|thesewarmstars (thesewarmstars) wrote,|
@ 2012-08-19 18:26:00
|Entry tags:||oneshot, stxi: kirk/spock|
Star Trek XI: New Life (part 1)
Title: New Life.
Artists: jadebriady, mieaou, raja815.
Pairings(s): Kirk/Spock, mention of past Kirk/Carol Marcus.
Warnings: Character death.
Word count: a little over 15k.
Summary: Posted on the new Vulcan homeworld with his newly discovered son in tow, Jim must learn to build a new sort of life. It’s too hot and too bright, but with old Spock for a babysitter and Bones for good company, everything seems to be coming together. But when a mysterious plague threatens the colony, he’ll have to work with the Spock from his own universe before it’s too late. Sometime between their shop-talk in the lab and sunny afternoons in the park, a hope springs that together they’ll find more than they lose. Follows movie canon through the confrontation at Earth.
Author’s note: Many thanks to scienceblues for fruitful discussions of plot points.
Link to Art: by raja815. WARNING! This image contains spoilers for the story. If you'd rather wait, there will be another link to the art at the appropriate place in the story.
Link to Art: by jadebriady. WARNING! This image contains spoilers for the story. If you'd rather wait, there will be another link to the art at the appropriate place in the story.
Link to jadebriady's art
Link to Art: by mieaou. WARNING! This image contains spoilers for the story. If you'd rather wait, there will be another link to the art at the appropriate place in the story.
Link to mieaou's art
After waking, Jim lay on his back for several minutes staring at the ceiling. It was not a starship ceiling, not the Enterprise. It was the yellowed and pitted ceiling of his dorm room, a familiar sight that ought to have been comforting. After nearly six weeks, though, Jim just wanted to get out of there already.
Across the room, Bones turned over and mumbled in his sleep. He didn’t used to do that, but ever since they got back dirtside he’d been muttering through nightmares.
Jim tried to tune him out. The man deserved his privacy.
With a slow, quiet sigh, he rolled onto his side and reached for his PADD. He had two messages waiting, one text and one vid. He pulled up the text.
Orders, it was his orders! He scanned the document quickly, then read through it twice more with increasing irritation. Sure, he hadn’t expected them to just hand him a starship or anything, but Starfleet Liaison for the Planetary Defense of Akraana? He’d never even heard of Akraana! At least his commissioned rank was Commander. He’d feel good about that, but he was still hung up on the word ‘planetary’.
He punched up a number on his PADD then, glancing over at his still-sleeping roommate, ducked into the closet just in time to muffle the ‘Pike here’.
“What’s this bullshit about a dirtside posting?” Jim demanded in a harsh whisper.
“Jim, calm down, I worked – ”
“Calm down! I’m supposed to be out there exploring the goddamn galaxy, you know, in space! I don’t know where you get off grounding me, but – ”
“That’s enough!” Pike snapped. “Those are your orders, Commander.” He stared hard at Jim for a moment then ground out, “You’re welcome,” and cut the connection.
Jim blinked at the blank screen. With a huff, he pulled up a new window to find out where the hell Akraana was. He never really got there, though, because the first thing in the entry was that it was the site of the new Vulcan colony.
He scowled and clenched his fists, trying not to rage out on his innocent PADD. Where the fuck did Starfleet get off, anyway?
Mostly to distract himself, he called up the vid message. He wasn’t as surprised as he might have been to see the face of a Vulcan woman, who looked about fifty with long, straight hair and a totally blank expression, but nothing could have prepared him for what she actually said.
“James Kirk, it is my duty to inform you that your son is available for you to retrieve from the Facility for Children without Clan in the city of Ch’Toll on the planet Akraana at your earliest convenience. I am authorized to inform you that David Marcus is in acceptable health at this time. T’Nal out.”
Jim wondered if maybe he shouldn’t just go back to bed and start this weird-ass day over.
Spock was torn. On the one hand, he had an obligation to Starfleet. But was that not also true of his people? He had signed up to serve, but were there not broader implications to be considered? The ‘fleet was decimated, but nonetheless thriving in comparison to what remained of the Vulcan people.
Estimates varied, but thus far only 9,912 surviving individuals of Vulcan heritage had been unequivocally accounted for. Due to standard evacuation procedures, 40.607% of these were children – more than double the ten-year average of 19.9%.
There was more work to be done than there were people available to do it.
But now, more than ever, it was imperative for the Federation to present a strong image. They had too many enemies, anxious to pounce on them in their time of weakness, to waste time in shoring up their defenses. Experienced officers were a scarce but much needed commodity, and he would be a valuable addition to any starship.
He knew he would think of his mother every time he set foot on a transporter pad, remember the horror of completely losing control of his emotions whenever he was on the bridge, feel the pain and emptiness of a broken bond, of 5.88 billion Vulcans dying as he rode the turbolifts. He knew he could not forget, but could he constantly relive the battle without losing whatever of himself was left?
He did not know.
He sat as his desk in his quarters at Starfleet academy, staring down at his hands, and the answers did not come.
