Chapter 9

Day 216; 7:05 am, Kirk Family Farm

Winter had finally hit Riverside. They had been predicting snow for nearly a month now but finally, three days ago Jim had woken up to the sight of snow covering his property in a thick, gleaming white blanket. He had felt giddy as a small child again at the sight. He would get a true white Christmas with his family this year. Jim smiled and placed a hand against his abdomen where his child kicked enthusiastically against his stomach. His precious child was as strong as it's Daddy.

Jim's smile faltered at the thought of Spock and an ach began to form around his heart at the thought of all Spock had missed and was going to miss. It had been eight months since Spock had been here, eight months since Jim had last be able to talk to him. Jim didn't know why Spock didn't reply to any of his letters. There were so many different thoughts and fears Jim had about that. Spock may have been disgusted by Jim being a boy, even though he would have to admit to the emotion, or perhaps he was simply so focused on his schooling and getting that completed so that he and Jim could marry, or maybe someone at the consulate was tossing out the letters as Jim sent them. That was the option Jim hoped most for because it meant Spock wasn't regretting their time together or the promise he made to find and marry Jim when they were both adults. Jim hoped that even if Spock was busy with school he would find the time to send Jim a message to at least confirm he received the letters and pictures Jim sent.

"It is a lovely time of year, is it not?"

Jim turned to look at Dr. Phlox who had quietly snuck up to stand beside him at the window, looking out over the back field. "Yeah it is pretty spectacular looking this year. Cold though."

"Indeed. Although, I myself have come to quite enjoy the opportunity for the snow even if it is a bit cold." He took a large drink of his steaming tea. "There is little chance for snow when one spends a great deal of time in space."

"True. I guess it is nice to have a holiday on land."

"Indeed. The chance to spend a special occasion with ones loved ones is always enhanced when you can spend it in your home."

Jim nodded and the two fell into a comfortable silence as they watched as the snow fell in graceful, twirling dances from the looming clouds.

Tomorrow was the day before Christmas and Aurelan, Sam and Mr. Freedman seemed to have gone into overdrive to make all the last minute preparations for a big holiday dinner. Sam and Mr. Freedman had spent nearly a week getting decorations out of the attic, cleaning them off and putting them up. That of course had necessitated several trips into town to get new bulbs, which in turn led to Aurelan picking out several entirely new decorations for both the inside and outside of the house. It had left Sam complaining for days about how they should have burned the stack of Martha Stewart magazines when they found them boxed up in the attic.

There were hand made garlands over the fireplaces and on the stair railings, a wreath on the doors, soft strings of yellow Christmas lights along the walls in all the main rooms and mixed in with the garlands on the banister, and several stuffed and plaster Santa's scattered throughout the rooms. All the tables had new Christmas themed table runners and candles on them that Aurelan had either bought in the Markets in town or stitched together from scraps of fabric. Heck there was even a glowing pair of whicker raindeer in the front lawn. Jim couldn't remember the house even being so festive, not even when he was little and his Mom was still around. Aurelan was a fabulous Mom. Little Peter was a lucky baby.

"How are your classes going," asked Dr. Phlox, breaking the welcome silence.

"They're okay. The computer programming classes are a breeze. I can probably get a masters in two, three years tops. Philosophy isn't bad although the teacher is a douche. He talks in monotone and doesn't seem to care about what arguments we propose, but whatever. There is a new class that looks cool, The History of Classical Warfare. I might take that just for a lark."

Dr. Phlox seemed to realize that trying to argue for the professors side might be wise. He was glad though to see Jim taking such an interest in his schooling and so he gave Jim a smile and carefully led him to the table. "Sit and relax, dear boy. Have you eaten? Of course not. I'll make you something."

Jim watched the doctor putter about in the kitchen. He pulled out a package from the refrigerator. Jim had been curious about it but not really willing to ask the Denobulan what it was exactly that he had brought with him this time. Whatever was in the bag seemed to require use of the stove to cook though. Jim cocked his head to the side as the smell of cooking meat, not any that he recognized, filled the kitchen. For a moment he was worried about his stomach rebelling like it had taken to doing with most red meats, but the rich heady scent of spiced meat cooking on his stove wasn't making his stomach roll. If anything it was making his stomach cry out with hunger pains, as if he hadn't eaten in days.

Jim was practically wiggling in his seat as he watched the pink sausages cooking while Dr. Phlox went about making a leafy green salad with lots of fresh romaine lettuce, orange pieces, chopped up carrots, grapes, corn, spinach and croutons. All the fruits and vegetables were freshly grown on the farms in and around Riverside, some even from his own garden out back.

Dr. Phlox smiled widely at Jim as he made up two large plates covered in salad and sausage. "Denobulan sausage," stated the doctor as he set the plate before Jim.

Even cooked, the sausage was a soft, almost pastel pink color. "Denobulan sausage is one of my favorite foods. Eat up because it is full of excellent vitamins and proteins or you."

"Oh God," Jim moaned around a mouthful of food. "This is great. Mmmm…so good. Almost as nice as a red velvet cake…or mmm….maybe a double dutch chocolate cake with fudge icing."

Dr. Phlox chuckled as he watched Jim devour his breakfast. "You are one of the few Humans I have known who as not reacted negatively to Denobulan sausage."

Jim wanted to be angry at being an experiment but the food was just too good to care. There were still a large number of foods, besides the ones he was allergic to, that left him tossing his cookies. So it was nice to find another meat based food he could eat. He was getting tired of chicken and fish.

"I wonder," Dr. Phlox looked around as if he could see through the walls. "Where is your brother and Mrs. Aurelan today?"

"Prob'ly getting some private time in while they can. Little Peter has one heck of a set of lungs on him."

"Aw…nap time for the parents it is." Dr. Phlox gave Jim a wink. "Their delay shall simply leave more sausage for the two of us."

Jim smiled and speared a large piece of sausage off the doctor's plate. "Only if you can keep up old man, I am eating for two."

Dr. Phlox let out a surprised bark of a laugh as Jim winked at him and devoured the sausage. "A challenge it is, then."

With wide grins and full of laughter the two set to eating everything they could off the table. A warmth of pleasure filled Jim as he watched the old Denobulan joke with him. He was finding himself very lucky in many ways. Although he didn't have his biological Mother or Father here he did have his brother's family and the family he was choosing to build. He had Scott who had become a second brother, Mr. Freedman who had become a surrogate Father for him and now he had Dr. Phlox as well, who was becoming like a Grandfather. And somewhere out there he had a husband waiting for him and a Mother and Father-in-law.

"Ugh," Sam moaned from the doorway, "What are you guys eating? It smells awful in here."

Jim swallowed the chunk of sausage in his mouth a turned to smile at his brother. "Dr. Phlox made a Denobulan breakfast. You should have some, it's good."

Sam gave what was left of the lurid pink sausage the stink eye and made a quick beeline past the table into the kitchen. "That's okay. I think I'll just stick with some coffee and oatmeal."

"You sure?"

Sam swallowed hard as he watched the two slice into the sausages. "Yeah. Definitely sure."

Sam looked away from the table and went about brewing a fresh cup of coffee and getting the oatmeal started his wife and himself. He couldn't imagine that Aurelan would want any of that monstrosity either. "So," Sam leaned against the counter. "What are your plans today, Jim?"

"Well, Aurelan and I are going to go into town for a couple hours and get some Christmas shopping done."

Sam nearly chocked on his own tongue in shock. "Fuck! Jim, it's the 24th already! It's going to be a madhouse."

"Perhaps," Jim took a sip of his tea, to hide the smile trying to stretched across his face. "But the savings from all the last minute sales this year will be pretty good. From what Anne said most of the town has already completed their sopping and a few of the stores ended up with last minute deliveries on popular items, which has left them overstocked."

"God," Sam rolled his eyes and laughed softly. "You really are a girl."

Jim stuck out his tongue and blew a raspberry at his brother while Dr. Phlox simply started laughing at them both. The three men spent the next twenty minutes laughing and joking as they ate their breakfast and waited for Aurelan and baby Peter to come down.

It was going to be a good day. Scott was going to be back until after the new year and he and Mr. Freedman would be over to the farm this afternoon and would have dinner with them tonight. A big family holiday dinner. It made Jim feel warm inside at the thought. He had never had one of those before. His Mom was gone…Frank, well Frank was never family, and Sam had been away for a long time. But Sam was back, and he had brought two new wonderful people into Jim's life. He wouldn't say the old anger and hurt at his brother's abandonment was entirely gone. It wasn't. It would likely be there for years. A wound that deep didn't fully heal overnight, but Jim was able to better understand now. Even if he was still hurt he didn't want to miss out on knowing his brother and his family. Spock, Sarek and Amanda had begun to help him heal and realize he wanted to be part of a family. He wasn't going to let that precious gift go to wasn't just because he was hurt. Sam had been a child and so had he and children made mistakes.

"You boys sound like you are having fun."

The three turned to see Aurelan, holding baby Peter, walking into the room. She gave them a wide smile and placed a quick kiss on her husband's head as he stood to offer her his seat. Jim couldn't help but smile at the two because it was terribly obvious how smitten they were with each other. He wondered if Spock and he had looked like that, if Sarek and Amanda had guessed at just how close the two of them had gotten in those few brief days. Did they suspect but simply believe neither Spock or he would act on the attraction? Did they not even think it would be a problem, thinking Jim was just another boy and not the same type of threat a girl would be to their son? Did they see that Jim had been a girl and just not believe either of them would be so irresponsible as to have unprotected sex? So many what ifs.

"Well, Jim," Aurelan smiled at Jim as Sam and Dr. Phlox coo'd over little Peter. "Are you ready to go?"

"Yeah. But don't you want anything to eat first?"

Aurelan laughed. "No. Your nephew woke me about 3am for a feeding and I ended up eating a bowl of corn flakes."

"If you're sure?"

"We can stop and have some lunch in town, just the two of us, before we come back. Paul should be back from the shuttle port at the construction yard by the time we get back."

Jim couldn't help but smile at the warmth that suffused him. "Alright, let's head out then. There's gift shopping to be done."

11:15 am, Daisy's Diner, Riverside, Iowa

Daisy's Diner was a kind of kitchy throwback dinner, but Jim loved it. The diner had been created by a retired Starfleet instructor and his wife. Dale Johansen had taught introductory chemistry at Starfleet for years where he met and married Lissan P'Trell of Andora. Two years ago the couple had moved back to Riverside and become the first interspecies couple to live in the small town. Jim could remember the stir it caused at the time, but fortunately the people of the town were generally kind and after they got to know Lissan, they had welcomed her into the fold. It didn't hurt that Lissan had a fondness for 20th century Earth cultures. About four months after moving into town she had open a small roadside style diner. It was this beautiful steal building with wide windows stretching the length of the front and side with sun yellow cloth awnings and gentle curves at the corners and the red roof top, the steal walls looked like high end corrugated steal that turned into Greek style columns at the corners. The steal walls were aglow with the blue and gold Christmas lights reflecting off both the steal and the snow on the red painted roof.

Aurelan held a tight grip on his elbow as they got out of the compact hovercar and headed inside. Lissan's staff always took care to make sure the walkway into the diner was safe but Jim's body had become noticeably bulky and he could no longer see past the swell of his belly. Aurelan, like the Docs, Sam and Mr. Freedman all seemed to be obsessed with protecting Jim from every imaginable threat both real and, well, imagined.

The inside of the diner was as warm as a summer breeze and covered in tinsel and paper reindeers. A Santa and Mrs. Claus doll set, complete with knitted red suites were standing by the register holding in place a little sign wishing those entering the diner a 'Happy Holiday.' Lissan, who seemed to be here every time Jim came in, was working behind the counter, serving up steaming cups of coffee to the few patrons at the counter as Andrea Nakamura waited on the people in the booths.

Lissan was a beautiful woman. Jim was certain that the snow and winter cheer was making her even more beautiful. The artic blue of her skin and the lush white of her hair very much fit winter in Riverside. She smiled at the sight of Aurelan and Jim and waved them towards the counter. Jim smiled and pointed at his stomach, which would make sitting at the counter impossible. Lissan let out a tittering laugh and waved them towards the booths, shaking her head.

Jim led Aurelan to a corner booth that had an excellent view of the rest of the diner and the entrance. The windows surrounding the booth were decorated in a thin layer of lace-like frost, giving the world outside the diner a hazy almost dream like quality. Andrea came over rather promptly, barley blushing at Jim's baby bump, and rushed back to the counter to hand over the order. After that Aurelan and Jim slipped into a long conversation, sharing stories about Sam as they waited for their food and slipping smoothly into the story about Jim and Spock as they ate. They were so enjoying their meal and the conversation that time was passing quickly and neither noticed the figure passing by the window that saw them and froze, a shark like smile stretching across his features.

