If he had been trying as an infant, a now completely mobile and communicative toddler Jim Kirk was positively homicidal tendency-producing. While as a rule Jim was well-behaved, as much as any toddler was, he was absolutely insatiable with questions and energy. It became not uncommon for crewmen to see a small golden blur streak past them in the corridors, followed shortly by whoever was the designated baby-sitter for the day, panting and threatening all sorts of creative punishment for the expenditure of effort and energy in catching the renegade little one.
Eight hours after he had turned into a two-year-old, the child had effectively charmed half the occupants of Officers’ Mess into believing that yes, Bones had said he could have Orange Fizz-aid and pizza if he promised to be very good for the rest of the evening. The second morning, Spock was woken unpleasantly and abruptly by a whooping bundle of pajamas and wild golden hair which landed on his person with a thump, informing him that McCoy had designated Spock child-minder for the day, his only relief being Lieutenant Uhura for the portions in which he must conduct Starfleet business. Apparently, the child’s next lesson was learned during that playdate (McCoy was quite curious about that), because Jim skipped to age three-and-a-half the following evening.
On the fourth day, the kid had methodically taken apart a medical scanner in Sickbay before being caught by an exasperated Nurse Chapel (Repair and Maintenance was still trying to put the pieces back together). The following evening, he set off three alarms in Science Lab Four when a well-meaning lieutenant gave him a basic chemistry set to ‘play’ with. Spock had explained to Lieutenant Marta, calmly as he could when his uniform was still smoldering, that James Kirk had created a cannon capable of taking out a Gorn, from nothing more than straw and various raw planetary minerals; letting the child near anything which could in any possible extrapolation cause an explosion was not a wise course of action.
The little charmer had weasled a hot fudge sundae out of a gullible yeoman that evening before Spock finally caught up with the small trail of destruction that led from the science labs back to Sickbay and from there back to his own quarters. Usually the child spent the night in Sickbay in his nursery cubicle, but McCoy had all but groveled for a night’s peace after having to tell three consecutive bedtime stories the previous evening and then being up all night with a crewman having an allergic reaction to something in the arboretum. Even the most patient of surrogate fathers had to sleep at some point in a week’s time, and Spock could hardly deny the request.
Spock was not enthusiastic regarding spending the night in the same room with a hyperactive human child, but to remain frustrated with the inevitable was not logical. He would simply, as the humans said, make the best of things. After yet another long and pointlessly stressful day fielding calls from Starfleet Command and taking on Jim’s duties and paperwork in addition to his own, even his strong physiology was feeling the strain of stress and exhaustion. Surely, by this point in the evening, Jim would be running low on energy; Lieutenant Uhura had only just left him in his cabin and that was not enough time to work himself back up into his usual energetic state.
That thought flew out of his mind when he stepped into his cabin and was promptly tackled by a small figure in bright yellow and white pajamas and a makeshift cape made out of what looked to be one of the blankets from his small cot in the corner.
“Jim,” he returned the greeting with slightly less enthusiasm, looking down at the child attached to his left leg. “What is the purpose of your current attire?”
Spock mentally sighed and counted to five. It was going to be a long night. “What are you…supposed to be, Jim?”
“Imma supahero!” Hazel eyes sparkled up at him from under a shock of hair that refused to remain anywhere other than flopped over the small forehead. “See my cape, Spock? N’ota made it for me!”
“I see.” He did not, really, but it was the standard reply. Gently extricating the child’s arms from around his leg, he set a stack of data-padds on the desk and settled on the small sofa. Jim scrambled up after him in a flurry of blanket-tangled limbs. “If I am correctly acquainted with the term, a ‘superhero’ is one who takes on a secret identity and works in costume to protect the unfortunate?”
Jim’s eyes crossed slightly as he tilted his head to one side, obviously trying to understand the polysyllabic words. Spock illogically prayed for patience; genius though the child was, he was yet a child and Spock was thoroughly unaccustomed to dealing with one. “Do you not have a name for your costumed character, Jim?” he attempted a different approach.
“Yes!” Jim beamed, swirling the cape in one hand and nearly hitting them both in the eyes. “N’ota gave me a name. Guess what it is!”
Spock wracked his brain for any recollection of old Earth’s legendary heroes. It was not a subject which had come up often in his household, human mother or no.
He was hopeless. And the lieutenant was not here to help him, unfortunately.
“Lieutenant Uhura is most proficient at linguistics;” he stalled, ineffectively.
“Doessat mean she’s pretty?”
Even at three years old, it was already starting. Spock resisted the urge to close his eyes (and impact his cranium with the nearest solid object to hand. Multiple times.). “No, Jim; it means she…does a good job with words,” he told the child instead. Jim nodded solemnly. “What name, then, did she give your ‘superhero’ character?”
Jim frowned, brushing the lock of hair impatiently away from his eyes. “She said I usedta be bigger, Spock. Was I?”
Spock blinked at the unrelated question, but nodded slowly; none of them had tried to hide the truth from such a perceptive child. “You were, and you shall be again; do not worry about it right now, Jim.”
“'kay,” the child agreed cheerfully. “But she said she usedta call me somethin’ when I was bigger an’ that could be my se-cret i-den...idenerty.”
Hazel eyes rolled toward the ceiling. “’S what I said.”
In the privacy of the cabin, Spock sighed, and wondered how he was going to endure this child when he entered the rebellious time known as the ‘teenage years’ among humans, who knew how many days from now. “My apologies, Jim. What, then, is your superhero’s name?”
“She said I can be Captain Sunshine!” the child announced proudly, pointing at his bright yellow pajamas, where a depiction of a smiling ‘sun’ was displayed prominently.
Spock did not understand the logic behind artists’ renderings of scientific objects to be incorrectly displayed and personified, but apparently they held an appeal with human children. He was, however, familiar with the songs written across Starfleet about the Enterprise and her legendary crew, and the now-popular Captain Sunshine (written by the lieutenant herself) which had circulated on Kirk’s last birthday celebration. Besides, he reflected, Jim did tend to light up a room whenever he entered, in his adult form or this smaller one. The name was remarkably apt. (1)
He permitted his features to relax in what Jim had always been able to see was his way of smiling. “It is a most appropriate name, Jim.”
He was treated to a smile which only served to further the name. “Imma be a real captain someday, aren’t I, Spock?”
“You are,” he promised without hesitation. “Albeit you may rely more on your own will and abilities than on so-called ‘super-powers.’”
“Captain Sunshine only has one supapower,” the child informed him solemnly. Spock stiffened slightly when Jim climbed unceremoniously into his lap so as to get more comfortable, but the toddler appeared not to notice. “N’ota said too much power corr-up-ets people. Makes ‘em bad.”
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, a lesson the adult Kirk insisted his people know well. Spock suspected their wise Comms Chief had been partially responsible for Jim’s quick aging the last few days, if that were indeed a lesson he was to be reminded of.
“She is quite correct, Jim.” He did not wish the little one to fall, and so placed an arm around the small body which snuggled up against him, murmuring in contentment. “What superpower, then, did she give this…Captain Sunshine?”
Small arms went as far around his torso as they could reach. “He has magic hugs!” the child exclaimed happily. “They make everything better!”
Illogical as it seemed, Spock was nearly inclined to agree.