Title: Playtime (19/20)
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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“Mr.—Jimmy, no, okay? I am not an Admiral.” And you are not really a Captain. “Please don’t call me Admiral.”
“Bwut Spock said—”
Lord, how to explain this to a child? When he’d designated himself Admiral, it was for the sake of expediency. Now Jimmy is enamored of the idea that his beloved teacher is part of his game—even if Pike officially outranks the Captain. For some unknown reason, that’s okay. Probably because Jimmy has always, though somewhat understatedly, acknowledged Chris as an authority figure.
But this does not mean that they are going to go sailing through space together.
As Janice scoots around him to pick up a set of drawing paper, she says cheekily, “Morning, Admiral.”
He glares. She laughs and gives him an amused look.
Apparently he’s the only one who won’t accept his new status.
Lenny mysteriously appears and pokes Pike in the back of his calf. “Need more blue,” the child informs him and then tosses an empty bottle of paint onto Pike’s desk. It’s splatters blue drops, not so empty as stated, all over the innocuous paperwork Pike had forgotten to hide in his office.
Lenny ignores the dancing Kirk. “Can we go to the store?”
“For the blue stuff.”
“Lenny, I am not taking you to the store.”
“No, Jimmy,” Pike says offhandedly. “Because—Oh, darn it! Lenny, I’m just not, okay? All children stay at Little Star.”
“But I wanna—”
“Stop that, stupid! I ain’t Bones!”
Jimmy seems a bit satisfied to have gotten McCoy to speak to him. “Bwue.” He pulls a bottle of blue paint from his jumper and presents it to his friend and Doctor.
Lenny snatches it with a snarled “You were supposed ta hide that!” Jimmy’s eyes sparkle with mischief because chances are that he knows very well what he was ordered to do—and some Captains don’t take orders well.
Pike pauses, looks from one boy to the other. “Leonard, did you lie to me?”
Pike frowns at him.
“Honest, Mr. Pike. I showed you the bottle ‘n said we need more blue!”
“That’s still a dishonest trick, because you had the intention of letting me believe that I needed to buy more paint.”
The dark-haired boy shrugs and apologizes, “Sorry, Admiral.”
He feels terribly exasperated and it’s only the early morning hours. “Enough with the—”
Lenny considers Jimmy’s enthusiasm for a moment before agreeing smugly. “That’s right, Captain. He’s an Admiral. So he’s better ‘n you.”
Pike warns them to stop arguing.
“Admirals are more important than Captains!”
“Uh-uh! Capt’ns are bwave!”
“Admirals used to be Captains!” McCoy bounces on the balls of his feet.
Jimmy opens his mouth once, like a fish, before turning to stare wide-eyed at Christopher. “Rweally?”
“No, I was not a Captain, Jimmy.”
“ADMIRAL PWIKE!” Jimmy crows happily. Pike’s shoulders slump in defeat. Kirk grabs Lenny’s hand and drags him towards Miss Rand, for some unknown—adult-unknown—purpose.
Pike whimpers when he strides through the group of Hikaru, Pavel, Christine, and Galia who all beam and say “Hello, Admiral!” Though the words come out in various pitches of lisping and cute voices, that makes him none the more tolerant.
As he marches over to Scotty to disentangle the child from a set of slinkies—with Nyota, in the background, looking extremely proud of her handiwork—the boy, thankfully, does not greet him at all. At least Scotty will give him a break. Of course, it has less to do with an understanding child and more to do with Scotty’s incurable shyness. He has only addressed his teacher directly and by name a handful of times in the past year.
Unfortunately, Pike is about to throw up his hands on the slink-catastrophe—and retrieve some scissors—when a certain Vulcan who couldn’t be quiet about the “Admiral” comment offers to assist Pike in freeing Mr. Scott.
“Be my guest, Spock,” Pike tells him tiredly. He now desperately wants to call Jon and be relieved of his command. Shit—he didn’t just think the word command, did he? Yes, he did.