Frank had been watching and planning since that day at the Market, almost three months ago. He knew that he could do it. He could do what Kodos had been unable to. He could kill Jim Kirk. He knew the moment he had seen the little freak sitting next to the little slut in the diner that today was the day. She might be fully human and a married woman but she had made the mistake of accepting Jim as human and that blue skinned bitch as human as well. Anyone that could accept those alien freaks as anything but unnatural deserved the fate he would deliver unto them.

Slowly moving away from the lighted front of the diner, Frank smiled and rubbed his hands together. He would head back down the street to where his truck was parked and wait for the two to leave. It would be far too dangerous to do anything while they were in the populated areas of the town, but once they were out of sight he would be free to enact his revenge.

An hour passed slowly, nearly too slowly for Frank's over excited nerves. It felt like everyone walking around outside was watching him, hat they knew what he was planning to do. If Jim and the cunt didn't get out of the Diner soon, Frank wasn't sure what he would do. It was taking too long for them to leave. He had waited so long to get rid of his ex-wife's little fuck up and now it was damn near killing him to wait any longer, now that he was so close to actually doing it.

He had wanted to kill Jim Kirk the moment he laid eyes on the child. He had been mesmerized by those blue eyes and the pale golden hair. The kid had looked like a cherub and it had made his loins burn. But Frank wasn't a fag. For years he had told himself that there was something alien about the kid that could make Frank want to beat him black and blue as he fucked the kid bloody and raw. It was the kid's fault Frank wanted to do unholy things to him. It was the kid's fault Winona left him for the blackness of space and those god-forsaken aliens and eventually the crazy house. And now…now Frank was vindicated. The little freak had proved how disgusting and unnatural he really was by getting knocked up. Finally he had all that he needed to ensure Jim's death.

Jim nearly slipped on a patch of black ice as he stepped off the curb. If the front of the hovercar hadn't been right there he likely would have fallen and broke something. Sam and the others would have had a fit and Jim would have been locked in the house until his kid was like thirty or something. Aurelan had fortunately not seen him slip and grab the car to keep from falling. She had been too busy trying to squeeze yet another package into the backseat, which was already fuller than Jim had thought it would get. They had spent nearly three hours before they stopped for lunch shopping at the smaller boutique shops owned by local craftsmen and they had just spent another two hours at the larger chain store shopping for extra sales items as well as more food for the dinner tonight and tomorrow.

He had finally convinced Aurelan that his swollen feet and aching back just couldn't take anymore and that he needed to head back to the farm and lay down. She had looked embarrassed and ashamed to have realized she may had overdone done it and caused him pain. This pregnancy had been hard on Jim, and Dr. Phlox and Dr. O'Neill had both insisted that Jim stay in bed as much as humanly possible. Dr. Phlox had not been particularly pleased that Jim was insisting he go with Aurelan for some bonding-over-shopping time, but the crafty old Denobulan had given in eventually with many provisions. Once back Jim would be confined to his bed or one of the couches until dinner was ready and would be forced back to bed at the first sign of him tiring. Honestly Jim hadn't argued too much. He was in a constant state of exhaustion right now. His precious little one tended to be quite active at night and Jim was certain the baby was trying out some kind of exotic dance in his belly. And if that wasn't enough his bladder felt like it was going to explode every five minutes if he didn't get up to pee and half the time he found he didn't even have to go once he managed to waddle over to the nearest bathroom. He loved feeling his baby kick and was anxious to hold the precious bundle in his arms, but God there were times when he was in so much pain and just so exhausted that he would wish he had never slept with Spock. He wasn't legally old enough to vote yet and he was going to have a baby. A hybrid baby.

"The car's all warmed up, Jim. Do you need any help getting in?"

Jim grunted as he tried to bend down enough to get in the door. "I can do it, thanks."

Aurelan nodded but kept a close eye on him as he almost collapsed into the seat, both feet slightly slipping out from under him on the frozen pavement as he finally managed to sit down. It took another round of grunting and tugging on his legs to finally get all the way into the small hovercar, which Jim was convinced was not designed with pregnant Humans in mind. If it had, Jim was sure they would have raised the hovercar up from the ground at least by a foot, just to make it easier to actually get in and out.

"All set. Let's head home."

Aurelan nodded and carefully backed the car out of the parking slot and into the road. "Paul and Scott should be here in another hour. Are you excited to see him again?"

"Scott? Yeah, yeah I am." Jim smiled. "I just wish he could be here when the baby is born."

"Mmmm." Aurelan tossed him a glance out of the corner of her eye. "Spock too, I'm sure."

Jim blushed bright red and looked down at his hands, clenched tightly together over his round belly. "Yeah. I wish Spock could be here too. I don't know why he hasn't been able to respond. I suppose Sarek and Mrs. Amanda may have intercepted the letters and blocked them from Spock when they realized what had happened between us. I can't be what they want for their son. I mean Vulcan's have some kind of pre-arranged marriages I think. And, well, if they do that means there is already someone waiting for Spock on Vulcan. Whoever she is, she is probably the better choice of spouse for him anyway."

"I don't believe that, Jim. From everything you told me about Spock, I can't imagine that the girl, whoever she is, is who he wanted to spend his life with. If she was I don't think he would have ever accepted to make love to you. Vulcan's are very strict about monogamy and their bonds. If the bond between this girl and Spock was worth anything to him he never would have touched you or promised to come back for you." Aurelan carefully let one hand release the steering wheel to rest it atop Jim's own trembling hands. "You have to believe in him and the love you shared. It may take time, perhaps even years, but the Spock you told me about would certainly come back for you."

Jim turned to face Aurelan and smiled, his eyes full of tears. "Thanks, Aure-"

The view of the road in front of them suddenly spun and Jim felt the strap of his seatbelt cutting into his tender breasts as it pulled taunt. Somewhere he could hear the sound of plas-steel screeching and crunching under a great amount of pressure. The breaks screeched as the world flipped out from under him. For a moment he was weightless as the sky flipped and danced across his vision.

Jim opened his eyes, unsure as to when they had closed. The world had been moving at super speed and now with the edges of his vision going gray it was as if the world had shifted into super slow motion. He was aware vaguely of the sound of moaning, a voice whispering his name and the cold bite of the winter wind freezing something wet on his face. He looked around. It was hard to focus on anything. Everything felt wrong. The ground seemed to be where the sky should be and it appeared that the front windshield was broken. And what was that red stuff there on the large crack in the glass? His eyes moved catching sight of a pair of worn leather boots standing in the snow next to the passenger side window. There was another voice, harsh and cold as the wind whistling outside. The boots and the body attached to them walked away as the world went dark.

7:35 pm, Kirk Family Farm

Sam wasn't willing to admit he was worried about his wife and brother being gone so long, but he was. They should have been back by six at the latest. Dinner had been scheduled for seven. Aurelan was usually very good about calling if she was going to be running late. She hadn't called though and she wasn't answering her cell either. Maybe she had set it to vibrate? She always missed calls when she did that.

He wanted to believe that, but some part of himself was telling him he needed to prepare for the worst.

"You are worried," Dr. Phlox stated as he walked into the formal sitting room just off the kitchen.

"Yeah. No. Maybe." Sam ran his hands through his hair. "Fuck. I'm terrified. Something happened I just know it."

"Do not fret yourself over much. If they are not answering we can simply have a pair of us head into town to locate them."

"Yeah…yeah, we should do that. Now."

Dr. Phlox nodded as Sam nearly sprinted into the library where Scott and Mr. Freedman were sitting by the fire. "I am going to go lo-"

The sharp sound of the phone signaling an incoming call cut Sam off and he spun around and ran into the kitchen to answer the call.

"Aurelan! Where are-"

Dr. Phlox followed Sam into the kitchen, followed by Mr. Freedman and Scott who wondered in from the library. The three of them stood in the doorway watching as Sam stopped talking, his face going as white as the snow outside before the phone slipped from his hand. Mr. Freedman moved over to pick up the phone as Dr. Phlox carefully herded Sam into a chair at the table.


"Mr. Kirk," came the voice over the receiver. It wasn't Aurelan or Jim. A cold knot of fear began to grow in Paul's gut. "No, this is Paul Freedman, I'm a family friend."

"Mr. Freedman, is Mr. Kirk there with you."

"Yes, he's here. What is going on?"

"I am Nurse Burke from Riverside General. I'm calling because there was an accident."

The cold knot of fear hardened like a vise around his heart, stealing away his very breath. He wanted to drop the phone. To deny what he was hearing. After everything that Jim had gone through…this was going to happen and on Christmas. Paul said something but he wasn't sure what. His conscious mind cut out and some part of himself went to auto pilot mode, answering any questions he was asked before hanging up. "We need to go to the hospital. There was a car accident."

Paul wasn't sure how they made it to the hospital without causing an accident themselves. They had once again had to fit four people and a baby in Paul's truck, since Sam's car had been in Aurelan's possession during the accident. Scott and Sam had been shoved into the bed of the trunk and they felt as if they were turning into ice sculptures as they speeded down the frozen dirt road to town. It didn't matter though. Nothing mattered at that point except getting to the hospital and seeing Aurelan and Jim. If asked not one of them would have been able to tell you how fast the truck was going or how long it took to get to the hospital. All they knew was they could see the building in front of them, Nurses and Doctors going in and out with gurneys and patients in wheelchairs.

They all pored out of the truck, Dr. Phlox carefully carrying baby Peter in his arms as they rushed into the Emergency Room. The Nurse at the check in station looked up as the rushed up, panting and nearly out of breath from the fear gripping each of them.

"Jim and Aurelan Kirk," Sam practically yelled. "I got a call. Where are they? Are they okay?"

"Calm down, Sir," replied the Nurse. "Let me just check the records for you."

"Yeah. Of course. Plese."

"Dr. Freedman, Paul?" Paul turned around and saw a shaken and bloody Lissan standing awkwardly by the seating area. Sitting behind her Paul noticed her waitress, Andrea rocking back and forth, her knees pulled up to her chest. Both of their faces were streaked with tears, their eyes puffy and red from their crying. There was blood staining their hands and shirts, even some in their hair and across their foreheads.

"Lissan? What are you doing here?" Paul stepped towards her, placing his hands gently on her shoulders.

"Andrea's car wouldn't start so I was driving her out to her parents farm." Her voice cut off as she tried to prevent herself from crying again. "We…we found the car in the ditch." Lissan's hands were shaking. "They were still inside and there was so much blood."

"Paul," Dr. Phlox interrupted the two. "The Nurse has located them for us."

"Are they…" Paul trailed off unsure he could actually say it out loud.

"They are alive. Aurelan is with the Doctors getting her arm put in a cast and going through several minor scans to insure there was no internal trauma."

"And Jim?" Scott looked at the doctor, his hand unconsciously reaching out to grip the sleeve of his Father's shirt.

Dr. Phlox let out a soft sigh. "They have him in surgery. I am going to go back there now to assist. The accident caused a great deal of trauma and we are going to have to do an emergency c-section if we want to save the baby and Jim. Nurse Prattchet here," Dr. Phlox waved towards the idle aged woman standing to his right, "is going to take you to another waiting room. Aurelan's doctor will be by to let you see her once they have her patched up."

Dr. Phlox carefully handed baby Peter over to his Father and gave Scott and Paul one last look before turning and heading into the bowels of the hospital where Jim was waiting to be saved.

10:53 pm, Waiting Room 3B, Riverside General

Sheriff Cotton had been in the waiting room with them for nearly an hour now, asking question after question about Jim and Aurelan. Did they have enemies? Did they have any problems with alcohol? Had either of them had experience driving on icy roads? And a whole host of other irritating questions. Scott and Sam had both looked as if they were on the verge of punching the Sheriff in the face if he asked them anything else. In the end Paul had ended up forcing the Sheriff to talk to him in another section of the waiting room. Eventually, Paul was able to learn that there were signs that the car accident wasn't actually an accident. They had been hit and hit hard enough to toss the smaller, lighter hovercar into the air, through a fence and down into a ditch. There were also signs that whoever hit them had stopped, gotten out of their vehicle and actually walked down the snow covered ditch to look in at them before they climbed back up out of the ditch and drove off.

When Paul had heard that he had wanted to scream and throw things. How anyone could purposefully do this and then just walk away baffled Paul. But as the words sunk in he had realized he knew who could have done this. He had of course told the Sheriff everything he knew about Frank and about the few odd sightings Jim had had of the man following him around town. He had even witnessed one such occasion as well and mentioned that to the Sheriff who looked even more grim with every account Paul could remember. It was with that grim look that the Sheriff had departed to continue the investigation elsewhere.

