Warnings: child abuse, dubious consent (leaning towards nonconsensual), domestic violence, canon-typical violence for Stargate or Star Trek
Fandom(s): Stargate Franchise/ Star Trek
Summary: George Kirk, from the Sheppard Clan, was willing to give his life to save his family, but what if he had another alternative? One that
Amanda Greyson had suffered much for the child she called her son, and their wasn’t much she wouldn’t do for her son. Including divorce her husband.
With these changes, how do Spock and James grow up? Especially if they were to grow up together?
Edit Note: This is the Original Story posted on Rough Trade in April 2014. I am currently in the rewrite and editing stage (10/2/14) but the story is changing a bit and for those who enjoyed the story, or wish to enjoy rereading it while waiting for the chapters for the new stories.
For disclaimer information for both writing and cover art see Disclaimer.
Adrift. For the past ten years it hadn’t mattered where they were, or what their mission was, Winona had only needed to know that her George had been with her. Now, he wasn’t. He had left her, left her to raise his sons, left her by herself. She hadn’t been by herself in ten years, longer than that because she had been attached to George Kirk the first day they had met in academy. He had been stunning, sun-bleached blond hair, summer-sky blue eyes, and a smile that just lights up the entire world. George had drawn people in, he emitted charm and friendship like the Sun emitted light. He was friends with all sorts of people, many of which Winona did not agree with at all, she had had to give several undesirables a talking to over the years. George Kirk had been hers since she had first seen him. It had just taken her a few years to get him to agree.
But now he was gone. He had left her. Winona breathed deeply, trying not to panic, what was she going to do now that her George was gone? She had given him two sons, had followed him everywhere, had bowed to his parent’s wishes, she willingly took his name. And he left her.
No, George had chosen to do the right thing, he had saved everyone. The USS Kelvin had taken too much damage, there was no way for them to get out of the situation, the self-destruct had to go through. With the auto pilot off line someone had to stay with the ship and guide it into the enemy, no her George wouldn’t have given his life for anything less than saving everyone. George wouldn’t have misread a situation, he was too good; he did exactly what he had to.
Someone off to the side was asking her questions, asking for names, but she didn’t answer. Winona Kirk looked down at her son and knew he would be the spitting image of her late husband. He would grow up wearing George’s face, using George’s eyes, using George’s smile; but he would never be his father. There was no way anyone could match the bravery and courage of her George. He might wear George’s skin, but it was on loan. She would have to spend some time reminding him that he wasn’t wearing his own skin, it was on loan.
She would make up a list, she decided, all things the boy wouldn’t be allowed to do. Because he was wearing George’s skin. There were a dozen predilections and habits she had made sure George was cured of. Winona was positive her George had never realized that those things were dirty, that hanging around, being with, those people was rubbing their filth off on him. Winona would make sure the boy didn’t attempt any of those horrible sinful things. Certainly he would never be allowed near the hideous Christopher Pike, not after what he attempted to get her George into. The audacity of the male, to believe he would make a better partner for her mate than she would. That just because George willingly found time to spend with him, no matter how she tried to dissuade him, didn’t mean George wanted him. He didn’t, want Christopher Pike that is; he had chosen Winona to be his spouse after all, she was the one who had given him children.
“Don’t worry. You may be wearing his face but I won’t let you forget its not yours. You’ll do good, I promise you’ll earn it.” Winona murmured to the baby at her chest, forgetting where she was. There were very few in the medical shuttle where she had given birth to the child wearing his father’s face, but those there watched in concern and determination. They had just listened as the bravest most charitable person they knew gave his life so that they would survive. They would not fail in protecting his son.
“Winona you must be tired, why don’t you give the child to me while you sleep?” The doctor murmured soothingly, pressing a hypo gently into her neck and taking the newborn from her lax grip. There was something wrong with Winona Kirk. It went well beyond bad postpartum chemistry or post traumatic stress disorder and into the danger of harming herself or others. For now the doctor and her limited staff were not able to help Winona Kirk, but they could take care of George Kirk’s son, and it would start with good pediatric care.
The medical shuttle was not equipped to do proper Federation aftercare for a new born, there were inoculations and enhancements that were general practice by pediatric doctors that could not be administered, but what the doctor could do she would do. There were a battery of tests that they had the equipment to proceed with. Height and weight were a little on the small side, but that was predicted given that Winona Kirk had gone into labor several weeks early because of the stressful situation they had found themselves in. Eye color was noted, blue, and digital prints of his hands and feet were being taken when the forceful hold of shuttle-fetching programs could be felt drawing the shuttles in. The large vessel the shuttles were approaching was massive, at least twice the size of the USS Kelvin and instead of being shaped like a Starfleet vessel it was a long rectangular ship. Painted on the side as they approached the flight bay was the name: SGC Narcissius.
Inside the flight bay were rows and rows of small space craft hanging one ontop of the other as technicians and mechanics floated from one area of the bay to the next. The lack of gravity ensuring that even if something came loose in the hanger it would be unlikely to do any damage. It was a busy, messy place, and once the shuttles started landing it was crowded too.
Everything was handled with a smooth precision, almost as if it were routine, calming many of the survivors. Every survivor was interviewed for name, rank, and mental or physical trauma; ensuring that a complete record was available to send to Starfleet headquarters. All others were assumed dead. With the loss of both the Captain and First Mate Kirk, Doctor Heben’gi, as chief medical officer was put in the position of command, where she met Commander Tresk of the SGC Narcissus with the new born James Tyberius Kirk in her hands, crying.
The baby was loud and squirming with energy he shouldn’t have had only several hours out of the womb. She had been quickly escorted to a side room so as to not interfere or upset the other survivors of the Kelvin and directed that the Commander of the vessel would be with her momentarily, he had been waylaid by another issue. Heben’gi tried not to be disgruntled that the Commander’s first priority wasn’t taking care of the survivors of the Kelvin, but acknowledged that it was entirely possible the vessel had other possibly dangerous items to deal with. But the baby just would not stop screaming.
The infant was screaming and squirming in its limited way when the doors opened for two men. Heben’gi did not have a good sense of hearing not with screams of the infant and the dead ringing in her ear so she only caught every few words.
“George Kirk is-”
“We understand that-”
“in this light-”
“take the baby”
Unprofessionally, and very rudely Heben’gi, Chief Medical Doctor of the USS Kelvin, interrupted the man who was speaking. “Who is the chief medical officer aboard this vessel.”
The man who had approached with the commander, lightly stepped forward, “Did you need something Dr. Heben’gi?”
Willing to admit that she was probably overreacting but not really caring, Heben’gi lightly thrust the baby into his arms, “What I need is sleep, but this child cannot be put back with Winona Kirk.” Heben’gi glared fiercely at the man she was thrusting the child toward, “I will sleep, and eat, and ensure that those who have survived the Kelvin are being taken care of and then I will come find you. If you do not have the baby, if you have hurt, or allowed it to be mistreated I will be very displeased.” At the end of her rope Heben’gi turned and walked to the general area she knew were the sleeping quarters, it might not be appropriate but she needed to rest and recover. If they hurt the baby she would find them and ensure they hurt, a lot. Until then she had no choice but to trust them with the infant.
“Well,” said one man after the alien doctor had left, “that’s one way to deal with trauma.”
Dr. Jeremy Beckett was not surprised to return to his infirmary aboard the SGC Narcissus and find a member of the Kelvin’s decimated crew standing above the incubator and crib that he had placed the Kirk child in. George Kirk had been on the SGC Narcissus for over four years and had given his life to ensure the survival of his friends and family. Beckett had grown up in the SGC culture and knew intimately how sacrifice and charisma could make a determined and loyal man a god. So he would let the survivor watch the baby, but he would make sure nothing could hurt that child.
“Can I help you?”
The man sighed, “Winona isn’t likely to ever let me near him once she’s herself again. I just -” head down and braced against the see-through box, Jeremy could guess what the baby was to this man.
“I am Dr. Jeremy Beckett, CMO of the SGC Narcissus, we haven’t been able to get Mrs. Kirk to answer any of our questions, were you close enough to the deceased to know his medical history?” The young man turned and Jeremy observed the hunched form. Attractive, even when beyond tired and having lost a dear friend, the man’s hazel eyes were filled with pain and sorrow, his blond hair dirty and his uniform mussed; but still very attractive.
“Lt. Christopher Pike, I was filling in for a communications officer aboard the USS Kelvin when it was destroyed.” Running a hand through his hair, messing it up even more, Lt. Pike turned back to the cradle, gently touching the glass. “I was building a case against Winona, Line Theft at least, but I was really trying for coerced bond and pair interference.” The baby held all of the Lt.’s attention so Jeremy tread very carefully.
“Line theft? Was George Kirk a member of any of the royals?” It would introduce an interesting array of problems if George Kirk wasn’t as human as his records indicated.
“He was a Sheppard, the son of Dana Kirk nee Sheppard.” Jeremy’s pencil broke. “He was born on Atlantis, when we had spoken of bonding he had always said he wanted his children born on Atlantis like he was. But Neither were,” Lt. Pike sighed, “there was no legal confirmation I could find that the Sheppard Clan approved of Winona’s bonding to George, but I’m not a citizen of the Union, there was no way they were going to talk to me.”
Jeremy Beckett blinked rapidly when Lt Pike brought his attention back to him, “That would be a basis at least for Line theft. There would be paperwork Captain Kirk had to file for right to birth on Atlantis,” if the Lt was telling the truth this might turn into a huge political battle, and Sheppards fought to the death for their children.
“Perhaps,” came Lt. Pike’s voice, very soft, and once again directed at the incubator, “perhaps he simply didn’t have the time.” The voice didn’t leave much to uncover, Pike didn’t want to think he had been left to dry, ignored and neglected for a woman who by all accounts of her peers might not have been stable even before the Kelvin Massacre. Jeremy Beckett could feel the ache building up in his chest at the very idea that his bondmate would leave him, which was ludicrous, they had been together for years, but psionic bleed-off was a very real thing.
Regardless of whether George Kirk was willingly bound to Winona Kirk or not, because he was a Sheppard and a citizen of the Union it had to be brought before the Council of Nine. A quick dip into his office had a subspace communication window on his monitor and a request for the Union Citizenship Number. Inputting the correct numerals brought up the terminal he needed, and a video request to the Sheppard Clan. Only a moment or so later had a very disgruntled man on his screen.
“Greetings Elder Sheppard,”
“What do you want Beckett?” Jeremy stifled a grin at the abrupt and caustic manner of the man on the other end of the Video call. Many in the Union and the SGC clung to the overly formal manners that had sprung up as an off-shoot of diplomatic relations between nations and people groups, a useful tool to help ensure communication. Then again just as many hated the manners and did away with all but the most necessary in anything but formal situations. Members of the Sheppard Clan were well known to be friendly but blunt, it was their loyalty and determination that put the clan at the top of the social classes, not their diplomatic and political verve. “And it had better be good, I only just went to bed.”
“I’m sorry Elder but the news is anything but good, will you acknowledge there is a son of the Sheppard Clan named George Kirk?” Jeremy watched closely as the Elder nodded.
“Yes, the son of Dana. He currently serves in the Starfleet I believe, he wanted an arena where he could shine as himself and not as another amazing member of the Sheppard Clan.”
Swallowing, this was the hard part, “Does the clan have any record of his bonding or the production of heirs?” The elder shook his head.
“There is one note in his file from a meeting with the Sheppard Clan Mediator that he had professed finding his Anchor, a male he met at Academy and intended to lure him to the Union through the judicious use of Spaceships and really good whiskey.” Jeremy gave a brief smile at the long-standing joke before he caught the Elder’s eyes narrowing, “This was marked as unfulfilled nearing eight years ago and now you’re asking confirmation and paperwork, What happened Dr. Beckett?”
So Jeremy Beckett explained the whole thing: the massacre of the Kelvin, the birth of James Kirk, the suspected mental instability of Winona Kirk, the heartbroken man in his infirmary with a case for Pair interference. At the end, he was exhausted, the Elder was furious, and there was an open line to Starfleet Command and the highest Federation Court Judge the Sheppard Clan could get their hands on. All in all the makings of very uncomfortable coming days.
Or a very uncomfortable night as it turned out. Once Elder David Sheppard was up and awake, concerned about the possible loss and abuse of a member of his clan, there was no chance he wasn’t going to get to the bottom of the issue. Which was how Dr. Jeremy Beckett, Lt. Christopher Pike, and the new born James Kirk, found themselves on the command bridge of the SGC Narcissus staring into the enlarged faces of Admiral Archer, Federation High Court Judge Tav Marceel, Union Supreme Justice Sona’ta Ye, Elder David Sheppard, and General Jack O’Neill. Most of the command crew were the epitome of focus and control going through their jobs like masters, but Jeremy could tell from the minute tremors and twitches that no one wanted to mess up under the eye of one of the founders of the Union.
General Jack O’Neill, like his Anchor Dr. Daniel Jackson, and many of the other founders of the Union who had obtained Ascension and stuck around, was viewed as a man no one wanted to piss off. Records of his daring and bravery from his first career with the SGC had become accessible to the public in the last century. Jeremy could only imagine the untold number of things this man had seen and done. CMO Beckett couldn’t help but run through the list of vanquished enemies put an end to by this man and his team. There was no doubt that this was a man to follow into battle, no matter the cause. He had never left a man behind, and never left a sacrifice unrecognized. It was no surprise that he would take an interest in a custody trial for the sons of a sacrificed Atlantian military officer, who was possibly not with his wife of free will. It was very much something he was interested in.
“I do not appreciate being woken up before the second sun even rises on my planet! If this is over anything but a crime of the highest sort I will have all of you skinned to your bones and fed to a Lishkith!” The pale-blue skinned alien with his multitude of antenna ringing his face looked quite a bit like the carnivorous predator he wanted to feed the Union crew to, having had no time to preen before the video call went through.
To the right a calm and placid, almost bored, response cut the High Court Judge Tav Marceel from winding up again. “Marceel, you’ve been making the same threat for the past twenty years, find a new one.” Dr. Daniel Jackson, lounging in the background of General O’Neill’s vid screen, mischievous smile crooked. “Or else someone might think you don’t mean it.” An insulted huff was all the response that Tav Marceel could give.
“As much as I love the verbal combat you boys get up to, I believe we have some rather serious accusations brought before us.” That was the start, Admiral Archer was a hundred and thirty-eight years old, he had not dragged his body out of his very comfortable bed to watch males in much better shape than he snipe at each other. No matter how much fun it was to watch and listen to. “What was the crime again David?”
Elder Sheppard sighed, “Pair-bond interference, line theft, and spousal abuse.”
“All of which we may be able to prove, but to what end?” Tav Marceel leaned froward, placing his too big facial features well beyond the safe distance from the screen. Distorted, was the thought, and if the words coming out of his mouth were any indication, it wasn’t just physical. “I propose right now that if the prosecution can prove these accusations against Officer Kirk that we keep this quiet. It is incredibly likely that Officer Kirk will not stay planet-side, we can impose joint custody between her and her parents as a precaution in case of child abuse brought on by PTSD. But George Kirk is dead, he cannot benefit from the pressing of charges against his widow, it would only sully the sacrifice he made.”
“Marceel, you can’t think-”
“Be reasonable man -”
“To cover it up!”
A riot was being induced by the alien now sitting very smugly back in his seat, “Come now. Be reasonable. It’s been how many years of pair-bond interference? Eight? Surely if Captain Kirk’s other half felt so slighted, we would have heard about it before. There is no man who exists to prove that George Kirk was an unwilling partner to Winona Kirk.”
“I can.” Christopher Pike showed no fear in the sight of the elite deciding his fate around him. “I followed George where ever he went without question, when he started acting out of character a few years ago I kept track. I had every intention of one day winning George back from whatever Winona had done to him. I have no reason not to use that information now to win custody of his sons.” No fear, no shame, and whole lot of backbone. Christopher Pike looked like he would be making himself at home with George Kirk’s family.
“No you won’t.” Tav MArceel said confidently, antenna twitching gently. “Not if you want to be able to take care of those boys. A Starfleet officer, dishonorably discharged for admitting to stalking, and seducing a commanding officer won’t get you very far on any planet.” General O’Neill was clearly not ready to give up the fight and was already conferring with Dr. Jackson about what could be done. Elder Sheppard was furious, too angry to speak, while Admiral Archer looked very very tired, and Justice Sona’ta Ye, who had yet to speak held thinly pressed lips together.
A light chuckle broke the somber atmosphere right before the voice did. “It was saturation addiction, and I have to admit that if Christopher Pike had ever attempted to seduce me, Winona wouldn’t have lasted a day.” George Kirk was on the bridge.
—- Part Two
Chris was dazed. As much as he had dug in and made himself home in denial he hadn’t expected his best friend and the love of his life to come back from the dead. Though, given the smiles, and outright grins on the majority of Union citizen’s faces, it wasn’t all that unusual for them. He reached out for him, just gently tracing the edge of his torn uniform, feeling the dirt and grit. He could smell the smoke, and almost as though called Chris could hear the sound of his friend’s last moments. Grasping him tightly as he neared, Chris burrowed into the safest place he had ever found, his best friend’s arms, unwilling to let go, or even think about letting go of either of the males in his arms. His boys, Chris would never let his boys go again.
The baby smelt like talcum powder and spice. That spice was all George, heat and burn that Chris had always remembered from their one night together. Holding the infant in his arms with George wrapped around him, whispering assurances, Chris wished he never had to move, but the rising rumble of voices in the background foretold the ending of their moment. “Hold on to James, Chris. Let me handle this and I promise you’ll never have to let either of us go again.” Chris didn’t have to hear that twice, cradling the infant in his arms close to his heart the baby didn’t move. He couldn’t help but protectively shield his son from the gaze of the elite, from the gaze of the crew, from everyone that wasn’t him or George. Their son, their eyes, only.
George stood in the line of sight between his small family and the elite. “I do not appreciate your … editing of events Judge Marceel.” Kirk smirked, “but please allow me to give you mine. After it became obvious that the USS Kelvin required manual piloting to engage the enemy space craft, I elected to stay on board while all the other evacuation shuttles were put in use. Having driven the USS Kelvin into the enemy space craft and lost communication with the shuttles I became aware that there was a miniscule chance that in the blast I would survive in an Evacuation pod. I took the chance and survived to be picked up by the SGC Narcissus, and it was while I was in medical that CMO Beckett detected an undesirable substance in my blood.”
“Whereupon a council was called for both Union representatives and Federation representatives to reign on the custody of James and Samuel Kirk, and the crimes of Winona Kirk.” Dr. Jackson filled in, just as gleeful as George, at the ‘edited’ report of events.
Tav Marceel flailed, literally, his antenna went every which way in his stupefaction, “You cannot mean to tell me that you intend on leaving out your ascension?!” There was money in the study of ascension, Chris knew. Between the prolongment of life and the limitless possibilities of the manipulation of matter, it was one of those cultural facets that the Atlantians didn’t share with anyone, not even their allies in the Union. If the Federation got proof that George Kirk had ascended, it was entirely possible that he would spend the rest of his life in a five-by-five lab cell. Chris wasn’t going to let that happen, he had just gotten George back.
“What ascension Judge? Dr. Beckett and I called you hear to oversee the criminal charges against Winona Kirk, nothing else.” Chris shot a matching smirk to his partner, it wasn’t even a lie.
General O’Neill snorted.
“I will authorize the arrest of one Winona Kirk on two accounts of Line Theft, one count of bond coercion, and one count of pair bond interference.” Justice Sona’ta Ye, an older Jaffa male, finally interupted. “You will send me all your data Lt. Pike?”
Chris agreed, “Of course, sir. I’ll send you all the records I have.” Chris turned hesitant, catching George’s frown. The man had turned to him, his back to the elite, his brow furrowed and his gaze distant.
“I remember a civil service, and paperwork. But it’s not a legal bonding ceremony without paperwork from the Clan being filed with the Union.” A vicious glint came into his eye, “It’s possible she was never legally a Kirk.”
Vicious was the grin on Admiral Archer’s face, “Which would tally up an account of identity theft and masquerading as an officer onto her as well.” rubbing his hands together and chuckling darkly Admiral Archer gave every appearance of planning nefarious things. “Oh, I like the way you think boy. I like the way you think.”
Justice Sona’ta Ye must have agreed with Admiral Archer because a disturbing type of smile crossed the stern Jaffa’s face. “I will keep in contact with you Captain Kirk, to ensure that everything goes smoothly.” A simple blink, interference from subspace frequencies, and both Admiral Archer’s and Justice Sona’ta Ye’s video calls ended. The lack of fanfair was made up by the tantrum Judge Tav Marceel was throwing.
His antenna were rattling, and his complexion was turning a startling shade of purple. He was yelling and shaking, shouting, though the communications officer for the bridge had muted him once the alien had started questioning the legality of birth for the founding members of the Union. It was embarrassing, Chris thought, that a grown political leader could tip into unbecoming behavior so fast. Which spurred another thought. Spinning, but still careful with the baby in his arms, Chris pinned the Communications Officer to his desk with a steely stare. “Have you been taping Judge Marceel?”
The officer shook his head, still pinned it changed direction, and then changed direction again. “Man just answer the damn question!” Elder Sheppard had clearly reached the end of his rope. The communications officer was pale, very pale, when he answered
“ye-yes, sir” Chris gave a decided nod.
After the Union elders had ended the call Kirk and Pike, with their little underweight bundle of joy, were directed to an empty officer’s quarters. Cramped, these quarters were designed with utility and efficiency in mind, not comfort. There was a surprisingly soft bed backed between the two corners of the room farthest from the door. The visible seams of hidden drawers were patterned on the wall, but they weren’t going to use them, had nothing to put in them. There was a small washroom attached with sonic showers, a cramped toilet, and a tiny sanitization station.
Chris was trying not to think about why he was sharing rooms with George. Trying not to let the last sight of the explosion repeat on loop behind his eyes. It wasn’t working. All he could see with the brilliant explosion, all he could hear, heartbreaking, was George’s conversation with Winona, on the name of their son. James, after her father, and Tiberius, after his. The child in his arms, exhausted from wiggling around, was sleeping, or unconscious more like, completely unmoving and trusting with his fragile little body that they would take care of him. As if they could do anything less.
Fingertips dragged up his spine. A palm smoothed over his shoulder, cupping the joint. He tried not to tremble, but it had been soo long. They edged the side of his collar, rubbing circles into the side of his neck. Breath followed, heating the skin, and Chris could just imagine the lips that would follow, the moist tongue that would unravel him.
It was like it was eight years ago. They had shared a set of rooms, as seniors and command track cadets they didn’t have to share, but by that point Chris and George had lived out of each other’s back pockets since meeting freshman year. Chris would sit down to study late in the evening, and George, who had an eidetic memory and rarely needed to study, would let him work for a while, always precisely long enough to get through the majority of the information. Then he would start to move closer. George would go from across the room to right next to him. From a warm body on his bed, to heat pressed against his side. There would be fingers, trailing up his side, over his arm. Followed by breath, then a tongue, then…
But it wasn’t eight years ago, and they weren’t senior cadets. There was an eight year gap between Chris and his best friend shaped like a woman named Winona. Chris had a choice to make. They could pick up where they left off, pretending nothing ever happened. But his heart hurt. Chris could feel the arms around him, he could smell James, feel his soft skin, but all he could do was hurt. Hurt in a gasping manner that had led to long lonely nights where precious memories hurt more when remembered in bed, than in the morning.
How could he tell George no? Eight years on both sides with a painful desire to reclaim lost ground. A furor clamored for physical touch, to ensure they were tied together as tightly as possible. A niggling in the back of his mind that tempted, once the bond was set they could yell and shout and hit as much as they wanted. But don’t let him leave, not again.
