Title: Playtime (15/?)
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 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
“I’ll understand if you say no, Mr. Pike. I know parents shouldn’t ask this sort of thing of the teacher but—” Winona’s eyes are pleading. “—last week’s babysitter quit, and I haven’t had time to interview anyone. None of my friends—”
He stops her gently. “It’s fine. I’ll be happy to do it.”
The woman’s shoulders slump in relief. “Oh God, thank you! Thank you, Chris. I’d take Jimmy with me to this lecture, but I doubt I’d be welcomed back on campus afterward.”
“We’ll definitely aim for saving your career.”
There is a pause in which they just smile at each other. Then, “Mama! Dun yet?”
Winona sighs and picks up her boy. “Yes, Mommy and Mr. Pike are finished talking. Let’s go home, sweetie.”
Jimmy grins at Pike and waves fiercely bye-bye. Pike pivots on his foot, leans against the doorjamb and watches them walk out of the swinging doors at the end of the hall.
He grins. Saturday night he’s got a babysitting date with a toddler—and a way to make Winona happy. Life is good.
Chris buzzes the comm unit on the door. A booming “MR. PWIKE!” and the sound of thudding little feet can be heard inside the apartment. Then the comm unit buzzes back with “Hello?”
“Jimmy? It is Mr. Pike. Can you get your mother for me?”
Buzz. “Are you a stwranger?”
“No, I’m Mr. Pike.”
“Stwrangers are bad. Mr. Pwike wears glasses.”
He sighs and pull out a pair from his pocket and places them on his nose. “Better.”
“What’s the secret p-pass-wword?”
“Jimmy,” he warns. “Go get your mother.”
“She’s in the bathrwoom!”
His brain suddenly clicks. “James! You can’t reach the comm unit.”
“Yes, I can!” Buzz, buzz, buzz.
“Whatever you’re standing on, get off of it right this instant!” The last thing he wants is to spend the night in the hospital while Jimmy has his bones reset.
“James Tiberius Kirk,” he growls, “down!” A neighbor has paused at his door farther along the hall; the man stares at Pike and mouths the words good luck.
“Okayyy..” There is a thud and then, seconds later, a crash.
Pike hears “Jimmy!” and feels relief at the sound of Winona’s rapidly approaching voice.
“The pwant fell, Mama.”
“Jimmy, please, don’t climb—” Buzz. “Chris?”
“Yes, Winona?” he answers dryly.
“Please come in.”
The door’s locks disengage and the door opens to reveal a casually dressed Winona holding a pouting Jimmy. He steps just instead the threshold.
“MR. PWIKE!” The boy launches himself at Chris, who catches him.
He lifts the boy up to eye level. “So now I’m not a stranger?”
The boy shakes his head and beams. “No!”
“Just checking.” He puts Kirk down and nods to Winona.
She says, “I’ll be running late in another minute. My number—and several others—are on the refrigerator, though I’m sure you have my contact information already. In there is the kitchen, through there the living room, down the hall the bathroom.” She is talking as she rushes around and shoves items into a shoulder bag. Pike imagines that toddler Winona must have been a bit of whirlwind herself. Then Winona stops next to him, tucks loose strands of hair behind her ears. “Don’t let Jimmy stay up too late. I should be back by nine, I hope. Professor Gerard can lecture for hours, if he’s in the mood.”
“Whenever will be perfectly fine, Ms. Kirk. We’ll be here.” She thanks him and is gone in another instant.
Pike re-engages the door locks and rubs at the back of his neck. “Jimmy—Jimmy?”
There is the sound of giggling from somewhere in the apartment. He sighs heavily. It’s going to be a long, long night.
Jimmy disappears on and off all evening because apparently “Where’s Jimmy?” is the best game in the galaxy. The boy has managed to squeeze behind the stove, inside the bathroom cabinet—spilling Winona’s feminine products all over the floor—and even caught Pike unawares from behind a door despite that being an age-old trick.
At the moment, Christopher has a firm grip on the child and is attempting to feed him peas. The boy’s flailing arm sends the spoon clattering across the floor.
“James, peas are good for you.”
“NO! They’re GWEEN!”
“They’re supposed to be green. They’re vegetables.”
He had no idea that being a teacher and a parent could be so different. When he shows Jimmy that peas are in fact tasty by eating one himself (and not grimacing at its grossness), then offering another pea to Jimmy, the boy bites his finger instead of letting Pike put the pea in his mouth.
So that’s how Jimmy gets away the fifth time and Pike ends up with a band-aid on his finger. By the time he catches the child, stumbling around and stepping on every toy made by Mankind—earlier Jimmy had somehow dragged his toy box down the hall and turned it over on purpose—Pike is suffering from a sore head (banged it under the kitchen table) and one broken lense in his glasses. He is now glasses-less and avoiding the penlight that Jimmy found somewhere and keeps shining in his eyes. (Something about doctoring Mr. Pwike because Bwones is far, far away.) Thirty-five minutes involving a tussle and pleading, Pike’s sweater and pants are covered in a purple substance that smells strange (and fairly strong). Jimmy is finally settled on the couch, eating a sweet treat with enormous satisfaction because Pike had caved. The boy’s face is an abomination of red juice by the time he finishes and automatically demands “More!”
Pike scoops Jimmy up and takes him to the bathroom. Kirk batters the wood of the bottom sink cabinet with his heels as Pike painstakingly washes his face. Those bright blue eyes are watching his every move.
“Are you gonna live wit me and Mommy?”