It was good timing as well since about five minutes later Sam and baby Peter returned from seeing Aurelan.

"She's pretty beat up but the Doctors are saying she will be fine. They are going to keep her here overnight to watch for signs of a concussion from the impact, but she will be able to go home tomorrow."

"That's good to hear," Scott said, resting a hand on Sam's shoulder.

"Any word on Jim, yet?"

"Not yet. Dr. Phlox hasn't come out yet. But I am sure everything is fine. He's a great doctor. One of the best and he'll do good by Jim."

"Yeah," Sam didn't sound very sure, but this was a situation that made it hard to be sure about anything. "Have they given any word about what happened?"

Paul stepped forward and ushered Sam to sit down as Scott carefully took baby Peter from him. While Scott played carefully with Peter, making faces and tickling his belly his Father carefully explained what the Sheriff had told him and what frank suspected Frank had done. Sam cursed and lunged up from his seat meaning to go after his ex-stepfather but Paul grabbed his arm pulling him down into the seat again.

"Charging off all willy-nilly isn't going to help Jim. So sit down and calm down." Paul gave Sam a look all Father's gave their sons right before they were planning on doing something impulsive and stupid. "The best thing to do right now is wait here. Jim is going to need you when he comes out of surgery and you being in jail for attacking Frank won't help anyone. The Sheriff is looking into this and he will make sure all legal recourse is taken to protect Jim and Aurelan."

"Fine," said Sam petulantly. With a gusty sigh he collapsed back into the couch, his resting against the back. "some Christmas this is turning out to be."

"Don't give up yet. There is still time for a Christmas miracle." The three men all looked up at Dr. Phlox who was standing in the entryway looking exhausted.

"Is Jim-" Sam and Scott called out together.

"He is going to be fine. He pulled through the surgery just fine and has been moved into another room where he can rest. We will keep him here overnight and tomorrow we will see how he is doing. If he seems to be doing well we will go ahead and release him along with Aurelan."

"My Godchild?" Sam clutched at Scott's free hand as Scott continued to carefully rock baby Peter.

"A little boy and healthy as can be considering what he has gone through."

"He? It's a boy!" Sam looked delighted.

"Indeed. He is a heavy little thing as is common with Vulcan babies. Quite adorable as well. If you'd like I can take you to see him."

"Will we be able to hold him," asked Scott.

"Not yet I am afraid. He is in an incubator keeping him warm. All signs are showing that he should be healthy but he was born almost 2 months early based on standard Vulcan biology. We want to make sure he will be healthy enough out of the incubator before we start having people handle him."

"Okay, we can deal with that. Lead on, Doc." Sam practically pushed Dr. Phlox out of the room. Scott and his Father followed behind with excited looks. They had been waiting almost as long as Jim had to meet the newest Kirk child.

It didn't take long to make it up one floor to where all the babies were sleeping. As they lined up at the window they gazed out over the rows of sleeping children but didn't spot one that looked like Jim or like a Vulcan. Finally Dr. Phlox smiled and led them to a door on the left of the window. "We shall enter here, but I will need each of you to put on a medical gown and mask."

After receiving nods of confirmation from the three anxious men he led them inside a small room where they quickly dressed into the gown and wrapped up little Peter in his own special cloths. They once again left through another door and entered a larger room filled with clear aluminum baby bed, only these ones had hoods over top and hold in the side with soft gloves attached so that parents could still touch their child without risking it's health. There very only three babies currently in the special beds and Jim's child was easy to spot.

He was a tiny pale little thing, his skin nearly white but for the small hint of green. He was wrapped carefully in little blue footie pj's, his head carefully covered by a little blue cap, which he did not appear pleased with. As they watched the baby wiggled and shifted as best it could trying to dislodge the cap from over his tiny pointed ears. His little face was scrunched up with displeasure, little point eyebrows pressed down toward his eyes as his little lip trembled. They could all see the baby was getting ready to start crying.

Chuckling softly Paul inched up to the crib and went to put his hands in the gloves, glancing over to Dr. Phlox for approval before reaching in and gently slide the cap off the baby's head. Slowly his trembling lip stilled and the displeasure slipped from his face. With a mighty yawn the baby settled back into sleep.

It took a surprising amount of will power not to coo at the little fellow.

"He's perfect," Scott's voice was soft but full of wonder as he looked down at his Godson. "Look at those little ears! Such an adorable little elfling."

Paul chuckled and pulled his hands out of the gloves to ruffle his son's hair. The expression on his son's face as he looked down at the sleeping baby was something Paul knew he would remember forever.

Day 217; 10:00 am, Riverside General

Jim hated being drugged. Really hated…no, loathed was a better choice of wording. He loathed being drugged. It left him far too vulnerable to whatever crazy bastard nearby decided to come after him. And this moment…yeah, this moment just proved that a worthy belief. He ached everywhere, even places he didn't know could hurt did. His eyes seemed to be having a hard time focusing, his mouth tasted of sawdust and his limbs felt as if they were tied down by weights.

He groaned and tried to shift as the shadows in the corner of the room parted revealing a bulky figure sitting across from him. He strained his eyes trying to make anything out, but the figure looked like it was miles away down a dark tunnel, through all the painkillers in his system. "M…" Jim licked his lips trying to brig some moisture to his dry mouth. "Mr…Freedman?"

"Not hardly, boy."

Jim swallowed back a cry of anger and fear. "Frank."

"Thought ya' could get away from me, eh boy?" Frank stood up and stormed over to where Jim was trapped on the bed. He leaned over, his face so close to Jim's that rancid beer breath poured over Jim's face making him want to gag. "Ya shoulda' died out in the snow, ya little fuck. But don' worry, I'll fix that."

Jim tried to wrench his face away only to have Frank rear back and hit Jim, striking the bandages where his forehead had been sliced open by the windshield. Pain exploded along his temple blacking out his vision before he felt Frank's hand on him, pressing down against his stomach. Jim screamed, or tried to, past the filthy hand covering his mouth. His baby! He didn't want Frank touching his baby!

From somewhere deep inside a surge of power flooded through his system like a wave of fire. Jim lurched forward as fast as he could and jerked himself to the other side of the bed, falling with a sharp cry of pain to the floor. For a moment all Jim could do was lay there and gasp through the sharp pain in his arms and rib cage. Slowly the pain faded to a dulled throbbing in his arm, but Jim could feel something was terribly wrong about his ribs. Breathing was becoming difficult and he could taste blood in his mouth. Pulling up as much courage as he could Jim looked up at Frank as he stepped around the bed.

Frank leered down at him, the sick look on his face turning Jim's stomach. "Down on the floor where ya belong, eh boy. Whores like ya belong there, in the dirt."

Frank lashed out with a viscous kick to Jim's stomach and Jim felt his heart stop beating in fear for his child. This time he did manage to scream. Frank cursed loudly and kicked him again.

Jim felt blood pour up his throat as he tried to breath past the screams of pain and fear. Surely someone could hear him? Surely the hospital had a security guard, someone to come save his baby?

"Ya little fuckin' whore!" Frank reached behind him and pulled out a rusty old pistol aiming it at Jim as the door to his room burst open.

The doctors and nurses who had come running thinking Jim had injured himself further froze in the doorway at the sight of Jim laying on the floor coughing up blood, his IV torn from his arm and Frank standing over him with a gun. One of the nurses screamed and Frank spun the weapon over at the crowd. The crowd fled from the doorway screaming out for security as the gun pointed at them. Frank cursed again and swung the gun back towards Jim as a security guard came rushing to the door, his own phaser drawn and pointed at Frank.

"Drop the weapon!"

"Back off you fuckin' mutt," Screamed Frank. "I'm gonna kill the little whore if'n you don' back the fuck up!"

"Look man, even if you shoot him you're not getting out of this. There are too many witnesses."

Frank snarled at the man but didn't lower the gun from Jim. "Doesn' matter. At least this little fuckwit would be gone. It'd be worth it."

Jim whimpered and coughed up a bit more blood, his vision beginning to grey around the edges. Jim tried to move the hand not trapped under his own body over his stomach. His baby wasn't kicking. He couldn't feel it at all. Tears began to fill his eyes as he realized that Frank had killed his baby. His precious little boy. The last proof he had of Spock's love for him. A blood filled sob crept past his lips. "No….No…No…my baby…"

Frank glanced back to Jim and smiled widely at the devastation on his ex-stepson's face. It might be worth it not to kill the little freak if it meant he had to live knowing Frank had killed that creepy little freak baby of his. Frank glanced back to the security guard who had inched further into the room to get a better shot at him. He could shoot Jim but he would get shot as well and that wasn't something Frank wanted. He was willing to spend a bit of time in the pen if he got to kill the little whore but he wasn't about to get injured.

Jim continued to sob, no longer caring if Frank shot him. He had failed. He had failed to protect his own child!

Frank smiled cruelly down at Jim and slowly set the gun on the bed, raising his hands in the air. The guard rushed Frank, yanking his arms behind his back and slamming his face into the bed. Still Frank didn't stop smiling.

A second guard came into the room and helped force Frank out of the room as the doctors and nurses rushed back in to where Jim was laying. Even as the carefully went about lifting Jim up onto the bed he couldn't care. The doctor's kept prying his hand away from his baby bump and Jim kept reaching back for it, hoping against hope that he would feel the flutter of little baby feet.

"We need to get him into the OR stat! We've got internal bleeding!"

"OR is being prepped, Doctor!"

"On the count of three lift him onto the gurney and lets get him out of here. One…Two…Three!" The team of doctors and nurses lifted Jim from his bed to the gurney that had been quickly rushed in. He gurgled out what passed for a whimper as he settled on the gurney and the bed was spun and pushed out the door.

"Out of the way. Out of the way!"


Jim was vaguely aware of catching sight of his brother holding onto baby Peter as he was rushed down the hall and into an elevator. He could hear his brother calling him, chasing after the gurney. As he succumbed to the darkness he caught one last look of his pale face and stricken eyes as the elevator doors closed and he passed out.

10:40 am, Waiting Room 3B, Riverside General

Once again Jim's family found themselves waiting for him to get out of surgery. Aurelan was sitting next to Sam, his arm over her shoulder as she rocked baby Peter and sang softly, trying to keep the baby from picking up on the stress in the room. Scott was pacing the room and playing with his braid, every now and then he would stop and stair at the door as if expecting Jim to just walk in. Dr. Phlox and Mr. Freedman had take to alternately trying to calm Scott down and get him to sit still. It work but not for long. In the end Dr. Phlox had taken Scott back to look at his Godson to keep his mind off Jim. They had remained their for nearly an hour before coming back. Now twenty minutes later the pacing had begun again.

Fortunately this time they did not have to wait long as Dr. O'Neill arrived with the surgeon who had been operating on Jim arrived shortly thereafter. Both were still dress in their bloody operating scrubs, but neither appeared worried or upset. Dr. O'Neill nodded to the surgeon who leaned over to say something to her before he left.

"Well, I am sure you are anxious to know how Jim is doing, so I'll just cut to the news. Jim is fine. Frank managed to re-break his ribs, which unfortunately punctured his left lung. The surgeons managed to fix that up. He will still have some residual pain while breathing for the next 48 hours as the new tissue finishes healing. The bones will still be weak as well so you will need to ensure he has a lot of calcium in his diet for the next week to help his body adjust to having the bone growth sped up twice in such a short amount of time."

"Then he can come home," asked Aurelan.

"I will let him go home with you after he wakes up and passes one last health scan. Just make sure he takes it easy."

"And the baby?"

Dr. O'Neill smiled widely. "The little fellow is doing just fine. It appears that our estimate that his growth would be closer to a Vulcan gestation was incorrect. He is healthy enough to leave once Jim has named him and signed off on the certificate of birth. I would recommend to keep him warm and out of the snow as best you can. Most of genetics are showing as strongly Vulcan. While not being as sensitive to cold as a full blooded Vulcan he will be more vulnerable than a human child."

"That's great." Sam let out a relieved sigh and squeezed his wife's shoulder. "Can we see him?"

"I can't let all of you back there right now, but two of you can head back and sit with him while he sleeps. Once he wakes and goes through the last exam the rest of you can come visit."

"Then I think it should be Sam and Scott who go back," stated Aurelan.

"Really?" Scott looked startled. "But you're his family."

"Maybe, but so are you Scott and you've known him longer and I am sure he will be very happy to see you there waiting for him."

Scott blushed but nodded. He was happy that he would get to be there with Jim. That Jim's family considered him family as well. "Okay. We'll let you know then when he wakes up."

