Spock was appalled at his lack of control. He watched as Jim read the file Spock had stolen, blond head bowed. There was no sign of the impact of its contents, other than the tightening of his fingers on the PADD.
Spock would not have chosen to give Jim this information in this matter- but ships business had interfered. Almost as soon as Spock had raised his hand to the door sensor on his Captain’s door, the same door had opened to reveal Jim’s frowning face.
“Sorry, Spock,” he had said with a tight smile. “Gonna have to take a rain check.” And indeed, the jolt of a phaser hitting the ship’s shields had diverted both of them from their conversation. The small Klingon cruiser had fired once again before they could get to the bridge.
The battle, such as it was, had been over quickly. Their opponents had been working apart from the Empire, as more of a pirate crew than anything else. Their capture and subsequent entry into the Enterprise’s brig was almost routine. It was with very little surprise that they learned that the minerals on Tarsus IV were not as secret as Starfleet had hoped.
The incident did, however, make it quite difficult for Spock to find an apt moment to tell Jim of Starfleet’s plans. It was hardly a matter for the crew on the bridge to hear. Not so much because Spock’s procurement of the document was not all together legal, but because he would not chose to give Jim that information in front of his crew.
Still, Spock thought that he should have found a better place than the transporter room. He had asked the ensign to leave them, and disliked the way Jim stood there woodenly, as he stared at the same information over and over.
“Bridge to Lieutenant Sulu.”
Spock had been staring at the bowed head, and refused to acknowledge that Jim’s sudden call caused him to jump a little where he stood.
“We have a small change of plans.” Spock met Jim’s blue gaze with his own calm one, raising an eyebrow at Jim’s words.
“I’m gonna need Spock down there with me. We’re going armed, and without security. You’ll have the conn while we’re down here. And Sulu? There’s gonna be some guests coming in. The Twain, the Murrow, the Hearst and the Sinclair, in particular.”
“Captain-- those are... those are media ships.”
“Yes, they are, Mister Sulu.”
“Understood, Captain.” Jim looked surprised at the fierce tone of Sulu’s acknowledgement. as Nyota had when she learned that something had threatened her Captain.
“Thanks. Kirk, out.”
Spock could see nothing on Jim’s face or in his body language that matched the anger in the bright blue eyes.
“You ready, Spock?”
“Then let’s go. I’ll show you where I grew up. It’ll be fun.”
Spock very much doubted that, but said nothing as he took his place on the pad. Kirk punched in the coordinates and walked up to his spot, his gaze meeting Spock’s once as they beamed down.
The area they materialized in was fairly innocuous. The plateau had some rock formations, and stretched, seemingly endlessly out into the blue sky. Grass waved in the wind. Spock stole a surreptitious glance at Jim’s face before continuing to look, indulging his curiosity. He heard Jim’s shaky breath. “I lived here for two years.” He pointed. “Just down that way, about three kilometers. After-- after everything, it seemed completely ironic that this is where we held up, hiding from the guards.” Jim took a step, and then another, walking over to the rocks. “You know? I made sure that we’d get here early. I wanted to be sure that I’d have some time to- I guess, lay some ghosts to rest before all the scientists and shit showed up.”
“Then it is fortunate that you were able to do so.”
Jim snorted. “Yeah, fortunate.” He kicked at some rocks. What Spock had first assumed to be just an odd outcropping of rocks was in fact the base of a small cave. The planet was strangely tiered, with the ruins of the colony spread out below them in an orderly sprawl, then a wooded area, then this plateau that faced the cliff. Further up was the highest point, as though the original colony builders had decided to build into the cliff. “Spock, you sure you want to... see this?”
“I wish to see whatever you wish to show me, Jim.”
Jim paused for a moment, his shoulders slumping. He sat near a large boulder and sighed heavily. “It’s just weird. I’ve spent literally years trying not to remember. And now I’m here.”
There was nothing productive that Spock could say, so he simply waited, crossing his hands behind his back.
“Spock? Can I ask you something?”
“Why... why did you seem more mad about the press than about me being here? God, that sounds as stupid out loud as it did in my head. It’s just that all the doctors, and the shrinks, hell, even Bones when I told him...”
Spock felt a muscle in his cheek twitch. He cocked his head, staring at the way Jim scuffed his toes in the dirt, focusing on the ground instead of Spock.
