As a general rule, Jim doesn't like having his presence on the Bridge announced. Oh, sure, his first year as a green Captain, it was great - y'know, being acknowledged whenever he stepped on board was pretty much a dream come true. Except two things - his dad was Captain Kirk, too, until he stopped existing, period; and besides, it's a waste of words that could be better spent on other things, like Uhura flirting with Scotty over her comm unit. (Don't think he doesn't see you, Uhura. He does. The only reason there's not a betting pool on the amount of time before you two go on a date is because Scotty's out of commission to rig the cashflow system in the first place.)
So, during a typical day aboard a starship, people's presences go unannounced. The only sorts of introductions are the whooshes of the lifts and introductions of familiar voices into the hum of background conversation: from Spock's crisp one-word answers, Bones's hyperventilating tirades audible from the Beta Quadrant, Chekov's accent and proclivity toward claiming everything from Mother Russia, Uhura's swearing in at least six different languages during any given four-hour shift, to Sulu's snickering right when Jim's most convinced he's hard at work, Jim can pretty much identify exactly who's on the Bridge blindfolded and stuck in front of a five-minute box of VHS tape.
More recently, there are new voices. Voices to which Jim is growing accustomed after Krall's attack on Yorktown. After all, though the Enterprisesuffered few casualties compared to their normal world-saving missions, there are still vacancies that need filling.
The first replenishment is Christine Chapel, who Jim is utterly relieved to discover does not hate him for the fiasco at the Academy; during her first few days aboard he gave her more than her fair share of distance, eager to prove he'd changed. That lasted until she confronted him and, sounding uncannily like his First, pointed out that such an uncomfortable distance would be detrimental to their professional relationship in the case of a crisis.
They're friends now, Jim thinks. He's not entirely certain. She kinda scares him. She and Uhura like to talk about mass-murder over nail-painting parties on their off-hours, he's pretty sure, though he's never witnessed one personally. He doesn't want to. He wouldn't be surprised if they'd engineered their perfume to disintegrate Y chromosomes upon inhalation.
That morning, when Jim reports to the Bridge for alpha shift, he gets the distinct and unsettling feeling that he's forgetting something. Never mind that Sulu is eyeing him nervously, or that the Enterprise is technically docked and his half-Vulcan of a First Officer never seems to sleep regardless so his presence on the Bridge isn't strictly necessary. That's, like, a normal amount of strange. This is a niggling feeling in the back of his head that there's something important he's forgotten...
Actually, now that he's paying attention, neither Uhura nor Chekov are supposed to be on the Bridge - they're supposed to be taking shore leave along with the rest of the crew. Jim suppresses a sigh. What does he have to do, force his crew to take a break? They're not doing anything productive anyway. Well, Spock is, of course - arranging crew rotations, looks like. He's always got something to occupy himself with. The man has talent.
But Uhura's being totally unsubtle about pulling their resident Chief Engineer from his work, and Chekov and Sulu are talking in flurried whispers, too far away for Jim to subtly eavesdrop. Why are so many of his crew on Bridge when there's no real reason to be?
Plus, there are more yeoman on the Bridge than there should, by all accounts, be. Overeager Ensigns poking their heads in through the turbolifts, too. He's definitely missing something. He debates asking Spock, but one glance back at his loyal First shows him a pair of impassive eyebrows, daring him to even ask.
Whatever it is, he'll just have to figure it out the hard way.
Figuring it out, as the colloquialism goes, proves trivially easy. When the door to the turbolift opens thirty-two minutes into the alpha shift for which Jim doesn't even need to be present, technically, three things happen at once: all conversation from the crowd fringing the interior of the Bridge stills, Sulu turns around in his chair so fast Jim's pretty sure Scotty's going to have to re-engineer his equations to include humans in his list of bodies that can hit warp speed, and a distinctly unfamiliar, non-adult voice echoes on the Bridge.
"Hi, dad!" comes a child's voice, humanoid and high-pitched enough to be no more than about five years old.
Jim whips toward the unfamiliar voice to catch sight of a small, chubby, utterly adorable little Asian girl. Sulu's entire face lights up like a Christmas tree. Decked out lights and everything. Seriously, the man is practically glowing.
"Jaehee!" he half-squeals, bending over to scoop up the small girl in her arms. She whoops, delighted, as her father spins her in midair.
Right. Bring your kid to work day.
He can hardly remember signing off on that requisition. He sneaks a suspicious glance toward his half-Vulcan shadow, who studiously avoids his gaze. So Spock did remember the occasion, then. Explains the eyebrows. This particular suggestion must've been one of those request forms Spock shoved under his nose post-Krall while he was recovering from medical harassment courtesy of their resident, peachy-tempered Georgian doctor. Jim wonders how much Sulu bribed Spock to pull off that stunt, or whether Spock owed him a favor.