"Of course," Paul smiled at his son. "Don't forget to show Jim some of those pictures you too of his baby. I am sure he'll want to see them."

Sam took Peter from his wife's arms and smiled. Jim would be happy to see his nephew when he woke. Moving to follow Scott and Dr. O'Neill out of the waiting room and to Jim's room Sam couldn't help but wonder at all that had happened in such a short time and how much of a miracle it was that his wife, Jim and his new nephew had all survived. Somewhere up there his Father must be smiling down at them, like the guardian angel Sam was sure his Father had become.

Stepping into Jim's room was not pleasant. Sam had never liked hospitals all that much. They smelled too sterile and the people their always looked so weak and pitiful, as if they were one foot in the grave. It always made Sam shiver. It was like knowing Death was there at your shoulder waiting to snatch you up. He didn't like that feel and he certainly didn't like getting that feeling around his little brother.

Jim was drugged into sleep, his head bandaged, his one eye swollen from where it had struck the dash of the hovercar and Sam could just make out the signs of bandages over his shoulder to help support his shoulder where it had been dislocated and to help support the healing ribs. His brother was, in a word, a mess. Battered, bruise and broken beyond anything Sam had even had nightmares about. The only time he had seen Jim look worse was when Frank had sent him that horrible photo of Jim after he returned from Tarsus IV and that had left Sam so feeling horrified, guilty and all around disgusted with humanity that he had had to burn the photo. He wanted to find Jim but he knew that he wasn't strong enough to face his brother then, not when he looked like something out of an old World War II history book.

Taking a deep breath Sam stepped into the room and pulled up a seat by the bed. He didn't know how long Jim would sleep but his brother would wake to see that this time Sam had not abandoned him.

From the other side of Jim's bed, Scott gave Sam and friendly smile. He knew how hard this must be on Sam and he sympathized. He cared for Jim as well. Perhaps not in such a platonic way as Sam did, but it didn't change how seeing Jim like this made him feel. He would stay here with Sam and watch over Jim to make sure nothing like what happened this morning would happen again.

It was nearly five in the afternoon by the time Jim woke up. Like usual the drugs had effected him more strongly than they did most people. Again his mouth felt dry as a desert and about as tasty, he tried biting lightly on his tongue to produce saliva but it didn't work. Mumbling he tried to open his aching eyes and found only one would work.

"Careful there, Jim." Scott's voice was soft in his ear. "I'm going to put some ice chips at your lips, okay. The doc won't let you have actual water just yet."

"M…My baby." Jim tried to fight back the tears. "He killed my baby!"

"No, Jim," Sam was at his other side now, a sleeping baby Peter in his arms. "Your little baby boy is just fine. We've all seen him." Sam carefully reached out to stroke his hair. "He is a beautiful little baby."

"You'll just love him, Jim," Scott smiled widely. "He is a perfect little elfling. Let me get the doc to do their scans so we can get you up to see the little guy, okay." Scott found he couldn't help but lean down to place a soft kiss on Jim's head before turning to leave the room.

Jim watched Scott leave before turning to look at his brother. "Alive?"

"Yeah, Jim. Your baby really is alive. They had to surgically remove the baby when you first came in last night. So the baby was safe upstairs when Frank attacked you."

Jim let out a relieved sob as all the fear and loss that had overwhelmed him early was washed away. Scott wouldn't have lied to him and Jim was beginning to learn that his brother wouldn't either, not about anything this important.

"It's okay, Jim. Just let it out." Sam carefully ran his hand through his brother's hair as he very carefully held his sleeping son.

"I thought I failed…I thought I had lost the best thing that had ever happened to me." Jim struggled to sit up and press his forehead into brother's stomach.

"I am glad to see you are finally up, sleeping beauty."

Jim whipped his eyes and turned to look at Dr. O'Neill who was standing in the doorway. "My baby…"

"Is fine. Give me five minutes to make sure you are fit enough and then we'll take you up to see him."

Jim nodded and allowed her to step forward to scan her. As always Dr. O'Neill was efficient and profession. She didn't say anything out loud but from the softening of her expression Jim could tell she was happy with what her scans were telling her. "Alright, let's get you into a wheelchair and up to see the little elfling you popped out."

Sam moved to help Jim but was waved away. "Keep your hands on my Nephew, Sam, the doc and Scott can help me up."

Hearing the all clear Scott came back into the room. With great care Dr. O'Neill and Scott helped Jim to sit up and move to the edge of the bed as an orderly quickly rolled in Jim's wheelchair.

Jim looked at in disgust. "Do I really have to use that?"

"If you want to see your son, yes."

"No fair, Doc. Isn't there some kinda law against using a man's son as a bargaining chip?"

"Not in this hospital there isn't. Now get in the damn chair."

Jim couldn't help but crack a smile. For such a sweet-hearted woman she really had the mouth of a sailor and the morals of a pirate when she wanted. "Fine, but next time you have to give me pants. I hate that damn breeze on my ass."

"Keep it up, farm boy and it'll be my hand against your ass."

"Kinky, Doc. Very kinky."

The orderly gave a soft chuckle and winked at Jim as Scott helped him settle in the wheelchair. Dr. O'Neill just gave Jim the stink eye, although Jim was fairly certain that she was as amused as he was by the whole conversation. They made quick progress after that point, although Jim was still unhappy with the paper-like hospital gown.

The floor they needed was actually up two but it felt like a world away. The hallways had lost that depressing gloom that was nearly palpable below, for which Jim was thankful. Jim didn't really want his baby resting anywhere that felt like Death himself was just waiting to sneak in and take you away. Instead his baby was resting in a little hospital room with warm yellow walls with little chubby animals painted on them. It was cute, but maybe just a bit too cute for Jim's taste.

Mr. Freedman was waiting outside the nursery door waiting for them as they approached. The smile that stretched across his face lit up at the site of Jim's approach. "Well, it's about time you woke up. Any longer asleep and Scott or Aurelan may well have run off with your son."

"Dad," whined Scott. "I wouldn't have stolen little Leoglas! I may have been tempted to borrow him for a while, but eventually I would have given him back."

"Leoglas," asked Jim.

"He totally looks like a LoTR elf!"

"Please," Sam rolled his eyes at Scott. "If you are going to name him after an elf from that series he would be better named Elrond or Erestor since they had dark hair like my nephew. And really Jim, you do need to pick a name."

"Wasn't Erestor just a glorified librarian? My Godson is not just going to be a librarian!"

"Says the man studying xenolingusitics as a minor," snorted Sam. "Besides LoTR cannon doesn't really tell you what Erestor does. It's fanfiction that has suggested his possible functions within Elrond's court. Maybe you're reading too much fanfiction between classes, Scott."

"What? Damn it, Sam! I don't read fanfiction!"

"Of course you don't," Sam smirked at Scott.

"Legolas could totally kick Erestor's ass!"

"Says you," Sam smirked at Scott. "Cannon can't prove he could."

"Would you two shut up. Let me at least get a look at my son before you start badgering me about names."

Sam and Scott turned to face Jim. Scott looked embarrassed but Sam just looked amused and unrepentant. Jim sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. Those two were going to make him go gray far more than his son possibly could, he was just sure of it. "Can I please go to see my son now?"

"Of course. Do you need any help, Jim," asked Mr. Freedman.

Jim gripped the armrests on the wheelchair and pushed himself up into a standing position. "Maybe a little. I feel a bit dizzy."

Mr. Freedman reached out and took Jim's elbow, carefully helping him stand as the dizziness passed. "Can you walk into the changing room on your own?"

"I think so. Yeah, yeah I can."

"Alright then."

Mr. Freedman turned and nodded at the other two who smiled. They had been successful in washing away the dark mood that had been hanging over Jim. It might not last forever, but it would at least let him go into the nursery to see his son in a more positive frame of mind.

When Jim finally stepped into the room he saw Aurelan and Dr. Phlox hovering by one of the incubators and knew it was the one holding his son. Steadying himself with a deep breath Jim walked over to them. The two smiled widely at him and stepped back, making room for him in front of the incubator. Carefully he reached out, letting his hand rest atop the transparent aluminum as he glanced down at the sleeping figure inside.

"He's beautiful," Jim wasn't sure why he was whispering but it felt right. Like if he spoke any louder this perfect moment would be shattered. "My little angel."

Dr. Phlox smiled at him and patted Jim on the shoulder. "Have you chosen a name for him?"

For a long time Jim just stared down at that perfect little face. He didn't think he had ever seen anything quite so wonderful before and he knew at that moment that this special little being was his. His to hold. His to love. No matter what the future would bring he knew that he had done at least one good thing in this short miserable life of his. He had brought this little angel into the world.

"Yes, I have." Jim slipped his hand into the glove attached the incubator and gently stroked his son's head. The light dusting of black hair looked so fine and soft. Jim could barely wait to touch it with his own two hands. "Gabriel. Gabriel Erestor Kirk."

In the background Jim could hear Scott cursing and Sam teasing him but Jim didn't care. All his attention was focused on the precious bundle beneath his gloved hands.

8:55 pm, Kirk Family Farm

This Christmas had not gone the way he had planned. In truth it hadn't gone according to anyone's plans, except whatever deity like being may have been floating around the heavens that day near Earth, not that Jim really believed in Gods. Of course he wasn't sure that he didn't believe, he had seen true horrors but he had also seen a miracle in the birth of his son. So there was every possibility that there was some type of deity, just as there was every chance there was none. But right now as he sat on his couch in front of the crackling fire, holding little Gabriel in his arms while his family chatted and laughed and cleaned up the mess of wrapping paper from hastily opened presents, he realized it didn't matter one way or the other. He had a family now, one that loved him and welcomed him into their lives with open arms.

Next to him baby Peter mad a soft gurgling noise as he wiggled his little fists and tried to slip back into sleep. Aurelan gave the men sitting on the floor a sharp look and blushing the men lowered their voices.

"I think that I'm going to head to bed. It's been a long two days for me and Gabriel." Jim smiled down at his sleeping son again, not sure he had the strength to actually place his son in the wooden crib that had been taken from the attic and repainted as a surprise by his brother.

"Do you need any help," asked Scott from where he sat on the floor surrounded by shredded wrapping paper, the ribbon that had be stuck to his head finally falling free.

"No thanks. I think I'll be fine on my own."

"Alright then. We'll try to keep it down." Mr. Freedman stood and moved to placed a kiss to Jim and baby Gabriel's foreheads. "Scott and I will be back tomorrow, so we'll see you then."

"Thanks." Jim smiled as Scott came to give him a hug, careful not to squish Gabriel.

"Get a good nights rest. I expect to see you and my little Legolas all happy and healthy tomorrow."

Jim chuckled but didn't protest the nickname that Scott was insisting on using just to spit Sam. He knew Scott was already head-over-heels for Gabriel. It was obvious. He couldn't help but smile when he looked at his Godson and was constantly finding ways to reach out and touch him. Stroking his hair, caressing the little pointed eyebrows and placing gentle kisses on his little forehead. Scott was in love and Jim couldn't blame him. He didn't think he had ever loved anyone as much as he loved his son.

With one last smile at the others he left the room and headed upstairs. He had a letter to write before he could sleep. This was one that he had to send no matter what. Even if Spock never answered back he would continue to send letters to him about his son. His son deserved to know that Jim was going to do everything in his power to ensure his other Father knew about him and someday they would meet face to face. Even if he had to set fire to the rain to get Spock's attention again, he would do it.

With great care Jim closed the door to his room behind him with his shoulder before approaching the crib where Gabriel would sleep. He took great care in placing his son in the bed and covering him with the jade green thermal blanket. Gabriel sleepily open his blue eyes and let out a large yawn before turning his face towards the soft stuffed leopard resting next to him. Jim had seen it in the window of the toy shop after his third visit to Dr. O'Neill's office in town. The stuffed leopard had called to him, reminding him strongly of Spock. His Vulcan reminded him very much of the large wild feline and it made it seem all the more important to buy it for his son.

Jim smiled and stroked his son's cheeks softly, tracing up over his tiny pointed ears. His son looked up at him and yawned again before slipping quietly into sleep. Jim stood there just watching him sleep for another twenty minutes before he moved to his desk, turning on the playlist he had started for Gabriel. The warm, relaxing sound of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's voice filled the small room with the Hawaiian version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It was an old 20th century song but it was still one of Jim's favorites, reminding him of some of the few good memories he had of his Mom and their family before it had all fallen apart. And now he could play it and hold within it's sound he memory of his son's first night at home.

Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo ooo ooo

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Once in a lullaby

Oh somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true

Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me

Oh somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
And the dreams that you dare to
Oh why, oh why can't I?

