Well, this is it guys, time to say goodbye to Khan and Nina :)
Thank you one last time to: FreeSpiritSeeker , sweets1111, Mira SeverusSirius Black-Snape, Poodle warriors, Sassiebone, SaintsFan1, Teddy bear 007, Benedict'sZombieGirl, Ravenclaw Slytherin , CLTex, Arabella, Le Pleiade, LookAliveSunshine03, ShadowZone85, Peridot Eyez, elbafo, Sorceress of the Trees, DoctorGiggelstheMouse, jbuzz, Jess, JobanaBallack, Cold sunrise, Avalon-Mist, Guests and to everyone, since this story started. It's been over a year, and there were so many of you, and I know I've thanked you all at some point along the way, but I just wanted to say it again one last time :)
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the OC's
Nina felt the familiar rush of being transported, her person being broken into billions of fragments like a puzzle coming undone. In some ways she understood Bones' apprehension about the task of being transported; your very essence being left up to technology to put you back in order again was a daunting thought. She tried not to be too disconcerted over the matter, not wanting to become unhinged at the moment when something far more pressing was about to take place. Jim's plan was unfolding before her eyes, and she hoped he was right with his gut instinct to not have shown his hand prematurely.
It was merely a matter of seconds before she found herself rematerializing in the transporter room of the Enterprise, alongside Khan who had Maggie held tightly to his chest, her eyes still flickering in sleep. She spotted Scotty first at the console, a bright smile on his jovial face as he gave them greeting. "Welcome aboard."
With a response dangling from her lips, she suddenly swallowed it back as she noticed Jim was also present at the entrance. His charismatic grin that he didn't bother to fight back was etched on his face as he studied over Khan first, who in turn observed her Captain right back with the same calculating stare present in his eyes. Jim, never one to be hostile, eventually turned his eyes back to her, welcoming if not slightly considerate as he watched her. "I see you've done some reconnecting?"
She couldn't help but let out a chuckle at Jim's uncouth way of broaching a topic. "Yes, I think we need to have a talk now."
"Not much time for talking I'm afraid. We're leaving for the mission in a matter of minutes."
"So there's no point in us stepping on board?" She frowned, her bemusement bleeding out onto her face.
"Well, that depends on Khan," Jim paused, looking at the augment with Maggie sleeping against his broad chest. Something in her Captain's face appeared to soften, and despite his past with Khan, he had continued to move forward from the suffering that was felt by each of them. "Where you go depends entirely on you. You have to make the choice now to stay with Nina and Maggie, but that will mean leaving behind you crew on New Vulcan. Can you do that?"
Nina couldn't' discern what Khan was thinking with his face turned stoic, and his eyes expressive to something deep and poignant. He was battling with the decision without having to actually spare words to her or Jim. In that moment though, she needed to hear his voice, to be one with his mind and the decisions he was pondering. She would never sway him either way. Her selflessness acknowledged the love and sentiment he had for his crew, especially after the great lengths he had gone to arrange for their freedom. She was stronger too, the result of the separation, and she knew she would endure again if that was his choosing.
"What would become of my people, should I deem my attentions to be needed elsewhere?" He crafted his question skillfully, his forward gaze piercing and riddled with uncertainty.
"They would remain where they are, under the monitoring of Starfleet so they can continue to grow and prosper as they have done this past year. You might be interested to learn that Starfleet recently appointed a new Ambassador to their cause."
"I'm sure the predecessor was worn out from dodging our existence." Khan retorted unpleasantly.
"That's a complicated issue, one that we can resolve right now," Jim tapped his communicator, looking pleased by the turn of events. "Could you join us in the transporter room please?"
With already knowing the identity of the previous Ambassador, Nina was prepared for her intrusion, though she kept a sharp eye on how Khan would react to seeing her again. His past memories before Admiral Marcus were still intact, and he would know her face from their common history.
The door to the transporter room split opened and in she stepped, embodying the same severe grace that was almost enviable. It was a surprise however to see her hair pulled back, long and sleek, while she donned an azure blue Starfleet uniform. Her eyes flitted from Nina to Khan, smiling with sincerity as her caustic and somewhat chilly visage was washed away. "Hello Khan."
