Chapter 1: Prologue
David waited patiently until Nancy turned off the light and shut his door before he sat up and made his way over to the bookshelf. He quite liked Nancy most of the time, she was cheerful and a good cook and didn’t patronise him. But she was also incredibly stupid. Although Daddy disapproved of David saying that.
“She’s not stupid, David, you’re just very clever,” Daddy would say. David wasn’t entirely convinced by this, but he was willing to go along with it. After all, Daddy was the cleverest person he’d ever met even including all of the posh strangers in over-starched suits who visited or commed to ask Daddy for help. Aunty Carol was very clever too, but David didn’t talk to her much.
Besides, having a stupid babysitter was a good thing most of the time. If she’d had even a lick of sense she’d have checked on David at irregular intervals, but instead she set her watch to remind her to check on him once an hour on the hour. Which meant that David had plenty of time to hide his books and things before she got there. She should also have realised by now that David always ‘woke up’ in time to wish his Daddy goodnight when he got back from a night out.
Daddy was David’s whole world most of the time. Although Aunty Carol and her parents sent messages and money from time to time, every time they didn’t come to a Birthday party or Christmas it made Daddy sad. David had asked him about it once, because Aunty Carol had never once actually come to his Birthday, but Daddy had brushed his concern off and distracted him with another idea for a game. David had mentally assigned the tag ‘Adult Nonsense’ to that particular problem and pushed it aside until he was ‘old enough to understand’.
Occasionally Grandma Winnie would drop from the sky like a fairy and treat David to a whirlwind week or two before fluttering back to wherever it was she spent most of her time. Daddy said she spent her time hiding in the black, running away from ghosts and always seemed to vaguely disapprove of her, but from what David understood Grandma Winnie had always been like that, but Daddy hadn’t had his own Daddy to take care of him the rest of the time. The weeks following a visit were always very close as David promised to himself again that he would protect his Daddy as much as he could and Daddy promised he’d never be as flighty as Grandma Winnie.
Even more rarely, Uncle George and Aunty Aurelie would visit, normally with an extra child in tow compared to the time before (they had only visited three times so far though and hadn’t had any children the first time so Daddy said that description was a bit unfair). Uncle George, who Daddy called ‘Sam’ was like a more tired version of Daddy. He was fun and had great game ideas, but if you didn’t pay him enough attention you’d turn around and he’d be asleep and snoring. Aunty Aurelie had explained that because he was self-employed it meant he got ‘night-duty’. David didn’t know what that meant, but Daddy had found it funny and scolded his two baby nephews teasingly.
Most of the time, though, it was just the two of them against the world and David sort of preferred it that way. He loved the visits from his relatives, but they were all temporary intruders in the peace that Daddy had built and their coming made Daddy frazzled and uneasy. David liked to think it was because they so rarely saw them and Daddy forgot how to act around them, but secretly he knew it had more to do with the fact that all of their things were second-hand and careworn, whilst Grandma Winnie, Uncle George, Aunty Aurelie and even the two babies always wore brand new things.
Daddy spent a lot of time working, but he was a freelancer. David wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but he knew that it meant that Daddy got to work from home. This was good and bad in equal measures, David thought, although he didn’t know what the alternative was like so he couldn’t make a totally unbiased judgement. Daddy was always there to pick him up and drop him off at school, he could have friends around whenever he wanted and Daddy would help him with his homework if he needed it (which was rarely). But it also meant that sometimes Daddy would spend all evening working as well as all day and even though he was in the same house, David would see nothing of him except at meals. Times like that didn’t last more than a couple of days, but it always made David feel lonely.
From what David could tell, Daddy didn’t have very many adult friends. He couldn’t blame him for that, because even though his year was the biggest class in the school, there were still only 23 of them and they were all stupid (“just not as clever as you!”) But you didn’t need to be clever to know how to play soccer or basketball, so David was perfectly happy to play with them and ignore anything they said in the classroom. But he worried about Daddy, because he spent all his time at home working alone, only going out occasionally.
And that was why David always tried to stay awake until Daddy got home on nights that he actually went out. He knew that Daddy would pretend, for a couple of hours, that he wasn’t a single parent fighting against the world to bring up his child without extra support and battling the weighty expectations of strangers who only knew him as the son of George Kirk, hero. But he didn’t mind the pretence. If it meant that Daddy got a couple of hours of fun without worrying about him, David thought it was good. Besides, Daddy always came home for him.
This night was different though. When Daddy returned from the bar - earlier than usual - he was covered in bruises, his eyes were dark and sad and there was a slump in his shoulders like he’d just heard Aunty Carol wasn’t going to be there for David’s Birthday again. David had sprung out of bed like usual, bounced down the stairs and hugged Daddy as tight as he could while Daddy paid Nancy and she left. Then Daddy lifted David into his arms and carried him to the sofa where they both sunk down and David buried his face in Daddy’s neck so he wouldn’t have to see that sad look anymore.
“Hey, tyke, are you alright? Did you have a nightmare?” Daddy asked softly, almost whispering like he did when he was sharing a secret.
“You’re sad,” David murmured, not moving his face from the crook of Daddy’s neck, arms tight across broad shoulders.
Daddy smoothed a hand across David’s head, stroking the golden hair that was so like his own. “I’m ok. You worry about me too much.”
David looked up then and wriggled in place so that he was sitting more comfortably. “Why’re you sad? Did a bully get you?”
Daddy let out a low sigh and pressed a kiss to the crown of his head. “I met an old friend of my Dad’s this evening. He - he wants me to enrol in Starfleet.”
“But you can’t ‘cause of me?” David asked, tears stinging the corners of his eyes.
“No, David, never think that. I just - I don’t know. We’re good where we’re at, aren’t we? You’re happy?”
