Title: A Decided Lack of Amusement (1/2)
Word Count: (this bit) 2545
Warnings: Crack. Written for trek_crackbingo. Written by me. Utter lack of plot. It's not meant to be real fic, it's not even meant to necessarily be IC, since one of the protagonists literally is not in character. See card space for further warnings
Card Space: kidnapping
Card masters: schmoop_bingo card | hc_bingo card (1) | hc_bingo card (2) | trek_crackbingo card )
Summary: Continuation of the Amusement Park arc, at a dear reader's request, in which I completely go the route of well-used cliche in order to answer a card space. All of TOS is basically a cliche hodgepodge so I'm in very good company. :P (Also, the child-leash experience at the beginning of the chapter and the haunted house ride are both shamelessly drawn from my earliest childhood memories.)
A/N: Since this 'verse has now officially closed, I'm basically just adding bits and pieces as it suits me, so feel free to make suggestions or requests! I will do my best to answer them, though I can't 100% promise they'll be done in any kind of timeliness.
Chronological Order of This 'Verse:
When I Was a Child
A Matter of Genetics
Out of the Mouth of Babes
A Two-Way Trust
Sunshine and Darkness
Ducks in Space
Smart is Sexy
Never Too Young
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
A Decided Lack of Amusement (1/2) (2/2)
Catch a Falling Star
An Infernal Device
Lesson Six (and Seven, really) (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)
The Second Time Around
Lessons Eight and Nine
Lessons Ten and Eleven (1/2) (2/2)
Outside the Box
Comprehension (1/4) (2/4) (Interlude) (3/4) (4/4)
And So It Begins
Fear Is Only Embarrassing in Public
Never Tease a Vulcan
Best Destiny (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)
Parting Ways (1/6) (2/6) (3/6) (4/6) (5/6) (6/6)
The Wounds of a Friend (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)
"Are all human children so…resourceful, Doctor?" Spock asked blandly, as a growling Leonard McCoy unwound himself from yet another recycling can.
This action was courtesy of a scowling little boy who continued to vociferously protest his child-leash, in the form of a floppy backpack in the shape of what Spock had been informed was a "sock monkey" with an attached harness around the wriggling little body. Jim's latest protest against his restraint was to promptly wrap his current guardian around the nearest object with the fifteen-foot leash attached to the harness.
"James Tiberius, one more move like that and we'll beam your little backside right back to the ship!" the doctor declared with well-deserved irritation, glaring at the child's smirk.
"Take it offffff!" the little one whined, tugging at the soft straps. He turned an injured expression on Spock, seeing he would get no further with a cranky McCoy. "Please?"
"Jim, you were given the chance to hold Dr. McCoy's hand when we entered the park," Spock replied calmly. "You were aware of the consequences of disobeying his instructions and running off three times."
"I won' do it again!"
"Obviously," was the pointed response, which elicited a pout. "Perhaps if you behave yourself, you will be given a second chance after mid-day."
"And no tears, now," McCoy warned, seeing the child's eyes well up. "You've got no call to be mad at us, kiddo. Don't you know what it would do to us if you got lost in this place, or got run over by some idiot with a popsicle cart?"
Not to mention the very real risk of some overly perceptive enemy realizing just who the little one was, Spock thought, while keeping a sharp eye open for any suspicious activity among the throng of shouting, laughing species groups - many humanoid, as the park catered to Terran tradition, but many other as well. Should someone who knew of the Enterprise's current condition abduct the child for ransom, for example, or for political leverage, they would be in an entirely different galaxy of trouble than that of keeping an eye on a sugar-buzzed little five-year-old.
He was highly uncomfortable with the idea that weapons were not permitted in the park, even to 'Fleet officers, and the fact that both he and the Doctor were weaponless was not reassuring to the child's safety or his own state of mind regarding it.
The fact that Jim seemed oblivious to both his guardians' worry, only bouncing and beaming at everything around him, was the only redeeming factor in what promised to be an extremely stressing day.
"Can I ride the swings, Bones?" Jim was currently asking, apparently having forgiven his mentor with all the innocent affection of childhood.
"May I," Spock corrected automatically, eyes scanning the crowd around them.
He did not miss Jim's tongue protruding briefly in his direction, though he pretended to be oblivious. "May I," the child repeated cheerfully. "Please?"
"Let's see if you're tall enough, kiddo," the doctor answered doubtfully, stumbling slightly as he was dragged by the leash's handle in the direction of the placard displaying the minimum height requirement. "Yup, looks like you're just tall enough," he said with a grin, as Jim sucked in a deep breath and then proudly tried to make himself even taller. "Told you drinkin' those vitamin shakes would help you out someday."
"They still taste like poop, though," Jim observed with a wrinkled nose, wriggling out of the harness as the doctor began to unbuckle the clasp in front.