Chris was sure of only two things. One: he loved the two males in the room more than he ever thought possible. And two: he wouldn’t survive it if George walked away from him again. Chris knew, he just wouldn’t be able to fight anymore, he’d give up. The last thing he wanted to do, but the most likely to happen. The question remained, for the chance at belonging to George Kirk once again, was he willing to jump straight in? Chris didn’t have an answer before those teasing fingertips met the junction of his shoulder and neck, but even as the familiar kiss was pressed to his shoulder, he knew there was something different.
George didn’t try anything more, simply lay his head against Chris’s shoulder and breathed. Took one deep breath, held it, and let it go. Simply existing from one moment to the next. He hurt, hurt in a way that he didn’t know how to deal with. He didn’t know where to go from here.
He felt the deep breath Chris took, how he let it out and took another. Then Chris repeated it. Even though life had turned upside down again, and he had very little for point of reference George knew there was no sound better than the beat of Chris’s heart, and if he could hear his baby in the background snuffling against his love’s chest, well there honestly wasn’t a better sound.
As they both tried to find words to bridge the gap between them they sat close together on the small bed, James sprawled beside them. It wasn’t until a knock at the hatch jolted them from their standstill. George stood to get the hatch, meeting CMO Beckett on the other side. He shut the opening behind him as he met the doctor.
“I can tell just from your face that interrupting was a good idea.” George snorted frustratingly.
“Interrupted? Interrupted, what? An angry hurt filled silence that neither one of us know how to fill or fix.” He slumped against the bulkhead, running hands through his short cropped hair.
Beckett hummed as he though the situation over. What best to help the man in front of him. “There are specialists in the City who help with bond damage and distrust between pairs, you may want to think about taking some time off from Starfleet to try and heal in the City. In the mean time,” Beckett handed him a small bottle with a thickened creamy liquid in it, flipping the cover back to show him the soft neo-skin medical nipple attached to the top. “This is for James, he should be waking up soon to eat, it contains Union approved supplements for a premi and a space-born baby.” Beckett shrugged, “As for the other, it’s been eight years. During that time you’ve both been very different then you would have been if it weren’t for Winona. Maybe you should start over?”
It sounded like a good idea to George and spinning on his heel, he headed back into the officers rooms. A plan just starting to bloom; he entered and went straight to the replicator. When he was finished, George settled further back on the bed, back to the head board and gestured Chris to do the same.
Chris took his time, ensuring the bottle wasn’t going to go bad, and that the baby settled in the mobile crib wasn’t going anywhere, before he sat on the bed facing George. He was handed a steaming mug, and with surprise on his features Chris listened to his best friend.
“This was how this entire thing started, remember? An argument the evening of a command recruitment event over the merits of mulled hard cider. You had been impressive even then, broad shoulders and lean hips, an easy smile and a free opinion. Douglas Casey had been trying so hard to win you to his command team, even then he had known quality.” George laughed a little and Chris finally smiled.
“He had been badgering me all night about pre-arranging command pairs, handing me glass after glass of that fucking awful wine.” Chris swirled the heated mug in his hand, the memories rising much more gently then they normally would. “And fifteen minutes before we have to hand in our priority votes you walk over to me with two glasses of mulled cider, and toasted to me, wishing us a strong career and a stalwart command. What was I supposed to do expect take the offer?” A smile breaks over his face, turning to the man beside him, trying to match the face in his memory with the weary sorrowful man sitting on the bed.
George turned so he kept Chris’s eye, “when I offered you that mug ten years ago I was following old Atlantian etiquette. Ale is for comrades to wash the taste of blood away, wine is for the seduction of lovers, and water is for children to grow up strong. But cider, cider is for friends, the best of friends. Made from apples, you’re sharing the surplus. Mulled, so your life always has spice. And fermented, to show that life is hard and you can get through it.” George raised is mug to clink with Chris’s. “I love you. There are not enough ways to say or show it that would ever find the depth of my love for you.” Chris nearly stopped breathing, “but we’re both hurt and we’ve got some broken pieces. So I want you to know I trust you and I love you, but you were never my lover for the sake of having a lover. You were -are- my best friend, and when we took that to the next level it was because we were best friends first. I want that back.”
Chris took a sip of the mulled cider and leaned back, “so no touching?”
George snorted, “Like we could keep our hands to ourselves?” Chris smirked. “No, we can touch. But I want my partner and comrade before I want a lover.” George took a deep breath, this next part was going to hurt. “And if – if we decide we can’t get that chemistry right, I can live with that. So long as you’re there.”
Chris was stunned, they were both highly active and physical guys, and here George was saying that he’d rather live, fight, and die beside him even if he couldn’t love beside him.
Swallowing the last of the mulled cider, Chris thought on what he wanted out of life. What he wanted from George. Walking over to the replicator, Chris obtained his order and walked back to the bed with two glasses of wine. Looking straight into George’s eyes Chris said, “I’m hurt and I’m angry at you, at me, at Winona, at Starfleet.” He breathed deeply, always deeply. “But I’m not willing to let you go. I’m not willing to see you in another’s bed. So we are going to sit on this uncomfortable bed, with our son beside us, we are going to drink this disgusting wine, and then you are going to hold me as we sleep. Because I am not letting you go, and I’m not letting you let me go.”
George stared he had Never seen his pair so determined. It was clear his Chris had learned to do without him. A gentle smile crossed his lips, he loved Chris Prove when his stood up to George than ever before.
A cry broke the silence and immediately gained the attention of both men. Unconscious was the decision both men agreed that for all the problems they bad going on their son came first.
“is his name really James?” Chris asked with a grimace.
George blinked, James wasn’t an awful name. There were definitely worse. He had a cousin named Dudley, which was just wrong. “What’s wrong with James?”
Chris couldn’t get the grimace off his face. The harder he tried, the more upset he got. The baby cried as Chris’s hands got overly tight. Gentling his grasp this despaired, “why are you naming our son after he father?”
“oh baby, don’t get so worked up other fathers name isn’t James.” There was laughter in George’s voice and his hands taking the baby. “James was the name of the Patriarch of the Sheppard clan who voted to allow me to attend and serve in Starfleet. We have other options, though we should be careful. The mediator and claim leader has been known to allow the ridiculous just so certain member would learn to listen
Chris snorted, some people were just stupid. Clan mediators existed to guide their family members in decisions that will not disgrace the clan. “That’s not the brightest thing in the world, dismissing the clan’s advice.”
George laughed a little, pulling Chris toward him, careful not to disturb the baby. “They aren’t always the most shining examples of Atlantian culture.” The pause was tense and Chris held back, “CMO Beckett made a suggestion that I wanted to share with you.” A deep breath, “We know we can’t get over this on our own, we need help. The Clan would support our fight against Winona and with the boys.”
Chris turned to watch George, “You want to leave Starfleet?”
George shook his head, “I don’t want to leave, but the Clan will give us the support we need, and it is possible to take a mental health leave. Likelihood is that all the survivors of the USS Kelvin will get mental health leave. I’m just suggesting we take it on Atlantis.”
Dr. Amanda Greyson looked down at the bundle of blanket in her arms. The flesh exposed was flushed an allover green, the little body flopped almost uncontrollably while little lungs panted for breath. Calmly Amanda walked into her husband’s office, “Husband, I believe the child is ill. Perhaps we should call for Doctor Heish?”
Sarek stood sedately from behind his desk and approached his wife. Taking the infant Sarek supported the neck and head with one hand while the lower limbs rested against his forearm. He observed the symptoms that could be seen in the child. There was an overwhelming green flush, a lassitude in mobility, with a slow pulse. “Amanda will you call Doctor Heish and inform him we are coming in?”
Keeping the child secure in his hand, Sarek approached the foyer of the house, calling for the car. Flipping his comm unit open Sarek paged his eldest son, “Sibon, Amanda and I are taking the infant back to the Vulcan Science Academy.” That was all that was logically necessary.
There was silence in the car on the trip back to the very building they had just left yesterday. There had been some risk involved in genetically engineering offspring. The geneticists and biologists of the Vulcan Science Academy had approached the project calculating every advantage to encode in the child. Then after birth, the infant had stayed under supervision for several months to ensure that the nature of mixing the genes had not created an inviable life form. Which was why this episode of ill health was so puzzling, the child had passed all the tests in the sterile enviroment of the Vulcan Science Academy. Sarek was concerned about how this would effect Amanda, his wife had a much softer heart than should be shown and while he had taken in several children for her none had given her the pleasure he had felt through their bond that this infant had. It would hit his wife very hard if this child were inviable.
Taking measure of the child as they entered the laboratory Sarek noted the continually decreasing heart rate. “Heish, the child has a temperature of 35.833*, his pulse is only 116 beats per minute.” Heish acknowledged the data points and took the child from his parents. Walking back to the monitors and technicians awaiting their subject, Heish gave minimal directions. His colleagues were the best in their field, there was no reason to permit anyone less into the cross-breeding project.
The testing went long as samples were taken from the infant to determine what sort of hazards he had come into contact with. Ruling out poisons, toxins, and venoms, a virologist was consulted. Had the infant come into contact with something that they had not taken into account? It was seemingly impossible, they had engineered every particle of this child of House Surak to be dominantly Vulcan.
The seats were hard, such physical comforts were beyond those who religiously practiced the philosophy of Surak, but it could not be appreciated by Amanda. She clung to every little glimpse she got of her son. The rooms were unusually cold for buildings on Vulcan, but that the sterile nature of the cool temperature made it favored in the science laboratories. All she could think was that the impersonal indelicate nature of the scientific procedure could not be comfortable for her baby boy, and the next Vulcan who made a comment about the overly emotional responses of humans was going to find out how overly emotional a human could get.
Amanda had watched as scientist after scientist came and went with pieces of her child. She watched as his temperature climbed and his pulse lowered. She watched as expert after expert were consulted for the treatment of her son. Amanda did not notice the increasing number of members of House Surak that had gathered in the observation deck. She did not care to notice her surroundings except to acknowledge the stoic presence of her husband.
Amanda was the first one to see Doctor Ke’mar in the laboratory speaking closely with Doctor Heish. She wasn’t waiting for an invitation, Amanda was not letting that foul diseased male near her son, living or dead. Barging into the sterile room so fast her husband’s head spun, Amanda headed straight for the Doctors private conversation. And made it just in time to intercept Ke’mar from picking up her son.
If it was one thing she had learnt while in Vulcan it was how to weild their telepathy against them. Funneling the bitterness and anger she tried very hard to hide from her husband each day to the forefront of her mind. She didn’t reach out, she didn’t grasp, and she didn’t wield it. Amanda let her pain and disappointment fester in her mind as she held her hands, fingers straight and palm flat out in front of her, hitting the backs of Doctor Ke’mar’s hands as he reached onto the laboratory table, simply deflecting them away.
“I do not want that male touching my son.” Amanda stood in front of the medical bed and laboratory table her son lay on.
The Doctors blinked, visibly stunned for probably the first time in their lives. Heish and Ke’mar were not unusual in their physical appearance. Both had the slanted brows, black hair, and pointed ears of Vulcans. They did not deviate from social expectation in the cut of their hair, or the drape of their robes. They were not colorful and everything was precisely in its place. In fact the only thing, or person in this case, out of place in the entire room was Amanda.
Amanda knew Ke’mar only from reputation. He was a biologist who was authorized by the Vulcan Science Academy to study and prepare reports on the flawed outcome and failures of the cross-breeding experiments. Though she had never met him, Amanda knew that this was the scientist who had ended up with the first four failed trials in Amanda and Sarek’s attempt to get pregnant. And now this male wanted her son.
“That is illogical Doctor Greyson. By the authority of the Vulcan Science Academy all unviable results from the cross-breeding project are to go to Doctor Ke’mar for further research and testing. There is no reason to become emotional over the offspring.”
Amanda out right scowled at the caustic words coming from Doctor Heish. Her son was not a research subject and he was not unviable. Shooting a quick glance over her shoulder, first to ensure her son was still breathing and second to check the support of her husband. “It is unacceptable that you have not made every attempt to help my son.”
The corners of Heish’s lips and eyes tightened a minute amount and if he weren’t Vulcan, Amanda was sure he would have been sighing or screaming, or both. “It is illogical to expend valuable resources on a futile effort. The child is unviable, it will die.”
Amanda left the Doctors, and the adults of House Surak, one line before she bundled her son up to take him home. She was not willing to leave him in the hands of scientists who wanted his body for research. Regardless of whether or not her husband supported her, she was not a slave in her spouse’s house and refused to act like one any longer. She had a career waiting and resources beyond their expectation.
As Amanda left the building, her son in her arms, her voice echoed: “He’s still breathing.”
“We should eat dinner in the galley tonight.”
Chris choked. If he hadn’t been holding the baby, who was still way more active than was natural for two day olds, over the sanitation station Chris might have thrown something at his partner. This just meant that George Kirk was still as sly and calculating as ever, he was after all the one who had suggested the bath for the baby. George had made a valid point about being seen outside their cabin. The survivors needed to see him, to know he was real, and possibly to start healing. But just because it was a valid and logical argument didn’t mean Chris had to like it, it wasn’t like he was a Vulcan or anything.
Chris couldn’t respond, regardless of how efficient the diaper was, it had to be on the baby for it to work. Turning his back on his partner Chris focused intently on the baby giggling on the sanitation station table. Not even just because he didn’t like the idea of sharing George, but because this was his son, and he was going to do this right. Grasping James’ ankles, gently, Chris smoothed the vitamin enriched cream into the infant’s skin. He lay his son down on the thin super-absorbent material of the diaper. Calm breathing, Chris thought, James will mirror you, be calm. Amazingly, it worked, James slowed down and Chris was able to finish with the new diaper.
Catching a look at what very little evidence was left in the old diaper Chris does a double-take. “Wow, what do they make these out of? Certainly not the same thing they use on Earth.”
George laughed, moving away from the entrance way of the sanitation station. “It’s a micro-level absorbent, thinned and layered. It comes from MiYu. Interestingly enough, it’s also used in medical absorbents and as the first layer in all Union-issued armor.”
Chris blinked, “diaper absorbent?!” George burst out laughing, most had that reaction upon finding out what else the micro-level absorbent was used in.
“Come on, is it really that startling? Or are you just used to Earth cotton?” taking the clothed baby from his dumbfounded partner George cuddled the hyper active bundle of joy. Directing his attention to his son, “You’re gonna be a handful aren’t you? Gonna drive Papa and Daddy up the wall?” It was the silence that clued George in that he said something that they hadn’t spoken about yet. Something he took for granted, that Chris would want to raise his sons with him. That Chris would want any children.
Spinning around George saw the shocked look. George didn’t even know what to say in the face of that big a blunder, didn’t know how to make this right. It wasn’t a hypothetical, wasn’t an if, wasn’t an even ‘sometime in the future’. Because of Winona, George Kirk had two sons: a newborn and a four year old and because of Winona again, one was a Federation citizen and the other was Union citizen. George was still working on how to legally kidnap his eldest son, change his citizenship, and leave no legal loopholes for Winona’s lawyer to crawl through. Instead, he hasn’t even fully reached agreement with his Paired to move to Atlantis, at least for a little while, and now he drops the big fat reminder that he has children who aren’t Chris’s in front of his face. “Chris, I-”
“No.” George wilted. His heart stuttered, and breath froze in his lungs at Chris’s denial.
“Just, n-no?” He didn’t even want to scream, he had promised his Paired that if the only thing he could have of Chris was platonic companionship then it would be okay. George would learn to hold each moment frozen.
Immediately, George’s mind started running in circles of custody papers and citizenship requirements and Legacy Trusts. Who from the Clan or the board of Elders would be best situated for helping Sam and James as they grew? George was determined his sons, regardless of how they came to exist, would be credits to the Clan. He might have to follow Chris for a while, show him the benefits of the Union over the Federation. George was positive given enough time his Paired would realize the best thing for them was being on Atlantis. And if he never wanted parental rights, well then George would make sure they never forgot that the Clan loved them, that he loved them.
Chris was still watching his two boys and he saw George shut down. Saw him clutch, gently always gently, James to his chest. And he cursed at his poor timing, at the speed with which George’s mind worked, if it was just a mite slower Chris might have been able to finish his thought. Stepping close, and pulling George, and James, closer still Chris breathed in their breath. “No, I’m not sharing you tonight. We can go out to get our meal and tell everyone we’re alright, but I am not sharing my boys with anyone tonight.”
Again George’s heart stuttered, absentmindedly he noted that he would have to arrange to speak with one of the Ascended Elders about physiological mistakes. “Your boys?”
Forehead to forehead they touched, as close as they could possibly get to one another with clothes still on. James gently crushed between them, always gently, mouthing lightly on the fabric of Chris’s shirt. “I told you I’m not letting you go, and I’m not above manipulating our sons to do it.” A moment, “Besides we’ve been making reference to custody battles, diaper responsibilities, and advanced lesson plans all day. It’s not my fault it only just occurred to you that you never asked me.”
A huffed breath pressed against Chris’s lips. “Let me change that: Will you, Christopher Pike, agree to assume guardianship of George Samuel and James Tiberius Kirk? No stipulations, no incentives, no compromises. You agree to put their needs and safety before your own?”
Breath kissing back Chris took on the same solemn whisper George had, even the ever-excited baby James was content to continue drooling on his fathers, the quietest they had heard him. “I do.”
A deeper breath, still solemn whisper, still sharing air, “Do you, Christopher Pike of Federation Aligned Earth, agree to a Pairing Arrangement? Will you allow I, George John Kirk of the Atlantis, a member of the Unified Stargate Protectorate, to meet with you on common ground in the hopes that as you Anchor me, I may provide you with sails?”
For all the seriousness of the situation, Chris still gently laughed. The overly poetic language that Union citizens, especially Atlanteans, adopted in formal situations was always funny to Chris, given their almost rudely blunt honesty and no shit attitude at any other time. But no language barrier was going to keep Christopher Pike from the family he should have always belonged to. “I will.”
After that, nerve racking anticipation and nauseating miscommunication, dinner should be no problem.
On Earth the phrase was ‘worth their weight in gold’, originating in the ancient custom of ransoming a Greek or Roman general for their weight in gold. Amanda Greyson was sure after she was done with the Vulcan Science Academy that they would say she was worth her weight in salt; because she was sucking everything they had to give out of them. There would be no one of worth left standing after she got done with them.
Amanda had plans to proceed with but upon entering the main residential building of House Surak in ShiKahr she found the entire household arranged in the foyer of the entrance. Pushing her way through the crowd of security, house staff, and business aides Amanda found her husband’s first son waiting at the base of the stairs. “Sibon, what is the explanation for this?”
Sibon was as Sarek’s son from his first marriage and like the other three fosterlings he had taken in to mentor Amanda had to wonder what Sarek thought he would accomplish. These were not males who would have ever needed a mother, all fairly mature by the time theirs was gone, and there was no acceptance of a human woman. These males had never made her feel needed and she had never felt comfortable in their presence. If Sarek had been trying to find a release for her biological clock so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the VSA’s cross-breeding project he had failed. If it was her husband’s intention to extend their clan name to three other immaculate representatives of Surak’s philosophy then he definitely succeeded.
“Sarek called to inform the household what had been the prognosis on the .. experiment.”
Amanda’s eyes tightened, not quite glaring, but nowhere near friendly. “I see. And did he expound on the .. platform of House Surak in this trying time.”
Sibon did not move a muscle, the members of his House would laud the young male’s control over emotional response. The House would never admit to it, but Amanda Greyson was a scary and intimidating woman. “It is the ruling of Elder T’Pau, under whose guidance House Surak is lead, that the expenditure of resources to save the life of a failed experiment does not balance.”
For one instant all Amanda Greyson wanted to do was hit someone, or scream, screaming would have been good. It was in her experience that Vulcans really had no idea what to do with an emotional being. Instead Amanda used all of her political training and familiarity with Vulcans to come down hard on her knee-jerk reaction. So she leaned back and caught the eye of her husband’s son, “Don’t you think it’s hypocritical of you to follow Surak’s teachings, which say that to honor life, then all life must be held sacred?”
Spinning Amanda confronted her husband, who had just walked in, “Why is my son’s life not sacred? What empirical proof could you possibly provide that would show that my son is worth less than any other?”
Sarek stepped forward, drawing the complete attention of his irrational wife. “There is a reason that tradition does not name a Vulcan child until a year has passed, there is a high mortality rate among Vulcan infants, even now. Amanda, the child is already dying. There is no respect in the prolonging death. Let the child go. If you desire a child so strongly we will try again, perhaps by understanding where we failed with this one the other might live longer.”
Sarek had said the wrong thing, and if Amanda had even been tempted by the idea of easing the pain of her little one her husband’s words dug her trench for her. Her back stiffened, her chin came up and her eyes glittered with determination. “The use of every possible resource at our fingertips to try to save this son, my Spock, is a Nonnegotiable Clause. Are you In Contempt with this?”
There was stunned silence. Vulcan had grown too far away from the emotive species they shared space with. They couldn’t understand the driving need Amanda had to try every eventuality in an attempt to save the life of her son. There were divorces in modern Vulcan society, though usually spurred by a branching of desires between spouses. Because Vulcans are not proponents of emotion, but rather logic, it is easy to break their shallow mental bonds. Even those bonds created during Pon Farr, like Sarek and Amanda’s, were brittle and easily broken. Most rulings for divorce were approved, the bond broken, and the spouses went their separate ways, free of each other but not restricted from each other.
Only one divorce protocol was eternal. A holdover from pre-reform Vulcan, a Nonnegotiable and Contempt Divorce meant that the spouses had found an issue over which it was possible they would kill each other. In an effort not to carry the death of their once partner with them for always, one partner would issue the Nonnegotiable clause. In Amanda’s case the Nonnegotiable clause was the expenditure of resources in an attempt to save the life of her son. Then the other partner would have the opportunity to compromise or change opinion, if they did not then they decried they were In Contempt of the Clause and would no longer recognize the other as their partner. Each would go on their way, their marriage and bond annulled.
Sarek was stunned. He had not seen that coming, could not have predicted that his wife felt that strongly of the life of the failed experiment. It was irrational to be that attached and illogical to imbalance the affairs of the House for one infant. So Sarek said the one thing he felt he could, “I am In Contempt of the Clause.” There was a moment of silence. Most in the building, watching the debacle were stunned that Amanda would go so far as to divorce her husband.
“You will abide by the pre-nuptial agreement? That any research, papers, credits, or contacts made during our marriage remain mine and that neither you nor House Surak will attempt to claim any of it?”
“So long as it is agreed you will not seek recompenses for the annulment of our marriage?” Sarek rejoined. Amanda did agree and the divorce was witnessed by Elder T’Pau and the majority of House Surak. After gathering her work items, minimal person effects, and some infant care items a car was called to take Amanda to the shuttle terminals. By the time she hit the shuttle terminals and bought tickets on the next ship leaving Vulcan, Amanda was no longer upset. She was still angry that her husband would not stand for his son, but there was nothing she could do about that. She would log a complaint against the VSA for inhumane experimental techniques and procedures. Hopefully, incredulity alone would drive someone to validate or invalidate the report.
Amanda was not sad to go. She had done the right thing and was saving her son. She didn’t look back either.
The galley on the SGC Narcissus was on the third of four levels and near the middle of the ship, regardless of the centralized location and the clear layout of halls and walkways it took Chris and George a long time to actually get to the eating hall. The crew of the Narcissus were complete professionals, even if their eyes followed their back as they passed there were no inappropriate comments, no threatening or frightened movements.
Chris chalked it up to the Narcissus being a Union vessel. The Union of Stargate Protectorate Planets had more than their fair share of heroes and saviors. The military arm of the Union, the Stargate Command, was well known for pulling of the impossible and saving the day in the eleventh hour. It was a significant part of the tension between Starfleet and Stargate Command.