Oh someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me

Oh somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dare to
Why, oh why can't I, I?

Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo ooo ooo
Ooo, ah ah….

Day 219; 9:30 am, Vulcan Consulate, San Francisco

Severon had been working in the mail department of the Vulcan Consulate on Earth for 12.5 years and he had completed his job with the utmost of professionalism for the entirety of that time. He would ensure the safety of the members of the Consulate and his people by whatever means were necessary. Lately that need had grown more urgent. At least twice a month for the last eight months the Consulate had been receiving packages from a human addressed specifically to Ambassador Sarek's son. As was his duty Severon had been opening and reading each of the letters in order to verify that they were not a threat. So far he had been unable to forward any of the letters. Each one seemed to be designed to provoke an unacceptable emotional response from S'chn T'gai Spock and that would shame the entirety of the Vulcan people. The son of their Ambassador to Earth could not be seen as a flawed and emotional being. As such each letter had been deemed a threat and had been placed in a secure file. Neither S'chn T'gai Spock or Ambassador Sarek would ever be allowed to see the letters.

The latest letter was the biggest threat out of all the previous letters. Although many of the letters had contained information about a child that the writer, a human designated Jim, was stating belonged to Spock, Severon found no incontrovertible proof that the human was telling the truth. This last letter however made it clear that Severon may have been wrong. The letter had contained a notice of birth with Spock listed as the legal Father of a child designated Gabriel Erestor Kirk born 24 of December 2249. The file had contained a series of photographs of the child, whose physical resemblance to the Ambassador's son was quit noticeable as well as a document showing the genetic proof that the child was the biological son of S'chn T'gai Spock and the human James Tiberius Kirk.

It was something that Severon knew he could not allow to see the light of day. Such a shame as an illegitimate child born from two men of separate species and neither of them legally an adult would bring far too many political complications to the fore at a time when the people of Vulcan could ill afford them. As such the letter had been resealed and placed with all the others in a specially locked file cabinet that only he and the head of security for the Consulate had access to.

July 2250; Kirk Family Farms, Riverside, Iowa

Two years had passed fairly quickly. Still, Jim wasn't exactly that excited about it because today Dr's Phlox and O'Neill's paper about him and his gender transformation and subsequent pregnancy was appearing in the Federation Scientific Journal. It was one of the most important scientific journals in the Federation and thousands of people would be reading it. While it was true that they had changed his name in the published article Jim was still worried that someone would put the pieces together and figure out that subject X was actually James T Kirk. It wouldn't be that hard honestly. All they would need to do would be to scan through all the birth certificates until they found one with two make names listed. After that all they needed was to read the names and then a shit storm would crash down on Jim's little world. Jim could practically see the headlines ... Kelvin Baby Turns Female to Have Alien Baby! ... Hero's Son Impregnated by Vulcan!...There were so many more and some off world papers would probably come up with something really lewd.

He had suffered enough as a child with the media following him around every year on the anniversary of the Kelvin Disaster. They had made sure it was never his birthday, that it would always be the day his Dad died. Jim didn't want Gabriel to suffer that but he knew the paper had great scientific worth. To deny his friends the opportunity to publish a paper that could revolutionize the medical field would be a sin in Jim's mind. So he was preparing himself for the worst and hoping for the best.


Jim smiled at his son. Two years old and already talking enough to order his Daddy and Uncles around. Aurelan and Grandpa Paul seemed the only ones not wrapped tightly around his little angel's finger. Scott and Jim were the worst though. There was nothing that Gabriel could do that seemed to make them any less his minions. It was fortunate for them that Gabriel really was such an angel. Otherwise Jim was sure he would have gotten them all in trouble with the law, not that Jim needed any help with that.

"Daddy! Up!" Gabriel held out his arms, wiggling his little baby fingers at Jim.

With a wide smile Jim scooped up his son and spun him around. Gabriel let out a loud bell like laugh and cuddled into his father. Jim pressed his face into his son hair and took a deep breath. He didn't think he would ever tire of the smell of clean baby.

"Where's Auntie Aurelan?"

"Auntie is outside, Daddy! We gonna have pie!"

"Are we now?"

Gabriel smiled widely and wiggled, trying to get down. "Play now, Daddy?"

"Let me get cleaned up first and then we can play."

Gabriel smiled up at him before turning and running towards the kitchen. Jim followed behind checking to see if anyone was inside. Sure enough little Peter was sitting at the table with some peanut butter crackers. Jim wandered over to give his nephew a quick kiss to the forehead. The door across from the table creaked and Jim watched the door to the mudroom open. Aurelan stepped in with a small tin filled with fresh fruit in her hands. Aurelan gave Jim a smile and a warm hello as she closed the door and moved to set the tin down.

"Did you have a good day at work?"

"Not bad. It's nice to get to do some physical labor every now and then. I mean I love working with Mr. Freedman but it gets so confining just sitting at the reception desk all day. It gives me a great amount of free time to finish up my online classes but I just get so bored!"

Aurelan chuckled. "Well, despite it being boring I am glad you have a good job with Mr. Freedman at the Vet Clinic and at Mr. Blockman's Garage."

"Me to. Anyway," Jim pulled at his grease stained shirt. "I'm going to head upstairs and shower. I'll be clean and ready for dinner in about twenty minutes."

"Alright. I'll keep an eye on the boys." Aurelan turned to look at Jim as he headed up the stairs. "I can't promise to keep little Gabriel out of your bath though!"

Jim couldn't help but laugh as he finished climbing the stairs and headed for the Master suite. His son had a habit of following his Father into the bath every time Jim tried to have one. It was a bit daunting at first but at the same time Jim really loved it. It wouldn't be long before Gabriel thought he was too old to share his Daddy's bath so Jim figured he need to enjoy them while they lasted.

The master suite had been thoroughly cleaned, repainted and redecorated a few months after Gabriel was born. Although he had planed to have Sam, Aurelan and Peter stay there until they had their place ready, they had insisted instead that Jim have that room, the boys stay in Jim's old room and that Sam and Aurelan would use the guest room. He had argued that she and Sam should have the room but the two had been comfortable enough in the guest room after they had remodeled it to have it's own bathroom. Jim knew that if he hadn't nearly been killed the day his son was born they would have bought the small house they had been looking at. Instead they had remained in the small family home with Jim. There was something comfortable about that, knowing that his son was here with Aurelan and was happily waiting for Jim to come home.

Still, there was a lot he couldn't do for his son on his limited income no matter how much help he received. But soon enough he would have completed his Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and Engineering and then he could get a better job and maybe even try for his doctorate. His minors in Classic Earth Literature and Philosophy had been completed for over a year now and he was in fact tempted to try for another. But he had to think of his son and how much time would be spent working on those degrees and how that would affect Gabriel. He never wanted to do anything that would harm his son, even if it was only emotional and not physical.

Jim set his dirty cloths in the hamper and the clean cloths on the counter top. Moving over to the shower he tested the water coming to make sure it wasn't too clod or hot. It was hot, too hot for his son, but he could get in and get the oil and grease washed off and then when Gabriel snuck in they could relax in a bubble bath together before diner.

It didn't take more than five minutes to scrub the sludge from his skin and out of his hair, but by the time he had stepped out of the shower and started to fill the bathtub with clean water, Gabriel was there sitting on the floor by the door watching him. Jim smiled at the sight of his naked son. Gabriel had already pulled off his cloths, leaving a trail of them from the bathroom and into the bedroom and likely to the hallways as well. His stuff companion Leonard the leopard was clutched tightly to his chest, little jade stone eyes staring up at Jim.

"Is Leonard taking a bath tonight as well?"

"No, Daddy! Le'nard is gonna stay here an watch, he's not dirty."

"Ah, so Leonard stayed clean and out of trouble today, did he?" Jim leaned down to ruffle his son's silky black hair. "Did you stay out of trouble for Auntie Aurelan as well."

Gabriel smiled up at his Daddy, his blue eyes alight with mischief. "Of course, Daddy! I'ma good boy!"

Jim laughed and lifted Gabriel up into his arms, carefully setting Leonard on his pile of clean sweats and a t-shirt. "What kind of bubbles do you want tonight, my angel?"


"Alright then. Do you want to pour them in?"

"Yeah! I can pour, Daddy!" Gabriel squirmed in Jim's arms reaching out for the bottle of Vanilla scented bubble bath that was sitting on the shelf next to the bath.

"Alright, but not too much."

"Okay, Daddy."

Jim set Gabriel down in the bath where he went about pouring the bubble bath into the water, giggling as the bubbles began to rise. Jim had to quickly reach out to take the bottle away before he ended up with a bathroom filled to the ceiling with bubbles. Gabriel smiled at him and waited patiently for Jim to climb into the tub and sit down, before he sat in the water as well, his pale little back resting against Jim's chest. Gabriel leaned his head back against Jim's chest, looking up at him with a smile. Jim smiled and ran his hands through his son's hair. Gabriel closed his eyes and leaned into the touch and Jim couldn't help the warmth that filled him at the soft brush of his son's mind against his own.

All was right in the world.

Two Weeks Later; Kirk Family Farm, Riverside, Iowa

"…so then Cadet Mitchell bet the Instructor that we could all pass the survival exam without his aid. So of course Professor M'Riss decided that next month when we take the survival final it'll be a real life test rather than a simulator. Of course we all groaned because Professor M'Riss always goes on and on about Death Valley so it's basically a given that that will be where the test takes place. So now Cadet Mitchell is in the shit hole with the rest of the class." Scott laughed, shaking his head. "Dude will be lucky if he can get laid at all in the next few months. Honestly the guy is an ass, thinks way too highly of himself. One of those guys that thinks he's better than the rest of us and can do no wrong. Doesn't help that some of the Professor's bend over backwards for him because they want to study his high Esper rating."

"Damn, sounds like you're going to be having a lot of fun." Jim laughed as well and took a long drink of his cola.

"Yeah, it's not too bad. You know, Jim, you really should join up. There is so much that you can do with Starfleet and with that brain of yours that you'll never be able to do in Riverside. You would make a great Science Officer or maybe even a Captain one day."

Jim looked down into his drink, his amusement quickly dissipating. "I know, Scott. But I have to think about Gabriel and I don't want him to be stuck waiting for me to come home like I was always waiting for my Mom. It was a horrible feeling, that waiting and I don't want him to think I'm abandoning him."

"Jesus, Jim. Little Legolas wouldn't ever think that. That kid thinks the sun shines out your ass and you dote on him so much I doubt it would never enter his little mind that you could be that kind of bastard."

"Still…Maybe when he is older, ready to start school."

"Alright, just promise me to think on it because I don't want to see you trapped in that little town wasting away."

"I promise to think on it."

"Good." Scott smiled out at Jim. "Now where is that Godson of mine?"

August 2250; Kirk Family Farm, Riverside, Iowa

Jim sighed as he stepped into his house. It had been a long day of work at the Vet Clinic. Katie Everson's boston terrier had been brought in after suffering a pretty bad seizure. Katie, who had been two years behind him in school (although still older) had been one of the few people who had been kind to Jim when he had skipped ahead grades. So seeing her standing there with her dog looking as if her world had just fallen out from under her had been hard. But Mr. Freedman was an excellent vet and medicine had come a long way. While Hendrix wasn't ever going to be completely healthy they were able to minimize the damage he suffered from the seizures. After that it had been a pregnant cat, a pair of dogs that had gotten into a scuffle, some kind of weird lizard from Polemus IV with a skin rash and a call out to one of the nearby dairy farms. So all together a very hectic day. Still, he was glad to be home.


"Oof!" Jim smiled down at Gabriel where he stood with his strong little arms clutching Jim's pant leg. "Hey there, my angel. Have you been good today?"

"Uh huh!" Gabriel smiled and grabbed Jim's hand, his mind filling Jim's with warmth and love. "Gran'pa Paul is alwedy here, Daddy! An' Uncle Scott called dis morning from the desert!"

"He did? Did you get up to talk to him?"

"Uh huh! An' he called me Legolas again and den Uncle Sam yelled'ed at him dat my name was Ewestor not Legolas!" Gabriel laughed, his eyes sparkling with mirth.

"And did you tell them your name was Angel?"

"Daddy! My names Gabriel not angel!"

"Ah, but you're my angel aren't you, little love?"

"Of course!" Gabriel hugged tightly to him. "A'ways Daddy's angel!"

"That's good to hear." Jim set Gabriel back on his feet, taking his hand into his own. "Why don't we go see Grandpa Paul and Uncle Sam."

"Ok, Daddy."

