Title: Playtime (17/?)
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.
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Pike narrowly avoids crashing into Gaila dragging her partner Scotty at super-sonic speed (much faster than the boy is accustomed to) towards the miniature dollhouse. To say that he is resisting like a stubborn puppy would be an accurate description. The boy whimpers as he passes by Pike and makes a futile, clumsy grab for his teacher’s trousers. Unfortunately, he misses, Gaila’s grip is firm and Scotty becomes subject to the next twenty minutes of playing “daddy” with a lap occupied by a baby-doll, a tiny plastic pixie and a stuffed cat as his children. Galia, of course, is not just the mother—she is the supreme Mother of mothers and ruler of the imaginary household. She demands to be called Mrs. Scotty for the rest of the day and talks nonstop of her future plans for the Scotty household. The boy is appropriately subdued, if somewhat abject; he has to be prodded to say “I do” at his own wedding. Captain Jimmy officiates.
It’s Galia’s fourth wedding. Last month she married Hikaru (when they were partners), two weeks ago she married Samuel Giotto (who, Pike suspects, is rather enamored of Galia and enjoyed his husband status a little too much—Galia smacked and screeched when he tried to steal a kiss), last week she wanted to marry Pavel, got halfway through the ceremony before he burst into tears and she dumped him at the altar. Scotty is par for the course.
Jimmy, of course, has been asked several times to “Please marry me!” He bats his eyelashes back at Galia and smugly informs her that Captains can’t marry because Bwones says they’re married to their jobs. Galia hates this answer but that doesn’t stop her from trying time and again. Pike has also seen the little Orion girl eyeing Spock on occasion.
The one time he has to investigate a squalling, punch-kicking Galia and a stoic but intrigued Vulcan squaring off, he is hard put not to ask Spock potentially invasive questions.
The baby Vulcan calmly answers to Pike’s inquiry into the state of affairs, “Galia desires a union between us. I explained to her that this is impossible, as Vulcans are traditionally bonded from a young age to their intended mate. I have been… engaged, as you Humans are fond of saying, for one year, seven months, sixteen days and four point nine hours.”
Jimmy pokes his head into the conversation. (Where he came from, Pike has no idea.) “Spock’s married?” Then he disappears again, probably to spread the news.
Pike hands the weeping Galia to Janice, who looks as intrigued as he does. “When is your… engagement fulfilled, Spock?”
The Vulcan blinks. “Father says that there shall be an appropriate and necessary time for such matters.” In other words, Spock has no idea.
Different cultures, different race of beings. He forgets that, sometimes—gets too caught up in the similarities of childish behavior (though Spock is certainly less childish than most of the pack at Little Star). It’s a topic he wonders about on and off all day, especially when Lenny drops down beside Spock on the center rug and tells him, “Heard you’re married, Spock. That’s sad.”
“Sad?” The Vulcan repeats with a tilt of his head. “I do not understand.”
Lenny shakes his head like a tiny, pitying adult. “Bein’ married’s stupid. Boys don’t need girls to tell ’em what to do.” McCoy seems satisfied with this logic.
“I was unaware that marriage involved an imbalance of power between mates.”
Lenny nods knowingly. “Sure it does. Just watch your mama. You’ll see.” With that last bit of sage advice, Lenny leaves Spock to his own McCoy-enlightened thoughts.
Pike stops grinning when Rand glares at him from behind the half-circle of children. He instantly clears his throat, picks up a storybook, and prepares to entertain his little ones for the next thirty minutes or so. Secretly, he is tickled by the thought of Lenny growing up to be a counselor of any kind. People will pay unseemly amounts of money just to hear the unbelievable words that come out of his mouth.
After story-time, all of the children are content to nap. Pike is finishing up some paperwork in his office when Janice pokes her head around the open door and urges him to take a look. He is greeted with the quiet peacefulness of sleeping babes and soft snores.
“What is it, Jan?” he asks quietly, not seeing anything unusual.
She points to Spock, who is flat-backed and breathing evenly as he naps—or meditates deeply. Pike blinks. Janice rolls her eyes and then singles out each child surrounding Spock and his mat.
“There’s Jimmy—isn’t he an angel?—which isn’t anything strange. But then there’s Nyota to his right, Galia there and Christine there.”
“Well, I’ll be darned,” he says. The girls generally congregate away from the boys. Instead, these three are as close to the Vulcan as possible. He grins to Janice. “I suppose it’s true then.”
“What is?” Rand eyes him warily.
“That being a taken man is more attractive to the opposite sex.”