Spock blinked, glancing down briefly in disgust and meeting McCoy's amused look, and after a brief shake of head returned to scanning the crowd for signs of impending danger. He vaguely registered Jim scampering off to the line of small children awaiting their turn on the rotating swings, and then nearly jumped out of his skin when the doctor poked his arm, an inexcusably human reaction brought on by weariness and an overly-alert mental state.
"Whoa," McCoy commented, frowning. "Maybe we'd better get you some chocolate milk or something. You're wound tighter'n adult Jim psyching himself into a migraine."
Spock shifted minutely away from the physician, lips tightened. "I am merely taking precautions for the child's safety, Doctor."
"Spock, if you're gonna spend the whole time we're here freaking out about Jim, then we're better off beamin' back to the ship. You know he feeds off your mental state, and if you're up in arms about his safety enough that you're tuning me out, he's bound to notice."
"Doctor, simply because I do not appreciate your abrupt and highly annoying physical contact -"
A derisive snort. "That's a load of bull. I know you don't like to be touched, but you usually let me and especially Jim get away with it in moderation. You shouldn't be zoned out enough that I can scare you like that."
"You did not, as you say, scare me, Doctor," he replied wearily. "I am merely expending more mental energy than is customary for me, endeavoring to be fully aware of our surroundings."
A shriek of "Spock lookit me!" from above them jerked their attention upward, where a blond head poked over the side of a swing and grinned, Jim's small hand waving like mad as he flew over their heads.
McCoy grinned and waved back, before Jim disappeared on the other side of the swing. He turned his attention back to his companion. "Are you saying you've dropped your shields enough to keep tabs on this entire crowd?" he asked bluntly, not without some concern. "A mass of people like this has to be bad enough for you to deal with - you keep that up and you'll have a whopper of a headache by the end of the day!"
"Doctor…" Spock sighed silently, and then continued. "This is not a safe environment. Especially given that the Enterprise is highly recognizable and that the entire Starbase most likely knows we are in orbit, and in what condition. Have you thought of the consequences, should an enemy of the captain's discover he is here, in this vulnerable condition?"
McCoy knew better than most, the unspeakable horrors that could be - and were - committed against helpless children every year in the dark reaches of the galaxy, and the idea made him slightly sick to think of. "That's true, Spock," he said quietly. "But you also can't kill yourself trying to be a one-man army to keep him safe, either."
Spock muttered something that sounded suspiciously like I can try, but as Jim came flying out of the Exit gate at that juncture, whooping his delight loud enough to be heard in orbit, McCoy had no chance to comment.
"Try to relax a little, Spock," he said in an undertone, before turning away to buckle Jim back into his harness. "Doctor's orders."
He received an annoyed eyebrow, which he cheerfully ignored, and was promptly yanked along by an eager little boy, who had caught sight of a balloon animal vendor who made fantastically colored hats and other items from the shimmery rubber.
"I wanna b'loon!"
"You wanna couple kiddie sedatives," McCoy muttered, dutifully following his pint-sized captain.
They soon discovered that while Jim could apparently ride anything without so much as batting an eye, McCoy could not even face the large glassed-in observation wheel without turning the shade of Jim's pistachio ice cream, and Spock drew the line after one 'roller coaster' which he believed had caused him enough whiplash to qualify as an injury requiring medical leave. Jim appeared to be perfectly content with the bumper cars and other, less stomach-flipping rides, though he did have a minor tantrum when told he wasn't tall enough for the flying carpet ride.
They did make the mistake of taking the child through a moving ride themed as what Spock learned was a Terran 'haunted house', complete with sudden drops through floors and ghostly apparitions appearing through a chilled fog and then false but very real-looking flames. Jim sat between them, eyes growing wider and wider, and gradually scooting closer and closer to Spock, before finally shrieking and hiding his face in the bewildered Vulcan's tunic when an enormous rabbit with glowing red eyes slowly emerged from an oversized black hat.
"…Rabbits, Doctor? Or simply a combination of atmospheric and dramatic effects?"
"No idea, Mr. Spock," was the bewildered response. "He's always loved Halloween, far as I know; must be something about this age. Note to self, no more haunted house rides?"
"Duly noted." Spock hesitantly, awkwardly, patted the frightened child's shaking shoulders. "Jim, it is not real; and we are no longer in its presence."
"Scary," the child murmured, peeping one eye out briefly and shuddering back again as a wraith screamed at them from out of a swirl of colored fumes.
"Aw, maybe they are, Jimmy - but you know nothin's gonna get you while Spock and I are here, right?" McCoy said gently, ruffling the child's tousled hair. "You know how to nerve pinch a rabbit, don'tcha Spock?"
"I am certain I could adapt satisfactorily, Doctor."
Jim's small giggle told them that their dialogue, as well as the fact that the ride was nearing its end, literally showing light at the end of the tunnel, had done its work.
