DISCLAIMER: If Star Trek belonged to me, the movie would not have been half as awesome.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Bruce Greenwood left me utterly fascinated with Pike for reasons I don't quite understand, and I decided to write a story for him. It started as a vignette and grew into 7 pages and 2387 words.
Robert April is captain of Enterprise before Pike and his wife Sarah is CMO under him, according to Memory Alpha. I may have played around with established dates and canon a bit in including them here, but if JJ Abrams can invalidate Star Trek history so can I :).
And finally, the line "…you once told me a captain can never let the crew see him bleed" is a paraphrase from the most excellent story "Pressing Sail" by Jedi Buttercup.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Capt. Christopher Pike covered his mouth with his hand and let out a pained noise as he read the report before him. Seventy percent of senior cadets. Nero had taken seven out of ten of Starfleet Academy's graduating students.
And that was just the initial estimate. Pike didn't even want to think about what the numbers would be after the underclassmen and Starfleet personnel were added in.
Never having been blessed with a family of his own (starships were hardly ideal for raising kids, and if Starfleet wanted him to have a wife they'd have issued him one), Pike tended to direct his paternal energies towards his crew and students. Regulations without relationship breeds rebellion. The Three Rs of Command. And he knew that for some cadets, the Academy provided them with the only positive adult role models in their lives—Starfleet wasn't an uncommon refuge for directionless youth.
Pike had recruited a lot of them. He'd trained them, taught them, mentored them, answered their questions, soothed their nerves, graded their papers, proctored their exams, greeted them on the Academy quad, dressed them down and built them up.
And now they were gone. Just like that.
It was like falling on a sword.
Pike lifted a datapad from his desk and made a note to contact the families of the lost Enterprise crewmen. Then he covered his face with his hands and allowed himself a few precious moments to mourn for the courageous officers Starfleet had lost and the ones they would never have.
Pike had never been good at sitting still. The instructor observing his Kobayashi Maru simulation had written "Swivels captain's chair too much" on the evaluation. Before his dissertation defense, Pike's thesis advisor had pleaded "Try not to fidget, lieutenant." Even today, Pike would pace the room while giving a lecture and if delivering orders on the bridge, he'd start on one side and end up on the other. It had become something of a running joke, with one of Pike's former students threatening to "roast" him with it when Pike got promoted to admiral. Wonder if he remembers that.
With such a track record, it didn't surprise Pike that the wheelchair he was confined to for the time being was driving him out of his mind. Finally released from sickbay, Pike was aimlessly puttering around Enterprise. It had done a little to relieve his unrest, but this ordeal was going to test the legendary Pike patience to its limit.
"Chekov?" Pike called as he entered ten forward. The place was deserted except for the kid sitting by the window. Pike could reprimand the underage ensign for being there in the first place, but decided against it.
Chekov glanced over. "Captain," he said with a small amount of surprise. "I did not know you were…up and about yet."
"Well." Pike looked down at his immobile legs. "Such as it is."
Is it…" Chekov swallowed. "…permanent, sir? I mean, may I ask?"
"Dr. McCoy doesn't think so," Pike answered. "I sure hope he's right." Pike studied Chekov's face. The Russian's eyes were red and swollen, and he looked like he hadn't slept since Enterprise left spacedock. "You all right, ensign?"
"Yes, sir." The response was automatic, flat, and, Pike suspected, false.
"You don't look all right," Pike returned.
Chekov looked out the window. "Cmdr. Spock told me we lost seventy percent of the senior cadets."
Pike closed his eyes. Every time he thought about those figures it was like a knife in his soul. "That's the initial estimate."
"So there might be more?"
"That's just the senior class," Pike reported. "We lost some underclassmen and personnel, too."
"They were my friends, sir." Chekov's voice cracked. "Some of them. Lt. Stanley, he once told me he would make sure I was on his first ship when he made captain." The too-young prodigy reached up to wipe his eyes. "Now he never will."
Pike reached his hand out to Chekov's shoulder and kept it there while the young man—No, he's not a "young man." He's a kid—wept bitterly.
He shouldn't be doing this, Pike thought, anger mixing in with his sadness. He's seventeen years old. He should be taking a girl to the prom and staying out past curfew. Not watching his friends get blown up by maniacal time-traveling Romulans. Chekov wasn't old enough to vote or drink and he'd already seen more suffering to last two lifetimes.
