This is it… the final chapter.
Jim walked slowly and carefully out into the main lobby of medical as if he was carrying something precious, which in fact he was. Abby was bundled in a pink blanket that Chapel had conjured from somewhere with only her round face showing. Less than an hour into this whole parenthood thing, Jim was as nervous and excited as he could remember being. He could barely take his eyes off his daughter, a goofy smile still on his face, as he followed McCoy.
"Well, it's a wee lassie!" he heard Scotty declare, "looks like the prize goes to Delhorah in Botany."
His words didn't make any sense to Jim, but he did look up and finally take in everyone who was gathered. It seemed like every nurse and tech who worked in Medical was present, along with his entire command team – Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov – Marissa's boss, Lieutenant Commander Roose, two aides from the library whose names he couldn't remember, Marie and Nala from Cartography, Hannity from communications, and his yeoman, Janice.
"What are you all doing here?" he asked in shock. When Bones had said people were waiting he hadn't expected this many.
"I was told that it was customary for friends and family to await the news of the birth of a child at the hospital," Spock spoke calmly. "Dr. McCoy has kept us informed of Ensign O'Donnell's progress throughout the day and since alpha shift has been over for 2.8 standard hours, it seemed prudent to wait here for news."
Uhura looked fondly over at Spock and then smiled at Jim. "We all wanted to be the first to know," she told him. "After all, we knew she was in labor before you did."
Jim's eyes boggled. "You did?"
"Of course, Captain," Uhura smirked. "We kept you occupied during your shift so that Marissa could go through the early stages in peace. You didn't honestly think that I needed you to listen to all those subspace feeds, did you?"
"And I really didn't need you to look over all that paperwork I gave you," Janice chimed in. "I could have done it myself, but, well, I promised Marissa when the time came I'd keep you as busy as possible until she said otherwise."
Shaking his head in bemusement, Jim chuckled. "Thanks, I think. The Klingon attack was a bit of an overkill, though."
Everyone except Spock laughed at his quip.
"So what are the lassie's vitals," Scotty called out from behind everyone, PADD in hand and fingers poised to type.
"Born today at 1914," McCoy told everyone, "52 centimeters and 3.34 kg."
Scotty started mumbling to himself, but no one paid him any mind.
"And her name?" Janice prodded.
"Abby," Jim told them with a smile. "Abigail Rose Kirk."
"Yes!" Uhura hissed. "Scotty, you owe me big."
"What's going on?" Jim finally asked, looking pointedly at Uhura who started to blush.
"It appears that Lieutenant Commander Scott has created numerous betting pools as to the sex, date of birth, size, and name of your child, Captain," Spock told him succinctly.
"Seriously?" Jim asked, looking around at everyone. "Scotty?"
"Weel, Capt'n, you canna be blaming a man for a wee little pool, can ye?" Scotty asked innocently, looking up from his PADD.
Jim laughed. "I guess not. So who won?"
"Crewmen Delhorah won for date of birth and sex at 2 to 1," Scotty told them. "Ahhh, Lieutenant Christoph for size at 2 to 1, and Ms. Uhura cleaned me out for the lassie's name."
"How did you know?" Jim asked, looking over at Uhura in amazement. "I didn't tell anyone, not even Marissa, about what names I was thinking of."
Uhura rocked excitedly on her heels, looking smug. "Well, Marissa told me about your deal – boy she names it, girl you name it – and I saw that you were looking through baby name databases and I… I made a few guesses. Scotty gave us three entries and I picked Carolyn, Abigail and Amanda."
"Why those names?" Janice asked curiously.
"Because they mean joy or love in some way, and I thought… it just seemed fitting," she told them with a shrug. "And I figured you were a classic kind of guy."
"Vhat does Abigail mean?" Chekov questioned.
"Father's joy," Jim said softly, looking down at Abby still asleep in his arms. He looked over at Uhura. "You're right. It just seemed fitting. So how much did you make?" he asked when it looked like all the females in the room were getting teary eyed.
"Well I put down thirty credits. What were the odds Scotty?" Uhura asked.
Scotty grumbled something under his breath.
"What was that?"
"Ten to one," he said sadly. "You're wiping out me profits, lass."
"I want it tomorrow by the beginning of alpha shift," she told him smugly. "Cash only."