"Lykel?" She nodded, causing her champagne locks to sway back and forth in the same manner as a pendulum. Nina stepped up to retrieve Maggie from Khan's grasp, her eyes locking with his in the understanding that he had to go to his old friend. Those around them that watched the augments embrace felt their hearts bleed with the satisfaction that all they had accomplished had led them there.
"We don't do this often." Lykel chuckled dryly, the almost cutting remark made more cordial because of it.
"I was told your cryo tube had not made the journey." Khan stated as he pulled back from her.
"Yes, a part of the story that I spun for you while you were placed on New Vulcan," She looked past him to gauge in Nina's reaction, obviously having expected him to have been returned with all of his memories intact. "I suppose you still think Adraich is missing as well?"
"Yes," Khan gave a pained frown with the rush of information surging over him once again, and Nina hoped it would not trigger another episode. "Is he here with you?"
Lykel appeared somber, but she kept her shoulders squared, and allowed her gaze to once more settle on Khan. "I'm afraid his life is no longer connected to our people. He was well since last I saw him, leading a mostly undisturbed life in London."
"How much have you managed to remember?" Jim cut in, looking concerned over Khan's condition as well.
All eyes shifted to the Enterprise Captain as he asked the same question everyone else had been thinking. Khan took a step back from Lykel, looking back at Nina as she held their daughter. "I only have a vague implication about my connection with Nina, and I could recall us speaking before my memories were made altered by your people."
"That's less to go on than I thought it would be." Jim said, but he crossed his arms as if refusing to be discouraged.
"It is enough. I'm here now, and you have Nina as well," Lykel spoke with confidence, laying a reassuring grip on his forearm. "That is of course, if you decide to stay?"
Khan laid both of his hands on Lykel's shoulders, giving her a squeeze of affection before he stepped back from her presence to return to Nina's side. With their daughter between them, his gaze resting on the future, the decision was made. It was not entirely made without struggle, for the discord was there behind the diamonds of his eyes, but he chose to hide the fact as an act of mercy for Nina. "I will remain, but I have questions that need answering."
"Of course. I'm sure Nina is still wondering about a few things herself." Lykel said, addressing Nina with her words, reaching out for the friendship shared between them.
"That will have to wait. I need to get to the Bridge. We're leaving for the mission right now." Jim said while making his way to the door. The rest of the room followed after him at a matched pace as they filed out into the white corridors of the ship.
While still holding Maggie, Nina called for Jim's attention before he could get too far away. "But Jim, you can't just take us with you. Starfleet will never allow you to leave the Starbase."
"I'll explain everything after we've gone to warp," He promised as he spun on his heel to face her, before looking at Lykel as he would with any of the subordinates under his charge. "Take them to Sickbay. Bones hasn't seen Maggie in nearly three months, and I'm sure he has some inquiries about Nina's condition as well."
Lykel answered with a silent nod of her head, giving a rare smile at the family of three. Jim parted ways to make for the Bridge, while Scotty stopped to give a few words before he had to leave for engineering. "She's grown bigger I see."
"Yes, and more of a handful too," Nina said, a half smile turning up the one corner of her mouth. She was still left with a bitter feeling for Jim's lack of an explanation, but seeing some of her friends was already contributing to the lift in her spirits. "Thank you Monty."
He flushed the same sangria red as his shirt, clearing his throat as he tried to approach the topic with indistinct recognition because of Khan being present. "It was nothing."
Lykel kept a hand on Khan's wrist, spying the subtle twitch and signs of indignation in her former leader's face first. Scotty's eyes widened, perceiving that the truth was somehow known by Khan already, as he shuddered with terror. "Well er—I best get back to engineering. The ship nearly fell apart last time without me in it."
"I'll talk with you later, okay?" Nina responded, resigning with a gentle smile as she adjusted Maggie in her arms.
"Aye, good luck lass." He said his goodbye, eyes skirting quickly to Khan with apprehension once more before he was off.
Nina turned back to the two augments, shooting Khan in incredulous look as she stood before him. "Here, take her back. I need you to remember that Scotty gave his name for her protection, but she has your blood, and she is yours in every way."
He had the humility to at least appear ashamed for his reaction, though Nina wasn't truly upset with him. His primal instincts would have naturally driven him to such a response, and she was certain if a similar situation were to occur with her, she would react much the same. It was all good fun to scold him if she could get away with it though, and Lykel gave her a knowing smirk where she stood.