“You are not a commodity.” Jim’s gaze darted up to Spock’s before edging away like an insect from the light. “What you have suffered here, on this planet is not ...” Spock trailed off. “Captain, I am not well versed in explaining...”
“I know. But, try okay? Please? For me?”
Why was it that he could refuse this human nothing?
Spock shifted his weight and began again, only to shut his mouth with a snap. He did not have the words to properly convey the importance of this conversation. Spock felt a slight panic that Nyota was not here. She would know exactly what to say. “I grieve with thee, Jim.” Spock watched as Jim sat up a little straighter on the rock. “Were my mother alive, she too would grieve with thee. Beings whose lives you will never know grieve with thee. Yet with all of that, the... atrocities you suffered here,...” Spock’s lips tightened and he tried again. “I believe that the past, no matter how ill-enjoyed, does contribute to how we perform in the present. Those events, though we might often wish they did not occur, are responsible for how we conduct ourselves.” Spock tightened his shoulders, allowing himself a deep breath. “So while I do grieve with thee, I would not take your experiences away. How can one know what one event, if removed, will change who they are?”
Jim blinked rapidly for a moment before fixing his stare at somewhere near Spock’s knees. Spock crouched, and greatly daring, placed his hands on Jim’s shoulders. “I would not have you change, Jim.” His voice was low. For some reason, his heart beat twelve percent more rapidly in his side, as his eyes met Jim’s wide blue gaze. “The fact that Starfleet wishes to ‘cash in,’ I believe is the correct Terran colloquialism, on your experiences is repugnant.” Spock noticed that Jim’s face had tilted forward, slightly. Spock watched as Jim’s eyelids shut for a moment, before opening again, focusing on Spock’s mouth as he spoke. “It speaks of cowardice and base” ll Spock could see was Jim’s face. “....opportunistic...”
Spock was whirling, his phaser pointed at the threat before his next breath. It appeared mostly feline, although it was missing both a tail and its left front paw.
The beast’s large green eyes narrowed. It stalked forward on three legs, muscles tight at the intrusion. Spock’s finger was ready on the trigger, his attention on the black beast as it took another step forward, a low growl in its chest.
“Spock no!” Jim sprung forward, stumbling a little in his haste as he fell to the ground in front of the feline, holding out his hands in supplication. Spock was astounded when Jim lowered his voice, almost crooning at the irate animal. “Hey, Mittens? It’s me, Jimmy. Tch Tch Tch, kitty...I can’t believe you’re here! I looked for you for forever.” Jim’s voice was strangely thick.
Spock knew that the odds of a childhood pet surviving the famine, let alone the odds of the pet belonging to one of the nine surviving members were astronomically high. Yet, He watched as Jim inched closer and closer to the furious animal, talking in a slow, patient voice.
“C’mon, now. Come here, Mittens. It’s just me, baby.”
Spock’s fingers twitched as the black feline made a dark sound deep in its throat before stretching out its neck to sniff at Jim’s fingers. Spock found that his eyes reacting to the pollen in the air by becoming curiously wet.
“That’s right, kitty. Aww, I’m so sorry. I know, you’re probably pissed that I left you. C’mon now. I tried to look for you, but they wouldn’t let me. Stupid hypospray took me out before I could tell them about you. Come on, now. Please don’t be mad...”
Spock well-recognized that cajoling tone. His own defences against it were abysmal. When faced with that particular tone, Spock found himself acquiescing to Jim’s requests an alarming 92% of his time. He raised an eyebrow as the feline took a halting step forward, than another, until Jim scooped it up in his arms, resting his weight back on his heels as he whispered to it. Feeling rather foolish, Spock put his phaser away. Now that Jim was holding it- he could see that it was indeed a cat- although it must have some other species intermingled in its blood for it to be alive so long.
Spock had the oddest desire to go to Jim and perhaps card his fingers through his hair. He frowned, appalled at himself. He did not understand why he had this compulsion to constantly touch, but ... but. It had no place on a starship. Especially with his commanding officer.
But you are not currently on a starship, his mind whispered, quite unhelpfully.
The feline was currently stretched out over Jim’s lap legs splayed, butting its head at Jim’s fingers, while Jim scratched at its belly.The purr was loud enough to echo slightly off of the rocks near them. “Spock, oh my god, I can’t believe this. This was my... my brother bought me a kitten when we first got he ... fuck. I don’t know how....” He broke off his babble, looking up at Spock with wet eyes.
