Jane Kirk's Enterprise 1: Sacrifice
Jane Kirk stood in front of the fertility clinic, studying it. No, be truthful--there was nothing to study. It was just like thousands of other Federation clinics, with a gray exterior and soothing beige visible through the windows. Actually, she was hesitating. Not second-guessing her decision--she wasn't in the habit of second-guessing her decisions, and this was the only one she could make. Reason and gut instinct told her the same thing. But it felt wrong to have to be here. This should have been a decision that was under her control. She'd had her prophies, once a year as scheduled, and the last time had only been a few months ago. It wasn't that she'd never made a stupid mistake in her life, but in this area, never.
Hadn't been a stupid mistake, though. When you were in Starfleet, you explored, that was what you did, and if you were scared of the consequences you should take a desk job, or go back to Earth and hide under your bed. It had been Gary's actions, but Gary had been insane. And it had been Gary's decision to go through the barrier, although she'd have made the same choice if she'd been captain then. None of this had been her choice except the decision to walk into this clinic today and take care of the problem.
The receptionist, a blonde wearing that beautiful, elaborate hairdo that was popular nowadays and which was a complete disaster in combat situations, looked up as Jane walked in and smiled. "Hello. What can we do for you today?"
"I'm here to donate a baby," Jane said easily, having mentally rehearsed the line enough times that the mental stumble over the concept didn't show.
"That's wonderful," the receptionist said. "There's such a need for women who are willing to make that sacrifice. Let me take down your name?"
"Jane Hathaway." Most likely, if she'd used her real name, and anyone from Starfleet found out, it would just be added to her existing reputation as a man's woman, and put down to a simple mistake. Most likely. On the other hand, if Sam found out, he'd want to know exactly what had possessed his little sister to give a Kirk up to strangers, and she doubted she could hold Sam off as she had Bones or lie to him as she could to anyone else. And she didn't want to change his opinion of Gary. Gary deserved better. Bad enough she'd killed her best friend and first lover, that he'd gone insane and she'd had to. She wasn't about to let the rest of the world know all the details, of the main reason she'd had to kill Gary.
"Well, Jane, we'll need to start by taking a detailed medical history. Do you know the father's medical history, by any chance?"
"I certainly do."
"And has the father been notified that you're taking this step? He does have the right to claim custody of the fetus under most circumstances."
"Actually, he's dead."
"Oh my dear. I'm so sorry to hear that. What a terrible thing that must have been for you."
Jane nodded. "He was my best friend. The first man I ever loved. It's--pretty bad." Worse still to remember who he'd become before he died, and what he'd done. Worse to remember his power pinning her, his mad declaration that now she was his, to mother his superchildren along with Elizabeth, and no other would ever have her. Worse to remember his body broken by phaser fire, weapon in her hand. She pushed it away. "I don't think I could handle raising his baby, seeing him in a child's eyes. So, I'm here today." That and if Nogura found out she was pregnant, she'd end up flying a desk before she could blink. You could sail the stars and still be a father--maybe not the best of fathers, maybe not a father who'd ever be home for his children, but you could be one. But space was no place for a pregnant woman. She'd dreamed of being a captain for far too long to let anything jeopardize it. God, she'd wanted to achieve it some other way--the Acting in front of her rank was a constant slap in the face, a reminder that she'd killed her captain and best friend. Chances were good the Acting would be taken off and the Captain would remain; her crew stood by her, and Enterprise's morale was surprisingly high for a ship whose captain had gone insane and was now commanded by the first officer who'd killed him to save the ship. But not if she was pregnant.
"That's just awful. I'm so very sorry. This must be so hard for you."
"I'll manage. Are there any forms I need to fill out?"
"Yes. Would you like to fill them out on the computer or meet with a counselor to go over them?"
"I'll go with the computer, thanks."
"Then go right in to room 3. Once the computer reports that the forms are done, the doctor will see you. If you have any questions, I'm Alice, and you can just ask the computer to page me."
"Thanks." The receptionist's continual friendliness was starting to get on her nerves. Not that she'd have preferred rudeness, but she was here to get something done, not to chat with a stranger about how awful Gary's loss was.
The forms weren't difficult, though they were long. Detailed medical history for herself, her parents, her grandparents, Gary, Gary's parents, Gary's grandparents... she'd brought Gary's medical history with her on a tricorder, but there was no function for downloading directly from a Starfleet record, so she had to read all Gary's information off the tricorder and recite it into the computer forms.