"I need everyone to be aware of that matter." Khan said, completely unapologetic as he beheld his daughter with admiration.
"They are aware. Mostly everyone on board knows about your past by now." Lykel informed him coolly.
"Everyone but me it would seem." Khan countered spitefully.
They started their way back through the ship towards Sickbay, Nina remembering the way as she had walked it so many times before. Everything was new again, the fresh sheen still glossing the walls of the corridors, while the first coat of floor wax showed them their reflections in the polished surface. The smell of reinforced tritanium around the hull permeated throughout the ship, and everywhere lights flickered and blinked on the consoles. This was home.
Nina didn't miss the constant sidelong glances that Lykel kept shooting at Khan, or rather towards the infant in his arms. She was curious, if not awestruck by the sight. "Are all men this quick to adjust to fatherhood?" She said aloud, a more than difficult to decipher tone coloring her words.
"I haven't adjusted, but I am learning." Khan replied to her, his eyes resurfacing on Maggie as she turned her head to nuzzle against him.
"What makes you curious?" Nina asked, humor sparking in her eyes as she came to her own conclusion. "Judging by Bones are you?"
Lykel scowled to cover for the sheepish flush that crept onto her face, but she was interrupted before she could argue otherwise. "Hey, I only deliver them. I'm a doctor, not a surrogate." Bones stood outside the doors to Sickbay, grinning without mercy as he spotted the three of them.
Nina broke out into a chuckle as she went ahead to embrace her friend, having only spoken with him over video since the day of Maggie's delivery. He cleared his throat as they pulled apart, trying to remain the part of gruff Doctor in front of the others. "You've been playing around with sedatives have you?" She asked cheekily.
"In his case, the phrase 'come quietly' likely wouldn't have applied, and we weren't going to take the risk," Bones surveyed Khan thoughtfully, looking pleased about the fact that he was holding the baby. "Sorry about your head. Mind you, it was probably too thick for us to crack anyway."
Khan gave a narrowed look at Bones for his unabashed way of speaking. "Comforting concern Doctor."
"No special treatment, it's what everyone aboard gets," He stood aside to wave them in into Sickbay, Lykel included. "Alright, family checkup. You can occupy that bed in the corner."
The other nurses working in Sickbay watched them with caution; or rather they watched Khan with caution. Most of the faces were familiar to Nina, save for a few new additions, one of them probably her replacement. She took a seat on the biobed beside Khan, Bones coming to stand before them with his tricorder, blocking out the rest of Sickbay as he began his medical exam. Lykel took note beside him, watching his every move.
"What's your role on the Enterprise now?" Nina asked her while trying not to flinch as Bones pressed a cold instrument to her neck.
"I'm acquiring knowledge on your medical sciences. I am also a part of tactical for when the time comes to deduct surveys on the surfaces of new planets," She already appeared to be deeply invested into her new career, sharing a smile with Nina. "Being an Ambassador for my people was fulfilling for the first year, but I didn't want to remain in solitude on Earth after everyone I know in this century was to leave for five years. The position was filled quickly by another in Starfleet, someone I am confident can handle the task with an unprejudiced mind."
The first feeling of the ship going to warp surrounded them, Nina breathing in both relief and panic as the questions continued to build in her head. Bones was making sure to take care of checking Maggie's vitals too, though seeming pleased by what he read. "A clean bill of health for all three of you. I have to say that sedative burned through your system fast."
Khan was unshaken by the news, something such as that coming to him as old and trite. "What do you know of my people Doctor? What I mean to say is how extensive is your knowledge into our anatomy?"
"I've caught up significantly from researching you and your crew when you were still popsicles. Everything else comes from Lykel, and Nina," He paused with a considerate look before understanding flashed in his eyes. "Maggie will be in good hands. I'll be making sure to monitor her frequently, and have her in for medical exams to see how she develops. She's a special child, like nothing I've ever seen."
"Thank you Bones," Nina said, speaking for both of them when she knew Khan wasn't about to immediately jump at the chance to be amicable with her crew. "And what should I do about my condition? We were brought here so fast that I didn't have time to think about the injections that were just left behind."
"Already taken care of. I had made a good amount in advance once Jim had this plan set in order."
The look of surprise was warranted by her, or so she felt as she looked at her friend incredulously. "How long was this all planned?"
