Author's Notes: It's not been a happy weekend at casa de Gix. Last week, a good friend of mine lost a family member in a car accident. On Friday, my fiancé's grandmother passed away (though that was not unexpected), and yesterday I found out that a longtime friend died suddenly. I apologize for the delay in posting this stuff, but I've been a bit preoccupied. That said, it's looking like Minnesota finally. It's snowing. A lot. As such, yours truly is stuck at home. I don't dare leave for fear that I won't make it back up my driveway when I return. But I suppose that's good news for all of you, because in lieu of doing more Christmas shopping, I'm going to finish posting Defining Family. Enjoy chapter 4!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't own. Make no money. Am sad. Lol.
"Are you guys finished cleaning up in there yet?" Kirk hollered from the vicinity of the living room. For such a fine, upstanding officer, the tone of his voice sounded very close to that of a whine. Jim pouted his way over to Chris' recliner and made himself at home, observing the actual work being done in the kitchen.
"We'd be done a hell of a lot faster if you got off your ass and helped, Kirk!" Pike replied, calling over his shoulder while he rinsed a plate. Giving it a healthy shake, he stuck it in the dish rack to dry with the others while he glared under the cabinets at his young-ish former recruit.
"I'd love to help Lieu, but I've been barred from leaving my partner's sight. He told me that, and I quote, 'Where he goes, I go, so help my sorry ass'. He ordered me to sit and stay in the living room while he went to the can, and since I have to ride in a car with him for a week, I don't need him any more pissed off that he usually is. You know how that goes," Jim answered, kicking his feet up on the ottoman and grabbing the latest copy of Top Gear UK from the magazine holder next to Chris' recliner. He flipped it open to the review of the Koenigsegg CCX, salivating over the car's performance numbers and sleek, appealing looks.
"Well, I'll be damned. He does have a brain rattling around the dark recesses of his head," McCoy quipped sarcastically, suddenly appearing out of nowhere to hover over Jim's left shoulder.
Kirk practically jumped; he was so engrossed in the magazine article (particularly the fact that the CCX did the 0-60 test in 3.2 seconds and that its predecessor was proud owner the biggest speeding ticket ever issued - 242 MPH in Texas) that he never heard his partner return from the bathroom located down the hall. "Bones! Don't scare me like that, man. You're going to give me a heart attack."
"You're a cop, Jim. You're supposed to have awareness. And besides, after all the food you ate tonight, I don't see how your unfortunate death could be considered my fault. My arteries are offended on your behalf. You've got enough cheese coagulating throughout your body to choke a horse, and the twelve breadsticks you ate have enough carbs to make up your daily intake for a week. How you haven't dropped dead of a myocardial infarction yet is beyond me," McCoy fired back.
"I have plenty of awareness, but not when I'm at Pike's house. You know his rules: check all badges at the door," Kirk said before he tisked out loud. "And Bones, would you stop using those lame-ass, annoying medical terms? When you do it, it makes you sound so old. Not that you care about that, but I'm just saying."
The sergeant just rolled his eyes. "Google it, kid. And while you're at it, why don't you Google a real supercar, one that starts with 'Ford' and ends with 'GT'," he said, looking down at the article Jim was reading. He snatched the magazine from Kirk's lap and flipped through a couple of pages, all over Jim's protestations over having his reading material rudely stolen. "This is blasphemy," he ranted. "Why the hell would anyone buy a supercar from Sweden? This is the same country that gave us ABBA, IKEA and Saab. Tell me which one of those have been at all useful."
"Hey, I like IKEA. What's wrong with their furniture?" Jim asked.
"How about the fact you have to assemble it," McCoy grumbled under his breath, shuddering at the dark day he thought he could buy and assemble a Billy bookcase from the wretched store. It ended…badly.
Jim disagreed, since he never met something he couldn't conquer, European furniture included. "Bones, you just lack ambition. Or ability. Either way, you shouldn't count the Swedes and their CCX out," Kirk proclaimed. "It's just awesome."
