Hey guys!

So I had an internet malfunction – like a wardrobe malfunction but less sexy – involving my cable guy and several hour-long calls to Bell "Canada" in Mumbai. But I'm back, victory is mine! Thanks for your patience – I was really chuffed that even though it's been forever and a day, there was a steady stream of people reading. :)

As an apology, I give you this (take out the spaces and be patient it takes a second to load): http:// kirkinlovewithspock . ytmnd . com/

Thanks to mildetryth, maggie2mw, Jord-El, KapaTea, naruke3176, neenabluegirl, tazzy186, SnowKissYuki, Hatori Soma, XtinaW, foxy-comic-death, Ravenclaw Samurai, Fitful Fantasy, xxbabyxox, GoddesOfWrath, signofthetimes, SecretThought, Le The Flames Begin My Heart, Mezzer 5.2, Bleudiablo, circa divide, Reona, Mellyna, Yana5, Ai Sarang, wild eyed angel, Mari, MirrorFlower and DarkWind, xKayla xKatastrophe, and Lady Squish for reviewing last chapter. Some other replies:

Blueberrypecan: I'd be a pretty big hypocrite if I asked for your reviews and then only replied to the ones that were positive (see below, haha). Really glad you tuck with it anyway!

EternalYaoiFanGurl4Life: thank you for that massive review – getting even one from each of my readers would be great (if not completely unmanageable hahaha) so no worried on the last then chapters! Glad you are enjoying it.

Yume No Zencho and Dream's Abyss: I totally agree, though possibly what I really need to do is stop writing these things at 4AM. ;)

Hikaru: Oh, I'll keep writing, don't worry! Thank you so much for all your great reviews, they really were a treat to read. :)

wmonica: AAAH, did I miss you out? I must not have seen your review last chapter? Sorry! I do care about you, of course. :)

lovefan81: Oh you know I will – as if I could resist an excuse to write more. Look for stuff between then and now too.

T'Pinto: rofl, yes that's what I thought it was – fantastic! As for the Dad thing – that might come later!

Gwynhefar: Ok, I'm just really curious how you would pronounce your name. ;)

To answer the common question, yes, I'm going to write something about Pa'tar soonish just for you guys. It should be fun. Put me on alerts if you want to know when I do, or just keep your eye on the ST09 page. :)

Since this is the last chapter, I wanted to thank EVERYONE who has replied to any of the chapters, either by review or message. Thank you to the nearly 1500 of you who read each chapter and to the average of 30 of you who take the time to review them. Thank you to the 14 of you who added this story to their C2s, the over 133 of you who favorited it and the many hundreds of you who have it on alerts. You have really made my last two months, through exams and work and all sorts of stuff, just a bit brighter. Thanks.

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Stardate 2258.125. The Enterprise returns home to be repaired after a violent conflict with Reman rebels in the Romulan Neutral Zone, traveling at Warp 4. First, they have to stop at Andoria.

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When Jim entered the mess hall the next morning it was to find Bones and Scotty both sitting at a table in the corner, looking distinctly worse for wear. Replicating himself a plate of bacon and eggs, Jim went over to join them. A dusting of dark fuzzy beard decorated Bone's usually smooth cheeks as he sipped coffee halfheartedly and the bags under Scotty's eyes closely matched the colour of the grapes he was eating.

"Rough morning, boys?" Jim said, chomping onto a piece of bacon.

Bones merely looked at him witheringly, while Scotty snuck a piece of bacon off his plate.

"Perhaps I should arrange for Mr. Sahran to oversee the engineering room today, Mr. Scott?" Spock had come up behind them and was sitting down to Jim's left. He was alone. At Jim's questioning look, Spock added as an aside, "Pa'tar requested to continue his game of kal-toh, as he did not require nourishment at this time."

"Ah'm fine," Scotty assured the First Officer. "Just a little low on rest."

"If you are experiencing any recurrent insomnia I must insist –"

"Don't get your knickers in a knot Spock, it was just a one night thing," Scotty said, now eying Jim's eggs with interest. Jim waited for him to elaborate, but he did not. In fact, he looked suspiciously shifty. Bones wouldn't meet Jim's eyes either.

"What were you two up to last night?" he asked suspiciously.