"Jim will want to fill you in," The doors to Sickbay slide opened behind them, and in walked their Captain grinning with self-satisfaction. Bones chuckled with a shoulder shrug, as if to say well-what-do-you-know. "Answers travel fast today."
"Sorry for that wait, though you three seem to be fitting in just fine." He studied all three of them equally, soaking up as much information as he could, while he seemed pleased with his findings.
"Jim, my parents?"
"They're aware of what we were going to do. Uhura informed them already, though I would still message them once everything's cooled down a bit." He rubbed the back of his neck, looking uncertain for the first time since she had seen him. "Where should I start?"
"How about the fact that you took us with you for the mission. Won't Starfleet come after you for this?"
There was a shared laugh between him, Bones, and Lykel, as if what she suggested was amusing. Jim conducted himself into a serious manner before continuing. "Of course not. Starfleet has more important things going on than to worry about one nurse violating her—let's call it the conditions of her parole. And as for Khan, I actually got permission to take him with us."
"How did you manage that?" Nina looked to Bones for verification, and he nodded to corroborate the story.
"That was my doing as Ambassador," Lykel interjected. "Our people's advancements make us valuable; too valuable to be kept farming on some planet. It took much convincing on my part, nearly my whole term as Ambassador to convince the Admirals of Starfleet that we should slowly integrate augments into the Starfleet program. After me and Adraich, who was there better to start for the trial than Khan?"
"They seemed most comfortable giving him to us because we've worked with him before. Also, with him out of the picture for the next five years, it puts the thought of a takeover out of everyone's minds. There were still naysayers in Starfleet who doubted peace could exist between Starfleet and augments with Khan as their leader. Most feared an uprising," Jim said frankly, ignoring the look of resentment he was tossed by Khan. "However, the deal was only made after I agreed to not inform Khan of his past with Starfleet."
"Is that where I come in?" Nina asked with dread fluttering in her stomach.
"Yeah, this might be surprising, but you are actually more trouble than Khan is in the eyes of Starfleet. You, along with Carol. When I sent Spock and Bones to retrieve Khan, they were supposed to bring his pod straight to the Enterprise, but we thought a visit with you was needed first before he should make a decision. Everything had to wait until the last minute, and you know how I like to take matters into my own hands."
His silence was disconcerting, and the pieces started to come together in her mind. "Jim, you weren't permitted to bring me for this mission, were you?"
"No," His answer was quick, and without regret. "But I had to Nina. The harsh truth is you likely wouldn't have survived for five years without Bones monitoring your condition."
Bones rubbed a hand down over his mouth to his chin, a sight often witnessed when he was under pressure. "You're unstable Nina, and there may come a time when my injections won't be enough for you. We're your family here, and we all decided the risk was worth it." He added, his eyes darkening with the somber tone of the room.
"It will at least be a week before they will even discover you are gone. They'll exam Khan's pod first, linking the location close to your parents' house. From there it won't take them long to come to the conclusion of your whereabouts, especially when you don't show up in San Francisco for your new quarter's at the base, and before you ask; yes, I knew about that." Jim shrugged, daring her to come up with a better excuse for what they did.
"I don't know what to say." She said quietly, her eyes misting with the presence of tears. "You all shouldn't have risked that for me, but I can't deny how grateful I am, not without taking away your pride for all you've accomplished. To break the rules like that, it's just reckless."
"Don't start quoting regulation to us. We have Spock for that." Bones remarked dryly.
She managed a laugh at that along with the others, as they were more than aware of how orderly Spock was. "Aren't you worried about the consequences though?"
"I've done worse. Besides, Bob said he'd handle things back at home as best he could. Worst case scenario, I get chewed out via video message from Earth."
"Admiral Bennett is aware too?"
Lykel crossed her arms as she pursed her lips. "Yes, he seems to share our opinion in that there is little danger where you are concerned."
"And what of Adraich?" Khan's smooth voice sliced through the conversation, shifting it to matters that pertained to him. "What became of him?"
"We can answer that." Bones remarked, looking to Lykel to start. She was more apprehensive than Nina remembered her ever being; an emotion that always seemed to arise when she spoke of family.
