Hallo! This is my first foray into Star Trek fanfiction, though I'm not a first-time writer. I would just like to say that I hope the characterization is okay. (:
Disclaimer: Star Trek does not, in any way, shape, or form, belong to me.
Note: I am not fluent in Vulcan. That is why there is only a little bit in this story. If you find my Vulcan to be awful, please tell me. XD
"Uh, yeah Bones, I'm not quite sure how this happened, but… You see the problem." Jim looked helplessly at his best friend as a small hand curled unconsciously around his pantleg.
"Is that… Spock?" McCoy raised an eyebrow and looked incredulously down at the tiny Vulcan trying (and failing) to hide behind the captain's legs. "What the hell did you do?"
"Nothing! Well, we beamed down, right? And everything was going as planned with the stupid diplomatic crap and then, all of a sudden, Spock got really stiff-"
"Like that's new."
"AND then he keeled over, which gave me an effin' heart attack by the way, and when we beamed up, he was somehow like this." The two of them looked down at the four-year-old. "He's cold."
"I wondered why he was wearing your shirt." Indeed, the gold emblem of captaincy had been pulled over Spock's head. It fit more like a dress with the sleeves coming down over Spock's hands. "Well, I'd better take a look and see if I can figure this out."
"Oh good. You look after him. You like kids n'all." Jim leaned down and gently pried Spock's hands away from his legs, careful not to touch the briefly exposed fingers. "Hey Spock, Bones is gonna give you a physical, okay?" He carefully steered the boy out in front of him. "Here ya go, Bones. Thanks!"
"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a babysitter! What do you want me to do when I'm done, read him a story?!" But the captain had already disappeared with a wave, the sickbay doors sliding shut with a pneumatic hiss. Spock looked up at him, trembling, his hands folded together before him. He looked mildly surprised, which Bones interpreted as terrified, and he shied away when the doctor moved closer.
"All right, all right. It's going to be okay, Spock. Do you know who I am?" After a spell of silence, Spock replied.
"That's right. I'm Dr. McCoy. I need to give you a check-up. Is that all right?" The child's dark eyes didn't blink as he looked back, and Bones began to feel slightly disturbed. So, he was a Vulcan. Did that mean he had to be a damn statue as well?
"I am not averse to such a measure."
"Good." McCoy made to pick up Spock like he would have any other child, but the boy slipped away again. Obviously he was even more unaccustomed to touch than his older self. McCoy sighed. This was going to be annoying. He led Spock over to his examination table using gentle coaxing and helped the boy onto it, though it seemed any assistance was unwanted.
"Computer, raise temperature to one hundred degrees." He groaned inwardly, but the comfort of his patients was paramount. Besides, even if he hadn't experienced it in a while, summers before Starfleet had sometimes been even hotter than that. He could manage. And the kid was still shivering.
"All right, Spock, I'm going to need you to take off your shirt." After another moment of unnerving silence, the child complied, revealing pale skin that was a little greener than McCoy was used to. He began his examination.
Jim slumped in his command chair, restless. The day had started out fine, but nothing ever seemed to go right for him. First they'd been ordered out to Tarabek VII for a diplomatic meeting Jim was very certain the ship was overqualified for (the crew was probably underqualified) and told not to fuck up. Jim didn't even know anything about Tarabek! Well, whatever; a crash course from Uhura on things that would get him killed satisfied that requirement. That wasn't the biggest problem.
The biggest problem was the food. They'd been getting along fine with the Beki before the dinner, had even managed to make some tentative agreements on a treaty, surprise surprise, but then… Then they'd had to eat Bekian trout. And like it.
The less said about that the better.
And then there was the whole thing with Spock! Jim shifted in his chair, torn between laughter and soul-crushing worry. Something had happened to Spock during the dinner that had transformed him into a child. A very adorable, tiny Vulcan child who had given his age as 'precisely four years, one month, three days in your reckoning', but a child nonetheless. Without Spock in position, Jim's bridge felt lonely. And he still couldn't understand Chekov's accent so he had to keep asking the Ensign to repeat everything and he was pretty sure everyone, especially Chekov, was annoyed now.
He missed his Wulcan. Vulcan, dammit.
