Notes: As the title says, really. This is what happens when my brain offers titles with no context, no meaning, and no plot. Most of this is quite, quite ridiculous.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
Five Babies and a Pot Plant
Bed five is haunted.
That's the ship joke, anyway. It's actually just perpetually busted. Scotty says it's the bed base, where all the equipment siphons off the main power, and they don't get replaced often. Mostly because they don't break easily. But everyone prefers to say that it's haunted.
It got whacked on their very first dogfight - two Klingon battle-cruisers and some seriously dodgy flying later, half of Sickbay was a mess thanks to a plasma blowout on the nearest auxiliary thruster. Sickbay was lucky. The blowout took half of the storage rooms with it.
Ever since, bed five has been haunted. It varies from week to week, because fixing one problem creates another. Sometimes, McCoy just rolls his eyes and ignores it, like the month-long 'everybody's dead, Jim' phase, and sometimes he doesn't. Like the week it told everyone who'd listen that Jim had Andorian gonorrhoea. And it turned out he did. (He's never going to Risa again.)
They don't use it, typically, but sometimes - like right now - Sickbay is too busy to avoid it. It's nothing major. Nobody believes much in coincidence after more than six months in active service, but for once, it is a coincidence. Lab six did something wrong with their plasma injector experiments, and four beds are commandeered by Spock's junior team. Scotty did one better (Jim swears they have some sick contest going) by rewiring some of the warp coils and succeeding in blowing one of them up, so the other eight beds are taken up by engineers nursing various burns. And then the away team hit a landslide (or it hit them) and bingo. Full house.
"This is what you get," McCoy tells Spock, very seriously, "for taking Jim with you."
"I'm the Captain," Jim tells them both snottily, and Nurse Chapel so tweaks his broken ring finger on purpose for that. "Ow! I have the right to go wherever I want."
Spock says nothing; he looks like he's trying not to be sick, and Jim can't blame him. He's torn his side open. Not severely, but there's a load of gunk in it, and McCoy has this stuff to put in open wounds to kill shit off. And it stinks. Jim wants to puke from here. He only hopes Vulcans don't have a superior sense of smell.
"The right," McCoy continues blithely, sealing up the gash to Spock's temple. Spock bleeds green. Jim's not seen that before, and it's pretty funky. "Yeah, okay, kid. You've got the right. Doesn't mean you've got the goddamn sense."
"It didn't say sense in the job description," Jim snarks, and Chapel lets go of his hand. "Thanks. When can I get the fingers straightened?"
"When I'm done with this idiot," McCoy answers for her, and jabs Spock in the still-oozing ribs when he does that scowl-that-is-not-a-scowl. Jim knows that not-scowl. "Shut up. You're an idiot, and that's final."
"Under the standardised Academy testing, my scores were..."
"Yeah, yeah, you got an IQ through the goddamn ceiling," McCoy grumbles. "Doesn't mean you ain't an idiot. Stay still!" he barks when Spock shifts, and the biobed grumbles unhappily. Jim likes their grumblings. McCoy can read the displays; Jim can read the grumblings. Sort of.
"How long you gonna be?" he asks, eyeing his mangled hand. "Only I could go and..."
"Stay where you are," McCoy growls. "Ten minutes and he'll be fit for duty."
"Then why's the bed so pissy?" Jim points out, and McCoy rolls his eyes.
"Because your chief engineer is nothing more than a glorified hologram repairman," he snaps. "According to this hunk o' junk, Spock's blood pressure is too high, his oxygenation is too low, and he's about five months pregnant."
Jim blinks. The not-scowl is replaced by a blankness that Jim knows means exasperation, and he can't help himself in a room full of engineers.
"He's pregnant?" he asks loudly, and McCoy suddenly grins.
Engineers are gullible and gossipy if it doesn't involve an engine. By the time Jim goes back on duty, the whispers are everywhere. By the time he debriefs Uhura, laid up in a side unit with her badly broken leg up on a pillow in front of her, she's knitting a pair of baby booties, and looking downright sinister.