"How's your work been, Dad?" she asks once Sulu sets her gently on the console. Curious, she pokes at the thruster button that Jim privately calls the loop-de-loop button, since it powers one and only one of the ship's impulse thrusters. Sulu uses that one for navigating asteroid belts and retelling completely exaggerated tales of the Enterprise's Klingon battles. "What's this button do?"
"It makes the ship do flips," Sulu explains patiently, snatching his daughter off the navigation pad and setting her on his lap. While she wriggles out his grasp, he hits the console's temporary deactivation button. Jim appreciates that. Cute as she is, he wouldn't appreciate it much if Jaehee backed his ship into the fifty-something other sizable vessels currently docked at Xano's spaceport.
Outside the Bridge, he can hear three different "awwww"s from various enamored Yeoman. That explains the crowding, he realizes ruefully.
"I wanna see the ship do flips!"
"We can't make the ship do flips right now, sweetheart. We've got to keep it all in one piece so we can fly out of here."
"Awww," the little girl pouts. With all the resilience of youth, she perks back up about two seconds later. "Dad's teachin' me gymnastics back home, he says I can do flips too one day. I can't do them on ground yet. I can do them underwater though! I did one on the base, daddy! There's this huge swimming pool and even though it says there are chemmy...chemma...chemicles in the water, daddy told me it was safe so I went in. Did you know I can hold my breath for over twenny seconds?"
"Did you know that diving boards were invented in Russia?" Chekov pipes up when the girl takes a breath. Talk about lung capacity, kid.
"Really?" The girl's eyes go dinner-plate wide. From her perch on her father's lap, she stumbles from one knee to the other to see the Russian better. Jim face-palms at the encouragement Chekov is receiving. Not everything comes from a little old lady in Moscow, kiddo. "I never been off a diving board before. I don't like heights."
"Is all right! There are small diving boards too. Ones about two inches above zhe water. You would like them wery much."
His Communications Officer is melting. Hands over her heart and anything. Upon further inspection, he notices a small video feed she's got running discreetly on her station, and yep, his Chief Engineer will also soon be nothing but a pile of illegal-scotch-smelling goop.
"I wanna try one! I'm gonna do - I'm gonna do three flips! No, four!"
"Do you vant to be a diver when you grow up?"
The girl frowns at him. "No. I wanna be a pilot," she says, in a tone of voice that shouts duh, for someone so young you're dumb.
The expression on Sulu's face at that exact moment is nothing short of priceless.
The young girl abandons her father's post in favor of toddling through all the stations, experimentally prodding at the buttons and asking the nearest crew member what the shiniest one does. So far, she's made her way through two Ensigns, who at the current moment look more overwhelmed by the presence of such an adorable five-year-old than their first time manning the Bridge.
But before he can say anything to that - like make sure you're taking care of my ship, newbies - Bones's voice spikes through the ship's intercomm. Thankfully, Jim reflects as the Doctor's irritated tone scrapes along his eardrums, Jaehee's too far away (and too engaged interrogating Ensign Yates about the alarm systems of the Enterprise) to catch this particular earful.
"Jim," comes the doctor's familiar angered voice, "you wanna tell me why I've got three little kiddos runnin' around my Sickbay and pokin' at more antibodies'n you can shake a stick at?"
Whoops. "I may have forgotten to tell you that it's bring your kid to work today."
"How did you forget?" the comm squawks. "I've got two Chapels runnin' around my Sickbay, and I that's two more Chapels than I can deal with. Both're tellin' me to drink tea instead of coffee, Jim, I get enough of that on a regular basis. Besides," Bones pauses, and Jim can almost see the shudder running through Bones's body, "Chapel's scary enough herself, but the little one...God, I hope she never enlists in Starfleet. That'd be enough to make me retire."
He bites down on an impolite snicker. Well, he tries, and only partially succeeds. Oh well. Bones will appreciate the effort. "They'll be good for you, Bones."
Given the icy silence radiating from the communicator, Bones does not, actually, appreciate the effort. There's a long, long pause, in which Spock somehow radiates amusement through eyebrows alone. After Jaehee makes her rounds through the starstruck Ensigns, she trepidatiously approaches Jim's chair, staring at the now-silent comm. And just when Jim thinks the danger's past and Bones forgot about his Captain entirely, Bones goes, "I hope someone's got a little hellion up there to keep youentertained, Captain," and severs the connection without another word.
Jim is going to murder the Yeoman Rush for sniggering at that. No longer will she be wearing her Science blues when he demotes her down to Repair & Maintenance for two weeks.
"Don't mind him," Jim tells the little girl warily approaching his chair, favoring her with his best grin. "He's grumpy on the best of days."
