Heavenslight wanted the fic where Pike collects Jim from custody after he takes Frank's car for a test drive. Since it is her birthday, and since I adore Pike, here we are! This is set in the same universe as Transitions and A problem from hell, so while nothing bad happens, there are Angsty Implications.
Title from a badly butchered Francis Bacon quote ;P
He who hath children hath given
HOSTAGES TO FORTUNE
Christopher Pike stabbed submit on his final report with slightly more aggression than it deserved. As the data uploaded to the main Starfleet server he slumped back in his chair and rubbed at his tired, gritty eyes. It had been a long few weeks.
"You still here LT?" Pike groaned and refused to look up. If he ignored Boyce he might be able to escape without having to undergo a full medical. "You look like shit."
Apparently not. "I look like a man who hasn't seen his own bed in far too long."
"So go home then." Boyce said, as if Pike would actively choose to stay in his shoebox of an office until twenty two hundred on a Friday night.
"I'm going!" Pike moaned miserably as he hauled himself out of his chair. Why the hell did he feel so old? He was thirty-two. Thirty-two. He was beginning to think Starfleet were going to ride him hard and put him away wet long before he ever actually reached old age.
"Good." Boyce heaved himself off the door frame and continued his way down the corridor, but not before leaning over his shoulder and shouting, "and make sure you get your ass into medical Monday morning. Don't think I haven't noticed you not taking care of your dumbass self."
"You are exactly why I hate doctors." Pike grumbled under his breath, gathering his uniform jacket and any other miscellaneous items he might need in the whole forty-eight hours he was going to be free.
"What was that?" Boyce bellowed down the hallway.
"You have a good weekend!" Pike shouted.
Before he could think of anything he'd forgotten, be called by Captain Barnett to file yet another BS report, or accidentally forget to salute an Admiral because he could hardly walk in a straight line he was so tired, Pike made a beeline for the lifts.
Which was when, naturally, his comm. beeped, demanding his attention.
He could ignore it. Pretend he didn't hear the damn thing. Go home, sleep. God, he missed sleep.
But for some reason he'd still not yet managed to understand, Pike was a professional and he cared about his job and all the responsibilities that came with it.
He still managed to answer in a particularly clipped fashion when he connected the call. "Pike!"
He'd expected any number of people who might want to intrude on his sleep, but the serious, professional voice that responded was not someone he knew.
"That's me." Pike said tiredly. Even stepping outside the building and feeling the cool, fresh air of a San Francisco spring night did nothing to help wake him up.
"My name is Keith Morgan, I'm with Child Protective Services. I'm calling from Washington City Police Department. Do you happen to know one James Kirk?"
Pike nearly tripped over his own feet. "Jim? Is he okay? What happened?" He'd not spoken to Jimmy in a few weeks now. The last message he'd sent had been to scold the eleven year old for playing a prank on his teacher. Jim hadn't responded, and Pike had second guessed himself, wondering if he'd been too harsh with the boy, at least until things had flared up with the Cardassian Council and his every waking moment had been devoured by work. He felt a stab of guilt for not chasing Jim for a response.
"He's fine." Morgan said seriously. "He got into some trouble, and while no formal charges are being pressed, his uncle is refusing to come and collect him. We can't just let him leave on his own. WCPD are willing to let him spend the night, but a cell is no place for a boy James' age."
"No." Pike said, already imputing directions for the closest shuttle station. "No, shit. If I catch the last transport I can be there in a couple of hours." With the traffic as light as it was, he'd be across the city to the depo in twenty minutes. Thanks to the wonders of modern transport, the two mile drive across the city would take almost as long as the shuttle to Iowa, despite there being nearly a two thousand mile distance to cover.
"I will stay here with him until you get here." Morgan offered. "I'll send you the co-ordinates."
"Thanks." Pike muttered, firing up the engine. "Can I talk to him?"
"Of course." Morgan seemed a decent type, but Jim was finicky with strangers, and Pike wouldn't be able to accept that he was alright until he spoke to the child himself.
A moment later, Jim's quiet, sullen voice sounded in his ear and he sagged in relief. "I told them not to call you." He said resentfully. "Frank'll come get me eventually."
"And what, you're gonna sleep in a cell until then?" Pike demanded, anger rushing hot on the heels of relief. "Jesus Christ Jim, what the hell did you do?"
To his surprise, Jim started to laugh. "I trashed his car."
Pike blinked and nearly took down a pedestrian as he cornered the road too sharply. "Why the hell would you do that?"
"Because he's an asshole."
"Jim." Pike warned.
Pike pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. Now wasn't the time to be arguing with the kid. "Look, just sit tight. I'll be there soon."
"You're coming?" Jim sounded so surprised that it momentarily robbed Pike of his anger, leaving only sorrow behind. Damn, but that boy knew how to go for the gut.
"Course I am. You think I'd leave you to drive the good folks of Washington City PD up the wall?"