“The school’s full of idiots,” David reminded him helpfully, pleased when it got that little huff of almost-laughter that Daddy made when he found something funny that he thought he shouldn’t.
“We’d have to leave the house and everyone we know here behind,” Daddy told him seriously. “You’d have to go to a different school that would be much larger than the one you go to at the moment. And you’d probably see a lot less of me.”
David shrank a little at the last comment. “You’d still help me with my homework?”
“As much as I can, tyke. I’m not going to abandon you, I’ll just be busier. But I’ll always be there for you when you need me.”
David considered this for a while. There was no one in their backwards little town that he’d really miss and the thought of a bigger school with people who maybe weren’t idiots… “Let’s do it,” he told Daddy firmly.
“You sure? There’s no backing out of this, the shuttle leaves tomorrow morning.”
David grinned, poking his tongue through the gap in his teeth. “We should get packing then,” he said.
And he’d never been so glad for a decision in all his life because Daddy’s whole face lit up like a Christmas tree, a massive smile breaking loose and David had to try and match it.
“San Francisco here we come!” Daddy whooped, launching them both off the sofa and swooping David through the air above him and making him giggle excitedly.
They didn’t have a lot of stuff to pack, because besides their clothes most of what they owned were the old-fashioned books that Daddy collected. David had been worried they might lose them, but Daddy said not to worry, that they’d be put sent up to them in a couple of weeks time. So they packed their clothing into a big duffle bag and put all the books into a pile of cardboard boxes and then filled a small rucksack with the knickknacks neither wanted to leave behind.
Early the next morning, after only catching a couple of hours sleep, Daddy made a series of phonecalls before piling the two bags and David into the car and leaving their house behind for good. He’d given his hover bike a fond pat farewell that made David giggle and bounce a little in place. It was crazy, what they were doing. Moving their whole life on a whim, leaving almost everything behind.
It was almost an hour’s drive to the shuttle bay and David snoozed on the way there, although he was pleased when Daddy woke him up so that he could see the skeleton of the massive starship that the ‘fleet was building, workers like ants scurrying all over the structure.
“Are we gonna live on one of those, Daddy?” David asked, biting at his thumbnail until Daddy swatted his hand away.
“Not for a little while. I have to go to a special school where I learn all the stuff I need to know to work on one of those.” There was something else unsaid in that comment, but David was too excited to question it. Whatever the issue was, it’d either go away on its own or David would make it go away.
They pulled up alongside one of the shuttles waiting for the last boarding and Daddy shouldered the duffle bag, helped David with his rucksack, and threw the keys to a nearby engineer. “Enjoy it,” Daddy had laughed. The car was on the brink of falling apart, but maybe the engineer might be able to save it. Then he grabbed David’s hand and led him over to the door of the shuttle where a middle-aged man with grey hair stood, gaping at them.
“Jimmy?” the stranger croaked.
“Hey, Pike. This is my son, David. You want to say hello, tyke?” Daddy stated proudly, nudging David forward a bit.
David clung to Daddy’s hand, but grinned shyly up at ‘Pike’. “Hello,” he said.
The stranger crouched down so he was eye-level with David, and gave him a once over. “Huh,” he muttered. “Well, I guess you’ll do.” Then he stood up and winked at Daddy. “So what track do you want the kid to go down for? Another command? Or is he more of an engineer? Maybe a linguist?”
“Oh shut up,” Daddy replied lowly, rolling his eyes.
“I like science,” David inserted cheerfully. “But my school’s full of idiots so I don’t know as much as I’d like,” he looked downcast for a moment. “But I’m a quick learner, Mr Pike!”
“You are, huh?” Pike asked, lowering himself to David’s level again. “Well, if you’d like, I’ve got a friend who’s going to be Science Officer in a few years, when this baby’s finished,” he said, gesturing at the half-made ship behind him. “Maybe I could introduce you to him. That is, if it’s alright by your father?”
Daddy snorted a little. “Like I could stop you, either of you. No doubt inside of a month you’ll be ganging up on me all the time.”
David frowned at that and tugged at Daddy’s hand. “No, Daddy, I’m on your team. I won’t meet Mr Pike’s friend if you don’t want me to.”
Daddy ruffled his hair with his free hand and smiled a bit sadly. “I know you are, tyke, I didn’t mean it like that. I want you to make as many new friends as you want, ok? And hey, you need a babysitter who’s not ‘stupid’, right?”
David giggled, already cheered up. They were off on an adventure and he hadn’t quite learnt all the rules for it yet, but so long as he and Daddy had each other they’d be alright.
“Why don’t you run up and grab us a pair of seats, ok? I just need a word with Pike,” Daddy suggested, nudging him towards the shuttle and freeing his hand.
David set off up the steps, but not before he heard part of what his Daddy and Pike were saying.
“He’s all I’ve got, I’m all he’s got and I’m not leaving him behind or letting him go. If that’s going to be a problem, Pike-”
“No problem. I’ll have to rearrange your accommodation, but I wasn’t certain you’d be coming anyway.”
The rest of their conversation went unheard as David peered nervously around the shuttle, looking for some empty seats. There were three at the end of one of the rows and David squeezed past the people wearing red and took off his rucksack and plopped down on the middle seat, clutching the bag like a shield to his chest. Opposite him were several of the people dressed in red who were now all eyeing him curiously.
“You know this is a shuttle for Starfleet, right kid?” one asked gruffly.
Another joked, “I didn’t know recruitment started so young!”
Before the lady sat opposite David cut in and told them to shut up. “He’s probably here with his Mom or Dad, you loud-mouthed buffoons,” she hissed at them, before leaning across the gap and offering her hand. “I’m Nyota. What’s your name, sweetheart?”