Letting Gabriel lead him towards the formal sitting room at the back of the house where Mr. Freedman sat with Aurelan and Sam, Jim couldn't help but chuckle at his son's enthusiasm. Jim hadn't been sure what to expect of a two year old but it certainly wasn't what he had gotten. Dr. Phlox who still came to visit at least three times a year had simply smiled and told Jim that Gabriel was quit normal for a Vulcan child and that he needed to try to worry less. Jim doubted however, that he could worry any less in regards to his son. He was in fact sure that at some point he would begin to worry even more. Gabriel was just too kind hearted and he wanted to touch everything and meet everyone and Jim was worried that someday he would let his guard down and Gabriel would be snatched away by a man like Frank.

"Hey, everyone." Jim dropped into a free chair on Mr. Freedman's left and lifted Gabriel into his lap. "Margaret Taylor called just before we closed. She needed to set up an appointment for you to come by tomorrow to take a look at her mare, she thinks she might be pregnant."

"When did she get a stallion," Mr. Freedman looked at Jim confused.

"She didn't. Mr. Colesen's prime breeding stallion broke out of the back fence and wandered over to Ms. Taylor's farm."

Mr. Freedman groaned. "I hate that man. How many times does he have to do that? God, if that mare is pregnant it's going to be nothing but trouble, mark my words."

"Yeah, he is a bit of a conniving old man."

Mr. Freedman chuckled. "God, Jim, if he's old what does that make me? William Colesen graduated from high school three years after I did."

Jim smiled, "I guess that makes you really old, eh Grandpa."

Mr. Freedman laughed and shook his head and watched as Gabriel scooted off Jim's lap to the floor where Peter was pushing around a toy truck and making "vroom vroom" noises. The two boys immediately started to play together and Jim, Sam and Mr. Freedman couldn't help but smile. It was almost as if the two were brothers rather than cousins, but that could easily be explained by them living in the same house and sharing the same bedroom. They were going to grow up and have close ties to each other, which was nice, since at the moment both were only children. Mr. Freedman silently hoped that one day Jim and his Spock would get back together and there would be more siblings for Gabriel as there were sure to be more for Peter.

The vidphone in the kitchen rang and Jim could hear Aurelan moving to answer it, her soft barely heard above the sounds of the two toddlers. But Jim, could hear it now, something about the call had upset her. Her voice had gone cold, almost lifeless as she continued to talk to whoever was on the other end. Sam and Mr. Freedman seemed to have realized as well. Sam stood and started to head to the kitchen when they heard the sound of Aurelan hanging up and coming towards them.

As she stepped in the room Jim could see the tears racing down her cheeks and the way her hands were trembling as the gripped at the hem of her apron. "I think we should…we should talk in the other room." She glanced down at the oblivious children and then turned to quickly head into the kitchen proper.

Sam was the first to follow, reaching out and turning her to face him. "What's wrong, 'rue?"

Aurelan closed her eyes, tears still streaming freely. "That was Captain Komack on the phone from Starfleet." Aurelan sniffled and looked up at Mr. Freedman, her eyes full of grief.

"No," his voice came out week almost a whisper. "Scott…"

Jim stepped up and grabbed Mr. freedman's elbow, trying to keep him from collapsing. "What did Captain Komack say?"

"Scott was on a field survival training exercise out in Death Valley and there was a accident. The Captain said that there was an earthquake and Scott when some of his training team were caught unprepared. He said Scott died while protecting one of the other cadets from some equipment that exploded."

Jim shivered and felt the world drop out from under him. His vision grayed around the edges and his heart suddenly felt like it was being clamped in a vise, stopping it from beating even as he leaned over his knees gasping for breath. He was vaguely aware of a warm weight resting against his side. Mr. Freedman, who, like Jim, must have collapsed upon hearing the news.

"Daddy…" The sound of his son's voice trembling with fear pulled Jim up out of his pain. "Daddy?"

"It's okay, Gabriel. Daddy is okay." Gabriel toddled over as fast as he could, clinging to Jim and watching his Grandpa with wide frightened blue eyes.

"Gran'pa Paul hurt, Daddy?"

"Yes, baby, Grandpa is hurt but he'll be okay…we'll all be okay." Jim clutched at his son, rocking back and forth and trying not to cry and scare Gabriel any further.

Sam and Aurelan leaned into them and whispering reassurance. Their tears mingling together as they led Mr. Freedman upstairs to the master bedroom to rest and grieve away from Peter and Gabriel. Aurelan spoke softly, telling him he would stay here with them and Jim agreed saying he would camp out with the boys. Mr. Freedman just nodded still wanting to refute what Captain Komack had called about. He didn't want to believe that his son was gone away to the heavens with his Mother.

"Don't worry, just rest and we'll get everything squared away." Jim swallowed back a sob. "I'll call Starfleet back and see what we can do about getting Scott back home."

Mr. Freedman just nodded and collapsed onto the bed, pulling a pillow to his chest.

Jim turned to leave and caught sight of his son standing awkwardly in the doorway, big eyes full of tears. Jim walked over and dropped to his knees in front of Gabriel and ran his hands over Gabriel's face. "Grandpa Paul is going to stay here for a while so I'm going to play sleepover with you and Peter okay."

"Okay, Daddy." Gabriel watched on confused and saddened by the way all the adults were acting. He could feel it, the overwhelming grief that was swallowing them up, with each gentle caress of their hands on his face or through his hair. Something bad had happened and they weren't talking.

Peter, who had gotten up and followed behind Gabriel clung to his Mother's legs, sucking on his thumb, his eyes wide as they watched his Mother cry into his Father's shoulder. He didn't understand. He didn't understand and he didn't like seeing everyone acting like this. "Mama…"

"It's…it's okay, sweetheart. It's okay."

September 2250; Starfleet Academy, San Francisco

The funeral had been a depressing affair for everyone. Nearly the entire town had turned out, filling the old church to overflowing with townies and Scott's fellow Cadets. But Jim had been glad to see that so many people had cared for Scott. To see them all come to Riverside grieving and remembering, sharing stories about Scott to keep him fresh and alive in everyone's hearts. And now two and a half weeks later they had arrived in San Francisco and Starfleet Academy where a memorial service was being held for all the Cadets and Staff who had been unable to go to the funeral in Riverside. Jim hadn't been certain he would want to attend. To go to a place that had been a part of Scott's life but not his own. To go to a place that Scott had so badly wanted Jim to come to with him. It felt wrong to be here now. He didn't want to be here, standing on the grounds of a place that had stolen his Father and Mother from him and that had now stolen away Scott as well.

Gabriel tightened his hold around Jim's neck and Jim shook himself loose from the depressing thoughts. He had to be more careful. Gabriel and Peter were to young to really understand what death was but they understood that Uncle Scott had gone away and wasn't coming back and that it was making everyone sad. That in turn made them sad, especially Gabriel who had formed a close bond with Scott. It also didn't help that his touch telepathy was very strong and Jim was starting to think that his son was actually picking up certain emotions and thoughts without being in physical contact. He would have to speak with Dr. Phlox before they left, to see if he could measure Gabriel's telepathy on the Esper scale.

Captain Komack and his aid, a commander Pike, met them at the entrance to Starfleet Academy. Jim wasn't sure what he expected of the Captain who had called to announce Scott's death but he wasn't quit sure this old man, his hair already a pure white, face lined with deep wrinkles, was it. He hadn't expected an air of age to hover over the man, and Jim got the idea that he didn't like being a Captain at his age. The Commander was different though. Something about him drew Jim in, pulled him from the depression that was starting to settle in his bones. This man was a leader, someone troops would march into Hell for, Jim was sure of it. He could see what Scott had told him was true, Commander Pike was someone to respect and to fear if you were of the wrong side of a battle. There was honest grief in this man's eyes, Scott's death haunting him as every other death must have. It didn't rule him though. He felt it and accepted it and Jim could tell he would be able to move on.

"Dr. Freedman," Captain Komack stuck his hand out, grasping the much darker hand in his own. "I am sorry that we have to meet under such unfortunate circumstances. Your son was a fine young man with a promising future."

"Thank you," even now Mr. Freedman's voice was too soft, too fragile for the strong man Jim had known for most of his life.

"Commander Pike is going to escort you to the where the service will take place. We still have an hour before it begins so please feel free to ask the Commander for anything you may need."

Mr. Freedman nodded and turned to face Commander Pike. "I would like to see the memorial wall before the service, Commander."

"Of course." Commander Pike saluted Captain Komack and directed their little group to follow him. "While we are waiting would you like any food or drink?"

Sam and Aurelan shook their heads no, and little Peter feeling shy hid his face in his Mother's shoulder. Jim stroked Gabriel's back and placed a soft kiss to his son's forehead just below the edge of his knit cap. "We're good for now. But if at all possible I would like to speak with Dr. Phlox before we leave."

Commander Pike looked a bit startled but nodded. "I'll see what can be arranged."

The rest of the walk was fairly quiet. There were a few cadets walking from one building to another but for the most part they were alone as the walked along the stone path. The campus, Jim was sad to realize, was every bit as lovely as Scott had said. The buildings were all made out of a nearly pure white stone and had a hint of classical Greek style to them, the courtyards between buildings were large and covered in a thick carpet of lush green grass, flowering trees and little stone benches. The largest of the courtyards held a large man made pool of water and in the center was a marble and gold statue of the First Contact between Humans and Vulcans, the figure of Zefram Cochrane holding his hand out to the Vulcan, whose hand was held up in the traditional Vulcan greeting, were massive. The statue was probably about a good 50 feet tall. Even from here Jim could see the plaque mentioning the date and the beings involved in creating the Federation. It was a nice statue if a bit ostentatious. Jim had never seen the memorial wall which held the names of every member of Starfleet who died in the line of duty, but he hoped it was a bit less grandiose than the First Contact memorial.

Sam and Aurelan paused and stared at the statues before following Commander Pike past the memorial down the tree-lined path between two of the larger buildings. Jim took up the rear, watching everyone marching sadly through these beautiful grounds like ghosts.

The end of the path opened up into a courtyard surrounded on all sides by high hedges that created a large circular garden. In the center was the memorial. It was everything Jim thought a true memorial should be. It was bold in size and sad in color, the deep dark black of the stone glaring back at them. The large stone wall was perhaps eight feet tall and curved into a pattern which Jim was sure formed the outline of the Starfleet emblem when looked at from above.

There was already rows of folding seats set up, stretching from the walls of the garden up the small podium set up in front of the memorial wall. Jim bypassed them all, walking steadily into the memorial, starting into the mirrored, black stone at the row upon row of silver etched names. Each name looked to have been carefully hand carved and there below the name was the rank and ship that each member had died serving upon. Jim felt his eyes filling with tears again and ruthlessly pushed the nearly overwhelming emotions down. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, opening them and catching sight of his pale, weary reflection gazing back at him from behind the long list of names.

"Is his name already up here," Jim asked turning to look back at Commander Pike.

"Not yet. They will actually carve it on the wall during the ceremony."

"Okay," Jim nodded and carefully set a yawning Gabriel down on the ground, still holding tightly to his little hand. "This is the wall were Uncle Scott is going to be remembered."

Gabriel rubbed at his eyes and looked up at the large wall. His mouth opened in a little "o" as he leaned in towards it. "It's shiny."

Jim chuckled lightly and Mr. Freedman reached down to press his hand lightly on Gabriel's head, sliding his woolen cap to the side. Commander Pike tried not to pay too much attention. He didn't want to intrude on their private moment but the sight of those little pointed ears drew his attention. A Vulcan child! A Vulcan child but no Vulcan adult was traveling with them? Commander Pike was about ready to pull them aside and demand some answers when the warm sound of Dr. Phlox's voice cut through the air like a scale. Pike turned around startled, to look at the elderly Denobulan as he strode through the garden into the memorial. The doctor flash Pike a brief smile and a stern look before facing the grieving party.

The young Vulcan toddler gave out a joyful sounding cry as pulled loose from the blonde young man's hand and rushed towards Dr. Phlox, squealing loudly as he was lifted into the air. "Ah, young Gabriel, out and about today, I see. Are you enjoying your trip?"

"Yes!" Gabriel bounced excitedly in the doctor's arms. "Daddy said we at Stawfeet where Uncle Scott an' you went away to."

"That's right, we are at Starfleet. Have Peter and you been on your good boy behavior?"

"Uh huh. We good boys," Piped up Peter from where he was standing between his parents.

"Yeah! We good boys, Uncle Phlox!"

"I am most pleased to hear that. Perhaps the two of you would like to go for some lunch and ice cream before the service?" Dr. Phlox glanced over to Jim and Sam, who both nodded. They could see that Mr. Freedman still needed some time alone.

"That sounds like a plan, Doc." Jim smiled at his son who was busy tracing the ridges along Dr. Phlox's temples. "The boys could probably use a quick bite to eat and Gabriel was due for a check up anyway."

