Spock walked into sickbay and put the baby onto the operating table. The medical crew moved with mechanical precision. Dr. McCoy scanned the baby with a tricorder while a nurse stepped forward and put breathing tubes in her nostrils. Meanwhile, another nurse hovered over the baby with a warming rod, starting with her torso and spiralling slowly outwards. The baby's limbs slowly started to jerk, and McCoy walked towards the nurse and said,
"That's enough," before scanning her with the tricorder again.
Spock watched in a daze until a nurse interrupted him, telling him that he needed to be examined.
"The fumes from the explosion could be harmful," she told him.
Spock followed her numbly into the clinic. Sitting down in one of the chairs, he gazed into the distance as the nurse scanned him, his eyes not focusing. What was he going to do, he wondered vaguely. His mind was jumbled and hazy, moving in all different directions. He knew what had happened, but it seemed surreal, like a dream. Only a day ago, they had been planning to be parents and Nyota had been alive. It didn't seem possible that things had changed so quickly. But then Spock focused his eyes, and saw her blood staining his shirt and started to shudder. As soon as the nurse pronounced him healthy, he shot to his feet and paced back to the operating room.
The medical crew seemed much calmer when he entered. One nurse was feeding the baby though a tube, while the other made a bed in an incubator. McCoy was wiping up the dirty footprints Spock had left as he'd walked in.
"She's doing pretty well, all considered," McCoy told Spock as soon as he saw him, "Got a bit of dehydration and hypothermia, going to want to keep an eye on her overnight, but after that you can take her home."
Home. Spock didn't know what that meant anymore. He stared down at the floor, avoiding McCoy.
"I was sorry to hear what happened to Nyota," McCoy went on, trying to recapture Spock's attention. His voice was high and shaky. A lot of his crew had died as well.
Spock said nothing. When the nurse was finished with the baby, he parked himself in front of the incubator and stared down at her. Her eyes were still closed, and several tubes protruded from her body. She seemed so small, but she was all he had left of Nyota. But she wasn't Nyota. Nyota was in a box in cargo bay 3, and he was left with their child alone. For hours, he stood over the incubator, this truth slowly seeping into his mind.
"Spock," a voice rang out eventually. It was Dr. McCoy.
"I think you should go get some sleep," he said, putting a hand on Spock's shoulder. The doctor sounded tired. Spock didn't budge.
"We need the operating room," he went on, "We're going to move her to the clinic, you can see her tomorrow."
Slowly, Spock shuffled out the door.
He paused at the door to his quarters. He hadn't been in them for months. Ever since he had found out that Nyota was pregnant, he had slept in quarters.
When he opened the door, he saw that a chair had been upended and hangers had fallen out of the closet. Reflexively, he returned them to their places. Looking around the room, it seemed so sparse. Not like Nyota's, which had been covered in pictures of family and friends and silly human things—a band from her hometown, schematics of winning race cars.
Spock sank into his sofa. It was all his fault. He should have fought harder with Kirk. He should have learned more about childbirth. He should have known what to do to save her. It was all coming back, trying to save his planet, trying to save his mother. But it was always too late, he always failed, and now, he didn't even have Nyota to comfort him, he'd failed her too. The night passed slowly, his mind alternating between images of his planet, his mother and Nyota.
Morning came, and Dr. McCoy arrived at the door with the baby in an incubator.
"Special delivery!" he said in a voice that tried to be jovial, but sounded weak.
After finding a spot for the incubator, McCoy explained to Spock the tubes and equipment that the baby was hooked up to. In sickbay, he had exaggerated her progress somewhat. She was quite premature and needed a lot of care. Spock nodded mechanically.
After Spock had repeated back McCoy's instructions to his satisfaction, he left wearily.
Spock looked down at the baby. She was so small.
Nyota had wanted to call their daughter Tiaga, followed by three middle names, but Spock decided he didn't want her encumbered by so many names in life. He called her Ma'Resh.
"Ma'Resh," he whispered as he took the top off the incubator, and ran two fingers stiffly down her back. Her eyes opened slightly.
The days passed, and Spock tried to distract himself with caring for Ma'Resh. Kirk had relieved him from duty on the bridge. There were tubes to keep clean, and reservoirs to keep full and bedding to be sterilized. And she was starting to drink a bit from a bottle and could handle a few minutes at a time out of the incubator. Still, she was mostly human, and an infant, so she slept a lot more than Spock needed to. The days and nights were full of empty hours in which Spock couldn't stop thinking about Nyota, wondering what she would be doing if she was still alive, wondering how he would ever get by without her, blaming himself for everything.
Kirk came to visit a few days later.
"How you holding up?" he asked gently. Spock let a vacant stare be his response.
Kirk moved over to the incubator, and his mouth opened.
"Woah," he said, "Maybe you could get McCoy to accelerate her growth or something."
And the despite everything, Kirk's uncouthness somehow made Spock feel slightly better.
"McCoy says she will catch up," Spock stated slowly. Spock and Kirk looked at each other for a moment.
"I don't want to pressure you," Kirk went on, "But do you know where you're planning on going after this?"
Spock shook his head.