David took the offered hand, but bit his lip before answering. “My Daddy said that I shouldn’t trust strangers, so I don’t know if I should tell you.”
“That’s ok,” she told him, smiling sweetly. “Better to be on the safe side. Is your Daddy a cadet? We all are, that’s why we’re all wearing red, it’s our uniform.”
“I had to wear a uniform at my old school,” David replied, relaxing a bit. “But it wasn’t as smart as yours. You’re very pretty.” Then he blushed as he realised what he’d said, looking away from her and catching sight of Daddy making his way towards them.
Daddy grinned at him, then hefted the duffle bag up to the space above the seats.
“Want me to put your bag up here too, tyke?” he asked, apparently unaware of the incredulous stares from the uniformed cadets.
“Yes please,” David replied, handing the bag up slowly, no longer needing it as a shield now that Daddy was there.
Once the bags were stowed, Daddy knelt down in front of him and carefully strapped him in, only just stopping himself from cursing at the harness that was not designed for people as small as David. “Shoulda brought the booster seat from the car,” he muttered lowly, causing David’s cheeks to flush.
“Daddy! I’m not that small,” he protested, pouting as Daddy chuckled at him and settled down in the seat next to him, fighting with his own harness that seemed to be just as uncooperative as David’s had been.
“You’re the boy’s father?” Nyota couldn’t help but ask once they were both seated and Daddy caught her eye.
“The one and only,” Daddy replied with a devilish grin. “You know I never did catch your first name.”
“I can’t believe you’d be so irresponsible as to get into a bar fight when you’ve got a young, impressionable kid at home,” Nyota muttered angrily. “Not to mention signing up for military service!”
David frowned at that. “Hey, lady,” he cut in before his Daddy could reply. “You seem nice, but you don’t know anything about us. Leave my Daddy alone.”
She frowned right back at him, although her expression softened a bit before she turned away, resolutely not looking at either of them.
“You know you don’t have to stand up for my honour,” Daddy told him sternly, although a hint of fatherly pride slipped through.
“Yeah, but when you stand up for yourself someone hits you. No one ever hits me, I’m too cute,” David said self-assuredly and causing Daddy to laugh loudly.
As his laughter petered off a commotion from the other end of the shuttle caught both of their attention. A haggard looking man was putting up a fight with one of the flight attendants and yelling about aviophobia as he was shepherded down the craft towards the empty seat next to David. Eventually it was the flight attendant who shouted the loudest and the man sat down with a huff in the empty seat.
“I may throw up on you,” he growled in David and Daddy’s direction, causing David to shrink away from the stranger.
“I think these things are pretty safe,” Daddy contradicted, wrapping a protective arm around David’s shoulders.
“Don’t pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds, a solar flare might crop up and cook us in our seats, and wait ‘til you’re sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles - see if you’re so relaxed when your eyeballs bleed! Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence,” the man grouched fiercely.
“Well I hate to break this to you, but Starfleet operates in space.”
“Yeah, well. I got no where else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I got left is my bones.” When the stranger said that he looked so sad that David forgave him a little bit for the monologue about space. Sad people say things they don’t mean sometimes, he knew that, especially when they’d got hurt.
The stranger took out a hip flask and started to open it, but with a glance at David he sighed and put it back in his pocket. Daddy seemed to relax a bit at that.
“Name’s McCoy. Leonard McCoy,” he offered.
“Jim Kirk,” Daddy replied, nodding in Leonard’s direction. “And this is my boy, David.”
Leonard eyed David almost warily for a second. Then he said to Daddy, “So what’s your sob story? You get custody or did she die?”
Daddy gave that awkward half-shrug he offered anyone who wanted to talk about David’s birth. “She’s alive. She - well, she gave him up as fast as she could. We were only kids really, so I guess I can’t blame her. I just - David’s my world. And she doesn’t even bother visiting on his Birthday.”
“Cute kid like him?” Leonard asked disbelievingly.
David sulked a little and kicked his legs out. “I’m right here, you know.”
“Your Mummy’s a fool, kid,” Leonard told him seriously.
David grinned a bit. In spite of the gruff exterior he liked Leonard, and he could tell Daddy did too. “I don’t have a Mummy, she’s Aunty Carol. Besides, I don’t need her, I’ve got Daddy.”
Daddy grinned and squeezed David’s shoulders at that, dropping a kiss on his head. “You sure do, tyke, and you aren’t going to be able to ever get rid of me.” David stuck his tongue out and cuddled closer as the shuttle swung out of port and towards whatever future they were heading into.
Chapter 2: I
David and Jim are introduced to Mr Spock and Pike expresses doubts.
I switched POV to Jim. I don't generally like doing that, but this idea took on a life of its own. It's going to be longer than just three chapters I'm afraid. Well, I hope you enjoy anyway.
The shuttle ride to San Francisco was a long one, but none of the terrible things Leonard - or ‘Bones’ as Jim started calling him - had threatened happened and they arrived at the docking station alive and in one piece. David had fallen asleep not long into the journey with Jim’s arm still around his shoulders and the PADD Jim had kept separate from the rest of their luggage held loosely in his hands.
“You have a kid too,” Jim remarked quietly to Bones an hour or so in to their flight and catching the man staring at David again. It wasn’t the kind of stare that sent off ‘paedo’ alarms or anything of the sort, but instead it was a gaze filled with a sad, soft longing like something once had, and now lost.
Bones confirmed the belief with a slight incline of the head. “My baby Jo. She’s only two. Didn’t see her enough when I had the right, but now I can’t even if I wanted to.”
Jim shot Bones a look but didn’t say anything. He wanted to hear the rest of the man’s story, of course, but whatever little he decided to give was probably more than Jim should hear.