"Nooo," whined Gabriel. "Don' like hyposprays!"

"Neither do I, my angel, but you Uncle Phlox wouldn't hurt you."

Gabriel pouted and looked back to Dr. Phlox. "No ouchies."

"I will endeavor to keep you ouchie free," replied Dr. Phlox.

"Okay. But Peter go first and then we get ice cream!"

"Perhaps," Jim leaned over to plant a kiss on his son's temple. "Peter doesn't need to see the doctor. He got to go see Dr. O'Neill last week, remember."

Aurelan placed her hand gently on Mr. Freedman's shoulder and spoke softly to him as Sam, and got the boys together and ready to follow Dr. Phlox's suggestions on where to go for lunch. Mr. Freedman barely nodded his understanding, his mind so lost in the reflection staring back at him from the monument. Jim felt bad about leaving Mr. Freedman alone in his grief, even if only for an hour. But he knew the man well enough to know he needed that hour alone to pull himself together and to finally allow him to accept that Scott was gone and it was time to begin moving on.

So they had left him there in the shadow of the gravestone for so many of Starfleet's finest. They had left and Commander Pike had silently followed them like a shadow, never quite joining in. He simply stood to the side watching silently and shepherding away anyone who tried to approach them as they ate. And so the next hour had past without incident and as they had crossed the central courtyard to the dinning hall earlier, so they returned. It was more active now, however. There was a sea of red and black clad bodies heading through the courtyard to where the memorial was. Not being particularly fond of the idea of merging into the crowd with two small children their group had hung back, waiting for the tail of the press of bodies to pass.

Eventually they had all been seated and Admiral Archer had stepped up to begin the proceedings. Jim wasn't sure what he had expected but it hadn't been the long and heart felt speech. As the admiral had stepped down a series of professors had stood and one by one they had come before the mass of mourners and spoken of the young man they knew from their classes. They spoke of emotion, of honor and of the shared grief that would linger in all their hearts. And as the last of the professors had stepped down, a line of cadets had risen to fill the void behind the podium.

The memorial service was long. Longer by far than Jim had thought it would be. There had been a surprisingly large amount of professors and cadets who had stepped up to speak. And then Admiral Archer had stood and invited Mr. Freedman to come up and talk to them about his son and the assembly of people had become hushed with anticipation of what he would say. By the time Mr. Freedman had finished speaking Jim had found himself once again quietly crying. When Mr. Freedman had returned to his seat he had looked more at piece than he had since they had first heard about Scott's death. And for that Jim could thank Starfleet even if he still held them to blame for not taking more caution with their cadets. But he knew Scott would be sad that Jim did not get up to speak for him as well. So biting back his anger at the very people who filled the seats before him, he closed his eyes and imagined that it was only him and his family here.

"How can we honor the memory of a man like Scott Freedman?...I have been asking myself that question everyday since I first heard that he had been taken from our lives far too early. I thought and I thought and nothing ever seemed to make the grief go away. It was like a black hole forming where my heart should be." Jim took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. "I tried telling myself that he would want me to be strong. That Scott wouldn't want us to spend so much time mourning him when we should be living. But it didn't make the pain any easier. And then I found something of Scott's. Something that we had spent so many nights watching together. And as I sat there watching it all over again, one of the characters said something that made me pause and think. I spent so much time thinking about what his death meant to me and how it was the end of Scott. And then…then this one character from this old sitcom says something that makes it all seem so much easier to accept."

Jim lifted his head and looked out over the crowd. "Scott was governed by the laws of physics as are all living things. It is a scientific fact that hearts and clocks slow down as they approach the speed of light, the point at which matter is converted into energy. Scott's heart approached that speed on the evening of August 21 at 4:57 according to the coroner, converting his matter into energy, into pure white light. Though he is no longer with us, he is all around us." As Jim stood there looking out at his family and the people who claimed to love Scott, he felt the last hint of loss release. His hold on Scott relaxing enough to finally let go. To accept his best friends passing into whatever it was that waited for them after their bodies gave in to that eternal slumber. "He will be missed but he is not gone. He is still a part of us in our memory and now he is a part of this universe in a way that we cannot yet understand. And one day, although we know not when, we will join him out there."

Licking his lips Jim dipped his head and turned away from the crowd, moving swiftly back to his seat. He was here for Scott and his family. The rest of them…well the rest of them could rot.

August 21, 2255; Riverside Shipyard Bar, Iowa

The Riverside Shipyard Bar commonly referred to, as the Red Dwarf by the townies was one of the few bars in the area that catered to both Starfleet personnel and locals. This often caused many problems for the owner, as there were always a few young bucks on either side that felt the need to prove themselves superior to the other. This of course led to a high turnover in tables, chairs and other pieces of furniture. It was something every bar owner knew to expect and they knew how to watch for trouble. And as every year for the last five years, the Sal bar tender at the Red Dwarf knew that tonight was going to be a bad night the moment he saw the date circled in red on the calendar. Sure enough two hours after opening for the night the figure that haunted the bar every August 21st darkened his doorway.

"Damn it, Kirk. Why do you always have to come here when you want to get wasted?"

Jim gave Sal a one fingered salute and slumped down on a stool at the bar. "You know why. Fuck man just give a double shot of jack and keep 'em coming."

Sal let out a deep, rattling sigh. "Be damn thankful I liked Scott, Kirk." Sal poured the two shots setting them in front of Jim and watched as the blond tossed them back quick as you please. "Just try not to cause too much damage this year. I don't want to get told off by that little elfling of yours again this year."

Jim snorted and reached out for the bottle of beer Sal set in front of him. "I'll try but no promises."

"Tell it to your kid, Jim. There are people that worry about you and coming here to do this every year is no better 'n spittin' on his grave."

Jim let his eyes lower to the bar top and ran his finger around the sides of his bottle. He was still sitting there five minutes later when an alien with a rather long face and some kind of…well, Jim wasn't sure of a polite way to describe the lumps. Bumps and oddly placed hair on his head. The alien glanced at him and leaned over the bar motioning for one of the tall glasses filled with the amber ale another patron at the far side of the bar of was drinking. Sal waved in confirmation and pulled down a glass and filled it before sliding it across the bar.

As the next hour passed the bar began to liven up as more and more kids dressed in Cadet reds began to fill the bar. Soon enough the townies were being out numbered, crowded into dark corners of the bar. Jim hated that it was the same every time he came here. The Fleeters all pushing the rest of them out of the way without even acknowledging them. It was irritating in the extreme, but Jim had gotten a bit better about not setting himself up for a cadet beat down. He had promised Gabriel this year that he wouldn't come home covered in bruises and blood stains. And if there was one thing he tried to do it was keep his word to his son. Without Spock in his life, Jim had to do everything he possibly could to give his son the best opportunities in life and being the town drunk wasn't going to cut it. Not, of course that he was the town drunk. He only ever came out here to get drunk two nights of the year. The night he was born and the night Scott died.

A bottle of beer was set down in front of him as he slumped down in his seat and tried to ignore the thumping bass of the music pouring out of the speakers and the loud wave of chatter rising from the tables around the room. Thinking about Scott was going to make him morose, but then that was why he came to the bar.

"Hi. I'd like a Klavnian fire tea. Uhh…three Budweiser Classics, two Carrdassian Sunrises, and a…"

Jim felt a shiver go down his spine at the sound of the voice coming from his right, beyond the long-faced alien.

"Try the Slusho, it's good."

Jim looked up at Sal who was smiling at the voice. Sal looked slightly pale, and his smile seemed to have briefly faltered. It made Jim wonder what about the owner of that so familiar voice could have caused that look.

"The Slusho mix, thank you."

"That's a lot of drinks for one woman." Jim leaned forward around the alien sitting next to him to catch a glimpse of the woman with the tall order. The sight of her made him dizzy and for a moment he wondered if this was all an alcohol induced dream. She was beautiful. Long black hair casually styled and left to hang down her back, sharp in contrast to the bright red of her cadet uniform.

"And a shot of Jack straight up," she said as she glanced at him before looking away.

"Make that two, shots on me." Jim wasn't sure why he offered. He could tell by the way she looked at him that she thought no better of him than any other cadet thought of the townies.

"Her shot's on her." She gave Jim a dirty look, which she seemed to quickly change into a false smile as she shook her head 'no.' "Thanks but no thanks."

Jim scowled and looked away before looking back over to her. "Do you at least want to know my name before you completely reject me?"

She laughed slightly, her nose scrunching up just the way his had all those years ago. Her hands lifted up in front of her and she flared them out as if pushing him away before placing them palms down on the bar top. "I'm fine without it. "

"You are fine without it." Jim waved his finger in the air and glanced back at the bar top suddenly uncomfortable with this girl who looked just like Scott had briefly during their senior year in high school. She was a ghost come to haunt him, surely. Too look that much like Scott had when he was a she. It hurt to look at her but he couldn't stop talking. "It's Jim, Jim Kirk." He paused again and a strange looked passed across her face. He wasn't sure what that look was. Was it irritation? Amusement? Flirtation? Recognition? "If you don't tell me your name, I'm gonna have to make one up."

"It's Uhura."

"Uhura, no way. That's the name I was gonna make up for ya. Uhura what?" The alien sitting between glanced over at Jim, looking as if he was trying to decide if Jim was crazy.

"Just Uhura."

"They don't have last names on your world?" Suddenly Jim was tired. Tired of this game he was playing, pretending she was Scott.

"Uhura is my last name." She looked as if she was giving up as well, as if she had realized this one pathetic townie was just too dumb to realize she was better than him, smarter than him.

"Well then, they don't have first names on your world?" She laughed again as Jim stumbled over his own words. The alcohol buzzing dangerously around his brain. Sighing silently he leaned back on his stool and spun around circling behind the alien to take the empty seat on Uhura's other side. "So, you're a Cadet, you're studying... what's your focus?"

"Xenolinguistics. You have no idea what that means," her tone was scathing and Jim knew he was suddenly walking a very fine line.

"The study of alien languages, morphology, phonology, syntax. It means you've got a talented tongue." Sometimes it really paid to pay attention to what Scott said when he had called home from the Academy.

Suddenly her expression changed as she realized that he had a brain and wasn't just another hot farm boy from the sticks. "I'm impressed. For a moment there, I thought you were just a dumb hick who only has sex with farm animals."

"Well, not only." He grined. Talking with Uhura really was like talking with Scott, at least now that she wasn't acting like he was mentally handicapped anyway.

She started laughing, a real laugh. And as he watched her he couldn't help but think this might be the first anniversary of Scott's death that he wouldn't drown his sorrows in liquor and have to have Sal call Mr. Freedman to come get him.

"This townie isn't bothering you, right?"

Jim turned to look at the hulking figure of a cadet that had snuck up behind them while they talked. The man was tall, taller than him by a couple inches and bald. Not a nice mixture of features. It left him looking like a hired thug even with those spiffy Cadet Reds on.

"Oh, beyond belief. But it's nothing I can't handle." Uhura chuckled, shaking her head in amusement.

"You could handle me, that's an invitation." Jim let his voice drop low as he crept a bit closer to Uhura.

"Hey! You better mind your manners."

"Oh, relax cupcake, it was a joke." Jim reached out and slapped the cadet's shoulder before turning away to face the bar and his forgotten drink.

Cadet Cupcake grabbed Jim by the shoulder, spinning him around. "Hey, farmboy, maybe you can't count, but there are four of us and one of you."

Jim eyed the three hulking figures that had drawn up behind their alpha male. God, Jim thought, it was like a really bad Neanderthal movie cast trying to play dress up.

Jim stood up and stepped into Cadet Cupcakes personal space a sneer spreading across his face. "Well, some more guys and then it'll be an even fight." Jim reached up and patted Cupcake's face even though he knew this was going to lead to the fight he had been trying to avoid. It was a personality flaw and he was aware of it, but he couldn't back down from guys like this.

The thought about his promise to Gabriel flitted through his mind again and he turned away from the four cadets and back to the bar. Cupcake seemed to take that as an insult and grabbed Jim harshly yanking him back around to face him. As Jim's face came into view cadet Cupcake pulled his arm back and punched Jim hard enough to draw blood and send him reeling into the bar.

"Stop it!" Uhura, seeming to realize that she had inadvertently started a bar fight by not taking the other cadet's anger at one of the "townies" getting close to her seriously. "Stop it, all of you!"

