. In a way, that’s his specialty.
So why does this affect him so much?
Pike sits in his rocker, in his apartment, turning over a card. Last week the children had worked on their Father’s Day cards. At the end of Friday, after he’d seen the last child safely into the arms of her parent, he was packing up his briefcase and wishing dearly for a nap. Then he discovered a bright piece of paper floating in the middle of a desk drawer.
Letters spelled MR. PIKE carefully across the card’s front. Under that, Happy Father’s Day in slanted, glittery letters. His heart had skipped a beat. He didn’t open it, not then, and tucked it into his bag.
After a quiet dinner for one, he had held it in his hands, almost afraid.
Inside were two stick-figures, one tall with large black-rimmed glasses;the other stick-future had half the height of the first, spiky yellow hair and a red cape. They were labeled Captain Jimmy and Mr. Pike.
They were holding hands.
In all fifteen years, no child has ever given him a Father’s Day card. Sure, he’s had get-well cards from when his Teacher’s Constitution of Steel failed and he ended up with the flu for a miserable week. He’s gotten birthday cards too; one time, an usually sneaky assistant—a young man named Geoff M’Benga—had told the kids about Mr. Pike’s “special day” and planned a surprise birthday party. The kids had loved it; Chris had too.
Jimmy’s father is dead. That much Winona had indicated on the Little Star Academy application. So Pike had told Jimmy to think of a person that was special to him. Jimmy had looked thoughtful, then happy, and Pike had assumed the boy no longer needed encouragement—just for Pike to copy down the words Captain Jimmy so that Kirk could trace them. Christopher had, at that particular moment, wondered if the boy was dedicating the card to himself. He’d laughed.
He isn’t laughing now. In fact, he feels very close to tears.
Pike takes the card into the kitchen and rearranges the other gifts—some very old—of past and present drawings. He places Jimmy’s card in the center. Something he’ll never grow tired of looking at, even after Jimmy moves on and grows up.
On Monday morning, he is ready to face the next week of trials and treasures. Ms. Kirk is running late. When Jimmy sees his teacher, he fairly launches himself out of his mother’s arms and at Pike. Pike catches him, gives him a quick toss and puts him down. Jimmy spots Lenny sitting on the rug picking at a scabbed knee. The boy yells “Bwones!” and Pike is forgotten easily enough.
“I’m so sorry, Chris. Jimmy hid his left sock and then spilled cereal down his shirt while I was looking for it.” She looks frazzled. Pike resists the urge to tuck a stray hair behind her ear.
“No trouble at all, Ms. Kirk. The morning never starts until a quarter past eight.” He smiles. “It usually takes a bit of time to get the children settled and paying attention.”
She smiles and hitches her purse and portfolio onto her shoulder. A sign that she’s ready to go. Pike steps back. But surprisingly, when Pike grabs the doorknob to shut the door, Winona stalls him by placing her hand over his.
“Jimmy told me that he made you a Father’s Day card.”
Chris swallows the sudden emotion in his throat. “Yes. It was…a precious gift.”
Her eyes are warm. “I think Jimmy couldn’t have picked a better person. You’re a good man, Chris. And you would make a wonderful father. I’m sure of it.”
“Thank you.” Is that his husky voice?
She smiles again, squeezes his hand briefly and leaves.
He jumps. Quickly shuts the door and turns around. The way Jimmy is looking at him makes Pike feel like a bug under glass.
He clears his throat. “Yes, Jimmy?”
“Nooothin’…” The boy lets the word trail off.
Chris raises an eyebrow. “Well then, how about we replace your nothing with something. Want to help me get everyone’s attention?”
He chuckles and is about to stride into the room when a hand tugs on his pants leg and Kirk’s voice chirps, “Mr. Pwike, it’s okay if you kwiss my Mommy.”
Janice walks by and is probably wondering why his mouth is hanging open. Jimmy has already run past him to tell his friends “Mr. Pwike says we gotta wake up! Wake UP!” Most of the children are awake, but they all know that Kirk isn’t talking to the majority. He’s poking Scotty, who is curled into a sleepy ball of boy and drool.
Pike rakes a hand through his hair and decides that he’ll think later on the fact that a four-year-old just gave him permission to date his mother. Much later and with a shot glass of something strong.
“Nuh-uh! It’s mine!”
“NOOO! IT’S MINE!”
The latter is a wail followed by a loud bout of tears. When Pike comes to investigate, Pavel settles down to whimpering with big, fat tears dripping off of his pointed chin. It’s almost adorable, if the kid’s nose weren’t so red and beginning to run with snot. Pike wipes the little nose with a handful of tissues. Then he addresses Pavel and a sulky Hikaru.
“What’s going on?”
“Pavel took my cookie!”
“Pavel? Did you take Hikaru’s cookie?”
The cherub-faced boy rubs at his eyes. “It’s my cookie.”
Hikaru responds with “Nuh-uh!”
Pike looks at the floor where the coveted but broken crème cookie lies amidst a scattering of crumbs. He sighs. He’ll have to vaccum later. “You each received one cookie from Miss Rand.”
Hikaru accuses, “Pavel eated his!”
“Ate,” Pike corrects absently.
Pavel shakes his head fiercely and sticks a thumb in his mouth when Pike asks if he did indeed eat his own cookie.
“Well, because we cannot know the truth if one of you won’t be honest, then no one gets this cookie.” Pike sweeps it into his hand.
Hikaru’s chin wobbles and he says, “‘S NOT fair. I want my cookie!” When the boy begins to sniffle ominously, Pike looks at Pavel who is watching Hikaru with wide eyes.
“Dwon’t cry, Hi-ka-ru!” Little Chekov looks pleadingly up at Pike. “It’s Hi-ka-ru’s cookie!”
“You should not lie, Pavel. It’s not very nice and can have unpleasant consequences for other people.” Pike straightens from his crouch. “You will have to earn back Hikaru’s cookie. If you can tell the truth for the rest of the day, then I will give Hikaru a new cookie to take home with him.”
Pike walks away from the boys, knowing that Pavel will think on this particular lesson. He watches the two boys covertly as he helps Christine take down the box of building blocks from a shelf. Pavel has gone from peering into Hikaru’s covered face to head-butting the other boy for a response. Yes, Pike knows, Chekov will try to do what’s asked of him—if only to get Hikaru to forgive him. Considering how easily they have gotten along up until this point, Pike thinks that their friendship will weather this incident well.
Then he has to refocus his attention on Jimmy. (How unsurprising.) Kirk is attempting to woo McCoy into a circle of toys, with Kirk and Spock in the middle, by calling out at a rather high volume a long lisping list of gross and disturbingly morbid things that Leonard might find fascinating. It’s amusing actually, because Pike knows that Jimmy’s repertoire of ghastly knowledge is limited. Spock, on the other hand, is able to supply Jimmy with gorier details. Pike hears “The eyeball has a malleable exterior that when penetrated will emit a viscous fluid—”
Jimmy is making noises of appreciation, Nyota is making loud exclamations of “Gross!” and Lenny is listening while attempting to appear that he isn’t listening and doesn’t care.
Jan rolls her eyes and says she’ll handle this one. Pike waves her on towards the group of future horror story-tellers and retreats to the other side of the room.
He used to think that some days were livelier than others. Now he wonders how it will feel to go back to a dull existence after living in a constant state of amusement, exasperation, dread, and heart palpitations.
Very strange, Pike imagines.