"All right, who's ready for a hot dog?" McCoy asked enthusiastically as they emerged into the park's simulated daylight once more.
"They've got to have a vegan alternative," the doctor added, taking the child's hand. He decided against the leash, because he recognized the suspicious sort of hopping dance Jim was doing now - and no wonder, after the enormous Slurpie Freeze Spock had been suckered into buying the kid the minute they walked into the park. "You want to have a look around for lunch while Jim and I go take care of business?"
"Take care of -" Spock broke off as the doctor rolled his eyes, jerking a thumb over his shoulder at the public facilities sign. "Ah. Very well, Doctor. I shall meet you back here in twenty minutes with these…hot dogs?" He could only assume, and hope, that there were no real caninoid species involved in the manufacture of such things, else he would not be able to contemplate watching Jim consume one.
"I wan' mustard an' relish on mine!"
"Judgin' by that line, I'd say that was a logical time frame, Mr. Spock," the physician grumbled, giving Jim's hand a tug. The child was wriggling uneasily, hopping up and down, but had perked up at the mention of food. "No more sugar, and don't get him anything to drink bigger than a kiddie cup!" he hollered after the Vulcan's retreating form.
Jim pouted for only a moment before amusing himself with stomping on various ants which were crawling across the walkways in search of dropped foodstuffs.
"Hey, stop that," McCoy scolded, tugging the little one out of the way of a harried-looking young female of a felinoid species he didn't immediately recognize, pushing a stroller carrying what looked like quintuplet kits. "What'd those poor critters ever do to you?"
Jim shrugged, rubbing a nose already threatening to burn even in the simulated sunlight, despite the protective hydration and skin protection hypo he'd given the kid before they entered the park.
"What do you wanna do after we eat, Jim?" They had about three hours left, he judged, before Spock's Vulcan stamina and patience met its end with the thronging crowds and chaotic discordance.
"I wanna ride the big spaceship!"
"You get to ride a big spaceship every day, kiddo," he responded, grinning as Jim's little face scrunched up.
"Not the same!"
"I know," he chuckled, tugging the child back into the long line for the men's facilities. "You'll have to get Spock to ride that one with you, squirt. These old bones aren't made for that kind of centrifugal force workin' on them."
"Centrifugal force, Jim. It's what kept pushing on you, kept you from flyin' off the sides of that loop-the-loop back there."
"Ohhhh. Cool." Thus proclaimed, the future captain of the Enterprise resumed his ant-stomping, only slightly impeded by the press of people behind and in front of them.
One particular well-dressed gentleman behind them was apparently wearing enough cologne or aftershave to choke a Boravian musk-ox, McCoy noted with annoyance, as he grabbed Jim's shoulders to shuffle them forward a few inches.
"Wha's that, Bones?" Jim asked suddenly, pointing across the square.
"Looks like a show's gonna start or something," he answered, squinting against the sun. People were gathering, many of them with small children, into a semi-circle in a small amphitheater, though he couldn't tell from his current position what the sign said would be happening. "Maybe when Spock gets back with the food we'll go see, hm?"
"Okay!" Jim wriggled uneasily, hopping forward as the line moved, jostling and grumbling. "How much longer?"
"Almost there, kiddo." Would be easier to wait if there weren't so many people, McCoy thought with a silent growl of disgust. But no, some idiot had to promise the kid we'd take him to an amusement park on one of the busiest days of the shipping lines! Between the nauseating smell of too-heavy cologne, added to the heat from a simulated summer sun and sheer press of bodies all around them, he was beginning to feel a bit sick himself; he'd never have been able to stand any of those godforsaken rides the little monster loved so much. Spock owed him one, though he suspected the Vulcan was probably paying dearly in his own way for his child-indulgence.
"Hm?" He rubbed a sleeve across his forehead, trying to smooth away the headache that was developing.
"You okay Bones?"
He blinked in surprise. "What? I'm fine, Jim - why do you ask?"
"You look like you're gonna frow up," the child declared with all the tact of a brick to the head.
In truth, he was feeling a bit woozy and would certainly rather have been sitting down with an oversized iced tea at the moment, but that was no call to go insulting a man's face, now was it?
"I'm fine, you little monster," he growled, pushing the child ahead of him with a tickle to the ribs, eliciting a shriek of giggles. They were nearly to the facilities' door, thank goodness, and he was looking forward to being in the shade for a few minutes at least; surely it would help the headache and dizzy spell.
They say retrospect is the only truly perfect vision, and as a doctor he should really have remembered that he was fully hydrated thanks to his own preparedness, that the regulated artificial sunlight was advertised in the park to remain at a perfect 78 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, and that he hadn't been on any rides since the one disastrous one very early that morning. Should have recognized there was no reason for him to be feeling so ill, so suddenly, and at the first time he and Spock had been out of each other's eyesight all day.
Should have realized that there was something off, about the sickly smell of the man's cologne behind him.