Jim pushed himself up and spun around kicking the cadet in the abdomen hard enough to knock him back over a table and onto the floor. Before Jim could even really catch his breath back-up cadet number 2 rushed him, swinging wildly at him. Jim ducked and threw a punch sending him spinning off into the crowded tables. Cadet number three seeing the other two taken down charged and punched Jim, spinning him wildly back towards the bar and straight into Uhura. As his hand reached out to keep him from crashing head first into the bar they missed and instead slapped down over Uhura's rather small, but pert breasts. Shit, now Jim knew this was really not going to end well. She was the closet thing he had to an ally in this fight and he was pretty sure she wasn't going to be in his corner after this.

Scowling, Uhura thrust Jim back into the middle of the fight and the swinging arms of her would be rescuers. From there it was a chaotic dance of push and pull as he was punched and tossed around the room by the beta bullies, until one seemed to wise up and grabbed him, yanking his arms behind his back. It left him wide open to the attacks from the others and Jim hoped that he didn't end up with any broken ribs. As suddenly as he was pinned he found he had an arm free and was close enough to the bar to grab his bear bottle and smash it over the head of one of his attackers. The other patrons gasped and moved further away, none willing to help him.

"Enough!" Uhura tried again to call them off as they kicked and punched him, throwing him to the flow. Unfortunately for Jim, they just ignored her.

He groaned, now sure that if he didn't have internal bleeding he most certainly had several bruise ribs. A strong pair on hands grabbed him by the back of his leather jacket, lifting him off the floor like he was nothing more than a child's toy doll. The room spun around him in a dizzy rush of colors, flashing lights and bright red blood. The one with the strong hands slammed him down on top of one of the now abandoned tables. He reached up, desperately trying to block the punches that came raining down on him and some small part of Jim wished that he would just pass out now. He couldn't fight them all off on his own no matter what he jokingly said and no one here seemed to care that they were going to beat him to death.

God, he was really the worst father ever. He promised Gabriel and now he was breaking that promise. He never wanted to be the kind of father that broke his promises to his child.

"Guys, he's had enough!" Uhura stood by the bar, unwilling to get any closer to where Jim was being held down and beaten.

A loud, sharp whistle cut through the air, and everything in the bar went silent and still, the only sound in the now silent room being the rocking noise of a plate spinning on the floor where it fell.

Back-up Cadet number two released his hold on Jim's shirt, dropping him back to the table top, his other hand still raised in a fist, the knuckles coated in Jim's blood.

"Outside," The Starfleet Officer standing in the doorway was dressed in the clean cut black uniform of an Academy Instructor. His voice was strong and serious without sounding harsh or cold as he eyed them down. "All of you. Now!"

Somewhere from the back of the room a cadet piped up, "Yes, sir!" En mass they all filled out past their instructor, heads dropped low in shame. As they moved past him Jim was vaguely aware of the various grumblings of "He wouldn't even listen" and "What a freak!"

The instructor, who was beginning to look familiar, stepped closer. "You all right, son?"

"You can whistle really loud, you know that?" Not the wisest thing to say, but Jim figured he could be excused after nearly getting beaten to death by the man's students.

Ten minutes later found Jim a mite bit more sober and a little more relaxed as he sat across the table from Commander, now Captain, Pike drinking a glass of beer. The Captain was watching him as if he was some strange, exotic animal that had just done something completely unexpected. Although Jim was unsure what exactly the Captain had expected of him given they had only briefly met once five years ago and even then they hadn't really talked.

"You know, I couldn't believe it when the bartender told me who you are."

"Who am I, Captain Pike?"

"Your father's son."

Suddenly Jim wasn't so sure that he was glad for the rescue. The Captain just had to mention his Father. Everyone had to fucking compare him to his Father. He couldn't be just Jim. He always had to be James T Fucking Kirk son of the late great hero George Kirk.

Jim turned away from the Captain to where Sal was cleaning up, raising his now empty glass. This was going to require more liquid courage he could already tell. "Can I get another one?"

"For my dissertation, I was assigned the USS Kelvin. Something I admired about your dad, he didn't believe in no-win scenarios."

"Sure learned his lesson."

"Well, it depends on how you define winning. You're here, aren't ya?"

"Thanks." Jim nodded at Sal as he set the bottle down next to Jim.

"You know, that instinct to leap without looking, that was his nature too, and in my opinion, it's something Starfleet's lost."

"Why are you talking to me, man?"

"Cause I looked up your file while you were drooling on the floor. Your aptitude tests are off the charts, so what is it? You like being the only genius-level repeat offender in the midwest?"

Oh, so the Captain was going to go there as well. Well, he certainly didn't know what Jim had been arrested for if he was going to spout out that claptrap of bullshit that had been left in some official file. "Maybe I love it."

"Look, so your dad dies. You can settle for less than an ordinary life. Or do you feel like you were meant for something better?" Captain Pike paused trying to look through Jim's eyes to find what had motivated the young man to allow himself to go down this path to ruin. "Something special? Enlist in Starfleet."

"Enli—" Jim broke off laughing. "You guys must be way down in your recruiting quota for the month."

"If you're half the man your father was Jim, Starfleet could use you. You could be an officer in four years. You could have your own ship in eight. You understand what the Federation is, don't you? It's important. It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada."

"We done?" Fuck Starfleet. Jim was trying to work past his anger issues, but he wasn't going to be able to blindly trust the "peacekeeping and humanitarian armada" that had killed his Father and Scott and left his Mother to rot in some crazy house on the moon.

"I'm done. Riverside Shipyard. The shuttle for new recruits leaves tomorrow oh-eight hundred." Jim raised his glass at the Captain as the man stood, before setting it on the table with a soft clack. "You know, your father was Captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved eight hundred lives, including your mother's. And yours. I dare you to do better."

Captain Pike gave Jim one last piercing look before turning away from Jim and walking out of the bar. Jim watched him go feeling as if the world had froze for a moment at the Captain's dare. Looking down at the table Jim saw the saltshaker resting next to his empty glass. It sat there silently taunting him with memories of a man who everyone said was better than Jim was. A man who everyone told him would be disappointed with how Jim's life was turning out. The Kelvin-shaped saltshaker stared back at Jim like the abyss, drawing him into the darkness of his own thoughts and fears.

Standing slowly, his body protesting every move Jim left the bar, the saltshaker clutched tightly in his hand. This wasn't something that could be decided as easily as the Captain thought. Jim could move past his anger if he had the right motivation. But that meant nothing if his son told him not to go. No matter how the stars called to him. No matter if going up there meant he might find Spock again, none of it was as important as what was right for his son.

Mr. Freedman was up and waiting for him when he pulled his bike into the drive at his old family farm. His Father's house. The house that had raised countless generations of Kirk's. His home. His son's home. Could he give it up? Could he give up seeing his son everyday if it meant getting a job that could pay for his son to attend a school that wouldn't leave him as bored as Jim had been at that age?

"Jim. You look like shit."

Jim let out a gusty sigh and collapsed into his favorite chair by the fireplace in the library and looked over to Mr. Freedman who was laying out on the couch a book resting on his lap. "I didn't start it."

Mr. Freedman turned his head to look at him. "You never do." He took a deep breath and glanced at the clock on the table by his feet. "Little Legolas won't be happy to see you looking like this."

"I know and I'll explain it to him, but first…" Jim ran his hands through his hair. "I need your advice."

Mr. Freedman sat up, watching Jim carefully. Studying the heavy look filling Jim's eyes. "Alright. What can I help you with?"

"Do you remember that guy from Scott's memorial, Commander Pike?" Jim waited for Mr. Freedman to agree. "He broke up the fight and challenged me to join Starfleet and to do better than Dad."

"And you worry about what joining Starfleet would mean for Gabriel."

"Pretty much, yeah. I don't want him to think I abandoned him and I don't know how I could think myself a good Father if I join and get shuffled off onto some long mission where I won't get to see him except through a vidcall. I can't do that to him…but…but the money I could get as an officer would ensure he could get the best education possible."

"It is a tough decision to make, but you should be aware that no matter what you chose to do, your son and I will be proud of you. We won't stop loving you."

August 22, 2255; 8:00 am, Riverside Shipyard

The fields whizzed by in a blur but it didn't matter. He had spent most of the night awake and thinking. Writing up list after list of pros and cons, trying to decide what he should do. In the end Gabriel had decided for him. So here he was watching the sun rise over the fields and the mountain of metal that was the unfinished USS Enterprise. He stopped for a moment to simply stare at the ship that would be the first to be complete in the shipyard built in memory of his Father's sacrifice. It suddenly seemed wrong for anyone but another Kirk to Captain her. After a moment, he revved the bikes engine and road through the gates, past guards and cadets, toward the recruits' shuttle.

Jim pulled the bike up to the front of the shuttle, quickly turning it off as he spotted Captain Pike standing in the open doorway to the shuttle. An engineer passing by, pulled off his safety helmet and paused to look at the bike, the envy obvious in his eyes.

"Nice ride, man."

It took only a moment to turn off the engines and take out the keys. Jim looked up at the lanky, grease-covered man with the kind smile and tossed the keys into his safety helmet. "It's yours."

The man spun around to watch Jim walk passed him to where Captain Pike was, a startled look on his face.

"Four years? I'll do it in three." Jim knew he sounded like a smart-assed little punk but he didn't care. He was tired and sore and more than a little heartsick already at having to leave Gabriel here in Riverside for the school year.

The inside of the shuttle was cramped and crowded with cadets squished into rows of tiny seats. Still he couldn't help the smile that stretched across his face. This was the beginning of his future.

He glanced around trying to locate a free seat and ended up walking into a bulkhead, which was both physically and emotionally painful. He just hope no one saw that or if they did, that they laughed it off and then promptly forgot it. Ducking under the bulkhead and went down one isle, saluting Cupcake and his merry band of bullies as he walked past. "At ease, gentlemen."

Halfway to the back he located a free seat. Slowly strapping himself in he glanced up and caught sight of Uhura who raised her nose in the air and rolled her eyes at him. "Never did get that first name."

A commotion around the corner pulled his attention away from the female Scott look-alike to where a female academy officer was forcibly moving a rather scruffy looking middle aged man out of the restroom.

"You need a doctor," she stated in a firm voice.

"I told you people," the man sounded harassed as they pushed him down the isle towards where Jim was sitting. "I don't need a doctor. I am a doctor."

"You need to get back to your seat."

"I had one in the bathroom with no windows."

"You need to get back to your seat, now!" The academy officer was now looking nearly as harassed as the 'doctor' was but also looked like she was one step away from pulling a phaser on him as well.

"I suffer from aviophobia. It means fear of dying in something that flies."

The officer glared at the doctor where he had stopped in the isle, preventing anyone else from walking past. "Sir, for your own safety, sit down or else I'll make you sit down." To Jim's eyes she looked like she badly wanted him to 'make' her make him sit down.

The doctor seemed to realize it as well. "Fine."

"Thank you."

With a huff and an angry scowl the doctor dropped down into the empty seat next to Jim and yanked on the seatbelts before turning his glare on Jim.

The sound of Captain Pike's voice coming out over the comm. was not nearly as interesting to Jim as the man sitting next to him. "This is Captain Pike. We've been cleared for takeoff."

The doctor leaned in towards Jim, his breath heavy with the scent of good bourbon. "I may throw up on you."

Jim couldn't help but think the man may have been a little crazy, but then the same could be said about him. "I think these things are pretty safe."

"Don't pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull, and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. A solar flare might pop up and cook us in our seats. And wait 'til your sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles. See if you're still so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger after darkness and silence."

Good lord, Jim wondered how the man could talk so much without taking a breath. "Well, I hate to break this to you, but Starfleet operates in space."

"Yeah, well, got nowhere else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I've got left is my bones." The doctor pulled out a flask and took a long drink before offering it to Jim. Jim didn't think there would be enough to get even one of them drunk on what the flask could hold but figured he should give it a shot. Especially if he was going to sit next aviophob on the shuttle. Honestly what kind of people was Starfleet recruiting now-a-days?

"Jim Kirk."

"McCoy, Leonard McCoy."

The End

AN: Please remember that the sequel is in the works. I don't know when the first chapter of it will be updated but you can go to my LJ to see any news about it's progress. Thanks again for reading and remember that the poll for the third story in this series is now closed.

To see what inspired the look of Daisy's Diner go here: http: / / www. ronsaari. com/ stockImages/

Part of Jim's speech for Scott's memorial is an adapted quote from 3rd Rock from the Sun. It was spoken by the character "Dick" in the episode titled "Body & Soul & Dick."

Songs that inspired this Chapter:

The Edge of Glory by Lady GaGa

Little Wonders by Rob Thomas

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

You'll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins

No Bravery by James Blunt

Broken by Seether

Hurt by Johnny Cash

Yours To hold by Skillet

Let It Be by The Beatles