Spock felt another uncomfortable twinge in the region of his heart at the look on his captain’s face- bright, fierce joy, blinding white smile, eyes unclouded by worry or past remembrances. “While it does seem unlikely, it also is apparent that that animal knows you.” The ‘animal’ in question was currently in such a state of feline joy, that it could only twitch feebly on Jim’s lap as Jim stroked and petted its body. “Perhaps we should beam him up to the Enterprise, sir.”
“Oh yeah! Jesus, how could I forget? We’re on a time thing here.”
“Indeed.” Spock saw Jim wipe at his eyes with the back of his hand. “Although, it is not necessary to do so quite immediately.”
Jim’s grin bloomed again, this time just for Spock. Spock found that he could not breathe for a moment. He made a mental note to have ensign Chekov scan the planet for unbalanced atmospheric gasses. It wouldn’t do for the scientists to have issues with oxygenated air flow. While they did have some time to spare, there was not all that much, so Spock took a few steps away from Jim and his Mittens to take some planetary readings.
Since the tragedy on Tarsus, Starfleet had come to realize that part of the reason that it had taken them so long to respond to the colony’s desperate cries for assistance was due to the strange radiation that reacted to the minerals in the planet’s soil. When the situations were right, communications became compromised to the extent that people believed that they had sent the message, but it scrambled the signal so much that it never got to where it was originally sent. It had also made it impossible for the starships to beam down as needed; instead they found that they could only successfully use the transporter when the conditions were right between the radiation from the sun and the minerals in the planet and the planet’s two moons.
Part of the reason the Enterprise had been ordered to Tarsus was so that Spock and his science team could calculate and predict the best time for communication and transportation. It was a simple task, almost a caveat. An afterthought. Such a simple task was far beneath the level of scientific minds on the Enterprise, yet... yet. There they were.
Jim and Spock’s gazes locked in shocked surprise. “Lieutenant?” His communicator had such a sensitive range that it sounded like Nyota was right there with them.
“He’s your best friend! He’s driving me insane! I want to file a complaint he’s a sexist, overbearing, asshole!”
“Uh. Nyota, this is kind of a bad time. We’re on an open line, here. Maybe this would be best discussed in person.”
Spock heard a sound that put him in mind of a Shelat being hit with a bucket of cold water. His eyebrow rose. Jim looked as though he couldn’t decide whether he was horrified, amused, or terrified.
“That is an excellent idea! Uhura out!”
“Kirk to Enterprise. I have one small male animal to beam up. Make arrangements for him to be checked out, and I’ll be up when I can. And hurry, please. We’re on a time thing here.”
“Acknowledged, Captain. I’ll take him down myself.”
“Thank you Ensign. Kirk out.”
Jim put down his former pet and took a step backwards. The cat followed, turning and flopping over onto its back, batting its three paws up at Jim. “Aww, don’t worry little man. I’ll be with you in just a bit.” The cat’s purr was loud as Jim stepped out of transporter range.
They were surprised by the sound of the transporter- but not where they had thought it would be. The sound was directly behind them. Both he and Jim whirled. Spock’s eyes widened as he saw Nyota standing there, hands fisted on her hips.
“--DAMNIT NYOTA UHURA MCCOY DON’T YOU DARE USE THAT FUCKING CONTRAPTION! YOUR DAMNFOOL MOLECULES WILL BE SPREAD FROM HERE TO--”
“You don’t get to decide what I am or am not doing!”
Spock could hear sounds of incoherent sputtering over the sound of Jim’s comm.
“I’M THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF THE FLAGSHIP OF THE USS ENTERPRISE AND YOUR HUSBAND AND IF I SAY THAT YOU’RE TOO CLOSE TO LABOR TO BE TRAMPING AROUND THE GODDAMN--”
“Oh yeah? Mister Chief Medical Officer? They teach you how to observe quarantine requirements in that fancy Academy doctor school?”
“OKAY GUYS!” Jim’s bellow startled Mittens into a startled squawk. Spock was somewhat shocked when he batted at Jim’s pants leg before crouching down low on his belly. The stump of her tail twitched madly as she looked from Jim to Nyota. “Bones, don’t worry. The Lieutenant will be beamed back immediately.”