Sometimes, Jim loves this woman.
Jim learns early in his captaincy that being a captain is like being a dad. To stupid kids. Lots of them.
He did his fair share of babysitting as a pre-teen. Loads of his neighbours had toddlers when he was about twelve, and it got him away from the house and his uncle. He doesn't mind little kids really; they're easy enough. Shove in some food and park it in front of the vidscreen, no problem.
But he does remember the stupid arguments.
Specifically, he remembers them almost every day of his job.
The thing about space is that it's big. Huge. Colossal. Even with warp, and even in the flagship, it takes weeks to get anywhere. Being on a war footing just means taking ten days to get to the battlefield instead of twelve. Star-mapping is the most boring thing ever, to the point where he's actually memorised the personnel files of every single one of the alpha command officers.
And the bigness and the boringness (shut up, it's legit) means that little things become big things and he genuinely, genuinely has nothing better to do that sort out the little things. Spock looks at him like he's insane the first time he says he'll sort out a spat between crewmembers; he later works out why.
It becomes his life.
People fight over dumbass shit. Jim should know; he's had enough of them himself. But in space, dumbass becomes chronically, clinically, medically stupid. The first time Chekov lost his shit (which was startling in itself), it was at some poor maintenance worker for washing his tunics in the wrong soap. Seriously. The wrong soap. The kid had to be space crazy or something.
"This is why I'm not a counsellor, Jim," McCoy says flatly, when Jim tells him, and refuses to help any more on the matter.
Which leads to this. A slanging match between Sulu and Chekov in the middle of the main deck eight corridor, and then perpetual silence. And perpetual silence between your navigator and your pilot is awkward. Jim didn't hear the original slanging match (and probably wouldn't have understood it anyway, as even the translators gave up near the end) but he got the gist of it. Chekov had set fire to Sulu's baby.
The best bit was Spock's confusion over how Sulu had a baby on board, and how Chekov had set fire to it. The expression on his face when Uhura had explained that Sulu's baby was a Japanese peace lily was worth every mundane moment of Jim Kirk's career.
The second Christmas of their five-year mission, they actually get stood down. Granted, it's after a major dogfight with the Romulans and half the ship's shot to hell (and it takes weeks of Jim's wheedling to get McCoy not to jack it in and head to some nameless clinic in the Lyrcella moons for the rest of his career after the almost-but-not-quite hull breach) but it's still shore leave over Christmas, and everyone's delighted.
Never mind that the equality watch identifies only eight Christians out of the entire crew, or that a tenth of the crew aren't from Earth and therefore definitely never celebrated Christmas (or Christ, or anything else remotely resembling Christianity) in their green/grey/pink/blue-blooded lives. It's more that Christmas has been just a massive excuse for the biggest, most outlandish, ridiculous party ever for the last two hundred years, ever since pop contests lost their appeal. And thanks to Nero, ninety percent of the crew is under thirty and therefore still very much up for getting wasted as part of the celebrations.
Jim learns that Christmas, to his cost, that what he used to think about scientists being boring, reclusive eggheads, is totally wrong. Spock is. The rest of the department is insane.
The crew rent out a bar near San Diego and go wild. The debauchery starts with one of the nurses quite suddenly deciding to get up on a table and demonstrate her lack of underwear, and...Jim has no idea when it ends. He wakes up in the morning, on the floor of his hotel room, with one of Sulu's socks in his mouth, and Russian song lyrics written on his chest in lipstick. He hopes it's not Chekov's lipstick.
He feels like crap, but that's to be expected. It's Christmas Day, McCoy is snoring for his planet in Jim's bed, and someone's panties have been abandoned on top of the lamp. Jim finds more booze, sends his mother a vaguely coherent e-card, and passes out until he is kicked awake by Uhura to go to the Christmas meal. (The panties are gone, but as Spock doesn't seem inclined to kill him, it's probably not what he thinks it is.)
It's only that evening that McCoy lets him on why he wants to puke.
