I still don't own Star Trek and you still know that right?
Thanks to TalesFromTheSpockSide for giving her time to beta this work. She's a busy woman and amazing. Happy Birthday, Nerdielady. You know what I want for mine…
An Unexpected Incident
"How did this happen?"
"We aren't sure, Sir."
Admiral Barnett and Captain Pike broke from their determined stride toward the infirmary in unison and turned on the science officer, the intensity of their incredulous stares causing him to cringe.
"That answer is unacceptable." Barnett snapped.
"What I mean to say, Admiral," the lieutenant stammered, "is the outcome of the accident was unforeseeable. The experiments that were being conducted were not in any way seeking these unintended…results."
"How long…can it be reversed?"
Bile rose in the lieutenant's throat along with the words he knew they didn't want to hear.
"We don't know."
The trio of officers slowed as they approached their intended destination in the infirmary, Christopher Pike seeming to need a moment to collect himself before actually seeing the fallout with his own eyes. He was unaware that the door to the room they paused before was ajar, the injured cadet inside lying awake and frightened.
"I'm at a loss as to what to say to his parents," Pike said, continuing his conversation with the two Admirals flanking him while scrubbing his haggard face roughly with his hand. "We're not talking about just anyone's son here. He's the only heir of Vulcan's ambassador to Earth, for God's sake."
"Do you think this will impact Vulcan/Earth relations?" the science officer asked, almost against his will, from where he was still following miserably behind his superiors.
"No, that would be illogical. It was an accident. But still…" muttered Admiral Barnett under his breath, his words trailing off to nothing, unable to complete the thought because he was unable to fully grasp the situation.
Captain Pike's voice filled the void. "I consider Commander Spock to be a friend; he was going to be my first officer."
Doctors emerged from the room down the hall and the officers started toward them again.
The tiny girl hidden within the room they'd just passed rolled to her side, buried her dark, tear-stained face in the pillow beneath her and began to shake and sob.
After an extended period of time standing and observing the group in silence in the farthest corner of the room, the small Vulcan began to move carefully toward the entrance, the black t-shirt that once fit him perfectly now closely resembling the long robes of his youth. How odd.
The doctors in the room now approached him slowly, like they would a frightened animal, and scanned him with nothing more than tricorders, choosing wisely to give him a wide berth after one of the nurses forgot herself and attempted to cuddle him as she had some of the others. Spock's response was immediate, pushing her away with a strength his size belied and retreating, panting, into the nearest corner as the room erupted with medical personnel shouting, 'No, don't!' and 'touch telepath!' They had observed him as he calmed himself, his eyes moving from the physicians to the door of the room that was constantly opening to admit more infirmary staff and affected cadets.
Spock reached the opposite side of the room and settled down next to the door but out of the way of traffic and began to listen, his face still dirty with the smoke and chaos of the incident that no one could get near enough to him to clean away.
Someone important was missing.
His eyes fell on the door, willing his someone to appear.
Before allowing entrance to the room, Dr. Cliffton emphasized to Command their need to contact Vulcan as soon as possible. His tense posture relaxed a fraction when Admiral Komack explained that he and Captain Pike would contact the Ambassador and his wife as soon as he and Pike left the infirmary armed with as much information as possible. The Endeavor was close to the planet and was now en route to it so the starship could be offered up as transport to bring the Vulcan and his human wife to Earth. Spock's parents could and would be with him in a matter of hours. The doctor nodded and led the Captain and Admirals into the room.
Christopher could see it, he just couldn't believe it. Children…where there should have been adults. The group amassed in the room, fifteen perhaps, with twice as many doctors poking and prodding them all, ignored him completely. Some of them looked scared, while others were giggling and happily sucking on lollipops. They collectively appeared to be around three for four years of age, although it was difficult to guess from their approximate sizes, as they were all positively swimming in the few bits of clothing that hung precariously on them.
"Clothes?" Admiral Barnett asked as if reading Pike's thoughts.
"On the way," supplied a nurse standing to his right.
"This isn't all of them, is it?" Captain Pike requested, as a small girl skipped around them.