“Jocelyn - the ex - claimed I worked and drank too much. That I neglected Jo. Perhaps she’s right.” Bones looked so sad, so desolate at that, that Jim couldn’t help but put in his one tuppence’s worth.
“You ever hear her crying and just ignore her?” he asked. Bones, who’d taken to staring awkwardly at his hands glanced up sharply, the look on his face answer enough. “You’d do anything for your Jo, like I’d do anything for David,” Jim commented almost absently, stroking David’s downy hair briefly.
“Yeah,” Bones answered croakily.
Jim looked up at him again and shrugged with the shoulder not occupied by his son. “Then you’ve done nothing wrong, my friend. Just -” he broke off briefly, the last vid-call with Carol flashing through his mind. “Just keep sending her messages. Never forget a birthday. Make sure she knows that you are there for her whenever she needs you and even when she doesn’t.”
Bones stared at Jim for a long moment and said simply, “Sounds like you got a hell more baggage than me, kid,” and they’d redirected the conversation to safer areas.
Once they landed at the docking bay all of the uniformed cadets disappeared off into various directions with all the speed and determination of anyone after a long journey who knows where their nearest shower is. Bones stayed long enough to reel out his contact information and take Jim’s in return before he, too, went on his way. Thankfully it was not much longer than this before Captain Pike reappeared from wherever in the shuttle he’d sequestered himself and waved Jim and David open.
“We’ve got a bit of paperwork still to sort out, a bit of fiddling to do too since I wasn’t expecting junior, but it shouldn’t take longer than an hour or so. Do you want to get it done now or later?” Pike asked.
Jim glanced at David before answering. The five-year old was wearing the backpack again, the PADD from earlier tucked in his jeans pocket and watching the thrum of activity around them with wide, curious eyes. The thumb that he swore he didn’t suck had snuck into his mouth at some point, too, whilst the free hand clutched Jim’s. The tiredness of that morning had been somewhat alleviated by his nap in the shuttle so Jim nodded.
“Yeah, let’s get the basic stuff out of the way as soon as possible so I can start worrying about everything else.”
Pike nodded and turned towards one of the exits. “My office isn’t far from the central accommodation blocks so it won’t add too much travel time to your journey.” He, too, glanced at David before telling the youngster with a grin, “In fact, my office isn’t far from Mr Spock’s. He’s my friend who’s going to be XO and maybe if he isn’t too busy we can go say ‘hi’.”
David perked up at that, thumb dropping from his mouth as an excited grin slipped free and he bounced a bit on the spot. “Yes please, Mr Pike! I don’t want to sit around watching while you and Daddy do paperwork.” He scrunched his nose up at the last word in distaste, causing the two adults to chuckle.
“Smart kid,” Pike remarked as Jim shouldered the bag and they headed towards his office.
“You should listen to him go on about school,” Jim said with a fond grimace. “He’d already learnt to read and write all of his letters before he started and he was learning everything the teacher taught a lot faster than the others. It’s a wonder I didn’t get more phonecalls about the names he called the other kids. You’re getting better at getting on with the others now though, aren’t you tyke?”
David glanced up at them shrugged, making the backpack rattle. “They’re all still idiots,” he proclaimed baldly. “But they’re good for playing games. I don’t mind ignoring them in class so long as we can play during break.”
Pike guffawed at that. “Sounds like a couple of other Kirk boys I know,” he told the pair of them with a grin. At David’s curious look, Pike nodded. “Oh yeah, your father and your uncle were whiz-kids just like you. I haven’t heard from Winona for a long time, but for a couple of years after - well, after your Daddy was born, I’d get pretty regular comms about what terrors the pair of them were.”
The tone was light-hearted and David positively beamed at the information, hungrily soaking in all the information he could about his family, but Jim sensed there was more to those comms than Pike was saying. Knowing his mother, Winona’s whining had probably been much less jovial than Pike was letting on. After all, as soon as she had been able to she’d dropped both Sam and Jim like hot rocks and headed back into the black.
It wasn’t that Winona hadn’t loved her boys. At the time Jim hadn’t been able to see it but looking back now, seeing the way Winona looked at David and the way she looked at the old pictures of Jim and Sam’s Dad… she loved them. But losing George had broken something in her that having two living, breathing replicas of him that weren’t him had torn wide open. She was better at handling David and her other grandsons, but Jim couldn’t help but to resent her a little.
“You alright, son?” Pike interrupted Jim’s thoughts with a look of concern.
“Yeah, just never knew you and Win- Mum were friends,” Jim replied, shrugging again. David squeezed his hand and looked up curiously.
Ever since Winona had married Frank and left him and Sam to the man’s not exactly tender mercies, Jim had refused to call her ‘Mum’. That promise to himself had only been reiterated after the disaster that had been Tarsus IV. While he couldn’t logically Winona for events that were out of her control, he could blame her for not taking him with her. So she’d always been just ‘Winona’ or ‘Grandma Winnie’ to David. But Jim had altered his wording for Pike’s sake. If the captain had been friends with his mother he didn’t want to offend him by revealing how much of a disaster she’d been without George’s emotional support.
Pike seemed to pick up on the slip as well though. “You can call her whatever you like, Jim. I’m not gonna begrudge you taking the title of ‘mum’ from her.”
Jim fought down another shrug and just followed the older man silently. He’d had more than his fair share of emotional conversations for one day and would quite like it if he didn’t have to explain the many oddities about himself and the way he’d chosen to live his life. David squeezed his hand again, the boy able to read Jim’s emotions far too well, and smiled shyly up at him when Jim caught his gaze. Swinging their joined hands between them, David started humming cheerfully looking for all the world like a little kid just enjoying himself. It warmed Jim’s heart to know that it was for his sake.