The Union of Stargate Protectorate Planets had been founded against the Ori, an immaterial species of beings capable of manipulating matter and drawing energy from those who worshiped them. The Ori traveled through the Milky Way Galaxy like a plague leaving destruction and devastation in their wake. So the Stargate Command, then stationed on Earth and charged with the security of that one planet, authorized a series of talks between several of their longest lasting alliances and most power allies and they devised a strategy to undermine and eventually destroy the Ori. After the enemy was defeated those planets and peoples whose homes were destroyed received as much aide as they needed in order to get themselves back on their feet. That was the start on the Union, after the consolidation of the Federation only a few decades later what had started as a loose alliance became a strongly centralized and federal organization that protected, provided, and guided the groups under their care.
Vulcan heavily influenced the political movement for a primarily pacifistic Federation, pushing the Stargate Command and Union culture from Earth almost entirely. The day the signing of the Federation was enacted over 2.4 billion people left Earth for the people and organization that had supported and protected the planet for decades before Vulcan science and Orion pleasure arts. Chris couldn’t blame them, politics on earth in those days was vastly different than it is today.
That was the difference though, Union culture meant George and he could walk down the hallway and see respect and courage reflected in the eyes of those around them. When they walked through the hatchway of the galley they were nearly mobbed. Complete silence that lasted only long enough for Winona not-Kirk to through herself out of her chair near the opening and sob into George’s shirt. Or at least she tried to.
George had no intention of every touching Winona again and he certainly didn’t approve of her in contact with his son. So he shifted, just a small amount, back only a half-step and raising his arms so that a giggling baby James could swing his feet and completely miss Winona’s touch. The fact that she ended up on the floor was an unanticipated windfall. The fact that it halted everyone else in the eatery was also really nice.
Winona was on the floor at his feet and she was glaring up at him, knowing or simply suspecting that he had something to do with this failure. He couldn’t resist, “You thought you had it all figured out. That you would have him forever, but you forgot I had him first.” Chris crouched a within her personal space, “I never gave him to you Winona, and I was always gonna take him back. Now I have him, James, and soon I’ll have Sam as well.”
Winona had never appeared to be a violent woman, though if she was willing to use chemicals to keep a man by her side there were clearly unmapped depths to her. So when she sprung at him fingers hooked to claw at his throat and face, Chris staggered back unprepared for the savage attack. She threw him down to the floor beating on him, snarling about “disgusting filth”, “defiling her George”, “at least her Sam knew better”, and finally as she was being dragged away from Chris she caught sight of James.
“What will you teach him, Filth?” she spat, “At least I would have taught him he wore another man’s face!”
And that was the end of it for George, getting up in Winona’s face was relatively easy now. She was being restrained by several of the off duty SGC Marines, big buff military men who had jumped to defend one of their own. “Being rescued from that evac pod was the best thing that ever happened to me. CMO Beckett found the chemical saturation you used to manipulate me Winona Nimh, and he flushed them out.” Glaring at her furious and flushed face George found closure, “James is not me, he is not wearing or borrowing or using my skin, he has his own. And I will make sure he never has to admit that he gave him life.” Directing his attention to the Marines, while walking back to help his Paired. “Get her out of my sight!”
Dr. Amanda Greyson, formerly of ShiKahr on Vulcan, was on a shuttle headed for Hub 2-33. There were over a thousand Hubs spread between Union and Federation space. These giant space stations allowed for the rapid movement of material and personnel between spaces. Once at the Hub she hoped to get on a Union vessel and headed toward Atlantean space. She just needed to get authorization first.
The screen primed for her Union identification code, a string of eleven numbers that are unique in all the universe to you. The code would identify her to the security system, and the person on the other end of her call, that she was Dr. Amanda Greyson authorized communication with the Elders of the Union of Stargate Protectorate Planets because of her work on “The usage of protocol to facilitate communication between widely diverse groups in the Union”. Now, all that was needed was the corresponding identification number for the terminal she wanted to contact.
The mess of numbers cycled through, once, then twice, before a connection was established. The visual need a few seconds to stabilize before it was clear but the audio was coming through nice and clean.
“-cile, I know primitives with better math than this! What the hell is this? Calculus? You’re fired. In fact you’re all fired! I don’t want to see your faces again before tomorrow morning.” The man who was blowing so much hot air should have been ridiculous, no one should be that arrogant or abrasive. Dr. Rodney McKay had been treating his underlings and minions the same way for over 200 years, it had come to the point where most of his department was made up of Jaffa, Vri-Vulcans, and a few incredibly gifted and stalwart humans. Dr. McKay ran the Higher Sciences division on Atlantis, there was no one better and there was no one higher than Dr. McKay and his lab. He had planned mass destruction and the end of the known world a time or two from that lab. Amanda was sure that that was what the Surakan Vulcan were so unhinged by. The man had planned and committed genocide from that laboratory and most powers in the Union couldn’t be convinced to care.
Eventually the blinking light on the communications screen caught the attention of Rodney as he made to pass to another section of the room. He grimaced as he sat down, “You look like shit Amanda.”
She choked, going from technically polite and spiritually rude, to technically rude and spiritually loving was going to give her whip-lash. “I divorced Sarek.” Rodney didn’t look surprised, he had suggested when she had first mentioned meeting the Vulcan that they weren’t going to last forever. Sarek wasn’t from the group of Vulcan that even believed in forever love and wanting to love forever.
“You know you’re welcome here on Atlantis Amanda, do you need the authorization?” Amanda nodded gratefully, knowing that the friends she had made during her stay there in her youth had stayed friends, had stayed concerned for her. And now they were opening their doors for her, embracing the Union creed – No Friend Alone.
“I-I’m not alone Rodney, and I’ll need Keller’s medical expertise.” Rodney frowned and fiddled with something on the consul in front of him.
“I can get you on a Frigate shipper going from Monhou to Ninlee. The Araskis is passing through Hub 2-33 in 30 minutes and will be going through Supergate 4 in an hour. If you can make that then the SGC Ashes will pick you on the other side of Supergate 4 and ferry you to Atlantis. You’ll be here in three hours, sound good?”
As much as it was Amanda’s nature not to want to inconvenience anyone, it was her son’s life at risk. So three hours until her baby boy got help, as opposed to the 12 weeks it takes without authorization to go through one of the Supergates, or even as opposed to never getting help on Vulcan. Compared to those options, three hours sounded wonderful.
Amanda had never thought she would be back in Atlantis. Her life had changed so much since she had done her study here. She had married Sarek, conformed on Vulcan, and finally had Spock. After everything that had happened recently with the Vulcan Science Academy and her In Contempt Divorce of Sarek, she was not the same woman who had left Atlantis almost two decades earlier. This was not a tourist destination; they were still very much on the front in the war against the Wraith. It showed on the City, and the City’s relationship with the Union. This was the heart of Stargate Command, “the breeding ground of heroes” one general once reported. The City was covered in defensive perimeters and patrols continually sweep for stowaways. Amanda was scared. Scared to be this close to the war against the Wraith, and scared that her baby wouldn’t make it. That was the cincher, she had already proven that her son’s life was worth more than her marriage. She knew that if any place would be able to save her baby, Atlantis could definitely do it.
Shields vibrated around the City as it appeared from the clouds of poisonous gas that protected it. There was only a ripple as the shields around the city did not open, but merged with the shields surround the SGC Ashes. It gave no vulnerability, no weakness for either the gas or the Wraith to take advantage of. Shields capable of funneling the energy of a hit back into itself, strengthening the shield. More efficiently using energy, at times even adding to the energy powering the City. They equipped every SGC vessel and city in the warzone. The Federation had been trying to get the engineering behind these shields since Damien McKay had designed them to save the City from its toxic hideaway 50 years ago.
Atlantis’s raised spires reached through the clouds, inviting her vessels home. Inviting her people home. Amanda had never understood the confessed feelings of security, comfort, and welcome that Atlantis had evoked in the soldiers and scientists that repeatedly worked on the floating city. Now she did, catching sight of that cityscape in the window she was overcome by the sense that if only she could set foot on Atlantis, everything would be fine, everything could be taken care of if she was there.
Amanda had never thought she would be back to the City, it had taken years to set up the paperwork to come the first time. Years of paperwork on top months of training in emergency situations. More reading in legal disclaimers than most medical experimentation programs, all of which culminated in silence for the first 336 hours of her stay in Atlantis. It had been unreal, the exclusion the majority of Atlanteans participated in against new comers. She would admit to the benefits she had reaped from her stay on the City. She had received recognition from several different sources for her work about Atlantis and the Union.
In fact she had been recognized by Sarek because of her work on Atlantis. There first conversations had been on the nature of emotional attachments in Atlantis, as opposed to elsewhere. He had argued that it was the nature of the battlefield, while she had argued in favor of the highly popular ‘Clan Inclusion Theory’. The idea that there was something different in the biology of Atlantean residents that effected how they formed emotional bonds with other and how other people formed bonds with them. Sarek called it illogicaly superstitious, Amanda snorted, finding humor in the idea that his son might grow up heavily influenced by those who believed in this highly illogical superstitious argument.
While those 336 hours at the onset had been hell, Amanda would admit, the exclusion against her was not because of her citizenship or her study of the people, but because of the inclusive nature of the Clans and the heavy military subculture. And the people who were forwarded to the front on Atlantis were the best of the best the Union had, because of that there was often an arrogance that native Atlanteans or long term residents crushed out of them pretty fast. No one left Atlantis the same way they went in. And if they did they often left in a body bag.
From the window on the starboard side of the SGC Ashes, Amanda could see Rodney waiting for her. As each soldier of the vessel debarks for some well-deserved leave, they saluted Rodney as they passed him. They would be back later to ensure that their ship was ready for duty as soon as possible, for now they were just stretching their legs. As always Rodney scowled at the military men debarking from the ship, to him they were all ridiculously stupid and should not be allowed to acknowledge that they breath the same air that he … well, doesn’t breath to be fair. Luckily, Rodney’s Paired at long-standing orders for military members to respect and obey Rodney. He had also broken Rodney of his habit to use them for experimentation, much to Rodney’s misfortune.
Walking down the ramp Amanda smiled, “Where is John, Rodney? He did not think he could exist without you.”
Hands were flailed, “he said something about ‘welcoming a lost lamb’. Poor kid’s probably gonna die of shock, being welcomed by his- What is that?!” the finger pointed as Rodney’s voice raised and Amanda had the dubious honor of shocking silence into Rodney.
Gently shifting the exhausted and sick child in her arms, Amanda thought about replying to the stupid question with a stupid answer, as she would have when she was first here. But that wouldn’t suite her needs. “My son, Spock. Rodney, he’s very ill.”
Immediately Rodney was on his Comm unit, directing medical to be prepared for a pediatric Vulcan emergency. Amanda didn’t wait for the Director of Sciences to lead the way, the closer she got to the infirmary the faster she walked, until she skidded through the door. Spock’s breath hitching in her arms, his fever still high, his pulse still low.
Gentle, always gentle, hands took the baby Vulcan from her to examine his physical form. Amanda distantly noticed a male couple in the other side of the infirmary, a giggling baby with them too, but her concern and attention was on her son.
Warmth suffused George, from his head down to his toes, as the happy feeling of home made him giddy. This was what he had missed. It didn’t matter that you could barely see the nearest star through ‘Smokescreen’s’ thick red and yellow gas. It certainly didn’t take into consideration the gas giant’s toxic atmosphere or the repulsive smell the ships would emit from having traveled through the gas. This was home. There was an excitement and hope that filled George to the brim with so much happiness. Looking down to his baby boy, James was wide-eyed and silent at the immensity that was Atlantis, welcoming them home. Eyes so large it appeared they were completely blue and an open mouth showing drooling gums, too surprised to have known that his pacifier had dropped.
Popping the cleaned item back in his baby boy’s mouth, George shot a look to his partner a quip dying on his tongue at the expression on his face. Chris was not happy, not happy at all. Creases had developed at the corners of his eyes and his mouth, and wrinkles on his brow and described how not happy his partner was. “Chris?” George gently touched the other man’s elbow.
“What if I’m not enough, George?” The pain in his blue eyes, soo close to the blue in their son’s, grasping at courage but coming up short.
“You’re crazy Chris, How could they not love you?” Sliding his palms up the other man’s arms, “You are everything I could ask for in a Paired One. Honest to a fault, brave enough to willingly take guardianship of my sons, smart enough to know I wasn’t myself.”
Chris nearly flipped out, and like all things in the past few days, the only thing that kept him from doing so was the baby. Keeping James happy, a desire of both of them, meant keeping their voices even and the movements smooth. James had been good for their communication skills and relationship, George had laughingly joked that all bickering spouses should take their children to therapy with them. Chris had replied that some parents didn’t love their children enough not to bicker, that quickly shut down that joke. “That’s just it George! We were incredibly close to Pair Bonding when Winona took you, what if they felt I didn’t do enough? That I didn’t act fast enough? What if they try to take Sam or James, because Winona wasn’t your Paired?”
“Winona was ass over teakettle crazy! She attacked you on an SGC vessel, which was reported. How could they possibly think you didn’t fight hard enough? You were the one with the evidence!”
“I don’t think I fought hard enough!”
The silence was deadening. George’s high from being close enough to the City to feel her was obliterated. His world had been rocked, it was visceral the reminder that as much as they had been getting back in the swing of being together, Chris still flinched when they touched and George still cried out in his sleep. They were far from good, they just looked better.
All George wanted to do was make it better, but he couldn’t. This wasn’t something fixed with a dirty joke, like at the Academy, or diverted with some heavy petting. Chris wouldn’t even look at him. Head turned away and with his shoulder tight George didn’t know how to approach him. Was he even allowed to? How many times had his partner ached because George had a ring on his finger? How many times had he been frozen at night, waiting for George to crawl in beside him, only to realize he wouldn’t? How could they ever get better when Winona had caused so much damage? When he had caused so much damage?
It was the sniffles that caught their attention. Big blue eyes leaked clear liquid as lips trembled. A little nose scrunched and little arms flailed as James gave up. His voice rose and fell, at times piercing in its pitch and at others silent for lack of air. George and Chris leaped to comfort their baby. James couldn’t understand what he felt, or where it came from, only that he felt it. And George swore to himself and Chris, James should never feel like that in their hold again.
Chris couldn’t deny it. His fears were not going to help him against the Sheppard Clan, and definitely could not solve any of his problems, and most importantly they were hurt his son . Something would have to be done about that.
Debarking from the SGC Narcissus which had been their transport the entire way from the site of the USS Kelvin massacre to Atlantis, they met a surprisingly rumpled welcome party. Four men met their gaze. Two tired blondes in BDUs, a sharp eyed man in haphazard sciences gear, and a surprisingly pristine military officer. Who to Chris’s eyes seemed to … glow. Just a little.
George greeted the glowing man with a warm hug first, even as James continued to cry in the background, “Patriarch, I didn’t know you could exist without your Paired? Where is he?”
The glowing man, which just registered to Chris as a sign of ascension, laughed. “Rodney is on the East pier doing the same thing as me. Welcoming home lost lambs.” The Patriarch’s keen gaze pinned Chris to place. This wasn’t a man to mess with, Chris thought it likely that this man had never been someone you messed with. After all, not many ascend. “And who is this?”
George gamely did the introductions, “my partner, Starfleet Lieutenant Christopher Pike, and our newest addition, James Tiberius.” Standing with his arms around their small family unit like any proud father would. The man in front chuffed, clearly uncomfortable.
“George, Son, I’d love it if you left that part out when you introduced him to your mother.” He was a wiry and wrinkled, one of the tired messes in BDUs. “Tiberius Ioannes Kirk, George’s dad.” He stretched a hand toward Chris, tweaking the baby’s nose on the return.
Chris blinked. “That’s a hell of a name.” The group laughed as his new father-in-law explained that his mother had been the Atlantean Record Keeper and Historian around the time of his birth, it was rather unfortunate.
The hyper but disheveled scientist was introduced as Caleb Beauzen, Paired One to the second tired military man, who was introduced as Doug Krete-Kirk one of George’s closest cousins. They had been passing by when pulled to be part of the welcome wagon.
“Patriarch John Patrick Sheppard, partially retired SGC General and a ruling Elder of Atlantis.” The unsaid, ‘boss of us all’ had Chris nervous, especially as he started reaching for James.
It was a lollipop, but Chris had been nervous, anxious, and scared of this man for too long to let him get away with spoiling his son this early in the game. It was quick work to grab the unwrapped candy from the glowing hand before James could taste it. Popping it in his mouth, Chris gave a cheeky smile to cover his shakes as he passed James to George’s capable hands. “Thanks. I was just thinking I was hungry.”
The calculation wasn’t gone from the Patriarch’s eye, though it had dimmed a bit. But Chris had drawn a line in the sand that he was completely willing to back-up. His son was not a pawn to be manipulated, and neither was George.
Amanda was preoccupied with her concern. So worried that the VSA had been right, that her boy wasn’t going to live. She cursed Sarek for putting that nightmarish word in her head, unviable. So she paced, a movement she hadn’t done in years, attempting to expel the nervous energy while staying out of the doctors way. Back and forth between the open space before her son’s bed and the windowed wall at the other end. Wringing her hands and worrying as though she was nothing more than the illogically overemotional being the VSA and House Surak claimed her to be. All Amanda could was admit a certain amount of chagrin, being exactly what they thought she was.
Until she hit a wall. Well a wall made of flesh and leather. It smelled of hot sand and spice, a lot like Vulcan, but where Vulcan had always held the lingering smell of antiseptic, this male smelt of blood. It was only his quick reaction that ensured her back didn’t hit the hard floor. Amanda looked up to her savior, had to keep looking.
The male was head and shoulders above the majority, including Amanda, and regardless of the point of his ears and the slant of his brows this male was the antithesis of all things Vulcan. The antithesis of Sarek. Armor, scuffed and beaten, clearly used, clad a body used for war. Geared up ‘for the devil’s work’ as her mother would have said. Scars littered an impossibly well-muscled frame. The hands that had caught her were covered in some type of partial glove, limiting sensation on his end Amanda would have guessed. A safeguard to inspire security in his colleagues, many refused to work with the telepathic races out of a false sense of paranoia. False, because more often than not the telepath could care less about their secrets, they had better things on their mind.
Amanda appreciated the gloves for more than security around a touch telepath, because she was sure her shocked mind couldn’t help but draw parallels to her recently-divorced husband, which might be offensive to this male who clearly didn’t follow Surak. She hadn’t been touched by any except her husband in a very long time, Amanda didn’t know how she would react to unsolicited contact. At least this male had been brief, wide covered palms had braced her against falling and then he had stepped back. Giving Amanda a clear view to his peculiar red-brown eyes, and the tightly woven plait of braids that crested his head in a Mohawk, from his forehead and to the small of his back.
A high pitched shriek filled the air, the alarm for spikes and dips in vital organs had gone off, Amanda spun around, there was no way she would be able to bury her son. Lunging forward to the back bay where the pediatric beds were Amanda was abruptly stopped by the most ridiculous sight. There was another baby on the biobed with her son. And he was … teething of Spock’s ear?
“What is going on!?” It was a good thing Rodney was still with her because she was stunned by what she saw. A little blue eyed devil was sitting up on spock’s bio bed, tufts of blonde curls uncovered from the infant sized command-gold onesy he was wearing. And when he caught sight of Amanda the baby gave a chiming giggle and smiled. Proving that he did in fact have her son’s green flushed ear pinned between two soft gums.
“Did you do this!” Rodney was up in the face of his Paired One, making the two men in Starfleet uniforms lean back to get away from Rodney’s push. “I will not let you get away with tampering with the testing!” While Rodney ranted and raved, something he greatly enjoyed doing, something his partner also greatly enjoyed watching, Amanda directed her attention to the output on the biobed. Now that her blood pressure had returned to normal Amanda could see what the biobed had recorded, and she felt her eyes grow damp.
Spock’s blood pressure was rising, approximately a beat every 30 seconds or so, slowly creeping out of the danger zone. And his temperature, which was at a level dangerously high to doing damage even to humans, let alone Vulcans, was dropping. Not fast by any means, and it would be likely that he would have to stay in the infirmary for several more days, but her son was going to survive.
Large covered palms caught Amanda as her knees gave out. So relieved to realize that her baby boy was going to make it, that she paid no mind to the strong body that picked her up when it gave out. Ignoring the still going argument in the background, she vaguely heard Rodney move on to some grievance against engineering, Amanda turned to the doctor checking vitals at the base of the bed. “Thank you, thank you so much for saving my son.”
Doctor Beauness, as the name tag stated, was new to Atlantis, “I only did my job ma’am.” His charming smile was stuck in place as bared fingers graced over his wrist.
“Don’t lie.” Rumbled beneath Amanda’s ear, and she couldn’t even be bothered that her first reaction to the Vri-Vulcan’s voice was to associate it with heady summer nights, good chocolate, and whiskey. It rumbled, where Sareks had always been precise, was warm, where Sarek’s had been cold, and it incited in Amanda feelings she hadn’t had to deal with in a very long time. Feelings she definitely didn’t have time for now. “He doesn’t know.”
“Well, do you Haus’k? The situation with Spock had been the reason we called you back to Atlantis.”
Chris was so far past overwhelmed he was pretty numb. He thought he had hid it pretty well except that his partner kept inserting himself between Chris and everyone else. No one got close, no one touched him. And while George did not go so far as to answer the question directed at him, Chris was thankful that very few were. He wasn’t entirely sure how they hd ended up in the infirmary. There had been introductions as they passed groups in the hall, where Chris tried to be cordial and polite. Patriarch Sheppard had given information on their housing suite, the arranged therapy, and tentative plans for a Clan event but Chris was tired. Right now all he wanted was to crawl into a bed with his partner and know that their son was safe near by.
Instead he finds himself jolted awake and at attention, hearing the sirens go off around him. Ducking flying pieces of metal, smelling the burning flesh, and trying desperately to herd everyone to the evacuation shuttles. It took a few minutes for George to get through to him, but he was there, holding him.
“Com’on Chris, come back to me.” Slowly the wreck of the USS Kelvin was replaced with the blue spires of Atlantis, with its crisp blueish metal clashing the red and yellow gas swirling outside the shields. George was just in front of him, worried blue eyes trying to bring him back.
He leaned into his partner, “thanks.” His voice raspy as his ears rang, clutching at George. They were far from good, and sometimes, like now, they didn’t even feel better. “It was the alarm.”
Surprisingly, it was Patriarch Sheppard who took the next move. Resting a warm hand on Chrs shoulder, feeling a lot more welcoming than it would have earlier, he guided them back into the pediatric bay. “Then let’s go find out what happened.”
Seeing exactly what happened once they reached the source George humorously slumped into his partner and groaned. “it was James!”
Chris laughed a little, “Weren’t you predicting earlier that he’d give us hell?”
“I meant later! James can’t even move on his own yet. Regardless of his ridiculously advanced development, we left him in a crèche bed in the infirmary. It wasn’t like he could just rewire the shield that kept him in!”
Chris gestured at the baby in command-gold, saying the same thing he had when the baby was purposefully dressed this morning, “he’s your son.” Doing a double-take Chris let his arm fall and walked forward, directing his next question at the nurse right next to his bed. “Is that boy’s ear in my son’s mouth? Nevermind. Why does my son have an ear in his mouth?”
Because he did. James had one pointed green-flushed ear in his mouth, pinned between toothless gums. The baby Vulcan, and how weird was the thought that there were miniature Vulcans waiting to grow up into precisely accurate and calculating adults. And one of those miniatures was laying against his son’s chest, head crooked on his shoulder, propped up so that his ear could meet his son’s mouth. That was beyond comprehension.
“Failure to thrive.” The deep voice came from the Vri-Vulcan Rodney had called Haus’k. Very intimidating and very alien. These were beings of extreme emotion who made no effort to make their violent society tolerable to foreigners.
John diverted to Haus’k, clearly and abruptly ending his ‘discussion’ with Rodney. “Failure to thrive? I thought that rarely happened to Vulcans?”
