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Title: At his father's right hand
Series: Western Skies (#4)
Author: Anrui Ukimi
God-like Beta: Welovethelegend

Rating: PG-13
Warnings: AU, Wing!fic
Word count: 25885
Other Pairings: None
Notes/Disclaimer: Not mine, I just like playing with them. :)

Actual Summary: Chris is generally of the opinion that he is pretty damned good at what he does, hell, Starfleet even agrees with him. But captaining a starship and raising a genius son who just happens to have wings are entirely two different things, as reality has enforced on multiple occasions. 

Also could be called: Chris tries to be a good dad. Really, he does.

AU Summary: Over 200 years before the famous birth of James T. Kirk, the governments of the world had collaborated in the drug-induced suppression of the x-gene, then considered a mutation to be eliminated. Over time, however, it became acknowledged that the x-gene was the next step in evolution; now firmly out of humanities' reach due to the actions of the past. Brushed aside in the excitement of their expanding universe, the issue was considered a lost cause and all but forgotten. But the makers of the drug could never have anticipated a birth happening in the midst of the most unique of circumstances...
TL;DR: X-Men 3 ended differently with the mutant "cure" being forced on world population, no more mutants were born after about 2025. Then the Kelvin happened.

A Short Note on Ages: Due to the lack of official ages of the "older" characters, I have wrangled my own ideas of them based on character and actor. I want to thank [info]robanybody  for her wonderful "Two Gay Uncles" series, which inspired me to put Archer in this. :)

In this story: 