"I wouldn't worry about it, kid," he slurs from the bed. Dinner involved a lot of brandy, and some surprisingly cosy dancing with Uhura. Spock is more zen about other guys eyeing up his girlfriend than Jim imagined. Or maybe it's just doctor privileges. "Lieutenant O'Hara got into my medical kit on Christmas Eve and went around doping people up. Nothing dangerous."
McCoy snickers. He's definitely drunk. "Viagra, mostly."
It's not anything like that, whatever Jim got. O'Hara's a bastard in bitch's clothing (literally, on Christmas Eve) and Jim's not a favourite in the sciences. Spock properly got a thump of the good stuff. Jim probably got a weight-loss drug, because he feels permanently sick.
And then he starts gaining weight.
He doesn't notice until they get back to the ship and launch. Then suddenly his tunics are too snug, and McCoy is tweaking his exercise programme, and the smell of cheese is the most disgusting thing in the universe. And then there's a shouting match between the doctor and O'Hara, right in the middle of the labs, and Spock physically ejects the pair of them. Which Spock never does. Like, ever.
McCoy is seething when he calls Jim in after alpha shift, and the tricorder is almost up Jim's nose before he even sits down.
"That stupid, juvenile, adolescent moron!" McCoy shouts.
Jim leaves him to it, watching everyone else come and go. The post-Christmas blues generates a lot of work for Sickbay, on top of the hypochondriac from maintenance. Jones, Johnson, whatever. McCoy pinches his new spare tyre, and then punches Jim in the throat with a hypo, ignores his swearing, and says:
"That'll get rid of it."
"Rid of what?"
"O'Hara's an idiot."
"Why?" Jim asks suspiciously.
"He slipped you fertility drugs," McCoy says flatly.
Jim stares at him.
"At the Christmas party," McCoy clarifies. "They won't do any damage, but..."
"Bones. I've put on three pounds."
"That's you," McCoy pokes him in the gut. "They don't make you gain weight, Jim, they just retain the crap you're putting in. I've told you about those..."
Jim doesn't wait. This is an opportunity not to be missed, and he's going to take it. O'Hara has knocked up his captain, and the entire ship is going to know. Jim went through too many wayward years not to understand the power of humiliation over men. He leaves McCoy swearing in the dust, and makes a beeline for the mess.
It's an hour after alpha; the mess is heaving. Jim never uses the officer's mess, not since he heard that rumour of what Pike and Number One did on the main table, and if the captain doesn't use it, it's seen as uptight for the other officers to do it. So the command crew are already gathered, Sulu trying to construct a tower out of his penne pasta and apparently not noticing Uhura stealing it piece by piece.
"Hungry?" he asks when Jim brings his laden tray.
"Eating for two," Jim says cheerfully, and Uhura raises his eyebrows.
"So where's the other one?"
"In here," Jim pats his swollen belly. "O'Hara slipped me fertility drugs at the Christmas party."
There's...a silence. A kind of weird silence. Sulu's tower collapses; Jim ploughs on. The next table is silent too; he's done his part. O'Hara'll get hounded out of being a cocky jackass before next week. Shame; Jim had kind of liked him.
Spock caves first, surprisingly. Muttering something about an experiment and looking like the urge to roll his eyes is painful, he disappears. Uhura is quick to follow, not even bothering to muffle her laughter. It's Chekov, round-eyed and looking quite petrified, who says:
"You are pregnant?"
"Maybe," Jim shovels. "I haven't checked."
"McCoy is going to kill you," Sulu decides.
"Only after the baby's born," Jim says, relishing the chance to eat properly. His meal allowance is going to suffer for this, but it's worth it. "Anyway, he'll have to kill O'Hara first."
"He already tried," Chekov mutters into his - whatever it is, and Sulu gives up, changing the subject onto the intergalactic quisball league before his head explodes.
McCoy does kill Jim for his stunt, but it gets O'Hara to stop playing stupid pranks on everyone, and it only takes six weeks to lose the extra weight.
Shame it doesn't stop Uhura from putting baby booties all over his chair for weeks.
The regulations on families are kind of weird. There's precedent and loopholes and pressure points everywhere, but the general overview is 'no.'