After a few minutes Chekov straightened and sniffed. "I'm sorry, sir."
Pike rubbed the teenager's back and wished he had a tissue to offer. "What are you sorry for?" He asked softly. Upon receiving no answer, Pike continued: "You just lost a lot of friends, ensign. We all did." He inclined his head and forced their gazes to lock. "I'd be pretty worried about you if you didn't cry over that."
Chekov took a shuddering breath and dragged his sleeve across his eyes. "It hurts so much, sir."
"I know," Pike said. Believe me. "But it won't hurt forever. Time is a powerful healer."
Chekov nodded his agreement, but the poor kid still looked thoroughly miserable.
"You want me to stay here for awhile?" Pike offered.
He felt Chekov tense slightly. "I…I am sure you have other places to be, sir—"
Pike pulled his communicator out of his pocket. "See this, ensign?" He held the golden device in front of Chekov's bleary eyes. "If anyone needs me, they can use it. I have nowhere else to be at the moment." And to be honest, he could use the company himself.
"I would like that, captain. Thank you."
"The two fell silent for a moment. Then Chekov broke in: "Do you have any children, captain?"
Pike shook his head. "No. No, I don't."
"It is too bad." The Russian whiz kid looked up. "I think you would have been a very good father."
The compliment did more to lift Pike's ailing spirits than Chekov could possibly have imagined. "Thank you, Chekov."
"Capt. Pike? Are you busy, sir?"
"Pike jerked his head up as the filtered voice came through the intercom on his door. "Kirk?"
Pike looked at the various datapads strewn about his desk. "No, I'm not. Come on in."
The door swished open and Kirk stepped through. He looked decidedly uncomfortable. Considering their last conversation had ended with Pike threatening to award Kirk the Medal of Honor and then jettison him into space, the older captain was surprised Kirk wanted to see him at all.
"What's on your mind?" Pike prompted. "And have a seat before you break a blood vessel."
Kirk sat down in the chair opposite Pike's desk. He paused for a moment before blurting out: "How do you do it, sir?"
"How do you…" Kirk bit his lip. "Permission to speak freely?"
Could I stop you? Pike nodded.
"How have you gotten through all this without turning into a crying mess?"
Pike took a second to contemplate his answer. Oh, what the heck. It's captain to captain now. "What makes you think I haven't been a crying mess?"
"But you said…you once told me a captain can never let the crew see him bleed."
"That's right," Pike affirmed. "But it doesn't mean you don't bleed."
Kirk pondered that and then scrubbed his hands over his face.
"Listen, Kirk." Pike sat forward. "You just experienced more in twenty-four hours than most officers do in an entire career. You'd be beyond inhuman if that didn't affect you." He intensified his stare. "But you are the captain. You're in command. You're allowed to grieve—you need to grieve—but when you're out there you're made of Teflon. None of it bothers you."
Kirk's eyes closed tiredly, and Pike gave his younger counterpart a moment to decompress. Trying to keep Enterprise running had probably left him with little time to process everything that had happened, and Pike feared the senior staff (if a bunch of cadets commissioned on thirty seconds' notice could be called that) was in for quite the emotional crash once the ship managed to limp back to Earth.
"I know that, sir." Kirk opened his eyes. "May I say something else?"
"When you found me in that bar in Iowa…" Kirk cleared his throat. "You didn't have to talk to me, didn't have to challenge me to join Starfleet. Any other officer probably would have left me there.
"You showed me more respect than I deserved. More respect than any other adult in my life had." Kirk looked up to meet Pike's gaze. "Thank you for believing in me, sir. You're the closest thing to a father I ever had."
Pike regarded Kirk for a moment and wondered if he and Chekov might have some conspiracy going on.
Pike was not normally a huggy-feely sort, but after the last few days he was more than willing to accept a long and maybe too-tight hug from his big sister.
After Sarah had peppered him with questions about whether he would walk again (yes), when he would walk again (fairly soon), how much pain he was in (none at the moment, except the headache she was giving him), what medications he was taking (he couldn't remember the names; no, not even if he tried really hard), whether he was tired (you try spending a day at the mercy of a Romulan with an axe to grind), whether he was actually getting promoted to admiral (if Barnett said it, it must be true), and was he thirsty? She'd get him some lemonade.