"Well . . . "
They sat in the small tea shop in London, a cozy little place tucked away amid the busy traffic congestion of the city. It was a crisp day, a bite in the air that fit ill with the warm spray of the sun. Their days on Earth were numbered, their shore leave about to be cut short once the mission resumed. The purpose of the trip had been for her benefit, but she was glad when he had volunteered to accompany her on her excursion, needing the support while silently begging for it.
"I haven't been to London in over three hundred years." She commented to him, speaking to settle the nerves that had resided within her. Her anxiety had taken root since the start of her morning, and had since grown with the unrest of the day that surrounded her.
"Technically you were here all along when Marcus hid you in Section 31," McCoy said, taking a sip of tea while passing a grimace at the taste. "Could use a little more sugar."
"You'll ruin the natural flavors that way." She told him with a smirk, thankful for the momentary distraction.
"That can't be helped. I hate cinnamon tea."
She took his china cup, switching it with hers before he could finish grumbling. "Here have mine, it's lemon. I prefer cinnamon anyway. Spicy, hot, and maybe just a bit temperamental."
He grinned as he caught her meaning. "Well lemon suits me just fine. Sour but sweet, with that first bite of acidity that packs a punch."
They smiled freely at each other, almost missing when their guests finally showed up at their booth. The shock of Carol's bright blonde hair was the first thing Lykel noticed, along with the wide smile on her face upon seeing them. "I'm so sorry for the delay. I hope we haven't kept you waiting for too long."
"Not at all." Lykel assured. "It's good to see you again Doctor Marcus."
Carol flushed at her title, knowing full well she was no longer perceived as a valued member of Starfleet. She likely had not been addressed as such for almost a year now, but Lykel gave her the respect because of all she had done for her people. Without her, she would still be in cryogenic sleep alongside Khan and their crew.
"How are you Carol?" McCoy asked, leaving an embrace from the woman while reclaiming his seat.
"I'm well thank you. I've started a new research project, though the progress is slow," She slid into the booth, revealing the presence standing by her side, looking confident but unsure to be there. Carol gave him an encouraging smile, silently asking him to join them. "This is Ensign Alex Teller, my friend. He's been looking into augments, so I invited him along for some insight that you could maybe provide on the subject."
"Hello Alex." McCoy greeted, carefully tossing Lykel a look to see how she was handling the reunion.
"It's nice to meet you." She said eventually, taking a deep breath while forcing on a brave smile of welcoming.
"A pleasure to meet you too," He said, now more relaxed as the tension rolled off from his shoulders. "You hold a fascinating position. I admit I'm envious. Of course, I haven't been in Starfleet for very long. It was Carol who encouraged me to join."
The false cover story worked easily enough, masking his blank memories with simple lies. "What led to your curiosity of augments?" Lykel pressed, waiting to see if there was a gap in his mind that he was trying to fill.
"I don't feel human," His eyes were frosty, the light leaving them for a moment until she was being pegged by two icicles. "I'm too strong, too smart, and too physically appealing, all three of which I am not shy to admit. Starfleet isn't lenient on letting anyone look at records of the Eugenics wars these days, and I have not been granted permission to visit New Vulcan."
McCoy's brow sagged into a worried frown, both of them looking to Carol for her reaction. She managed a face of impassiveness, though Lykel doubted that response as she watched Carol's nervous hand movements around the hem of her coat. "I've told Alex that New Vulcan is only accepting urgent and immediate Starfleet business that cannot wait."
"It's true." Bones rectified, but Alex seemed to become more hidden behind Adraich as his personality bloomed brightly through the cracks.
"Oh I don't doubt that, but it doesn't mean I don't want answers. I seem to be in perfect health all the time, and I studied a sample of my own blood that I took for curiosity's sake. Would you mind taking a look, Carol tells me you are a Doctor," He handed his PADD over to McCoy, folding his hands in patience on the table as he waited for word from the doctor. "I think you'll find my results stimulating, particularly in regards to my platelets."
McCoy let out a strangled cough, covering his mouth with a hand before his mouth could fall agape from shock. The sequencing he was looking at was similar to what he had found out about Khan's, and he was attempting to cover up the obvious truth of that. "Stimulating as a root canal. I'll admit I've never seen anything like this before."
Alex tapped away on the table with one finger in a repetitive pattern, like raindrops falling from a leaky tap. Lykel's previous unease about being around him shifted, now nervous for an entirely different reason as she observed the calculating stare in the black of his pupils. "It's interesting to me that you would say that Doctor. Of all the other medical officers I've spoken with, they have brushed me off without a second glance."
