Author's Note: So, it turns out I'm a sadist who prefers action/adventure to romance and wanted a little more of it in my life. Since this story's predecessor was told from Nyota's point of view, I thought it would be interesting to have a go at it from Spock's mind this time around. Though it builds on many of my other stories, it can certainly be read as a standalone work. So here it is, a proper sequel to Seventy-Four Hours Later, featuring… Even. More. Tropes.
"Enjoy your vacation. Have fun," Dr. McCoy said. "Doctor's orders."
"I do not believe amusement can be made mandatory," Spock replied.
Nyota rolled her eyes and stooped to pick up her duffel bag, but Spock intercepted her efforts. His own bag hung from his right shoulder, and he repositioned it to more easily carry hers.
"I'm pregnant, not handicapped. I think I can manage a few kilograms," she sighed.
"I know you are capable," he replied. "But I am available to assist you."
Nyota stepped onto the transporter pad without further comment, but the tension she left in her wake spoke volumes. Spock exchanged a glance with Dr. McCoy and joined her.
The door to transporter room one rushed open and Captain Kirk entered, sporting a characteristic grin.
"You were going to leave without saying goodbye?"
"I said goodbye this morning at breakfast," Spock explained.
"And I've seen you every day for the last four years," Nyota added, making no attempt to shield the irritation in her voice. "Captain."
"You look lovely as ever, Lieutenant."
Spock concurred with his captain's judgment, but he knew from numerous prior conversations with Nyota that she did not share their opinion. She was self-conscious about her weight, her blotchy skin, and the red marks spreading around the girth of her midsection. Despite his protests, she remained unconvinced the natural consequences of pregnancy had done little to diminish her beauty.
"I'm sorry I'm cranky," she sighed, offering their captain a weak smile. "And I will miss you and everyone on Enterprise. I'm just done with being pregnant. My feet hurt, I can hardly breathe, I haven't slept well in months, and I feel like a water balloon."
"Well, that's pregnancy for you," Dr. McCoy mused, looking down at the transporter computer.
"Have you ever been pregnant?" she countered, her voice flat and dangerous.
Her mood shifted so rapidly these days.
"I think I'm missing a few of the right parts," the doctor grinned.
"Then stop smiling and shut up."
Spock exchanged glances with Kirk and McCoy. Her mood swings were not only unpredictable, but also of an uncommon intensity. He would never tell her so, but Spock also looked forward to Nyota no longer being pregnant.
"Sorry," she mumbled curtly, crossing her arms over her large belly.
"Well, you two probably should get going," Kirk said.
"Now I know you're not due for another three weeks, but the medical station on Risa confirmed they received your records twenty minutes ago, just in case. So no need to worry there," McCoy added. "Enjoy your babymoon."
"Stop calling it that," Nyota snapped. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. We're just taking a short vacation before heading back to Earth – that's all."
Spock had doubts that the doctor's remark was literally the stupidest thing she'd ever heard, but he'd learned in recent months not to correct her when she made generalizations. He learned not to correct her at all.
"Enjoy your vacation," the doctor replied, rolling his eyes toward the crewman at the transporter controls.
"Energizing," he called.
Spock was flooded with the peculiar sensation of pulling and warmth, and moments later they appeared on the transporter pad at Starbase 66. The overhead light turned green and they stepped away from the platform to allow other personnel to arrive.
Spock followed Nyota down the bustling corridor, but the thick crowds made their passage challenging. Walking had become more difficult for her as the pregnancy progressed, but she still cruised ahead with a swift, commanding waddle that encouraged people to clear a path. Nyota moved as she lived – boldly.
They had a very brief window to arrive at Dock 7, where they would board a civilian transport vessel bound for Risa. They would spend a week on the pleasure planet, and then return to Earth to await the birth of their child.
As of twenty minutes ago, they were on family leave for the next twelve months. They would miss the end of the Enterprise's inaugural five-year mission, but that was of little consequence to Spock. It seemed to bother Nyota, who often found herself torn between motherhood and a promising career in the celestial wilderness.
Her pregnancy had not been planned: it was a product of rekindling their relationship in the aftermath of Krall and months of down time at Yorktown while waiting for the formal commissioning of the Enterprise-A. Navigating their lives following the news of impending parenthood had been difficult because there were more questions than answers.