"No. Three more were injured in the skirmish to get away from the noxious gases that escaped containment." Dr Cliffton answered, lowering his voice as the girl danced back by. "One is dead; we believe the cadet fell and took a blow to the head on the stairs as the transformation began and was subsequently trampled to death; the others were disoriented, unable to see and avoid the injuried in the cover of smoke."
When he failed to see Commander Spock with a second sweep of the room with his eyes, Pike turned to ask if they'd moved the Vulcan and found that he had passed him as soon as he entered the room.
Spock was hunkered down by the door, his arms wrapped about his knees that were drawn up against his chest covered completely with a tent-like shirt. He looked back at the Captain with large dark eyes for a moment, then returned his strangely intense gaze back to the door. Chris couldn't seem to stop himself from smiling down at his friend for a split second; Spock was…well, shit, he was just about the cutest kid he'd ever seen.
Christopher had started toward his friend when Dr Cliffton grasped his arm and stopped him.
"Don't. Commander Spock hasn't spoken since the incident and a nurse made the huge mistake of hugging him earlier. We suspect he was unable to shield his mind from her with his telepathic abilities and was completely overwhelmed. I thought everyone knew you don't touch Vulcans, period. But touching a Vulcan child is unthinkable without strict permission."
Chris was sure Spock felt his eyes on him. But the small boy did not divert his eyes from the door. The whole mess was getting more surreal by the minute.
It was night on Vulcan when the call was received. Amanda saw the group of officers assembled together before her on the comm. screen—two admirals and a captain, and she felt her heart sink. This couldn't be; she could still feel the parental bond between them. Before they could speak she asked them to wait, raising her hand to them, and left to retrieve Sarek. She returned seconds later with her husband at her side and they sat.
Christopher tried to hide his shock as he watched the slightly disheveled Vulcan cover his wife's hand with his own before he spoke.
"What has happened to our son?"
The door to the room whooshed open.
"The cadet's parents have arrived."
The door closed.
The door opened.
"…want to see the body."
The door closed. The small Vulcan slid closer.
The door opened.
"…not ready to move her yet.."
The door slipped shut. Spock pressed his forehead against the wall.
The door hissed open.
"…uh, here's the order, Cadet Uhura, first name Nyota. Room number.."
The door closed.
The other occupants of the room froze collectively as an unexpected scream tore through the closed space. All the children present began to cower and shrink as the sound rose to an unimaginable level, a mournful wail emanating from the one person who up to this point had been completely silent, now curled into a tight ball, shaking violently.
Pike was striding through the halls of the infirmary again, struggling along with the entire group of Starfleet officers to keep up with Ambassador Sarek's long gait, his wife Amanda practically running at his side.
They crossed the threshold into the ward and were greeted by a team of personnel all wearing harassed looks, tension crackling in the air as angry words flew above an unnerving and despondent cry.
"You can't touch him!"
"Well, we have to do something! He's been howling for hours!"
"Yes, after being silent for hours! We have no idea what set him off; let alone how to quiet him now. Dammit Chapel, he's not human. We can't seem to locate a Vulcan healer. We need his parents to guide us."
"And we are here."
Sarek's voice washed over the room like a frigid tidal wave, causing all noise to cease save for his son's keening.
Dr Cliffton moved from the center of the circle of physicians without hesitation toward Sarek even as the other infirmary staff unconsciously shifted away from the boom of his voice.
"Come," he urged the Vulcan and his human wife, motioning to them with his hands, choosing to bypass the pleasantries and giving the basic information they needed at the moment as they fell into step with him. "Spock is a little dehydrated but his vitals are strong. Our scans indicate he is healthy despite the obvious changes brought on by the accident. He began to cry suddenly and we have been unable to console him or get him to eat or drink. We didn't want to sedate him under the circumstances."
He pressed a button and the door to the room opened and stayed open, revealing the full volume of Spock's wails to them. He signaled the staff within the room to come out and they scurried past the Commander's parents, noticeably thankful they had arrived.
"He's just inside the door; we didn't want to distress him further by attempting to move him."
Everyone in the area seemed to stop and hold their breath as Sarek and Amanda entered the room and looked to the floor.
