A/N: I know, I suck. I obviously can't make any promises about this story, but, hey, here's another chapter.
I probably won't continue to update this story on LJ because I don't really use LJ anymore, and because it's really quite obnoxious to post there and get the formatting right. I am thinking of cross-posting to AO3 though, for no particular reason. Does anyone still reading this have an opinion? If so, PM me please.
Finally, I have no shame, so I'm going to take this opportunity to say I have a tumblr, kinetic-elaboration, although it's more Sherlock than Star Trek. But should you ever wonder what I'm doing instead of writing this fic…
Spock has been following Lieutenant-Commander Montague's research since he read, at fourteen, the paper she published on the potential genetic links between Vulcans and Romulans. It was a truly fascinating piece. Still, though they both live in San Francisco and both taught at the Academy, he has never before made her acquaintance. He taps the screen of his PADD impatiently, flipping through the pages of her résumé, the other documents in her file, searching for no particular thing. He's memorized most of it already. She is forty-one years old, served on two separate exploratory missions in her twenties, but has been living in San Francisco for the past ten years with her husband and two children. Twins, Spock notes. Only a year older than Sevin. He flips forward to her most recent article, on the evolution of Orion female pheromones. Her writing has become less political in the last years, he notes, and she is relying more and more heavily on data gathered by other scientists. This is inevitable, perhaps—necessary, perhaps—but—
"So we're basically agreed that we're going to offer her the position, right?" Kirk interrupts his wandering thoughts, and Spock looks up abruptly to catch him grinning, rolling his shoulders back and stretching like he's winding himself up for a fight.
"Of course," he answers.
"Family and all?"
"As she requested."
"Great." His back cracks, audibly, distressingly, and Spock wrinkles his nose briefly at the sound. Kirk doesn't seem to notice.
Spock considers asking Kirk how much he knows about Montague's research; he imagines the answer would surprise him, no matter what it was. Perhaps Kirk would dodge around the question, tell him that, well, the science stuff is his area, right? Or maybe he'd impress Spock with his insights, jumping from observation to observation more deftly than many trained in the field ever could. Both responses, Spock decides, would be accurate. Kirk is a perfectionist. He hides it well from his more casual acquaintances, but anyone working with him in even the most casual way can see it. He wants to know everything he possibly can about every aspect of his ship, its crew, their work, their passion—but he is also well aware that his ship will function most smoothly when responsibility is delegated in just the right way.
Before Spock can ask any questions, Montague herself appears in the doorway, on time down to the second, and Kirk ushers her in. They pass around introductions, and sit down in the three chairs that form a misshapen circle around Kirk's rectangular desk. "I'm sorry about the lack of space," he says, grinning with exaggerated embarrassment at the tiny, crowded, office he's been stuck with.
"I've seen worse," she answers, with the sort of tight-lipped smile that Spock has learned to read as nervousness. Her gaze is unsettled. She sits straight-backed and stiff in her chair, professional and poised, but she glances so quickly from one of them to the other, that she makes even Spock feel ill at ease in sympathy. It is a strange realization, that his presence might unsettle her. She is someone he has long admired.
Kirk is leaning forward, now, his hands clasped together on the desk and his own gaze steady. "I'll be honest," he tells her. "I know that Lieutenant Spock," he gestures briefly, "and I asked you to meet us here for an interview. But we've looked over your file and discussed the matter and neither of us thinks that an interview will be necessary after all. We'd like to offer you a position in the science division on the Enterprise."
For several moments, Montague simply stares at him. Then she looks to Spock, who nods once to confirm Kirk's words. She smiles tentatively. "You are sure, Captain Kirk?"
"I'm always sure," he answers, with a grin that softens the sharp arrogance of his words.
"You have been doing fascinating work for the last two decades, Ms. Montague," Spock adds. "I am extremely interested to know what you would accomplish with the opportunity to do first hand research."
"So am I," she answers. "My work has stalled recently, I can admit. I've been searching for an opportunity to go back into space, but the possibilities are limited—you understand. I didn't wish to leave my family, not for the years that exploratory missions usually last."
"You were considering a position on the Earth colony Beta 4?" Spock asks, glancing down unnecessarily at her file.
"I was," she answers. "The opportunity to travel from planet to planet is preferable, however."