The ride to Akraana, previously known as Centauri II, from Earth was nearly 13 days at warp 5. It had seemed like forever when they started out, but now that they were only half an hour away Jim started wishing for a massive engine malfunction.
“He’s how old?” Bones asked, his tone deceptively casual.
“Thirteen months.” Jim frowned. “You think they mean thirteen Earth months or thirteen Vulcan months? Did they have months on Vulcan?”
“Thirteen Earth months, genius. He’s an Earthling. He was born there, right?”
Jim ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I think so. It wasn’t until a few months ago Carol got the posting to the VSA. I didn’t – Bones, she didn’t even – ,”
“I know, kiddo. But can you really blame her? Even I was reluctant to let you anywhere near my kid a couple years ago.”
Jim made a face.
“Oh, shut up. You know you were even crazier then than you are now. But you’ve grown up a lot in the last couple months – we all have. You did fine when Joss brought her over after we got home, right?” He put a hand on Jim’s shoulder. “Look, no one knows what they’re doing the first time around. They don’t come with spec sheets, for christsakes! You’re gonna do fine.”
He gave Jim’s shoulder two firm pats and withdrew. “Now stop being so goddamn dramatic. You look like the world’s about to end – I’ve seen that, I know what it looks like now. Trust me, this ain’t it.”
Before Jim could explain to Bones that he definitely wasn’t being dramatic – and even if he were, didn’t he have a pretty compelling reason? – the ship-wide PA system came on.
“Now in standard geosynchronous orbit around Akraana. All personnel headed to the surface report to the transporter room.”
Jim darted a glance toward Bones. “I thought our ETA was still ten minutes away.”
“Yep,” Bones said, swinging his pack up onto his shoulder, “That’s why they call it an estimate.”
“Ha ha. You know, you didn’t have to come with me.” He glanced left and right at the corridor junction. “It’s this way, right?” he asked, jerking his thumb to the right.
“Straight ahead. Good thing they didn’t make you navigator. And I didn’t ‘come with you’. I’m a doctor, not your goddamn babysitter. They need medics. They need a hospital. They need medicine. I am not here for you and your overinflated ego.”
Jim grinned as they queued up outside the transporter room. “Sure. Okay.”
The first thing Jim noticed about Akraana was that it was bright. Really bright.
“Hey, did you know this planet has two suns?” he asked, pointing to the sky, where there was one star that looked pretty much like Sol and a second that was a little bigger than Luna when she was full.
“Yeah, the big one’s Alpha Centauri B and the little one’s A. Did you read your briefing book at all?” Bones grumbled.
“Um. No?” There was a briefing book? Jim shrugged. “Which way do you think to the Facility for Children without Clan?” He looked around at the makeshift and half-completed buildings. “This is Ch’Toll, right?”
“There was a big sign that said ‘Ch’Toll Port of Entry’ in the transporter building. Are you honestly telling me you can’t see two foot tall letters right in front of your face?”
Jim didn’t answer. This was definitely Ch’Toll, all right, because four buildings down the hard-packed sand road was the orphanage. The Facility for Children without Clan. It was a large pre-fab metal building that had been painted blue at a point Jim imagined was decades past.
“Come on, Jim,” Bones said softly, and Jim followed him to the door.
The interior was so dark compared to outside that at first Jim couldn’t see a thing. He paused in the entryway and blinked his eyes, trying to clear away the spots.
“What do you require?” asked a voice to his left.
“Oh, um.” His eyes were finally beginning to adjust and he saw the woman from the vid message. He couldn’t remember her name. “I’m, uh. I came to… you know… ” He trailed off and waved his hand toward the center of the room where several children sat, most of them alone or in groups of two, looking down at personal computing devices.
Bones stepped up to the Vulcan woman. “He means he’s here to pick up his kid. David Marcus.”
“You are James Kirk,” she said, turning her attention back to Jim.
“Yeah. Yes. That’s me,” he answered, not looking at her. He scanned the room, trying to pick out a head without pointy ears. He didn’t see one.
“The younger children are in a separate room. I shall take you there.”
“Thank you kindly,” Bones said when it was clear Jim wouldn’t answer. “I’m Dr. Leonard McCoy, by the way. I’ll be working with your healers to get a hospital set up.”
She led them to a door in the corner of the room. “I am T’Nal,” she responded as she opened the door. “This is Navak,” she said, nodding her head toward a Vulcan man seated in a chair with a small child in his lap. “He will assist you.”
With that, she left.
There were a few clusters of toddlers on the floor and Jim immediately spotted one with light, curly hair. David. He was sitting with three other toddlers, grouped around a pile of blocks.
“Well, Navak, I’m Leonard McCoy. This here’s Jim Kirk.” Bones tilted his head toward David. “That’s his boy.”
Navak stood, setting a Vulcan child of about two Earth years on the floor by his chair. He looked down at her with a raised eyebrow. “Remember, Sivan, that you must not touch others’ psi points without permission. Further infractions will not be tolerated.”
She nodded solemnly and Navak turned his attention to Jim, who was still staring at David, and Bones.
“There are three forms you must sign, Commander Kirk.” When Jim did not so much as look at him, he repeated more sternly, “Commander Kirk.”
