Title: The Good Life

Author: klmeri

Fandom: Star Trek AOS

Characters: Various

Summary: By popular demand, a short one-shot of the Playtime!verse future. Pike finally gets a retirement party.

Jim comes storming in about an hour before the guests arrive at Pike's retirement party. The teenager—soon-to-be sixteen year old—is often stomping in from somewhere. Pike wonders how he has managed to survive having a kid (particularly this one) up until now. The years don't get easier, that's for sure.

James T. Kirk is a willful, fun-loving, give-my-parents-heartattacks teen with a penchant for trouble.

Pike loves him to death. Marrying Winona some eight years ago was the best thing he ever did. Meeting her two years prior to that—when he had a little Jimmy thrust into his arms that first day at Little Star Academy (still the best year of his career)—had been fate. Or perhaps it was just Capt'n Jimmy's cunning to ensnare Pike. Whatever the reason, he is grateful.

He gives a token rap on the kid's bedroom door (marked with an age-old pirate flag labeled Capt'n Jimmy's Room underneath) before poking his head inside.

"Hey, son."

The boy is flinging clothes every which way, making an already messy room even messier. Pike takes the grunt as a simultaneous acknowledgement of Pike's existence and please enter.

Pike clears a spot on the bed and sits down, waiting patiently. Eventually Jim sighs loudly and drops onto the bed opposite him with a dreary "Hey."

"Want to talk about it?" Oldest line in the book. Still works, though. Pike didn't read those parenting guides out of curiosity; more like dire necessity.

Jim frowns, crosses his arms and leans against his headboard. "I hate Spock," he states in a flat voice.

"No, you don't," Pike replies mildly.

"Yes I do!" Jim glares at his stepfather.

"No, you don't," the man insists. "Otherwise you wouldn't have begged me ten years ago to take you to Spock's house clear across the Bay."

"I was like four!" groans the boy.

"Five, actually," Pike corrects. "You recognized even then what a good friend he would be."

Jim pouts, which is still rather cute even though it borders on sulking. "Yeah, well, I was stupid."

"And were you stupid to keep in touch with Leonard?"

Jim sits up, eyes wide. "No! No way, man, he's tons better than Spock."

"He lives in Georgia. Spock lives here."

"Bones and I still do stuff."

What goes on in those until-dawn vid conversations, Pike is thankful that he has little clue. Better for his sanity that way. And Jim is correct; he and Lenny—Leonard, Pike still has trouble thinking of McCoy any other way (sometimes he slips up on purpose, just to watch McCoy scowl)—usually plan a summer vacation together. Pike and Winona are indulgent about those, because they understand how hard the distance is on the two boys.

The fact that Spock usually ends up corralled into their Excellent vacations as well remains unsurprising to all. Pike finds that amusing, because if anyone who has seen the way McCoy and Spock interact would decide that an explosion is less quiet. Jim insists that the arguing is how his two best friends express their undying manly love for one another. Leonard has been known to tackle Kirk pretty hard after a line like that; and McCoy's ability to swear is unrivalled.

Pike and Jim are silent for a brief moment. Pike, again, is waiting for Jim to own up to what's bothering him and Jimmy is stubbornly refusing to talk. When Pike sighs, theatrically loud, and indicates that he has a party to get dressed for, Jim worries his bottom lip before saying, "Spock wants to date Uhura."

Pike relaxes back onto the bed. "That's no surprise, Jim."

"But it's not fair!"

"Why not?" Pike rolls his eyes to himself when Jim doesn't answer. "Look, son, you know Spock has been interested in Nyota for a while." Since she developed breasts and an interest in the Vulcan language; Pike suspects that the attraction is mutual. "Why is it suddenly unfair?"

"Because she's hot…" mumbles the boy.

Pike does not smack Jim upside his head (not yet). "I thought that you didn't feel that way about her."

Jim picks at a scab on his arm. "Maybe I do."

Sigh. "No, you don't."

The teenager frowns at him. "How do you know what I think?"

"Because I'm brilliant."