"It is," he agrees. "However, the Enterprise might not have the same caliber of lab equipment as a larger lab like those on the colonies—"
"I am sure the labs on Starfleet's flagship are excellent," Montague assures him. "The variety of possibilities that open up when one is actively exploring…" For the first time, her eyes truly shine, her whole face seems to light up at the thought of these possibilities, at the options now open. She shifts forward in her chair. "My work is about the connections between peoples. Those connections start to seem tenuous when one is stuck always in the same place. It's narrowed my perceptions. And truthfully," she adds, voice a little softer now with guilt, "I couldn't imagine my life without my family, but I didn't join Starfleet to live in the same city on the same planet my entire life."
"I know that feeling," Kirk says, so low and quiet that Spock isn't sure he meant to say the words aloud.
Spock tells her that because of her rank she will be one of the senior members of his team, and they begin to discuss particulars, layering in more and more details and not noticing, either of them, that they have shifted their chairs closer to each other around the short end of the table. Spock remembers a glance toward Kirk and sees that he is watching them, smiling, tilted back in his chair and his hand over his mouth. His expression is alert, but detached. He is engrossed in their conversation, but perfectly aware that it is not his.
Like Spock and Montague, he does not notice the way that time passes, becoming thin and fragile and slipping through fingers like sand. The sound of Montague's communicator suddenly beeping startles them all.
She glances for a moment at the caller and then asks them to excuse her, please, and Spock waves his hand shortly in permission. She leaves the room, where the sound of her quiet voice only barely reaches them. Even Spock can only make out a few words. But the pause is enough, and when they, too, look at the hour, they exchange a surprised glance. "Almost three," Kirk points out.
"They are most likely outside now," Spock answers.
They hold each other's gaze for a moment, then simultaneously stand up.
In this way, their meeting comes to an abrupt end, two bodies crashing into one body in the doorway, apologies circling around, until they all realize that they are walking in the same direction and find themselves accompanying each other to the administrative building's front door.
Montague's family is waiting for her by one of the bare-limbed trees by the sidewalk, but Nyota and Sevin are nowhere to be found. Spock slips his hands deep in his jacket pockets. These are the coldest weeks of the Earth year, he's told, and he feels every degree, can be grateful only that today the air is calm and there is no wind to snap past his cheeks and chill his skin. Montague's husband catches her eye, raises his brows in a question, and when she nods happily he grins and throws out his arms. They hug fiercely. Spock looks away, uncomfortable, but happens to meet Kirk's eye in the process—an embarrassing coincidence. The space between them is cavernous now in comparison to the affection they are witnessing, and he's glad that his hat covers his ears and that his cheeks are already green from the low January chill.
Montague's children are giddy with their own excitement. Though Spock remembers that they were in the middle of an argument when he first caught sight of them, they have since reconciled all of their differences. They are dancing in a vague circle, crunching the frost beneath their feet as they sing a tuneless song about going into space, going into space. The boy, Thomas, has dark red hair and round features, while the girl, Victoria, is too small still for her name and already gangly, and together they move with a seemingly boundless energy; Spock wonders if the Enterprise will be big enough to contain them. They've circled around him and Kirk before he quite knows what has happened.
"Sorry about them," Montague's husband smiles, as he stills the boy with two hands to his shoulders. Montague herself has caught up Victoria and stilled her whirlwind limbs with a hug.
"No apologies necessary," Kirk answers. "I get excited about the Enterprise, too."
Montague passes around introductions, the adults shake hands, the children wave. Spock's head feels vaguely dizzy trying to keep up with their constant, slight movements, the wriggling and twitching and squirming that signals their impatience with adult conversation, with this whole concept of staying in one place. They want to ask questions. What will the ship be like? Will they have to share a room? Will there be other kids there? Will they still have to go to school?
Spock informs them that they will have tutors, and yes this means hours a day devoted to learning, and yes this means homework, too. Tom lets out a long, loud, whine, an "Aw, no," accompanied by a stomp of his feet. "That sucks."
"Language," his father warns lightly, as his sister taunts him, "You didn't really think we wouldn't have to go to school anymore, did you? That's dumb."
"It's not dumb! It's—"
"Optimistic?" Kirk finishes, and smiles a conspiratorial smile down at Tom. Spock gives him a warning look. "You know," Kirk continues, a clean change of subject that passes right by Spock's slightly sour face, the way that Victoria sticks out her tongue, "Spock and I have a son who's just about your age. He'll be on the ship, too."