“It’s alright, tyke, I’m good,” he murmured when Pike moved away to allow them access to the building.
David tilted his head the side and stared determinedly up at him. “Yeah, but you should be fantastic,” he proclaimed determinedly, causing Jim to laugh.
“No one can be fantastic all the time.”
“I can try,” David shot back, smiling at him brilliantly and starting to hum again.
Pike turned back and waved them through the foyer of the building and towards the stairs. “Mr Spock is in his office, but I don’t know how busy he is, so I’ll knock and ask him if it’s alright that I introduce you, ok?” he asked David.
David nodded. “That’s ok. He doesn’t have to talk to me if he don’t want to.”
“Doesn’t,” Jim corrected softly, “Want help up the stairs?”
David considered the question seriously, then eyed the bag Jim was holding and shook his head. “I’m good,” he declined.
Pike shook his head at the pair of them.
“What?” Jim asked at the gesture.
“It’s nothing,” the older man replied and they continued their journey in silence.
They came to a stop outside a door that looked just the same as any of the others on that corridor and was marked with a neat ‘Lieutenant Spock’. Jim stopped a few feet away, holding David back too, while Pike moved forward to knock.
“Enter,” Jim heard before Pike opened the door and disappeared inside for a brief conversation. David was not moving from his spot, but he was jiggling in place and trying to peer around the half-opened door to catch sight of the elusive ‘Mr Spock’.
“Hey, cool it,” Jim ordered softly. “You’ll either see him or not, you wasting all your energy on bouncing on the spot won’t change the outcome.”
“Yeah, but he’s a real live Science Officer, Daddy,” David replied with a bit of a whine. “The closest I’ve ever met to one of those is our science teacher and he’s an-”
“Idiot,” Jim finished with a fond grin. “You know you really ought to not call people that,” he scolded without any real fervour. “And Uncle George is a biologist, that’s pretty close, right?”
The look he got in return for that statement was answer enough to that question and Jim chuckled, ruffling David’s hair. “You’ll have plenty of chances to meet all types of people now I’m joining Starfleet, David, so I promise even if Mr Spock is too busy for a conversation right now, I’ll introduce you to some of the other science geeks that are wandering around, ok?”
David looked a little put-out by the prospect, but he nodded in agreement anyway. “And you’ll be able to actually make some friends,” he added looking very cheerful at that idea.
Before Jim could express his concern for David worrying so much about his welfare the office door they were waiting by opened fully and a slender, austere figure was stood there looking at them with human eyes that looked very alien when set in a Vulcan face.
“Jimmy, David,” Pike spoke up before anyone else could say anything. “This is Mr Spock, my XO-to-be. Spock, this is our newest recruit, Mr James Kirk and his son David.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr Spock,” David said, bouncing forward, all of his previous enthusiasm bubbling to the fore once more and offering his hand the way Jim had taught him to introduce himself to others, not understanding the faux pas it was when greeting a Vulcan.
However, before either Jim or Pike could correct the five-year-old, Spock had crouched down and taken the proffered hand, shaking it briefly.
“It is a pleasure to meet you also, young human,” Spock replied solemnly. “My people greet each other like this,” he continued, taking his hand back and forming the Vulcan salute which David tried - and failed - to emulate.
“Sorry,” David apologised.
Spock nodded his head and dropped the hand back to his side. “Apologies are illogical,” he remarked, continuing, “many humans are unable to form the salute. It is not a fault in you that makes you also incapable.”
For a moment Jim thought perhaps David would lash out at the perceived insult. But no such incident occurred.
“I’ll practice it,” David offered. “Then next time I see you I can try and do it right.”
“Your effort is appreciated,” Spock acknowledged, before straightening and turning to address Jim. “You have a most interesting offspring, Mr Kirk. Even my own people are not always so willing to learn something new for the sake of a stranger.”
“You’re not just a stranger, though,” David cut in before Jim could do anything more than open his mouth. “You’re going to be my best friend,” David announced with a beaming smile. “Because you’re awesome.”
Pike, it seemed, was unable to control his amusement any longer and started laughing. “You have no idea what you’ve just gotten yourself into, Mr Spock,” he said around chuckles.
Spock inclined his head. “Perhaps. I am assured by our acquaintance thus far that it will not prove to be an unsatisfactory experience.”
Jim shifted his weight from foot to foot before asking anxiously, “Is it alright if you look after David for a bit then? I mean, he’ll probably harass you with questions, but it will make the paperwork a lot faster if we don’t have to worry about him.”
“Being asked questions by a curious mind looking to expand its knowledge could never be termed ‘harassment’,” Spock assured him. “It will cause me no inconvenience to look after the young human whilst you fill in the necessary documents to arrange your accommodation and education.”
“Thanks,” Jim said with a grateful smile, before crouching down to David’s height. “You just buzz my comm if you need me, yeah? I don’t care if it’s something stupid, I just want to know you’re alright. Now you try and behave for Mr Spock, Pike and I will try and be as brief as possible.”
David nodded and gave him a quick hug, accepting the kiss to the crown of his head and the ruffled hair without complaint.
“Your worries are illogical but understandable,” Spock informed Jim. “I will ensure that the young human comes to no harm.”
Jim frowned momentarily at the use of the term ‘young human’ again, but chose to ignore it. Spock was clearly used to being around humans even if he wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. Perhaps referring to them as a separate species helped him acknowledge their presence but keep his distance in some way. It didn’t really make much difference, so long as David was happy and he was clearly over the moon at the new friend he’d made.
“Alright, I’ll see you later tyke,” Jim said, watching his son fondly as he bounced into the office, already starting to talk about his most recent science lessons and how boring they were because of the limited information.