Nyota wished to remain in active service and so did he. Many parents served jointly in Starfleet with success, but children made deep space assignments difficult. Starfleet had millions of personnel, each with valid justifications for requiring family-friendly positions, not only to care for children but also aging or disabled relatives.
Personnel resource officers worked diligently to provide equitable solutions whenever possible, but families could easily become disjointed as one parent would leave for a frontier assignment while the other remained behind in a staff job, only to rotate several years later to help individual career progression. They had both accepted teaching positions at the Academy to last a minimum of three years, but the future beyond that was uncertain.
There was also the question of marriage. Nyota was a fiercely independent woman and he appreciated her for it, but he'd come to the conclusion that she viewed matrimony as an unnecessary gesture of affection. They shared a Vulcan telepathic mating bond, and that seemed to be enough for her. M'Umbha, Nyota's mother, viewed it differently.
Spock liked M'Umbha – she'd insisted on being referred to by her given name when they first met six years earlier – because she bore so many of the traits he admired in her daughter. Sharp and intuitive, M'Umbha Uhura was the fire that forged Nyota. Mother and daughter held many differing opinions but the same passionate resolve, and this construct often led to conflict.
M'Umbha wanted them to marry and have a proper family, but Nyota insisted her mother's values were old-fashioned and irrelevant. In the days after Nyota told him she was pregnant, Spock had deliberated asking her to marry him, but reconsidered after overhearing the intense ire the subject of marriage elicited in her during her weekly transmissions with M'Umbha.
So many things drove her to anger now.
Dr. McCoy explained it was a combination of human pregnancy hormones and the rapidly developing brain of the hybrid Vulcan fetus. Though the child was only one-quarter Vulcan, it would have mostly Vulcan characteristics, including the complex midbrain responsible for psionic telepathy and strong emotions. As a result, Nyota fell victim to a problem encountered by Vulcan females in the later stages of pregnancy, which were random, primitive, powerful emotions generated by the fetus and transmitted to the mother.
There were occasions when Nyota would scream at him for a perceived wrongdoing, only to laugh uncontrollably several moments later. He knew the erratic emotional swings deeply frustrated her, thereby compounding the problem. Spock melded with her several times each day to help her balance the child's emotions with her own, and though this had given her some relief, she often cried at her inability to control her feelings.
He disliked being unable to assist her more and often sought to relieve her burden in other ways, such as performing more domestic chores. This caused her to complain of feeling unneeded. When he carried things for her, she claimed it made her feel too needy. Spock determined long ago there was no correct solution for pleasing Nyota in her current state, but he had not abandoned his attempts.
He finally caught up with Nyota when they turned down the ramp to Dock 7 and the crowds thinned. She was sweating and panting from the exercise, but seemed fixed in her dogged quest to board the Whipsaw immediately, despite the fact it wouldn't depart for another forty-seven minutes.
"You are overheating," he said, gently touching her arm.
"Don't tell me you can't keep up with a pregnant woman," she joked.
"Nyota, it is not a competition."
"I'm fine. Let's just get there so I can put my feet up."
She lengthened her stride and less than two minutes later, they boarded the ship that would take them to Risa.
The Whipsaw was a decommissioned Starfleet science vessel, retrofitted for shuttling passengers and freight between Federation planets on a regular ring route. It would take 14.19 hours to reach their destination, so they secured quarters for the voyage.
The room was cramped but adequate, except for the small bed that was only a meter wide. Nyota had always tended toward violence in her sleep, but as her midsection grew, her nocturnal habits had become more aggressive.
She fractured his nose two months ago in the middle of a nightmare. Dr. McCoy said unusual dreams were also common during pregnancy, and many nights she'd roused him from his slumber and begged to be held. He was always willing to oblige.
She sat down on the tiny bed and sighed. He was adept at reading her mood through the patterns of her breathing, and knew her subtle exhalation was just a symptom of mild exhaustion and annoyance.
"I'm not looking forward to living with my mother," she groaned, flopping backwards on the bed.
"I believe M'Umbha looks forward to living with you."
"I know she does. I love her and I can't wait to see her again, but I know after a few days we're going to drive each other up the wall."