"Does he have to go to school, too?" Tom asks.
"Yes," Spock assures him.
"Even though his parents run the whole ship?"
"Even though his parents run the whole ship," Kirk nods.
"Wow," Tom says, and he sounds almost impressed, at Kirk and Spock and their devotion to education, or simply at the unfair nature of the universe, it's difficult to say.
"Do we get to meet him?" Victoria asks politely, sweetly, looking up at Spock with her wide eyes. In fact the answer to her question is yes, and he tells her so, with a slight accompanying gesture behind her. Sevin and Nyota are approaching, now, half-jogging across the grass toward their small group. Nyota is already waving and apologizing, and clearly slightly out of breath. Sevin, even running on his shorter legs to keep up, is not at all breathless. As soon as Nyota lets go of his wrist, he circles around to stand between his parents, not quite behind them, watching the new people warily.
"Sorry, sorry," Nyota is saying, one hand at her side, pressing down at a stitch. "Blame it on the traffic. I hope I'm not interrupting."
Kirk leads another round of introductions, but by the end, Tom and Victoria cut in, announcing their own names eagerly, asking Sevin question after question about himself, and above all, the most important and most central thing, what does he know about space. Has he ever been? Has he seen the ship? Does he know anyone else who's going? And so on and so on. Spock can feel Sevin's hand still gripping tightly to his pant leg, but excepting this small sign of nerves, he seems to stand up a bit straighter with confidence at each new question. It is a pleasant thing, Spock knows, to feel knowledgeable.
Sevin sidesteps carefully around the subject of the ship itself, telling them only what he knows: that it is big, really incredibly big, and listing off statistics that Spock is sure the other children do not follow. He skillfully avoids mentioning that he has never actually stepped aboard the ship herself. He has traveled in space, however, which fascinates the twins and brings on another marathon of questions. Sevin answers them happily. They hit an impasse, though, when Jacob brings up the subject of tutors again—does Sevin know they still have to go to school, even when they're living on a starship?
"Of course!" Sevin answers. "How else will we learn?"
"Do you like school?" Victoria asks him. The idea seems to genuinely intrigue her, and there is nothing accusatory or malicious in her tone. Still, Sevin shifts awkwardly from one foot to the other, and shrugs to temper what would, Spock knows, usually be a spirited answer. Sevin's worst complaint about school has been that it is not interesting enough; the teachers move through the material too slowly, and really it's not so difficult, is it? He already knows so much.
"Yeah," he says, now. "Usually. Don't you?"
"Ugh, no," Tom answers, while his sister gives a small shrug to match Sevin's gesture.
"Sometimes I do," she says. "I don't like getting up early, though. And I don't like my teacher this year at all. I liked Ms. Early a lot better—that's who I had last year."
"Oh! I have her this year," Sevin answers. "I think she's pretty good…what's wrong with your teacher this year?"
"She's too cheery," Tom declares. "She makes too many jokes."
"No, it's not that," Victoria corrects, giving her brother an unsubtle glare for interrupting. "It's just—she spends too much time on boring stuff. Like math."
"Math isn't boring!" Sevin insists, and for a moment, Spock foresees the premature end of this just-begun friendship. Sevin looks offended, as if Victoria had insulted his family or committed some grave offense against his honor. Kirk is hiding his smile behind his hand.
"Well I think it is. You should prove it then, if you think it's not," Victoria challenges.
"I can!" Sevin tells her. "I can prove it!"
"Good luck making her think so," Tom says. "I think word problems are the best part of school, but Victoria doesn't like them. She doesn't like anything."
"I like lots of things—"
"Find us at recess tomorrow, Sevin. We'll be by the swings."
Victoria gives her brother a sour look for interrupting her, but remains cheerful when she tells Sevin that, yes, he should hang out with them, though he won't convince her at all about this math thing, but he should at least tell some more stories about space. Isn't it exciting, it must be so very exciting, to look out a window and see stars, to visit other planets, to go to sleep in one corner of the universe and wake up in another…
"Starfleet's next recruit, I see," Kirk smiles, growing fond at the way her eyes light up at as she imagines this transient life, unattached to any world, lost and free. That is how he described that desire himself, once, that slight haunting in the back of his mind through his adolescence, the harder thrum of it after he enlisted, too loud to ignore ever again.