"Where do you get off comparing me to other medical officers?" He huffed.
Both Lykel and Carol scolded him in unison. Now least of all was when they would need his bad-tempered answers. "It's alright. I meant it as a compliment actually." Alex assured.
"Well, thank you," McCoy said dryly as he handed back the PADD. "As interesting as your research is, I'm afraid I can't look into it for you. I'm the Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise, and we are set to leave for a five year mission into deep space."
"Myself as well. I'm stepping down as Ambassador to join the Enterprise." Lykel added before she too was confronted with his hard hitting questions.
"Pity." Alex muttered blankly as he refrained from lashing out, even when he visibly wanted to. His grip on his tea cup was terrifying, as were the deep breaths he inhaled through his nose.
Carol forced their conversation into friendlier territory, steering them right back into an afternoon visit shared amongst friends, or so it would appear to be to those watching closely. Lykel felt as if she was shaking the whole time, and the only thing keeping her anchored to her seat was McCoy's hand, placed discreetly on her knee under the table. They laughed, and spoke with false enthusiasm for everything that was being said, until their cups had run dry and the day had run late, prompting everyone to slowly rise from their seats.
"Carol, have you talked with Jim anymore about your . . . stomach problem?" McCoy asked her, coming across as both caring and reprimanding.
Carol's hand flew to the front of her coat, rubbing a circle around her front. Her face remained the definition of calm despite the sensitivity of the subject. "We've spoken, and he is aware. I've left it up to him now, but life goes on Doctor McCoy."
"Alright." He said nothing more.
"It was a joy to meet you Ambassador," Lykel's heart leapt as 'Alex' addressed her. She turned to see he was holding out a hand waiting for her to take, its presence intimidating as it loomed, stretching to bridge the space between them. "I do hope we will get to see more of each other in the future."
With no good enough excuse, she fitted her hand into his, gripping firmly which he returned with matched strength. "As do I." A shiver crawled up the length of her spine as his grip lingered long enough for him to trace his thumb across the back of her hand. His eyes gleamed with something indiscernible, until he finally broke away.
McCoy reclaimed her dropped hand, and she had never been more receiving to close contact until that moment, giving him greater access as she laced their fingers. He shot her a worried look, but she only shook her head.
"We'd better leave, or we'll miss our shuttle back."
"In a hurry to fly are we?" She teased.
He grumbled unintelligibly under his breath as they parted ways from the tea shop. Alex's gaze followed them for a good long while after they had given their goodbyes, his presence stalking them through the streets of London until he was swept away into the vast crowds. When she felt they were far enough away in distance from where they had started she slowed to a stop, turning to face McCoy. "He's going to remember. Maybe not soon, but one day those memories will be unleashed."
"Yeah," McCoy said with a tone of conflict. "It seems his greatest battle was always against himself. He's doomed to remember."
Lykel sighed with sadness and pity for her old friend. A part of her would always love Adraich, both as a brother, and of the lover she never had. "He never could hide from Lena, any more than he could face her."
"Starfleet is going to have a lot to handle in him when the time comes."
She was pained just to think about it, resting her forehead against McCoy's sternum as she brought herself into his arms, bemoaning about the future to come. "Thank you for coming with me." She mumbled into the fabric of his coat. Up close his scent was fresh, combined of both leather, and pine scented aftershave. She smiled slightly, pulling back to tilt her head up before placing a kiss directly on his lips.
His face flooded with red heat, pausing to clear his throat as soon as she pulled away to garner his reaction. "You're welcome." He replied, voice straining as a result of the kiss.
She chuckled while never letting go of his hand, dragging him along down the streets, and weaving through the throngs of people as they made their way back to catch their shuttle. "Come on; try to keep up old man."
"Old man?" He scoffed in insult, causing her to break out into laughter all over again with a muted smile on her face, one that lasted all throughout their journey home.
Keeping the last part of the story to themselves, they took in everyone's reaction to Adraich's condition. Nina wasn't surprised about the early complications in his condition. It was always going to be a challenge to convince the augment he was human, and he was much too clever to accept what he was told. It was unfortunate to think he would find out the truth when he had been the one to initially ask to be put in his new environment however. He was made to suffer needlessly.