For Telosians, there's no option.
Telosians, McCoy explains, don't choose to get pregnant. When they get fertile, standing in the same room as another one will do the trick. The plus side is that their babies aren't so dependent, so maternity leave covers it until the kid can look after itself.
Jim doesn't mind that bit, and nor does Starfleet Command. It's not Lieutenant Gr'Kel's first baby, so she doesn't mind. Jim doesn't even mind the weird waddle at the end of the pregnancy, or the last-minute detour to drop her off on her home-world at the due date approaches, or even the fact that she spontaneously turns bright pink at the start of the thirtieth week.
It's the crying.
Telosian babies can cry before they're born.
Jim had never heard something cry from inside somebody else. It was disturbing. It was flat-out disturbing - and what's more, everybody else agreed with him. The engineering crew kept chasing ghosts, only to find it was Gr'Kel's unborn toerag kicking up a stink inside its mother. A dull, deep, echoing wail, like someone with throat cancer gargling a sewage plant. It was disgusting.
Jim detoured early, saw her off home early, and didn't give a damn about Command's kittens over the breach of protocol. New life and new civilizations were one thing, but that was just gross.
Vulcans don't keep pictures.
More accurately, Vulcans don't keep pictures of anyone they will ever see again. So in reality, pictures are only ever kept of people who have died - and most Vulcans will not take them in the first place, as years of exposure prior to the passing would allow them to keep the memory.
It's all about the memory.
Human facial recognition fades quickly; even without being a communications officer, Uhura knows that. She loved her father - still does, twenty years on - but she can barely remember his face. A wide, flashing smile is all that truly lingers in her memory; if she wants to really see him, she must unearth the photo album that her grandmother made for her before she left Africa with her mother.
"For the memories," she'd said. "Keep old ones, and make new ones."
Uhura doesn't make photo albums; they're ancient, old-fashioned things, and she isn't into any of that. She has her holographic projector on the bedside table, and a padd of cycling images and video clips that she's collected over the years. Many of the cadets in her Academy padd are gone, and she can't remember their faces either. Many of her Enterprise images are still alive, but she collects the images all the same. One day, they might not be.
It's Human memory. Vulcan long-term memory is not only generally superior, but better retains facial recognition. Their memory for colours fades faster than the Human, but their facial recognition is ludicrously good. They don't need pictures to remember people - and what Vulcans don't need, they don't have.
So she is surprised to find a picture in Sarek's office.
They do not visit Spock's father often. Vulcans see not logic in visiting, particularly when subspace messages work perfectly adequately, but Spock had been invited to present a research paper at the VSA's new establishment, and she had seized at the chance to practice her Vulcan. Spock's Vulcan is too liberal, too much influenced by his fluent command of Terran Standard. Most Vulcans are not truly fluent in Terran Standard, and their Vulcan Standard tighter and more precisely formed.
So they came to the colony, arriving in the middle of a cool night, fresh from a transport vessel en route to the Andorian shipping ports shy of the Neutral Zone. Jim had allowed them leave at the same time (Uhura appreciates his understanding for their relationship, but prepares not the exaggerated leer whenever it arises in conversation) and they had left immediately. Now, she finds herself alone in Sarek's surprisingly small home on the east side of the colony, Spock off somewhere in the colony centre to meet with a...godmother, Uhura supposes is the closest equivalent. Vulcan tradition is very particular regarding who in the family meets a - girlfriend, she again supposes. A bondmate prior to bonding, Spock had put it, and Uhura had gotten the impression that that hadn't been too common before Nero. In any case, she isn't eager to meet Spock's family. One Vulcan is enough to handle.
The house is small, impeccably neat, and decorated sparsely with artefacts from the Andorian Empire, and a wall of thin, bladed Vulcan weapons. Spock has some of his own; they were for ritual slaughter, once in a long-faded past, and Uhura shies away from them as though they're still bloody.
In shying away, she finds the picture.