God, Gary's mother and father. It was the captain's job to tell the families, when crew died in the line of duty. If the captain died, it was the first officer, now Acting Captain's, job. There wasn't any way to tell your best friend's parents that their son had gone insane and thought he was a god, and you'd had to kill him for the safety of the ship. So she hadn't. She'd just sent off a very formal, very standardized letter telling them their son had died in the line of duty. And she'd gotten an anguished reply back a week ago accusing her of being cold and cruel and why hadn't she given them more information and didn't she even care about Gary? She doubted they'd have sent such a letter to anyone else, but they knew her; they'd had her over for dinner and talked to her about marriage plans that actually, she and Gary had never had. How was she supposed to answer such a letter? She couldn't tell them how he'd died. She hadn't even reported the full details in her log. Gary deserved better than for those he'd loved, or the fleet he'd faithfully served, to know the things he'd done at the end, the things that he'd had no control over doing because his new powers had driven him mad. It could have happened to anyone. As she'd told Bones, if she'd been the one with psi powers she couldn't say for sure she wouldn't have gone equally mad and done many of the same things. But she couldn't very well lie to Gary's parents, either. And nothing in any of her command training had prepared her for a situation like this.
For a sudden mad moment she had a thought of telling them about the baby, letting them take custody of their grandchild, if they wanted to. They'd probably have to use a trained surrogate or an artificial womb, because of the difficulties of insinuating themselves into a stranger's life as the grandparents of her baby, but it might be the right thing to do... or then again, maybe not. They might very well not keep it terribly secret that the mother was Jane Kirk, and that ran the risk of Fleet questioning her logs in more detail and forcing her to admit how she ended up pregnant with her XO's child. She wouldn't take that bullet for Gary, wouldn't jeopardize her career by confessing an untruth and claiming she'd slept with her captain willingly. And the rape would end up on Gary's posthumous record, along with the full details of his madness and his psychotic plans for his ship. And if it was a choice between losing her own command for misconduct, or tainting Gary's memory, she'd pick door number 3, and refuse to play. Gary's parents couldn't find out about the baby, either.
The forms were done. The computer chimed, "Thank you. Please go to room 7. The doctor will see you now."
"Good," Jane told it, and headed for room 7.
The doctor was another woman, slim and dark-haired. Jane hadn't seen such a sexually segregated place since she'd gone undercover on Tzarin 7. It was as men were shut entirely out of matters such as these, as if the world of trading babies you didn't want to women who couldn't have their own was a matter to be hidden from men's eyes, a shameful secret between women. That was wrong, and it angered her. She'd have preferred a male doctor, preferred some acknowledgement that men had something to do with this place and the hard choices it inflicted. She didn't let her annoyance show. "So did the computer vet my medical history yet? You folks still want my kid?"
The doctor smiled. "No one is rejected for medical problems, Ms. Hathaway. The donation procedure is actually safer than pregnancy itself for the majority of women, and we don't condemn women to carry children because of potential medical problems in the children. It just means that when we're pairing children up with prospective parents, we share medical history and a genetic analysis of the child indicating what disorders the child might need to be treated for. Can you sit down over here?"
"Sure." Jane sat down in the scanning chair. "Can you tell me what sex it is?"
"That's against policy, I'm afraid. People personify their children more strongly when they know what sex, and that makes it harder for the conceiving mother to make a clean break."
Patronizing claptrap. She just wanted to know. "I'm not going to have trouble making a clean break, believe me. I'm just curious."
"Everyone's just curious, Ms. Hathaway." The doctor scanned the readouts. "Well, you and the baby are both in excellent health. I don't see any evidence of any serious genetic disease."
"That's good to hear."
"Please lie down on the table over here?"
She climbed up onto the table-- it'd been less than a month, not nearly enough for her body to change and throw off her balance-- and laid back. "How is it done?"
"Don't move, please. We take detailed scans to outline the exact dimensions of the placenta, and then use a minitransporter to remove it to stasis until a recipient is found." The scan hummed. Jane didn't move. "Sizing now... good, good. Now please lie absolutely still. This won't hurt but it will feel somewhat different."
"Different" turned out to be an understatement. Jane was extremely familiar with the sensation of transporting, the prickly warmth that turned into cold as the world faded and came back different. This was much stranger-- there was a prickly burning in her midsection, a sense of intense pressure inside her, and then the release of that pressure so completely that what was left felt hollow. Empty.
The doctor pressed a hypo against her arm. "I'll give you a regimen to take back to your regular doctor-- you'll need hormone shots and stabilizers once a day for a week to ease your body down off the pregnancy, so you don't suffer postpartum depression or any other side effects. You can sit up now."
"That's it?" she asked, feeling a little surprised. It seemed so anti-climax.
"That's all there is to it. You can call us if you have any problems. Your regular doctor should handle giving you your prophies, assuming you take them?"