"Why did he ask to be separated from us?" Khan asked thinly, his tone laced with betrayal.
"The rift that had started between you two since Lena's death had only amplified with Nina's presence," Lykel explained. "I feel it is a good thing she and Maggie are with us. He won't be in his right mind when his memories start to return, and in a deranged state he could very well have gone after her or harmed the child to inflict pain upon you, whether you would have been there to see it or not."
A growl thrummed in his throat, and a black look grew in his eyes that turned Nina's blood cold. "He will never come near my family."
No one made to argue that point, as it was illustrated clear by the tense stance of his body. They were saved from the dark mood as a voice broke out through Sickbay over the Comm, a familiar feminine voice that Nina could not forget.
"Captain?" Uhura's voice called in question.
"What is it Lieutenant?"
There was the cluttered sound of commotion in the background, voices mixing together in one while Uhura silenced them with stern reprimand for everyone in Sickbay to hear. "We were waiting for an update from you on the family's condition. Sorry Sir, we got tired of waiting."
Jim grinned to Nina, shrugging because of being used to such an occurrence. "Everything is fine Lieutenant. Please inform the rest of the Bridge crew that I will be returning shortly."
The Comm connection cut out as Jim looked to Nina with a smirk. "Want to go say hello to your other family?"
"Only because they'll tear apart your Bridge if I don't," She retorted sarcastically. Bones helped her from the biobed, but she didn't make to immediately leave, instead shifting back to Khan as he stood with Maggie in his arms. "I'll come find you later."
His eyes darted down to Maggie, who began to stir in his arms from being roused by her mother's voice. "Perhaps you should take her back."
"No," Nina said, smiling at his bemused frown. "I've had her to myself for three months, and it would be selfish at this point to take up anymore of her time with me. She needs you."
Every set of eyes turned away as she leaned up to kiss him gently, slowly, meshing their lips together in a searing kiss. She placed a chaste one to Maggie's temple after, two wide, blue eyes glowing up at her as she pulled back. Her fingers brushed the dark, fuzzy hairs on her daughter's head, enjoying the look of wonder Maggie gained as she was pampered with affection. "She loves you." Khan murmured, a longing in his voice for the same tenderness.
"She's already started to love you in return. Giver her time and she won't let you go."
Taking that first step back from Khan and Maggie was hard, but she did eventually make it to the doors of the Sickbay with Jim. While she was elated to be back with her crew, she also wanted to devote her time completely to the family that she shared in with the augments. Her daughter, Khan, and Lykel; she was tethered to them completely, and when she was with them she truly felt at peace. With Khan's memories still missing, she felt he had returned to more of his previous self, the one she had stood with on the Golden Gate Bridge over a year ago. Of course she wanted for nothing more than for him to remember everything, but a part of her was accepting to the way he was now, something primal that coursed through her veins, linking her to him. It was love, in the most natural and purest form.
She must have been doing a poor job of disguising her desire to be elsewhere, because Jim gave her a knowing look as they stepped aboard the turbo lift. "To keep it short, tell them you're still tired from the journey, and that you need to rest. They'll understand Nina."
"Was I that obvious?"
"A bit," He admitted offhandedly. "Just out of curiosity, what did you do in the time alone with him at your parents' house?"
Her face flushed while she avoided looking at him directly. "We talked."
Jim gave a disbelieving laugh, shaking his head as he hugged her around one shoulder with his arm. "You pulled one of my moves, way to go Richardson. See, this is why we've been friends for so long."
"At the risk of this conversation turning any more unprofessional, I'll agree that's a fair assessment."
Jim continued to snicker as he retracted his grasp. "Yeah, love you too."
The silence of Nina's quarters aboard the ship was welcomed after the arduous talking in the Sickbay. Lykel had escorted him, taking the time to speak with him some more, though he wasn't fooled by her sudden generous offer. Her eyes constantly shifted to his daughter, in both fascination and yearning. At a time, he would have thought her to be the least likely candidate amongst the females of his crew to desire a child, but now she had the look of motherhood in her eyes, and he would be an fool to believe it had nothing to do with the surly Doctor. In his love for her, Khan hoped she would one day have her own family, if only to see her smile more.