He doesn’t quite yelp when she smacks his arm with an exasperated “Mr. Pike!” Chris fixes his glasses which want to slip off the end of his nose, tucks his hands into his pockets and winks jauntily at Janice Rand on his way back to his office.
Amazing, really, the kind of truths he has had confirmed by a group of children.
This is one of his favorite times of year as a teacher. Halloween is on Saturday, and the children have been ecstatic about it since early in the week. Jimmy has taken to using Pike’s desk as a launching pad for his new career in flying—as Captains can certainly fly when necessary. Everyone is excited about candy (Scotty’s eyes are particularly bright nowadays); everyone is excited about dressing up. Spock seems to be gathering information on this particular Terran custom, as he deems it fascinating. Galia just likes the idea of a crazy outfit. (Pike pities her parents.)
Janice was nice enough to help him redo the monthly newsletter to warn parents of the impending Halloween Costume Day on October 30th. Word has spread, of course, to the children. Friday arrives and Pike has his holocam ready. He anticipates that he will spend a majority of the day being blinded by bright colors, deafened by squealing laughter, entertained by play-acting, and preventing Scotty from overdosing on candy corn.
He takes a picture as each child and parent pair arrives that morning. All costumes are freshly laundered or new. The parents are proud, as proud as the children.
Pike is only slightly shocked when Lenny comes gliding omniously down the hallway ahead of his father. In stance for the picture, Dr. McCoy has a bemused look on his face as he stands behind his black-shrouded son and a tall plastic scythe. After the snapshot, he shakes his head ruefully and comments to Pike, “Never seen him so obsessed before.”
Pike nods and can’t help asking, “Why is Death wearing a stethoscope?”
The man chuckles. “Apparently Death is the grimmest Doctor in the universe.”
Pike has no other words.
Ms. Grayson is punctual as usual, with her son in close attendance.
“Spock,” Pike says, “that is a nice costume.”
“It is not a costume, Mr. Pike. It is a regulation Vulcan uniform for those in service on a scientific research vessel under the jurisdiction of the Vulcan Science Academy. The size has been adjusted to suit my person.”
“His father’s diplomatic status comes in rather handy on occasion,” Spock’s mother adds with a smile.
Pike and Amanda Grayson laugh simultaneously while Spock observes them both with a raised eyebrow and a clear question in his eyes. His mother strokes the boy’s cheek once and they get into position for the picture. When the holopic develops, Spock is proud, tall and solemnly looking directly ahead. Amanda is watching her son, instead, with clear affection and love. Pike makes sure to send a copy to her later on.
Scotty is a pumpkin. An embarrassed bright orange pumpkin whom his mother cries over and thinks is “darling, isn’t he, Mr. Pike? The best pumpkin in the patch!” Pike’s hand is not quite shaking with laughter as he aims the holocam and snaps a shot of the miserable Scotty being washed by a spit-bearing handkerchief.
Perhaps there is a good reason why the boy has a severe sweet tooth. Maybe it’s his only consolation.
Christine is an angel, complete with wired wings that molt. Pike ends up finding feathers in the oddest places for the next week. In his coffee cup, littering the top shelf of the cubby-holes and suspiciously entwined into a haphazard garland that Pavel wants to wear for an entire day.
Pavel is a puppy dog and is the most ridiculously adorable thing Pike has ever seen—and he’s seen a lot of adorable costumed children over the years. Mrs. Chekov has a talent for hand-sewing (who knew?) in her spare, non-research time. And she face-paints rather well too. Pike is reviewing the photo of the parent and child later when it strikes him that Pavel is not just a puppy dog… he’s a beagle. (He grins and can’t wait to tell Jon.) Throughout the day, Pike catches Scotty leading a bouncy, naïve Pavel around with an enticing chocolate chip cookie. The teacher is later relieved when Pavel is returned safely to his mother’s arms rather than ending up lost and tied to a lamppost. (It’s possible that Jon was right.)
Jimmy comes sailing in attached to his mother’s back and announcing that he’s flying. There is a bright red cape attached to his outfit—a bit long, actually, because Jimmy drags it through several mud puddles in the afternoon despite there having been no rain for a month.
Winona lets Pike detach the child from her back. Pike puts him down and gives his costume the proper amount of attention and inspection that is due. Jimmy is so excited that he can barely hold still under Pike’s scrutiny.
“I’m a Capt’n!” announces Kirk.
“Yes, you told me that from day one. Is this what Captains wear?”