"Just if you're thinking of going to New Vulcan, it would make sense for you to stay on Earth once we get there."
So many crew members had died on the last mission that they were going back for funerals and to get replacements.
Spock didn't speak. He didn't want to go to New Vulcan. He thought of his childhood, and he didn't think he could do it. It wasn't what he wanted for Ma'Resh.
"Otherwise," Kirk went on, sensing his reaction, "We can drop you at the hub on Starbase 1 on the way out."
"I will think about it," Spock answered, and Kirk gave him a sympathetic pat on the back and left.
But Spock didn't want to think about it. He didn't want to leave the ship. He hadn't even called his father to tell him what had happened. Every time he thought about it, it made him sick.
He didn't want to go to Starbase 5. Not without Nyota. It had been their thing, her idea. And he didn't think he could stand being around happy families, all the people for who things had gone as expected.
And Spock worried about Ma'Resh. He wondered if he could care for her. He knew he could take care of her physical needs, but what about her emotional ones. He tried to show her affection, but he was stiff and clumsy. He'd tried to kiss her on the forehead once, and she'd started flailing due to the cold by the time he'd managed to lean his head forward.
Eventually, the ship reached Earth, and the crew beamed down to Nyota's funeral. Her family had refused Starfleet honours, wanting to bury her according to their own traditions. There must have been four hundred people in attendance, most of them extended family, looking vaguely like her.
Ma'Resh had graduated from the incubator, so Spock decided to take her. She was still too small for the backpack that Nyota's great aunt had sent as a gift months ago, so Spock held her in a bundle in his arms.
"Oh, let me take her," Nyota's sister Naema said when she saw Spock at the gates, "The family wants to meet her, and then she won't bother you while you're paying your respects."
Reluctantly, Spock handed her over, and opened up the bag he was carrying to explain the medications and special formula Dr. McCoy had given him. She listened carefully, and then took the bag with a bit of a jerk, and a dark look, as if she too blamed Spock for Nyota's death.
Nyota's family hadn't involved Spock in the funeral, so he sat with the rest of the Starfleet officers. It was hard to listen as they all spoke about her, like someone from the past, who was no longer living. He started to tremble as they carried her body in.
She was laid out beautifully, in a silk dress, surrounded by flowers. A choir sang songs about how she was in a better place.
And then it was clear, in way it hadn't been before, that she was gone. She was part of the past. She had been his whole world and she was gone now.
They opened up the floor, and Spock stumbled up to the stage. He hadn't planned to talk. It had seemed illogical, a strange human custom that just made everyone more upset than they were already. But now he just wanted everyone to know. How wonderful she'd been. How she'd been kind and understanding and never once looked down on him. How she would have been such a good mother. How truly sorry he was.
But he couldn't say any of it. He just stood in front of the microphone and stammered.
"Nyota was…" he said, but then there was a crushing feeling in his lungs.
"I thought Nyota was .." he tried again, but he couldn't speak, no matter how deeply the grief boiled within him. He rushed off the stage.
Kirk was waiting.
"It's okay," he said, putting his arm across his shoulder. Spock buried his face in his hands, and tried to avoid howling. He was already ashamed of such an emotional outburst. He sat next to Kirk, trying to get a hold of himself until the ceremony ended, and people started filtering out.
"Are you ready to leave?" Kirk asked.
Spock scanned the crowd for Nyota's sister, but she was talking to a mourner, her arms empty.
"I need to find Ma'Resh," he said, "I will meet you on the ship."
Spock looked around, but he couldn't see her. He didn't see anyone carrying a baby anywhere.
"Excuse me, do you know where Ma'Resh is?" Spock asked Naema after a minute.
"One minute," she said to the mourner, as if she thought it was a rude interruption.
"My mother has taken her home," the Naema stated, "She was fussing."
"Where does she live?" Spock asked, thinking that a long walk might be good to calm down before facing the ship.
Naema gave him a withering look.
"You can't be thinking of raising her on your own?" she asked.
"My father will help," Spock answered, inventing wildly and unconvincingly, "He has been thinking of spending more time at the embassy in San Francisco."
She looked at him sceptically.
"She is mostly human, don't you think she should be around her human relatives?" she echoed back his fears.
"I will take her back to the ship and think about it," he said eventually.
Naema made a face.
"Don't you think all the back and forth will confuse her? How about you think about it and come back if you decide to raise her?" she asked with an air of finality, before turning back to the mourner.
Spock slumped away, unsure if he wanted to fight with her anymore.
It wasn't as if they were bad people. When she was pregnant, Nyota had given a lot of thought to sending the baby to live with them. It was a big family with her parents and her sister and her sister's husband and her three nephews all living in one house. She'd had fond memories. It might even have been what Nyota would have wanted.
He hesitated at the gates, but then decided that Naema was right, he could always come back if he wanted.
"They can't do that, you have rights!" Kirk spat as soon as Spock told him what had happened. He shrugged his shoulders weakly. He wasn't sure what he wanted.
And what did he have to give her? He might not even be able to tell her that he loved her. And it would always be just the two of them.
"It is for the best," he told Kirk, shutting down his protest.