“What do you mean BEAMED BAC--”
“The hell I will! I’m not on duty! I registered time off!”
“Kirk to Enterprise.” There was an odd sound, a mix between static and electronic interference. “Captain Kirk to Enterprise, respond.” Jim’s gaze met Spock’s. He nodded at Jim’s unasked question and watched as Jim’s gaze hardened.
“Approximately three hours, Jim.”
Spock watched as Nyota began to realize what had happened. She seemed to shrink in on herself, as though she had taken a blow of some sort. “Shit. I just screwed up, didn’t I.” She looked at him, “I didn’t mean... It just... He told me that I was ‘unfit for duty’.” Her tone put Spock in mind of an irate adolescent.
“I’m glad I’m not Rand right now.”
The non-sequitur startled Nyota out of her surprise. “Captain?”
“Oh, now I’m ‘Captain?’” Jim’s smile was wry. “Think about it, Ny. He’s going to be going batshit insane up there- worrying that you’ve scrambled his little blob there, or worse, scrambled yourself up like an egg. He’s probably worried sick, and upset that he’s can’t be with you. And he probably read the mission brief, so he knows he won’t be with you for awhile.”
Nyota’s lovely face paled. She swayed a bit on her feet. “My pregnancy does not make me unfit for duty.” She bit out the words, turning and stalking off with a swing of her ponytail.
Jim looked to Spock for guidance. Spock had no answer at this time. Spock watched as Jim took a deep breath and walked over to where she stood, arms akimbo, back rigid. Spock knew that position must be causing her undue stress; he should, having been tasked with rubbing her lower back no less than three-hundred and eighty-seven times since her third trimester.
Jim scooped up Mittens and took a deep breath. It struck Spock that even now, when he had suffered through somewhat of an emotional upheaval, Jim still reached out to his crew to assist them with their own needs before giving in to what had to be his own need for comfort and solace.
“So yeah, beaming down here was kind of blazingly stupid. You want to hear the reasons why?”
Of course, Spock reflected, Jim Kirk had his own unique way of comforting those he cared about.
“Yeah, so I guess you’re stuck here for three hours. Why’d you beam down in such a huff? Wanted to see the place for yourself?”
Nyota’s gasp was loud- even over the sound of Mittens’ purring. “I...”
“Nah. I know. But just so you know, the next time someone accuses you- well, okay your worried-sick husband accuses you of acting a little crazy because of baby... stuff... beaming down on a dead planet in a fit of glorious bitchiness probably isn’t the way to prove him wrong. You know why he’s so protective.”
Had Spock been wholly human, his mouth would have fallen open at the way Nyota seemed to wince, flinching at Jim’s words. Spock was not privy to the intimate details, but he did know that Leonard’s first wife had done something the healer had deemed unforgivable, and their marriage had suffered as a result. Given his recent reactions and uncompromising protectiveness of both Nyota and their child, it was not difficult to surmise what his first wife had done.
“I didn’t mean....” Nyota sounding so woebegone was new. Spock catalogued the way her eyes widened, a fine sheen of tears threatening to spill over. She looked wretched, and Spock surmised that she did, indeed regret her hasty words to her husband.
Jim shifted the large feline to his shoulder. Spock watched with a raised eyebrow as the large beast flopped down over his shoulder and back, managing to twist so that he butted Jim’s neck as he did so. The look on its face as Jim obligingly rubbed its head, scratching underneath its chin and between its ears, was pure pleasure.
“I know. And he knows, I’m sure. Bones is weird like that. And you know that he doesn’t really think that you’re ... psyc--er... well, whatever. He loves you.”
Nyota sighed, turning towards Jim. “You’re kind of smart for a dumb hick from Iowa.”
Jim’s own smile was bright. “Yeah. Surprises me too. So here’s the deal. You beamed down here to work, so we best put you to work.”
“Oh god. I can’t believe I... wait. Why can’t I just beam back?”
“You definitely didn’t read your mission debriefing.” Jim clucked his tongue and wagged his finger. “Spock, make a note of this in her file. Nyota Uhura isn’t perfect.”
Spock’s lips twitched at the disgusted sound she made. Predictably, she rolled her eyes and began to hit Jim in the shoulder, only to stop when the cat on Jim’s shoulder looked at her out of one half-slitted, bright green eye.