Jim - 19-22
Chris Pike - 44-47
Winona Kirk - 48-51
Jonathan Archer - 55-58



At his father's right hand
    Captain Christopher Pike entered the turbolift, nodding to Number One as the doors closed, and wondered if Phil would be willing to make him a martini. Weeks of deep-space scientific exploration with nothing to break the monotony was leaving him drained. Jim- Jim was about at the end of his rope, although he would never show it. Hitting the controls, Chris closed his eyes as the lift traveled to the appropriate floor. The Yorktown was getting too small for Jim, hell, it had been too small for years; when this tour of duty was up, Jim was not returning with him for his next ship posting. They had talked about briefly over the last year, but Jim was nineteen now, and he needed to figure out what to do with his life. Even when dependants were allowed, as Jim had been at eleven, they were expected to leave soon after reaching their majority. The only reason that Jim was still on the ship now was because they were too far out to drop a single young man off at Earth, and the three years of their deployment was almost at an end. All that remained now was to find out his next posting. Chris entered Sickbay to find Phil wrists-deep in an Ensign's abdomen, and wisely decided to just go back to his quarters. He left Sickbay without saying a word.
    "You here, Jim?" Chris said as he entered their quarters, but when no response was forthcoming, Chris dropped into the Starfleet-issue sofa, decorated with a patterned throw designed after the woven baskets of the ancient Mojave people, and kicked his feet up with a sigh, closing his eyes. Only a few more days of this, and the ship could move on to something hopefully more interesting. Just when he was working into a good doze, the wall comm unit buzzed. "Figures that something would happen now," Chris muttered as he rose and answered the page. "Pike."
    "Sorry for the disturbance, Captain. I've just received a message from Starfleet Command, flagged private for you. Do you wish for me to forward it to your quarters, sir?" Lieutenant Bowie's voice was as pleasant as it ever was, and Chris smiled.
    "If you could, Mr. Bowie."
    "Transferring now, sir."
    Chris heard the ping of his console in the background, and pressed the comm button. "Thank you." 
    "Sir." The Lieutenant signed off, and Chris walked over to his console and sat down, the back of his shirt riding up from the chair. Activating the message with one hand, he reached behind and yanked his shirt down with the other. He had over-heard someone jokingly refer to it as the Pike Maneuver years ago, and for a short time, he had obstinately avoided yanking on his shirt, before deciding that the sensation of having his shirt bunched up above his waistband was far more irritating. It could have been worse, as he had on two unfortunate occasions entered the bridge with a fly-front malfunction. Chris was pretty sure that it was Number One's doing that made sure that little tidbit didn't get off the bridge. Thank god.
    Admiral Osterberg's face appeared on screen, and Chris automatically sat at attention. The man's weathered, expressive face was not a regular visitor to the Yorktown, as he was responsible for primary personnel assignments and postings. Chris knew exactly what the message was pertaining to, and he swallowed against the sudden jolt of nervousness. 
    "Captain Pike. Starfleet would like to thank you for your continuing dedication and hard work. As you are aware, the current mission of the Yorktown is coming to an end, and decisions on the future of your vessel and of its crew are being made." Osterberg paused, bringing up a hand to push back his unusually long hair (for an Admiral, at any rate) behind his ears, his fingers raking his cheek. "First, I would like to address the continuing status of the Yorktown. Starfleet, pending her response, has decided to promote Commander Eunice Lefler to the post of Captain of the Yorktown upon the ship's return to Earth." Chris laughed with honest delight. Number One deserved her own ship without him getting in the way of her brilliance, and he had known that his days on the Yorktown were probably numbered. As far as he was concerned, they should have promoted her years ago. "Of course, Captain, this leaves the question of your next assignment." Osterberg's mouth twitched up at a corner, and Chris blinked at the screen. "We were unable to decide what to do with you at first. Your record is spotless, your achievements well marked, and even Admiral Nogura couldn't find anything to bitch about." Osterberg's face split into a grin, the lines of his face deepening with the motion. Chris snorted incredulously and shook his head. "We can keep that last bit to ourselves, though. Getting back on topic, we found ourselves with a dilemma with you, because at this time, bluntly, we have no ship for you." Chris's mouth dropped open. 
    "-so we wish to make a deal with you. After the Yorktown's current mission concludes, we ask that you remain on Earth in a dual role as both a recruiting officer and an instructor at the Academy. In return, we would like to assign you as the commanding officer of the Enterprise, which recently began construction at the Riverside Shipyards. Its estimated completion date is early 2258, with the dedication tentatively scheduled for the summer of that year. We know it can be a lot to ask for an experienced Captain to come dirtside for such a long period of time, but-" Chris tuned out the rest of Osterberg's speech, his body rigid with shock. The Enterprise. They wanted to give him the Enterprise.
    "Hey Dad."
    They wanted to give him the future flagship.
    "Dad, you awake over there?"
    He and Jim had just watched the ribbon-cutting ceremony over the news feeds a month ago.
    "Dad? You alright?"
    Chris slumped in his seat, and looked at the console. The message had ended, the final frame frozen on the screen. Starfleet wanted him to become the Captain of their new flagship? 
    "Hey, what's wrong?" A hand fell on his shoulder, and he started in his seat. He craned his head around to see Jim standing behind him, a concerned look on his face. "You look like you just saw Number One offer to throw a dance party on the bridge." Chris blinked up at him, and Jim gave him a poke. "You still alive, old man?" Chris shook his head and got to his feet, his legs unexpectedly shaky. Jim was clearly taking in the whole spectacle, and Chris exhaled loudly.
    "Holy shit, Jim." Jim's eyebrows shot up.
    "Okay, I know something is going on now. What was that message?" Jim turned towards the console, and Chris motioned weakly towards it. 
    "Watch it while I go splash some water on my face." Chris leaned over and ordered the message to replay, and walked into the bathroom. Right as he was reaching for a towel to wipe his face off, a shout of "Fucking hell!" echoed through their quarters. "Jim, language!"