"I don't think so. If I ever buy a supercar, I'd like to at least be able to pronounce its name," McCoy said with a flip of his hand at the article in his hand. He dumped the magazine back into Jim's lap and wandered over to find a place on the couch.
From the other side of the kitchen, Scotty was just finishing his assignment of storing the lasagna pan and baking sheets when his ears picked up the motoring-related conversation. He stood, tossed the dishrag on the counter and sauntered into the living room, fully intent on setting the supercar record straight for his somewhat challenged American friends. As the resident mechanic (and proper petrol-head Brit), Scotty believed with his heart and soul that he was the most qualified to dish out the right information, and he took the task very seriously.
"All right now." The Scotsman cleared his throat to grab the Kirk and McCoy's attention before he stated matter of factly, "You two idiots don't know a thing about supercars. You," he began, pointing to Jim, "Want a supercar that doesn't have enough downforce to keep the bloody thing on the track, and you," he said, motioning alternately to McCoy, "Want a supercar that is gets negative three miles to the gallon, and is made by a company whose acronym of 'Fix Or Repair Daily' is fitting. No, what you blokes do need, I reckon, is the Bugatti Veyron," Scotty said cheerfully. "It's 253 miles per hour of speedy, pure driving exhilaration."
From behind him, a broad set of hands landed on his shoulders. Chris gave Scotty's entire body a manly shake of hello. "And at $1.7 million, I'd better not see any of you three driving that car, or someone's going to have a hell of a lot of explaining to do to Spock," Pike said, joining the conversation mid-stream. "Now, we're done with clean up, so why don't you all come back into the kitchen and we'll cut the cake."
All disagreements about horsepower were instantly forgotten. Like they'd all been shot out from a cannon, Jim, McCoy and Scotty were all up and out of the room so quickly, Pike swore all he saw were streaks of the colors of their clothes. He looked over at the table to find the trio sitting a bit too pleasantly for his liking. Double taking, Chris' eyes registered the sudden appearance of Ethan and Pavel, who'd mysteriously taken off to Ethan's room right after clearing the dishes off the table. "How does this always happen?" he asked helplessly to Lynn while dropping onto one of the breakfast bar stools situated opposite one of the long sides of the table.
"Don't ask me. They're your problem children," she replied, throwing up her hands while she added, "None of them ever seem to want to grow up," to her statement.
McCoy, trying his best to look dignified (and failing miserably), rolled his eyes. Clearly, he was just as excited as the rest of the crew, but was at least making an attempt to be polite. He turned his head toward his current partner and wished for a leash to stop him from bouncing in his chair. "Jim, a half hour ago, you were moaning about how full you were, and now you want more food?"
"There's always room for cake," Kirk said succinctly while exchanging high fives with both Ethan and Pavel.
"True that!" the teen said, returning Jim's gesture. "And, finally! I thought we'd never get to this point! I call that big chocolate piece," Ethan announced after huffing out a dramatic breath. He shifted, leaning his elbows on the table before he pointed toward his mother's masterpiece. With a lustful gaze, he stared at the momentous birthday cake sitting perched in front of him. Barely able to restrain himself, Ethan wanted nothing more than to dive head first into the cake with the gusto of a starving man.
Next to him, Pavel was looking a bit more civilized and less like the Homer Simpson impression his friend was hitting with surprising and disturbing accuracy. Motioning toward the cake, Chekov asked, "Which big piece? I do not see just one."
"That one," Ethan answered, pointing haphazardly while he reached toward the cake. With one finger, he took a healthy swipe of fudge frosting from the backside of the bridge design. His wandering hand was met with a firm smack on the knuckles, courtesy of his mother. "Mom! Ow!" he said, glaring while he shook out his hand.
"Ethan! Get your fingers out of that cake. It might have been your idea, but it's not for you. And, young man, if you think you're going to eat the entire valley construction, you are out of your mind," Lynn scolded. "You'll make yourself sick."