“He’s a handful,” Pike remarked.
Jim nodded. “Yeah. Wouldn’t have him any other way though.”
“I don’t doubt it,” Pike replied earnestly and then lead the way down the corridor to where his office was. It was larger than Spock’s and hidden behind an assistant’s desk, the occupant of which Pike greeted before moving the pair of them into the privacy of the room behind. “I’m going to be honest with you Jim,” Pike began seriously once they were both seated, “When I first saw that you had a son I had my doubts as to whether you were a… suitable role model, so to speak.”
Jim opened his mouth angrily, preparing to rebuke anything and everything that Pike might say about why he should split them up, but closed his mouth again when Pike glared, waving his hand.
“I’m not done talking yet, kid,” he barked. “I was friends with your ma, saw what a crap job she did with you and George and I know she left you with Frank. I know that Frank left you with your aunt and uncle and I know where they lived.” Again, Pike had to stop Jim from cutting in. “I’m not judging you kid, and I’m not going to tell anyone else. Hell knows, I wouldn’t want anyone to know if I’d gone through the shit you have. All I’m saying is that, at first sight you with all your history is not the kind of guy I’d want any kid a mile close to.”
“Son of a bitch,” Jim managed to get in fiercely before, again, Pike cut him off.
“But you and David - you boys are something else, I’ll give you that. Now, I wouldn’t consider taking a child away from any father without good reason, I’m just telling you now that I don’t think that’s something you’ll ever have to worry about.”
Jim, who’d frozen almost solid with fear and rage from the beginning of this conversation, lost a little of that tension. “What do you mean?” he asked briskly.
Pike sighed and watched his hands intently. “My only concerns about you going into command where inter-personal relationships and how you might potentially abuse the power you’d have as captain. You have the intelligence and intuition required of anyone in command I just didn’t know how good a leader you’d be. But seeing you with your son - your world revolves around David, doesn’t it?”
Jim nodded dumbly.
“And that’s the kind of man we need as captain. Someone who can and will put everyone else aboard the ship before himself.”
“What my Dad did,” Jim replied hoarsely.
Pike nodded. “I’d hoped you’d be your father’s son in more than just looks and brains,” he agreed. “Now, shall we try and get this paperwork done so that you and your kid can move into your new home?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Jim agreed, wondering, again, just what it was he was letting himself in for.
Chapter 3: II
Progress is made and Jim has a bit of an emotional breakdown because he's more messed up in the head than most people like to think.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
For the days and weeks following their arrival at Starfleet, ‘Mr Spock’ was all that David spoke about. Jim wasn’t too surprised by this, it had taken no more than a sentence or two for David to claim the Vulcan as his new best friend, but it still stung a little bit that someone else could so easily and quickly wiggle their way into David’s heart.
Jim knew that he was being irrational about it. After all, David hadn’t had much contact with adults who were genuinely interested in him and who weren’t complete idiots - well-meaning or not. And Spock was… well, from what David was saying about him, Spock was pretty fantastic. Smart, of course, but not just run-of-the-mill clever, more turned-down-the-Vulcan-Science-Academy clever. And as socially awkward as he was he seemed to really care about David’s well-being, was more than happy to indulge the five year old’s plethora of questions.
But Jim was used to being David’s everything, so to have the attention turned away so completely and suddenly was discomfiting. Nothing he couldn’t deal with, of course, and Jim had always known that as David grew up and his horizons expanded his old man wouldn’t stay his best friend. He just hadn’t expected it to be so soon.
That was not to say that David didn’t still love Jim, such a statement would be a blatant untruth. They relied on one another. Pillars of strength in a strange new, entirely disconcerting world. It was just that the old definition of ‘them’ had to be expanded to include everything else now.
‘Everything else’ was mostly good. There was Pike, who hovered in a near constant basis in the background, with an open invitation to babysit David if the need arose. There was Bones who was fast becoming Jim’s own best friend. He was grouchy and stubborn and Jim highly suspected the only reason the man wasn’t an alcoholic was because he was just too good a doctor - and he was a damn good doctor. There was Uhura, who liked Jim against her better judgement and still refused to tell him her first name (although, apparently, David knew what it was, lovable brat that he was).
Then there was David’s school and Jim’s classes and, of course, Spock. The school David now attended was a lot larger than his old one and had, thankfully, ranked the students in terms of intellectual ability. David had tested high enough to be put up a grade if Jim wanted to, but he’d decided for now to leave him where he was. Jim knew that David’s main problem was learning to get along with his classmates, not learning things. Maybe if David carried on improving his social interactions and still wanted to go up a grade next year.
Jim’s timetable was packed pretty tightly since he was trying to get a four year course completed in three years and he had a young kid to look after, but Pike had somehow managed to work it so that Jim finished by four everyday of the week except Thursdays. David’s school finished at 3.30, but a lot of the kids stayed behind an hour or two playing soccer or enjoying the various after school clubs and David was happy enough to fill that extra half an hour - to the point that Jim often ended up waiting around for David to finish whatever activity he was up to.
But on Thursdays Jim had practical lab sessions that ran right through to six o’clock - or 1800 hours, as he should be saying now. Jim’s preference would be to have Bones pick up David and look after him, but the doctor was working a schedule about twice as full as Jim’s between his classes and the hospital. And whilst Jim was growing to respect Pike, after his little revelation about not being sure Jim was a suitable parent, he was jittery about leaving David with the man.
Which left, to David’s joy and Jim‘s consternation, Spock.