    "You started it!" Chris walked back out to find Jim slouched at the console, his mouth hanging open. Jim turned and looked at him with an incredulous look. "They want to give you the flagship. The Enterprise. The goddamn-"
    "Jim." Chris looked at Jim wearily, and Jim snapped his jaw shut.
    "Dad, that's amazing! I mean, the Enterprise. It's the posting of a lifetime!" Chris walked back to the sofa and collapsed onto it. Jim flopped down on the floor in front of him, scratching at his upper back through his shirt before casting an inquisitive look at him. "You do want this, right?"
    Chris closed his eyes, and let the possibilities run through his head. He would be dirtside for years, although he would probably have short-term off-planet missions occasionally. He would be teaching...something at the Academy. He would be on the front lines in the recruiting battle. Number One would finally get the command she had deserved for years; and most importantly, he would be able to keep an eye on Jim as he got himself established, whether or not he decided to stop hiding his wings. ...and he would get the flagship. It was nigh unbelievable, but as quirky as Osterberg was, he wouldn't joke about something like this. Chris opened his eyes and looked at Jim, who was still giving him a thoughtful look. "What do you think, Jim?"
    Jim smirked, a pose that reminded Chris startlingly of his mother, or, at least, the Winona of twenty years ago. Chris had no intention of pointing this out. "I think there is only one appropriate response to that." Chris waited. "Fu-" Chris glared, and Jim tried again. "Hel-" Chris gave him an exasperated look. "Er, where do I sign?"
    "John is a horrible influence on you, you know that right?" Chris groaned, and Jim gave him a goofy grin. "However, I suppose you are right. I would be an idiot to turn this down, wouldn't I?"
    Jim clicked his tongue. "That's not the word I'd use."
    "I am very well aware that isn't the word you would use. I don't want to hear the word you would use," Chris said, getting to his feet. "I'll contact Number One, and see what she's been told about her part in this." He looked down at Jim, who was still stretched out on the floor. "How was your day? Do I need to have any exercise equipment repaired again?" Chris lightly nudged Jim's thigh with his foot, and he chuckled.
    "No, no, all in one piece. Shannon is getting tired of having to wait for it to get fixed, so he's been trying to keep Stipe from baiting me." Jim rolled over on his stomach, and Chris quirked an eyebrow.
    "Bait you?"
    Jim sighed. "Stipe likes challenging me to things, like, y'know, physical challenges. He's convinced that the gibbi shouldn't be able to hit a punching bag or run on a treadmill. I'm already in there when he challenges, so I have fun with it."
    Chris gave Jim a confused look. "What does 'gibbi' mean?" Jim flinched almost imperceptibly, and Chris's eyes narrowed. "Jim."
    "I didn't mean to say that," Jim muttered, lifting himself up by his arms and sliding his legs forward to rise to his feet, a deceptively easy looking move that Chris could only partially copy. Jim faced him, and Chris was reminded again of just how grown-up Jim had become. Jim stood about five centimeters taller than him now, he was probably at his full height. He was still considerably lighter, but that was due to the realities of his body; Jim's body fat percentage was less than four percent, a number that was considered borderline dangerous to most people, but Jim wasn't like most people, something that Chris had been reminded of increasingly frequently over the last few years. If he gained too much weight, he had problems flying. The first shore leave after starting their current hitch on the Yorktown had proven that, and he had only gained about five kilos. But he still had two years and fifteen centimeters on young Mr. Stipe, whose parents had signed on for this deployment. He didn't know too much about the teen, except for noticing that the boy was in the exercise room almost as much as Jim was, and that his father was a bit mouthy.
    "Jim, I would appreciate an answer. Has Mr. Stipe been giving you problems?" Chris said, and Jim snorted and waved a hand.
    "I'm a big boy now, Dad, I can deal with the assholes. Gibbi is just a dumb nickname he bestowed on me awhile back. Probably was looking at a dictionary or something." Jim hooked his thumbs on his pockets, and Chris narrowed his eyes in thought.
    "Dictionary?" Chris paused. "Oh- as in gibbous." Chris raised his eyebrows, and Jim nodded. "You're serious."
    "Yeah. Told you it was dumb. Well, he tries, but he generally looks like an idiot when he gets going. At least Shannon agrees with me on that point." Jim walked towards his bedroom, but stopped and turned around before entering, a distant smile on his face. "Congratulations, Dad. I'll leave you guys alone while you talk, I think I'm gonna take a nap." Jim entered the bedroom, the door closing behind him.
    "What the hell was that all about?" Chris mumbled as he pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache coming on. It was too much at once. He walked over to the wall comm unit and hit the button. "Pike to Number One."
    "Yes, sir." Her voice was as dry as ever, but with a hint of something-
    "Have you received any messages from Starfleet Command, Commander?" Number One let out an amused 'hmph,' and Chris smiled. "Do I take that as a yes?"
    "Perhaps, Captain." Chris rolled his eyes.
    "If you can spare a few minutes, Number One, I'd like to speak with you regarding said message." Chris said, leaning against the wall.
    "If the message sharing goes both ways, Captain." Chris could hear the smile in her voice now, and his smile widened.
    "I think I can do that."
    "I'll be there in five."
    The connection clicked off, and Chris glanced towards Jim's closed door. Only two months until they were back at Earth, and he was getting the feeling that Jim was keeping count. Chris ran his hand through his hair, feeling a few curls free themselves. He'll talk with him later. The door chime sounded, and Chris tried to smooth his hair back down.
    Number One walked in, lightly smacking a PADD against her palm, and Chris motioned for her to sit. John better be awake, because he was getting an earful after this.
    Two weeks before they were scheduled to be in Spacedock, Chris found himself on the surface on a previously unexplored planet surrounded by beings that resembled human sized gila monsters, except with opposable thumbs. Their patterning is even similar, Chris thought, as he sized up his options. He didn't see any weapons, but he had a feeling that they could make those large tails of theirs hurt if they wanted to. The biggest one was snarling and clicking at them, but had not moved; his security team and Mr. Tyler were looking increasingly nervous with the situation. "What do you think, Number One?"
    Number One looked at the gila-men, and back at him. "If they are going to attack, they are clearly waiting for something. The translator is still trying to process their language, so we can't talk yet."