"No need to get ahead of ourselves," her father answers. The corner of his mouth tilts up, a light comment with a serious edge.
The children, Spock notes, acknowledge neither comment, too busy with their own plans. Even Sevin is bouncing on the balls of his feet with pride and curiosity and argument, with anticipation; he's intrigued by these new people already, at an age where it's still easy to be drawn to someone new, where it is still easy to be open. Knowing this, seeing this, Spock finds it easy to be hopeful.
By the next Saturday, Sevin has accumulated a small cache of surprisingly elaborate stories about his new friends, which he shares with his dad and Bones over lunch at a café down the street from their apartment. It is a bitterly cold day, of the type Jim has learned not to expect from San Francisco, but at least he has experience with the way sharp air feels when you breathe in, with wind you feel like cuts against your skin. Sevin, who was born in the desert, and Bones, a veteran of Georgia summers, are not as familiar with these particular elements. Bones grumbles and makes sour faces and then sighs in relief when they step into the bright colors and machine-warm air of the café, but Sevin has his stories to distract him. He tells them in no particular order, one anecdote opening up into another like nesting dolls. He pauses in his narration only when necessary: to tell his dad he doesn't need mittens, really ("Your father would kill me if I let you leave without them," Jim answers), or to ask, when they get to the café, what sort of food there is here, and can they sit in the window?
It's an order-at-the-counter type of joint, with the menu behind the cashier. Bones lifts Sevin up so he can see properly, and makes a big show, as he does, about how heavy he's gotten, and what have you been eating lately, kid, huh? Sevin laughs as Bones sets him back down.
Jim leans over to ruffle his boy's hair and when he looks up, he sees that the cashier is smiling at him. No, she's smiling at the three of them. That's clear, he tells himself, perfectly clear. He'd only thought at first that her eyes were set on him, but now she is taking the whole group of them in. He cannot blame her; his son is adorable. She asks them if they're ready to order, then. Under different circumstances, Jim would lean forward to answer this question, rest his arm on the counter in some practiced casual way, glance at her name tag for just a moment too long, use her name when he tells her that no, he's not quite decided, and is there anything she'd recommend? She's cute, this woman, about his age, with blonde hair that reaches almost to her waist, held back in a braid, and a dusting of light freckles over her nose. She's his type. Most women are. But for some reason, surprisingly, somewhat disconcertingly, he feels no spark between them.
They order too much food and take a leisurely lunch, picking at dishes scattered among them, Jim and Bones listening as Sevin does most of the talking. He and his new friends seem to have hit already on that strange and unnamable quality that defines best friendships, a certain instinctual trust, the discovery of shared interests that seems to create in its turn new loves in common, like a secret language. In this case, there is even a literal secret language, which Sevin references but, unsurprisingly given its name, does not describe in any detail. Bones tells a similarly vague story about secret societies at the University of Georgia back in his day (he makes it sound like his day was when dinosaurs roamed the earth), and gives Sevin all sorts of ideas in the process that will almost certainly bring ruin and disgrace to Jim's ship in the coming years. But Jim doesn't mind. He's thinking about his brother, the closest thing he had to a best friend through most of his own childhood, and he's thinking of Bones, sitting across from him and letting his accent deepen and sprawl, and the first day they met, on the shuttle out of Iowa on the way to a new adventure. Though Bones tells him he shouldn't romanticize. They were both running away. He hadn't known then, couldn't have known, that this angry man with his space sickness and his bitter grumbling voice would turn into his closest friend. He'd long lost that child's easy trust in friendship, if he'd ever been lucky enough to have it, and all he'd thought was who was this guy anyway who looked like he hadn't slept in days, who needed a shave and maybe something stiff to drink, who was desperate and sour and lost. His bitterness was something that Jim needed, somehow, if only to remind him not to rely on beautiful narratives, no matter how tempting, in a world too often defined by emptiness and loss. Bones needed him, too. He needed Jim's ambition and his new-forged optimism and his light-hearted view, his belief that winning is always possible. They tempered each other.