He was excessively relieved when the bosun's whistle sounded from the arm of his chair.
"Sickbay to bridge," came Bones's forceful announcement, "Jim you'd better get the hell down here." To himself: "I'm so mad I'm spittin' tacks."
"Bones, what is it?" Jim was now very soul-crushingly worried. "Is he sick? Hurt?"
"Get down here." The communication cut off.
Jim stared at the little white button uneasily, then got up. He hopped up the stairs to the turbolift. "Sulu, you have the conn."
"Right then." He stepped in and hesitantly said "Sickbay."
The scene that greeted him was something to behold. Nurse Chapel was in the hall, flustered, and occasionally emitting a small squeak or a "Dr., please!" A blue streak of cursing resounded from inside the sickbay, spilling out now and then in waves of anger. Jim hurried to her side.
"Nurse, what's going on in there?"
"Oh, Captain, I don't know. He's been like this for a little while." She threw up her hands. "It's beyond my power to stop him." Though from the look of her scowl, Jim realized she'd probably tried.
"Right." Jim cautiously strode into the room. "Whoa, it's hot in here… Bones, what's the matter? You're probably scaring the crap out of Spock!"
"Spock! Spock's the matter, Jim. Do you know what I found?" He glared at his captain.
"Uh, no, that's why I came down here." He frowned. "Is he all right?"
"Scars, Jim, that's what I found. Scars on his back."
"He's been abused, Jim. Who in blue blazes would do that to this child?"
"Wait, Bones, what? Spock's been abused?" Jim could feel the world tilting at an angle though his vision remained unaffected. A child Spock with scars on his back. His quiet manner. A child shying away from Scotty in the transporter room. His reluctance to be friends, though they'd been on the goddamn ship a year already. He'd thought it was Vulcan. "I don't…"
Bones shoved a packet of photos toward him, spilling them out over the desk. Here, the slight curve of a shoulder blade with a raised greenish line marring the image. There, a flurry of marks along a thin neck, like scratches.
"Bones. Bones!" Jim grabbed his CMO's arms.
"I know Jim, I can't believe it myself."
"No, Bones, where's Spock. Where is he now?"
McCoy turned around. "He's on the table, where I left…" No Spock on the table. "Fuck. We've got to find him, Jim. We need- I need to make sure he knows I'm not mad at him." The two men and Nurse Chapel ranged about the medical lab seeking the child. It was Jim who finally found him curled beneath a cabinet in a space that would have been too small for anyone else. His black eyes looked out fearfully over the cross of his skinny arms.
"Spock." And then, over his shoulder, "I found him!" He sat down in front of the cabinet. "Hey."
Spock looked back and tried even harder to fold himself up like origami.
"No, no, it's cool. I'm not mad at you. Remember me?"
"You're the captain."
"Yep. And you're Spock." He tried to think of a way to talk the kid out because he was sure it wouldn't be productive to reach in and hug him. It would probably make things ten times worse.
"I am already aware of my idennity." He flushed a shade darker green before mumbling "Identity."
By that time Bones had come up behind Jim with Chapel not far behind. She impatiently shoved the two aside and reached into the cabinet, enveloping Spock in a blanket-swathed embrace. Carefully she drew him out and held him close as he started to cry quietly.
"I think that's enough excitement for now," she said, sending a look at McCoy. "Captain, if it's all right I'll take him to his quarters and look after him."
"Uh, yeah, that's probably a good idea." He and Bones watched her carry Spock away, bouncing him gently to ease his misery. Jim turned to his friend.
"What the hell."
The doctor heaved a sigh. "I don't have any frickin' idea, Jim. I've never examined him before, barring a regular scan here and there, and anyway it's entirely possible scars that fine would have faded by the time he was that old." He ran a hand back through hair that already seemed to be going gray at the temples.
"Do you think it was his dad?" Jim thought back to the silent, imposing figure of Sarek the one time he'd really met him, dropping him off on the colony after the Narada incident. He and Spock had seemed to get along okay, but Jim sucked at analyzing Vulcans. They could have been giving each other rude hand gestures behind his back for all he knew.
"Only one way to find out," Bones growled, heading for his office and the vidscreen within.