“Who is your friend?” Nyota took a step forward, rubbing absently on her lower stomach.
“This is Mittens. He was my cat the last time I stayed here.” Jim made a face. “I make it sound like I was just hanging out after a vacation.”
Nyota waddled over (not that Spock cared to share this observation with her) to pet the cat. “Aren’t you adorable?”
The cat stretched, seeming to agree that yes, in fact it was adorable.
“This is fucking surreal. I feel like I’m leading a tour or something.” Jim shook his head. “Okay then, you guys want to see where I lived?”
Spock met Nyota’s gaze out of the corner of his eye. Jim put the cat down and scrubbed his palms on his trousers, answering his own question. “Come on. I’ll show you the cave first.” He took a few steps towards the boulder he’d sat on before, stopping to help Nyota up the few steps. “So, we lived here. After everything went to hell, me and some of my friends decided that it was better to stay out of the colony proper until things .. uh, settled down.”
He took a step up and pointed. “There used to be this foliage, right? It sucked. I was allergic to some of the leaves, and there were briers and nettles and shit. But it saved our lives. It hung down and was thick enough that it kept people from seeing our cave. Be careful. It dips a little.”
It did. The way out twisted snakelike, illuminated only by the sun from outside. Nyota’s breath caught as she bent. Or, perhaps it was the minuscule structure of the cave itself.
Spock heard Jim use his phaser to light up a piece of stalagmite. The light source showed that Spock’s initial assessment was correct. The entire cave couldn’t have been more than the size of Jim’s captain quarters. There were several books and bits of toys stacked to the side, a large pit where Spock presumed they cooked food, and a small curtained off area that looked to have the remains of some sort of pallet.
“Yeah. It wasn’t as bad as it looks. I was eleven... twelve. We stayed here for awhile. Some guys and I had thought ahead enough to steal away meds and PADDs of information. We had games and stuff for the little kids.” Jim forced a smile meant to make others feel better. “Tommy’s parents were butchers, before. They were killed, but they’d squirreled away a lot of dried meat and stuff, so we were... lucky, really.”
The ‘until the food ran out’ was left hanging in the room as though Jim had spoken the words. Nyota gasped again, and Spock turned to her. She was holding her stomach, and had staggered, her hand propping her body up against the rough cave wall.
“I think.. I should go outside. Please.”
Jim nodded and Spock moved to assist her up the twisting path and out of the cave opening. Spock’s eyes widened in shock as his hand brushed against Nyota’s wrist, the instant of sensation communicating her body’s stress.
Nyota jerked away from both of them, stumbling a little in her haste. Jim moved to Nyota’s left, as Spock moved to her right, moving in sync as they did so frequently.
Spock’s nostrils flared at the sharp, acidic scent that flooded his nose.
“Please tell me that you just had a little accident.” Jim’s eyes were almost comically wide. A dark red blush obscured the normally tan skin as he looked at the darkening stain on the lower half of her uniform.
Nyota gasped again, doubling in half.
“Captain. It would appear that Nyota is in labor.” They both looked at him with almost equal looks of astonishment.
“You can’t be in labor! Can you like, cross your legs or something?!”
“Jim, it is not possible to cease labor pains in Terran females once they have begun. You should modulate your respiration or I approximate that you will lose consciousness in seventeen-point-three seconds. Nyota, as you have known that you were pregnant for approximately two-hundred and eighty-eight Standard days, I fail to see how the onset of labor can be surprising at this juncture.”
He moved quickly, picking Nyota up and moving briskly to the boulder. There was shade on the back side of the rock. Spock stooped to place her gently in the shade, firming his shields as her hand skittered onto his wrist, the supple strength of her grip negligible to him.
“Sp-pock...” Her stutter was pain-filled, her eyes widened in panic.
“Calm yourself, kaisu. I have researched common birthing practices of over twenty- eight male, one hundred and twenty-two female and six hermaphroditic species. We must ascertain how close your contractions are.”
“Yeah! Spock knows everything about that baby stuff!” Jim’s voice sounded hoarse as he knelt at Spock’s side, holding Nyota’s other hand. He winced as her stomach muscles contracted, staring down at her splayed legs.