    "So we just stand here and try and look friendly." Chris gave a slight smile, and the gila-men shifted, causing the security team to tighten their grip on their phasers.
    Number One looked at the translator, then looked at Chris. "Stop smiling. They see it as aggressive." 
    "Ah." Chris schooled his expression as blank as he could make it, turning slowly towards the rest of the team. "Stay calm, gentlemen. I don't want any diplomatic incidents occurring because of nervous trigger fingers." Tyler's shoulders relaxed, the men in the security team allowed their fingers to have blood flow, and Chris bit back a sigh. Only two weeks out, on what was probably their last exploration mission, and they hit trouble. Chris chuckled mentally, and looked over at Number One. "Any progress?"
    Number One was staring at the device like it would solve universal conflict, when the sound of movement spun him around.
    "Captain!" Chris looked up to see one of the gila-men standing not a meter away, holding out a clawed hand palm-down; Chris stared at it for a split second before noticing movement to his side.
    "Stand down!" Chris said, as he decided to parallel the motion. It looked like a greeting, and he was willing to take that chance. Right as his hand was reaching the same height as the native's, a sharp sound accompanied by a blast of yellow light struck the scaled creature, and it slumped to the ground. The other gila-men immediately started roaring, and Chris twisted around, furious. "I said stand down! Who fired their weapon?" His eyes instantly found the perpetrator, and Chris clenched his teeth. "Mr. Stipe, explain yourself at once!" he said, as he knelt down by the stunned gila-man. He felt around the neck until he found a pulse, and sighed quietly. "I'm waiting, Mr. Stipe!"
    "I thought-" Stipe was still clutching his phaser; with a crook of his head towards Mr. Tyler, he was relieved of it.
    Chris glared at the man as he rose to his feet. The other lizard-men were roaring and snarling, but were still maintaining their position. "You thought what, Lieutenant?"
    Stipe looked lost for a moment, before his face twisted into an ugly expression. "They didn't look right, sir."
    Chris boggled. "You ignored a direct order because you thought they didn't look right? Are you playing games with me?"
    Stipe glared at Chris, who was completely thrown by the whole affair. "I said, they don't look right. Big ugly creatures like that are bound to be aggressive." Number One looked almost as shocked as he felt, Chris noted absently as he walked up to Stipe.   
    "You fired on a non-aggressive being against orders because you didn't like how they looked? What is this, the eighteenth century? Where do you get off assuming like that, Mr. Stipe?" Chris locked eyes with the taller man, who completely threw rank aside as he glared right back.
    "You having a deformed brat obviously has made you forget that if it looks like a big scary mean lizard, it's a big fucking scary lizard!" Stipe spat; Chris felt his blood run cold, and just barely resisted decking the fucker. He thought he saw Number One moving in, but his world had shrunk to just Stipe and himself.
    "You are out of line, Lieutenant," Chris whispered, his voice bleeding ice; and for a moment, he completely forgot they were still surrounded by the natives. Before any of the away team could move, Stipe was bear-hugged from behind, and was lifted off the ground easily by the large gila-man.
    "I told you! Goddamned lizards! Let go of me!" Stipe twisted and squirmed in the native's arms, but all he was succeeding in doing was tiring himself out. As angry as Chris was, he needed to defuse the situation, and fast.
    "Number One?" The dark-haired woman appeared at his side, and after looking one last time at the translator, she gave Chris a tiny smile.
    "It appears, Captain, that they were trying to tell us that one of our away team was not "of the same heart" as the rest of us. They appear to be empaths, sir." Her eyes held a dark humor, and Chris returned the look in kind. Looks like this might just work out after all.
    "Mr. Waylon, Mr. Mathis!"
    "Sir!" The two men appeared at his side, and he about-faced to address them.
    "When our new friend releases Mr. Stipe, you are to return him to the ship and throw him in the brig. Is that understood?" He knew his face told of dark things, but the two men didn't even blink. 
    "Yes sir!" The two men's expressions were as dark as his, and Chris turned back to Number One, who nodded, glanced at the translator, and then uttered a series of growls and clicks at Stipe's captor. With a smooth motion, Stipe was set back on his feet, and was immediately flanked by Waylon and Mathis, who secured his arms. Waylon spoke into his communicator, and in a swirl of light, the three men were gone. The gila-man raised his arm palm-down like the one Stipe stunned, and Chris happily mirrored the gesture.
    "Two weeks, Mr. Stipe. That's all you had to wait before you would be free of me and my deformed son. But you couldn't keep your antiquated opinions to yourself, now could you?" Chris stood outside Stipe's cell, watching the man pace back and forth. "Your actions nearly caused a serious diplomatic disaster by attacking an unarmed civilian, you directly disobeyed orders, and you even managed to insult an individual that you aren't in regular contact with. I will ask you again; where do you get off?" Chris stared flatly at the pacing man, who stalked up to the force field separating them.
    "Where do you get off lying and cheating for your brat, Captain? That kid has had the gall to humiliate my son for too long; I know he wasn't actually doing the work in those classes he was in, there's no way." Chris was very glad that the force field blocked spit, because otherwise he would be soaked.
    "Why is there no way, might I ask?" The conversation was getting more and more ridiculous, and Chris made sure he was maintaining eye contact.
    "Are you saying that he's really doing warp theory and advanced physics courses?"
    Chris smirked. "If you had bothered asking any of the officers who were on our previous deployment, they could have told you that he has been taking university-level courses since he was fifteen. But you refused to see it like that, didn't you?" Chris leaned on the bulkhead next to the force field, his eyes never leaving Stipe's. "Appearances aren't everything, Mr. Stipe. I feel sorry for your son, if that is the lesson you have been teaching him." Chris leaned in as close as he could go, giving him a grin a shark would envy. "And don't think I don't know who gave my son that ridiculous nickname, Mr. Stipe." Moving away from the wall, Chris faced the balding man. "Lieutenant Mikel Stipe. Your bigotry, your unwillingness to maintain proper decorum, and your continuing defiance has no place on board this vessel, nor in Starfleet." Chris increased his volume. "Mr. Jennings!" A large-framed older man entered the cell block and faced Chris, who nodded in acknowledgement and tipped his head towards the imprisoned Lieutenant. "The instant a square millimeter of the hull touches Spacedock, I want him off my ship."
    Jennings saluted. "Captain." Chris walked back up to the force field, and shook his head.
    "Two weeks, Mr. Stipe. You were guaranteed to be free of me."
    Stipe scoffed. "Why is that?"
    Chris gave him an amused look. "Because I'm being stationed dirtside for awhile, Mr. Stipe."
    Stipe barked out a laugh. "They finally realized how bad of a Captain you are, sir?"
    Chris lifted an eyebrow, and snorted. "Something like that, Mr. Stipe; something like that." Without a second glance, Chris left the cell block, stopping at Mr. Jennings' desk. "Do me a favor, Mr. Jennings."
    "When the announcement is made at the end of the week regarding the new CO for this ship, make sure Mr. Stipe is awake to hear it." The older man grinned, and nodded.
    "Of course, sir. Should I also make sure the cameras are focused on the cell block properly, sir?" Chris arched an eyebrow.
    "Are we having some sort of malfunction of the security cameras, Mr. Jennings?" Chris said, and the man shook his head.
    "No sir, all systems are working properly."
    Chris gave the man a slight smile, his eyebrow still raised. "Then we have nothing to worry about." Chris turned and left the brig, and headed towards his quarters. He needed a shower after dealing with him, and he wanted to talk to Jim.
    When Friday rolled around, and Number One announced where he had been posted, signing off with a classic "good luck and godspeed," Jennings informed him that the entire deck probably heard Stipe's shout. Chris barely squashed a very un-Captainly response; instead, he and Number One viewed the recording together in his ready room after shift, and shared a good laugh and a bottle of brandy. Jim later congratulated him again, and informed him that he had registered for classes at the UC branch in Barstow. Chris thought he may have been even happier at that news than at his promotion.