Neither man answered. Beside him, Spock's eyebrow quirked in interest and he looked at Jim, mischief in his eyes. Blithely, he commented to Jim, "Given their secretiveness and the fact that they apparently spent the evening in each other's company, were they in higher spirits I would have postulated they had had a romantic encounter."

Jim burst out laughing as Bones choked and spluttered. Scotty looked at Spock, apparently more surprised at the teasing than anything. "No offense ta you Dr. McCoy, but Ah prefer my screws without nuts, as the saying goes."

This, if anything, made Bones look slightly more horrified, but he managed a strangled, "None taken."

"Right," Scotty said, getting up slowly. "If you'll excuse me Ah think ah'll go get something for me head before Ah start my shift."

"Honestly, just because you two are bed hopping every night," Bones muttered when Scotty had gone, draining the last of his cup.

"You still have not accounted for your whereabouts last night," Spock pointed out, but Bones had stood up too. Hi mouth twtiched.

"You'll see soon enough," he said, then turned and grumbled his way out the door. Jim immediately checked his chair for superglue and his back for a Kick Me sign. Spock watched in amusement as he spent the rest of breakfast in high agitation, worried about what his friends might have been setting up last night.

They made their way to the bridge as the shifts began to change over, arriving just in time to run into Sulu and Chekov, coming from a rec room nearby. They were flushed and slightly sweaty – Jim looked at them incredulously. Surely not.

"Fencing," Sulu explained hurriedly. "I'm teaching Pavel."

"Uh…huh…" Jim was slightly alarmed at the effect of one night without Spock on his libido – he was seeing sex everywhere. Maybe something was wrong with him. A wicked grin spread across his face at the idea of showing up at sickbay to ask Bones about it, but he wiped it off his face quickly as Sulu looked a bit creeped out.

It turned out that he need not have worried about Scotty and Bones. As they entered the bridge, Jim saw that Uhura was already in her seat. For the first time that he could remember, when he walked in she looked up and smiled at him. For a moment he was sure that it must be because he was with Spock, but one look around the bridge told him the source of her good mood.

Beside the Captain's chair, fashioned haphazardly but oddly skillfully from what looked like broken sections of engineering consoles and metal pipes, was a new addition to the bridge. It was a chair, nearly as tall as the Jim's but only about half as big, with a step half a foot off the ground in front of it. Jim knew immediately who it was for, as Pa'tar's datapad was tucked into a pouch hanging off one of the arms. He grinned so widely it hurt as he turned to look at Spock, whose eyes had crinkled dramatically in pleasure.

"Remind me to thank Bones and Scotty later," Jim said, taking his seat and leaning over to examine the new addition more carefully.

It was with increasing anticipation that Jim awaited Pa'tar's arrival on the bridge. Hee crossed and uncrossed his legs so many times as he fidgeted that Chekov had started to stare at him. Finally, just and Jim was starting to get hungry for lunch, the doors to the bridge slid open.

Pa'tar trotted in, looking calm and impassive as always. His mask slipped and his steps faltered as every eye on the bridge turned to look at him, including Jim's eager ones. As soon as the child's eyes caught Jim's smiling face he composed himself and walked quickly to the Captain's chair. Moments later his eyes fell on the little chair beside Jim's and the Captain watched in supreme satisfaction as the little eyes widened slightly. The young Vulcan looked questioningly at Jim, his eyebrows raised, and Jim nodded. Carefully, the child took his seat, pulling out his datapad as he went.

Spock had walked up behind them and greeted Pa'tar formally but Jim could hear the affection in his voice. As he walked past the Captain, the Vulcan brushed his knuckles against the back of Jim's neck in a way that everyone on the bridge was, Jim knew, meant to think was accidental. Jim knew better as a jolt of happiness and content far stronger than he was used to jump into his stomach and knew the emotion had come from Spock. His grin widened as he saw Uhura's eyes narrow.

Jim had never traveled at Warp 4 for any distance before and so he had never realized until then how spectacular it could be. Usually the stars and galaxies streaked past as pinpricks of light, homogeneous and fleeting. Now they were going so slowly that could see the star systems as they passed. Suns and supernovas floated past their windows, each gloriously unique. Sometimes the area around these bodies was dotted with tiny dark planets or, occasionally, the odd spectacular gas giant. Far off in the distance swirled the misty arms of distant galaxies. The whole experience was punctuated by a drifting comets and belts of asteroids. Once or twice they caught sight of other craft as they streaked past at a reckless pace, and when they passed the Earth Stations they could see their lights twinkling in the dark space. Even Bones was enthralled, and Jim took particular pleasure in watching the subtle shifts in expression on Pa'tar's face each time they encountered some new, amazing sight.