“You must sign these forms before you may take your son home,” he said with what might pass for compassion in a Vulcan, and held out a PADD. “Please do so.”
“Right,” Jim said, taking it from him. He signed all three forms without reading them and handed it back. “So, I just… go get him?” He gulped. “Just like that?”
“ ‘Just like that’,” Navak confirmed. “I am certain he will be… gratified to see you again.”
“He’s never seen me in his life,” Jim muttered.
Spock looked around the lab with satisfaction. It was sparsely furnished at present, but the new Vulcan Science Academy building was not even completed yet. He could hardly expect a state-of-the-art facility at this early stage. It would provide him the opportunity to put what resources were available to their best use and obtain those items he deemed best suited to his purposes.
He still was not certain how to regard his older counterpart, but he had to admit that his advice to join the Vulcan colony at Akraana seemed to be sound. The VSA must have been truly desperate for experienced scientists to accept someone with his particular… history. The decision was logical; he would be of use here, and perhaps the environment would be conducive to reordering his turbulent emotions.
It would surely be superior to serving in Starfleet, surrounded by Humans and their rampant emotionalism, their constant attempts to draw him out, to evoke an emotional response, which, when he failed to provide one, resulted in either pitying looks or accusations of heartlessness. Here, he could attend to his experiments and live in peace. If his past experience was anything to judge by, the other colonists would want very little to do with him.
He would focus on his assigned task of exploring the biodiversity of microbial life on Akraana. He would furnish his new laboratory with everything he needed, keep the company of his microscope and his microfluidics chips and his cultures here in this sterile environment, meditate on his lapses in control on the floor of his new quarters.
He would keep to himself. He would do his part, make a contribution, perform a function useful to this society of which he was a part.
He would go on.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Jim asked old Spock – who Jim was apparently supposed to call ‘Selek’ now – one more time. He was having trouble believing that any version of Spock was so eager to help him out.
“I am quite certain,” Selek answered. “I have been assigned very few duties thus far, most of which can be completed via computer. Another’s presence is not unwelcome,” he said, turning his eyes to David, who had one hand fisted in his father’s hair. “Especially not one so vivacious and full of curiosity.”
“Well, if you’re sure,” Jim said, disentangling David and handing him over. He swung David’s bag from his shoulder to rest on the table. “I’ll be back for him around 1730 hours. Thanks again for, you know, doing this.”
“It will be my pleasure.”
“Okay, good. Good.” He waggled his finger at David. “You have a good day with Uncle Selek, buddy. I’ll see you tonight.”
Jim set off for the headquarters of Akraana’s law enforcement personnel for his first real day on the job. He couldn’t say he really felt bad for yelling at Pike, but he could admit that this posting was definitely better for raising a kid than lugging David around all over the galaxy or, even worse, leaving him behind. He was pretty sure he was a crappy excuse for a parent, but he had enough first-hand experience to say he was a better choice than any of his relatives.
Still, though, he was glad to have help. He’d only had David for two days so far, and he was already overwhelmed. It was a damn good thing his quarters were already furnished with the essentials, because it had never occurred to him he’d need to get a crib or a high chair or baby clothes. He certainly hadn’t thought about daycare, so it was lucky for him that Selek was lonely.
He was also hoping Selek would be able to cheer David up. When he thought of babies – which he could admit until recently had not been all that often – they were always playing and laughing. David did not seem like an especially happy baby.
Jim figured he was missing his mom, but what was he supposed to do about it? He was pretty sure he’d never made anyone happy in his life, and he had no idea where to start.
The law enforcement building looked to be only half-finished, and what was there wasn’t exactly the most inspired architecture. Still, he guessed it was impressive that less than two months after setting up on Akraana there was any sort of building at all.
“Commander Kirk, welcome,” was the first thing he heard when he opened the door. “I am T’Sala, Defense Coordinator and your second in command.”
Jim guessed she was a little older than him. She had a short, no-nonsense haircut and did not stand up to greet him. He looked her up and down appraisingly and she just raised an eyebrow that seemed to say, ‘I know I’m hot, but if you’re done, could we move on to actual work?’
Jim figured he was going to like this lady.
“So, why don’t you get me up to speed with your progress so far, T’Sala?”
Spock snapped another slide into place on the stage of the epifluorescence ‘scope. If this sample was also positive, it would bring the percentage of microbes he had observed on Akraana that were RNA-based to 4.95%. No living organism except viruses, which were arguably not living organisms at all, had been described as having an RNA genome before. He would need to consult with experts as the university on Centauri VII as soon as possible.
He took the tiny spark of excitement that threatened to blossom inside him and tucked it into a tight, dark place in his mind where it would quickly be extinguished. Instead, he concentrated on adjusting the fine focus, throwing the aperture wide open.
There was no signal in the 575 nm filter channel. No RNA over 10 kilobases present. Negative sample.
Even at 4.5%, RNA-based life was an amazing –
His comm chimed.
He blinked at his father’s face on the screen. Had he been fully human, he might have been surprised. As that was not the case, he gave no outward indication of his reaction to hearing from his father for the first time since they were both on the Enterprise.
“Are you in acceptable health?” Sarek asked.