That surprised Nyota into a snort of laughter. “Oh... oh...Leo’s gonna kill me...”
Jim looked delighted for a moment. “Nah. I don’t think he’ll kill you. But I bet he won’t be as pissed off at me the next time I... owwuuuahh. Wow. Ny..Nyota that is.. some grip you have there...”
Spock repressed the desire to roll his eyes and went about his business, ascertaining that Nyota was as comfortable as possible, calculating the time between her contractions, attempting to ignore Jim’s inane, nervous babble. An hour passed, then two. Jim grew more and more nervous, which was possibly one of the most illogical things Spock had ever witnessed, given that it was not he who was giving birth.
“Nyota, continue to breathe. You are doing so quite satisfactorily. You are being very brave. I believe there is only forty-three more minutes before we can once again contact the Enterprise. Continue to breathe past it, yes. Do not worry.”
“Yeah, you’re doing great! Bones is gonna be so proud of you. This is so badass. You’re making it look like a breeze. He’s gonna flip his shit when we beam you back up.”
Jim met Spock’s gaze over the top of Nyota’s bent head. Spock gave a small head shake, and Jim’s eyes widened again.
“Nyota, may I touch your stomach?” He would not be able to meld with the baby, but he would be able to pick up whether or not the child’s heartbeat was accelerated, signifying if it was in some distress.
She nodded, gritting her teeth and crying out. Jim caught her before she could injure her head on the rock, and quickly moved so that she was cradled in the core of his body, his knees bent.
Spock pushed up her maternity top, brushing his fingers against her rippling stomach. He shut his eyes for a moment to concentrate. He had never done this before, but it was not difficult to sort the outpouring of emotion. Spock allowed his shields to drop, only to push the tips of his fingers nearer to where the baby’s heart was.
Spock’s eyes popped open to see them both staring at him. Nyota looked terrified, but determined, pain etching lines in her sweaty face. The look on Jim’s face was no less powerful, but not as easy to quantify. “Your daughter recognizes my touch.” Spock could not keep the small quirk off his lips for anything.
Nyota smiled, gasping as another contraction hit her.
“Spock, man. How do you know all of this? You’re like calm as fuh-” Jim looked down at Nyota’s belly, nervously. “Er. I mean, Heck. Calm as heck. I guess you’re pretty excited to be someone’s godparent, huh? I am too- only... all I did was buy a bunch of pink cigars.”
“I have researched-”
“Yeah,. Just.. thank you, Spock.”
Spock understood that Jim was not thanking him for his research prowess. He schooled his face into something resembling his Vulcan control and spoke to Nyota, taking particular care to make sure the tone of his voice would not cause her undue stress.
“You are welcome, Jim. Nyota, your daughter is in no distress, but I do not believe that you will be giving birth on the Enterprise.” Spock moved slightly so that he could assist her. “You will need to remove the pertinent parts of your uniform. And your undergarments. I believe your daughter is ready to meet you, Nyota.”
“Oh. Oh god oh god oh okay.... this is so not how I imagined this happen--” She sniffed once, sounding pitiful. “There was supposed to be Mozart and warm vanilla sugar candl--” She broke off, falling back onto Jim’s shoulder crying out in pain.
“Nyota! You must not push. You will harm yourself. Jim, take her hands and hold her in a comforting manner while I remove her clothes.”
“Uh.. yeah. Okay. Nyota? Did you hear that? Spock gave me permission to hold you while he strips you naked.”
“Jim---Kirk. If you don’t shut... up I will take my elbow and send your balls up into your throat.”
Jim blinked. “Kinky.” The response was on autopilot, but his gaze was locked on Spock’s, tense and concerned.
Spock ripped Nyota’s clothes, and removed the remains off of her legs. He gently touched her thighs and she spread them accordingly. “Indeed. Your daughter is moving down the birth canal. Jim will assist you with laying to a more comfortable position while I determine how diala--”
Spock’s saw the shape out of the corner of his eye and moved quickly, blocking the small body with his hip, instinctively keeping his hands from the filthy, matted fur. The cat made a curious sound under its breath, trying to see what was holding Jim’s attention.
“Oh hey, Spock? Uh, Spock? I’m just going to take a look and make sure that everyth--OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT CAN’T FUCKING BE A VAG--OH MY GUHHHhhh---”
There was a curious sounding thud and Spock sighed, turning back to Nyota, who had pushed herself up onto her elbows and was currently laughing hysterically through her tears. He could see that she had dilated significantly enough that the baby’s head was crowning.