"But Moooom! It's layered German chocolate fudge," the teen whined.
"…Which was not made for you," she finished, staring down at her son with all the authority of a well-seasoned mother.
"I don't know. He's got a point," Pike chimed in from his corner of the room, directly after his wife's sentence was clear of her mouth. He'd tipped his chair backwards to brace it against the wall, in effect making a recliner out of one of the stool. His head was tipped back against the top of the backrest, and his hands were folded on top of his chest. Without so much as moving an inch, Chris added, "Besides, if he eats the whole thing and winds up puking all night, whose fault is that?"
"He most certainly does not have a valid point. Don't encourage your son, Chris. He's got enough of your DNA to find trouble without outside interference," she scolded.
Pike opened his eyes, and with a weary groan, set his feet back on the floor from where they'd been propped up on the barstool situated next to the breakfast bar. Raising an eyebrow to his wife's exasperated glare, he said, "Oh, come on, Lynn. You can let him have one little piece. I can't imagine it will affect the structural integrity of the cake in the long run."
"Like hell! I'll have you know I worked my ass off on that cake, and I will be damned if anyone," she said, emphasizing the word and glaring at the three men and two teens in her home, "touches it before Len. This is my birthday gift to him, so I make the rules about the cake. He also gets to choose which part he wants to eat, so the rest of you can get in line behind him," she finished, getting up to put away the dry dishes. "You gentleman can just wait a few more minutes. I'm sure you'll survive."
Next to Kirk, McCoy smiled broadly. It was nice to have someone finally go to bat for him, and it was his intention since laying eyes on the thing to smash it to smithereens in a most joyous bit of childish destruction. "Thanks, Lynn. Appreciate you keeping the vultures away for a little bit."
"My pleasure, Len. Now, do your thing," she replied sweetly, handing McCoy a bird.
While McCoy went back to sizing up the cake and weighing the small fondant birds in the open palms of his hands, Pike let out a deeply unsatisfied and angry grumble of protest. His face wore a decent impression of his former partner's famous angry scowl, and he chewed away at the inside of his lip while he contemplated his options. Before he could stop himself, Chris looked at his wife and tried his last ditch resort: appealing to her mothering side. "One taste."
Lynn, in the kitchen, stopped what she was doing and dropped the bowl she was drying on the countertop. One hand on her hip, she whirled around and narrowed her eyes at her husband. She knew that tone, the one that screamed that, while he was trying to help someone else (Ethan), there was something in it for him, too. She waved one finger in the air when the pieces fell into place and said, "Nice try, my dear, but it isn't going to work. If you think you're going to trick me into letting you eat some of that cake, you are sorely mistaken, Mister. You heard what your doctor said - your cholesterol is way too high for rich food like that. You're supposed to stick with plain oatmeal and grapefruit, which I know you haven't been doing."
Chris silenced the mocking snickers that came from his son, his son's best friend, and his three subordinates with a thinly veiled threat that would probably border on police brutality if performed on the job. "Oatmeal and grapefruit suck. I'm tired of them. They're boring, they have no flavor, and they're not sweet."
It was all becoming clearer now. Lynn didn't try to keep the mocking tone from her voice. "That famous Pike sweet tooth coming around to bite you in the ass, isn't it? I told you this was going to happen, Chris, but you never believed me when I said moderation was the way to go. Someone's probably regretting eating that extra bowl of ice cream every night for the past ten years, isn't he?"
"I kept myself in shape - I exercise and I try my best to keep my stress level down, though that doesn't always work," he said with a sideways glance toward Kirk and McCoy. "But I've made the effort. It's just that genetics don't like me." Pike rolled his eyes and sighed, figuring he was already sunk by the look on Lynn's face.
Lynn shook her head emphatically. "I don't care if it's unfair. Do you want to drop dead of a heart attack when you're chasing a suspect? Because for as much as you piss me off, no one else gets the pleasure of putting you out of your misery. That job is reserved for me," she joked half-heartedly.