Traveling at Warp 4 did have its downsides, however. It took them well over a fortnight to reach Andoria. Spock, of course, took the opportunity too check all the startcharts along their path by visual confirmation, assisted practically enthusiastically by Pa'tar. Jim was barely able to tear himself away from the sight, which was so amusing that Bones and Scotty, who had both taken a shine to the child too, had began to invent wild excuses to come up to the bridge and watch Spock teach a three-year-old basic telemetry.

As such, it so happened that most of Jim's high ranking officers were on the bridge as they approached the icy blue planet. Sahran was there, having followed Scotty up, and his antennae spun happily as they neared the icy planet's orbit.

Their stay at Andoria was slightly longer than Jim had anticipated because, as with the Vulcans, the Andorians seemed to find it necessary for him to attend a ceremony. In this case, it was the formal funeral of the two Andorians who were so briefly part of his crew and which most of his friends owed their lives. Jim was happy, even honoured, to be asked to attend, but several hours into the long ritual he found himself thinking longingly of his quarters and the two Vulcans undoubtedly waiting for him there.

He was relatively unsurprised but gratified nonetheless when Sahran and a few of his men requested to continue on with them to Earth, with the aim of enrolling in Starfleet. Jim planned to give them all glowing recommendations which, he was somewhat offput to realize, might actually be taken seriously now that he was developing a reputation as a diplomat and saver races.

It was with relief and extreme fondness that he found Pa'tar and Spock sitting in his quarters when he returned, both intent in a game of chess on his chess set. Relaxing, stretching out on the couch by Spock, Jim contented himself with watching the game. After a day of not talking it was not hard to sit silently and just observe the Vulcans, especially as he reached over to lay his hand on Spock's and the Vulcan's own relaxation and supreme calm washed over him.

It was only Jim's own extensive knowledge of game that made him notice after a while that Spock was making deliberate mistakes. They were subtle slip-ups, like picking the second best move instead of the best, and they were well spaced, but Jim realized that they predictably gave Pa'tar an advantage to exploit each time. Spock was letting the child win.

Amusement flared though him and Spock's head turned, sensing the change. The Vulcan quirked an eyebrow inquisitively. "Nice move," Jim said with just a hint of sarcasm.

"Thank you," Spock said simply, his own mouth twitching as he turned back to the game. Inevitably Pa'tar won the game, looking as elated by the feat as a Vulcan child could ever look. In fact, he got so worked up that Spock suggested that they retire to their room to meditate before they attempted to sleep.

After they left, Jim was feeling distinctly lonely and so decided that he would go visit Bones before turning in himself. He had not yet managed to properly thank the man for what he had done for Pa'tar. He had barely made it halfway to the lift, however, when he felt himself being yanked bodily into a crew quarters.

It was Uhura, who looked both livid and deeply concerned, an expression that cause her normally beautiful face to slightly resemble a cross between an owl and somebody who had just been forced to eat an entire unsweetened lemon.

Jim rubbed his arm where she had seized him gingerly, saying ruefully "Don't tell me you've reconsidered my offer now, because I'm taken."

"I've noticed," she replied, a little scathingly. "Just what do you think you are playing at anyway!?"

Her dark eyes blazed. He looked at her in confusion. "Playing what?"

"Spock," she huffed. "Do you know that Vulcans are basically monogamous for life? They only ever have one partner."

"What makes you think that –" Jim began.

"Oh come on," she sighed impatiently. "Anybody who knows Spock would know. Besides, he hasn't exactly been great at hiding what he's thinking since he was exposed."

Jim just barely resisted snickering at the word exposed because a serious question had crossed his mind. "Do you think other people know?"

"See, that's my point!" she exclaimed. "You shouldn't care; you have to be committed with a Vulcan!"

"He's half-Human," Jim pointed out. "Plus I only care because I don't know how people would react, in terms of my Captaincy. There's still a lot of prude and bigots out there."

"I think Dr. McCoy knows, because I'm sure you told him. Otherwise, I think Checkov might have guessed, I caught him giving you two odd looks. Nobody could fail to see how much you both like that child," Uhura was giving him a strange look. She paused for a while before saying, "Spock may be half-Human but his new little addition is not."