    "Only five more days, sir." Number One was standing next to his chair on the bridge, and Chris glanced up at her. The bridge, nay, the whole ship had been in a reflective mood, and even the stern future captain was falling prey to the trend.
    "Looking forward to keeping this chair permanently, Commander?" Chris said, and Number One gave a distant look.
    "I might confess to some...enjoyment at the thought, sir." Number One's face was carefully bland, and Chris arched an eyebrow, and shifted forward on his seat.
    "Oh? Do tell, Number One." Chris met her eyes, and tilted his head. "I don't think Starfleet is going to know what to do with you, Commander. You'll be an Admiral before the Enterprise is even complete."
    "I think you might be full of crap, sir." Number One's expression never changed, and Chris felt a laugh escape his lips before he could stop it.
    "You wouldn't be the first to express that opinion, Commander." Number One's lips quirked up into a slight smile as she stepped away from the chair and headed back to her seat at the helm. Chris looked over at Mr. Tyler, who had been clearly listening to the exchange.
    "Estimated time to Vulcan, Lieutenant?" Chris gave an indulgent smile to Tyler, who glanced at his screen and replied without even a stutter.
    "Twenty hours and thirty-two minutes, sir."
    Chris leaned back in his chair. "Thank you, Mr. Tyler. You've gotten better at recovering."
    The blond man smiled back. "It has been twelve years, sir. If I hadn't, I would be a bit worried." Chris nodded in agreement, and the bridge fell into a companionable silence.
    "Ensign Waylon to Captain Pike." Chris jerked at the unexpected voice, and hit the button on his armrest.
    "Pike here." Waylon's voice hesitated for a moment. "Ensign?"
    "Sorry, sir. We need you on Deck Four as soon as possible." Chris froze. The gym was on Deck Four.
    "I'll be right there." Chris rose to his feet, and nodded to Number One. "You have the conn, Commander."
    "Yes sir." Number One brushed her shoulder against his arm as she took his seat, and Chris gave her a look of gratitude as he left the bridge.
    The sight that greeted Chris upon reaching Deck Four made his head decide to start throbbing ominously, and he closed his eyes for a moment before surveying the situation more clearly. Jim was leaning against the wall, sporting a magnificent shiner and had his left hand wrapped around his right shoulder, which he was holding perfectly still. Mr. Shannon Richards was standing about a meter away from him, looking between Jim and young Mr. Stipe, whose nose was at an abnormal angle and was bleeding rather copiously into his bunched up shirt. Jim's gaze was fixed on the far wall, and did not turn his head even when Chris moved closer. Chris exhaled and turned to Ensign Waylon, who was in sweatpants and an undershirt. "What happened, Ensign?"
    Waylon gestured to Jim, who was still refusing to meet anyone's eyes. "Jim, I mean, Mr. Pike was running on the treadmill, Mr. Richards was on the one next to him. I was stretching on the mats." Chris nodded and signaled for him to continue. "I saw Mr. Stipe came into the gym, where he took one look at Mr. Pike before running over and sucker-punching him in the face."
    Mr. Stipe the Younger snarled. "That's a fucking lie!" Chris glared at the teen, who backed down.
    "No, it isn't, Micky." Richards' long face, his eyes framed by large glasses and long brown hair, was clearly annoyed. "Ensign Waylon is completely correct, sir. Of course, Jim punched him back, which Micky of course followed up on, and we had to break them up before it got worse." Chris sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
    "And people wonder why Starfleet only allows children aboard a handful of starships," Chris murmured, looking between the three young men. Stipe bristled at his gaze, and turned to glare at Jim. "May I ask what your problem is with Mr. Pike, Mr. Stipe?" The prematurely balding teen shot Chris a look out of the corner of his eyes. "Mr. Stipe, I would appreciate an answer."
    "He got my dad in trouble," Stipe mumbled, and Chris gave him an incredulous look.
    "Your father is in the brig for assault and insubordination, charges that have absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Pike." Chris gave the boy a stern look, and Stipe looked away.
    "They have to do with at least some Mr. Pike-" The teen began, and just as Chris opened his mouth to cut him off, a woman appeared and smacked Stipe across the back of the head.
    "That's enough out of you, mister!" Chris met the eyes of Chief Petty Officer Stipe, who straightened and gave Chris a salute. "My apologies for my son's behavior, Captain; his father has been spinning him some rather amazing yarns about how the universe and everyone named Pike is out to get him. I would apologize for my husband's behavior, but he's dug himself too deep this time." The tall, thin woman wrapped a hand around her son's arm, who immediately tried to shake her off to no avail. "Mick, apologize to Mr. Pike. He didn't deserve your anger." The boy snorted, and looked away from the assembled group. Chris walked up next to Jim, who gave him a tired look and said nothing. "Mick, now." The teen glared again at Jim, who met his gaze with a dull expression and raised eyebrows. The standoff continued until Stipe again tried to wrest his arm out of his mother's grip, again failing. The Chief Petty Officer sighed, a sad tone that Chris felt himself agreeing with, and tugged on her son's arm. "I better get you to Sickbay, Mick. Wouldn't want your nose healing sideways, even if you deserve it." She looked over at Chris, who nodded his dismissal, and she and her son were gone. Chris turned to Ensign Waylon and Mr. Richards, who had stayed quiet during the entire exchange, and shook his head.
    "Thank you for your assistance, both of you. We will be getting out of your way now." The ensign nodded and went back into the gym. Mr. Richards looked like he was about to say something to Jim, but simply gave him a nervous smile and followed the ensign. Chris looked over at Jim, who hadn't made a sound since he got to the scene. "Let's go back to our quarters, Jim. I'll fix you up there." Jim pushed himself away from the wall, and followed Chris.     

