It was times like these, as Jim emerged from yet another boring meeting with his federal admirals, when he felt like Chris Pike was giving him the finger from the beyond.
"Not all it’s cracked up to be, is it kid?" He’d probably say, a ghostly spectre at Jim’s soldier, eager to make sure that Jim’s Cool Admiral Status wavered in favor of Jim’s Bored As Hell Admiral Status. Who cared about acquisition meetings when the date loomed over their heads like the tornado clouds in Iowa, black, foreboding, and likely to strike.
Tomorrow was the anniversary of the John Harrison Incident, the San Francisco devastation, the Khan and Marcus Fuck Up. It had been a great many years since Jim had made peace with it (around the time when he stopped having nightmares of climbing into the warp core, of being unable to save his crew from Khan, of Marcus blowing up his ship without him on it). He had other more important things to focus on (six adorable, devilish, amazing children and many years ahead with the love of his life) than to dwell on his past mistakes, because even though Marcus organized the whole thing, Khan orchestrated it, it was still his naivety that led him to near ruin.
Pike would be frowning now, if he were there. Saying that even the greatest of men, leaders, made mistakes.
Jim was about to slide down the wall of his office and have a good think with his spectral mentor when his comm buzzed. He didn’t even have to check to know who it was.
"Dude. Did you know what you did?"
He almost smiled at his husband’s drawl, affectionate and chastising. “What did I do?”
"You sent Davie without his lunch this morning. Kid had to forage for scraps."
Jim frowned. He remembered giving everyone lunch money at the door. Maddy’s friend’s mom picked them all up. He relayed this to Bones.
The other man sighed. “Davie doesn’t eat the school lunch. Didn’t you hear this over dinner a week ago?”
Jim could barely remember his name these days. “Maybe?”
"He was sent to the nurse for an apple!"
"I love apples." Jim pushed himself off the wall and walked over to his desk.
"You’re a moron."
"Does he hate me?"
Bones sighed. “No, he thinks this was a training exercise.”
Jim choked. “A what?”
"Like what you do with the kids. Hide and seek and the like."
"This wasn’t like that!"
"Well, Jim, our son is nine. He didn’t know that."
Jim rubbed a hand over his face. This day was getting worse. Horrible captain meant horrible admiral meant horrible father?
"Give him the comm."
A passover, some static and-
"Hey buddy." He imagined floppy haired Davie, curling in his favorite chair, ignoring his homework and focusing on TV. "I’m so sorry about today, Davie. I didn’t mean it. Dad’s been a bit distracted."
"Is it about tomorrow?" Davie whispers.
"How do you know about tomorrow?" There were three days a year when the Federation had a moment of silence. Jim was personally impacted by all of them. But he didn’t think his kids, at least the littler ones, knew about it.
"They talked about it in school. Rin’s grandpa died downtown. When the bad man’s ship hit his building."
He thought he could spare them. He usually took off tomorrow, on the anniversary of the Narada, the Kelvin. Spent the day with the kids, the night with his crew. The brood didn’t have to deal with curious glances from teachers or whispers from older kids. But he almost forgot. He spent the week wondering why he felt so hollow, so off. Today during the meeting he remembered. And it hit him the same way it always did. Like Khan’s punch to the gut.
"I’m sorry, Davie. Do you have questions?"
"No. Papa told us a little bit what happened. So did Jo. You’re a hero."
He wanted to say no, no he’s not. Chris Pike was a hero. Your grandpa was a hero. The men and women who died trying to evacuate Vulcan before it vanished, they were heroes.
He choked out, “There were a lot of heros. Your Auntie Ny. Uncle Spock, Uncle Pavel and Hikaru. Aunt Carol. Papa.”
He could hear Davie’s smile on the other line. “But your my hero, daddy.”
Silence. More shuffling. Bones’ rough voice. “Yeah, I got all that.”
"We’ve got some good kids, you know."
"Well, darlin’, look who they’ve got as their dad."
Jim felt a bit better after that and he could feel the spectral guilt lift a bit. God, he loved his kids.