"I love Pa'tar," Jim said, frowning at her. "Just like I love Spock."

Uhura laughed derisively, "Of course you do."

Taken aback, Jim replied simply, "I do."

"Not like I did," she muttered. Jim gaped at her.

"You're saying that you could be with him forever, Kirk?" she continued scathingly. "For the rest of your lives? Because that's what a Vulcan means by commitment, which is the closest they get to love."

Jim thought about the last few weeks, about the unexpectedness of it all and the completely illogical course of events. The playboy part of him told him to run for the hills right them. But there was a larger, louder part of himself that he hadn't really paid attention to before that kept him standing where he was, wondering how he would feel without Spock. Somehow the little family he had somehow inherited in the span of a few weeks already seemed more important than any fling he'd had or even the idea of all the girls he'd never get to date.

"Yes," he said, surprisingly firmly. Uhura looked deeply unconvinced.

"You'll say anything for sex, won't you?" she scoffed.

"Hey, watch it!" Jim said, his temper finally rising out of his control. "I'm your Captain!"

They glared at each other for a long moment, during which Jim tried to calm down. "That's not what this is about," he managed finally.

"Right," she said, unbelieving.

He fixed his eyes on her steadily. "It's not," he said again. He sighed. "It was, at first. It's not now."

She stared back at him for a moment, then her face sort of sagged and the fight seemed to go out of her. She looked almost sad.

There was a soft scuffle of movement from the door and Jim turned to see Pa'tar peeking out from behind the slightly open door. Jim glanced at the clock; it was well past midnight. "Pa'tar," he said, turning a beckoning the child over. "Is everything alright? Where's Spock?"

"My Father," Pa'tar began, and Jim saw Uhura's eyes shoot into her hair. "Is sleeping. I overheard your conversation from my quarters. I recognized your speech pattern and observed that the dialogue was unusually hostile, so I came to investigate."

Jim scooped the child up and sent Uhura a slightly reproachful look – she had, after all, been the one yelling. "Thanks for worrying kid," Jim said, ruffling the child's hair. Uhura looked shocked at the touch and even more surprised when Pa'tar actually looked pleased instead of jumping away. He tured back to her, saying, "If you don't mind I'm going to take him back to bed, and I'd suggest you do the same for yourself."

Uhura nodded, looking slightly stung as Jim turned back to Pa'tar. As Jim walked into the brighter light of the corridor, he noticed the tension in the child's brow. Changing course, he headed for the nearest rec room.

"Forgive me Captain," the child said, then quickly corrected, "Jim. If I am not mistaken, we are not going the correct direction."

"Nope," Jim agreed, but did not elaborate. Once in the rec room, he replicated himself two bowls of ice cream and snatched up the boxed chess set from the table, but he did not stop there. Instead, he headed for the bridge, where he sent everyone there for an hour break, wanting the room to himself.

Pa'tar waited patiently until Jim had set him down in his new chair with a bowl of ice cream and taken his own seat before asking, "Why are we not returning to our respective sleeping quarters?"

"I wanted to know what is bothering you," Jim said simply, taking a spoonful of ice cream. "Was it something you just heard? I don't know how long you were listening."

Pa'tar gave him a long look. "It was not something from your recent conversation so much as that your recent conversation brought to light an unease of mine."

As used to it as he was, Jim's lips twitched at this especially formal sentence. Pa'tar was, he realized, embarrassed. Just like Spock, he got extra formal because of it. "There's stuff in that conversation you are too young to understand, I hope," Jim said sincerely. "Some other stuff you might not comprehend because you are Vulcan."

"Your situation with my new father is strange," the child said quickly. "I must admit that, despite what you have said to me about it, I still do not understand."

"You might never understand," Jim said softly, licking his spoon. "Our relationship is far more Human than Vulcan."

Pa'tar nodded. He paused, hesitated for a moment, and then asked, "What you told Ms. Uhura was the truth?"

"About committing to Spock?" Jim guessed correctly. "Yes. Is that alright?"

"Yes," the child said, more enthusiastically than before. "I would find that an agreeable arrangement. However…"

Jim's brow furled. Pa'tar trailed off and, apparently more out of nerves than anything, he took a spoonful of ice cream. His eyes went wide and he stared, first at Jim then at the bowl. Despite himself, Jim grinned. "It's good isn't it?" he asked.