    As they entered, Chris locked the door and motioned for Jim to sit down as he walked into the bathroom to retrieve the dermal regenerator. He didn't say anything, simply motioned for Jim to take off his outer shirt so he could see the hurt shoulder. The angry brat had socked Jim right over his burn scar, which remained sensitive, and Chris ran the device over the swollen bruise that was forming. Jim's body slumped in relief as the regenerator worked its magic, and he let out an exhausted sigh.
    "Sorry about this. I didn't want the Ensign to bother you, but he did anyway," Jim muttered, and rotated his shoulder as Chris finished with it. Chris gave a humorless smile and started on the black eye.
    "How long has this been going on, Jim?" he said, as he worked the device around Jim's eye socket. Jim's brilliant blue eyes, far more intense than his parents, were fixed on the wall behind Chris's head. "Come on, Jim, just tell me."
    "This is the first time he's done something this stupid. He's convinced that the sun shines out of his father's ass, so I'm not surprised. The instant I heard who had been hauled to the brig, I figured something was going to happen." Jim looked at Chris, who switched off the regenerator and sat back on the sofa next to him. "I'm just glad I won't have to deal with him ever again in a few days." Jim waved a hand dismissively, and Chris sighed and wrapped an arm around the young man's shoulders.
    "No, I suppose not. I'm hoping I won't have to deal with his father again either." Chris glanced towards Jim's bedroom. "How goes your packing?"