Beads jangled as Haus’k nodded. “Yes, Vris promote deep bonds between family members in the first months of a pup’s life. And Surakans have adapted to the shallow bonds currently used. Both Vris pups and human … babies are dependent upon physical contact, it would not occur to Surakans that they were hindering the pup’s development.”
The woman, with dark hair and dark eyes, moved herself from beside the warrior to a chair beside the biobed. Dragging bare fingertips up her son’s arm, she smiled gently and then repeated the action to James’ delight. “Thank you little Captain, for saving my Spock.”
James reached to reciprocate, tiny hands and fingers grasping toward the gentle mother. Reaching to far and over balancing. Sending his diapered butt into the air and Spock’s face into his stomach. That was when things got a little heated.
There was an audible ‘oof’ as both boys ended up without oxygen. Then, and Chris couldn’t figure out who, but one fist hits soft flesh with a shriek and all bets are off. George and Haus’k immediately wade into the battle between the two babies, when Chris notes, not for the first time that James is unnaturally in control of his body.
Trusting in his partner that George would get James free of his mess, Chris turned to the nurse on watch, who held an antiseptic and gauze in hand, to ask, “James is only a few weeks old, is he supposed to be as active as he is, Nurse ..?”
“Marianne,” the blonde medical assistant filled in. “And the physical development of Atlantean children is about twice as fast as the average on Earth.” Clearly his shocked expression must have showed because she continued. “Part of that is environmental, Atlantis affects the physiology of all of her long term residents by influencing certain chemical components in their biology. Its why fatalities on Atlantis are most often immediate, she tries very hard to ensure we don’t want to leave. 200 years cannot undo the damage of 10,000.”
“And the other part?” George asked as he held James to the biobed, ensuring the nasty cut created by Spock’s milk teeth was taken care of.
“The other part is enhanced genetics. As a member of one of the Clans of Atlantis, you know that all founders of the Clans were descendants of the original Alterans, and that after they took back the City certain enhancements were done to ensure the lasting legacy and continued survival on Atlantis. This means James, like George before him, will develop faster, have greater control over his body sooner than his age group. He’ll likely start puberty at the early end, and it will likely last longer. James will live longer, learn smoother, and heal faster. This will happen whether you raise him here on Atlantis or elsewhere in the universe.”
And that, Chris thought, was a lot to think about.
“Thank you for helping.” Amanda had watched as Haus’k had waded into the roiling mass of baby flesh and little feet. He had gently but firmly disengaged Spock’s teeth from James’s shoulder and pulled him to safety. She watched how Spock slowly calmed while resting in the crook of the male’s arm.
“There is no debt.” Haus’k said as he carefully arranged Spock to straddle her right elbow, facing outward and securing her forearm across her son’s tiny body. Amanda immediately noticed her son go limp as her wrist cradled his chin near her left shoulder. “oh, that, what did you do?”
It was odd seeing the gentle light in Haus’k’s eyes, Amanda had certainly never seen it in Sarek’s. “It is of vital importance that your son feels he is safe. The easiest way to do that is for him to feel your pulse, your wrist against his face accomplishes this. It is how most of the females I know hold their children.”
Knowledge, Amanda soaked it up like a sponge and wanted more. So she asked, “You are a member of the Vri-Vulcan? Do you live and serve here on Atlantis, or are you just passing through?”
“I am serving here as all of the elite of the SGC must do, but my home is on Hephaestus, in the city of Chronia, home of the gate.” Haus’k smoothly guided her out of the infirmary and back to the main halls. “It is not much different from the physical state of Vulcan: hot, arid, desert. But it where my people tried to start over after Vulcan.” He was very careful to keep their walk appropriate and impersonal even as he gave personal information. “I am Haus’k, of the House of Loau’k, and I know your pup’s name is Spock, may I know yours?”
Amanda blinked, in all the time in the infirmary no one had mentioned her name? Or situation? How strange. “I am Amanda Greyson, formerly of House Surak on Vulcan.” She watched as Haus’k’s gliding walk stuttered for a moment while assimilating that information. She caught the careful glance he used to appraise her, as he slowed their walk to a crawl, and then a stop.
“I can only think of one thing that would drive a wife from a husband of such a House as the House of Surak.” His disposition was grey, “but I cannot believe that a pacifist would try to kill his own son.”
Amanda fortified her breath, tensing every muscle but she felt soft pressure of covered palms against her shoulder as she was reminded of what that might do to her son. “House of Surak had decided that they would not expend the resources necessary to ‘prolong the death of an unviable experiment’.” Haus’k visibly winced and started moving again.
“We are a tough and violent people on Hephaestus, but we love and respect just as violently as we hate and despise. Surakans do not do either. They suppress their emotions until the fevers come and it forces it out.” Haus’k shot her a mischievous smirk, brow quirking. “That can’t be as fun as they wish it were.”
Amanda was red. A bright cherry red as she choked and spluttered against her humor in the idea that Vulcan spends so much resources ensuring no one in the Federation knows about their literal seven year itch. While those from Hephaestus make no bone about their natural desires.
Eventually they ended up in front of a door in the long term visitor’s hall. And Haus’k left her with this thought, “Your son is not human Dr. Greyson. Do not be afraid to ask for help and support as you try to figure out exactly how you want to raise your son.”
Chapter Six – Twelve weeks later
Custody battles were hell, and given that he had spent the last ten weeks in one George felt he was in a unique position to say that. Their situation was further complicated by the fact that George was a Union citizen, Winona was a Federation system, George and Chris had seemingly kidnapped James (since Winona and George were not legally married) and because of the law suites Clan Sheppard had leveled against Winona. So after weeks of arguing through third parties an Inter-planetary Judge had ordered both sets of perspective guardians to get mental checks from a Federation licensed telepath.
These telepath were normally Vulcan mind healers who, because of their adherence to Surakan philosophy, are able to maintain the proper professional neutrality. George had been adamant that it not be Surakan Vulcan, a seemingly ridiculous request to make. But the judge had allowed the request given the nature of George’s offense against Winona. So, George sat in the bland office of a court ordered telepath, a Desken, one of the species that could receive but not transmit. The male, and George hadn’t bothered to remember his name, was required to refile through his mind to find any unscrupulous behaviors. Anything that would put his sons in danger.
The Desken smiled with his eyes, given he had tentacles instead of teeth most people freaked out, as his voice vibrated out of his chest. “I will explain what will happen then we will begin. I will establish a temporary bridge between our minds from which I can monitor your thoughts. Once that is done I will show you the prompt cards and make not of any issues the court might have with your opinion. As this is court ordered for evidence in a custody battle and I am required to share my results with the Judge, anything considered confidential to your Clan or position in Starfleet will be redacted before leaving my office.” Once agreement was obtained, the Desken got a very strange look on his face before he nodded and set the tablet with the case-specific pre-loaded prompts in it on the table between the both of them.
The first dozen or so were standard psychiatric evaluation prompts. There was Earth and its standards, the Federation and its standard, certain more … alien members of the Federation. George responded fairly neutral too these, unconcerned with these issues, looking for hatred and unchecked prejudice against these groups. Then started the prompts about the Union, which George was sure most got hung up on. For many years after the split there was a propaganda war reminiscent of the one between the old United States of America and the old United Soviet Socialist Republic.
So a picture of Atlantis was home, and one of Dothaloniq included a sensation of power and security, what with it being the Capitol of the Union. Then the prompts went back to species, bland faces with neutral expressions; there was a Jaffa, an Orion, an Ascended Elder, in all of their glowing propaganda, and finally a Surakan Vulcan. This might be a problem, George knew, because the Surakan Vulcans were the prized children of the Federation, they could do no wrong according to the Federation. While all George saw was the tiny serious face of his son’s baby-boyfriend, Spock, and the information he had learned about Amanda Greyson’s fight for her son’s right to life. No one would have ever thought pacifists had condemned a child to die.
All George could remember was the image of Haus’k, badass alien in Union war-leathers, tossing a giggling baby in the air and catching him. Ensuring that Spock, and in turn James, was protected no matter what happened on Atlantis. The same badass alien who George knew tortured a Wraith to death in hopes of finding out where their hive was, feeding Spock his enhanced formula at a daisy printed breakfast table. Haus’k may be a murderer to Federation standards, but he was a hell of a better man than Sarek.
The Judge came back from his deliberation pale and looking a little faint. His serious countenance did not break, though he fiddled with his glasses before giving the verdict. “After the consultation of two mind healers and a psychiatric doctor, it is the judgment of this court that custody of James Tiberius Kirk and Samuel George Kirk no longer be in dispute but at the discretion of their father, George John Kirk of the Clan Sheppard. And that in continuance of the law Winona Leigh Nimh be remanded into custody for a court-ordered mind healing, given the evidence that she is a danger to herself and others. Dismissed.”
George breathed a hefty sigh of relief that the Judge had been reasonable. It had not been outside the realm of reason for him to deny George and Chris because of prejudice against the Union’s more violent nature. It had happened before.
Just as he was leaving, arm around his family, able to see Sam waiting just outside the doors for the first real sight of his dad in over three years, the bailiff stopped him.
“The Judge would like to speak with you for a moment.” And as much as George wanted to tell the Judge to shove it where the sun don’t shine, because his family will finally be together for the first time ever, it really was bad form to ignore the summons of a friendly Federation Judge. So, encouraging his group to meet him in the Justice Hall’s lobby in just a moment, George willingly followed the bailiff into the Judge’s quarters.
It was a pleasant enough resting room, comforting without being relaxing, and the Judge was waiting for him. “I don’t normally do this, but it concerns the evaluation of both your sons. So, you should try to get your Samuel to attend a mind healer, he has had some pretty nasty conditioning to break before it breaks him.” George tried not to snarl, holding himself tightly together. “As for you little James, it concerned both the pediatric mind healer and myself when she brought it to my attention. Your son seems to have a residual or left over from mental communication. Dr. Homze was concerned of this affecting James’s individual identity as he grows. Too much bleed over, from whoever or whatever is touching his mind can hinder personal development, not that it looks like James is or could be hurt. Only that it has happened.”
George nodded, he only had the faintest idea of who could be in James’s mind, and given the two’s propensity for being in each other’s space even unconsciously, this could be a problem. “Thank you for your concern Judge, a pediatric healer has already been contacted. As for James … well, we’ll see how that goes.”
The judge nodded. “Thank you for meeting me Captain Kirk, now get out of my office ad go meet your family!” George was plenty happy to do just that.
Amanda honestly didn’t know what she was doing, meeting her ex-husband for lunch. The custody paperwork had gone through fine, placing her as primary guardian of Spock and the Kirk’s with secondary guardianship should anything happen to her before Spock reaches his 21 birthday. So, Amanda really didn’t think it could be that, and what she really wanted to do was tell Sarek to shove his unsolicited advice up his-
“Amanda, I am pleased you were able to make our arrangement.” It was Sarek’s voice, leading her awareness of him before his body, and to Amanda’s disgust T’Pau and her husband had joined him. While she had been Sarek’s wife Amanda would have hopped to attention, seeing to the comfort of T’Pau and her husband, ensuring every courtesy was enacted. Now all Amanda wanted to do was slouch in her chair and ignore that fact that when she heard Sarek’s clipped and precise speech all she wanted to do was remember one male’s rumble. Since she was unwilling to do either she remained seated.
“I was under the impression, Sarek, that this lunch would be between me and you.”
T’Pau scoffed, if Surakan Vulcans would admit to scoffing which Amanda highly doubted. “It was requested of Sarek, from House Surak, that he arrange this meeting to inform you of the duties and responsibilities of S’chn T’gai of House Surak.”
Amanda boiled. She had come to this meeting willing to be generous and set aside expectations in memory of the affection she once shared with Sarek, but there was no call for insulting her! “My son’s name is Spock. I’m do not know who it is you’ve named.”
“S’chn T’gai is Sarek’s son, if you wish to call him something easier for you to pronounce, Amanda, then you may do so.” Amanda watched in rising fury as her lunch mates ordered proper vegetarian dishes, and just in spite Amanda ordered something meaty wondering exactly how much of the Sheppard Clan had rubbed off on her in the past twelve weeks.
As lunch progressed the conversation got more and more snipity. Sarek made subtle digs against her weight, saying she was heavier than optimal. T’Pau noticed that the child in question was not at the luncheon and impressed upon Amanda the need to appraise Spock’s development. And T’Pau’s husband, a fierce some attender of Surakan philosophy named Muire, constantly opined that she, as a human, could not possibly provide for the intellectual stimulation a Vulcan required. All the while Amanda made the most revolting noises as she attempted to eat her way through a truly enormous cut of rare steak, giving her companions some very interesting faces.
Unfortunately Amanda was only a fourth of the way through the steak when her appetite fled at the announcement Muire made.
“You have no power here Amanda, S’chn T’gai of House Surak is part of the cross-breed program, therefore he must be within reach of the Vulcan Science Academy. Additionally, his existence was paid for by House Surak, which means that the House has certain rights toward his availability. At optimum you retain your independence of House Surak but are required to stay in ShiKahr so that the Vulcan Science Academy and the House Surak.”
“This is correct, regardless of the worth of your work, testing would have to occur regularly to ensure proper data collection and analysis for further cross-breeding attempts. S’chn T’gai would have to be available more frequently than living off the planet would allow.”
“No.” Amanda replied to T’Pau’s calculation. What else could she say? There was no possible way she was letting her son become lab rat after she freed him. If the only way she could keep him that way was to legally fight everyday to his 21st birthday she would. If it meant she found a world to hunker down on and was never seen from again, she would. She had already made that decision, her son was worth more than anything.
“It is in accordance of Federation legal code A-432-01, states that unless it is a situation of abuse a patriarch or matriarch, of a Clan, House, Tribe, Flock, Herd, or Huddle cannot be kept from their child. Vulcan law puts children under the control of their parent until the age of thirty.” Muire stated, “So you see Amanda, you really don’t have any choice.”
“That is incorrect.” And in walks her Knight-in-shinning-armor, or rather badass-alien-in-leathers. Amanda wondered if this was becoming a thing for them, her struggling to do it herself when he swoops in and solves the problem, from boo-boos with band aids in the infirmary, to bed time rituals that include tamed war stories, and now fending off the exs. She’d literally had a woman on the City ask to borrow ‘her badass alien’. Of course once Haus’k had come back disheveled and peeved, he’d pinned her to the wall and made certain she knew that while he was indeed ‘her badass alien’ he was not to be loaned out.
“Afternoon Amanda,” Haus’k said, running two bare fingers up her arm, she had finally asked Rodney about the gesture when she had noticed both John and George were prone to doing it to their partners too. She had learned more about honest gestures of affection between Vulcans, in this case the Vris, than she ever had living on Vulcan. The gestured was to convey a sense of the partner’s well-being, affection, and be arousing all at the same time, it was also done primarily between already bonded or long-term relationships. And the Atlanteans had stolen it from the Vris. So while Amanda enjoyed the flummoxed expression on the other half of the table, and it wasn’t the first time Haus’k had done the gesture to her, she still had no idea what was going on. The fact that he winked as he nudged her over in the booth, passing her the baby as he sat, did not help. “Are you going to finish that Ashayam?”
Amanda chuckled, “go for it.” Handling her son so he sat on the cleared table before her, back to the others at the table, she laid two fingers on her son’s temple as he grasped her face with his whole palm and gently asked, “So what did my boys do today?”
There was a slow flow of pictures that entered her mind. The San Fransisco space market as a flash of cheerful color and sound from a very high vantage point, he was probably being carried by Haus’k. Then the soft feeling of his blanket when she had put him down for his morning nap. And the delighted giggles of one blond blue-eyed baby who took up the majority of Spock’s world while they played with the cuddlies in the crèche they shared while in San Fransisco.
As the images ended Amanda came back to herself to see her quiet baby boy had an enormous smile on his face. Spock removed his hand and leaned forward to cuddle into her chest. Not for the first time and not for the last Amanda wondered how much of the Sheppard clan had rubbed off on them, and spying the calculating, and disturbed, looks on the faces opposite, she wondered how much of it she could get to stick.
She turned to Haus’k, who was clearly enjoying the bloody steak, “you mentioned they were … wrong?”
Haus’k grinned, “You, Amanda ashayam, were granted primary guardianship of Spock until he is of age to make his own decisions, which among the Surakan Vulcans is 21. Unfortunately, social guardianship of a Vulcan’s responsibilities to his House lasts until the age of 30, when the House no longer has control of a Vulcan’s actions.”
Amanda frowned, that didn’t necesarily sound good. “They have nine years of my son’s life to hurt him Haus’k.”
“Nah, according to Federation law a House can only require certain respondsibilities from their members. Their requirements cannot be sexual in nature, have to abide by his personal ethics and philosophy, and do not include medical experimentation.” Haus’k genuinely smiled at Amanda, which just so happened to show his very usable and pointy teeth to the Surakans, and illicit a likewise pointy smile from her sleep son. “Besides, we’ve got 21 years to ensure Spock’s head is screwed on right before they try to mess him up.”
After and exhausting day with the kids asleep and the family safely back on Atlantis, the parental units were sitting down to brainstorm a number of solutions to several problems. All three of the boys had had a good day, but they had seen the first signs of damage in Sam. He didn’t speak, didn’t smile, didn’t touch. He was skinny as a rail under clothes a size or two too big, but he didn’t ask for more dinner. He was cold to the touch most of the time, but if George or Chris didn’t dress him in a sweater, then he didn’t wear on. Sam didn’t try to play with the toys, not James’s and not the ones they had gotten just for Sam either. At most he was incredibly reserved and shy, given the discussion he had witht eh Judge, George was more inclined to think it was training. They just had to figure out how to help him.
Somewhere along the line, probably between the time James first teethed on Spock’s ear and Amanda comng to their apartment with a wailing baby Vulcan, they had stopped being close friends and had become a family unit. As oddly looking as this unit was. Now, about to set out a plan for helping the oldest child in their group, the three humans were waiting on Haus’k. If he couldn’t help them keep realistic perspective, at least he might be able to keep them from panicing. George couldn’t believe how many times in the past four months he had been on the verge of hyperventilating because of Spock or James.
When the door chimed, announcing an authorized person the male who walked through the door was not at his best. Haus’k looked a little pale and there was a noticeable tremble in his hands as he stood before them. Considering that George knew the male slaughtered the universe’s most deadly enemy on a regular basis with giddy enthusiasm, that really didn’t look like a good sign. He spoke just as two glowing lights entered the common room. “I’ve been promoted to Huk’la.”
Amanda, George, and Chris sat at the daisy patterned breakfast table staring at Haus’k, two of the number not even knowing what Huk’la was, just knowing it couldn’t be good. And the one that did know what Huk’la was paled. The two who had glowed-in behind Haus’k blinked.
Daniel, fixing his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose, turned to Jack, “Well that’s not good.” Jack, a warrior himself who had long seen the value in Haus’k and was unsurprised, just shrugged. Then he justified it when his Paired One glared at him.
“Listen, as awesome as your plan was, it was going to be hell trying to get him marching orders on Dothaloniq. Haus’k is a grade-A warrior, the fact that he’s been cycled through Atlantis at least three other times proves that. He’s been biding his time before being pulled to Huk’la. Personally, I’m happy Cmdr Eff’k has been demoted.”
Haus’k raised a brow to Jack, “Cmdr Eff’k is dead.”
To which all three Atlantean men replied, “Good.” Amanda blinked, turning shocked eyes to Chris and wondered, not for the first time, what she had gotten herself in for.
“What is Huk’la?” Amanda kept eye contact, though her eyes kept widening as the horrifying truth of what her … friend would undergo was heard.
“Huk’la are the elite of the Union’s military forces. They work as fixers, solving grisly problems before they exist. They’ll be used as tactical precision weapons against enemies of the Union. These units are most often made up of Jaffa, or Vris, or augmented humans like Satedans. Everyone else is just burnt through too fast. A secondary boot camp, fondly referred to as ‘The Month that God Forgot’ followed by case after case after case of chasing Orion slavers, Wraith scouts, misbehaving G’ould, rumors of Ori, and hard case penalty pushers – escaped murderers and the like traveling through dead space.” Jack had recited it with excitement, clearly enjoying the fact he didn’t have to worry about being killed, but the silence made him regret his verbatim recitation. “They have really good medical policies?”
Daniel groaned, “Fact is Haus’k has over four dozen wraith kills to his name, not to mention a spotless record in the civilian Vri corps and a bloody one in Union general infantry. Regardless the lack of power his House has on Hephaestus, Haus’k of House Lovak has caught the eyes of several in politics. He’s physically impressive, his service record is impressive, and Elder David Sheppard enjoys throwing him in the faces of the Surakans as proof you don’t have to be an animal to protect your people.”
“Luckily,” and Jack gave a cheeky grin, “the base for the Huk’la isn’t in Dothaloniq, where the rest of you have positions waiting for them, but as a member of Huk’la, Haus’k is required to take a certain amount of leave each quarter for mental health. So he’d be back every so often.”
“So,” Daniel said, for once imitating his Paired One, rubbing his hands together. “Any questions?”
“I just want you to breathe right now Sammy. Can you do that? Just breathe.” The woman was too close. Too close. Sammy didn’t know what she wanted, she spoke quietly but was reaching out a hand. Hands brought pain, brought punishments. What had Sammy done wrong? He knew he was bad but he’d followed all the rules. He had to follow all the rules.
Sammy didn’t speak. He remembered being small and calling out to the man with the bead and wrinkles. Called out, reached up, wanted to be held. But that weathered hand had swung out. Sammy had fallen to the ground, his eyes had leaked, and pain burst across his face. The ringing in his ears never stopped. There was always ringing.
Sammy didn’t touch. Sammy had fallen down and cried out. The lady with wrinkles that the man with wrinkles lived with had walked right by him, Sammy had reached, reach out for comfort. But the pointy shoes stepped on his tiny fingers and it hurt, it hurt a lot. His eyes had leaked again. Sammy knew better now, don’t speak, don’t touch.
Sammy was always hungry. He had never been allowed to sit at the table with food. The lady-with-wrinkles always fed him after the man-with-wrinkles was in bed. It had always been hard and cold when Sammy ate it, there was never enough but Sammy didn’t dare try for more.
Sammy didn’t touch. This was different than touching people. If Sammy touched people he was ignored or hurt, but if Sammy touched things they would see him. Sammy didn’t like the feelings their eyes gave him when he touched things, so Sammy didn’t touch.
But these new people were different. There were other little people in the rooms he slept in. The little one in gold had tried to chew on his ears, but the little green one had squeaked and the gold one had stopped. They had played with the toys in the box that came from the wall, had tried to share with him. The little green one had moved to even show him how, but Sammy didn’t touch.
The big people had no wrinkles, Sammy hadn’t ever seen anyone without the wrinkles, but these people didn’t seem to like the lady-with-wrinkles and the man-with-wrinkles. Their mouths had moved and redness had crept onto their faces and there had been a dull roar. But Sammy didn’t know what it was supposed to be, Sammy never knew what it was supposed to be.
Sammy had thought there were new rules to go with the new people, but he didn’t know what they were. And if Sammy didn’t know what the new rules were it was better if he stuck by the old ones, even if the cuddly that looked like the big green one sat in the corner that Sammy could see from his bed so he could see it in bed. Sammy thought that maybe if he was good enough, one day he could have the cuddly.
“Now remember to breathe Sammy. Just Breathe.” The lady who sat too close was easing back from where she had sat with her fingers on his face. Sammy knew she was like the little green one and the big green one that often were in the rooms where Sammy’s new people were. But he didn’t know what that meant, so he just watched her lips, all he could hear was that ringing sound. “And we’re done.”
“So the good part,” A’neesh of House Mori stated as she met with George and Chris, “is that Sam really wants to love and be loved, in his mind ‘to be good’. I can feel it in his mind, he’s still a good boy.”
“The bad part?” George wasn’t sure he even wanted to know the answer.