The child nodded and took another spoonful before asking, "May I inquire what it is?"

"It's ice cream, one of my favorites," Jim smiled and then he waited for a moment before asking again, "What's bothering you Pa'tar?"

Again there was a nervous pause before the child admitted, "I am curious how you will procreate, if you entered a union with my father. Unless I am unaware of a certain aspect of Human biology…"

Jim choked, more than a little surprised that this little child knew about anything of that aspect of Human biology. "We won't," he said simply.

"Is it not part of Human nature to desire to raise children?" Pa'tar asked, troubled.

Jim's lips twitched. "Well, we'd have you, wouldn't we?"

Pa'tar looked if anything more concerned, to Jim's surprise and worry. "I do not think I am a suitable replacement child for a Human parent," the young Vulcan said despairingly. This had obviously been worried about this before. "I have been researching Human interaction to best optimize my relations with you and I do not think I can meet your emotional needs."

Jim laughed. "You can kiddo," he ruffled the child's hair again. "Did it ever occur to you that if I could deal with Spock as a partner I could would be happy with a Vulcan for a son?"

Pa'tar looked surprised at the word, but after a moment he nodded, looking reassured. When he didn't reply, Jim asked, "Are you tired?"

"No," Pa'tar said quietly. "I do not require as much rest as you do."

"Want to play a game of chess? It'll help us both relax before bed."

"Like meditation" Pa'tar observed.

"Yeah, just like it," Jim agreed, setting up the board.

They played for nearly forty minutes, pausing occasionally to admire the bright planets and star systems still gliding silently past them. Finally Jim decided it was time for bed as his crew started to come back from their break. Pa'tar was slipping lower and lower in his makeshift seat, the blazing reds and blues of a passing gas giant reflecting off his shiny black hair as his head nodded and his chin fell against his chest.

"Bedtime," Jim said decisively. He stood up and plucked the child from his chair. Pa'tar folded easily against his chest, his little arms looping semi-consciously over Jim's shoulders. It was not a hug, but it was as close as Jim thought he'd ever get. In moments Pa'tar was asleep.

It took him a very short time to get to Spock's quarters. He went to lay the young Vulcan on his little bed that Spock had had brought into his quarters, but to his intense surprise as he went to release him, the child's fingers closed tightly in his shirt. He tried without success to pry open that tiny Vulcan death grip for a moment before chuckling in amusement. He hoisted the child up again and walked over to Spock's bed, where the half-Vulcan was lying very still. Jim climbed onto the bed and slipped half under the covers, disturbing Spock enough that he cracked open an eye.

Jim grinned at him through the darkness and gently shook Pa'tar's arm so that his shirt was pulled hither and thither in the vice-like hand as an explanation. He thought he saw amusement in the older Vulcan's eyes, even in the dark. Carefully he slid so that he lay with his head in the crook of Spock's shoulder, Pa'tar lying half on them and half between them. The Vulcan shifted obligingly and Uhura and Pa'tar's words ran though Jim's mind. This truly was an odd little family, but against all odds it did work. The extreme warmth in the bed coming from the two aliens smoothed his aching muscles and the purring heartbeats of both of his companions lulled him to sleep.

So it was that Jim woke the next morning in Spock's quarters instead of his own, and it was from there that he got his first glimpse of Pluto as it streaked past. They were nearly there now. Almost home.

He shifted slightly and felt a small body stir beside him. Cracking his eyes open Jim saw that Pa'tar was sitting straight up in front of him, punching away at his datapad with a furrowed brow. He was concentrating very hard on what looked like schoolwork, and Jim wondered what telemetric problem he was puzzling over. The child looked up and locked eyes with Jim.

"What's wrong?" Jim mumbled. Pa'tar immediately launched into a long telemetry question that had far too many numbers for Jim to hold in his sleepy mind. Trust a Vulcan child to wake up and start math problems. He patted the bed beside him, saying, "Not a Vulcan, remember? Slow down. Let me see that."

Pa'tar surprised Jim again when, after a moment's hesitation, he lay down beside Jim and all but snuggled against him, holding the datapad in front of him so that the Human could see it. He seemed to have taken Jim's words from yesterday to heart.