"Can we see little Abby, Captain," Lieutenant Commander Roose interrupted. "We've been waiting on pins and needles."
"Of course," Jim replied stepping forward.
"Now we're not going to be passing her around like a rugby ball," McCoy commented, standing next to Jim with his arms crossed. "She's not even an hour old. She doesn't need to catch any of your germs. You can look but not touch."
There were disappointed sighs from the women in the room, but Jim was fine with McCoy's decree. He didn't want to let go of her just yet.
The women stepped forward first, ohhhing and ahhhing over Abby's sleeping form. They called her adorable and precious and beautiful. All of which Jim agreed with whole heartedly. The men were quieter, but no less admiring.
"You'll need the proverbial shot gun soon, Captain," Sulu commented with a smirk.
"She's a wee little angel, Capt'n," Scotty crooned, reaching out to touch her cheek but stopping as McCoy cleared his throat pointedly. Smiling up at Jim, Scotty shrugged. "You can't blame a man for appreciating such beauty."
"No, I can't," Jim agreed.
"You've done a fine job, Capt'n," Scotty told him, clapping him on the shoulder. "I look forward to watching the lass grow up on our ship."
"Thanks, Scotty," Jim told him, "But Marissa did all of the work."
"But you planted the seed lad," Scotty chuckled, clapping his back as he laughed at his pun. "If she's even a little like you, this ship isn't going to know what hit it once she starts walking and talking. Have the whole crew wrapped around her little finger, she will."
"Lord help us," McCoy rolled his eyes, though he looked fondly at the pink bundle. "I still maintain that one Kirk on this ship is enough. Let's hope she takes after her mother."
"I imagine Kirk blood runs pretty strong doctor, but we shall see," Scotty commented as he walked out that door. "We shall see."
Soon, the only two left were Spock and Uhura, everyone else having already seen Abby and paid their compliments.
"Would you like to hold her, Uhura," Jim asked, noticing how she had been watching Abby the whole time.
Startled, she looked up at him with wide eyes. "Really?" she glanced between Jim and McCoy. McCoy just shrugged.
"You did win that betting pool," Jim remarked, walking over and carefully transferring his daughter into Uhura's arms.
"Hello Abigail," Uhura whispered, rocking her gently as she began to stir at the change in arms. "You are so very beautiful. Spock isn't she just wonderful?" she asked, not looking away.
"She is most pleasing to look at," Spock replied, his gaze focused more on Uhura than the baby in her arms.
"I think she looks like Marissa," Uhura told them. "She has all that hair; and her nose, I think."
"Her face is entirely too round to make such comparisons," Spock commented logically. "She looks like herself."
At that moment, Abby decided to yawn widely, causing Uhura to smile even wider, and then her eyes opened and she blinked blearily.
"She does have the same eye color as the Captain," Spock pointed out.
"They're beautiful," Uhura cooed. "You're going to be a heartbreaker, aren't you sweetheart?"
Abby decided she didn't care one way or the other about the color of her eyes as she began to whimper and squirm.
"All right, show time is over," McCoy told them, even as Jim was moving to take Abby back. "I think she might finally be hungry."
Reluctantly, Uhura gave her back to her father. "She's wonderful, Jim," Uhura whispered to him.
Jim grinned, unable to hide the pride he felt as he looked down at his daughter. "Thanks. I think she's pretty amazing myself."
It was the middle of gamma shift and Jim was sitting in a chair next to Marissa's bed, Abby sleeping peacefully in his arms. He didn't want to put her down. They'd made it through two feedings already, Marissa handling it like a pro once she figured out the best way to hold her. There had been several dirty diapers, though none of them had really smelled that bad. The stub of her umbilical cord still gave him the shivers whenever he saw it, but it was the only part of his daughter that he didn't adore.
Bones had said that Marissa could be released back to their rooms in the morning as long as she promised to rest whenever Abby was and to not lift anything heavy for a few days. Jim would have an ambassador to deal with in two days, but until then Spock was more than willing to watch over the ship. Until then, he'd get to enjoy his new family and help Marissa.
As he sat through the night listening to Marissa's soft breathing and watching Abby's face shift and grimace as she slept, Jim couldn't help thinking of his own parents.
How could his mother have let his father's death sever her relationship with her children? He knew that if anything ever happened to Marissa it would only make Abby that much more important to him; his last reminder of what they had shared. He could only hope that Marissa would feel the same way.
