Cranky Jim Kirk as an adult was a man to be steered clear of. Crewmen scuttled out of sight into cross-corridors as he stalked them, his yeoman fled the room completely (paperwork be hanged), and heaven help the poor alpha shift crewman whose console chirped randomly at him, disturbing the thin silence of the Bridge.
Cranky Jim Kirk as an infant was a wailing, tantrum-pitching bundle of kicking legs and flailing arms, with a built-in public address system in place of lungs. The baby had been placated easily enough by some attention and old-fashioned loving (and the occasional toy with blinking lights).
Cranky Jim Kirk as a sickly, overactive four-year-old was the worst parts of both.
“I don’ want any more!” The dismal wail filled the small cabin, and for the fifth time in the last one hundred-twenty seconds Spock wished the child had chosen another night to become ill, rather than the one spent sleeping in his cabin.
“The matter is not up for debate, Jim,” he replied sternly. “Your body requires fluids and nutrients and you are going to consume them.”
”Am not!” The little one’s lips turned down in a pout, pressed together as he turned his head away from the cup. “Amnotamnotamnot! It’s icky!”
Spock was unfamiliar with the adjective, but gathered it had a negative connotation. He had spent the last fifteen minutes attempting to coax the child into drinking the electrolyte and nutrient/protein shake McCoy had left, with little success. Jim had taken one sip and promptly spit it back into the cup (a horrifyingly unhygienic habit), declaring with a grimace that it tasted like excrement (though the child had not used that term, exactly).
Judging from the smell and McCoy’s evil grin as he left the instructions, Spock was secretly inclined to agree; but he was not about to permit Jim to know that.
After ten more minutes of engaging in a battle of wills he knew he would never win, Spock sighed. “Jim, if I were to reprogram the beverage replicator to include this medicinal solution in something more pleasing to your palate would you then consume it?”
“Will you drink your medicine if I put it into hot chocolate?”
Jim eyed him suspiciously, before the effect was ruined by a sneeze. “Awright,” the child at last declared grudgingly. “But you hafta put sprinkles an’ whip cream on it.”
It meant another forty-seven lines of additional coded script written completely from scratch, but it was a reasonable compromise. Besides, he knew when retreat before a superior force was preferable in order to keep one’s sanity.
“Entertain yourself with the vid-discs the crew brought you while I perform the necessary mechanical reprogramming,” he instructed, removing the cover to the database computer for his personal beverage replicator.
“Okay,” the child chirped, wriggling down into the fleece blanket Spock had provided him with and switching on the vid-screen attached to the bedside stand.
For a sweet, blessed eight minutes and fifteen-point-three seconds, no noise other than randomized sounds from the vid-screen filled the room. Spock had never been more grateful in his life, quite content to sit and rewrite the generating code for hot cocoa to include the necessary nutrient mix McCoy had provided.
A shriek emanated from the vid-screen, and he glanced over to make certain it had been the vid-disc and not Jim which had made the noise. It had been the vid, though the child was huddled up clutching his stuffed panda, wide eyes glued to the set.
“What are you watching, Jim?” he asked warily when another yell and a crash sounded.
The child yawned, rubbing fitfully at one eye. “Is way old, like hunnerds of years old. Here, see?”
The recycled pasteboard container for a vid-disc set hit him on the head with uncanny accuracy, though to be fair he believed the toddler had just flung the item absently over one small shoulder rather than specifically aiming for Spock’s cranium. He glanced down as the disc cover hit the floor, fingers never pausing in their script coding. The garish color scheme screamed up at him, indicating that ‘way old’ was synonymous with ancient Terran tele-vision – most likely the ‘classics’ which were popular in the latter half of the twentieth century. The horrendous combination of chartreuse and multi-flowered Technicolor offended his visual cortex, and he glanced up incredulously at the screen.
“What exactly is the premise of such a ‘show,’ Jim?”
“Mm…they chase monstas,” the little boy mumbled into the stuffed animal, pointing to a hulking, obviously human-in-costume apparition of a ghostly Terran pirate. “An’ they’s always running…an’ all the time lotsa snacks! Can I have a samwich an’ chips Spock?”
It was a bizarre combination, and Spock’s personal replicator was beverage-only. “Perhaps if you are feeling better, in a few hours, Jim. Remember what happened when you attempted the pancakes this morning?”