"Whassat Doctor Bones?" the girl asks curiously, latching onto the ankles of Jim's pants and tugging. Panicked, Jim looks to Sulu - is he allowed to pick up kids while he's in the Chair, is there some regulation against that - but Sulu does nothing more helpful than grin at his Captain, insufferably smug at Jim's mounting anxiety. "Dad told me 'bout him. Says he's a marshmallow on the inside even though he's prickly sometimes. Like a... like a peach, but wif spikes."
Jim can feel his face lighting up with unholy glee, uncertainty forgotten. At the girl's insistent grabby-hands, he helps her settle herself in his lap, clambering up his neatly-ironed pants to wedge herself between his knees. Little does she know, she's closer to her father's footsteps than practically anyone else on the Bridge - there are two people, other than Jim himself, who have sat in this seat. "Did he now?"
"Yeah! He told me about Check-off, too," she says excitedly. "He's really smart. An' small. But mostly smart. Like a black hole for smarts! I don't know what that means."
"Jaehee," Sulu begins, but Jim just glares at him until he shuts up. He wants to hear this. Sulu subsides, a cross between tolerance and resignation settling onto his face. Beside him, Chekov is squinting in Sulu's direction, deciding between taking offense or compliment.
"An' you, too," she says, looking directly up at Spock. Behind the Vulcan mask of emotionlessness, Jim can fairly feel the trepidation rolling off Spock in waves. Humans are bad enough, with their unfathomable emotions and illogical actions, but human children are about ten times worse. "Dad says you're cool."
"Indeed. The blood of Vulcans maintains a colder resting temperature than that of humans, young one, thereby making us very cool."
"Izzactly!" That earns Spock the biggest grin this side of Alterius.
Jaehee opens her mouth like she's going to say something else, then changes her mind. Instead she plants herself on Jim's knees and puts her hands in the air, and slides down his legs as though he were nothing more than an amusement park attraction. Then, after disembarking, she strides across the Bridge as though nothing were amiss.
"Hi!" she says boldly, trotting right up to Uhura's station. "My name's Jaehee."
"Hello, Jaehee," Uhura manages through her enormous grin. "My name is Nyota."
"Whatcha doin', Miss Nyoo-ta?"
Honestly, he's not looking forward to Cormack's face when he has to report that everyone except his First Officer are nonfunctional puddles of squee.
Actually, correct that previous statement. In his own strange Vulcan way, Spock, too, looks entirely enamored. Jim makes a mental note to call his First "cool", too. Preferably right before Spock is about to have another of those these-humans-are-unbelievably-illogical-so-help-me-Surak meltdowns.
Uhura shoots Sulu a beaming grin over Jaehee's head, who is certainly not preening about Jaehee's manners. "Currently, I am speaking with Mr. Scott, down in Engineering," she admits unabashedly.
"Hi, man in the screen!" Jaehee waves enthusiastically.
Even from his command chair, Jim can hear the cheery burr in Scott's answering "Hello, Jaehee. You likin' our ship so far?"
"I haven't seen too much so far. But I wanna. Dad says that after this we can go look around. He promised me we'd be able ta -"
"Jaehee," Sulu says pointedly. Jim can tell that Spock's eyebrows are rising with his own at the near-panic in their navigator's voice and the nervous glances he's flicking toward them. "Remember what we talked about, sweetheart?"
"Right!" Again, her eyes widen, and she places a finger on her lips, looking at Jim. "Sorry, Mister Captain Jim! I'm not supposed to tell you anything."
Jim squints in Sulu's direction, who very pointedly does not shrink back from his Captain's glare. "Aaaand that's our cue." Sulu stands abruptly and snatches his daughter, whirling her into the air. "C'mon, Jaehee, time for that secret activity I told you about."
"Yay!" the girl hoots, her eyes squinching up as she laughs. "Bye, ev'ryone!" she hollers before her father turns beet red and drills a path through the Yeoman clustered outside.
Jim doesn't even have to look up to know that Spock's ears are still bright emerald. "Do I want to know where they're headed?"
"Probably Botanical, sir," Chekov replies, looking completely unashamed at throwing his friend under the bus. "He mentioned something about wanting to show her his garden."
"So long as it's not Sickbay," Jim replies archly, then shakes his head. "Wait, Chekov, isn't that huge Venus flytrap-lookin' thing planted right next to Sulu's plots?"
Chekov goes white as a sheet. Uhura, similarly pale, begins punching something over the intranet. Probably preemptively comming Sickbay.
Even though Jim has to deal with a thoroughly infuriated McCoy less than two hours later - I'm short-staffed as it is, Jim, whose idea was this holiday? - the adoring expressions of his crew members completely nullify any regret he might have had over signing off on the idea.
Plus, the pictures he stole from the Bridge tapes of both Spock and Uhura make the venture more than worth it. He's never seen either of them looking so soft - and, apparently, neither has the crew of the Enterprise.