Pike places a cup of hot tea on the coffee table for Winona and sips at his own drink. “What’s that?”
“Found them in a box.” Winona hands him a holophoto. He almost spills tea in his lap. Pike carefully sets it down and takes the picture from her.
The memories of twelve years past rush back. His mouth stretches in a grin. “Would you look at that?” Christopher says softly. His favorite year of students are bunched together and grinning or staring wide-eyed at the photo-taker (who had been Chris); it is clearly the traditional “bring your kid in his Halloween costume” day at Little Star.
Winona smiles and leans against his shoulder. “Weren’t they precious?”
They were something, alright. Precious is a word Pike’s heart uses; trouble-making and too-smart-for-their-own-good are words he recalls aloud. Winona lightly smacks his thigh.
“You know you loved those children.”
“I did,” he admits. “I do, still.” That earns him a kiss on the cheek. Pike doesn’t let his wife get away with that, however; after a moment of sweet kisses, they part and grin at each other.
“Can I see the rest of these?” he wants to know. She hands him the box. Pike rummages through the photos until he finds a particular snapshot.
It’s little Lenny and Dr. McCoy. Winona laughs loudly and says, “I’d forgotten that he wore that outfit to Little Star!”
“Yes,” Pike says dryly, “that was the first time.”
The black shroud and tall scythe stand out prominently against the background. Lenny had played (Doctoring) Death for the next four Halloweens, according to Mrs. McCoy. Pike even remembers leading Jimmy and Lenny (a Captain and a Grim Reaper, what a duo) through San Francisco neighborhoods (and losing the pair on one or two heart-stopping occasions) on two separate Halloween trick-or-treat nights; the one instance in which McCoy had attempted to take a real scythe ended rather badly for all adults involved. Those were good memories of a time before the McCoy family returned to Georgia when Leonard was almost nine.
“Perhaps we ought to remind Leonard of this rather… embarrassing evidence we have in our keeping.” Pike grins at the prospect.
“You’re a devil, Christopher Pike. And I love you for it!” Winona kisses him soundly.
Together, Winona and Chris sort through the holopics, laughing and sharing memories. Some days Pike recalls with a shudder and a quick fervent thanks to God for allowing him to survive. They come across the photo of Archer taped to a chair and breakout into hysterical laughter. When Pike is finally able to peruse it more carefully, he exclaims “Look!” and they both stare.
Partially hidden behind the enraged Archer is a baby Vulcan; in one small hand is the missing tape dispenser. Pike scratches his head and mumbles, “I thought Jimmy was the culprit.” Apparently, there is a tiny hint of deviousness beneath that calm veneer of Spock’s. How… unnerving.
Winona says, “Hold on a minute,” and exits the living room. When she returns, she has the large family scrapbook in her hands. Pike, though he has seen it several times, thinks that today—most particularly today—is appropriate for a trip down memory lane.
Jimmy, now eighteen, was deposited this morning on a shuttle to an introductory training camp for the ‘Fleet. While it is still a trial run, Pike and Winona both had tears in their eyes as they kissed him goodbye. It’s the beginning of something wonderful, Pike knows, for their son. It is the beginning of a young man’s journey into adulthood and, perhaps, the initial moments before he takes flight and leaves their nest. Pike is simultaneously sad and overjoyed.
Winona smiles knowingly at him and they settle down, side by side, to reminiscence.
The Pike-Kirk wedding. A small blond-haired boy stares, wide-eyed, caught like a deer in headlights. He has two fistfuls of an overturned wedding cake and a smattering of icing in his hair. Despite this, the child looks adorable in his mini-tuxedo. In the background, circled by horrified guests, is someone doubled over in laughter—it’s the best man, Archer.
Winona bursts out laughing.
“It wasn’t funny at the time, love,” Pike reminds her. “You were furious.”
“At least our guests thought it was funny. I can’t believe you let me feed you a piece!”
“Only for you, my dear,” Pike says smoothly, “would I pick grass off of a wedding cake and eat it.”
A typical evening meal at the Pike household. Kirk, then as tall as Pike’s shoulder, is pointing his fork at an even-taller Vulcan; Jim’s mouthful of food is on display. Spock has a look of annoyance, likely tinged with disgust. Winona, apron tied around her waist, menacingly holds aloft a serving spoon. The table is set for four.
“I hope Jimmy remembers his manners,” Winona remarks.
Pike counters, “You mean he actually learned some?”