"And we think we've found a place on the playground," Sevin is saying, as he leans forward and pulls himself almost to the edge of his chair, his legs dangling, "that would make a good secret fort, even though Victoria says that's a stupid idea because it will be found really easily and not be secret at all, but Tom and I think it's great. This is why I think that girls aren't any fun. Even though Victoria is fun most of the time." Sevin considers this last statement for a moment, then nods his head once, a reaffirmation. "Yes." He lifts his glass to take another drink of water, but it's empty, and he frowns down into it, surprised and bothered because he hadn't noticed his own movements, his own actions, too caught up in his storytelling. Jim knows the feeling. His own lunch is half gone, and he has no memory of eating, no memory of drinking either, though his glass is empty too.
He shoots Sevin a quick smile, picks up both of their glasses between two fingers, and slides up from his chair. "Be right back," he says. Behind him, he can hear Sevin asking Bones how he would build a fort, if he were to build one, and he finds himself considering the question too, now that it's in his mind to be considered, so that he almost doesn't hear the woman behind the counter asking him if he needs any help.
"Oh," he smiles, the curl of his lips a reflex, "Yeah. Two refills please. Thanks."
"No problem." She flashes him a smile in her turn, then adds, back to him now as she sets the glasses to refill, "You have a very adorable family, you know. I hope that's not strange of me to say. I just couldn't help noticing." The little laugh at the end of her sentence, self-deprecating and soft, is endearing, and in another circumstance or maybe another life he could have fallen in love just there, at the sound of it.
As it is, he doesn't even know what to say. He decides on, "Oh, thanks," and then adds her name, "Chelsea," when she turns around once more. But this is more habit than anything. It's a strange in-between sort of moment. They're both stuck, waiting for the glasses to fill, and she's looking at him and biting the corner of her lip between her teeth; she appears to be on the verge of saying something, while he just stands on the other side of the counter and hopes he didn't sound like he was flirting, just then. She seems to think he and Bones are a couple, and he's not sure how to correct her without making the information sound more significant than it is.
She interrupts his thoughts sharply, unexpectedly, by asking, "How long have you been together?" and he glances up on instinct and looks straight into her eyes. Her expression is open and curious and bright, but still he feels her natural friendliness is being tempered by something else.
"Together? No, Bones—he and I aren't together." He can't quite bring himself to call his friend Leonard, but McCoy will sound too formal to a stranger, and he tries to cover up the slight hitch by leaning forward with his arms crossed and elbows on the table, the slight illusion of conspiracy between them. "It's not like that. We're just friends. Sevin is my son, though."
"Oh! Oh gosh, I'm so embarrassed now, seriously, I didn't mean—" Her cheeks color to the perfect shade of rose as if on command, and she brings up both hands to cover her face in possibly the sweetest gesture he has seen another human being make in years. It is absolutely endearing.
"It's fine," he reassures her, "an understandable mistake. I take it as a compliment, actually."
Her mouth turns up at the corners, a perfect shy smile. "You partner—wife?—probably wouldn't."
"If such a person existed," he answers lightly, "I don't think he or she would be insulted."
The machine behind her clicks off, the two glasses full, and the sound of it coincides and all but covers her small, surprised, "Oh." He wishes he were quick enough to read the emotions that flit across her face, but before he can decipher them, she's turned her back to him again. Perhaps there was pity there, a knee-jerk reaction to the thought of single parenthood, and then guilt, and curiosity, because she's wondering now how to interpret their past conversation, just minutes before. In retrospect, does a certain position of the body, a certain hint of tone, mean something more than she would have dared to admit? He wants to tell her that it doesn't. He flirts on instinct. It means nothing, nothing at all.
She turns toward him again and slides the two glasses across the countertop. He catches her glancing, a quick dart of her eyes and no more, toward Sevin, who is listening carefully and nodding quickly now at some story that Bones is telling. Jim pretends he does not notice, and he smiles again at her, his old charming Jim Kirk smile. It still comes easy. He notices, a similar instinct flaring, the way she curls her fingers against the countertop, the dusting of freckles over her nose, the way her lips curl up hesitatingly, then falter, then try again at that shy awkward smile she wears so well. He could turn back to his table now. He should. But he waits two beats too long and then she's saying, "I'm surprised," standing up on her toes as she says it, as if to get his attention, as if to call him back to her.
"That you don't have anyone. I mean that you're—not married." She tilts her head, turns the power up on her smile. "Handsome guy like you."