“The bad part is he’s been very hurt for a very long time. Even after Sam starts to forget what happened, and because of his age he will, it will still influence his behavior.” Passing the couple on the couch a tablet that contained reading material A’neesh continued. “The most debilitating of these injuries is some sort of injury to the ear. Sam can’t respond because he can’t hear you. So the first step is to arrange for a pediatric check in the infirmary, then this is how we’ll proceed.”
A’neesh laid out a plan that would hopefully help Sam Kirk regain more of the boy he should have been. It included things like precise wording, careful body language, and positive reinforcement. Things that to be added to their interactions with James and Spock as well, to ensure that Sam didn’t draw the wrong ideas. They would have to work very hard to ensure that their eldest son knew he was loved, that he was loved just as much as their younger, and that he had all the help he could get.
This family unit were Kirks, and Kirks were Sheppards, stubborn and determined they didn’t let anything hold them back. Not even ghosts of the past. Even as George and Chris made plans to help Sam, Sam was helping them. Their relationship had progressed and stalled in steps like any other, but they were scared. Scared of being hurt again, by Winona, by separation, by anything. But they now had two other reasons they needed to face their fears. They had two brilliant sons who would need help eventually facing theirs.
Chapter Eight Four Years Later
With Haus’k in Huk’la there was nothing but memories and friends keeping George, Chris, and Amanda at Atlantis. And with positions waiting from them on Dothaloniq there was no reason to procrastinate. George and Chris worked with the Inter-Alliance logistics division, ensuring that communication was kept clear on both sides so that emergency and relief vessels got the help they needed. Amanda had taken a position with a xeno-linguistics firm, working as a translator most often between Jaffa and Federation Standard. It wasn’t what any of the adults honestly wanted to do with their lives, but there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for their children, including suffering through crappy jobs.
Life on Dothaloniq was interesting to say the least. Orignially a market and trade planet with a substantial cliental, the number of people who traded on Dothaloniq had exploded once the Union made the planet their headquarters. So there was a nice range of species to be introduced to, a wide range of cultural advantages and learning opportunities. So Sam, Spock, and James were exposed to a wide variety of things. Life was nothing to complain about.
Sam’s hearing was mostly healed and implants were put in to counterbalance what his hearing couldn’t pick up, so he got better in a hurry. For the first few months it was one step forward, two steps back. A toy would have to be put in Sam’s hands before he would hold it, a little extra was added to his plate a little at a time to offset the malnutrition. His language skills were slow to develop and he had trouble associating pictures with the verbal names, Sam relied heavily on reading lips and eventually written words to understand what people were trying to say. As though he didn’t trust what his ears were hearing.
The first major breakthrough came because of a cuddly and happened at the hands of Haus’k. It hadn’t been intentional, Haus’k had come in the door on leave. His dusty sack dropped to the tiles of the courtyard shared between the Greyson Household and the Kirk Household. James and Spock came barreling out to him, throwing their little arms around him squealing in delight, or at least James was, Spock was more reserved. But both boys were clamoring for ‘trophies’, little items Haus’k brought back from his work in the Huk’la.
James as had become the trend, received a map, folded and refolded so that there were spots that you couldn’t read James still treated it like treasure. The little bundle of printed paper, a rare commodity in this age of tablets, was clutched to the little blonde’s chest. A wide smile gracing his face, until his blue eyes almost couldn’t be seen. In later years, after Haus’k had left the Huk’la, James would make Haus’k tell him the stories while they poured over the maps together, hearing each one so often they would become memorized.
Spock would receive the same type of token, the same trophy for every won campaign Haus’k participated in. It was a coin. A Coin that would be added to a chest in his room where, while Haus’k was gone, he could take them out and count them. Calculating the probability of Haus’k’s return against his history of victory.
In the year that this ritual had been enacted as part of Haus’k’s homecoming Sam had never taken the trophy Haus’k had offered. Four times the Vri had handed Sam a toy, or item, only for the boy not to take it, it hadn’t been heartening to realize that for all Sammy’s communication skills were picking up, his disassociation wasn’t going away.
There had been a key. Skiny and unique in that very few used actual keys now. But he hadn’t taken it. There had been a spaceship in miniature, one that to George looked suspiciously like the Orion Slaver that had gone missing in no man’s land, but he wasn’t asking questions. The third attempt had been a baby –tablet containing some fairy tales, James and Spock had been fascinated with the stories, but not Sammy. Then there had been a silk scarf, shredded on one wide side and unravelling on one end, Chris had been the one concerned with the washed out stain, a stain that looked like blood, especially since Haus’k had come home with stitches in his arm that time.
But this last time, for sheer hilarity, not expecting Sam to take it, Haus’k held out a little doll that Amanda thought looked suspiciously like himself. The cuddly was about a foot tall with little black boots and a little grey Union Uniform. The doll had Haus’k’s plaited Mohawk, pointed ears, and green tinted skin. Haus’k offered it to Sammy with a sad smile, completely stunned when shaking tentative hands took the plushy from him, cradling it close to his chest. From then on Sammy received little dolls in the traditional dress of all the places Haus’k was required to visit, but none of them ever received as much love as that first doll that looked like Haus’k.
For four years James and Spock had simply been ‘the boys’ and guardianship of them had been shared between the two family units. They were fed in whatever house was holding dinner, they slept in the same bed, they shared toys and cuddlies, some of Jim’s clothes were at the Greyson household and some of Spock’s were in the Kirk household. They were put in the same crèche, they each pushed the other to do better during lessons. James taught Spock to smile and Spock ensured James didn’t poke his finger into a socket just to see what would happen.
It should have been odd. Very odd for two territorial and tantrum primed toddlers to be able to share that much. It didn’t help the confusion that Spock and James were just as likely to drag Sam along with them, as they were to keep it to themselves. Amanda, George, and Chris tried locks, gates, night patrols, and punishments but nothing kept the two from crawling out of their cribs in the middle of the night. It took Chris to realize that Spock was reading their nightly plan from their skin and then giving it to James through another touch. Unwilling to put her son to bed without touching him, but unable to get ahold of Haus’k while he was on assignment, Amanda took a chance and left a message asking for help from House Lovak on Hephaestus. She got it.
Help came in the form of an older Vri female named Hona. Her grey hair tightly plaited, and dressed in robes of grey and tan she looked severe and threatening, at least to Amanda, who was not sure she wanted this female in her house and was about ready to close the door again. “Dr. Amanda Greyson, I presume? I’m here to save you from your children.”
In retelling this story to Chris and George, they immediately dubbed her Mary Poppins, which was not well received by the female in question. But, she handled all three boys well and by the end of the week she had them on tightly running schedules, filling in the places needed most in their crazy combined household. Hona tutored all three boys in advanced lessons, citing that if the Kirks wished to disadvantage their sons they were certainly free to, but so long as they were in a house she ran, which was not a phrase that went over well with Amanda, then the Kirk boys would be getting lessons too.
To George and Chris’s chagrin both boys flourished under the older Vri female’s guidance, referring to her irreverently as Nana. It cracked the Sheppard Clan up, because what was not communicated to Amanda via the House Lovak was that Hona of House Lovak was the mother of Haus’k. And that even though Hona had work in the House of Lovak, she gave it up to travel through several different wormholes to take care of the woman and child her son had claimed from House Surak of Vulcan. Amanda got over her dislike of the female who took excellent care of all three boys. George and Chris ragged constantly over vid call to Haus’k about his mother. And Hona of House Lovak tried very hard to learn to love these children her son was giving his all for.
It worked well for a while. Haus’k had mentioned more than once that he enjoyed having something to come home to, but Amanda grew disenchanted. She loved when Haus’k came home, loved having him in her life and bed, but worried at his seeming disinclination to form some sort of permanent bond. She didn’t worry that he would leave the boys, just that he would tire of her. That the affection, passion, and friendship they had would grow stale or old like her relationship with Surak had. Then the worst happened, Haus’k was in the middle of a three month recon of what George and Chris refered to as a Big Bad, and Amanda got marching orders.
Her xeno-linguistics firm had signed a contract with a research and development company, agreeing to provide an interpreter for the fifteen years this company expected to stay on their new planet. The new planet Vulcan. Her firm wanted her to move her household back to the place she had run away from because ‘she already knew the people’.
All Amanda could think of was the challenges ahead, because she was heading into battle. This was not going to be good.
George didn’t know what to say, as much as they leaned on each other this was really Amanda’s choice. She had to decide if she wanted to raise her son on Vulcan. ”This isn’t a choice we can make for you.”
Hona, Chris, and George watched as Amanda seemed to deflate. “I don’t really have a choice. The penalty for breaking the employment contract is more than I can pay… I still have eight years on it.”
“Perhaps there is a way around the employer’s contract. What are the terms?” Chris reasoned, keeping a calm head. There were usually loopholes in contracts, though they were often really obscure and seemingly impossible. it they were lucky then perhaps
“The Contract was the best I could get for Stable work: medical insurance regardless of where I’m stationed, life insurance’s. N case of death while working. The contract for Vulcan also includes housing stipend , a increase in pay and stipends for childcare. The only catch is that I pay 68,000 credits for breaking contract.”
The group winced. 68,000 Credits was almost an entire years pay for a translator.
“Do you think Sarek of Surak House has the pull to influence your employers to force you back to Vulcan?” Hona brought up one scary point. The family group already knew that the Vulcans were much less ethical than they would at first glance appear. Was it possible that House Surak was willing to push the issue of visitation to the point of forcing Amanda back to Vulcan to get their hands on Spock?
“Before this went done I would have said absolutely not, they were too ethical.” Amanda chewed on her thumb, “Now? I’m afraid to say it’s entirely too possible.”
No decsions were made that evening, but in the following months it became apparent the Amanda was going to have to move back to Vulcan. and she was going to have do it without Haus’k, he still hadn’t come back into communications range from whatever mission he was. She had left messages with George and Chris, hoping that he got back before the Kirk-Pike family moved too.
Everything was in the air. The family unit that had healed and grown together was breaking up. Amanda rued the day she let her paper on Atlantean society sway her way into the sights of Vulcans. She had been too captured by the words they said to notice that their actions didn’t follow through. Now, she had to deal with the obsessive quality most Surakan Vulcans denied the existance of. Worrying she was walking into a trap.
Her home was packed, her possesions prepared for stellar shipment. The boys were down for their last nap together, Sam would be just getting home from his level one lessons. Amanda paced, she was overly aware of the fact that in just over four hours her life would turn itself upside down again and she was no where near prepared for it.
“What if Surak places pressure on the ruling council to force visitation? What if Spock doesn’t adapt well to the environment? What the classes aren’t strenuous enough? What if they’re too hard?” For every question Amanda’s panicking mind could ask, Hona had a quiet answer.
Surak could not force visitation, the custody hearing was a Federation Ruling. Spock would adjust just fine, he often had trouble with the high humidity and cool temperatures of Dothaloniq. Spock would rise to the challenge of education, and Hona could always supplement the education with continued courses from the Hepheastus’ primer. Hona answered them all calmly, one after the other, while ensuring that everything they were taking was securely packed.
“What if Haus’k-”
“No.” This time Hona fielded it before the question made it out. “The very instinct that you’re so concerned with in Sarek, the one that he denies the existence of in his shallow mind will resonate in Haus’k.” Hona turned and firmly held Amanda’s shoulders, grabbing and keeping her attention. “Haus’k will follow you across the stars and across several planets because you are his. His woman, his son, the barer of his future offspring, his home. He’ll always find you.”
Amanda had no option but to believe this female, so much more knowledgeable than her. Had to believe that she spoke the truth, held it tight to her heart, a glowing hope for the times to come.
House hunting on Vulcan was a test in futility. Or that was how Amanda felt after fitting it into her schedule for the fourth week in a row. Her requirements had not been extravagant. And in most cases the houses she was shown met them, they were just very … Surakan.
Amanda had grown used to the empathic resonance created by Atlantis’s semi-sentience. The sweeping spires and elegance that had embodied Atlantis, combined with constant movement and security of the city made it the perfect symbol of hope and resistance for the Union. It had been the stronghold of Ascended Elite, the foremost front to the war against the Wraith and the crown jewel of the Union.
Just as different was the house on Dothaloniq. A single story house with four bedrooms and massive living/dinning area where the gardens never stopped blooming and the boys had plenty of room to play. Connected by a courtyard to the Kirk-Pike Household, Amanda had had her closests friends right through a doorway. Not to mention they were right off the main marketplace and you could see and hear the trading going on during the day. All manner of trade goods seen through the windows to the excitement of the children, all five of them as Amanda often thought.
And the houses shown to her were nothing like the masterpieces of Hephaestus. Homes designed to hold all the relatives, reflecting the philosophy of their inhabitants: each member supporting and gaining support from the House. Masonry so beautiful the buildings themselves were works of art.
Amanda had forgotten the desolation. The people reflected the landscape. Harsh, arid, and unwelcoming. The age of a building could be inturpreted from the architecture, what little beauty the planet had left was from before the reformation. Everything after was a study in calculation and precision. Shikahr was a maze of angles so sharp they hurt Amanda’s eyes and surfaces so sterile they made her feel dirty.
It was a culture shock, a reminder of the differences between the Federation and the Union. Dothaloniq, Atlantis, Hephestus, they were all examples of the fact that the Union embraced the heart of its people. The Union’s very foundations were based in the emotion and history each group brought to the negotiating table. They didn’t try to encourage an unlivable philosophy. Their most powerful groups didn’t subjugate others with a sense of superiority. The Union fit each group into its fold in the best place for them. Making a place for each group, that was solely theirs.
As Amanda compared ShiKahr to the capitol city of Hepheastus, laughingly referred to as The Smithry both for its place at Hepheastus’s heart and the Union military training grounds that ‘forged’ soldiers, she couldn’t help but think that Hepheastus must have been built by the holder’s of Vulcan Heart and Soul because she couldn’t find any of it in ShiKahr. When she had first lived on Vulcan Amanda had seen the sharp angles and sterile surfaces as the progression of science and a signs of the pinnacle of modernity that Vulcan claimed to be. Her problem while looking for a house is that she was looking for home and Vulcans only saw buildings. One after the other each place she was taken looked only slightly different from the last, nothing unique or singular in any of the constructions. They were each the same as any other in that neighborhood.
It was a mistake that lead to Amanda finding the side street in ShiKahr that had clearly been there much longer than the majority of the city. Hidden from view of the main road by a series of very tall towers, auxiliary research facilities of the Vulcan Science Academy according to the plaques on the front doors. An alley between these two towers lead to a much larger side street called ‘Ritalikalik’ off of which were several old shops and townhouses, at first there was nothing special. Then Amanda took a second look.
All the buildings were connected, not built out of a single massive stone block, but carved from what must have originally been a spectacularly large piece of the surrounding geological features. the designs on the buildings were worn, not initially noticeable, but they were mere fragments of designs Amanda knew she had seen on the Vulcan historical center outside the city. Carved and rough hewn, but beautiful.
the town house was small. A sitting area in the front of the house on the left with the dinning room running along the right side. Along the back was a modest kitchen with good appliances. A set of stairs carried her up to three bedrooms and two baths. a further set of hidden stairs led her to an attic storage area and the only window in the whole house. It showed an astonishing view that captured straight in it’s center, the ancient temple of Khossar, the pre-reform god of war. A god still reigning in majority on Hephaestus.
Knowing that, that Haus’k and Hona would be able to see that taste of home. That this building was strong enough to withstand centuries of war and centuries of reformation and be a holdout and reminder of what Vulcans once were, what they should be: warriors for a cause, beings of strength and commitment. Amanda had started imagining Haus’k in her bed and the placement of her furniture before the paperwork had been signed.
It was theirs.
Haus’k was tired, beyond tired. The mission had been long, hard, and dirty. Haus’k had been dreaming of the soft mattress his woman kept on her bed. Of being able to sleep solidly, without keeping one eye open and an ear to the floor. Haus’k had fantasized about not-so-politely shoving his mother, and his son, out to the Kirk-Pike Household and having Amanda all to himself. He desperately needed to reconnect, to remind himself why he fought, to wallow in the emotions he could taste on her skin.
What did he find upon returning to Dothaloniq? Moving wrappers and a blue eyed toddler throwing one hell of a tantrum. He had been … displeased, by the firm Amanda had worked for. And he had proven his displeasure violently to those still left by the firm on Dothaloniq. Which was unfortunate because Haus’k was sure he could have used the … refuse, as bait on his next mission.
So Haus’k was tired. He was past upset and had sailed into the murky waters of righteous anger, and he could not stand the stares he was getting. Stares that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Surakan Vulcans had much less control than they touted to the world at large.
Where eyes should have held mild curiosity or indifference, or even reprimand, Haus’k saw outright shock. As though these people had never heard of Hepheastus, as though they were isolated from the idea that their philosophy was not the only one available. They acted like converts let out from a cult compound, never having know there was a complete world out there that didn’t care if they lived or died. It was arrogant. And it was disgusting.
Haus’k followed the directions Amanda’s vid message held snorting at the audacity of one miniature Surakan when they asked their mother what a Romulan was doing on Vulcan. He could go so many ways with that statement. So many ways he was certain the Surakans did not want the Federation to hear.
As much as he would love to knock the Surakan’s from their Federation-held pedestal, that wasn’t why he was on Vulcan. In fact in the end, their pious behavior might annoy him, but it was so low on his priorities as to be a non-issue. Above it were the 600 billion plus citizens of the Union, his personal Huk’la squad, the death of his next target, and his family. Nothing topped his family.
Knocking on the door of the old, old building Haus’k went back to the thoughts that had kept him alive in the field recently. The touch of his mother, hot and dry with age, strength, and wisdom.The touch-taste of his son, milky with the innocence of childhood, the joy of each new discovery. The touch-taste-feel of his woman, hot and humid, the memory enough to taste the spice on his tongue; it was what he followed home in the heat of battle. It was what Vri males followed home from the heat of battle, the touch-taste-feel of their mates.
As the door opened to the sound of little feet violently hitting the floor, and the vibration of pots and utensils and the smell of real food being cooked, Haus’k had just a moment-
Just a moment to realize how beautiful he found that welcome.
“We have calculated that it will take 3.452 stellar minutes to evoke your emotional response.” The small group of ‘teacup Surakans’, as his Papa George said, were the same that had watched him for the past week. As previously noted they had watched and calculated to ensure that their goal, to evoke an emotional response, to prove he wasn’t Surakan, had the best possible chase to succeed. Spock was different and he knew it, he had no problem with it. But it was groups like this one that had kept him from the local education center in ShiKahr the past two years his family had been stationed on Vulcan.
Spock glanced at the stellar time display on the education center’s wall. The clock was ticking. “How do you intend on evoking this emotional response?”
The leader, presumed from his stance at the front of this pack, stepped forward just a hair more, using his advanced pureblood height to loom over Spock’s more diminutive size. Which was exaggerated by his placement on the last step out of the learning pod and the aggressors placement at the edge of the lip, not allowing Spock to move forward. “I shall start with your intelligence. It was only through your father’s influence that the education hall would accept a half-breed student. Is not that why you are so far behind even the first years? No prerequisite sciences. You haven’t even mastered T’thra’s geometric algorithm of space.”
30 seconds down.
Spock swallowed a smirk, the corner of one lip would’ve curled up to show an eye tooth sharpened in a manner socially unacceptable, and definitely an emotional response. It might sting a little to know that he was in fact behind even the first year students, but only in the Vulcan sciences. “That barb requires the logical assumption that I desired to be here and was denied.” There was some minor confusion in his opponents faces, as though they didn’t understand. “Did it never occur to you that it was possible I did not want to be here?”
Clearly not, given the slight shifting the group was doing. 1 minute 30 seconds down.
His mother had resisted enrolling him in the education halls until the Vulcan High Council had insinuated that not attending might be grounds for custodial negligence. Neither he nor his family had been happy that night. It could be proved that the curriculum Spock used, which was vetted for difficulty through the Union’s board of Academic Excellence and Professional training, instilled more applicable education than the route memorization that the Vulcan Education Hall prescribed.
The leader, faltering at the lack of success, stepped aside for his second. Spock categorized him, slightly lighter hair color with a minuscule wave predicted that this adolescent was from DemeNski, the Norther-most settlement on Vulcan. He pressed in on Spock, the glint in his eye concerning the Halfling, worried of what this boy might say to ensure success.
“Is that a consequence of your genetic disadvantage? Or is it because of your living guardianship arrangement? Perhaps your frail, human, mother cannot provide for your needs?” The boy mocked. Spock felt the rise of anger, hot and fast. They had certainly pegged that one. In one conversation piece they had mocked him for his half-breed genes, his relationship with his mother, and insinuated that they could hurt her. For one moment everything rose as Spock ached with the force of his anger.
Accept it. The Surakans had it wrong, they assumed the relationship, the genes were inferior and because of that inferiority, shameful. But they also denied their baser instincts, and suppressed their emotions. Assuming he would explode in emotion because he had faulty control from his faulty genetics. Accept it, accept the anger, the hate, the jealousy, the love, the joy. Do not deny its existence.
Spock did not move. No sign, except the tightening around his eyes, gave proof to the battle waged within for control as Spock tried to follow directions from a memory. Accept it, then flow with it. Allow the energy, the emotion, to pass through you, to fuel you. Spock knew refusing to respond would give the fallacious appearance of submission. And Spock was not going to allow any Surakan Vulcan even the appearance of dominion over himself. Hold it until the most opportune moment.
The clock ticked down.
“My mother is of quality human genetics. Superior intellect, containing no mental or physical deformities, unlike some.” Spock replied, shooting a look at one of the males, the tallest one with the irises blown wide, indicating origination from Sed’ifth, the Southern Mountain Range, a common abnormality. “She is also aesthetically pleasing with an amiable disposition.” A hint of cruelty curled his lips, openly showing pointed teeth. Waiting for the best moment, as the clock ticked down. “Can any of you say the same?”
The male on the left, the one from Sed’ifth, lunged forward. Spock didn’t even defend himself, left foot moved back and he tilted his body to the opposite side. The male tripped, forgetting he was standing at the edge of the learning pod and tumbled over the lip, crashing into the furniture in the pod.
Bad situational awareness.
The male on the right reached out his hand, fingers outstretched, intending to incapacitate him. Spock leaned back on his left foot, set strategically behind him. He reached up with his right hand, grasping the cover wrist. No need to feel their bad attitude. Simultaneously pulling his right arm in, pulling the other boy towards him, and snapping his left arm out, fist curled in only knuckles touching the other boy as Spock pumped once, then twice, breaking his nose, green blood spewing. That boy went staggering back, landing on his ass just a hair from the lip of the next pod.
Rolling his shoulders back into place, reminiscent of an older Vulcan male, Spock remained unmoved from his place a step below, and three inches shorter than the leader of the opposition. So Spock stepped forward, and the leader stepped back. Wide eyes took in Spock’s seeming calm and poise. The leader kept a careful distance between him and the halfling. Spock glanced up at the digital numerals on the wall.
4.012 stellar minutes.
It was unfortunate that this incident had occurred when it did. A few days earlier and his A’nirith would have been at home to celebrate with him. A few days later and Sarek of House Surak would have been on a ship headed far from Vulcan and unable to turn back for a personal problem. So it was very unfortunate that the three males Spock had triumphed over had chosen this day to instigate a fight, his A’nirith to far to come back and Sarek to close to ignore it.
So as the director of the Education Hall placed a vid call to House Surak, and to all the other Houses involved, Spock casually texted his Nana Hona. Informing her of the fight and the consequences, and the increasing likelihood that he would be late to the rendezvous location. There were mildly heated discussions between each representative as to where to place blame and who would get in trouble. To the director’s credence he did not bend from the Hall’s charter. A fight took place in the hall, so all students involved in the fight will be punished equally. Spock had to smirk at the director’s parting bite, there was no logical reason to do different.
Sarek was in the hall, along with a female Surakan who was introduced as T’Nova the head of continued education for the House Surak, Spock was more concerned with the male claiming to be his sa-mekh. He seemed to be behaving rationally, but you could never be to cautious around thwarted parents.