Although Jim’s verbal acuity had made that quite clear.
Spock allowed himself one moment of amusement at the view of Jim, sprawled onto the grass with his lips and cheek pushed up most unattractively in the dirt. Spock took off his outer uniform shirt and covered his hands. It was not even close to being hygienically sound, but it was the best he could do given the current situation. Spock moved quickly, tugging Jim out of his way and making sure he was minimally comfortable, noticing that the feline hopped up onto Jim’s stomach, tightening and stretching the pads of his paws, a loud, rumbling purr signifying his content. Spock then tossed his shirt aside and moved to assist Nyota.
“Spock? Do you--- think that--- he-- Jim--- will ever find this as funny as I do?”
“That is doubtful, kaisu. However, I do believe this will be quite useful for purposes of credit extortion should you ever find such actions necessary.”
“Spock, you... I love you, Spock. Th-- thank you.” Nyota’s eyes brimmed again, and Spock stared down at her, outwardly perfectly calm.
“And I you, Nyota. Now... push!”
It took Spock several hours to find Jim. When he did, it was in a small, out of the way observation deck. The lights had been dimmed so that just the starlight reflected back into the small room. It highlighted Jim’s exhausted sprawl against the back of the couch. He had a PADD in one hand and stroked the top of Mittens’ head with the other. Predictably, the now clean cat was purring.
“Have a seat.”
Spock did so, raising his eyebrow at the way the shameless feline flopped over so that Spock could scratch his ribs, should he so desire.
Spock did not care to do so at this time.
“I knew you’d find me.”
“Yeah. You know? You were great today. With Ny? I think Bones almost kissed you, man.”
His attempts to fiend off the emotionally distraught doctor had not been one of Spock’s more admirable moments. The human would not cease with his back slapping and grinning, insisting that ‘Spock was the best Vulcan, ever’, before bending to kiss his wife and new child with unrestrained fervor. When the media ships had arrived, Spock had escaped, grateful for the reprieve.
“I am aware.”
They were quiet for a few moments. Jim put the PADD down and sighed, his hand flopping down on his leg. The cat attempted to poke it into submission with one stubby paw, but Jim just shifted the cat in the crook of his elbow, cuddling him close, listening to the small feline’s purr of ownership.
“You know, with everything that happened? I don’t think that I gave those vipers the interview they were wanting.”
“I shall endeavor to restrain my emotional outburst at this realization.”
“Sarcasm, Spock?” Jim’s laugh was bright. “It’s just that.. I realized something while you were helping Nyota. God. You brought little Joanna into the world, Spock! I can’t even... that was...” Jim trailed off, thinking.
Spock did not disturb him. He could see the stars, and watch their light reflect off of Jim’s finely chiseled cheekbones. He could hear Jim’s quiet breathing, and the furious buzz of sound from the cat.
Spock was surprised to find that he felt almost... content.
“You were right, Spock. In a strange way, if we hadn’t gone back there, you might never have gotten the chance to deliver Joanna. What you said earlier was true, Spock. I didn’t get to tell you before, but I agree. I’ve always heard that friends were the family you made for yourself. We’re like a glove.”
“Yeah. You can take one of the fingers off the glove, and you still have a glove. Only it doesn’t work as well. I guess we’re like that, huh? You, me, Bones, Sulu... even Chekov and Scotty. We do amazing stuff together.”
“That is a... fascinating... metaphor, Captain.”
There was a sharp jab in his ribs. Spock allowed a small smile in the darkness.
“Shut up. You know what I mean.”
Spock did. They were quiet for a few more minutes. Spock saw out of the corner of his eye, that Jim’s hand moved imperceptibly closer to Spock’s leg. He blinked, his heart thrumming for an instant in his side as he judged, weighed and measured the likely reasoning behind this careful movement. Greatly daring, Spock stretched out two fingers, slowly sliding them against Jim’s pointer finger, before slighting them even slower down his middle finger in a soft Vulcan kiss. He could hear Jim’s sharp gasp of breath.
Spock counted ten seconds before he felt Jim’s fingers moving against his, echoing the shy, trembling caress with one of his own.
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