“That is well. Have you selected a new wife?”
Spock took a slow breath. “I have not.”
“Very well,” Sarek replied with a nod, as if he had expected such. “I shall locate a suitable candidate on your behalf.”
“That will not be necessary,” Spock answered with perhaps too much force. “You need not trouble yourself.”
Sarek raised an eyebrow. “What is necessary is never troublesome. You must produce progeny as soon as possible.”
“Progeny?” Spock parroted, at a loss.
“Of course. If Vulcan society is to regain its place we must increase our numbers.”
“There are currently 1,890 Vulcan children without parents or other clan members available to care for them, yet you would have my first priority be to add to the disproportionate number of children on this planet. This is not logical.”
His father’s face grew sterner, a feat Spock had not thought possible. “Increasing the population of our species is immanently logical. I will commence the search.”
The channel went dead.
Spock almost wished, illogically, that he had allowed his earlier excitement to grow, purely for the possibility it might have mitigated the dread with which he was now nearly overcome.
“It’s okay, everything’s all right!” Jim said, pleading with the small, screaming person in front of him.
David continued crying, his face red and blotchy, snot and saliva running down his chin. His mouth was open wide enough that Jim could see all five of his teeth, and his tiny fists were clenched and waving emphatically. Jim had fed him, changed him, made sure he got his nap. He had tried carrying him, bouncing him, rocking him. Nothing made any difference.
“Would you just shut up?” Jim snapped, immediately regretting it. He scrubbed a hand over his face. Even though David didn’t seem to notice his outburst at all, he apologized. “I didn’t mean that. I just… What’s wrong, buddy? Can you help me out at all?”
He commed Bones. “I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with him! He just screams and screams. What’s the matter with him?”
“Calm down, Jim. He’s probably just teething. Have you tried giving him a teething ring, or rubbing ice over his gums?”
“Teething? Why would that make him scream bloody murder?”
“’Cause he’s in pain. Cutting teeth hurts. Try the ice, comm me if it doesn’t work,” Bones instructed, then hung up on him.
“This is ridiculous,” Jim muttered as he stepped over to the replicator. He requested ice and waited rather impatiently for it to appear. How did Bones know everything? Was it med school? Was it all stuff he learned by trial and error raising Joanna? How come everyone seemed to know how to take care of kids except him?
There had to be a way to fix this. He was totally out of his depth, here. Everyone kept telling him ‘they don’t come with manuals’, but there had to be some sort of info out there.
He just had to find it.
Enter forum ‘Colonies and Outposts’ -> ‘Akraana’ -> ‘Parenting Q&A, Humanoid’
Create new topic
191615311.2230.06: My clan desires that I reproduce. I am attempting to gather enough data to formulate a hypothesis regarding my suitability for such an undertaking. Will anyone describe to me their experience of raising children?
LogicalMother, re: 1916…: Creating a family is a logical choice.
VokauMal-kom, re: 1916…: I have found the experience rewarding.
478.23.JLSH, re: 1916…: Children are inherently illogical creatures. Being around them stresses my mental defenses.
UpToMyEyebrows, re: 1916…: I think the experience varies a lot from person to person. Some are just better suited to be parents than others.
191615311.2230.06, re: UpTo…: Would you elaborate? How does one discern whether one is ‘suited’ to the task?
UpToMyEyebrows, re: 1916…: I don’t think there’s really any way to know for sure beforehand. But I figure if you want them enough to have them on purpose, you’ve got a better chance than most.
191615311.2230.06, re: UpTo…: Would you consent to further discussion on a private channel?
Enter channel 11347.86, participants 191615311.2230.06 and UpToMyEyebrows
UpToMyEyebrows: Hey, you there?
UpToMyEyebrows: Got more questions? Ask away.
Spock remained skeptical of his father’s idea. He had performed research by surveying various Vulcan parents and was no closer to resolution. The statements he had gathered were too vague or too specific or too contradictory to be useful.
One individual – one of the many humans currently on the planet to aid in construction and other logistical efforts, he presumed from his manner of speech – had advised him to cease seeking external input. To look, instead, inside himself.
Spock did not desire a new bondmate. He was satisfied with his work and did not wish to increase his interactions with others. He did not desire it, but he predicted he could tolerate it. After all, he had experienced twenty-one years bonded to T’Pring with few ill effects.
But offspring. Offspring were another matter entirely.
He attempted to itemize, to weigh pros and cons. His conclusion was that the sole positive outcome was the objective Sarek had cited: increase the Vulcan population. The reasons not to pursue such a course seemed without end.
Most superficially, he did not desire to decrease the amount of time he spent in his laboratory. Even now, as he enumerated his mental list, he sat at his workbench examining the progress of his latest assay of the effects of various antibiotics on the native microbiota of Akraana, and that task was foremost in his mind. He was accustomed to working long hours, to asking endless questions and pursuing the answers regardless of the time of day or expected duration.
Children required care, supervision. Even with a wife to share the burden, he would be expected to participate. His current habits would not be acceptable in the face of such responsibilities.