"Of course. Will you contact me when the baby finds a mother?"
The doctor shook her head. "That's against our policy, Ms. Hathaway. Now that you've donated the baby, you've terminated any parental rights; just as we keep your personal information secret from the recipient, we keep information about the recipient secret from you."
"I understand that. I just want to know when the baby gets a mother, not who she is."
"Well, that's against--"
"--policy. I know." Jane swung down off the table and glared at the doctor. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe you might get more donors if your policy didn't seem to be designed to treat us like some kind of shameful secret? Children deserve to know who their biological parents were, beyond a cold computerized medical history. And I do understand that I'm giving up the right to be a mother, to be anything in this little person's life. But I'd like to know I made the right decision in handing my baby over to you. I'd like to know the child found a happy home quickly and didn't have to sit in stasis for several years. And I don't see any reason why I can't know those things. Unless you have something to hide, or unless you think I'm somehow a bad person for donating this child rather than having it myself."
"Of course not! No one thinks less of our donors-- it's a brave and selfless thing to know you're not able to be a good parent at this point in your life, or to this particular child. And we have nothing to hide. We just want to eliminate the impact on the donor as much as possible. It can be devastating to a woman to give up her baby, even if it's the right choice. If she can put the baby out of her head--"
"Listen to me, doctor. Were you ever a donor yourself?"
"Well... no. No, I wasn't."
"Well, then, let me explain. I will never put this baby out of my head. I won't dwell on it, it won't dominate my life, but I'll never forget, either. I have a nephew who'll never see his cousin, a brother who'll never see his nephew or niece or or even know the child existed. I know exactly what I'm giving up. Do you really think a woman could forget something like this? Do you think there'll ever be a day where I don't remember I conceived a life, a life I'll never know?" She shook her head. "You're not reassuring me or helping me to forget, by denying me information. I'll never forget, and I won't be reassurred until I know that baby's going to have a good life, that someone's chosen to be the mother I couldn't be. And I want there to be some provision for the child to find out who its biological parents were, someday, if it wants to. And I don't want to call my kid 'it', so why don't you at least tell me the sex of the child?"
The doctor sighed. "He's a boy." An image of baby pictures of Gary came to mind, the holos at his parents' house where Gary was grinning with a child's version of that wiseass Gary grin. "And there is a provision for you to leave information for the child about yourself, if you want to. There'll be no guarantee he'll ever access it, but it'll be available to him if he needs or wants it."
"That's just what I want. That, and I want to know when he finds a recipient to be his mother."
"You're a very persistent woman, Ms. Hathaway."
"Everyone says so."
"Go back to room 3. You can record a message for the child, and it'll be held in trust for him until he's of age, if he chooses to view it. No one here at the center will be able to access the contents of the message; it'll be completely private between you and the boy. Is that what you want?"
"Yes. And will you be able to let me know when he finds a recipient?"
"That's totally against policy--"
"And I think your policy treats donors very badly, and I won't hesitate to tell people so. You know, Starfleet women are the backbone of baby donors; if the word gets out in the Fleet that the donation process treats women like children who have to be kept in the dark about their babies for their own good, I think an alternative just might develop."
"You're being ridiculous, Ms. Hathaway--"
"I don't like people denying me important information for my own good. I'm a little better at determining what's for my own good than a total stranger, I think. Do you need a note from my doctor?"
She sighed. "Just leave your contact information with the receptionist. I'll make sure you get the information. I won't be able to tell you anything other than he's going to a recipient, you understand, not who she is or anything about her. Or even the sex of the recipient. Sometimes men receive our babies and have them gestated artificially or through licensed surrogates, if they want to be parents badly enough and they qualify through our tests."
"I understand all that. And I don't care who gets him, as long as they'll be a good parent to him." She smiled charmingly at the doctor. "Thank you, doctor. I feel much better about leaving my son in your hands now."
In room 3, she paused, uncertain of what to say. How did you speak to a child you would probably never meet?
"Hi there, kiddo," she began, somewhat nervously. He might well enough be old to understand her nervousness, her feelings at having had to make this choice. "I've got to tell you, this is very strange. I don't know you-- I don't know your name, or what you look like, or anything about you, except that you're a boy. And I know myself, and I know your father. Which is, I imagine, what you want to know about, if you're bothering to listen to this. So let me tell you about your father."
And she began to speak of Gary. Gary as he'd been, Gary as she'd loved him. She told her unknown son how she'd come to the Academy a bookworm on two legs, not shy precisely but totally buttoned up and totally focused on her goals. She wanted space, and she'd thought she had to cut everything else out of her life to get it. She told him about how Gary had made her laugh, made her loosen up, taught her about love. About some of the ridiculous pranks Gary had pulled, and the trouble Gary'd gotten her into.