"Love you, too, honey," Pike replied with an equally amused snort.
"Your parents are, how to say…animated," Chekov said in a mock whisper.
Ethan sputtered, choking on the water he'd retrieved from the fridge while his folks argued about cake ownership. "Try living with them for sixteen years, and then come talk to me. I think you'd change your tune."
"I was not aware I was singing," Chekov replied, confused.
"Two years, and we're still working on that," Ethan said, eyeing his friend from the corner of his gaze. He dropped his head dramatically to the table, resting his forehead against the cool, slick wood for a few short seconds. "Do you think that, maybe, one of these days, you could get the hang of English slang? I'm embarrassed for you, and I'm not you!"
"I will do my best to familiarize myself with your idioms. They are numerous, and confusing, but I am learning," Pavel said while he bounced away in his seat. Looking over at Lynn, he added with a gracious little bow of his head and a giant, satisfied grin, "But I must thank you before we eat this wonderful cake, Mrs. Pike, and for allowing us to be testers for your project. It was…wevy hard job."
Ethan dropped his head into his hands while Lynn just stared at Pavel and his absolute crap timing. "Dude!" he hissed out.
Chekov was confused. "I was not supposed to thank your mother? I thought that was the polite thing to do, in either culture."
"You are, but just not now!" the younger Pike whispered, eyes darting over to where his father sat. Trust Pavel to let the cat out of the bag, as it were, and to totally tank their chances of keeping their involvement in Operation: Mincemeat a secret.
Chris managed to kick-start his sputtering brain enough to pull together one sentence of incredulous disbelief. He peeled his jaw off the kitchen table and swiveled in his chair to shoot a scathing glare at his wife. Eyes narrowed, he stuck a finger out in front of his face before he said, "You let them have cake, too?"
Lynn, after nearly two decades of marriage, was less than impressed with her husband's death glare. It might work on the depths of stupidity that he chased around all day, but it didn't work on her. She was a mom, after all. Grabbing a nail file out of the junk drawer, she made quick work of a rough edge on her index finger. She leaned against the counter and said casually, "Of course I did. Someone had to test the flavors and the durability, and I sure as hell wasn't going to let you do it. I'd have never gotten any work done."
"But-!" he protested loudly. The argument against why two teenagers should be the quality control testers instead of a well-trained, diverse food 'critic' died on the tip of Chris' tongue with one well-placed and very prickly glare from Lynn.
"No 'buts', my dear. They're sixteen. They burn if off by breathing, which is something you can no longer do. Face it, Chris. You need to start taking better care of yourself. I would have thought that your brush with the pearly gates would have been enough, but apparently your head is thicker than I thought," Lynn replied sternly, putting away the last dish in the cupboard above her head.
In his attempt to make his prima facie case to his wife, Chris pointed one finger at the hyperactive Kirk. "Jim? I understand why that would work," Pike started. "But McCoy? He sits on his ass just as much as I do, which, according to you, is a lot."
Len, who hadn't quite abandoned the conversation in favor of playing with the cake, craned his neck around and hollered out, "All my exercise is your fault, chasing after your recruit when he won't listen to me. Keep it up, and I swear I'll un-adopt Jim so you can get out from behind your desk and train him your damned self!"
Kirk was just lining up a red bird with the top when he heard his name, being used in both a general and negative connotation. He stopped his motion, retracted his tongue back in his mouth where it belonged and straightened up. Extending both his hands out, palms up, Kirk exclaimed, "HEY! Wait a minute here!" loud enough to make Chekov jump.
Two faces, identically adorned with pig-headed expressions, snapped toward Kirk. Simultaneously, both Pike and McCoy yelled emphatically, "Shut up, Jim!"
Kirk raised one eyebrow while smirking from the left corner of his mouth. He stepped back and slid around the far side of the cake, hoping that the monstrous concoction would serve a dual purpose as a bunker if kitchen utensils started flying across the room. "Okay. Chill. I'm just gonna go back over here and play with the most awesome cake in the world, the one my Lieu is barred from eating," Kirk added as an extra jab to Pike.