"It's like a verbal drive-by shooting," Sarah's husband, Adm. Robert April, commented as Sarah scurried back into the Academy mess.
Pike grunted. "I warned you. You married her anyway."
Robert smiled broadly. "Yup. And glad I am of it." He paused. "How are you, Chris? Really."
"I just saw about eighty percent of Starfleet disappear in the blink of an eye," Pike gritted. "I feel like I got hit in the gut with a phaser."
"Yeah, I know the feeling." Robert sighed. "Is it true that McCoy gave Kirk some kind of injection to make him sick and smuggled him aboard Enterprise?"
"Yup." Pike shook his head. "If he hadn't…"
"You know, that kid's about the closest thing you've ever had to your own son," Robert observed.
There it was again. Pike clenched his jaw.
"Chris?" Robert asked.
"You're the third person since this happened who's made some illusion to me and fatherhood." Pike looked out at the Golden Gate Bridge.
"Don't tell me you're having some kind of midlife crisis."
"You're starting to sound like Sarah, Rob."
"Maybe that famed Pike intuition is starting to rub off on me after thirty years," Robert said. "Seriously, Chris, she's worried about you."
"She's always worried about me," Pike huffed. "The day I was born she told Mom not to drop me on my head."
"Well, I think she's onto something," Robert pressed. "Come on. There's something else bothering you than everything that just happened. You've got that same look Sarah gets when she has a bad day and doesn't want to tell me about it."
"I'm old, Rob." Pike let his head fall back against the headrest on his wheelchair. "And I think part of me is starting to wish I had more than a footnote in Starfleet history to leave behind when my time comes. Maybe I shouldn't have married Starfleet."
"OK." Robert turned in his chair to face Pike. "First off, if you're old I've got one foot in the grave. Second off, after everything that just happened you've at least got your own chapter in Starfleet history. Third off, you've shepherded more than a few hard-luck cases through Starfleet Academy. Kids anyone else would have bounced out of here in a second. In the process you've given the fleet some pretty fine officers—including one who literally just saved the world. Trust me. Christopher Pike will not be hurting for a legacy when whatever celestial beings that are decide to take him from this world.
"Never mind that if you emhad /emmarried someone besides Starfleet, you'd be angsting over everything you would have put her and your kids through."
As usual, Rob could cut through the BS like nobody else. "Thanks, Rob." Pike drew in a long breath. "Sorry. I've had way too much time for introspection the last few days."
Rob quirked a wry smile. "And you never know. Starfleet could still issue your that wife."
"You're an admiral now, Chris."
"Not until 1300 tomorrow."
"Desk job. Mighty boring. You're gonna need some excitement in your life."
"I'm fifty-two years old."
"People are living a lot longer these days."
"I could pull some strings."
"I mean it, Rob."
"Gentlemen," Sarah broke in.
Pike looked up in surprise. "Sarah." He hadn't realized how long she'd been gone.
"That was an awfully long time to get lemonade," Rob observed.
Sarah handed both men their lemonade. "I knew you two would probably want some admiral-to-admiral time."
"I'm not an admiral until 1300 tomorrow," Pike insisted.
"You're gonna go out of your mind, space cadet," Rob warned playfully.
Pike straightened and lifted his chin at his brother-in-law, the familiar banter boosting his state of mind. "Adm. April, I'll have you know it is considered bad form to address an equal in rank in such a manner."
"You're not my equal in rank until 1300 tomorrow," Rob retorted smoothly.
"Adm. April?" A female voice from behind called.
Pike craned his neck. "Cadet Kellerman," he greeted the petite blond. She had been a student in his Federation History class her first year. Bright kid, too sweet for command track but she was going to make a great science officer.
"Capt. Pike. Or maybe I should say Adm. Pike."
"He's still captain until 1300 tomorrow," Sarah told Kellerman.
Kellerman smiled fractionally. "It's good to see you're OK, sir."
"It's good to be OK," Pike told her.
Rob hopped up. "I'll be back," he said, and followed Kellerman off the balcony.
"Chris?" Sarah placed her hand on Pike's forearm. "Are you OK? Truly?"
Pike smiled faintly at his sister. "Not yet," he said truthfully. "But I will be."