The sandy ground was forlornly barren before him, but Sarek soon hoped to rectify that. The planting committee was scheduled to start breaking ground here tomorrow to try and coax a forest up out the foreign soil. It was hoped that, like most Vulcan plant samples, the trees would do fairly well in their new home. If not, and it was impossible to expect all their native flora to flourish here, they would be planted in one of the greenhouses that had been set up for the species that didn't or couldn't be made to take to the colony.
Sarek surveyed the scene with a mix of sorrow and hope, though his face remained carefully blank. It was harder now to hide without Amanda to steady him, as illogical as that sounded. Her emotional instability had always made him the rock of their relationship, the role-model for Spock's Vulcan heritage. He mused to himself about how different things were now…
"Ambassador Sarek." A cool voice carried on the wind to him and he turned, spying a young woman with her arms full of plants.
"T'Sara." He nodded solemnly. She nodded back, her face still.
"There is a message for you, sir. A hailing from the U.S.S. Enterprise."
Sarek raised an eyebrow, a gesture Spock must have picked up from him in early years. The Enterprise? He could think of no pressing matters that required his attention elsewhere, so acquiesced to the notice.
"Thank you, T'Sara." As she sped away to her own ends, Sarek returned to the burgeoning capital of Vulcan II and the sending that awaited him.
"Ambassador." Jim leaned over McCoy's shoulder to get a better look at the Vulcan on the screen. He seemed curious, nothing more, if the slight lift of his eyebrows was to be believed. Jim wondered… Could the monster possibly be him?
"We have some questions," snapped McCoy, making their interaction a confrontation from the beginning. "About Spock." Sarek looked mildly at them from the screen.
"Spock's affairs are not my business, doctor. I am sure that if he wanted you to know something, he would tell you," Sarek reprimanded.
"I'm not so sure he would, but that's not the point. Your son, by some accident I have yet to ascertain, is now four years old. He can't answer me." Bones folded his arms.
Sarek blinked and tilted his head slightly. Jim could see Spock in the line of Sarek's chin.
"I admit that I am having difficulty grasping what you are saying."
"Look, Ambassador," Jim pushed Bones aside and elbowed his way into video range, "Spock's a kid again for some reason and he's really not happy." He swallowed and broached the question. "Did you know that Spock had been abused?" He waited anxiously, hoping not to see the tightening of the jaw, the steeling of the eyes. Hoping not to hear the words he heard every time he'd played this scenario in his mind while they waited for Sarek's answer. 'He needed discipline.' 'He was too emotional.' These phrases hung like a shroud in the back of his mind.
But instead of hardening, Sarek's expression immediately betrayed surprise, and then even worry before he closed off again. Still, a subtle shift in the timbre of his voice betrayed the emotion below the surface.
"I do not understand. There has been some evidence of abuse?" He folded his hands before him. "From what quarter? Who did this?"
"That's what I'm asking you," growled Bones, shoving Jim out of his view. "How could you do that?" The intensity in his voice would have caused Jim to back off, but Sarek's brows drew into a frown and a trickle of anger surfaced in his eyes.
"You would believe that I abused my own son?" His tone was icy. "I would not! I never laid a hand on him! We may have disagreed on some matters, but Spock was always a well-behaved child. I have great affection for him."
"Why you-" Bones shifted toward the screen, but a voice behind him stopped him in mid-rant.
Everyone turned to see Chapel standing by the door to Bones's office, Spock beside her. He was dressed in crew cast-offs and one of his own sweaters. A fuzzy hat covered his ears and most of his forehead as well. He looked startled but not unhappy to see Sarek's face on the screen. In fact, he let go of the nurse's skirt and came over.
"Father, I am in a strange location. I do not know how I came to be here." He climbed onto Jim's chair, and drew his legs up, resting his chin on his folded arms. "Where is Mother?"
Sarek seemed taken aback, then his face softened perceptibly and he almost smiled.
"Spock, my son. Do not be afraid. You are among friends." He would not have spoken that way on Vulcan. But he was changed.
"Fear is an emotion," said Spock, looking amazed to hear his father speak of them. "I do not feel." But he seemed quite grateful for Sarek's words and relaxed into the chair. "It is cold here," he explained, as if reciting a lesson. "I believe that I am on a space ship."
