The newly promoted Christopher Pike looked down at the kid sitting on a bench. He was skinnier than anyone Chris had ever seen, more bones and sinew than skin, almost no meat on his frame. His hair is long and a little greasy, blond, and Chris can’t help wondering if it would be more curly instead of wavy if it had a good wash. “What’re you doing here son?” Kids usually didn’t hang out in the halls of the Starfleet Legal.
Slowly, a pair of black eyes looked up at Pike for a moment before glancing back down at the floor. Betazoid. The kid was Betazoid. “They’re trying to figure out what to do with me.” He gestured towards the conference room on the other end of the hall. “The social worker is arguing that I should be placed into foster care until Winona can be come take custody, like she ever would. The counselor is arguing that I would be placed in a closed ward for the foreseeable future. The Betazoid representative is arguing I should go Betazed for training. My step-bastard’s lawyer is trying to get me sent back to the abusive piece of shit, because apparently he got out of jail while I was on the hell planet. Someone is arguing that I should basically be the ward of the Fleet and stay in dependent dorms, but I can’t tell who. The other Betazoid in there is amused as hell at it all, and every time she talks the humans all get pissed. The Starfleet lawyer at this point would rather be dealing with Tellarites.”
Chris huffs at that. “You can tell all that from here?” They had to be 50 feet away at least.
The kid shrugged.
“And why are you out here?”
“Any closer and I get a migraine.”
“They think loud.”
“Oh. How long have you been out here?”
He shrugged again. “A while.”
Chris sat down next to the kid. “Do you mind?”
The kid scooted to the far end of the bench as he shrugged.
“What’s your name?”
JT looked up at Chris, black eyes just a little wide. “My father knew you.”
“You’re George’s kid?”
“No. I never met him.”
Chris wasn’t actually sure how to respond to that. So instead he reached into his bag and pulled out his work PADD. He didn’t want to leave the kid alone. But unfortunately promotions come with paperwork. “Do you have anything to do?”
JT shook his head.
Pike pulled out his personal PADD and unlocked it. “Most of what’s on here is books, knock yourself out.”
Three hours later Pike had finished the most urgent of his paperwork and the conference room across the hall was still closed.
“Are they still arguing?”
JT looked up from the PADD Chris had lent him. “Oh, yeah.”
“Alright,” Chris put his work PADD back in his bag and stood up. “Wait here.”
JT set down the pad, smirk set on his face as Pike stormed towards the conference room.
“Lieutenant Commander-” JT hears someone say.
“Actually it’s Commander now,” Pike states coolly, “Forgive me, I haven’t had a chance for a new uniform yet. Did any of you realize or care you left a kid alone and unattended for upwards of three hours with no access to food, water, or anything to do? You’re all lucky he didn’t wander off.” Pike turns to the social worker. He hasn’t worked with this one before, but he recognizes her. “Am I correct in assuming he does not currently have a place to stay?”
“My husband and I still have an up-to-date foster license, you can check with Sonja,” he states. They had gotten it when Philip’s sister had gone off planet to get away from her abusive now ex-husband and needed a place for her children to stay and be safe. “Until you lot decide on another place for him to go, he’s got a home with me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a kid to bring home and get dinner for.” And with that Pike turns on his heal and leaves the room.
The two Betazoids laugh. “I like him,” one of them says. “Very direct.”
Pike walks back to Jim and picks up his bag. “Come on son. Anything you want for dinner?”
JT is quiet the whole way home, doesn’t say a thing and Chris is wondering if maybe he stepped too far. The openness the kid had shown in the Legal building gone the moment they left that hallway. Chris doesn’t know what to say to this kid he just met, the kid with whole planets arguing over his welfare without actually seeing to his well being. The kid he decided to take home, take into his life on little more than a whim. So he doesn’t say anything for the hovercar ride or the lift ride up to his 8th floor apartment. And JT doesn’t either.
“It’s not much,” Chris says finally, walking into the living room. There’s this room, the kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms.
“It’s okay,” JT says. He sounds tired and sad.
“You alright son?”
“Yeah, just, thought after the adoption I would be done with foster care. Can I go lie down?”
“I need to change the sheets on the guest bed, your bed. You can take a seat on the couch for now. It’s just take a minute. Make yourself at home.” It sounds awkward even to him but Chris just turns and goes and does what he says, leaving JT alone in the living room.
When he comes back JT is staring at the bookcase, hand raised halfway to shelf, like he got stuck reaching for a book.
“You like books?” Chris asks.
“Yeah,” JT answers, as he lets his hand fall back to his side. “No,” he adds turning away. “I used to.”
Chris frowns at that, but lets it go for the moment. “You want to see your room?”
JT shrugs, but walks over to Chris and follows him down the short hall. “This,” he says pointing towards a door, “is going to be your bathroom, and this,” Chris opens the door at the end of the hall is your room.”
It isn’t much. a single bed, a wardrobe and a desk, but there’s a bit of space.
“We can get you some clothes and personal things tomorrow. Dinner will be ready about the time Phil gets home. Anything you want?”
“Oh,” JT flopped down on the bed. “Whatever I guess.”
Chris started to leave.
“Wait,” JT sat up just as Chris was getting to the hallway.
“I have allergies.”
JT’s brows furrow. “I don’t remember. It’s been a long time since I had Terran food.”
“Alright,” Chris says after a moment, “I’ll wake you up when Phil gets here. Okay?”
Chris called Phil from the balcony off the master bedroom.
“Hey love, just about to get off break, and then I have an hour left of shift.”