"But we both wanted the stars. And the trouble with being in Starfleet, and being in a relationship, is that you don't get to pick what ships you're assigned to. We couldn't stay together after the Academy-- neither of us could handle a long distance relationship, and neither of us were willing to compromise our dreams, our ambitions. So we broke it off, as friends. And we remained friends." Actually, she had been the one to break it off. She'd thought Gary had understood why, had accepted it, hadn't wanted to hold back her career any more than she wanted to hold back his. After what he'd said, when he'd been mad, maybe he never had accepted. Maybe he'd always resented her for wanting command more than she'd wanted him. She could have stayed with him, could have requested assignments to his ships instead of blazing her own trail. And she'd be a lieutenant at most by now if she'd done that, and it wouldn't have worked anyway once he got onto command staff and was in the direct chain of command for everyone on the ship. She'd thought Gary had understood-- no, no. She had to believe he had. The things he'd said when he was insane weren't Gary, they were the thing that had taken him over, deranged him. Gary Mitchell hadn't really wanted to conquer the galaxy and he hadn't really wanted to father a superrace who would dominate humanity and he hadn't really wanted to take her against her will, keep her from the stars she loved to be enslaved to his desires and bear his children and never touch another man, the way he'd said. Not Gary.
Tears stung her eyes. God, why had he had to die that way? Any other death in the line of duty and she wouldn't be agonizing over it now, wondering if she could possibly have saved him, wondering if he'd really been the man she'd thought he was at all, wondering how much of his derangement was a new twist and how much was his own true dark side coming out. Any other death and she wouldn't be here, recording this for a child who shouldn't exist, who she had to give up to others for the same reason she'd had to give up Gary as a lover. Because nothing could stand between her and her ship. And god, how could she be sure she'd made the right decision in shooting Gary, how could she know for sure it wasn't ambition and fear and rage at what he'd just done to her and not a dispassionate command decision? Jane Kirk didn't second-guess her command decisions. Not in four years as a first officer and not now. She couldn't afford to start, so early into her first captaincy.
She took a deep breath. "Sorry. Your father's death hit me really hard. You see... he'd just made captain, a few months ago. And he asked for me as his first officer. We worked well together, we knew each other's command styles well, and it seemed like a damn good choice. But then... he died, in the line of duty. And before he died, he left me with you.
"Space is no place for a baby. And the captain's chair is no place for a pregnant woman. I could give up my ship... but they need me. They know me and trust me, and they need me now that their captain is dead. If I left, and Starfleet had to assign a whole new command staff, with no continuity from before... well, maybe you're in Starfleet, so maybe you know. But if you don't, I'll tell you. Out there, out in space, you depend on your captain and first officer to save your lives. The difference between a good decision and a bad decision might be whether the whole ship makes it out alive or not. And a crew has got to trust their captain. They've got to believe that he-- or she-- knows them, trusts them, and can make them all work together as a smooth unit. Crews that lose both their captain and their first officer... don't often come home.
"And you... you don't need me. You need someone who's willing to devote her whole life to being your mom, first and foremost. Or your dad. I love you, kid-- I don't even know you, but you started your journey to life inside me, you're made up of half of me and half my best friend. And for that, I love you, and I always will. But love isn't enough. I had a Starfleet father, and he loved me, but it wasn't enough. And I, at least, had a mother who could be there for me. If I raised you, you wouldn't have even that.
"I had to give you up to someone who could be there for you. Because I can't. I've got a ship to be there for, and they were my responsibility before you came along.
"My name's Jane Kirk. You won't find it on your birth records, if you manage to get them pulled-- I gave a false name, in order to protect your father. Don't ask me 'protect him from what', because I won't tell you. That's part of protecting him too." She smiled. "But if you ever want the answers to any other questions, about me or about him, and I'm still alive by the time you get this, come look me up."
Well. That was the end of that, and very likely the only communication she'd ever have with the kid. She turned and walked out of the room.
"Ms. Hathaway? The doctor said you should leave your contact information with me, so we can notify you when your baby is placed with a recipient," the receptionist said.
"Sure thing. I'm in Starfleet. Send the message to Enterprise, c/o Jane Hathaway." There was actually no crewwoman named Jane Hathaway, so there should be no difficulty getting the message.
"It should only be a few months. I've heard it was a very healthy baby."
"That's what I heard too. Thanks for everything-- you've been a great help."
Outside, in the sunlight, she looked back at the clinic that held her baby once. Then she flipped open her communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise. Beam me up."