Sarek looked down at the boy he had not seen in nearly two years, “Spock, I am your Father.” An inward huff displayed none of the amusement Spock would get out of telling his Jim that Sarek actually used that exact phrase. The blonde would get way to much amusement out of the parallels between stories.
“Your statement is factual. You are Sarek of House Surak.” T’Nova stood just out of polite conversation space, separate but attentive. Ah, she was the chaperon.
“Correct.” Sarek gestured for Spock to follow, but he had no intention of going anywhere without Nana Hona, his personal chaperone. He did not move, Sarek frowned. “Do you not understand? Your lack of control has embarrassed the House of Surak, there will consequences.”
Spock blinked, “There was no lack of control, I did exactly what I was taught. Precise control for precise damage. The one boy has a bloody nose not a broken one, and the boy who fell down the stairs broke his own arm, I did not break it for him. In fact, his arm would not have been broken if they had left me alone.”
Sarek’s frown deepened, “Regardless you must come, though I wish to know who you refer to when you say you were ‘taught’.”
Spock swung his feet on the bench, a habit he had gotten from his Jim, and stayed stubbornly put on the bench outside the impartial director’s office. “My Nana Hona is coming to pick me up, there is no need for me to go with you anywhere.”
“Who is Nana Hona?” It was T’Nova who asked, though clearly Sarek wanted the answer.
Spock carefully observed the reaction of his audience, this would be the House of Surak’s first time encountering obvious knowledge that his male figure was not a Surakan Vulcan, besides he had to be able to recite this back to his Haus’k and his Jim. “Nana Hona is the mother of my A’nirith.” Sound bites, small pieces of information parceled out at exactly the right times.
Sarek was confused, that much was obvious, “My mother’s name is not Hona. Who has been telling you these lies?” For the second time that day a Surakan Vulcan reached out his hand with the express purpose of gaining access to his mind. Spock regretted for a moment that this time it would be him administering the pain. He didn’t try to avoid the hand, let it touch, and opened the doors Haus’k had taught him to make in his mind.
“You are not my A’nirith.” Shock rippled through the shallow temporary bond. A bond that should not have existed if the Surakan had been a proper male figure in his life. Spock’s bond with Haus’k, made and maintained with his mother Amanda’s approval, was deep and full of supportive and encouraging feelings. Spock had at one point wondered over what a bond with his biological father would feel like, if it would be better than Haus’k’s and now Spock could say with authority that he wouldn’t trade it for the world. And with his mind-doors open to the adult Surakan none of this was hidden, Sarek had access to feeling and knowing exactly what Spock was thinking and feeling. “You are a sperm donor, nothing else.”
Rage erupted in Sarek at Spock’s disregard and disrespect, it bloomed heavy and violent pushing down the bond to overwhelm the smaller Vulcan. For one moment Spock felt true fear for the first time in his life. He had taken a risk in hopes that once Sarek knew how he felt, then Sarek would leave Spock’s little family alone. Instead he could not face the failure and the contempt that another man had taken over his role in Spock’s life.
The anger pulsed down the temporary bond. Spock wailed in his mind, the heat and power undeniable, it was coming toward him, coming to burn him out. Then an equally fierce force flowed through his mind. Coming from within Spock a barrier sprung into existence. All that was Spock, and all that Spock had the potential to be, was cradled safely behind the wall that even in Spock’s mind smelt like ozone and leather.
There was comfort for Spock behind the wall, as the fire of Sarek’s wrath washed like water against a shield like glass. Vaguely, as Spock lost consciousness, he could feel a third mind entering from Sarek’s side. The fires of the other’s anger were rapidly diminishing, but Spock did not leave his barrier. He wanted just a little longer with his A’nirith.
“No,” Sarek came to hearing a female’s cold voice, her hand on his arm restraining his mental capacity. “You’ve done enough harm today.” Spock leaned against the wall the bench was placed near, for all intents and purposes knocked out. A woman with the gray hair of age and a cold appearance held his arm tight to his body as he vaguely heard his chaperone T’Nova on the phone.
“Unhand me! You have no right to touch me!” Sarek snapped, but not nearly as violently as the woman who held him.
Hona of House Lovak snarled at the self-righteous indignation of the most repulsive male she had ever come across. “You lost any and all rights when you struck out against an intelligent being in anger, with your mind.”
T’Nova stepped forward, “Hona of House Lovak, I was acting as chaperone when Sarek spoke with Spock. I will apply witness to the testimony of what Sarek of House Surak did.”
Hona was very careful, keeping herself between the two Surakan Vulcans and her vulnerable grandson. “And what was it that Sarek did? Just to verify facts.”
Sarek stepped forward, looking back and forth between these two very determined females. “I did nothing!” He was irate, at the rate that he was going back and forth to the federation custody hearings his word as an Ambassador would cease to exist. He had intended only to establish a shallow bond with the child and swaddle it in the support of the House Surak, if the child could feel it. There were rumblings from the edge worlds that he was losing his edge, what power did he have if he could not control his wife?
Hona eyed him shrewdly, “You struck your son with a concentrated mental attack.”
Sarek frowned at her, “You spread a falsehood, I have not struck any of my sons with a mental attack, and this child probably wouldn’t be able to feel it even if I had.”
It was T’Nova who spoke next, a slight frown creasing her lips. “It is possible you have lost your rationality as concerning the minor Spock.” That Hona knew carried heavy implications for House Surak, but now was not the time for such thoughts her child’s child was unwell and needed her help.
Not daring to turn her back to the uncontrolled Surakan, Hona eased her way back to the bench where Spock lay slumped. None of the control a Vulcan normally had over their body was available to Spock in that moment. He was curled up between the pillar of the wall and the edge of the ceiling, siting hunched and exhausted on the bench. Sweat beaded his skin and a flush covered his cheeks. Just a light brush of her fingers against Spock’s jaw was enough to feel the protective wrath walling his mind.
Ozone, from the energy weapons the Union issued to its military forces, and leather, from the unique armor issued for protection against the Wraith. It was hot, that brief touch, and her mental calls slid from Spock as though it slid off the great Cal’iiqe glass wall on Hephaestus. The wall that Haus’k had always so loved.
Hona bent and picked up her grandson, no terrible weight to a guardian. The she turned to Sarek and T’Nova. “I will expect you precisely at Six thirty this evening with your high elder or another member of your House that can make binding legal agreements for your House. You will be making reparations, this will not be shuffled away. If you do not appear at the appropriate hour I will take this before a Federation court.”
Punishment in a Federation court for psionic crimes against a minor was death, executed by means of chemical acid that would target the area of the brain that dealt with psionic capabilities and slowly eat through the brain. There had been discussion several years ago that such a punishment was inhumane and unnecessarily cruel. No one had given it any thought, children were precious and to be cherished. Any who would do them harm could not be trusted. Assured that they understood what she was willing to do for her family, Hona took her grandson home.
Amanda did not pace, not even when she wanted to. There was no place in the heart of a Vri Vulcan’s woman for hesitance. She could not worry about being polite. The enemy was encroaching on her territory and her male was not home. Her pup was injured, injured by the enemy about to enter her territory. But because of his injury, her son had given her an advantage over an enemy wily and better equipped for this battle. Amanda intended to use every inch of it.
Slowly Amanda got ready for what would no doubt be the most important, and ruthless, negotiation of her life. But she had something worth fighting for, and like the warrior women of humanity centuries past, the House of Surak would not be meeting a gentile woman of academics. They would be meeting the mother of an injured son, a son injured against their own philosophy. Amanda was prepared to leverage every inch of that political hiccup against them.
The door chimed. As prearranged and planned, Hona opened the door and led them into Amanda’s parlor. Like at that lunch four years ago Sarek arrived with T’Pau and her husband, Muir. The two most important Surakans on Vulcan were in her house, expecting a broken child and a hopeless mother. That wouldn’t be what they would find. Amanda knew what she wanted, the assurance of freedom from experimentation for her Son, the lack of control over his life, and she would insure he had it.
Amanda did not get up when they entered the room, that would display either a level of respect she didn’t feel for them or a certain amount of respectable manners that Amanda wasn’t going to give them. Amanda did not offer them tea, nor indicated for them to sit, and after a moment they sat themselves.
“Greetings from House Surak, Amanda Greyson.” T’Pau broke the silence with a more reproachful look than was strictly Surakan.
“Greetings Negotiator for House Surak, I am T’Monas, Negotiator for Dr. Amanda Greyson and her son Spock.” Amanda almost snorted at the shock that blinked across T’Pau’s and Muir’s faces, they expected to face an upset mother and a Surakan female brokering a deal heavily weighted in their favor. Instead Amanda had taken the advice of her male several years ago, and to expense, had put a Surakan negotiator on retainer. Amanda had left her desires with the negotiator and agreed not to speak during these processes.
T’Pau addressed the negotiated, “We were under the impression that this would be an informal meeting, addressing what happened this afternoon.”
T’Monas nodded a light agreement. “Yes, this meeting is an informal negotiation. However, this is a legally binding brokering.” Hona finally came in with a tea set, setting it down before the Surakans, giving a selective pause as tea was poured and handed out. “Since you have come, I assume that you agree to the witness statements that Sarek of House Surak irrationally lost control while in a metal bond with Dr. Greyson’s son Spock.”
Sarek’s hand clenched around the teacup but T’Pau simply set her teacup gently on its saucer. “this is a reasonable summary of events. We do not deny that Sarek did these things, however we maintain that there is worth in allowing him free to continue his work as an ambassador.”
T’Monas mirrored T’Pau, “You believe his good works outweight what he did earlier today when he hurt a child. Why, are there not other Ambassadors?”
“Sarek has sent the last several years on assignment learning and working with the Klingons.” Amanda suddenly understood. This negotiation was less about damage control for the Housse of Surak’s reputation, but for Sarek’s reputation. If a Klingon found out that Sarek had hurt a child, his own child at that, all his wor with the Klingons would be worth nothing and the reputation of the Federation would be sullied in the eyes of the Klingons, possibly forever. Which would give the Union, a much more Klingon like organization, the advantage over the Federation. Oh, this was much bigger than just her and Spock; Amanda suddenly had a great deal more power than originally assumed.
T’Monas sat forward and placed her tea cup on the trey, moving it out of the way. Setting up her tablet she established conditions. “In return for not bringing this matter before the council, or a Federation Justice, Dr. Amanda Greyson, on behalf of her minor child Spock, demands complete custody of her son, non-interference from the House Surak, House Surak’s agreement to disavow any medical testing or experimentation concerning Spock, and a restraining order against Sarek for both Amanda and Spock.” Finger poised over her keyboard, T’Monas was ready for their rejoiner.
Muir leaned forward. “We will give a House order for the restraining distance on both Spock and Doctor Amanda Greyson; it has been made clear that Sarek cannot be trusted with rationality in matter concerning these two.”
“This is not sufficient,” Amanda interjected. “Sarek preformed these actions in a public setting, while picking my son up at the Education Hall. He attempted to leave with a minor whose custody he did not have. There needs to be repercussions.” There went her stately refined disdain. But there was no way in all the blood on Atlantis, that she was giving that male enough room to wiggle in these negotiations.
Muir looked at T’Pau, deffering to his wife in this manner as she was head of the House. “We acknowledge your concern. It would be counterproductive if we went through these negotiations only for Sarek to do something of a similar nature. We will agree that as it concerns yourself and your son Sarek shall have no contact. As it concerns the rest of Sarek’s time,” she paused, “We are prepared to assign Sarek a chaperone for the rest of his work as an Ambassador with the Federation. He will not be allowed outside his quarters again without a minder.”
Amanda knew this was a literal term among the Surakan Vulcans. A Minder was a member of the House charged with securing the actions of a well valued member through a permanent deep telepathic bond. The minder would know the choice of the recipient before the recipient even made up their minds. It was the most invasive bond a Vulcan, any Vulcan, could be subjected to. On Hephaestus, there were checks and mental safeguards in place to help Minders. It was much more a job as a guard or member of security. She didn’t think Surakan Vulcans would be that sensitive to the position. She almost felt bad for the member of the House of Surak who would spend the rest of their life trailing after Sarek in his career. But in the peripherals of her vision, Amanda could see the ceramic teacup crack in Sarek’s hands, and suddenly, she wasn’t that concerned at all.
Amanda nodded and sat back in her chair. Allowing T’monas to do her job again, quickly typing the amended agreement into the legal document. “Does Doctor Greyson’s amended custodial agreement satisfy?”
“It does not satisfy the House of Surak.” Muir stated, “The House of Surak invested a significant amount of resources for the creation of Spock.”
T’monas interjected before Amanda had time to pull an inopportune trump card. “Doctor Greyson is unwilling to bend on the matters of medical testing and experimental examination. Do you have an alternative?”
Muir was contemplative, once again turning to T’Pau, attempting to calculate how much Sarek’s reputation was worth. “The House Surak will agree to the service years between 21 and 30 as payment for the resources spent in his engineering. Any professional work published before his 30th birthday, and any accomplishments accrued during in that time will be intellectual property of the House of Surak. The House of Surak will agree that he is free of this debt on his 30th birthday, and we will no longer hold him responsible to us. In return we will not interfere with his life before the age of 21, so long as he stays on Vulcan a minimum of four stellar months per stellar year.”
Amanda nodded, she could work with that, hopefully. T’Pau continued though, “as for medical examination and testing Doctor Greyson must understand, Spock is the first of the Crossbreed Project subjects to continue a viable life. There are others dependent upon Spock’s medical history. We cannot simply ignore him.”
She wanted to stomp her feet and yell, wanted to point out that they had been ignoring him when she took him away. Amanda didn’t want to give in, but she couldn’t see a way out. “I’ll agree that Spock’s medical records pose a respectable source of data in the Vulcan Science academy’s pursuits in the Crossbreeding project, but my son is not a subject.” She gathered her thoughts, “there will be no frther experimentation of my son, no tests, and in return, upon his 21st birthday I will release to you the detailed documentation his personal physician has been keeping. Between 21 and 30 he will release the information documented at his physician appointments, but after 30 it will be up to him to share that information with the VSA.”
Muir nodded slowly, it seemed reasonable and rational agreement to make. “If our scientists at the Vulcan Science Academy have any specific tests, that they wish to receive data on to compare?”
“Have them write a proposal as to the necessity of such testing and send it to me. I will refer to the judgment of his physician and our advisors, then respond to the proposal.” There was nothing objectable in that answer.
“The House Surak will agree to that.” After that there were signatures to attend to, formalities that T’monas would take care of, as she was paid to.
After everyone was shown out Amanda walked the tea set into the kitchen. Yellow stone and red finish put her at ease. Hona stood at the sink, carefully rinsing the dishes already there. Amanda leaned forward onto the kitchen counter, thumping her head onto the surface. “how much did you hear Hona?”
“All of it, I was standing in the doorway as a reminder that I knew exactly what Sarek of House Surak had done.” Hona never stopped rinsing.
“I have worked in embassy, translated and notated during armed negotiations, and been held hostage by Wraith, and I have never felt so tired after a negotiation.”
“But none ever mattered quite so much as this one.”
“he said what!” The blonde fuz on top of Jim’s head stuck out in awkward clumps as he ran his fingers through it. “What an ass.”
Spock snorted, “I’m sure your fathers don’t let you use that type of language.” Jim shot a look behind him, waiting for his all-powerful fathers to swoop down and cuff him for the language.
“Damn it, spock!” the voice was all anger but the face smirked into the camera, “how dare you threaten me with my fathers. Shame on you.”
Spock showed fang in his smirk. “No, I think he really believed that we were just holding his place for him. I was insulted in A’nirith’s place.” There was laughter on the other end of the video call.
“Haus’k would have jumped to be pitted against Sarek, would have beaten him black and blue.”
“He did.” A harsh sound and a wash of liguid hit the screen. Spock vaguely heard a Damn it, Spock, and then the picture went blank. They had already had long discussions over what best friends were allowed to say, show, or do, over a vid call. This boils down to not shocking the other partner without warning while they were eating and drinking. Spock just broke it. He wasn’t sorry, Jim’s face was just too humorous. The call went back through, and Jim, with his recently cleaned screen, scowled at Spock.
“I’m sorry, would you repeat that Spock.”
With an arched brow Spock repeated what he said, “Haus’k beat Sarek bloody and blue.” At Jim’s unsatisfied and compelling glower Spock elaborated. “sarek reached out to me in anger, and it coursed down our temporary touch bond.” Dipping his head Spock didn’t want to reach out to Jim, to tell him that he crawled into his bond with Haus’k.
Face gentle, but eyes fierce, knowing that something must have happened that embarrassed his friend, Jim took his two fingertips and lightly traced the edge of the vid call. It was the one motion they both accepted, the one that meant affection, loyalty, strength. “What happened, Spock?”
So Spock explained. He explained about the fierce fire that burnt him and the strong waters that cradled him. Spock described how it felt to feel the touch of his A’nirith in his mind, how Nana Hona had reacted, how his mother had moved to protect Spock. And Jim listened, not once did his attention waver and not once did he speak until Spock was done. “You got some Badass parental units, Spock.”
Spock snorted, of course after all that Jim’s only reaction, like that of any Atlantean boy was to acknowledge how awesome their guardian was. Not that Spock didn’t know it, he did. His family unit was exceptionally strong and diligent in their protection of himself and each other. It left quite a lot to grow up to. “Yes, James. I am well aware.”
“Bah!” Jim sputtered, not liking the use of his name. “Fine you pointy-eared-freak, tell me about the scan you sent me.
Happy to be on a topic that didn’t relate to custodial issues, or the miss placed superiority complex of Surakan Vulcan, Spock enlightened his friend to the growing the mechanical inefficiency he had discovered in the education halls. He laid out the procedure analytically, described how he found it, and how he thought the issue might resolved. “However assured I am to the feasibility of the project, I wanted your opinion of the matter. I know you are much more kinesthetically inclined than I am.”
Jim giggled, “Spock, this is great. There is nothing wrong with your new schematics, with the change in motor construct the computations processor should be three times as efficient. As well as being a clear design. I can run an alternative if you would like, you know, like they teach us in school? And then we might be able to merge it, but you don’t have to.”
Spock frowned, “that’s not efficient Jim, that’s raw. Even I know that.”
With a smile Jim ignored his friend, “So besides feeling your Papa protect you from several light years away and designing the newest holographic education computer since Kelz Dordor’s instructional simulator, which will completely destroy the Surakan’s supremacy in technology, what else have you been doing?”
Spock grinned. “’Oh, you know the usual. Decimating egos and saving the world, it’s a very tiring job I have.’” His deadpan delivery of a man they both missed, one who would have been showing his disapproval of House Surak with raised voices and insults, lightened the conversation. Starting a back and forth of quoted elders that lasted until Jim’s fathers came in to tuck him into bed.
Slowly the brush moved through Amanda’s long hair. The methodic movement brought order to her mind as she prepared for bed after one of the longest days of her life. It was right up there with the ceremonies involved in marrying Sarek, and the day she divorced him to save her son. Interesting that if she listed the top ten longest days of her life at least five of them could be blamed on Sarek. It should be a situation she avoid for the rest of her life, as scenario with Sarek involved. Amanda had certainly spent enough time ensuring her son was free the lying bastard. So deep in contemplation was Amanda that it took several rings for her to figure out her data desk had a vid call waiting.
She lunged over her bed, a side table, and her chair, gaining a rather painful bruise, to answer the vid call. “Haus’k,” she whispered as his face entered the screen. He was dirty and bloody, his braids were ragged and in certain places his leathers actually looked like they had caught fire. To Amanda, he was the most handsome man around.
His gentle smile lit her world like the midday sun, there was nothing better than knowing his attention was on her. “Amanda, ashayam, I love you but right now I need to hear that you’re preparing to take that hypocritical bastard before the Federation courts for child abuse.”
Amanda couldn’t do it anymore. Perhaps if he hadn’t called, if Haus’k hadn’t shown her his strength in his bloody clothes and bruised body, Amanda might have been able to handle it, but not now. Weak from the long day and yearning for her male’s strength Amanda cried. Great gasping sobs that choked her air and turned her face red. Tears ran down her cheeks and mucus ran from her nose as Haus’k nearly panicked on the vid call. Asking her over and over to tell him what was wrong.
Gradually, one gasp at a time, Amanda got out the whole story of what Spock had done, to Haus’k’s pride, and what Sarek had done, to Haus’k’s fury, and the deal Amanda had had brokered to protect her family. “The House wants Spock involved in the Crossbreed project. They want him tested by that shitty VSA scientist that wanted him dead, I can’t do that Haus’k! I ca-can’t let my son experience that.”
Haus’k growled. There were rumors that the Vulcan Science Academy, having permission to create crossbreed children for paying volunteer parents, were using their opportunity to play with genetics in unethical ways. That they were pushing for certain outcomes, that the VSA was purposefully making unviable offspring.
They were the rumors nightmares are made of, children born with extra limbs, extra organs, horns, tails, claws. Certain crossbreeds were proving feral, slathering beast without reason and without identity. Rumor had it that at a remote science center near the pole, one VSA scientist had managed to keep a conjoined twins alive, sharing one spine and completely connected back to back. The tests of survivability these scientists put together in support of weeding out the inviable were horrific, despicable. They were not something that Haus’k and Amanda wanted their son to know. They didn’t even want Spock to know it existed.
Haus’k tried to smile, “No, ashayam, Spock won’t ever know. We won’t let him.” He edged closer to the screen, grimacing, drawing Amanda’s attention to something new.
“What happened? Are you hurt, Haus’k?”
Haus’k couldn’t pass this off as he had in the past, “Good news I’m coming home for some serious leave.”
Amanda blinked, not that she wasn’t happy her male was coming home, but he just got out there a week ago. “The bad news?”
A wince showed pained lines spread across the Vir Vulcan’s face. “I’m seriously hurt. I can move, and I’m in no danger of dying but I’ve got old fashioned stitches and bed rest on the prescription pad. Just in time for my fevered time too.”
Chapter 12 (Interlude)
Proud could not adequetely describe the feeling that grew in Amanda’s chest. Her son stood on the stage taking part in one of Hepheastus’s most beloved ceremonies. Called the ‘Act of Pinning’, Haus’k knelt on bended knee in formal uniform to allow Spock to pin to his chest the ribbon that described his tour in the battlefield, and the medal that denoted ‘Incalculable Heroics’.
More than a few Union Sociologists and Psychologists were known to profess the belief that it was the active involvement of the children in the state ceremonies of the adults that fostered the continued unification and solidarity of the society. Amanda wouldn’t doubt that they were right, because the feeling in her chest: the pride that her male had proven his fierocity, the elation that her son was acknowledged as his offspring and able to pin for Haus’k, the simmer of arousal that she felt knowing he was hurt and uncomfortable but going through the motions anyway. Those feelings in her chest would be the first reason to fight for this society, her son and male, simply the next.
Spock was serious and concentrated. Carefully he pulled the fabric of his A’nirith’s uniform jacket away from his shoulders. Applying exactly the right amount of pressure to side the ribbon onto the rack Haus’k was already wearing in preparation. The green and blue stripes held a single white star, denoting that this tour out of the many others Haus’k had participated in, was the one that was worth the medal. The medal went of next. Spock’s small fingers had a hard time slipping and sliding around the large circular surface with its thirteen points without getting hurt.
No one rushed Spock, they let him take his time. The few times his head tilted away from Haus’k’s to evaluate the crowd all he saw were excited happy smiles. The Act of Pinning had always been between adult and child. An action reaffirming that the adult was protector and provider, and that they had gotten the award in action serving to the benefit of the child. The members of the crowd were simply spectators to the intimate affirmation between father and child.