Additionally, he could not help but consider his own childhood with all its taunts and looks, assumptions and prejudices. He was not at all sanguine about introducing another part-human child into Vulcan society. Despite the much-vaunted ideal of IDIC, it seemed actual Vulcans were prepared to tolerate a decidedly finite range of diversity in equally finite combinations.
He also regarded the models he had to follow: his mother, a human woman, who could not understand why her son refused her hugs, who coaxed him to laugh even knowing it could be detrimental to his health and development, who claimed to love him unconditionally but nonetheless had expectations; his father, a prominent Vulcan citizen, who could not be bothered to take time from his busy diplomatic schedule to interact with his strange son, who refused to form a parental bond with him because of the danger it could pose to his own mind, who looked at him and invariably found him wanting.
Neither was a shining example of parental perfection.
Most importantly, perhaps, he did not know whether he could find within himself the fortitude, the resources to raise a child. What if the child despised him? What if he or she was ashamed of him, belittled him?
He knew that most parents sought immortality in their young, a continuation of self beyond their normal lifespan. He did not want that. He was not willing to inflict on a sentient being the burden of growing up to be like him.
And so, Spock remained skeptical.
“Knock, knock. Anybody home?” Jim asked through the open doorway.
Selek appeared. “I see you received my message.”
“Yeah, I got it. Who is this Sonak guy, anyway?”
Selek raised an eyebrow. “My neighbor.”
“Yeah, I got that from the text,” Jim said with a roll of his eyes.
“Previously, he was a member of the Janus VI colony, where – ah, I shall introduce you,” he interrupted himself, gesturing to the figure who appeared from inside the dark house. “Commander James Kirk, this is Sonak son of Ronak.”
“Commander. I have secured the child for transport.”
Jim’s eyebrows went up, but then he saw David and it turned out he was just strapped into his stroller. “Right. Thanks.”
“How are plans for the orbital defense system progressing?” Sonak asked, then gave a little half-cough and cleared his throat.
“Well, they exist. Which is an improvement, I guess. Hey, are you okay?” Jim asked.
“I am well,” Sonak answered, clearing his throat again. “It is simply the dust. The settlement on Janus VI was underground, and I am unused to blowing particles.”
“Oh yeah, the dust here’s a bitch. Not as bad as the sun, though.” He turned to Selek. “Is it always going to be like this? When’s winter going to come?”
Selek raised an eyebrow. “As Akraana’s axis of rotation is perpendicular to its orbit around Alpha Centauri B, there are no seasons here. Winter is never coming.”
Jim’s jaw dropped in horror.
“There are, however, pseudo-seasons caused by the relative position of Alpha Centauri A to this planet. For half the year, it shares the sky with its sister star and brightens the day by a small but noticeable amount. The other half of the year, it will occupy the night sky, much like your Luna, and it should be one to two degrees cooler during the day.”
Selek tilted his head to the side as if considering something and added, “Of course, with an apparent magnitude of approximately minus twenty it will over 600 times brighter than your full moon. Bright enough for humans to see by quite easily.”
“Wait. It’s going to be light at night?”
“Somewhat. You could read by it, but it will not be bright enough to affect photosynthesis,” Selek explained.
“That’s just… that’s fucked up.”
Selek made a face that Jim translated as ‘Humans are illogical creatures, but you amuse me so’.
Shaking off his offense at how this new planet was daring to treat him, Jim smiled down at David. “Hey there, little man. Did you have a good visit with Uncle Selek and Sonak?”
David stared at him blankly.
“Right, good. Well, tomorrow is Daddy’s day off, so let’s tell Uncle Selek bye-bye and you’ll see him in two days.”
David blinked, then scrunched his face into a tiny, baby scowl. Ordinarily, Jim probably would have thought it was cute. Lately, though, he’d seen too much of it. Now it just made him sad.
“Come on, buddy,” Jim said softly. “Let’s go home.”
191615311.2230.06: You would not recommend parenthood in general, then?
UpToMyEyebrows: Well, that’s not exactly what I meant. I think it’s great if you’re equipped for it.
UpToMyEyebrows: Psychologically, I mean.
191615311.2230.06: Are you finding the experience a positive one, thus far?
UpToMyEyebrows: Mostly. I guess it makes me feel good that I’m doing the right thing and giving my son a family that loves him.
UpToMyEyebrows: Which I do, of course. I’ve only had him with me now for a couple of weeks, but I’ve bonded with him already, I think. I can’t imagine giving him up.
191615311.2230.06: And does he love you?
UpToMyEyebrows: What do you mean?
UpToMyEyebrows: I’m sure he does. I think he misses his mom a lot.
UpToMyEyebrows: It doesn’t matter. I love him no matter what.
“Explain to me exactly why you have to spend your day off harassing me at work?”
Jim shrugged. “You’re just reading reports.”
“Yes. That’s where the work part comes in. Paperwork – perhaps you’ve heard of it?”
Jim cocked his head as if considering. “Hmm. No, I don’t think so. Hey, have you been talking to T’Sala?”
Bones grumbled something Jim figured he was probably glad he didn’t catch.
For a few minutes, Jim gave Bones a break from his chatter and just sat on the edge of his desk swinging his legs and looking at David, who was asleep on his blanket on the floor. He was snuggled up in the blanket nest with his little fists holding it close to his chin.