"Frank is." Jim said softly.
"Yeah, well. Frank's an asshole."
"How come you get to say that?" Jim protested, indignant and outraged that Pike would be so hypocritical.
"I'm an adult. When you get your first wrinkle, then you can call people what you like." Pike said, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Just sit tight kiddo. I'm on my way. Now put me back on with Morgan."
He was wide awake as he navigated the brightly lit city streets.
Sleep was overrated anyway.
The trip, though only a little more than an hour in total, was more than enough time for his anger to return. Especially in light of the information Morgan had provided about just how Jim had trashed Frank's car.
He was intelligent enough to know that part of that anger was fear, but dear god he was going to strangle that little brat when he saw him. What the hell was he thinking even driving a car, let alone driving it into a fucking quarry? He could have been hurt. He could have been killed. Images of all the ways the incident could have gone haunted him the entire journey and by the time he jogged up the steps of Washington City PD he had several long and eloquent lectures already planned out for delivery.
The first died on his lips the second he caught sight of Jim.
The boy looked utterly lost. His knees were tucked up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them, all but swallowed by the plastic chair he was sat on and the large figure seated beside him. He had his shoulder turned on the man and was very pointedly ignoring him, but Pike could see the way his head was starting to loll slowly. He was clearly exhausted.
Pike couldn't blame him. By all accounts Jim had endured a long and upsetting day. He might have brought it on himself, but being taken into police custody would be scary for anyone, even a boy as tough as Jim.
And he was just a boy. Only eleven years old. Sometimes Pike forgot that, but it was never more obvious than it was in that moment.
The man next to Jim stood and walked towards him, hand outstretched. "Keith Morgan."
"Chris Pike." They shook hands and Pike nodded gratefully. "Look, I appreciate you calling me."
Morgan shook his head. "Not at all. I was only called in myself because Jim's guardian refused to show his face." There was a questioning look there, a slightly suspicious, assessing glance that made Pike's spine tingle.
"Still, I appreciate it. He's free to go, right?"
"For now, yes. His uncle isn't pressing charges for damage to the car, but the owners of the quarry might still do so. No one has been able to contact them yet. And there is the matter of him ignoring the instructions of a police officer, not to mention driving the vehicle in the first place." Morgan shook his head. "They're letting him go with a warning, but I'd strongly advise you encourage Jim to see a therapist. Children don't do things like this for no reason."
"Of course." Pike said uncomfortably. "His mom died less than a year ago. Living with Frank has been a tough adjustment."
"That's what he said." Morgan glanced over at Jim who was stubbornly ignoring them both. Of course he did. Kid was too smart sometimes. "Still, I'd take it under advisement."
"Of course." Pike agreed readily.
Morgan turned to call Jim over. "Okay then Jim, time for you to head home."
Jim reluctantly looked up, his blond bangs hiding those blue eyes of his. He'd needed a good haircut some months back by the looks of it. "I can go with him?"
"Sure." Morgan said, smiling kindly at Jim, his whole demeanor softer somehow. "I told you, we have to release you into the custody of a responsible adult. Mr Pike here is an adult, and those fancy stars on his shoulder suggests he's responsible…"
"Lieutenant." Jim said, uncurling himself slowly.
"He's a Lieutenant."
"Ah." Morgan smiled. "My apologies." He said to Pike. Pike shook his head. The man could call him whatever he like if it meant he could take Jim out of there.
"Come on, Jim." Pike said, holding out a hand.
He wasn't expecting Jim to take it. He wasn't three years old any more. Still, it stung when the boy walked past him, stubbornly refusing to accept even the reassuring pat on the shoulder Pike usually gave him.
"Thanks again." He said to Morgan, then turned to follow Jim out onto the street.
"So." Pike said. He'd fallen in line with Jim, his longer legs moving at half his usual pace to keep stride. "You going to tell me why you drove a car into a damn quarry?" Jim ignored him. "Look at me, Jim." Pike growled, his patience thinning. "Damnit."
He grabbed a hold of the boy's skinny arm and pulled him to a halt. Jim's wide-eyed shock hit him right in the chest, but someone needed to get through to the boy that what he'd done was not okay. That it was stupid, that he could have died. That it would have broken Pike's heart to lose him like that.
He bent down low so he was Jim's height. The boy hadn't hit his growth spurt yet. He was still small and Pike felt less like some kind of looming monster if he was able to look Jim evenly in the eyes. "Do you understand what could have happened to you?" He demanded angrily. Jim opened his mouth but didn't say anything. "Damnit Jim! Do you know what I thought when I got that call? Do you have any idea how scared I was?" Tears swam in Jim's eyes, but Pike pressed on, hardening his heart. "Why would you do that? What the hell were you trying to achieve?"
"I don't know." Jim sniffed.