"Do you know how you got there?" asked Sarek, for the moment declining to follow up his shouting match with McCoy. Spock shook his head.
"I do not rememmer. Remember." He scrubbed a tiny hand at his eye, discreetly trying to keep his misery at bay. "Sa-mekh, wilat ko-mekh?"
"Your mother is… not here." Sarek looked vaguely pained. Jim had the distinct feeling that, if he could have, Sarek would have reached out to Spock. Sarek, the prime example of Vulcan-ness. He turned to Bones and drew his friend away from the screen with a nod at the door.
"Bones, Sarek didn't do it," he said, once they were out of screen range. A soft conversation in Vulcan carried on behind them and Jim glanced back to see Spock actually illustrating the ship with hand gestures, something he never would have done in normal-time. "Look, they love each other."
The doctor sighed.
"Yeah, I think you're right… But you," he said, turning to Chapel, who looked completely unrepentant, "what are you doing back down here? We were having a serious discussion."
"I don't believe you ordered me away," she said, unruffled by McCoy's ire. Jim could already tell she would be a spectacular addition to the sickbay. "Besides, Spock said he wasn't feeling well. I figured it was nerves mixed with a new situation, and I was going to give him a spoonful of syrup to settle his stomach." Bones snorted but didn't press the issue.
"Whatever. That leaves us with nothing solved at all and a possibly offended Vulcan ambassador. If he can get offended!" He sat down in his desk chair and placed his head in his hands. "I need a drink."
"Have you found out what did it to him yet?" asked Jim, trying to quell a rogue paternal instinct by not looking at Spock. "I mean, it didn't just happen, did it? Is that even possible?"
"I didn't have time to run the tests, Jim. I was too preoccupied with the other issues."
"Maybe you should run them now."
"Maybe I will." McCoy stood up and straightened his tunic, looking through the drawers for a pair of latex gloves.
"Doctor." Sarek's voice was raised to reach them. They turned to see him gazing helplessly at Spock, who had apparently become overwhelmed and thrown up beside his chair. His pale face looked up at them, struggling between apology, repression, and nausea.
"Maybe I'll run them tomorrow," sighed McCoy as Chapel rushed to the child.
Jim waited for the hiss of the doors closing behind him to shed his shirts and boots. It had been a looooonnnng day. After he'd apologized to Sarek for Bones's accusations, seen Spock off to his quarters, and made his log about the Beki agreements, he'd called up the Beki council to see if they had any insight into Spock's condition. It turns out they didn't, much as his luck would have it, but expressed their concern and well-wishes. Helpful.
After flopping down on his bed, he stretched and tried to ease the ache in his neck. He'd ordered the ship to remain in orbit because the origin of Spock's transformation most definitely lay below on the surface, but nothing could really be done until McCoy isolated the cause.
In short, Jim felt like he'd talked a lot and still hadn't got anything done.
Tired, but not yet ready to sleep, Jim took out his chess set. It had been given to him by his brother and had, since it's translocation to the Enterprise, seen almost-nightly games of chess with Bones, or more recently, Spock. Jim wished now that his Vulcan was there to logically taunt him as he slowly pushed the pieces around the board.
"Spock," he addressed the air, "Why'd you have to go and get turned into a kid?" A poke slid the black queen into place to take out a white knight. "That's super-illogical, you know." He passed a moment in silence.
"And now the bridge crew has something against you. No more high-and-mighty-Vulcan! I just bet someone'll have pictures of your adorable kid self running around down here." He slid a white castle into place and laid his head down on the table.
"Abused. That is so wrong." Jim remembered having to hide from his step-father every once in a while when the man was drunk, but the worst he'd gotten was a cuff around the ear. Thinking of those thin white lines, Jim shuddered. And Spock was only four!
"I thought you were just being Vulcan when you said you hated people… Ah, God, maybe I need a drink." He stood again, running a hand through his hair, and headed for the half-empty bottle of scotch Scotty had left in there earlier that year. It had been a present for 'bringin' 'im back to th' land o' sandwiches.' Jim uncapped the bottle and was about to take a swig when the door buzzer alerted him to a presence outside. He blinked.