That is how Spock found them when he woke, slowly thinking out the various calculations and angles and trajectories of the problem. Jim knew that his help was nowhere near as clever or efficient as Spock's but he was still enjoying himself – something he had not thought possible about math in the morning. When the Vulcan woke, Pa'tar sat up quickly away from Jim, as if he had been caught doing something embarrassing. Spock looked distinctly unconcerned. He joined into the impromptu lesson with the easy genius that only a Vulcan could posses this early in the morning.

It was not until Saturn was looming ahead of them out the window that Jim had to admit that he should get to the bridge. It had to be well past the start of shift, but he was sure his crew wouldn't begrudge him an extra hour of sleep. Since Spock was needed there too, they left Pa'tar to his problems and headed up together.

It hadn't really occurred to him how it would look if he and Spock walked into the bridge late and at the same time. Uhura rolled her eyes, and Chekov and Sulu exchanged looks. Bones, who was standing beside Jim's empty chair, rubbed his forehead exasperatedly.

As he took his seat, Jim cleared his throat to quit the low level of muttering that had broken out on the bridge. "How long until we reach Earth, Chekov?

"Fifteen minutes," Chekov replied, drawing out the "ee" sound on minutes.

"Great," Jim said. "Do we have any instructions yet?"

"Yes Captain," Uhura said. "We're to dock with the space station and they'll send men aboard to assess whether or not the ship has to be brought down to surface or it can be repaired up here."

"Let's hope for the former, or we could be grounded a while," Jim sighed. The red of Mars had just disappeared off the side of their screen and they were left facing a small blue ball. As they grew closer and closer, Jim watched as the white wisps of clouds that drifted above the blue grew clearer so that he could trace their motion. Soon, continents and then countries were visible. Finally, they stopped, docking smoothly with the space station.

"The inspectors are beaming aboard," Scotty reported from the transport room. He did not sound at all happy about it. The doors to the bridge slid open to reveal Pa'tar, who trotted up to his chair and slid into it neatly. Jim grinned, and then began to point out things on the view screen to Pa'tar. They were floating over eastern Russia (a fact that Chekov made immediately known as soon as Jim began his geography lesson) – to their left lay Europe and, beyond it, the great Atlantic Ocean. To their right, Jim pointed out the thin snaking line that was the Ganges river in China and found the steam of an erupting Pacific volcano. He was pleased to have a lesson for the child that he could actually do better than Spock at. The rest of the crew got into the spirit, the excitement of being home again tingling in the air. No matter how long or short they were gone, after the ordeal they had been through it was nice to look down on a full planet of people who were guaranteed to welcome them.

Eventually, as Jim had somehow launched into an explanation of what a polar bear was, the report came back from the engineering bay. It was not good news – the ship would have to be repaired on the planet for at least a few weeks. Jim refrained from cursing with extreme difficulty, opting instead for a "Ok, Sulu, bring us down then."

It was not until Jim was on the ground standing some three hundred feet from the ship, having spent nearly an hour sorting out crew accommodation and other issues with the crew on the ground, that he could see the extent of the damage to the vessel and why it had to be grounded. There were holes in the shell and dents everywhere, and the entire engineering section looked, from this distance, like it had been patched together with Scotch tape. No wonder they had a fuel leak.

To his chagrin, they had landed in Riverside shipyards in what Jim assumed was a subtle method of punishment for him from Admiral Pike. The arrival of a giant starship, the fleet flagship at that, would not exactly go unnoticed, so that meant he had to go visit his mother. He hoisted a large bag of clothes and paperwork – he had about four years worth of accident reports to complete from Spock's antics alone – higher on his back and turned to head for the shuttle bus station where the rest of the crew had gathered.

The bus to take the crew to the nearest big city – and therefore nearest airport – had just pulled up as he reached them. He walked past, depositing his bag forlornly on the bench by the local bus stop. Pa'tar, holding the small satchel with his belongings and clutching his datapad still, broke away from the queue to board and walked over to him.

"Are you not getting on the bus, Captain?" he asked politely, but there was concern in his eyes.

"Naw," Jim said, attempting cheerfulness. "I'm going to visit my mother. We live in Riverside."

"This is where you originate from?" the child looked curious all of a sudden.

"Yup, good old Riverside," Jim said, not meaning a word of it.

"I'd like to see that," the young Vulcan said to Spock, who Jim had not noticed joining them.

"Oh trust me," Jim said. "You aren't missing anything."