Pike is doomed.
Spock proceeds to observe the problem from various angles, ordering Scotty to turn this way and that for a closer inspection. In three unfathomable, well-calculated moves, the boy is climbing back to his feet without one slinky attached to the wrong place.
Pike admits, “Well done, Mr. Spock.”
“Thank you, Admiral.”
He just slips his hands into his pockets and turns about-face to find a corner in which to hide. Pike strolls through the room, noting activities, interactions and general romping. Children are milling about the room, making lots of noise—which they enjoy—and seemingly entertaining themselves as usual.
Nothing appears to have changed.
Jonathan gives Pike’s office door a token tap before throwing himself into a chair—after shoving the stack of PADDs on the seat to the floor.
“Jon, you’ll have to pick that up on your way out.”
“Do I look like one of your tykes that you can boss around?”
“No, but you act worse than one of the ‘tykes,'” Pike informs him casually. “They, at least, don’t mind picking up their messes.”
“Only because you feed them candy afterwards.”
Pike sighs, takes off his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose. “I’ve had a long day, Archer. Why are you here?”
“Oh, just checking in with my favorite pal.”
“Mmhm. Scotty’s gone home.”
Archer scowls. “Don’t start. I’d never, ever want that fat one—”
“Give me a break, Jon!” Pike laughs. “You adore the boy. Why else do you watch him all the time?”
“‘Cause he’s a sneaky little rascal.”
“Weren’t you at that age?”
“I didn’t steal people’s dogs!”
“If your mother was alive, I bet she’d have a tale or two.”
Jonathan’s face flushes. Pike looks smug. Then Jon wants to know, “Why was today so horrible?”
“Didn’t say it was horrible. I said it was long.”
“Every day is a long day when you are chasing after brats.”
Pike doesn’t roll his eyes. Jon does not deserve that reaction from him. “I made the mistake of declaring myself Admiral.”
“Really?” Jon sits up from his slump and leans forward, interested. “Admiral, huh?”
“It’s Spock’s fault.”
“I am sure it is. So I bet your boy Kirk was grinning from ear-to-ear.”
“Why would he be happy about it?” Pike does not mention that Jonathan is right.
“Because that makes the two of you closer.”
Pike’s heart pounds for a moment. “Jonathan, what are you saying?”
“Oh, I think you know.” Now it’s Jon’s turn to look smug. “You can’t be blind, Chris. The boy has been grooming you from day one.”
“To be his father.”
Jonathan waves a hand at his incredulity. “And once you and Winona get together, all the world shall be set right,” Jon adds with glee. “For Jimmy, that is. I think you’re being hoodwinked, but you’ll survive.”
“You see this pen, Jon? I’m going to shove it—”
Jon shifts in his seat and chuckles. “Don’t blame a man for speaking the truth.”
Pike sighs. “We’ll see.” But Jon is still smiling.
They sit in silence for the next few minutes, Pike idly reading an application for next year’s set of children. Parents start applying early, these days. Soon enough, Little Star Academy will acquire a waiting list. Then he gives up all pretense of being distracted from the day’s events. “Well, I guess now that I am an Admiral, I can veto Jimmy’s more… inventive adventures.”
“Oh, I doubt that.”
So does Pike. But a man can hope, right?
“Well, I best be off now,” Archer announces. The man groans his way to his feet, as if he’s the one who spent the day chasing streaking infants across the playground.
Pike rises also, to walk with Archer down the hall. When they get to the double doors, Pike stops and says, “Come by next week. Maybe we can get you promoted to Admiral too.”
His friend pauses, hand against a door. “Christopher,” the man replies with an odd look, “You’ve always been ‘Admiral’ to those kids.”
Pike watches Archer walk out into the parking lot. Then he returns to his office. Picking up a PADD, he brings up the files of each child—reading through them again, though he surely knows the contents by heart already.
And Pike’s the only one who hadn’t realized it. Until now.