So there was no complaint when Haus’k broke his script to help his son. Gently bracing the medal in his much larger palm he guided Spock to the exact place and pinning of the medal. And with a simple tilt of the lips Haus’k caught Spock in his arms on the way up to standing. Unashamed to be seen affectionate, cuddling one might say, with the son of his heart.
The crowd roared. There was no other adjective to describe exactly how loud the crowd got, but they reflected the pride and affection shown on the stage. This was the heart of Vri Vulcan culture, and Amanda couldn’t spare an ounce of attention from the stage, regardless of how unique an academic opportunity this was.
After the Act of Pinning there were several speeches making vague and uncomfortable references to work done in the service of Hepheastus, and the convert operation that garnered Haus’k’s injuries. Then there was a reception where everyone who wanted could approach the awardee and ask questions. Needless to say by the time the Sheppard Clan picked picked up Spock, Amanda was wishing the ceremonies honoring the awardee were a little less. . . everything.
Rodney stood by the entrance to the Stargate Center in all his glowing arrogance, a trait his Paired One assured their friends and family Rodney had in abundance long before he ever ascended. Making grabby hands toward her, Amanda gamely passed him her son, only to snort when he readily passed Spock to John. He held him away from his body and only swiveled his hips to the side, depositing the miniature Vulcan in his Anchor’s arms.
“No, no, no. Let the boys go off and do perfectly violent and plebian things while I talk to you.” Rodney snaked his arm through Amanda’s and led her just around the corner. Like a force of nature, There was nothing Amanda could do to detract or avoid him. Her head tilted back, her eyes pleaded with the little boy in John’s arms as she was dragged around the corner, all Spock did was wave good bye. Traitor.
Laughing John directed his attention to the boy in his arms, and the last thing Amanda heard before rodney stole her attention, again, was “So, do want to be the Atlantean forces or the Union forces?”
“The Hepheastus Army is more than capable of defeating your inferior forces.”
“Inferior are they? I’ll show you inferior.”
“-Amanda!” Rodney scowled. But Amanda was tired, frustrated, and severally tested by one of her closest friends.
“Rodney, I’m Spock’s mother not yours. If you think you need a mother I’d highly suggest talking with John, because that is one kink I’m not getting involved with.” Amanda braced her arms across her torso. Trying to ignore the pebbling.
“Pish!” Rodney waved it away, poking decidedly strong fingers into her breast bone. “John and I have no secrets, that kink stopped being kinky a long time ago.” Amanda choked at the idea. “I took you aside to talk about your kinks, not mine.”
Amanda figured she should have been a lot more prepared for this conversation than she was, because Haus’k was going to have a hard time ravaging her if she died by asphyxiation first. “Rodney, I am aware of the … details, of pon farr. Just like you.”
An eyebrow rose, “you’ve had the hormone shot?”
Amanda resisted rubbing her toosh, the hormone shot already working. It was luxury Haus’k had made his ultimatum. As soon as he had known that his pon farr was coming, and he had Amanda’s consent to joining him, Haus’k had arranged for the medical appointment. He had paid for the expensive shot and arranged for their closest friends to take their son in for the duration of the highly … physical period.
“Yes, I told Haus’k it was an expense we didn’t have to incure.” Amanda had never taken the shot while she was married to Sarek, and given the fact that she was nearing desperation to get back to her male, Amanda couldn’t help but be glad that Sarek had never seen her so … discomposed.
“Fucking hell he better have incurred that expense.” Rodney growled, “I lost you once Amanda. I had no authority to tell you who to trust or marry, but that asshole should never have hurt you like that.”
A hat hand wrapped itself around the top of Amanda’s arm and a shiver, strong and visible, wracked her frame. Haus’ks’s bass vibrating through her ear, boiling her blood. “You will never have to worry about Amanda in my care Elder McKay.”
Rodney squinted at Haus’k, as though he were a parent assessing his daughter’s suitor. Amanda could just hear the words coming to Rodney’s mouth, clearly some arrogant shit about no one being worth Amanda’s time and energy. Maybe even something about a shovel. Which was ridiculous because Rodney was dangerous, but not that type of dangerous, and John, who was that type of dangerous, would never kill one the best defenses the Union had against the Wraith. And frankly, Amanda did not appreciate the second-guessing of her judgment that was happening here.
“Don’t even go there Rodney.” She scowled. “Right now, my clothes are itchy and you are delaying me getting out of them. You need to follow after John, like you already should have . And we need a bed.” Turning she walked away from her oldest friend, leaving him sputtering, and tugged her male after her. Because all that talk about sex, the requirements of sex, and the sex kinks, boiled down to the fact that all Amanda really wanted was to be naked and pinned to a wall. Which wouldn’t be happening in the hallway of a government building.
Haus’k guided her one way and then the other, slowly snaking their way through main roads and sidestreets to an apartment building near the Stargate Center that Amanda had been led to believe contained a small apartment that, even before meeting her and falling in love with her son, Haus’k had spent very little time in. But that was not the focus of her mind. Her mind was focused on the all too brief brushes of the all too hot body behind her that she was way to aware of.
The sights were a blur of color that Vulcan would never be able to host and the sounds were meaningless white noise Amanda was unable to process. She heard the thump of her heart in her chest, racing with nerves and excitement. The only thing she could feel was the heat against her back and the sweet clench of her lower muscles. And the smell, Amanda didn’t know how a shot clinically designed to ramp up her arousal and stamina could be so locked on one male. Amanda leaned her head back and into the opening that the collar of his uniform made against his throat and simply breathed in.
She barely felt the metal of the door jam against her back, but his pause allowed her to simply breath in his smell. It was spicy. Spicy and hot, underlaid by something that might smell and taste like copper. Amanda had every intention of tasting every indent and muscular crease made by Haus’k’s body to find the particular one that emitted the spicy, hot, copper taste the best. Luckily for her, she had seven days to find it.
A wide swath of heat pushed against her back as a growl broke her musing. “We’re here.”
Amanda pressed back against the long length of her male. She ran her hands over every buckle, every zipper, every tag until she kneeled at the feet of her male. When she looked up she had to look way up, up past thick thighs, a tight core, and shoulders broad enough to hold up the sky. It was mouthwatering.
Haus’k groaned when she licked her lips. The feel of her lush curves as they slide over his planes. He reached out to cup her body, to hold it close to his, but she just kept moving and he had no intention of taking control. He was her willing captive, enthralled by the heat in her eyes and shine on her lips. Amanda reached for the overly ornate buckles and Haus’k groaned.
He wondered for just a moment if he was ready for this. The gift, and curse, of Pon farr was not the overwhelming urge to procreate, Surakan Vulcan locked that in because of their own stupidity to deny nature. No, it was the natural thinning of his mental shields that Haus’k both anticipated and dreaded. To feel the cool light of Amanda’s mind through every psionic point of contact. Beyond the thud of her heart and the press of her skin, to know intimately her every physical desire and need from where she pressed the inside of her wrist to the backs of his knees. Or to know every comparison that passed her mind with the brush of her finger to the tender line of his thigh. Could he put himself through that torture?
Amanda groaned. Her nose nuzzzled against the folds of skin held so sensetive at the apex of his thighs. She mouthed at him, moisture painting his muscles. Her hair, like silk, rubbing against his legs. Haus’k held out, straining to hold his mental shields against the promise his female was making at his feet. He held out, weighing the memory of her husband, weighing the torture she had endured for her son. Then she swallowed.
His mind whited. His shields flayed open at the pleasure she provided him and for a moment his telepathy was not constrained by skin. For one desperate, aching, moment Haus’k could hear everything. Then his world narrowed. Narrowed so fast to the brilliance of her mind, to the power of her pleasure, that for a single second Haus’k felt the ach in his jaw, the pressure in his chest, and the taste of spice, hot and coppery on his tongue.
Haus’k had no choice, no strength to resist the call of her sweet refreshing mind. He delved into her inner most thoughts. Within the span of a heartbeat he knew her secret pleasures, her sinful yearnings, her secret hates, and at the base of her being Haus’k found a thin shallow festering wound. He had no choice, there was no option not to take it, not to wipe it out, not to erradicate the last memento of a selfish male’s mark on his female. Once done Haus’k burrowed deep, deep inside Amanda and deep inside himself, locking them together with chains of lightning laced pleasure and determined, fierce, protection. There was no way Haus’k of House Lovak, recipiaent of a medal for Incalculable Heroics, Commander of the Union’s best wet works team, was going to allow Sarek of House Surak to have anything left of his family. It just wasn’t going to happen.
Amanda moaned when he pulled out, she hadn’t been done, he was still hard, still fun to play with. She tried following her toy, the toy perfect for her personal pleasure, her male had promised it to her and now he was taking it away. “Not fair, I’m not done.”
He chuckled deeply and it vibrated down his body to settle in her core, heating her up from the inside out. She shivered. “Oh, ashayam, we’re far from done.” She felt his hand tangle in her hair and guide her up, not harsh, not hard, just firm. No reason to remember the bruises from another male she had called her own. No reason at all.
But Amanda was to coherent now, though the memory was dulled through time and the actions of her current male, Amanda couldn’t help but remember the pain that lingered for weeks after her ex-husband’s Pon Farr. The way she wanted to scrub and scrub and scrub away the memories. The way she couldn’t forget. Moisture gathered in her eyes, “why are you so coherent?”
“Oh, ashayam.” Haus’k cradled her close, tucking her into his body and surrounding her with his warmth, reminding her of his strength. “He could not help it. Surakans repress so much emotion it cannot come out any way but violently when nature forces down their shields.” Haus’k nudged her forehead with his. “Do not worry Ashayam, there will be times I am so out of my mind for you that I will not remember it, and soon enough I will be so wrecked for you Amanda, that you will have to chain me up to keep me from pulling my stitches.” He wiggled his slanted brows, looking ridiculously. “That should please you my love, having me at your satisfaction .”
Amanda barked a laugh. She loved this male, and she could not stay in memories of things long passed when he boiled her blood and made her laugh at the same time. “And how should I have you to my satisfaction?”
He growled, “If I had the time I would worship you Amanda. Show you how much you mean to me from your toes to the ends of your hair.” He stripped faster than Amanda could honestly follow, flinging his clothes on a chair back somewhere that wasn’t in Amanda’s awareness, then pressing her against the wall. Making her much more aware of the tightly wound coil in her core.
“W-why are we running out of time Haus’k?” Amanda stuttered lightly as her male gathered her robes in his hands and tore. Rending it from her collar to her core.
“Because I am not taking you for the first time lying in bed on my back, letting you do the work.” Haus’k man-handled her, and after that demand Amanda wasn’t going to disagree, turning her to face the wall. He cupped her hips in his hands, fitting well to her curves, pulling her back, making her wet.
And Amanda was wet. His strength was captivating, his masculinity was entrancing, and his power was beguiling. Haus’k played her body like he owned it, like he had some sort of secret knowledge about what made her moan and what made her groan. In some places, Amanda didn’t even know had nerves, but Haus’k knew, and Amanda was surprisingly okay with him knowing it. After all, sooner or later she’d have free reign too.
Chapter 13 three years later
Jim leaned over the camera on the console, hanging his heads between his hands. Spock had tried to nudge the conversation one way or another to figure out what had his friend out of sorts, but so far he had no luck. “Is Earth so very different from what you know? Is that why you are … sad?”
The blonde head snapped forward, “I’m not sad.” Spock might have believed it, if it hadn’t been said so fast. One Vulcan eyebrow raised at the wide-eyed bright smile his best friend attempted to convey through almost 38 million light years of subatomic communications.
“I hope you aren’t using that look on your new friends, they have no adequate defense for it.”
Jim snorted, Spock had seen through him, just as he had always seen through him. “I have no friends.” Ducked head braced between hands again, though the camera and monitor were adjusted to see him better, Spock just couldn’t see the room.
“I repeat, Is Earth so very different? It seems impossible to me that there exists a group of people capable of resisting your weaponized charm.”
“Hey now, my charm is not a weapon!” Jim was quick to deny.
“I deny the proposition, I have seen you weild it like a weapon too many times to count.”
“Your calculations are inaccurate, you pointy-eared freak, perhaps you’d be better at number blocks.” It was quick on Spock’s tongue to make an inference about charm and Sheppard men, before he saw the light sweat on the sides of Jim’s face. Then he swallowed the comment and sat back in his seat.
“I deny both propositions, but that does not answer my question. Is Earth so different?”
Jim didn’t know how to describe it. “Earth is unreal.” There were so many different kinds of people, from soo many different places, not unlike dothiniqui. But most of them don’t get along, they yelled and shouted at each other, refused to do business with some and ripped off others. There was none of the solidarity the Federation promised and none of the tolerance the Union fostered. “I read about Earth and Earth culture, about the press of consumerism and subliminal marketing. But they were just ideas Spock, not things I really understood. The sky is smoggy but we went up into the mountains and saw the blue sky, and sometimes at night you can see the stars. It makes me homesick to know that I don’t see any of the constellations from home.” Jim heaved out a sigh, Spock waited.
“I’m ahead of the other human kids, so I’m in all these advanced subjects with alien kids. The human kids asked me why I was already in advanced courses, and they either shun me or hound me when they find out I’m from the Union.”
“And the other xeno students?”
Jim gave a disappointed laugh, “there’s this Surakan kid in my math class, who ‘required explanation about these inane human rituals.” Ernest gaze struck through his closest friend. “I had to tell him I didn’t know why, that I wasn’t raised on Earth. He replied that ‘it could not be that different’…”
Spock braced himself, he didn’t think Jim had made himself a friend. “what did you do Jim?”
“So I said, ‘Like the difference between Surakan and Vri Vulcans aren’t that different.’” The smirk on Jim’s face clearly displayed how not sorry he was. Spock huffed, all the charisma in the universe couldn’t stop Jim Kirk from making enemies. “I don’t think he approved of the comparison.”
Spock huffed, actually huffed, an action he was certain only Jim could make him produce. “I am certain he did not agree. Other than leaving potential enemies and certain victims in your wake, how has it been?”
“Classes are boring.” He twiddled his thumbs, “I fiddled with the designs for lightsabers in math the other day. Unnecessary and superfluous, I know, but I was booreed!” Jim’s grin was suddenly cunning and he leaned forward, which made Spock lean forward, “I’ll send you the scans, my particle retention field is off and I was hoping you could do some calculations, maybe figure out where I went wrong? We don’t have to tell the parents.”
Spock smirked, Jim had been trying for years to realistically create the energy swords he had seen in the old Earth vid. He had taken apart engines, rebuilt shields, recalibrated puddlejumpers, and he did it with Spock. Of course they couldn’t publish any of it, it would be a supremely logical falsity for the House of Surak to get its hands on intimate science behind Atlantis. The argument had gone back and forth between the parents for months when they had redone the aesthetic designs for the SGC’s new battlecruisers. They were years ahead of even other Atlanteans or Vulcans, in a class of their own, one the parents did not want anyone outside their family group to find out about. And the scientific work clause in the documents between Amanda Greyson and the House of Surak, were a good enough reason for Jim to slow down his accelerated work.
“I have high expectations to find a ridiculously low number of flaws in your math Jim, why are you really sending me the scans?”
“To plump my ego with praise of my awesomeness?” Jim shrugged, paused and looked down, yet again twiddling his thumbs. “This’d be the first project that doesn’t also have your name on it Spock. And I’m scared of those stories Papa and Daddy tell. That they were once tight and close but someone came between them, made them separate and not remember they were supposed to be together. I don’t ever want anything to come between us. We should be so stuck together that Jim’nSpock is one word on all our assignments.” Jim took a shuddering breath, “b-but we’ve been separated for a while now, and I-I miss you.”
Fingers threaded through the shorn blonde locks, just a little longer than regulation length. They lightly massaged against the skin of Chris’s skull, moving from front to back, small strong circles that let the tension leak out. His shoulders slowly unwound, and the muscles that had been tight with tension slowly, very slowly loosened. It was a long moment that George stood behind his partner ensuring loose muscles and deep breaths. But George didn’t mind, it had been a long time since he had been afraid of hard work and long nights, he knew they would make it through this next hurdles just like they made it through all the others.
When Chris’s head came up to peer blue eyes, Jim’s blue eyes and how the hell did that happen, into a set of darker hazel ones, George knew something was wrong. “Tell me what’s bothering you, Baby.”
Air escaped Chris’s lungs on the out going groan, Chris didn’t reply simply shook his head. “Something’s coming, I think its going to be big and be bad, but the last thing I want to do is talk about it.”
George narrowed his focus. Chris’s eyes were pinched and his brow was furrowed, his lips were cracked. Dark bags circled, but the blue eyes they were under retained a wired look. George wanted to be able to bundle his partner up and take him to bed, to exhaust him between sheets from knowledge that only came after knowing your partner’s body for a decade. But he had tried that once before, and after a half-enjoyed session on Chris’s part where he just got up a paced in their bedroom after, George never tried that approach again.
Instead George leans forward across the hardwood dinning table that came with the house, and which none of the Kirk-Pikes liked, pressing his forehead to Chris’s. His eyes slowly shut, “Lean on me, I will be your Anchor in rough seas.”
There was a choked sob, half a cry, half a laugh. “You’re ridiculous.”
George smiled, eyes still closed, the Atlantean Pairing ceremonies always gave off a tone of serious contemplation, Chris always laughed about it. Reminding the Earth-born that he wasn’t alone often loosened his tongue enough to speak. “So, Sails, what’s been bothering you?”
Cracking a bitter smile, not altogether pleasant but George would take what he could get. “Do you have to call me Sails? It’s symbolic George, Atlantis doesn’t have sails!”
“It also doesn’t have an anchor.” George leaned up and back reaching for the delicious looking grapefruits they had picked up at a grocer after work, they were soiling themselves. On Dothalonqi they ate maruel, a blue citrus fruit, very sweet but with a sour aftertaste. Cutting into his fruit, tossing a half to his partner, “doesn’t change the fact that we are sail and anchor, paired to work together.”
There was no warning for George when his partner tilted his head back and showed tear tracks, startling the other Starfleet officer into letting his tilted chair thump back into the ground. He made to reach across the table but Chris waved him away. “I’ve got some bad news, and if you’re too close I don’t think I’ll ever get it out.” George just nodded, it was best sometimes, to just minimize your presence in a situation. This was one of those times.
Chris slid a document folder across the table to George. “Here’s the first bit of bad news.” Inside the document folder George found government documents. The first set had ‘Christopher Jeremiah Pike’ while the second set had ‘George Samuel Kirk, Jr’, but both had ‘Denied Entry Due to Document Failure’. Glancing up at his partner George spread the documents in front of him. Every piece was correct, every required document was there, the reason filed with the paper, that of spousal immigration, was accurate. George was confused, there was no ‘Document Failure’ with these papers that he could find.
“I’m not sure I understand, Chris. Why are you just finding this out now? You processed this paperwork ages ago, as soon as we could get your parents to send the original documents, right?”
Chris shook his head very slowly, “this is the fourth time I’ve tried to submit this paperwork George.” The Atlantean’s head snapped up so quickly both men winced at the sound of the bones cracking. “Every time the paperwork is sent back with some sort of inane processing failure. From missing documents to spilt coffee, Sam and I can’t get approval to immigrate.”
It just didn’t make sense. Chris and Sam had lived years in the Union, they hadn’t ever been under investigation from the Immigration Administration or Population Control. If they couldn’t get federal paper approval they should have been deported. “If this isn’t new, how did we-?”
“John and Rodney.” Chris shrugged, “Or Jack and Daniel. It doesn’t matter which couple granted me and Sam protection just that they did. After that it wouldn’t matter how many times my paperwork was denied, I was residing in the Union with the approval of at least two of it’s founders. That carries a lot of weight.”
“Still,” George gestured to the forms, “that’s at least four times someone pretty high up messed with your paperwork. Who and why?”
Another document folder slid across the table, regardless of how far into the future technology traveled, paper was still the best way to pass something under the radar. First out of the second folder was a series of after action reports detailing … His head slowly rose to look at the tired angry eyes of his mate. “Have you passed this on to the Elders yet?”
“No,” Chris smirked bitterly. “I’m still a Federation citizen, passing classified documents to an separate foreign entity would be treasonous. But if my partner, who just so happens to be Union citizen with strong ties to the Elders, simply sees these documents laying about what can I do about that?” George huffed, regardless of the black humor Chris had been able to pass along, he was very upset.
Because on those after action reports were the names of Union planets, including the one Haus’k had been seriously injured on three years ago while chasing fugitives, who they now found out were really Starfleet Commandos. The report listed the numbers wounded and killed to validate ammunition expenditure. It explained the whereabouts of a previously missing, apparently kidnapped, Atlantean physician studying the Ascension process for historical documentation. There were starmaps, strategic and tactical plans, reports on the doctor’s research, and an itemized expense report for resource allotment. And it was all signed with the distinctive signature of one Federation Justice Tav Marceel.
“Well,” George slumped in his seat, moving away from the documents. “He’s just gone and made himself one big old pain in the ass. Didn’t he?”
Sam stared into space as his teacher went over, yet again, the formula for velocity. But there was no way Sam was going to draw attention to himself by answering the problem, by answering any of the problems. He would pick a spot on the wall and stare, and like all those years ago when he lived with the man-with-wrinkles and the lady-with-wrinkles, people he now knew were the Nimhs, Winona’s parents, Sam would send himself away.
Instead of a grey school room in a grey Earth city, where, as his gold brother was fond of telling his green brother, they weren’t half as nice as they were supposed to be; Sammy dreamt himself back in Dothaloniq. He could smell the spice street outside his old window. The hot sweet scent of Colmini from ye’dar, that his Papa put on the toasted bread. Or the hot sour smell of Gisru from MiYu, so strong on the wind you could taste it, and always stronger than what Daddy used in his sweet and sour chicken pieces.
Sammy could almost feel the hot dry wind against his face. It always came from the West, from the desert where the Dothalonz made their twice yearly tent city. The whole family had gone one year, they had traded in several pieces of broken metal, the shiny kind, for several bartering chips. Sammy had eaten food with his fingers in the shade of one of the public tents with his Papa and Daddy, while Haus’k, his gold and green brothers called him, chased after the two toddlers, always getting into trouble.
Sammy didn’t want any of his family to know that he called the Vulcan doll A’nirith. All the other dolls sat on shelves in his room, only taken down to make sure they stayed clean and bright; they were the first things Sammy unpacked in the new house, even his clothes were still in boxes.
He could almost feel the grit layering over his eyes, the taste of the chalk mine floating on the breeze. Sammy was almost there, almost home, but-
“Sam!” A hand, unwanted and painful clenched down on his arm. The voice shouted in his sensitive ear and Sam didn’t think. He didn’t want to be hurt, he knew his Papa and his Daddy said he didn’t have to be hurt. His green brother’s mother had held him, Nana Hona had praised him, A’nirith had taught him, they loved him. And he didn’t have to hurt.
So Sam squeezed his eyes shut and pushed the teacher away. She went up and over the desks, hitting violently the other wall, and taking a few of the other children with her. But he didn’t open his eyes at the sound of shrieks, or the crash, or the pained moan. He didn’t want to see where the lady-with-wrinkles had ended up. He just wanted to be back with his brothers in that sandy hot beautiful city of cloth.
Breath in. The slow stretch of muscles moving in a new and unusual way. The left foot forward, cocked at an angle and supporting his weight. His right foot stretched up near his near his waist, not anywhere near where Haus’k showed him it would have to be for finishing. His arms held out at the sides, to keep his balance.
Breath out. He trembled. He wouldn’t be able to hold it for much longer. For all the vaunted physical control Vulcans lauded over the weaker space-faring species, they had limits too. And Spock was learning his first hand.
A quick breath in to justify the long slow breath that Spock pushed out as her moved to the next form. Both hands extended past his head, bending his torso back parallel to the ground but facing the sky. Right foot curled tight against his chest. Left foot still sustaining his trembling weight.