He looks very much like an old Superman poster Pike stumbled upon when he was seventeen and bargain-hunting through an antique bookshop. Different colors, pink being the strangest, but the underwear on the outside of his pants fits the description perfectly.
There are crooked, black fabric letters JTK sewn onto the front of the boy’s yellow shirt.
When he looks up at Winona, she blushes and says, “He insisted. I tried.”
Jimmy wants to be authentic for his glamour shot. Winona is unable to hold Jimmy aloft for long (he wiggles like a worm) so Pike takes one simple shot of mother and child. He volunteers to steady her son in his mid-flight Captain-superhero action pose. Winona snaps the picture and returns the holocam to Pike with a smile.
Galia tumbles through the door, almost literally, as she does a handspring and Pike catches her before she topples into Jimmy. She’s in tight-fitting material, dark purple, with slippered feet. She is an acrobat for the Terran circus. She can do flips (Pike and Galia’s father hastily tell her no, a demonstration won’t be necessary), cartwheels, handstands, headstands, more cartwheels, and backflips if she’s so inclined (again, neither Pike nor the male Orion are as inclined as Galia for a show). When no one authoritative is paying attention, Galia spends lunchtime trying to bribe Spock with a bowl of strawberry ice cream to launch her into the air. Rand gasps, Pike does a dive, and Galia is saved from a head-first impact with the floor. The other children cheer while Spock reseats himself and eats his ice cream.
Then comes Hikaru, who is dressed for a church service. Pike forgoes asking the blushing Hikaru about his pants, jacket and tie; he asks Mrs. Sulu instead, “Didn’t you get the monthly newsletter?”
“It was received,” she replies without inflection.
“Hikaru told all his friends that he was going to be a ninja.”
“We do not observe this… unorthodox holiday, Mr. Pike. However, Mr. Sulu and I have made an exception today and allowed Hikaru to wear attire that indicates his future—as you required.”
He punches down the need to ask the woman—and possibly make a call to the husband as well—why she enjoys making her only child unhappy. But it’s not his place, nor is this the time, with small impressionable children as witnesses. He only says, “Very well, Mrs. Sulu. Hikaru, please join the others.” He doesn’t bother to offer her the use of his holocam. Rand looks as livid as he feels, and he quietly takes her to the side when Hikaru’s mother has left.
Pike presses money into her hand. “Go find that costume for Hikaru. Search the entire town if necessary. We’ll be here.” She does.
The joyous look on Hikaru’s face when Pike leads him from the bathroom in his Halloween costume is what Rand snaps with Pike’s holocam. It will be easy enough to change the child back to his suit before the end of the day.
Nyota is wearing her mother’s high heels, which she commands with surprising grace. Strapped to a wide black belt is a plastic knife (Pike inwardly cringes) and a pair of plastic handcuffs. She is “a modern officer of the law” as Mrs. Uhura puts it, and Nyota clarifies “in charge of capturin’ bad guys!” Lenny slides up to Nyota, indicating that his scythe is bigger than her knife. Pike rather thinks she looks more terrifying with the manaical gleam in her eyes. Perhaps Lenny does too, because he quickly disappears. Nyota is grinning broadly in her photo, hands on hips; it’s creepy, almost, that Mrs. Uhura has an identical expression.
Friday is indeed a special time for everyone. Pike winds up with bruises on his legs from Lenny trying to detach his limbs with the scythe (that thing hurts with the right amount of force). Rand chases Jimmy off various high (for a toddler) furniture and then the top of the outdoor playhouse. Scotty has pilfered another box of cookies from that mysterious place that no one can find. It’s rather funny that the boy has to roll onto his side so that his hand can reach his mouth. Christine gets chased by Death and saved by a fierce beagle puppy that tries to brain Death with his stethoscope (until Pike pulls Pavel off of the surprised and slightly terrified McCoy). Ninja battles Captain until Cop binds them together with handcuffs which results in two laughing, widely grinning little boys. (Thank God.) Galia trades alien superiority secrets with Spock, who becomes distracted from classifying every object at hand by its chemical composition. (Pike’s brain hurts from listening to the Vulcan talk, catalogue and lecture.)
The day ends with a group photo of happy children in partially intact, rumpled costumes and bags of candy clutched to their chests. Pike remembers to do a double check for chocolate before he sends Spock back to his mother. Scotty attempts to sneak out an extra two bags of candy, but Pike hears them rattling around inside the pumpkin belly. (The boy doesn’t look ashamed in the least, when he’s caught.)
It’s good, as always. It’s memorable, as always.
And because of a special set of holopics, it is a time that he often fondly recalls throughout the years to come.