It was strange for Jim to feel such resentment against someone he didn’t know. Jim had preconceptions and prejudices just like anyone else, but he generally liked to think of himself as being pretty open-minded about things. But listening to David talk about Spock you’d think the Vulcan hung the stars he knew so much about himself - and probably all the moons and planets too whilst he was at it. Jim hated himself quite a bit for the resentment he felt, but David’s birth - his existence - had justified Jim’s existence. Being David’s world meant that he had a meaning, a purpose. Now… Jim felt adrift a bit.
David still needed him. Jim had no allusions about that - his baby boy still loved him, was still his. But there were others. Not far flung relatives, but friends. Actual friends. Before Bones and Uhura Jim didn’t think he’d had a friend since Tarsus IV, and wasn’t that just a bone chilling thought? It was because of that Jim didn’t breathe a word of his shameful jealousy to anyone. It was ridiculous and childish. He was better than that.
The jealousy petered off, of course. There was no way that Jim could feel as fiercely protective of David on a constant basis, especially when it became more obvious how much Spock did for his son. The Vulcan’s apartment was a private one as opposed to the ‘fleet issued ones and whilst it wasn’t extravagant it was significantly larger and more comfortable than anywhere Jim and David had ever lived. Spock also tended to keep the atmosphere settings at a temperature much closer to that of his home planet as Earth tended to be cold for a Vulcan.
Nonetheless, when David spent his afternoons there, the temperature would be lowered to a not-too-warm, not-too-chilly balance somewhere between the two. The spare bedroom ended up housing a spare set of clothes and pyjamas for David and there was even a tube of his preferred strawberry-flavoured toothpaste in Spock’s bathroom. There were even chocolate milkshakes in the fridge, and Jim had it on good authority that chocolate milk was to Vulcans what Romulan Ale was to humans.
On one memorable occasion Spock even looked after one of David’s school friends for the afternoon as well. The friend in question was more boisterous than David and had a less developed sense of personal space. David still believed it was only a combination of infinite patience on Spock’s part and a timely arrival on Jim’s that stopped the Vulcan from nerve-pinching the boy.
“He knocked over Spock’s chess set, Daddy,” David had stressed. “His chess set. That’s like… blaspheme or something.”
Jim had done his best to laugh it off, but he’d arrived just in time to see the board clatter to the floor. Spock wasn’t one for overt gestures of emotion so Jim and David had both got better at reading him out of necessity. Needless to say, Spock clenching his fist was akin to anyone else yelling themselves hoarse. Jim had grabbed the troublemaker by the waist and dragged him out of the apartment, throwing an inadequate apology over his shoulder as they’d left.
Spock had forgiven them for the incident in a way that suggested he thought that doing anything other would be illogical, but he had also informed them in a cool, detached way that he would not be hosting any other ‘young humans’ in his quarters without time before hand to remove any breakable items. Jim had been strangely proud of David when Spock had said that and once they’d left Spock the pair of them had had a little giggle about it. Poor, flustered Vulcan.
In fact, all but the meanest hint of jealousy had disappeared by the time March rolled around. But that year, Jim’s birthday fell on a Thursday.
Partly because of Carol’s neglect, partly because of Winona’s and partly because there was a large part of Jim that was still a big child inside, Birthdays had always been about just the two of them. Jim would take the day off and pack a picnic for the pair of them and they’d take off. There was nowhere particularly exciting to go to, but they might go to the cinema or bowling or, more often than not, they’d find an empty field and just mess about, playing games and having fun.
Realistically Jim had known that things would be different after joining Starfleet. But that Christmas had been so similar - the two of them holing up in their flat eating too much and spending all day throwing wrapping paper at each other and making vid-calls to Grandma Winnie and Uncle George and Aunty Aurelie. Bones had joined them after lunch and his own family vid-calls and the three of them had bundled up on the sofa and watched the Christmas specials. So Jim wasn’t quite ready for his birthday.
His first instinct was to call in sick, to pull David from school and to take off like they used to. But a voice in his head - sounding suspiciously like Pike - reminded him of his aim. If he wanted to be a captain, he needed to put duty first.
So Jim had got David and himself ready for the day, had walked David to his school and wished him a good day. He’d buzzed Spock’s comm like he always did to remind him David needed picking up from school that afternoon and to let him know if there was a problem. Spock always remembered and there was never a problem, but it made Jim feel better about having to rely on someone else. Then he’d headed into the academy and tried to forget that today was the day his Dad had died a hero.
In Iowa Jim’s birthday was just that - it was his birthday. There was no one there who reminded him that this was the anniversary of George Kirk’s death. Winona would send a brusque ‘happy birthday’ message. Sam would send a bottle of expensive and occasionally illegal alcohol. And Jim would pretend that the 22nd March was just his birthday, nothing else.
But at Starfleet - at Starfleet George’s sacrifice was something they celebrated and commemorated. Every single fucking lecturer brought it up at least once. Jim’s usual seat somewhere in the middle of each class was abandoned for a seat at the back away from everyone else. He brushed off Bones’ and Uhura’s concerns. He ignored everyone. Because everyone had such great, astronomical expectations for George’s son - the baby he’d died to save, that he’d named whilst facing inescapable death. They didn’t know that Jim was just some loser, teenage single dad scumbag from Bumfuck, Iowa.
When 1530 hours rolled around, the time when David finished school, it took everything that Jim had not to abandon the lab experiment he was doing, grades be damned. That was his son, his baby boy, the one he hadn’t had to sacrifice is life for, the one that proved he was nothing like his own father, that he was nothing compared to him. He wanted to gather him up in his arms and run away with him. Away from grumpy doctors and prissy linguists and meddling old men and away, away, away from stick up the ass Vulcans.