Spock sat rocking to and fro, his head buried beneath his arms. Amanda knelt in front of him, put down the bag she carried and reached for him while she whispered words softly to him in Vulcan. Spock raised his head and looked at her, his face contorted with sorrow, but then slapped her hands away with palpable uncontrolled anger, recoiling from her and continuing to cry. She turned her stunned face to look at Sarek, who had crouched beside her and their son.
Sarek had heard of such a condition but had never seen it manifest itself physically so profoundly in one of his people.
"He grieves, my wife…deeply. He cannot contain the emotion."
Sarek looked to his son and spoke in a loud, demanding voice, as if to snap Spock out of the state he was immersed in.
"Spock, for whom do you grieve?"
"Ashalik t'nash-veh. Ashayam t'nash-veh. K'hat'n'dlawa. Ko-kugalsu t'nash-veh fa-wak. Ko-telsu t'nash-veh fa-wak." (My darling. My beloved. Half of my heart and soul. My future betrothed. My future wife.)
Sarek's eyebrows hit his hair line as his son moaned and cried, reaching for the hem of his father's robes and covering his head with them in mourning. Sarek looked at his wife in confusion, and she returned his look of befuddlement though her eyes were filled with tears, her hand trembling as it covered her mouth.
Sarek was at a complete loss. To his knowledge T'Pring was alive and well on Vulcan; this did not make sense.
He opened his mouth to ask his son to explain when another child's cries rang out. He looked from Spock to see a nurse passing with what he assumed was another individual affected by the accident in her arms—a female human with dark skin, wearing several bandages and also sobbing inconsolably. Sarek's eyes met with the forlorn child's and her weeping halted for a second, her eyes flying wide. Then her crying began again in earnest and she began to struggle to extract herself from the nurse's arms. The nurse fought to keep hold of her, pinning the girl's arms to her sides and admonishing her as another physician came forward to assist.
"Please calm yourself, Cadet Uhura!" She pleaded. "She's been crying as long as the Commander," she bit out as she struggled to subdue the little body.
Then several things happened at once.
Sarek heard Amanda whisper 'Nyota,' as his son wrenched himself from the hem of his father's robes he had tangled himself in and bolted to his feet, his cries abruptly stayed but his chest still heaving from them as his eyes searched frantically and then fell on the girl.
Cadet Uhura managed to yank one of her arms from her doctor's grasp, drew it back and slapped the nurse full in the face. Her stunned escort stumbled in shock and dropped Uhura, who fell in a heap on the floor. Before the any adults could react and reach for her, Spock lunged toward her and seized hold of her tiny frame just as she seemed to be turning to scramble toward him. He wrapped his arms possessively around her little body, projecting absolute fury at the still shocked nurse who had dropped her, and swiftly dragged Nyota into the room that had become solely his.
All present seemed to be momentarily immobile with amazement; doctors, nurses and officers alike began drifting forward and craning around each other to watch with looks of disbelief at what they were seeing.
The Vulcan Commander appeared to quickly survey the Cadet for injury his demeanor becoming more composed, his face more serene with each passing moment he was in the girl's presence. She in turn pressed her hand to his cheek, as if the touch was necessary to confirm he was real, calming as he was and looking at him with marked relief, though tears still streamed from her eyes and her body still shuddered as she struggled to bring her breathing under control. When Spock seemed as if he was satisfied with her physical state his gaze met hers and he placed his hands upon her face, tipping his head forward to touch his forehead to hers.
Sarek alone heard his grown son, now small, whisper "Rish-tor du." (You survive.)
Spock sighed audibly after he and Nyota rested against each other for a full minute. He dropped his hands from her small face, his own cheeks still flushed green from his lament, and looked at his parents while Nyota kept her eyes trained on him.
"Yem-tukh bolau etek." (We require sustenance.)
Sarek and Amanda set aside the much bigger issue of what had caused their son to de-age and how—if at all—it could be reversed, and stared at him in wonderment.
They had hastily closed the door on the heels of Spock's undeniable show of extreme grief and overflowing affection for Uhura, cutting off the view of their son and his cadet from dozens of now wildly curious and speculative eyes. They turned back to him to find him stripping the bio-bed and making a pallet on the floor which Nyota immediately curled her body into.