"I would…prefer…to remain in Riverside," the child continued to Spock, "rather than visit an unknown city. It will be much more educational."

"There's not much to learn here," Jim said skeptically.

"I believe that Pa'tar is referring to what he hopes to learn about you," Spock elaborated, his mouth quirking. "I too find myself curious on this matter. There is also the benefit that we will be able to assist in the repair to the Enterprise. Is there accommodation in town?"

"Um, there's the Parker Hotel," Jim said, a bit thrown. Then something wonderful occurred to him. "You could stay with me though. We have a guest bedroom."

"That would be very agreeable, if we would not be intruding," Spock agreed.

"Spock!" Uhura's voice called from the door of the bus. "Hurry up!"

Spock, who did not yell as a general rule, walked briskly over to her and explained their plans. Uhura looked momentarily very put out before recovering and smiling, waving at Pa'tar and ducking into the bus. By the looks of the faces of crew, she wasted no time in telling them all that Spock was staying with Jim because many surprised and curious faces turned to look at the three of them standing in the road as the bus started to pull away. Jim winked at Bones before the bus turned out of the lot, just catching the man's horrified expression before the glare from the sun turned the windows opaque.

The bus ride to Riverside was eventful only in that they got stared at quite a lot, the two Vulcans and the local hero riding the bus, and that Pa'tar and Spock had apparently never ridden in a rural transport shuttle before. Jim could tell they were enjoying discussing how the old fashioned engine and wheel axels worked, though they were talking in Vulcan and so, besides from gestures, Jim wasn't sure what they were saying exactly. It was to bad – he was rather knowledgeable on the subject and it would have saved him having to talk to the locals that kept trying to snap pictures of him on their communicators.

It was with an unprecedented amount of relief that he reached his house at last, signing a young boy's cap before he was allowed to depart the shuttle. Dusk was falling as he plodded up to the door under the weight of his heavy bag, the two Vulcans following effortlessly behind him, and rang the door bell. Less than half a minute later, his mother opened the door.

Her mouth fell open for a few seconds before she arranged her features into a look of delight, exclaiming, "Jim! Back so soon!"

"Hey mom," he said as he was pulled into a hug. Over his mother's shoulder, he scanned the house waryily. Noticing what he was doing, she released him and scoffed.

"No boyfriend right now Jim – you've only been gone less than a month, give me some credit," she said, swatting him half seriously. Jim smiled a bit wider, dropping his bag into the hall behind her.

"Mom, this is Spock," Jim said, indicating the older Vulcan, who saluted her in the traditional way. Pa'tar copied him. Jim grinned and said, "And this is his adopted son Pa'tar. Spock, Pa'tar, this is my mother."

"Greetings, Ms. Kirk," Spock replied courteously as Pa'tar managed a ghost of a smile.

Jim saw his mother immediately fall prey to the young boy's look of polite, bright curiosity and slightly green-tinged cheeks, as Jim himself had. "Oh, please call me Winona" she said, her voice suddenly formal and overly cheerful. "Please, come in, come in."

"I was hoping they could stay for a bit Ma," Jim said, hoisting his bag again and turning towards his bedroom. "However long I'm here anyway."

"And how long will that be young man?" she asked, failing at looking stern. "Last time you were here far shorter than I'd have liked before you picked up and headed to the city."

"I'm not sure," Jim admitted. "They aren't sure how long the ship will take to repair. We'll be sticking around in case they need us."

"Oh and here I thought you wanted to see me," she teased.

"Of course," Jim flashed her a winning grin. "So can they stay?"

"Oh you are so much like for father," she sighed wistfully. "Of course they can."

"Great," Jim started up the stairs, motioning for the two Vulcans to follow, where they dropped their bags in the guest room. Jim relinquished his own bag at the foot of his childhood bed, and they all headed back down the stairs.

There they found Jim's mother bustling around the kitchen looking worried, wondering aloud what to make for a late diner for Vulcans. Spock kindly suggested that he prepare a traditional Vulcan dish, while Pa'tar offered to help her set up the rooms upstairs. She gratefully agreed to this, and so Jim and Spock were left to prepare dinner.

It was not until Jim and his mother were cleaning up the dishes, having sent the Vulcan's upstairs with many refusals for assistance, that Jim learned what the child had been up to with his mother. "It will be nice to have a child in your room again, Jim," she sighed as she piled dinner plates on her right hand.