    Jim let his head fall forward. "Almost done, besides a few knick-knacks. Need me to start in here?" he said, and Chris hummed under his breath.
    "Only if you want to, Jim. If you want to relax for now, go right ahead." Chris gave Jim's left shoulder a squeeze before drawing his arm back and standing up. "I still have a few hours left on shift. I would probably suggest you stay in here for awhile, in case young Mr. Stipe slips away from his mother." Chris walked to the door of their quarters, turning around before the doors opened. "I hear the mess is making pasta with pesto alfredo for dinner tonight." Jim looked up from the sofa and gave him a tired grin. "I'll see you at the mess at seventeen-hundred, then?"

    Jim nodded. "Sounds good." Chris gave him a soft smile as the doors closed behind him.

    Jim stayed in San Francisco for a week after they returned to Earth, mostly to see John and say goodbye to Number One and his handful of friends from the Yorktown; then he was gone for the desert. Chris was in and out of meetings for several weeks pertaining to his new posting, and was only able to call Jim once during that time. He wasn't too worried, however. He knew for a fact that the instant Jim had gotten settled, he had been out amongst the birds; he didn't need to distract Jim from his stress-relief. Chris was finally released from meetings about three weeks after he returned dirtside, and after sitting in on Mr. Stipe's court-martial, was ordered to report three and a half months hence. After extracting a promise to come visit out of John, Chris was on the first shuttle he could get on to Mojave.
    Jim, in his brilliance, met him at the shuttle station on the bike. "Um, Jim, I don't think there is room for both of us and my duffel on the bike," Chris said, looking at the bike, then turning to Jim. Jim laughed and grabbed the duffel, slinging it across his back.    
    "You drive, old man; I'll carry your bag. The logistics of our body shapes work out better anyway that way on the bike." Jim slung a leg over the back, patting the seat in front of him. Chris glared at the not-so-tow-headed brat, before groaning and getting on. Luckily, the weather was pleasant, and they made it back to the house in excellent time.
    After putting his bag into the master bedroom, Chris went downstairs to find Jim sprawled on his stomach over the sofa in the front room, wings drooping over the back and onto the floor; Chris maneuvered around them as he grabbed a beer from the kitchen and sat down on the floor near Jim and the coffee table. Jim looked completely focused on whatever he was doing, so Chris sipped at his beer for a few minutes before speaking. "What are you doing over there?" Jim looked up, and Chris could see the PADD he was holding. Jim glanced back at the screen then up at him.
    "Thinking about courses I should take for the Fall term." Jim motioned at the PADD, and Chris scooted closer to look.    
    "Anything in particular you were considering?" Chris poked at Jim's left wing, and he moved it out of the way so Chris could lean against the sofa. Jim gave a loose shake of his head, and pointed at the screen.
    "I need to do my placement exams first before I can really choose. I go down next week to take care of those, and I believe the results are instantaneous, so I'll be able to start planning for certain after that." Jim looked at his PADD. "What do you think about advanced sciences, like Molecular Biology?" Chris arched an eyebrow. 
    "Some of those courses require pretty serious dedication, Jim. Make sure you know what you are getting into before you commit to them." Chris pried the PADD away from Jim and scanned the list. "You are definitely looking at the advanced courses; Quantum Physics, Linear Algebra-" He looked up at Jim, who shrugged. "Don't overwhelm yourself right off the bat, Jim." Jim reached over and grabbed back his PADD.
    "I'll be fine, Dad. I'm just looking right now anyway." Jim resumed his reading of the list, and Chris sighed quietly and got up to take his beer bottle to the recycler. He just hoped that Jim kept it under control, he knew from personal experience what happens when you try and take too many classes. Chris was still in agreement with himself on the disaster that was his first term of his second year at the Academy. They still hadn't fixed that statue.
      Jim blazed through the placement exams with flying colors; Jim told him that the proctor looked like he had seen the Eugenics Wars start in front of him when he was reviewing the scores. Jim was positive that the only reason he didn't get accused of cheating was because the proctor would have been held responsible; Chris told him to stop being so pessimistic. Despite Chris's misgivings, Jim enrolled in a full course load of six classes, almost all upper-division courses designed to prepare for continuing on to graduate school. Jim became scarce over the next few months, often only coming home to sleep and go for flights; Chris had to practically tie him down to get him to relax occasionally, usually through music. John came down the week after Jim's midterm exams, providing a much needed break for both of them; Jim emerged from his schoolwork cloud long enough to make plenty of inappropriate jokes and get horrible ideas from John, and they managed to have several jam sessions before the older man had to return to San Francisco. It was near-impossible for Chris to have a decently long conversation with Jim during this time, as he had taken to studying in a niche up on the cliffs above the house. Chris tried not to focus on the fact that Jim didn't seem to be making any serious friends at college, as he was spending all of his spare time studying anyway. Chris spent most of his second year at the Academy holed up in his dorm. Jim would calm down after this semester.
    The day before Chris was scheduled to report to Starfleet Command, Jim had his first final exam. Chris got up extra early to say goodbye and wished him luck. Jim gave him a hug and a cocky grin before he headed off on the motorcycle. Chris packed his duffel and called a taxi, keeping his fingers mentally crossed all the while.
    He didn't hear from Jim for almost a week. When Chris finally managed to reach him, it took thirty minutes to wheedle out of him that he had aced all of his classes; Jim was much more interested in telling him about a girl that he had bumped into in the Biology and Genetics building. After listening to Jim tell him all about the girl, who according to his son's rather fantastical description was Aphrodite mixed with Marie Curie and with the disposition of a saint (Chris was a bit skeptical,) Chris finally managed to get a word in edgewise.
    "Jim, how long did you talk to this girl?" Silence met Chris's question, and he couldn't quite squash a knowing smirk. Jim fidgeted and looked away from the screen. "Well?" Chris said, resting his chin on the back of his folded hands. Jim's handsome face twisted comically for a few seconds before he responded.
    "A minute...or two. Maybe," Jim mumbled, his volume decreasing as he spoke. Chris couldn't keep back his laughter any longer, and only when it looked like Jim was going to throw the console across the room did he stop. His shoulders still shaking, he addressed his son again. 