It felt morbid to be thinking about his or Marissa's deaths, but he couldn't help it. Abby was here and she was a part of their future. They had to plan accordingly and make sure she was cared for no matter what happened. Nothing was certain in space; in fact it was down right dangerous, as Bones liked to point out. They had to make sure that Abby would be loved and taken care of. Something that he and Marissa would have to discuss later.
Abby gave a small, quivering hiccough and Jim smiled down at her. Like Scotty, he was looking forward to watching her grow. She was only hours old, but already he was wondering what she would be like when she was walking and talking. Would she be the quiet, intelligent type, or would she be wild and daring? Would she be interested in dolls or engines? Right now she was just a newborn, but soon, all too soon he was sure, she would develop her own personality and have her own little quirks; she would be part Marissa and part him, but all Abby in her own special way.
It hurt to think that something might happen and he could miss it all. The life of a starship captain was not without its perils and he couldn't give only half measure because he was now a parent. That would not be fair to himself or his crew – or even Abby. He couldn't live with himself if he didn't do his best for everyone concerned. He'd be only half a person, half a parent, if he compromised on anything. He'd sacrifice anything to keep his crew and his daughter safe. Like his father had.
The sound of the door swishing open caused him to look up and see McCoy entering the room quietly.
"What are you doing here?" Jim whispered, causing the older man to jump.
"Damn it, Jim!" McCoy scowled at him. "I was checking on Travers and his collapsed lung, if you must know. I thought I'd see how everyone was doing while I was here."
"We're fine, Uncle Bones," Jim smirked. McCoy just rolled his eyes at his new title. "Miss Abby has eaten twice and I've changed her diaper three times – all by myself, no less."
McCoy raised his eyebrow ironically. "I'm impressed," he said as perched on the arm of Jim's chair to get a better look at Abby. "She's pretty amazing, isn't she?" he commented, laying his hand softly on her head.
"Yeah, she is," Jim agreed, staring down at her.
They sat and watched her sleep for a few moments, before Jim cleared his throat and looked up at McCoy.
"You know Bones, I get it now," he said quietly, looking back down at Abby. "What my father did. I get it. I'd do the same thing and not even blink if it meant nothing would happen to Abby. I'd miss… everything and the thought almost kills me, but I wouldn't regret it. Not at all. And I wouldn't want her to regret it either."
McCoy looked down at him, squeezing his shoulder, his eyes filled with so many emotions. "You're going to be a hell of a dad, Jim," he told his friend, "Abby's a lucky little girl."
"Thanks, Bones," Jim smiled softly. "I hope so."
"Well, I haven't any doubts," McCoy smirked. "Now get some sleep - doctor's orders. She's not going to be this docile for long. Not with your genes."
Getting up, he left the room without a backward glance. Jim stood up and gently placed Abby's sleeping form in the bassinet Chapel had wheeled in. "I hope I'm half as good at this fatherhood thing as you deserve, baby girl," Jim told her as he stroked her cheek with one finger. "I love you."
Turning, he climbed onto the biobed behind Marissa, placing one arm around her waist as he snuggled up against her. This had been the best day of his life.
Wow, it's finished. I can't believe I started this way back in February! I can't thank TalesFromTheSpockSide enough for inspiring me with her stand alone Hero. And thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed and alerted and all that jazz. I try to write for myself, but I love the reviews.
Are the tales of Jim and Marissa and Abby over? Not yet. If you haven't seen it, I've been posting a Five and One called Parenthood: the Sexless Frontier. It's basically a bunch of one shots of Jim and Marissa's attempts to have a sex life after Abby was born – mostly from Jim's POV, because honestly, what woman is really feeling sexy anytime within the first six to nine months after giving birth? It's got some humor, it's got some drama and it has some warm-fuzzies for new dad Jim. Oh, and it has smut. ;-)
I'm also planning another series of one shots tentatively called: First Meetings and Quality Time – stories of when the crew (and others in Jim's and Marissa's lives) gets to meet and spend time with Abby. There will be a loose plot line working its way through the story, but the main focus will be Abby and those around her.
And finally – is Abby going to be an only child? I don't think so. The ideas are slowly percolating in my mind.
Thanks for a great ride! - RA