"Well so am I!"

"Then why are you acting like an idiot?" Pike counters.

Jim looks hurt. Pike drags his son (stepson, but they don't make that distinction) close and throws an arm around his shoulders. "Jim, let me tell you a theory."

A grunt. Back to the silent treatment? Not unusual these days. Winona says that her husband has the patience of a saint.

"I think that you aren't upset over Nyota. I think you're upset because Spock dating Nyota might mean that he'll have less time for you. And that's hard, isn't it, son? You can't see McCoy but a handful of times during the year, and Spock has always been around to keep you company."

"I'm not lonely."

"No, you have plenty of friends," agrees Chris. "But there is a reason why Spock is called your best friend and not just your friend. Am I right so far?"

"Maybe." The boy leans into him, and Pike pets the top of his head without thought.

"I wouldn't worry so much, Jimmy. Spock won't leave you. You should trust him. And if you do feel… left out, let him know." Pike smiles. "I imagine he will have a very logical, long-winded explanation on why your fears are unfounded."

Pike can barely make out the "Okay" mumbled into his side, but he knows that Jim is listening. They sit close together for some minutes. Jim has developed a tendency to shy away from public affection (of the parental kind), but moments like this, in the privacy of their own home, the teenager will allow Pike to hug him, kiss his forehead and any number of other fatherly gestures that would embarrass a teen. Pike is waiting for the day when Jim hits adulthood and realizes that there is no time like the present to show your love for someone; in a way, he also regrets that the child will come to understand that time is precious, but that's part of living and learning too.

"Are you coming to the party?"

Jim pulls away and eyes him like he's grown a second (monstrous) head. "Seriously?"

Pike simply raises an eyebrow.

"Of course!"

"And do you plan to make yourself presentable so that people don't think I was fired? After all, you represent the outcome of my teaching skills."

Jim smirks, his blue eyes dancing. "What about your parenting skills?"

"Sadly, not what my colleagues will be here to celebrate."

The boy laughs and it eases Pike's heart. Jim bounces up from the bed, moroseness finally turning to something lighter and more joyful. Pike loves that about Kirk, his ability to master his woes; Winona is the same, so it's no surprise that the trait runs from mother to son.

Jim starts talking. "So Bones, Spock, and I were watching this old film called Saw on Saturday—you know simultaneously on feed—and I thought the gore was a bit overdone… I mean, who gushes like that? But you know Bones—he was like, man, it could happen and then Spock started talking projectile rates for bodily fluids and Bones got to lecturing about medical stuff—I mean, seriously? And he has no clue why girls give him a wide berth! Who wants to hear the statistics on STDs, man?"

Pike just lets the boy go on and on, watching as his son rummages through a pile of clothes (smelling them to decide if they've reached an expiration date). Eventually Chris decides that he'd better direct the teen to the back of his closet where one nice pair of pants (no holes or tears) and a dress shirt are carefully preserved. Then he propels Jim into the bathroom with explicit instructions to shower and wash, not just spray himself with deodorant.

Jim says, just before he closes the bathroom door, "Thanks, Dad."

"Part of the job, son. Go on, now. Your mother will be after us both in about fifteen minutes."

They share a grin.

Pike is dressed and ready by the time the front door of the house chimes. Jim comes belting down the hall, skidding to a stop before he topples a side-table.

"I got it!"

Winona exits their master bath and hands Chris a necklace. He gently hooks it around her neck. Pike hears, "Hey there, old man!"

"Finally learning to count, Captain?"

There's Jim's delighted laugh. Everyone in the family (including friends) knows about the adventures of a young Capt'n Jimmy—meaning that they unfortunately experienced some or most of it.

Then, "You realize when I am a Captain—Ooo… Did you bring booze?"

"Sure did," is Jonathan's reply. "You're close to legal, right?"

Jesus H. Christ. He gives Winona a quick kiss, ignoring her laughter, and hightails it into the living room, already composing his explanation to court and Judge why he had to sock his business partner on the day of his retirement party.