Jim did not leave early. He finished the lab, then he walked back to his and David’s flat, not Spock’s, and locked the door behind him. He pulled the curtains shut, kept the light off and went to bed. It was still only just past six, but what did he care? He wanted the whole world to fuck off. He wanted his David. But at that point in time Jim wasn’t certain that he could collect David from Spock without punching the Vulcan. Or at least trying to.
At 1830 his comm buzzed. Jim did not answer it. Ten minutes later it buzzed again. Then again another ten minutes later. Not long after that there was a knock to the door. Jim tried to ignore that to, but the knocking got louder and more insistent until there was shouting too.
Then, suddenly, the knocking and the shouting stopped. Jim pretended to himself that he wasn’t straining to hear the low murmur of voices. Then the door whooshed open and he could hear David talking.
“Both of you stay here,” the youngster ordered.
“Look, kiddo,” Bones began, but David interrupted.
“No, you look, mister. You and my Daddy are good friends, but you don’t know him like I know him. Now back off and let me sort this.”
“Kid-” Bones tried again.
This time it was Spock who cut him off. “I believe I must side with the young human on this one. Whilst you and Jim do appear to have developed a rapport of sorts, in this case I think deferral to the stronger relationship would be beneficial.”
Bones huffed but he didn’t try to offer any more resistance, clearly realising that he was outvoted.
“Make yourself at home,” David offered. “There’s beer in the fridge and a packet of Vulcan tea in the cupboard above the microwave. This might take a little while.”
There was more quite grumblings and shiftings as Bones muttered to himself and people moved around outside Jim’s door. He wasn’t surprised when David slipped in unannounced, opening and closing the door without ceremony.
“You’re silly,” David told him point blank. “You’re afraid and you’re sad and you’re silly.”
“I know,” Jim replied into his pillow. “I can’t help it.”
“I know,” David repeated. Then he toed off his shoes and shuffled along the carpet in just his socks and clambered up onto the bed and wrapped his small, warm arms around Jim’s shoulders. He hadn’t realised how cold he’d been without them.
David snuggled up close, pulling the blanket tight around both of them and whispered, “I didn’t know until today that today’s the day Grandpa George died.” He said it like it was a huge, important secret. Perhaps it was. Jim couldn’t figure it out. “Today’s your birthday,” David added unnecessarily.
“Yeah,” Jim agreed, turning his head enough to press a kiss to the crown of David’s head.
“He died saving you and Grandma Winnie,” David said simplistically, like they were the only two lives that were important. “You were born early enough for him to name you.”
Jim let out a shuddering sob, hiding his face in his pillow again. “Yeah, yeah he did,” he confirmed brokenly.
David clung tighter. “He died to save you,” he repeated. “This is your day. It’s the day Grandpa George gave to you.”
“What are you trying to say?” Jim asked softly, voice hoarse from suppressed sobs.
“If Grandpa George had somehow managed to survive, if he’d saved all those people and managed to escape, you think he’d stand for any of these people’s bullshit?”
“Language,” Jim warned without even thinking about it. David rolled his eyes at him.
“Uncle George told me, last time we saw him, that he loved the fact that you always celebrated your birth and not your Dad’s death. He said that there was no point crying over someone dying when someone new was born at the same time. You gotta pick one and it should always be the happy one.
“Everyone at school today kept asking me if I was sad that my Grandpa had died today, years ago. I kept telling them, over and over, why would I be sad? My Daddy was born today, it’s his birthday. That’s a happy thing.”
Jim indulged in one more sob before he sat upright, gathering Jim into his arms and hugging him. “When’d you get so smart, tyke?”
“You taught me that,” David replied, sounding hoarse now himself, like he was only just keeping tears at bay.
Neither of them said anything for a long moment, both clinging to each other like they were one another’s life lines. Eventually, the looming tears faded and the shivers that had occasionally wracked through Jim stopped altogether and he gradually let go of David.
“I love you,” he told him.
“Love you too, Daddy,” David replied, burying his face briefly in Jim’s shoulder, before straightening and pulling back from the embrace.
Jim sighed and turned to hang his feet over the side of the bed. “I guess it’s time to face the inquisition, huh?” he asked rhetorically.
David tilted his head, looking at him quizzically. “I can send them away if you want,” he offered. “But you always said how birthdays were about family. And Dr Len is your best friend and Mr Spock’s mine. That makes them family, doesn’t it?”
Jim looked at David seriously for a long moment, the normally well-oiled cogs of his brain taking a lot longer to get into gear than usual, before a slow, loving smile spread across his face. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Yeah, I guess it does.” He stood up a little unsteadily and brushed himself down, wincing at the wrinkles in his uniform and, after attempting to pat them out, giving it up as a lost cause and taking it off. David wordlessly delved into the chest of drawers for a clean pair of jeans and a hoodie for Jim.
“You know,” Jim said as he tugged the fresh clothes on, “You’ve got a weird taste in friends.”
“Says the guy who became friends with a man who threatened to throw up on him,” David replied, unimpressed. “’sides, they’re both clever. Nothing weird about that. It’d be weirder if you were besties with an idiot.”
“You need to come up with a better way of describing people with a lower IQ than you,” Jim told him mock-sternly. “Since that’s pretty much everyone,” he added.
Before they left, David tugged of Jim’s sleeve, pulling him back and he lowered his voice so that even Spock with his Vulcan-enhanced hearing couldn't listen in. “I like that you have friends now,” David began, looking nervous. “But this weekend, can it be just us for a bit?” he hesitated before adding, even quieter, “I miss being just us.”
Jim dropped down to his knees and wrapped David in a rib-crushing hug. “Me too, David,” he whispered, voice going hoarse again. “Me too.”
I swear to you, I do not know how this happened. There was supposed to be a weeny bit of insecurity then a Birthday Party. Not... this!