"Computer, what time is it?"
"It is eleven fifty-three and five seconds."
"Yeah, thanks. Who is it?" Silence greeted him and Jim, irritated, took a slug of whisky. Prank calls so late? Amusing. He was about to turn off the light and finally get some shut-eye, when-
"It is Spock." The voice was uncertain, as if the speaker wasn't sure he was Spock. Or maybe it was because he was four and confused, lost in the belly of a starship years before he should ever have left his planet. Jim opened the door.
Dark eyes looked down at tiny hands as Spock avoided his gaze. He was embarrassed; Jim could tell by the green ear-tips, bare now of his hat.
"I do not want to disturb you."
"You aren't. Why don't you come in?" And Jim made way courteously for the boy as he hurried into the room. "So what's up?"
Spock looked confused before he gazed up at the ceiling. "A roof. And a light." He returned his eyes to Jim. "I do not understand the reason for this request."
"Yeah… It's just an expression. I mean, why did you come? Not that I don't want you here, 'cause I do. It's just… I'm confused." Spock climbed up on the bed and sat quietly. "So yeah." Jim joined him.
Spock was silent, again looking away. Jim leaned back against his pillow.
"Do you feel better?"
Spock nodded slowly, playing with the hem of his sweater.
"That's good." He yawned behind his hand. "Did you like talking to S- to your father?"
Spock nodded again. "He seems different, however. My ko-mekh should help him."
"Your… Oh, your mom?" Jim blew out his cheeks. Awkward. As far as he could tell, Spock was just getting over that loss now. He decided right then that four-year-old Spock didn't need to know.
"Yes, mother… You remind me of Mother." Spock actually moved a bit closer to him. Jim took the hint and sort of wrapped an arm around the small shoulders. To his surprise, Spock did not stiffen, but leaned into the embrace.
"How so?" He reminded Spock of his mom?
But Spock didn't answer. Instead, he asked a question.
"May I make a personal in… inquiry?" Jim didn't mention his stumble. At age four he had been saying things like "I double-dog-dare you." Spock could mess up all he wanted and he'd still kick the pants off Jim.
"Do you like me?" He solemnly peered up at Jim, his anxiety revealed only by the slight pinching at the corners of his eyes.
"Of course! Did someone tell you I didn't?" Whoever had said that was going to get an 'official reprimand' to the tune of Jim rearranging their jaw.
"No." The child sighed almost imperceptibly and leaned his head on Jim's chest. Jim almost wanted to keep the little guy. Damn those weird paternal instincts! He'd never felt so friendly to Spock in normal-time. Well, that wasn't true. But he'd never been so well received…
He had an idea.
"Hey, Spock. Now it's my turn. Can I ask you something? You don't have to answer." This had to work. Hopefully.
"That is fair."
"Has anyone ever hurt you?"
Spock blinked up at him for the longest time. Jim was afraid he wouldn't say anything, which probably meant he wouldn't tell Bones, and then they'd never know. But slowly, very slowly, Spock nodded. Jim felt his heart clench.
"Who was it?"
"Selek." Spock threaded his glove-covered fingers between Jim's own. "He said it was necessary because I am weak."
Jim narrowed his eyes. "He said that, huh?"
Spock nodded. "Then he scratched my back with a rock."
Jim felt sick. And angry. Very, very angry.
"How old is Selek, Spock?"
"He is approssimately seven years, three months by your reckoning "
They were both quiet.
Spock had begun to look pale again, his only warning before the Vulcan threw up unhappily on his bed.
"I am sorry…"
"No, don't be. Here," he picked up his tiny first officer, "I'll take you back to sickbay." Awkwardly slipping on his shoes, he shifted Spock to his hip like he'd seen women do and headed back to Bones.
"Well, do you have anything for me, Doctor?" Jim stood wearily in the door to sickbay, arms crossed. McCoy was lucky that he was too tired to scowl, or he'd be doing that, too. Spock had been up sick most of the night and Jim, by the child's request, hadn't left his side.
"As a matter of fact, I do, Jim, so you can stop trying to kill me with your eyes." He held up a beaker filled with an orangey substance.