As with most things in recent months, Nyota was in conflict. She wanted M'Umbha present for the unique life transition she was about to encounter. She had many misgivings about motherhood, and wanted her mother to serve as a guiding compass during the first weeks of the child's life, and so M'Umbha had agreed to move into the small house they'd leased in San Francisco for a month.
Spock recognized the value of her experience – she'd raised three children, after all – and welcomed the prospect of her assistance. Even in the animal kingdom, the offspring of social species fared better in the presence of an extended family, and it seemed reasonable to conclude that M'Umbha's skills in child rearing could only be beneficial. In quieter moments, he thought of Amanda, but it was illogical to dwell on what would never be.
Nyota stood suddenly, stripped herself of her maternity uniform, and headed toward the tiny sonic shower encased in the wall. He felt the ship shudder and knew they were underway.
"Are you hungry?" he called after her.
"Starving," she admitted. "I just feel sweaty and gross and want to get clean. I thought we could go find the galley afterward."
Spock began to sort through his neatly packed bags for suitable civilian clothing, selecting a heavy dark sweater and black slacks. He folded his uniform and returned his bag to the floor when Nyota said, "Can you get me my yellow sundress?"
He opened her small duffel and found the item in question located at the top. She stepped from the shower and quickly donned her undergarments, and Spock took care not to allow his eyes to linger on her body for too long. The effects that the pregnancy had wrought on her slender frame made her insecure, and he knew staring amplified her anxiety.
She pulled the billowing dress over her head, and she held her loose hair while he fastened the cloth buttons at the back of her neck. She slid into a pair of flat sandals and gazed at herself in the mirror. He watched her frown and then revert to a smile as her hands began to encircle the swell of her abdomen.
"You're going to wear that?" she asked, glancing back at him in the mirror to assess his clothing selection.
"You do not approve?"
"It's fine I guess, but you're dressed like you're going to a funeral in Montreal, not a tropical holiday on Risa."
The truth was she had lowered the environmental settings to fifteen degrees Celsius, and his Vulcan physiology was poorly suited to the cold. She seemed to realize this, because her face fell and she looked to the control panel on the wall by the door.
"I do not mind, Nyota. I want to make you as comfortable as possible."
She rolled her eyes and adjusted the temperature upward by ten degrees and stepped out into the narrow corridor. He discreetly lowered the thermostat back to its original setting, and they walked together side-by-side to the small galley.
They shared a quiet meal of vegetable stew and returned to their quarters so Nyota could rest. She kicked off her sandals and sprawled onto the little bed and very soon was in the midst of fitful sleep.
Spock reached for the PADD in the side pocket of his bag to review new papers in several top-rated astrophysics publications. His joint duties as science officer and first officer consumed much of his time and he'd fallen behind in the latest research over the past year.
As he extracted the device, a slender box fell out along with it. The ring.
It had belonged to Jana Grayson, his foremother. Spock had never been close to any of his human relations – he had only a few memories of visits to honor human holidays – but in the wake of his mother's death, he had made an effort to bridge the gap between his Vulcan identity and humanity. He had so little family left.
His foremother was a force to be reckoned with, a sharp wit with opinions that worked only in absolutes. Amanda had often called her overbearing and judgmental, and Spock found that assessment to be accurate. She readily admitted she had nothing in common with her half-Vulcan grandson, but she was also quick to tell him she loved him anyway. Jana Grayson also had little family left to her, and so their mutual desire for kinship proved an attractive force.
She had died early last year and Spock had taken leave to be with her at the hospital before her passing. Several days before her death, she had given him a few things that had belonged to Amanda, as well as several heirlooms passed down through her family, including the ring he now held in his hands.
It was a natural pearl set on a delicate band of a gold and palladium alloy and flanked by small diamonds. Spock understood the presentation of a ring was essential to the human tradition of proposing marriage, and though it was illogical and he was nearly certain Nyota had no intention of marrying, he kept it in his possession anyway.
He returned the box to the side pocket and sat in the hard chair by the bed to read. Nyota's snores drifted through the room, interrupted only by an occasional grunt and shift in the position of her body.
He was tired also and wished to lie with her, but he was reluctant to disturb her sleep, so for the next four hours, he turned his attention to scientific journals. He relaxed his mind and was beginning to doze when the room was bathed in red light and a piercing shriek echoed across the walls, which was interrupted by a message:
"Warning: warp core breach in sixty seconds."