"That's not good enough! You could have died. Did you even stop to think about that? About what it would do to me to lose you? Or to your brother? Jesus Jim, you want Sam to have to bury his mother and his little brother in the same year?"
To his surprise, Jim snatched his arm out of Pike's grip. "I don't care! I hate him!"
Pike sighed. At least they were getting somewhere. The Kirk brothers had a notoriously volatile relationship and had done ever since Pike had known them. Sam was probably the angriest fifteen-year-old Pike had ever met. "What did he do, Jim?" Pike asked, calm now the flood of fear had washed through him. Jim looked away, the tears in his eyes welling over. "Jim?" Pike's voice was softer now, his expression gentle. "Talk to me."
Jim clenched his jaw stubbornly. "He left me."
"What?" That couldn't be right.
But Jim looked up at him and glared. It wasn't half as fearsome as the kid probably intended it to be. "He ran away. He left me with Frank."
"Oh Jim." Pike sighed, putting an arm around Jim's shoulders. Jim tensed, but this time he didn't shake him off. "I'm sorry."
"Everybody leaves me." Jim muttered softly. Pike had no idea how to respond to that.
"Come on." He said quietly. "Let's get you home."
Jim didn't want to take a cab, so they walked. It was a long trip out to the farm, and neither of them spoke. Pike kept his arm around Jim, trying to provide some kind of warmth and comfort he knew the boy wouldn't get now his brother had left.
Hell, he'd be lucky if Frank even acknowledged his existence at all. He'd made no secret of the fact that he resented having to care for his late sister's children.
The sun was slowly peeping over the horizon when they reached the large, awkwardly shaped farmhouse. Jim's steps had been shortening and slowing in equal measure, but eventually he couldn't draw the trip out any longer as they arrived at the front door.
Pike held out an arm. He could see Jim struggle internally before desire won over and he folded himself into Pike's embrace. Once there, he clung on tightly.
Pike rubbed his hand soothingly over the boy's skinny shoulderblades before ruffling his long hair. "You need to get this trimmed, kid. I can hardly see you under it all."
"Yeah." Jim said. He stepped out of Pike's hug with extreme reluctance. "I guess."
Pike squeezed his shoulder. "I'll do everything I can to find Sam." He promised the boy. Jim nodded weakly, his eyes suddenly filling with tears again.
"Can't I come with you?" He pleaded. "I'll be good, I will. And quiet. You won't even know I'm there."
Pinned by the longing in Jim's wide eyes, Pike's heart broke. He pulled the boy back into a hug. "You know you can't, Jimmy." He said sadly. "I wish you could."
He was not surprised to find he meant it. Jim had taken his spot in Pike's heart years ago and he doubted it would ever diminish. If anything, it seemed to be growing.
"I know." Jim sniffed softly. "I just wish…"
Behind him, a light turned on in the farmhouse. Knowing he couldn't put it off any longer, Pike gently untangled Jim's arms and knocked on the door.
He hated the sad, dejected look he'd left on the child's face. Frank wasn't exactly the kindest of men, but he was still the boy's uncle. Pike couldn't just take Jim, no matter how much he might want to.
Still, when the door opened and he had to look up to meet the eyes of the angry man framed by the hallway light, Pike had the strong urge to load Jim onto a shuttle and just go. To hell with his career, to hell with the fact that he'd be essentially kidnapping the boy. They'd just go.
It was a fleeting thought, but it had blossomed none the less.
Frank said nothing at all to either of them. Eventually Pike gave Jim an encouraging little shove. "Go on. It's late. You should be in bed."
"I'll comm. you when I get back to the city." Pike said with a gentle smile. "Now go on."
Jim swallowed and didn't say goodbye. He squeezed past Frank and slunk up the stairs to his bedroom.
Frank continued to stare at him. Pike straightened his spine, refusing to be intimidated. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a credit chip. "For the car." He said, holding it out to Frank.
"I don't want your credits." Frank said flatly.
Pike's hand hung in the air uselessly before he snatched it back. "Right." He tried a different approach. "Try go easy on him. Sam running away has really upset him, especially after what happened to your sister." He hoped that by mentioning Winona, he'd be able to remind Frank that Jim was his blood, even if he was angry with the boy.
"Is that it?" Frank asked, still in that flat, unemotional voice.
Pike hesitated. "Yeah." He said reluctantly. "That's it."
He wasn't sure what he'd been hoping for. Anger, maybe? Drunken, violent threats that would have justified him hauling Jim back home with him instead of leaving him here with his uncle.
But he got nothing. Frank turned around and closed the door in his face.
It was a little after six in the morning. Pike hadn't slept in three days, and there wasn't a shuttle back to San Francisco until eight am.
He rubbed once more at his tired eyes and started the long walk into town. He could have called a cab, but despite his exhaustion, he needed time to clear his head.
It would take a while to reach the depo. Maybe by the time he got there, he'd have managed to shake off the feeling that he was making the biggest mistake of his life.