“I brought home a stray. He needed a foster home. Don’t know how long he’ll be with us. And can you snag a few extra allergy hypos? Just in case. He says he has allergies but he doesn’t remember to what earth things. We should schedule him for an allergy screening tomorrow.”
Phil sighed on the older side of the line. “Okay Hun. Gotta go now, should be home in about two hours. We’ll talk tonight alright?”
“Yeah. Love you.”
Chris knocks and waits a moment before cracking the door open but not opening enough to see inside. "JT, time for dinner."
There's a quiet moan from inside the room and then slightly louder "Coming."
Chris waits at the door for a moment then goes back down the hall and to the small dining room. Their small table had four chairs, three had place mats and silverware set in front of them. Chris grabbed plates out of the cabinet in the corner, and set one at each place setting.
Phil came in from the kitchen carrying a pot of spaghetti in one hand and sauce and meatballs in the other. "Honey, can you get the salad and garlic bread?"
JT must have come in while Chris was in the kitchen.
"Hello," Chris heard his has been say "it's nice to meet you, I'm Phil."
"Hey," JT murmured as Chris walked in. JT was looking down at the floor as he shuffled towards the table.
"Sit wherever you like," Phil said.
JT sat down at the chair closest to him.
"I hope you like spaghetti," Chris said setting down the salad and garlic bread in the middle of the table. "We have plenty."
JT shrugged. "I dunno." He didn't look up from his empty plate.
"Do you want me to dish you up?" Chris asked, "or do you want to help yourself?"
Chris picked up JT's plate in piled it high with two slices of garlic bread, plenty of salad, and a large heap of spaghetti liberally covered with marinara sauce and meatballs.
JT looked up from the full plate, black eyes wide and almost panicked.
"Eat as much or as little as you want," Phil said. "There is plenty more if you're still hungry, and if there's anything left we can just put it in the fridge."
JT nodded and picked up a piece of garlic bread. He nibbled the side coated in garlic butter while Chris and Phil loaded up almost as much food on their plates as sat on JT's.
"So," Phil said in between bites of salad, "how did the hearing go?"
"Well, all charges were dropped and I was given a promotion."
"I told you it would go all right."
"I know," Chris smiled at his husband, "I know."
"And how did you two meet?" Phil asked JT as much as he did Chris.
"We met in the hallway after I was done."
JT nodded. He had now stripped the second piece of bread of garlic butter too and had moved on to nibbling at a meatball.
"Do you not like it?" Chris asked.
"It's been a long time I've seen so much food in one place." Had so much food to eat.
"So JT, do you maybe want to watch an old holo with us after dinner?" Phil asked.
JT looked at Phil for the first time. "Like what?"
"I am fond of classic sci-fi. Are you interested in Star Wars, Dune or Galaxy Quest?"
JT perked up a little and his black eyes seemed to brighten "They've made a movie of Dune?"
"Well there's a movie, and a miniseries. The miniseries is better, but it's a little late to start that now."
JT nodded enthusiastically before digging into his spaghetti with new gusto.
Phil chuckled and grinned at his husband. "Looks like we have another science fiction fan with us now."
Chris rolled his eyes. "It's not that I don't enjoy it, but we work for Starfleet do you really need to watch all that stuff made before starships were a reality?"
JT snorted as he finished his spaghetti and started picking at the salad. Phil giggled.
JT snickered and shrugged but kept eating.
"Nothing love," Phil said as he sopped up the last of his spaghetti sauce with his garlic bread.
"Clearly," Chris replied.
JT saw what Phil was doing with his garlic bread and copied him with what was left of his two pieces. Plate clean JT turned to Chris "can I have more?"
"Of course son, help yourself."
"Just don't make yourself sick," Phil added. "There will be plenty of food later alright?"
JT didn't respond to Phil it all as piled more spaghetti, sauce, and salad on his plate. He grabbed another piece of garlic bread as he sat back down. This time JT started with the salad.
Phil decided to help himself to some more salad as well.
"Well Phil has the day off tomorrow," Chris said, "so he can take you shopping during the day if you want, get you some clothes, maybe a backpack and a PADD you can use for school once we can get that worked out. Or you can wait until I get off duty at 1800 and we can all go together."
"Whatever," JT said in between bites of meatball.
"Let's see how he's feeling in the morning Chris before we decide," Phil said as he stood up. "Do you want me to take your plate in Honey?"
Chris handed his plate to his husband "Thanks babe."
Chris started putting away the leftovers. He picked up the spaghetti and garlic bread and started caring them towards the kitchen. He stopped at a keening sound behind him. Chris turned around to see JT shaking and squealing through a full mouth as Chris took the food away. "Hey," Chris said. "Hey JT, look at me. I'm just putting the food in the kitchen. It's only going in the fridge so it doesn't go bad. There's more food, you can have some anytime you want, anytime you're hungry."
JT swallowed and took several deep breaths before he stopped shaking. When he seemed to calm down Chris turned back towards the kitchen to finish bring the food away. JT picked up his plate, spearing a meatball with his fork, and followed Chris. He continued to eat as Chris put the spaghetti away in a Tupperware and put it in the fridge. Then he wraps the garlic bread in foil before putting it in on top of the spaghetti.
While he was doing this Phil went back to the dining room to get the rest of the dirty dishes. He loaded them all in the recycler as Chris got the salad and sauce from the dining room.
JT finishes food just as Chris finished packing the leftovers away. "See," Chris told JT as he put the marinara meatballs next to the Tupperware of spaghetti. "It's right here."
"Okay," JT said as he walked over to the recycler and deposited his plate and fork. "Time for Dune now?"
"Yeah kiddo," Phil chuckled. "Time for Dune."