"Are you itching that much to ride a desk for a week, Kirk?" Pike threatened.
Jim smiled slyly, licking his lips at the same time. "Depends on if Uhura's services are necessary. Desk duty wouldn't disappoint then. Might even find out her name one of these days."
"Yeah, I'll bet you'd 'take' desk duty with her, Jim," McCoy answered with a predictable roll of his eyes and a muttered curse. He shook his head; Kirk was fully corrupting his mind. Len dropped the yellow bird into the slingshot and lined up the projectile. "And why don't you just look on her business card? It's not like the State of Iowa would just let a social worker call herself 'Uhura' and nothing else."
"Why not? We ceased to have first names when we took our oath to uphold the law," Kirk replied.
McCoy readjusted the bird in the slingshot and straightened up to face his partner. "That's different. We're cops."
"And?" Kirk queried, tilting his head to the side.
"And what, Jim? That's how it is. It's last names, and that's it," McCoy stated rather succinctly before he yanked back the slingshot and let the bird fly.
"Don't forget about the awesome nicknames, Bones," Kirk added with all of the expert timing of an experienced class clown. As intended, the well-placed verbal jab hit right on target, and caused a tiny hitch in McCoy's release. The bird sailed wide of its intended target, instead impacting hard on the glass of the patio door behind the dining room table. It made a loud but dull thud, which strangely sounded nearly identical to the sound of a real bird flying into the partition.
"Goddammit!," McCoy swore. "For Chrissake, kid. Stop distracting me!"
Jim scoffed loudly. "Your fail is not my fault. I told you that you were going to need to aim more to the right, jackass!" he said, elbowing past McCoy on his way up to the table. He shimmied in and parked himself right next to the cake while he motioned for a bird. "Here, get out of the way and let the master show you how it's done."
McCoy moved over to protectively shield his cake from the grabby hands of his partner while he physically shoved Jim back, stopping his partner's forward momentum with one large, open palm. He fixed the kid with a growl and said, "No way. My birthday, my cake. Back the hell off and get your own. I've suffered enough for this goddamn thing, so I sure as shit am going to enjoy it."
Kirk did a quick count of the number of profanities in McCoy's last sentence and compared that with his 'Guide to Bones' Moods' chart he kept squirreled away in the back of his head. An average of one or less curses per sentence was still within acceptable parameters to keep pushing, so Kirk did just that. Smugly, he swiped one finger through the chocolate fudge, shoved it in his mouth and said, "You missed, Bones."
McCoy's hands stopped in mid motion while he loaded up another bird for an extra shot at the bridge. "I know," he growled, at the same time doing a few mental calculations for the second shot. He cocked his head to the side just a little bit, measured the distance and let the bird go. It hit exactly where he wanted it to land, taking out the main support of the bridge. Like a slow motion domino effect, the Special K bar planks fell in a grand crash of collapsing sugar. They landed squarely on the pigs. The police hats provided no extra protection for the green menaces, and if the room's occupants closed their eyes, they could almost see the pigs exploding a puff of green smoke with the accompanying sound effects.
A raucous cheer, much like the one provided from the game, rolled like a tsunami from the teens at the table while the pigs toppled insipidly down the sides of the cake. The cake sat in ruins on the table, and McCoy looked absolutely self-righteously proud in his accomplishment. He looked at the demolished table, and then over at Kirk before he raised a trademark eyebrow. Clearing his throat dramatically he said, "You were saying about my fail, Jim?"
Ethan rolled his eyes and exchanged a long-suffering glace with Chekov. "Great. Now can we eat it?"
McCoy was loath to tell the kid no.
He was, however, going to have to beat Scotty to a pulp for recording the entire thing on his damned iPhone.
For the fourth time that day, McCoy asked himself, 'Why is this my life?'
Next Up: McCoy is annoyed that his sudden epiphany proves that Pike and Kirk were right all along. Sonofabitch.