"I'm over twenty Mom, I thin I've outgrown the child stage a bit," he said sarcastically.

"Which is why I wasn't referring to you," she said, with a smile. When Jim looked puzzled, she gave him a wicked grin and said, "Pa'tar informed me that it would be more logical for him to take the single bed and for you and Spock to share the double in the guest room."

"Did he?" Jim's ears turned red.

"Yes, he did," she did not look upset or disgusted, simply amused. "A bit outside your normal taste, wouldn't you say? A Vulcan? A male Vulcan? With a child? For a playboy you are into commitment up to your ears now."

"I know," Jim sighed, placing glasses into the dishwasher. "Pa'tar especially complicates it."

"He's a lovely child," she said simply. "He reminds me a bit of you, if you were more grown up."

Jim laughed, tossing a tea towel at her and then turning to head up the stairs. "Good night mom."

"Goodnight sweetheart," she said.

Jim found Spock in their shared room, sitting on the end of the bed still in his Starfleet uniform, looking rueful. Jim suddenly wondered what he would wear for their vacation – he had a feeling it would either be his uniform or some horrible traditional Vulcan sweater thing. Either way it would be entertaining to see the reactions of people in town.

"It would appear that Pa'tar has confided to your mother the nature of or relationship. I hope this does not upset you," Spock looked a bit worried.

"Not a bit," Jim said truthfully. "I'd much rather be in here with you than alone in there. Just let me go get my bag."

Jim found Pa'tar sitting on Jim's bed, which had a starship flying across their front, staring up at the ceiling where Jim had stuck stickers in the layout of all the constellations from earth. He was looking up at the constellation of the hunter, Orion, with his eyes fixed on the star at the end of his dagger. After a moment during which Jim grabbed his bag and noticed with amusement that his mother had dressed the child in Jim's old cowboy pyjamas, Pa'tar whispered, "That is where Vulcan was."

Jim sighed and walked over, coaxing the child under the covers and pulling them up over him. The white chess knight was sitting, bright in the darkness, on top of the datapadon their child's bedside table. "I'll take it down if you like," Jim said, waving his hand at the ceiling.

"No, I find it both educational…and comforting," he admitted, before bidding Jim goodnight.

Jim returned to find Spock sitting at the small desk in the room already busy at work on a pile of paperwork. "You know I'm supposed to do that," Jim said.

"Yet I require less rest than you and am in fact more involved in the incidents being reported than you were," Spock didn't look up.

Jim pulled on his pyjama bottoms quickly and then flicked off the light. Spock actually rolled his eyes before switching on the desk lamp. Jim walked over and ran his hand over the back of Spock's shoulders. He sat on the edge of the bed and gently dragged the rolling desk chair towards him, spinning it so that Spock faced him, pen still held at elbow height, looking aggrieved.

His expression changed to one of surprise when Jim leant forward and pressed his forehead to Spock's. After a moment, he felt the telltale nudge of the Vulcan trying to enter his mind. He let him in immediately.

It was one of the few times that Spock went for a full meld, as it was tiring for him. After a moment, Jim could feel Spock's thoughts swirling on the edges of his own. You mother seems to like Pa'tar, the Vulcan mused after a long, comfortable silence. The thought echoed merrily through Jim's mind.

She seems to like you, too, he replied. Good thing too, if you guys are going to be around as long as I would like.

How long is that? Spock asked, and Jim could feel his surprise. In reply he sent a flood of emotion, everything he felt about Spock, about his son, about their future and past. There was no other way to explain.

It is gratifying to know that your emotions are similar to my own, Spock thought as warmth and love flooded Jim as Spock sent his own emotion back in turn. Jim found he had to force himself to remember to breathe because the gesture was so shockingly intimate. Jim remembered what Spock Prime had said to him, what he had called him, thy'la. He considered sharing that with the Vulcan, but eventually decided it wasn't the time for that discussion just yet.

At long last, Jim broke the meld to lean in for a kiss, cupping the other's hot face with his hands. He pulled gently, dragging the Vulcan out of his seat. Spock sighed against their locked lips and reached back to snap off the desk light before allowing himself to be hauled onto the bed on top of Jim.

The paperwork could wait until morning, Jim knew. He could wait to tell Spock how he felt, how much he felt for him. They had time, he was sure. They had a lot of time ahead, together.