“What was Joanna like at this age?”
Bones looked up at his soft tone. “She was… she was my baby. My world.”
Jim nodded. “Yeah, but what was she like? Was she… happy?”
“Well,” Bones started, considering seriously, “I think so. She hit all her developmental milestones right on time, so she was laughing and babbling like a loon. Toddled around, falling on her butt every ten seconds.” A wistful smile crossed his face. “Loved to play pat-a-cake with me.”
“So, has David hit all his… what did you call them?”
“Developmental milestones. Seems to have. I can’t speak to when he started holding his head up or rolling over, of course. All his records were lost. But based on what I see now, I’d say he’s doing just fine.”
Jim looked down at his knees. “But he doesn’t laugh or babble.”
Bones gripped Jim’s shoulder for just a second before he spoke. “He’s had a traumatic experience. His whole world’s changed – twice – in the last two months. You’ve just gotta give him some time.”
“You think?” Jim asked, skeptical. “It’s not just that he doesn’t like me?”
Bones raised an eyebrow. “Mighty egotistical, aren’t we?”
Before Jim could defend himself, there was a knock on the door.
A nurse, human, popped her head in. “You’ve got a patient.”
“Okay, I’ll be right there.”
“We’ll walk out with you,” Jim said, carefully scooping David up in his blanket, trying not to wake him. He squirmed a little, but then settled back down. He followed Bones out to the clinic area.
“Hey, Sonak!” Jim called semi-quietly. “Fancy meeting you here.”
Sonak raised an eyebrow, but otherwise did not respond to Jim’s no doubt illogical greeting.
“Hey, are you sick? Is it that cough?”
“It is, in fact, ‘that cough’,” Sonak answered.
“Jim, go away and let me treat my patients,” Bones said, hands on his hips.
“No need to get prissy.” Jim turned to Sonak. “Hope you feel better, man. See you.”
As Jim carried David down the dusty streets toward the Starfleet barracks, he considered Bones’ words. He looked down at David, who was just blinking his way out of his nap.
“Do you like pat-a-cake, little man?”
“I am running an experiment that is 65% complete. My presence is required for its continuation,” Spock said to his father. He did not call him father. He had always had a disinclination to do so, but followed social norms in an attempt to prove he could, that he could be part of the Vulcan social norm.
“I predict this conversation will take 1.1 minutes. Can you spare this amount of time?”
Spock did not lie. He did not because there was no logical reason to postpone speaking to Sarek. “Affirmative.”
“Very well. I have located a suitable candidate. I have also scheduled an appointment for you at the clinic to ensure you are in optimal health. You will meet her tomorrow at 1230 hours for the mid-day meal to discuss your bonding. I will transmit the coordinates to you when this communication is terminated.”
Spock’s first instinct was to say, ‘No, I will not.’ He took a slow breath and reconsidered. “And a candidate for yourself? Has a suitable woman been located?”
Sarek’s eyebrows went up. “For myself?”
“Yes. It is clear that you think it logical to repopulate our species with all due haste. When do you plan to start?”
Sarek’s eyebrows settled back down into a scowl.
“Be there at 1230 hours tomorrow, Spock,” he said.
The screen went black and Spock felt, illogically, like he had won something.
Spock walked – stiff, rigid – into the clinic at 1459.7 hours and was seated on a biobed at precisely 1500. Approximately 55% of the medical professionals on the main clinic floor were Vulcan, and it was one of these who came over to Spock with a medical tricorder in hand.
“You are Spock, son of Sarek?”
“I am Solan.” With that, the doctor went silent and focused on various scan readouts.
Spock was still for 3.4 minutes before he gave in to his curiosity and looked around. It appeared that at least 95% of the patients present were Vulcan and 54% were children. He observed two adults with obvious abdominal distress, likely due to consuming food products native to Akraana their gastrointestinal systems were not used to digesting. Surprisingly, seven individuals – 18.9% of those present – seemed to be experiencing respiratory distress in the form of coughing. Perhaps there was an allergen present on Akraana.
A blue Starfleet uniform caught his eye. He believed the individual to be Dr. McCoy, a rude man who had served briefly on the Enterprise. He scurried into an office before Spock could be completely certain.
“You appear to be in overall good health,” Dr. Solan said, pulling Spock’s attention back to him.
“I am sure my father will be gratified to hear it.”
“Perhaps. As I said, overall your health is acceptable. You are, however, sterile.”
Spock’s eyebrows went up. “I beg your pardon?”
“I can say with confidence that your hearing is adequate.”
Spock nodded and looked down. “Haldane’s Rule,” he whispered to his knees.
“Indeed,” Dr. Solan said. “It is not entirely unexpected.”
He was right. It was quite common for heterogametic individuals of many interspecific hybrids to exhibit some degree of sterility. Spock knew he should have considered this possibility, but for some reason it had never occurred to him.
Spock half-heard the doctor say, “Check out at the desk on your way out,” before he left. It was several minutes – Spock could not say exactly how many – before he followed those instructions.