Deciding to take care of the basics first, Amanda told Spock she had clothes for him, wiping his face clean and then reaching for her bag to retrieve them. He stripped off his now enormous shirt without hesitation and waited naked with his hand extended toward her for them. Nyota lowered her head while covering her eyes and began to giggle, eliciting a raised eyebrow from Spock as he spared her a glance over his shoulder.
"Well, I guess he has as few qualms about being naked now as he did when he really was a child," Amanda remarked, passing him underpants to put on, followed by one of his old tunics and pants that she had kept.
Thankfully the food they requested arrived after Spock was dressed. Sarek collected the tray at the door, closing it on the group waiting outside again and setting the tray before his son.
Spock took one cup, poured juice into it, handed it to Nyota, and waited for her to drink. She passed the cup back after taking several swallows and Spock drank from the same cup, then set it down. He collected a plate, placed a little of each of the foods provided on it, and gave it to her, and then made another for himself.
Sarek and Amanda's eyes darted from their son to each other. Spock was serving Nyota just as the head of any Vulcan household would do for a guest…or a Vulcan husband would his wife.
"Did you know of this?" Sarek inquired across their bond.
"I suspected a growing affection, but nothing to this extent." Amanda replied back, unable to look away from the 'children'. She could feel Sarek's fascination positively buzzing.
Once the meal was consumed, Spock gathered their dishes, placed them back on the tray and pushed it away. He sat back down with his back to the wall and folded his legs in front of him. Nyota laid her head in his lap when he got settled and Spock pulled a blanket over her before placing his hand tenderly on her cheek. Within moments she was asleep and Spock's eyes were blinking slowly as he looked at his parents again.
Sarek sat down beside Spock, drawing his son's sleepy stare.
"I know you are weary, my son; show me what you can." At that, Sarek placed his hand gently upon Spock's face and initiated a meld.
Minutes later he lifted his hand and watched as Spock yawned and then began to pull his legs tiredly from beneath Nyota. Amanda hurriedly placed a pillow in their place and both little heads snuggled into it, Nyota rolling to face her son though sound asleep. Spock gathered the girl's small hand in his and their breathing fell into sync and slowed.
Sarek rose from the floor, having already instantaneously shared with Amanda over their bond all that he saw through the meld. He left her gazing adoringly at their son and his chosen mate as he went to request permission to access the compromised lab.
Sarek returned hours later and found Amanda perched in a rocking chair, studying her son as he was putting the finishing touches on a model of a Federation starship. Nyota Uhura lay on her stomach beside Spock, watching him work and dropping the final pieces into his hand when he reached toward her. Sarek looked at Amanda and she smiled and shook her head in wonder; they had never witnessed such a sight in Spock's real childhood and she felt loath to interrupt it. They looked on in silence as Spock finished and lay down beside Nyota, his chin propped up on his hands scrutinizing his handiwork.
After a few minutes Spock carefully reached out, lifted the small ship from its stand and rolled onto his back, peering up at it against the field of stars currently on glorious display in the night sky outside his window. Nyota played with his rumpled hair for a moment, then traced the tip of his ear before she too flipped over, seemingly to marvel with him at the impressive toy he had built. But then Sarek and Amanda heard her whisper in her still little girl voice, "Wherever you go I will go, your people will be my people and your God my God."
"E'c'ac. Kwon-sum." (Agreed. Always.)
Sarek could feel the emotional swell within his wife that preceded her body releasing tears. He stepped closer to her and allowed her to take his hand.
Amanda pushed her thoughts to him. "You found an antidote."
"Yes. The others affected have already begun receiving it. There will be pain when they revert back, as it happens quickly, but thus far the individuals appear and act as they did before the incident. There seem to be no lingering ill effects, but all will be held for observation for an as yet indeterminate amount of time."
"What of what the others saw happen between them? Their love for each other is obvious. What will happen to them?"
"I am a diplomat, my wife. I will smooth the way for them."
"Just a few more minutes, ashayam…please."
"E'c'ac, ashal-t'nash-veh." (Agreed, my darling.)