“Yeah…sorry ‘bout your medit…mederta…your robe, Spock,” Jim murmured, blushing. Then a giggle escaped the little boy’s lips as the six figures on the screen took off running again. “My head don’t hurt anymore. I wanna cool car wif spy stuff like that, Spock! Vrooooooom! Can the Ennerprise make a vroom noise, Spock? She’s awful quiet, just hummmmmm all the time.”
Spock had long since given up trying to ascertain the trains of thought which produced such random and unrelated topic switches in this remarkable, if slightly ill, little brain.
“A lack of headache is a good sign that your fever is reducing, Jim. The doctor will be pleased to hear that you are improving. I do not believe that particular noise can be produced by a warp engine, although I will make the inquiry of Engineer Scott to make certain.”
“'kay. LOOK OUT!” the little boy shrieked at the screen as the garishly decorated van seemed to plunge straight into a river. Spock blinked, confounded by the eight laws of physics which were broken by the maneuvering of the vehicle across a tugboat and series of barges, before sailing back to safety on the opposite bank.
“That is a physically and scientifically impossible feat of aerial engineering,” he stated, somewhat in awe of humans’ gullibility in the area of what they watched for entertainment.
Jim eyed him with all the skepticism of genius childhood. “Yeah and dogs don’t really talk an’ eat samwiches, either,” he said tolerantly, accompanied by a roll of the eyes. “Is a show. ‘S not s’posed to be science.”
Duly instructed, Spock returned to his programming with well-hidden amusement.
A moment later, the intra-comm chimed. Eyes still on his vid-screen, Jim reached over to slap the switch.
“Walllll,” a familiar voice drawled with amusement. “Look who’s finally awake. You drivin’ Spock nuts yet, squirt?”
Jim glanced indignantly at the comm-screen. “I’m bein’ good, Bones. AREN’T I BEIN’ GOOD SPOCK?” he bellowed over one shoulder. “Spock’s makin’ me cocoa with medicine in it,” he confided without waiting for Spock’s answer (the Vulcan was not about to yell across the cabin).
Finally finished, Spock replaced the cover of the replicator. “Computer, execute Replication Script Spock-alpha-three.”
“DON’ FORGET THE SPRINKLES!”
“Yes, captain. Computer, do not forget the sprinkles,” he repeated dutifully, solely for the child's benefit.
McCoy’s broad laugh sounded through the comm-channel. “What else you doin’, kid?”
“Watchin’ Scooby-Doo!” The child turned the vid-monitor toward the comm-screen so the physician could see. “Mr. Sulu found it for me in the Library. 'S awful old but I like it!”
The replicator chimed, bequeathing Spock its steaming cup of perfectly whipped-and-sprinkled hot chocolate. He tested the temperature (however adult Jim might act at times he was still a child who could easily burn himself) and then brought the mug over to the bed.
”Your cocoa, sir,” he said dryly, handing over the steaming mug and studiously ignoring McCoy’s guffaw.
“Thank you, Spock,” Jim answered, with such a worshipping smile that completely melted any remaining frustration he could possibly have with the child.
“All those movies and shows we brought you, Jim, and you picked that old thing?” the physician asked in amusement as the strange group of characters dashed again across the screen.
“It’s cool! I like Fred,” the child said seriously, eyes glued on the elaborate trap the group was concocting for an oblivious pirate.
McCoy snorted. “Figures, you like the big blond leader who jumps into anything without thinking it through. I’d have thought you’d be drooling over Daphne, Jim.”
He was fixed with an eyeroll of childish disdain. “Nope,” the little one said sagaciously, blowing a lock of curly hair off his forehead with a small phhhhhft. “I like Velma betta.”
Spock was utterly lost by this point, but found McCoy’s look of dumbfounded indignation to be amusing.
Jim nodded complacently, sipping his cocoa. “She’s brilliant,” the toddler declared, staring dreamily at the screen.
Spock wondered half-heartedly if he should suggest the doctor ingest an antacid.
“I am so glad I’m your doctor and not your psychologist, Jimmy,” the physician muttered. “I don’t even want to know what that says about you and how this Regenratron’s screwed with your head.”
“Doctor,” Spock interjected with some severity.
“Right. Okay, Jimmy, you enjoy your cocoa with your brilliant Vulcan friend there,” the doctor said with a wicked smirk over the child’s head. Spock raised an eyebrow, and McCoy chortled something unintelligible before hastily ending the comm.
“Hey Spock when I get better can I have a dog? A big one? Are there dogs in space? Can they eat samwiches? Are there samwiches in space?”
He eyed the replicator, seriously considering making himself a duplicate cup of the child’s beverage. Double strength.