It is a picture, as well - a thick parchment displaying a faded image in the Vulcan tradition: that is to say, still. If they do not do images, they certainly do not do videos. It is similar to the old Earth photographs that her grandmother still took with her antique camera, but the colours are richer, and the people not looking at the photographer.
It is a Vulcan woman - non-descript but for the flowing ceremonial robe, and the baby she hugs to her chest, wrapped in the same ceremonial garment that Spock would have worn. It is like a christening robe; there is a hologram, somewhere in Spock's things, of his mother holding him at the age of two Terran years in the same robe. It is a clan robe; specifically, it is his father's.
The baby is a child of Sarek, and yet -
It is not Spock, Uhura is certain. Vulcans do not pass their babies around the way Humans do; their telepathy is too fragile and intrusive, their minds too exposed to even accidental damage. They are kept largely isolated until their first shields form, only to be held by their mothers and fathers. If the baby is delicate, even the father will not hold it. Even healers do not touch; even now, with the population endangered, healers do not touch sick babies.
The woman is the baby's mother. She is the mother of Sarek's child - Sarek's other child, and Uhura finds herself peering intently at the baby as if it can reach to her and tell her its name, its life, all its secrets.
But it says nothing. It is a picture, on display in a Vulcan house, and it says nothing. On display, Uhura thinks that it never will.
Spock had a sibling, somewhere along the line, but she never spills that secret.
The Pot Plant
Spock takes the proffered plant, but he simply stares at it, and Jim can see he's going to have to explain his thought process. As usual. And he'll probably get an eyebrow for it. As usual. Not like Spock was going to let his hair down, even at his own wedding.
"It's a baby," he says.
Spock just looks at him. He gave up asking the obvious years ago, and Jim kind of misses it. Maybe they should get a new Vulcan, now this one's gotten used to them. He's willing to bet McCoy would roll with that idea.
"For you and Uhura," he says, and gets distracted. "Is she still Uhura? Is she Nyota Spock? Is Spock even your last name, or your first? Or only?"
"Nyota is keeping her surname," Spock says simply. "Jim? The plant?"
"The baby," Jim insists. "See, this is the usual way things work: you get married, and you have a baby. And frankly, man, you're gonna need practice taking care of things. Babies are demanding, and illogical. I figure you can start with a baby plant and work your way up. I'll get you guys a kitten or something next year. If the plant lives."
Spock eyes it dubiously. "Jim, I can care for a plant."
"You can't even take care of yourself," Jim snorts. It's true. McCoy barely released him from the last disaster in time to get married, and only then because he was sweet on the bride. How Spock hasn't punched McCoy's lights out about that yet is beyond Jim.
Spock doesn't answer him; he sets the plant aside on the gift table, and Jim promptly dumps it right back in his hands.
"You can't just abandon your baby," he insists.
"Jim," Spock says seriously. "It has been an honour to serve with you, and I have learnt much from exposure to your personality. However, in certain areas, you remain as McCoy has dubbed you."
Jim glows. Spock's never outright called him an idiot before. It's almost like a drunk confession of man-love, and he feels smug about getting it. It's as close as Spock's ever going to get to saying he likes him, anyway.
"Just take your baby," he says.
The bride appears at Spock's shoulder. She's always been beautiful, but today's really ramped it up. She'll burn Jim's face clean off at this rate, if she doesn't stop glowing like the reactor core.
"Jim has gifted us with a surrogate child," Spock says, handing her their new baby. "So that I can learn to care for illogical creatures."
"You manage well enough," she shrugs, turning the plant around. "It's pretty, though. Thank you," she adds, going so far as to kiss Jim on the cheek. She must have been at the champagne again; Jim grins.
"Do I get to call you Nyota now?"
Two weeks later, they get back from their squeezed-between-missions honeymoon, and they have the plant with them when Scotty beams them up. Jim grants them leave to board in the transporter room, and grins at the pot plant in Uhura's hands.
"How's the sprog?" he teases.
"Quite well," Spock replies serenely. "We named him for you."
And so Jim leaves his legacy - in the shape of a squat, ugly little pot plant in the corner of Commander Spock's quarters.