    "Oh, Jim. Did you even get her name?" Chris watched Jim's shoulders slump. "I'll take that as a no." Jim's wings flared open as he leaned back into his seat, and he gave Chris a morose look.
    "She was running late for her final." Jim slouched even further down into his seat, causing Chris to see more of the top of his head than the rest of his face. Chris looked at the depressed young man, suddenly feeling rather old. Jim had had a collection of crushes over the last five years or so, like most teens, but no relationships. Chris knew that Jim's apparent deformity caused by disguising his wings wasn't helping the situation, but he was leaving that choice up to Jim. He was of age and no longer confined to a starship, and Chris didn't want him to be stuck in that harness forever, but he wasn't going to push it. He gave a bittersweet sigh and tried to meet Jim's eyes. 
    "Jim, school starts up again after the holidays, I'm sure you'll be able to speak with her then. And stop slouching and pouting; girls generally don't like that." Chris got a nice glare from Jim at the last comment, but he scooted back up in his chair. Chris decided to change the subject. "Anything you want to do for your birthday? You've only got a little over three weeks before you are officially no longer a teenager, after all." Jim's face became serious, and Chris exhaled. Every year they went through this. "Jim, the last thing George would have wanted for you is to be so depressed on your birthday, especially a milestone like this one. I would prefer to not have to face your father and have to explain why, either," Chris said, and watched a collection of expressions run over Jim's face as he thought, and Chris wished that they weren't having this conversation over a comm. Chris gave Jim a smile. "John is planning to join us for New Years and your birthday, so I don't think you are going to have much say in the matter anyhow."
    "Is he going to his mom's for Christmas?" Jim said, and Chris nodded. "When will you be back down?" Chris thought about it for a second before responding.
    "The afternoon of Friday the twenty-fourth. I can't get away before that, unfortunately. Both John and I will be heading back here on the morning of the fifth." Jim nodded congenially enough, but Chris could see the disappointment in his eyes. Time to change the subject again. Chris grinned, and Jim shot him a suspicious look. "We'll have to give you some advice on how to woo your lady friend. I'm sure John would love to tell you some of his stories as well." He paused and furrowed his brow. "Although I would be careful with any advice he offers, as this is the same man who managed to scare off Captain Hernandez on two separate occasions, and they were both equally interested." Jim rolled his eyes and groaned dramatically, before a naughty smirk found its way across his features.
    "Is that right? Well, he doesn't need to worry about that anymore, does he?" Chris cringed at the lecherous tone coming from his son's mouth before the actual words caught up with his father-of-a-teenager addled brain...and he wasn't turning red at Jim's ridiculous statement. He wasn't. After relocating his tongue from his throat, Chris straightened up in his seat and fixed a glare on his brat of a kid that would flay the flesh off a Klingon.
    "What are you implying, you perverted pigeon?" Chris growled, and Jim was suddenly on the floor; laughing so hard his wings, the only things visible to Chris, were fluttering uncontrollably in the air behind him. Chris barely controlled the impulse to slam his own head into the desk. He settled for massaging his temples instead.
    "Your face! Holy shit that was brilliant, but since I'm brilliant, it's not too much of a stretch." Chris watched as Jim's arms reappeared back onscreen as they grasped the table the console rested on, pulling his head and torso back into view. "Oh come now, Dad; it's not like I haven't been saying crap like that for years, yeah?" Jim said as he sat back down in his chair. Chris schooled his expression as flat as he could make it.
    "Whatever thoughts you have in that windburned excuse for a brain are still wrong, like they were every other time you brought it up. John and I are just friends." Chris nodded firmly, and Jim gave him a skeptical look.
    "Keep telling yourself that, Dad."
     Between John and Chris, they managed to turn Jim's twentieth birthday into a multi-day event. Jim was persuaded to drag John to every major landmark in their area of the desert, with John bitching and laughing all the way to each one. Chris realized around the time they were leaving the Trona Pinnacles that Jim had visited more places in the desert than he ever had, and his childhood hadn't been marked by years on-board a starship like Jim's. Chris wasn't quite sure what to think about that, but he did know that he had left Jim alone far too much in that stretch between the last two Yorktown missions. That's why Jim now has that scar on his shoulder that looks like stretched putty, and a tiny bald spot on his wing. Chris startled at a sudden hand on his shoulder, and he turned his head to see John standing next to him, a concerned look on his face.
    "You're a million light-years away, Chrissy. You alright?" Chris sighed, his whole frame sagging; John slipped his hand around to the back of Chris's neck, rubbing at his nape with a thumb. "Jimmy's been having fun showing me around, and you-" Chris shook his head and gave the older man a soft smile.
    "Just thinking too much, John. Don't worry about it." John looked doubtful, but he gave Chris's nape a final gentle squeeze and stepped back. 
    "If you say so, Chris," John said, and Chris turned as Jim approached them, his slender form swaying slightly as he walked. 
    "What's going on?" Jim looked between the two men with a raised eyebrow. Chris reached out and patted Jim on the shoulder as he walked towards their rented car, ignoring the suspicious look on Jim's face.
    "Nothing, nothing. Just thinking." Chris stopped by the car, and looked back at John and his son; who were exchanging a look. "Why don't we head back to the house? I think we might have something to eat there, and besides, we have girl issues to discuss." Jim scowled dramatically, but John's face split into a smile that made him look like he was trying to impersonate Dr. Phlox, making Chris smirk in response.
    "That's right! We need to fix that, don't we Jimmy?" John reached over and ruffled Jim's hair, the effect a bit different now that he stood taller than both of the older men. Jim instinctively brought a hand up to parry, but John laughingly spun his arm out of the way and ruffled it again.
    "John, I'm twenty, not two!" Jim groused as they piled into the car, with John cackling and Chris at the wheel, and sped off towards home.



( 4 Tufa Towers a Leaning — Visit Negit Island )
Nov. 3rd, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
Just a quick question, will we get to know what happened to Sam? (I don't remember it being addressed in this fic but I may have forgotten) after all his brother disappeared suddenly...Didn't he have some questions?

Nov. 3rd, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
I plan to address it later. :)
Dec. 10th, 2009 09:51 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
Dec. 10th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
( 4 Tufa Towers a Leaning — Visit Negit Island )