"What's that?" Jim eyed the mess distrustfully.
"Ew, God, Bones! Get it away!" He backed away until the doors registered his proximity and zipped open.
"This is the answer Jim. I've extracted several alien compounds. Apparently whatever they were feeding him down there on Tarabek combined with his unique stomach acid to do… this!" He gestured over to the corner of the room where Nurse Chapel was showing Spock how to work a juice box.
"Great. Would you stop waving that around?" Jim ventured a little further into the room. "Am I going to understand how that happened, or is it best to leave the complicated stuff alone?"
Bones shrugged. "I don't really know myself. That is, I know why, but not how."
"So basically crazy shit happens for no reason?" Jim frowned as McCoy nodded. "It's like we're in some kind of sci-fi 3V show…"
"Well, now that I know the cause I'll be able to mix an antidote. It should take no more than two days."
"Awesome. Let me know."
There was no goodbye, no ceremony at all, really. Three days later, Spock walked onto the bridge right as rain. He said good morning and took his station back from Chekov, who sighed with relief. The ensign was tired of explaining to the captain that the U.S.S. Vivaldi would be traveling to Tarabek to relieve them and negotiate a treaty.
Jim didn't even get a chance to talk to Spock about it until quite late that night when they'd reconvened in his quarters for chess. The Vulcan had accepted his offer readily enough but now he seemed to be avoiding Jim's gaze. After some time alone with thoughts and strategy he finally spoke.
"Captain, you are curious. I invite you to ask." Or your tiny brain could explode, said the eyebrow.
"Spock… It's just that…" Jim was now the hesitant one, trapped between curiosity and propriety. And he didn't want to hurt Spock's feelings, whether or not the Vulcan believed there were any there to hurt.
"You wish to ask about my childhood experiences," Spock said matter-of-factly. Bones had obviously filled him in on what had happened. "If you wish, I shall enlighten you."
"It's just that, how could that kid have done that to you?" Jim was suddenly angry again. "I mean, it's awful! Why didn't you tell someone?"
"Selek was a child with many problems, very few of his own invention. I believed at the time that complicating his childhood further was illogical and unnecessarily cruel."
"Spock. He was complicating your childhood. There's no way you didn't want revenge. Even a Vulcan…"
To Jim's surprise, a corner of Spock's mouth twitched upward in what could have been the beginning of a smile.
"I did succeed in breaking his nose at a later date."
"You did?" Jim's eyebrows raised in respect. "Where is he now?"
The ghost of mirth faded from his friend's face. "Selek was among those who perished on Vulcan."
"Oh." Inexplicably, Jim felt like an ass. He spent some time moving his pawns around the board and watched as Spock systematically destroyed them, one by one.
"You have another query."
"Uh, yes." He glared down at Spock's queen, perched as if to leap down and slaughter his king in cold blood. He'd been reading too many adventure tapes lately. "When you were, you know, four, you said something a little odd to me."
"What do you find odd?" Spock was looking at him with interest now. Apparently the thoughts of his younger self were just as fascinating to him.
"You said I reminded you of your mother." Jim braced himself as he watched Spock's face go carefully blank, but the expected outburst never came.
In fact, Spock simply looked away, giving Jim a magnificent look at his rather violently green ears.
"I see." No explanation. No nothing.
Jim finally prompted, "Why?"
"Well, like my mother was, you are a very emotional being. It is possible my younger self was referring to your bewildering supply of feelings, opinions, and inclinations, Captain."
"I suppose that's possible. But you don't think that's it." He could see it on Spock's face, as plain as day in the little deviations from his usual mask.
"…No Captain, I do not. "
Jim almost laughed at the reluctant tone of his voice. "What do you think it is? Opinion, Mr. Spock." He was having too much fun.
Spock took his queen and forcefully swept Jim's king off the board.
"I had… have… a great affection for my mother." He stood up from the table in one graceful swoop.
"Spock, does that mean you have a great affection for me?"
"Good night, Captain."
Jim cleaned up the pieces of his chess set with a stupid smile on his face. Perhaps this whole debacle hadn't been such a pain after all.
Thank you for reading! Now, you should review. :D