UpToMyEyebrows: So, have you come any closer to a decision?
191615311.2230.06: It no longer matters.
191615311.2230.06: I had news yesterday.
UpToMyEyebrows: Oh? Good or bad?
191615311.2230.06: I am uncertain. Sarek made an appointment for me at the clinic and the doctor who examined me told me I am sterile.
UpToMyEyebrows: Oh, no. I’m so sorry.
191615311.2230.06: Kaiidth. What is, is.
UpToMyEyebrows: Yeah, but sometimes what is sucks.
191615311.2230.06: In truth, I am somewhat relieved. There is now no immediate reason for me to bond with the woman Sarek chose.
UpToMyEyebrows: So you didn’t like her?
191615311.2230.06: I never met her. Sarek cancelled the lunch meeting as soon as he learned of its futility.
UpToMyEyebrows: Are you upset you’ll never be able to have kids?
UpToMyEyebrows: Do not tell me Vulcans don’t get upset.
191615311.2230.06: You know me too well.
UpToMyEyebrows: Never too well. So?
191615311.2230.06: Perhaps. Before I heard this news I had not made a decision regarding reproduction. But I do find myself somewhat regretful.
UpToMyEyebrows: Yeah. You might not have realized it, but I thought you were leaning that way.
Jim sat in his office, his chin resting on one fist, ‘doing paperwork’. Mostly, he was browsing the nets for games to play with toddlers and signing a report every few minutes without really reading it. After all, it wouldn’t do for T’Sala to realize he was slacking off.
Pat-a-cake had been a hit with David. Jim had actually gotten a high-pitched squealing giggle of out him, and he was on a mission to find more things to make his boy laugh.
Hmm, hide and seek could be fun. He wasn’t sure how many good places there were to hide in his tiny quarters, but then how much space did a 14-month-old really need?
The door to his office opened suddenly. He wouldn’t say it slammed, but it was a near thing. Maybe ‘Fleet had the right idea with those automatic doors…
T’Sala glared at him. “Commander, why have you approved a request for alcoholic beverages to be included in workplace replicators?”
“It is an entirely frivolous, if not dangerous thing to do, and I am surprised at your blatant disregard of professionalism and responsibility, not to mention regulations.”
“Look, it was an accident, okay? I guess I didn’t read the report very closely before I signed off on it. That’s my fault. I’ll take care of this, and it won’t happen again.”
It was a shitty thing to do and he was feeling pretty stupid about it, but the way T’Sala’s eyebrows were furrowed and the tone of her voice… were her hands clenched into fists?
“Hey, are you okay?”
She blinked at him in surprise. “I am… adequate.”
“Are you sure? Because you seem a little… tense.”
“I assure you, my efficiency has not suffered,” she said in a clipped tone. If she were human, Jim imagined, she’d have had her hands on her hips.
He held his hands up, palms out in surrender. “Whoa, I’m not accusing you of anything. I’m just trying to help. Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?”
After a silence that felt long but probably wasn’t, a breath whooshed out of her and she seemed to deflate with it. “My bondmate. He is being… difficult,” she admitted.
Jim’s eyebrows went up. Definitely not what he’d expected. “Are you guys having a fight?”
“Certainly not. We are having a… disagreement.”
“Uh-huh. Over what?” Jim asked, trying to kill a smile.
“He is ill and refuses to seek medical treatment. He is being completely illogical!”
“He’s sick? That’s not good.” He held a hand out to offer her a chair. She took it, perching on the edge of the seat. “What’s wrong with him?”
“A persistent cough. He insists it is simply an allergy! The dust!” she said, waving her hand at the window as if to blame the blowing dust for her bondmate’s lack of logic.
“Well, it could be, right? It’s really…”
Something prodded Jim’s memory, something about the dust…
“Wait a minute, I know a guy who’s having the same problem! He went to the clinic for it, but I don’t know what the doctor said.”
T’Sala’s eyes widened. “Truly? Perhaps we could contact your acquaintance…”
Jim’s comm beeped and cut her off. The transmission was marked urgent but not private, so he said, “Hang on a sec, let me get this.” He pressed the button to accept the call.
He could tell by Selek’s eyes that whatever this was, it wasn’t good news.
“Hi, Selek. What’s up?”
“I believe you should retrieve David from my home. I do not – ” He broke off and coughed. “I am concerned for his health.”
“Wait, is he okay?”
“He is well. I simply do not wish to take the chance of passing this cough on to him.”
Jim ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’ll come and… Did you say you have a cough?”
Without waiting for Selek to answer, Jim turned to T’Sala. “Comm your bondmate, get him to go to the clinic. That’s three people now – it could still be an allergy or something, but we should find out for sure.”
She nodded and stood to leave. She was pressing buttons on her PADD before she was out the door.
“I’m on my way, Selek,” he said, and signed off.
Art by raja815
The clinic was busier than he’d seen it before, but not too crazy. Definitely not a good enough excuse for Bones to ignore him.
“Boooones. Over here!”
“Jim, what do you want? Can’t you see I’m busy here?”
Jim pointed to the Vulcan standing next to him. “Selek here is sick – he has a cough. And David,” he bounced the baby on his hip, “has been staying with him every day. So he might be sick, too. You have to check him out!”