Sakadou. The act of stretching, to hold or length the body in positions that allow the muscles to relax and relieve tension. Sakadaya. The Stretch. The pursuit of body and mind seeking balance in the physical stretch of muscles, prompting the mind to remember that it is not one whole, but one of a great many parts that work together to create the whole.
The Vri had brought Sakadaya with them to Hepheastus. It was an old physical art that pre-reform/pre-split Vulcans learnt as a martial art. Now and after the split it was practiced to remind Vulcans that they should work together as one body toward their common goals.
Haus’k said it was power. Power of the body, to hold the position, to move when told to move, to not fall. Power of the mind, over the body first, then over itself, to conquer fear, to remove weakness, to instill determination. Haus’k would move with grace and strength through his forms first, early before Yel rose over Vulcan. And Spock would watch, this was his A’nirith teaching him what his a’nirith had taught him. That vulnerability was found not just in the flesh, but in the mind too, and that both needed to be trained.
So Spock got up early every morning, before Yel rose, to push his body and mind, to the breaking point. And every day under the guarding eyes of Nana Hona Spock made it just a little bit further, completing just a little bit more of what Haus’k wanted him to learn.
So it was Breath in, as he moved from form to form. His arms and legs rising and lowering, his chest heaving in the cool morning air, and his abdomen aching with strain. But when he collapsed this morning he was just a little closer to where his A’nirith wanted him. And that made it all worth it.
Shop was heaven and it was Jim’s favorite time of the day. He was the only twelve-year old in the advanced mechanical engineering class, the rest were all older kids. It had been Jim’s first experience with bullying. Well, direct bullying. He still got excited when he remembered the story about the stupid Surakans who thought they could take Spock.
It was different from what he expected. Little kids were nasty everywhere, but it was more of an abstract idea. In the Union the Kirk’s were part of the Sheppard Clan and they were introduced as part of the Sheppard Clan. That name made them untouchable, sure a few people might try to make things difficult, but the sheer political power that came with the Sheppard name was enough to warn off the idiots. And Jim had never had to deal with, or know about, the people that the Sheppard name didn’t dissuade. He just knew that they disappeared rather quickly.
But on Earth, in Federation Space, he wasn’t introduced as a member of the Sheppard Clan. It was considered excessive knowledge. Besides, it wouldn’t stop anyone in the Federation, it was like saying you were from the House of Surak on Hephaestus. Best chance, they’d laugh at you; worst, they’d do something a lot more painful.
So when he’d shown up to his classes first day of school, Jim had figured it would be more like the academy halls. Everyone should be absorbed in their assigned work, being directed and assisted by the teachers in equal turns. But San Francisco had a different opinion on education than the Education Board of the Union.
He had been shuffled into a seat in already overcrowded classrooms where the teacher yelled and shouted over the students, who didn’t pay attention to the material that he’d learnt at the knee of Nana Hona several years earlier. The girls had giggled over his blue-blue eyes and bright grin, asking about friends and Friday Night Plans. The boys had asked about sports teams and superheroes, and Jim answered.
Yes, the Union has football and rugby and soccer and baseball, but they’re not that popular. We mostly play Quaqua. And Quaqua required description, and then another explanation because ‘gladiatorial games’ and ‘arena slaves’ aren’t terms in second grade vocabulary.
Apparently finding out his favorite spectator sport was conducted in a sand pit because the athletes were coming at each other with clubs and swords, put them off just a little. And finding out that he stayed in on Friday nights to compensate for the time difference between Earth and Vulcan so that he could chat with his best friend about physics at a Calc II level, well that put off even more kids. Then he had to go and prove to the entirety of his second grade math class, teacher included, that yes, he did know the proper use of a vector, thank you very much.
That was when they took him out of the human classes and put him in the specialty courses designed for the enhanced learning capacity and accelerated academic paths of the xeno students. Which was just awesome, because many of them were not prepared to be shown up by a student that didn’t look xeno. Because Jim, for all the fact that his energy levels and brain capacity were making the qualifications for Atlantean, he still looked ridiculously human. The only point he didn’t look human was in his medical file. Too many allergies combined with too little healing time, had he been human he would have been dead.
So, Jim lived for the Advanced Mechanical Engineering class that met for four hours on Mondays. Every week, of every school year for the last five years Jim lived for Advanced Mechanical Engineering, at least during the school day. After the bell rang Jim was free to drive his family crazy with harebrained stunts and idiocy. But between 8am and 4pm Jim couldn’t wait to get to for Advanced Mechanical Engineering.
Mr. Loude was human and hired by the school, but he knew enough to know that most of his students knew more about his subject than he did. So he was mostly a facilitator, ensuring safety regulations and making sure none of the students did anything stupid or illegal. Which was disappointing because Jim was sure if he could just tweak that generator a little more, he’d probably be able to get it to fly.
But it was assholes like the idiot approaching him that ensured Jim never tried to make world threatening devices in shop. He waited until math.
Borbor Bruken, was Betazoid, with the extra wide black eyes and the swagger that said he could feel you lusting after his well-shaped ass. Unfortunately for Jim’s peace of mind, it was an unusually well-shaped ass and it was to the bane of his parent’s sanity that he was already noticing stuff like that when his older brother couldn’t be bothered to even make friends outside their family.
And Mikel Nikel was from Dost, a small planet that mined out a special mineral used in the creation Federation warp cores. His skin was tinted a lovely blue that turned lilac when he got upset, and as the only male child to a large family he had been pampered and catered too, so he got upset a lot by Jim’s estimate. His ass was not well-shaped and was about the least pleasing thing Jim would think about an ass.
The last figure who approached was a little contradictory, he was new to the class and his pronounced brow ridges marked him as a member of the Klingon ambassadorial party the Federation was negotiating with on Earth. A negotiation Sarek of House Surak was masterminding. As a Klingon the male emanated confidence and strength, but Jim could see a slight haze of confusion glazing the much larger male’s eyes.
Borbor leaned up against the table Jim was set up on, absentmindedly, if Jim could believe the manipulative alien did anything without a reason, picking up and setting down pieces of Jim’s kit. “Jim, allow me to introduce TovK, of Klingon.” Jim could see the alien take a breath to better introduce himself, but Borbor just kept talking. “He was mentioning this very interesting process he’s going through to earn his place as a warrior when I thought, ‘I know someone else who’s going through something like that!’ Right, Jim? Your going through con-conic-coni-somehting and gaing braids.” The betazoid, a male from a people that decried violence, sneered the last word.
Jim blinked sedately, heart hammering in his chest, it didn’t matter how many times they taunted him, Jim never got used to it. His dad said he should get used to the insults and comments, the staring, that people would do it all his life. His Papa simply asked him not to get into fights. But his Grampa John, his Elder Sheppard and Elite Ascended Council Member, had looked him in the eyes and told him, ‘keep fighting, always fight. First with words, then with threats, and last with fists, but always fight. The day you don’t fight is the day you cease to be a Sheppard, because Sheppards fight to the death. And staying dead is always optional.’
“Conic’kal’tra is the word you’re looking for, but it’s not something I’m doing.” He assembled a little more of his remote bomb-setting robot, he really want to say conic’kal’tra was a torture that his best friend was putting himself through out of some misguided belief that he wasn’t perfect the way he was. Except Jim had already seen the changes it was making in his friend. Spock had always been slim, but now Jim was starting to see real muscles under his friend’s clothes, not to mention the sudden breadth added to his shoulders. Jim always got the uncomfortable urge to nibble.
“You will not take up the mantle of protection for your people?” Jim couldn’t decide with the Klingon was insulted by the idea of genuinely curious. But Jim answered seriously, putting down his robot-for-world-domination and pinning all his attention to the new student.
“I’ll admit to being a bit violent. I poke, prod, and punch. I was a biter as a child. But I don’t want to be a soldier. I still remember the blood that covered the floor of the nursery when the Wraith broke through Atlantis’s defenses. I can admit I still have nightmares about seeing the Wraith feeding on one of my caretakers, of approaching my mama as she stood in front of our crib guarding us with her life.
“I know the cost of freedom, the taste that comes after bravery. And I know the enemy, and they are worth eradicating like the bugs they are. But my skills are that of an engineer, a scientist. I enjoy making things, breaking things, and putting things back together.” Jim demonstrated by waving his hand in front of the table, gesturing to the mess that would eventuatly become a robot with lasers for eyes. “So, I’ll serve my years in the SGC, as required by all Atlanteans, I might even make a career out of it, but I’m not going to try to change who I am.”
It was a ssh ssh sound that alerted Hona to the approach of one of the other members of her household. The malanu that Spock had torn that morning practicing Sakadaya, a set of excersise pants she had been meaning to let out in the hem, it was illogical to not get as much use as possible out of a piece of clothing, was set aside. From the awkward angle of his shoulders, slightly turned away from her, and the tentative and soft steps, it was clear whatever was troubling Spock was something he could not muddle through on his own. Hona patted the seat beside her on the low couch. “What is it you need, Sa’mekh’fu?”
Spock kneeled at Nana Hona’s feet, resting his head on her lap like he hadn’t since he was a child. Hona waited with the patience of a grandmother while her son’s child found the words to tell her his worries. She placed a hand in his hair, sliding sensitive fingers through his hair, which grew longer by the day in the tradition of Vri Vulcan males. Little fissions of worry and fear radiated from her fingers to her heart as she waited for Spock to speak his mind. Though the hints Hona obtained through her petting did raise her level of concern, there was no logic in forcing Spock to speak. She would just have to do her best to encourage him to speak.
Never letting up her soothing motion, “What is it that worries you, Spock?” When her grandson did not take initiative she tried again. “Is it not the way of our allies and k’war’ma’khon among the Atlanteans to share the burden to make it lighter?” Spock fidgeted, slightly and carefully, shifting his weight. “There is no logic in withholding information about a problem that might be solved if you spoke up.”
There was a little more give in Spock’s shoulders aftter that claim and all Hona had to do was wait for him to find the words.
“T’Pring spoke with me today.” Hona frozen just a moment as the ramifications of that statement settled in. T’Pring was a Surakan Vulcan from a moderately wealthy House on Vulcan. It was Hona’s impression that she was shallow, selfish, hypocritical, and a supremesist. She gave off all the finer airs a Vulcan female should, and with her moderate background the House of Surak had attempted rather underhandedly to contract her to Spock. That was nothing unusual for Surakan Vulcans, but Haus’k had nearly murdered the messenger. Such ‘attempts to provide for the future of their children’ was simply not done on Hephaestus.
“What did she say?”
“She was unhappy.” Was the reply, a statement that Hona was sure was a clear underestimate of T’Pring’s royal attitude.
“What was she so dissatisfied with?” This, whatever was the subject matter of discussion, had clearly turned her grandson inside out.
Spock nuzzled into his Nana Hona’s knees, not something that he had reason to do except on unusual circumstances. Right now there was nothing regular about the conversation they were having. “T’Pring was speaking … illogically. She had obtained photos through another member of her House depicting … the results of experiments.”
Hona took a fortifying breath, there was no escape into the chill of logic for a Vri Vulcan. “What did she say?” Because there was no way T’Pring could have enough self-restraint not to say something.
“She said she was glad the contract had fallen through. That she could only imagine the depravity of being bonded to an experiment for the rest of her life.” It took everything Hona had not to curse out that female in every language she knew, and Hona knew several very inventive curses the Jaffa used. “Nana Hona,” the not so little boy on her lap asked softly, “am I an experiment? Am I d-depraved?”
“No. Absolutely not.” She might have been old, but a Vri female’s arms are never to weak to hold her children. Hona gathered her son’s son into her arms, cradled him against her chest. “Your mother took a chance on you. One that she followed through to the forsaking of the House of Surak. It was a risk, attempting to get Federation approval for the work that created you. And yes, I can only imagine the documentation the VSA has on the … viable and inviable lives created through the crossbreeding projects.” She pushed him away from her, gracing his melding point with love-touch fingertips.
“There is no logic in mourning a viable life. There is no probability that may account for what you could or could not bring into the community. And there is no depravity in your mind nor your heart Spock. So do not give that little female the time of day.” Hona had to make sure her Sa’mekh’fu would understand that she was deadly serious. Now was not the time to be shy or pretend, there was no logic in hiding wounds from trusted family.
Spock agreed, but he had seen the photographs. He had been exposed to the one subject Amanda and Haus’k had tried to shelter him from. Hona had only seen them once, it had been enough.
She would never forget the misshapen mass of bones without skin, and skin without organs, that had been a failed Vulcan-Osiriusan breeding. Nor was she likely to forget the premanently horror stricken face of the little female who had all of the power of two telepathic species and none of the mental barriers. Hona knew that little one had clawed at herself until her skin had ruptured and infection set in. She had screamed until her vocal chords had torn. The sheer enormity of the power that she couldn’t control had driven her insane.
What was the worst were the still silent bodies of the little lives who might have made it, had their progenitors cared just a little more. Heartsick with failure to thrive they had given up their limitless potential because of the genetic kink that triggered all the recessive genes of a pre-reform Vulcan in the body of a Surakan Vulcan’s experiment. Hona had only needed to see the image once before she had understood, that was what Amanda had seen. Her son, the child made of her genes that she had risked so much to create, too small, unresponsive, and with a raging fever.
Hona thanked the gods of old, for the determined spirit of a human mother.
Sam huddled under his blankets, to used to the pervasive heat of Dothaloniq and San Fransisco was simply colder than he was used to. And every breath that frosted the glass in his thinking spot reminded him just enough of the cold edge of winter that krept in while asleep in hay.
On Dothaloniq, and before the Capitol city when they were still on Atlantis, Sam hadn’t had to deal with the memories of the cold. And now, twelve years later,Sam still didn’t like the cold. It brought a dull ache back to his healed body.
Sam could almost feel the numb brought on by sleeping out in the cold. He could almost here the crinkle as hay moved under him. There was the thunk of a heavy door, the barn door. Vi-rong. Sammy was supposed to be up before the man-with-wrinkles, Sammy was supposed to feed the animals, he was supposed to… Sammy panted out a breath.
He could feel the sharp smack, and cried out first in relief at the return of sensation, second in pain at the well placed hit. He could almost hear the rasp of the old man’s spit words, there was his face, flash of red –
Vi-rung. Sam panted, sweat drenched his face and skin as the room slowly came back into focus. The old man with wrinkles had long been out of Sam’s life, and was no where to be seen in the cream colored bedroom.
Ve-rung. It caught in Sam’s ear, finally resonating with his mind what the low bass sound was supposed to be. Siting on his desk, closest to the bed was the device A’nirith had sent from Hephaestus when he had heard of the first panic attack in class. A dream catcher the Vri Vulcan had called it. Made of metal and glass it vibrated when exposed to extreme amounts of psionic energy. The pitch and tone altered depending on how much of the energy it was exposed to. Given the slowing vibration, now giving off the faint verung, it had done exactly what it was designed to. Catch the perpetrator stuck in a nightmare of their own creation.
So Sam was no longer in a barn on a december morning in Iowa, but he wasn’t in a good place either. He could feel the nervy shake in his hands and the sweat on his brow, the light was harsh to his pupils and Sam could feel the nightmare lingering at the edge. He knew it would come back if he fell asleep immediately, he looked for something to distract him.
The loud repeating thunk that Sam had mistaken for the sound of the barn door opening in his flashback he could now recognize as Jim in his workshop. Carefully Sam wrapped the blankets around his body, not letting it drag or trip him. He slipped himself down the hall, then down the stairs out the house and across the refitted garage where Jim spent most of his time.
The lights were mostly dimmed but there was a brilliant sparking flash in the corner farthest away from the door. The heavy beat of old rock thrummed up through Sam’s bare feet to settle in his bones. It was exactly what he needed. The beat vibrated through his body as he settled onto the overwarm couch and loosely gazed at his brother’s production.
It was an engine, smoldered together instead of molded, but no weaker for the fabrication. Sam didn’t know much about engines. He could vaguely identify the shape, noting where the modular battery would slot into place, where the connector cables would snap together. but there were other ports, other slots and openings that indicated it wasn’t quite what their parents were expecting his brother to build in the garage. Though, considering it was Jim, maybe they did expect it and that was why Sam got to share the library-office with the entire family and Jim got a two story garage. And regardless of what they said Sam knew the house was bought for the garage.
But Sam didn’t care. Jim’s garage was a dangerous place for the un-mechanically inclined, too many sharp pieces and abandoned projects. But there was the couch, with its scratch and dent coffee table and refurbished replicator. Kept warm because it hid the alternative generator Jim was hiding from Admiral Archer and honestly Sam couldn’t see why he’d ever want to leave.
Sam watched as Jim started slowing down, the heat let up and the lights dimmed up as the sparks and flames died down. Then his brother was next to him and Sam wasn’t entirely sure where the time went, or whether he was willing to let his brother touch his blanket cocoon. But Jim was holding out his hand, shifting lightly and fidgeting with the too short sleeve on his protective gear.
When Sam opened his palm to see what Jim had dropped there he wasn’t sure at first what it was. A band of silver steel, wrought over with blue silicone and strands of real silver and gold soldered wires. It was small and round with a hole in the middle of it. It was a … bead?
Jim leaned his face up close to his brother’s, whispering, “Do you think he’ll like it?”
Sam smiled, big enough to chase his nightmares away. Leaning in close he carefully dropped the bead back into Jim’s hand, resting his head against his brother’s. “Yeah, Jim. He’ll like it.”
They snuck in on quiet feet. Muffled boots that didn’t give away their position. They were careful to leave little trace. They went through doors that were already open and waited for staff to open the doors that weren’t. They were soundless shadows. They watched with eyes that saw everything. They had a mission to accomplish, one that had no margin for error.
One technition in the main data processing center tugged at sleaves that showed bruises. She hunched over her station and flinched at loud noises. Spousal abuse, not their problem.
One doctor, male mid to late forties, bags under his eyes, hunched when he walked. When he signed a pad for something, tremors raced through his hands. addicted the eyes noted, smelt like tri-monocodocene chloride, useful but not necessary.
Another minor lab worker stuttered lightly when talking to her boss, blushing and fidgeting with her hands. Fucking, they eyes thought. Not their issue.
But it was the blinking red light just barely visible under the cuff of the senior scientist that the eyes were concerned with. This was the man they were there for. This was the mission: retrieve the doctor, erase their data, destroy the building; no one can leave it alive. It was all just a matter of timing.
Alpha was in position for the grab. Bravo was placing explosives in the power core. And Charlie was waiting just outside range of the sensors ready to pick off anyone who made it out of the building before the secondary explosions went off. There could be no survivors left, the enemy needed no advantage they didn’t already have.
Booom. The high density chemical composite went off right on schedule. The lights flickered and the room rattled in the concussive aftershocks. Alpha waited the full 30 secs for the reserve battery on the video cameras to go off before shimmying down from the vent were they watched.
There were four other people in the locked room when the doors disengaged. 01 slid out of the vent first, arm raised and shooting before his feet hit the floor. The babysitter by the door crumpled first, a clean shot to the temple. 02 was rolling out of the vent, sumersaulting under his superior’s raised weapon. He stopped directly in front of their retrieval, his tool kit already open and the doctor’s pant cuff rolled up before the second body fell. The male scientist had been next, he was moving forward, mouth open to say something or shout. But by the time his momentum had gathered he had taken two to his torso, heart and lungs. The body went down face first, momentum from the aborted step he’d taken.
02 was releasing the moniering cuff from the doctor’s ankle as 03 landed crouched covering 01 and 02. A swing out by the last member of the three person team clocked the frozen female scientist in the head, cracking her skull, while the standard double tap caught the blubbering female technician in the corner.
It wasn’t 30 secs and the room was cleared and the doctor ready for transport. A full minute from the blast detonation. 01 took point, clearing ahead, 03 cleared behind, while 02 covered the doctor as they moved out. The only communication being exchanged the rapid whistles the comms let off in signal from the other teams.
Military boots thumped down the hall, ten paces. Left four paces, then right for ten paces. The sounds of gunfire and shouting, the enemy, were growing louder. 01 reached up to toggle his comm, three short whistles burst through. They continued around the corner.
One male, guard, weapon in hand, down with a double tap to the skull. A guard down four feet further as Charlie, coming from the power core, merged with Alpha. Three soldiers and the retrieved doctor became seven. They continued forward. The sounds of battle fading in the background, Bravo checking the rear, ensuring no survivors.
Ten paces from the fork that went to the lobby, 01 and 03 cleared the little used access stair. One hundred steps to the roof. It was a thirty second wait before Bravo could be seen approaching from the East side of the roof. A single signal whistle could be heard over comms, this one sent to the ship in orbit. And with the blue light distortion of Asgard beaming, the nine soldier Hok’ta team counted one more success on their score sheet.
Haus’k was tired. He was tired, covered in mud and blood from the extraction, and what he really wanted to do was vid call home to tell his family he was on his way and then find a transport that would let him sleep the entire way. But things just kept getting in the way. Starting with the presumptious human woman who saw it within her right to touch him.
“This is new.” Nimble fingers reached into Haus’k’s crown of braids to finger the new pale green glass bead threaded through his hair. Haus’k had hundreds of glass beads braided throughout his plaits, most were the black and red denoting battlefield campaigns. But a precious few were vibrantly colored treasures declaring to all who knew how to read beads that he desperately loved his family. “What does this one mean?”
Haus’k took a deep breath in, a controlling one as he reached around to detangle her fingers from his hair. Natalie was human, and couldn’t possibly know that she was being offensive. How could she? She kept her hair shorn so short for practicality that no one would ever offer her beads. “It means my son has finally started convic’kal’tra, the warrior’s steps.”
His voice carried in the open format warehouse the Hok’tra used as a barracks. The response was overwhelming. There was some silence as his words connected, where he watched numerous thoughts cross the woman’s mind as she stood hand out stretched in front of him. But once his words computed there was no stopping the celebration.
Loud swelling cheers arose from the members of their unit who knew what that meant. Vulcans and Jaffa a like making enough noise to bring the officers into the barracks to quell the outburst. A shrill whistle quieted the massive gathering, the attention of an officer not usually a thing soldiers wanted.
“What is going on in here?” The flabbergasted face of Elder O’Neill was almost enough to give rise to a different type of noise. Immediately the well trained Hok’tra company snapped to attention in front of their bunks and waited for some signal as to the old Atlantean’s mood.
There was no hurry in O’Neill’s steps as he walked through the aisles of bunks and lockers arranged in the large warehouse. He keenly perused those soldiers in the barracks, criticing those few who had gone lax between inspections and lauding the several soldiers who had earned alcolades but had not yet been recognized. Finally, he came infront of Haus’k.
“What’s this I hear, that you have a new bead Haus’k?” It was a struggle not to grin widely at the mention of his son’s achievement, even obliquely. For Vri warrior’s son to follow in his footsteps is the greatest praise he could ever be given.
“My son has begun the conic’kal’tra.” O’neill peered unceasingly into Haus’k’s eyes. Searching for something, but the Vri couldn’t be sure of what. But the Elder nodded and stepped back from where he stood rather close to the soldier.
“Then congradualtions are in order.” O’neill threw a wry grin across the assembled company. “And congradualtions to the Third Unit for a clean and complete mission!” Cheers rang out again as the Unit out last night was give due praise.
“But you,” O’Neill poked Haus’k in the chest, incredibly informal. Though, Haus’k imagined after several centuries and at least one death, formalities must cease to carry the weight they still did for those among the living.
Haus’k followed the Atlantean Elder out through the halls, catching sight on his way out of Natalie Portman, anger on her face. Haus’k could only be thankful he was being pulled out of the way by his superior. It never did well to have a woman mad at you.
“You are being called for cross-examination about certain instances and information concerning last night’s mission.” The room they entered was the council quarters. Six seats were arranged facing the open door, though only four were occupied.
“We will do our best to let you go in a timely manner.” Elder John Sheppard sat in a seat to the right, several other defense council members of the SGC filled in a few of the other seats. A Jaffa Haus’k did not recognize, and several human attendants, not including the ascended Elders.