A face-off between owners and pets. Archer stands on the left with Porthos leashed and floppy-eared. The dog has settled into a ball of disregard at Jon’s feet; Archer’s eyes are bright with challenge. The challenger is a short child of twelve. The boy also has a leashed beagle, which is straining excitedly towards Porthos. Montgomery Scott is watching his dog rather than the other pair or the camera.
“Good ol’ Jon,” murmurs Pike.
Winona frowns at the photo. “I don’t understand why Jonathan would demand to watch Jim and his friends one day, and then decline the next time we asked. He’s so strange sometimes, Chris.”
Pike chuckles and sighs. “Yes, he is.” And Scotty’s presence is what made the difference. But Pike won’t betray that little secret between friends.
A fishing trip. Pike and Jimmy are standing next to each other, bearing fishing poles and one tiny fish between them.
“Jimmy’s first catch,” Pike comments. He slides out a photo caught between pages and quickly tucks it away before Winona can see it. It’s an image of Pike flailing in mid-air at the end of the dock—Jon always has had perfect snapshot timing. Jimmy had, unfortunately, unintentionally whacked his stepfather in the face with that fish (rather than unhooking it) and sent Pike straight into the pond.
Jon still brings the incident up at inconvenient moments.
“Look at this one!”
Prom night; an official couple’s pose. Spock and Nyota are under an arch of flowers, the Vulcan ramrod-backed and every stitch in place; Nyota wears a bright red gown and a huge grin. For some reason, Spock is sporting a pair of “bunny ears” in the form of two Human fingers. The prankster cannot be seen, except for a spike of blond tell-tale hair.
“I think Jim forwarded a copy of this to Leonard.”
“I imagine that he did,” Pike replies. Jim had admitted, when Pike half-heartedly scolded him once the holopics arrived, that the original plan (of McCoy’s) had been to steal a kiss from Nyota. Jim, thank God, decided not to tempt fate (and the Vulcan rage) and come home with a broken jaw—or worse.
They slowly skim through the last remaining pages of the album.
Archer trying to feed peas to a small Jimmy (at Pike’s insistence) and covered in said-rejected peas. Pike, Jimmy, and Lenny asleep on the couch—the two boys laying haphazardly across Chris’s chest. Two are drooling; one is slack-mouthed with snores. (Pike’s sneaky then-girlfriend Ms. Kirk had snapped that one.) A holopic of Pike and Winona dancing at their wedding, Jimmy in the middle. A strange shot of Porthos napping in Pike’s backyard. Eleven year-old Jimmy behind the wheel of a car, Jonathan in the passenger seat looking dangerously pleased.
A treasure trove of family and friend photos; moments captured for remembrance long after the past has gone hazy and subsided under the here-now.
Winona sighs as they close the book. “Do you think Jimmy will be happy?”
“I’m pretty sure that he already is happy, Winona.”
“It’s alright. They won’t lose each other—despite their different dreams.”
Leonard wants to stay in Georgia to practice medicine. Who knows—a few years of medical school and residency and McCoy might actually listen to Jim’s lauding of the ‘Fleet. On the other hand, Spock announced his journey to Vulcan to study in the VSA; Pike suspects that this has more to do with Sarek’s wishes than Spock’s, but he believes that Spock will eventually decide for himself. It’s a matter of talking Jim into patience, to an understanding that his best friend needs to figure out his own path in life. Jim is partly afraid that he, McCoy, and Spock will grow apart; and while that is a possibility, Pike knows in his heart that the three share a bond that cannot be easily broken.
It’s evening when the long-anticipated first call comes in. Jim appears on the screen; there are people milling in the background, unpacking, chatting and generally making a racket of noise.
Pike and Winona stand together, arms around each other, listening to Jim talk excitedly of orientation and training classes. He is saying, “Mom, Dad, hold on—Sulu, c’mere!”
Pike’s heart does a funny little jig in his chest. A dark-haired Asian pokes his head over Jim’s shoulder, looking sheepish. The man mumbles “Hello.”
Pike manages, “Hello, Hikaru.”
That brings a big grin to Jim’s face. Kirk talks about how he literally ran into Sulu, who has also joined the early ‘Fleet training courses. “Dad, Sulu says you might remember his friend Chekov—Pavel Chekov.”
Pike’s bark of laughter strikes them to all into brief silence. At the questioning faces, Christopher Pike answers, “Jimmy, you’re going to be just fine, son.”
Jim’s look is one-half tolerant amusement and one-half confusion. “‘Course I am, Dad. Was there any doubt?”
Pike tightens his arm around his wife. “No,” he replies. “There never was.”