Pike blinks. “No, Jimmy. Tonight, when your mother comes home, I’ll go back to my house.”
The boy sniffles ominously. “Why?”
“Because my house is where I live.”
“Because I bought and paid for it.”
“Because I wanted a home.”
“Because I thought I might have a fam— Jimmy, stop asking why!”
Pike picks up him and doesn’t answer. Kirk locks arms around his neck. “Why?” insists the child. “Whhhyyy?”
“I have a house because I thought I was planning for the future, but sometimes the future isn’t what we expect. Are you satisfied?”
Jimmy shrugs and lays his head down on Pike’s shoulder. Chris sits down on the couch and rubs the boy’s back in slow circles.
“Sleepy, son?” The little head nods and Jimmy tucks a thumb into his mouth. “Would you like for Mr. Pwike, er, Pike to read you a bedtime story?”
Again, nodding—a bit more vigorously. Pike leans back into the cushions and lowers his voice to a soothing rumble. “Once upon a time, there was a smart child named Tiberius and he liked to watch the stars at night—”
Jimmy is sound asleep before Pike gets to the part about Tiberius getting his own starship and sailing through the stars with all of his friends. Chris touches his cheek to the top of the child’s head and closes his eyes at the smell of baby shampoo. His heart aches and rejoices at the same time. The two men—one big and one little—stay like that for some time; Jimmy dreaming and Christopher listening to his deep, even breaths.
The sound of a door unlocking brings Pike back into awareness from his half-doze. He gently deposits the still sleeping child onto the couch, tossing a blanket over him and goes to the door to greet Winona.
The stress lines on her face have smoothed, and she looks calm. He guesses that this short break for the evening—despite attending a professor’s lecture—has done her a world of good.
“He’s asleep,” Pike tells her.
“Thank you, Chris.”
“Did you enjoy the lecture?”
Winona rolls her eyes. “Yes, but the man kept talking and talking. I didn’t think I’d make it out of there before dawn! I’m sorry,” she whispers, “that it’s so late.”
“Is it? I didn’t notice. I admit that I might have been napping too.”
She takes in his rumpled, purple-stained clothes. “Was he too much trouble?”
Pike shakes his head. “Jimmy is himself. We adapt to him, not the other way around.” Her grateful smile makes his heart thump in his chest. He clears his throat and walks over to the open door, stands with one foot in the apartment and one foot out in the hall. “I suppose I ought catch more than a nap. Winona…”
“Oh! Hold on, let me get my wallet—” She starts digging through her shoulder bag.
He places a hand on her arm, to still it. “No need for that.” Pike smiles.
Winona blinks. “But, Chris, I have to pay you—I mean, at least let me cover the dry cleaning for your clothes!”
He chuckles and looks rueful. “Darling, this is the kind of collateral damage I suffer through every day at Little Star. I’m used to it—and why do you think we charge the parents so much?” He doesn’t mention that her rate is a single parent discount. “Don’t worry about it. No, all I ask for this night’s work—” He adds a bit of dramatics for effect, which Winona finds amusing by the twinkle in her eyes. “—is that you agree to have dinner with me.” He holds up a hand, indicating that he isn’t finished, at her wide-eyed look. “After I graduate from being Jimmy’s teacher Mr. Pike. That’s if you don’t mind being seen with a nervous wreck of a man.”
She mutters lowly, “We’d be a pair.” He’s seen Jimmy worry his bottom lip in exactly the same way.
He slips his hands into his sweater pockets, grimaces at the cold squishy feeling. Jimmy has probably left him something unpleasant. He tamps down on the urge to run to the bathroom and scour his hands clean.
Winona glances from his expression to his hidden hands, and a smile blossoms on her face. “It’s pudding.”
He raises an eyebrow.
“Jimmy enjoys sharing his favorite treat with people he likes,” says the woman. Then she blushes. “Well, if my boy loves you—and, trust me, I know that he does—then I suppose I can say yes.”
“Really?” How did he just turn into an awkward teen scheduling his first date?
“Really,” she confirms.
Pike is smart enough not to linger at the door and tempt Fate to steal back his prize. He strolls down the apartment’s sidewalk to his car, and after three fumbling attempts, manages to get inside. He’s grinning like a fool.
Beep. Beep beep beep!
Knocked out of his euphoria by the loud unfamiliar sound, he digs around his seat until he discovers a communicator glaring red at him. When he clicks it to Answer, a voice blares out, “Congratulations, you old dog!”
“You had me going for a minute, Pike. I wasn’t sure you’d ask her out! But you did,” the old man crows.
He flounders, flabbergasted. “What the Hell? Archer, you ass! Are—are you spying on me?”
A horn sounds down the block. “That’s me, and of course I’m spying on you, stupid. If you’d chickened out, I’d have dragged your ass back up to that apartment and forced you kids to kiss.”
“You’re insane,” he growls. “Come out here!”
“Hell, I ain’t that dumb. ‘Sides, you don’t need to be swinging at your partner. Bad for business. Now, it’s way past my bedtime, snookie, so I’ll see you later this weekend.”
“Oh no you don’t, Archer, you son of a—” The line goes dead.
Pike stares at the planted device and drops it into on his adjoining seat. On the way back to his own home, he thinks. He thinks hard about a sweet little thing called revenge and how much Janice will enjoy the news that Archer really is a big softie who loves Jimmy Kirk and wishes too that Kirk was his son.
Oh yes, that’s good. And then he’ll call in sick and send Archer to his doom.