Bones dragged his hand over his face. “Fine. Get him on a biobed – both of them.”
Selek seated himself and Jim jumped up onto the bed next to his with David in his lap. Bones turned to David first and started scanning.
“Has he been coughing at all?” Bones asked, not pausing to look up at Jim.
“Well, no. I don’t think so. I would’ve noticed that, right?”
“Yes, Jim, even you.”
Jim huffed and tried to keep David still while Bones finished up his scans.
“Well, he’s fit as a fiddle. I think he’s gonna cut another tooth soon, but other than that there’s not a thing wrong with him.”
Jim smiled. He wasn’t exactly looking forward to more teething, but it was certainly good news. “You hear that, buddy?” he asked, running his finger down David’s nose. “You’re good to go!”
“Go!” David parroted, waving his hands.
Jim laughed. “That’s right, we’ll go soon. Just as soon as Uncle Selek gets checked out.”
Slowly, methodically, Spock pulled his consciousness back up through the layers of meditation it had sunk past. He became aware of the air moving against his skin, the stiffness in his back, the flickering light from the fire pot. He ascertained that 74.4 minutes had passed since he began.
His meditation had been somewhat successful. He still wished, illogically, that he could speak with his mother regarding recent developments. He still wished, equally illogically, that had never heard Dr. Solan’s diagnosis. Conversely, he no longer experienced the hot, sharp anger directed toward nothing and everything that had been present since his examination.
His condition was no one’s fault.
Resolving to stop dwelling on things he could not change, he rose and went to his desk. A blinking light indicated that he had one vid message waiting.
He pressed the button to play the message and was surprised by the face he saw.
“I’m Leonard McCoy with Starfleet Medical, stationed at the clinic here in Ch’Toll. I’m told I can reach the VSA’s microbiologist on this line?
“Well, I hope I’ve got the right number, because I sure could use a microbiologist right about now. Seems we’ve got ourselves an epidemic of sorts, and hell if I know what it is.
“I sent along what we know so far, but the long and short of it is that I can’t scan it. All I get’s a vague indication of a foreign entity in the lungs. I’m gonna have to do a biopsy if we can’t figure out how to scan this bug. I tried growing it from a swab, but no luck. It’s the damnedest thing.
“Anyway. Get back to me as soon as you can.”
An epidemic? With the Vulcan population reduced to approximately 0.00017% of its number 89 days ago, an epidemic could only be very, very bad news.
He opened the data file immediately.
Jim sat at the desk in his quarters in the dark, only the dull, bluish glow from the console lighting his face. He had a gin and tonic in his hand, but he wasn’t drinking it.
He wanted to drink it. He wanted to drain it then shatter the glass against the wall, but David was asleep in his crib and he was supposedly a responsible adult.
The Enterprise had stopped in to drop off some supplies – more parts for pre-fab buildings, clothing, medical supplies – and her CO, Captain Decker, had granted twelve hours shore leave.
He’d been stoked when Sulu commed to ask if he wanted to go climb up a mountain and bungee jump off it with him and Chekov. It had taken him a whole five minutes, filled with planning the trip over the open comm line, before he realized he couldn’t go.
“Wait, wait, wait,” he’d said. “I have to stay with David. I can’t – I have to stay.”
Even if someone he trusted had been available to watch his son, it was probably still a bad idea for him to do stupid shit like that now. He had someone depending on him to come home every time he left. He couldn’t just go pull death defying stunts because he felt like it anymore.
He had other responsibilities, too, which was new and different. There were twelve people reporting to him, not to mention the whole planet he was supposed to be keeping safe. He was overseeing plans for the orbital defense platform, coordinating training for law enforcement personnel, drafting new customs guidelines for the Ch’Toll port of entry… It seemed never-ending.
So his job was pretty heavy, but he felt like he was settling into it okay. His team seemed to trust him and they were all good people. Apparently he was something of a natural leader, because they all just seemed to accept that he was their boss and do whatever he said. So he wasn’t out discovering new planets, but he could do some good here. It was certainly a worthy cause.
And Akraana wasn’t all bad. Sure, it was hotter than hell and the gravity was ever so slightly higher than he was used to. It had rained in Ch’Toll all of three times since he’d gotten there over two months ago.
But it was… nice. It was quiet and safe, which was good for David, and had places of overwhelming natural beauty he was itching to visit as soon as he got some leave. It also felt pretty good to see the remnants of the Vulcan people start rebuilding their society from the ground up, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. They seemed to have a sort of natural poise, dignity and determination that wouldn’t let them give up even in the face of unspeakable tragedy. They were building a new world, and he got to be a small part of that.
While awesome, the weight of it was a bit heavy on his shoulders sometimes.
And he was worried about Selek, too. Bones had admitted both him and Sonak yesterday. Their coughs just kept getting worse and Bones couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them. At least T’Sala’s bondmate wasn’t so bad off yet that he had to stay at the clinic.
Bones was a good doctor, and there were at least thirty others staffing the clinic who must at least be competent. They’d figure it out. They had to.
Continued in Part 2.