He can't help a small laugh, a "ha" that edges into an "oh" and then into an almost inaudible sigh; he's flattered, and it's true that she is quietly and simply beautiful. "Thank you," he says, and tries to keep his own expression open even as hers falters and falls closed. He's still holding on to the two glasses. They're filled to the brim with cold water and they're sweating and his own hands feel clammy where they're wrapped around the glass. "I'm flattered. But I'm not looking—"
"Oh of course." She has her hands deep in her pockets now and her shoulders slightly hunched, and he thinks he must be crazy not to say anything now, not to set down the glasses again and try something like well actually I've been thinking I might try again, or to talk about exceptions or time for a change. She is lovely. He can already tell. But where usually his mind would be full with bright, scattered images of them, reaching for her hand over the table at dinner, first kiss at her front door one hand gently at her waist, her smile in the morning soft and sleepy and her body so warm—right now he sees nothing. He sees the woman in front of him, pretty and kind. He feels the empty space where the spark should be, and isn't.
So he just says, "Thank you," and shoots her another friendly, means-nothing smile, and returns to the window table where Bones and Sevin are still debating the pros and cons of a playground fort.
"Sorry it took so long," he interrupts, as he slides back into his seat, passes one glass across the table to Sevin.
"It's okay, you weren't gone very long," Sevin answers cheerfully, and does not seem to notice the look that Bones is giving Jim, frowning and suspicious.
"Can't imagine what it was that distracted you," he mutters.
Jim glares at him and hopes his son doesn't see.
"I was just having a conversation," he says, and this isn't quite the voice he used to use when Bones would tease him, gruff-voiced and his eyes rolled up to the ceiling, about his tireless flirting, and he would adopt in turn a mock defensive tone. Of course I have some standards. You never see me flirting with you, do you? But then Bones's tone was a little off, too, bordering on accusatory and no joke beneath to lighten it.
"A conversation about what, is the question," he answers.
Sevin is glancing between them, suspicious and curious, and so Jim changes the topic quickly and hopes he won't pursue it. He doesn't. In the back of his mind, Jim's still thinking about the cashier, about Chelsea and her freckles and her small white teeth, but more than that, he is thinking about Spock. He wishes he weren't. There's no reason he should. Yes, their son, sitting across from him, his hair and his ears and his face so much like Spock's, but if he's guilty, and he is not sure he's guilty, it isn't because of Sevin.
"So being a dad means I'm not allowed to flirt?" he asks, later, more harshly than he'd meant to as he pops the cap off of his beer and glares out past Bones's shoulder.
"Maybe not in front of your kid," Bones answers.
Jim just frowns at him, and taps his smallest finger against the neck of the bottle like he's thinking. But he isn't really thinking. There's a blank red spot in his mind, annoyance, exasperation, and it's directed toward himself, scrambling his reason. He's not used to the feeling.
"I wasn't flirting," he says, finally, after such a space that the words, even if true, have been completely deflated of meaning.
"Sevin didn't notice anything," Bones answers. He opens his mouth to say something more, and then closes it again. Jim doesn't ask him what's on his mind; he's got a couple of ideas and he doesn't want to hear any of them spoken out loud.
But even though Jim wishes he wouldn't, Bones tells him, "He wants you and Spock to be in a relationship, you know," and it's said and out there, and Jim sets his beer down on the countertop behind him, and licks his lips once thoughtfully.
"Of course he does, he's a kid and we're his parents," he answers. "He wants us to be a traditional family, and I can't blame him for that. But it isn't going to happen."
"Really?" Bones asks, his eyebrows disappearing up into his hair. It's been a while since he's sounded quite this skeptical, and Jim's a bit insulted.
"Unless you're seeing something I'm not," he says, "then yes, really. Spock and I aren't—we're friends and we're colleagues and we're parents together, and we aren't anything else. And we're not going to be."
Even he hears the disappointment in his own voice, and to hide it, he picks up his beer again and takes a long drink. He pretends not to notice that Bones is still watching him, with that look he wears when he thinks Jim has gotten some daft strange idea in his head and he's afraid to be around for the fallout. When Bones asks him if he's really sure about that being friends thing, Jim tells him to shut up, sounds angrier than he is, but in return gets no more than a short scowl and a suggestion that they go out to dinner tonight, instead of shopping. They do, and the conversation drops. They do not pick it up again.
In chapter forty-eight, Spock celebrates a birthday, and Jim meets more Vulcans.