Alone with his daughter now, he didn't have to keep up the false semblance of confidence. Truly, he was terrified of the squirmy bundle of flesh as she lied awake in his arms. A bassinet had been spotted when he first entered the dim room, but he had made the decision to keep his daughter in his hold, and now he lied sprawled on his back on the bed with Maggie on his chest. He was overwhelmed by both pride and fear when she would gaze at him, her irises the same foggy blue as his own. He hoped they would yet turn brown to resemble her mother's, as enough of his features were already a heavy influence perceivable in her. Except for her face of course, her cheeks were round and full like Nina's. Was that something common on an infant, or would she simply grow out of them?
It had been awhile since Nina had left him alone to reacquaint with her crew. He was growing anxious for her return, and perhaps Maggie was too, because she was stirring more than she had been since awakening. They both needed Nina for her guidance, and her steady hands that she led with. He brought his body up a little higher on the bed, elevating his back against the pillows while he cradled Maggie in his arms. Her chubby fists reach up in the air for something unseen, carefree and trusting to his protection, even when they had only known each other for a short while. Is this what it meant to be a father?
"You're coddling her already?" Nina's voice startled him as she stood at the doorway with her arms crossed at her chest. He hadn't heard her come in, his usual senses bereft of their fine consonance because he had been distracted by his child. Nina continued into the room, sitting on the side of the bed as she watched him with a kind smile. "You could have put her down to rest you know."
"I wasn't ready to do that just yet."
The mattress shifted as Nina settled in beside him. Maggie babbled in excitement at the sight of her mother, her mind already quick on the matters of association. "So Lykel kept you informed of other things then?"
"In small doses. Given time, my progress will be quick."
"I have no doubt about that. You are the best at everything you face."
"Not everything," He said softly, watching Maggie in his arms as her eyes started to droop again. "How do I do this Nina?"
She maneuvered close to his side, resting her head against his shoulder while she rubbed their daughter's tummy lightly with her hand. "That's what I'm here for. You don't have to face anything alone anymore. I'll always be here."
"Will you?" He asked sharply, though it was not meant to be taken as aggressive, but in concern.
"I'm strong, and I can handle the shifts in my condition. It seems as if I've been doing so all along," She sat up straight and inclined her neck towards the bassinet. "Come on, we should let her rest now. She'll be hungry again in a few hours, and I'd like to take the time in between then to rest."
He moved carefully, making precised movements without jolting too quickly as he was mindful of his slumbering daughter. Quietly he carried her to where Nina stood beside the crib, waiting for him to be the one to lay her down for sleep. He moved slowly as he leaned over the side to place her down gently. Maggie's forehead crinkled in distress for a moment at the loss of contact with his warm body heat, but she quickly settled with her short limbs stretched out wide in all directions, head tilted to one side as she fell into her dreams. As soundless as she had entered the room, Nina had also managed to stand next to him, lacing her hand into his wordlessly while they looked upon their child. It was still unfathomable to him, some of it at least, to comprehend that he had this other family separate from his crew. He accepted the idea with the utmost honor, nothing but his hesitance standing in the way of his fulfillment. In time he supposed those questions would find their own answers, so for the present he would remain cautiously optimistic.
"I feel lost now that I am without my people." He confessed.
"An understandable feeling," Nina's hand squeezed his as she turned her gaze to him. "You've been with them for a great time, and everything I witnessed you doing in the past was for them, no matter if your methods were righteous, or deplorable. I was wrong in my initial assessment of you. I didn't think you were capable of good, and most often that opinion didn't waver, but I began to understand your resolve once I was injected with the serum, as well as when my crew became faced with their own hardships."
"My family was made to endure, as has yours, and I have hope for their future, even in my absence. Perhaps you will meet them one day."
Her eyes glistened with delight. "I would love for a chance to speak with them. In some ways, I feel as if they are my people that I have been kept away from, waiting for three hundred years to see them again."
He enjoyed that she was so willing to meet his crew in the future, but for the moment he was possessive, greedily wanting her attention for himself. "I would rather learn all I can about you again first. There must be so much I have forgotten."
"Well, our connection before was more fused by emotions. You didn't know me all that well, and you rarely shared anything with me in return. It was hardly as if we had the time of course, but I think we'll be better for it this second time around."
"Can we start now?" He asked, eager to talk with her more so he could absorb everything there was to know about her heart, what drove her, and who she was still focusing on becoming.
"Maybe not right now. I know you've probably had your fair share of sleep, but I'm exhausted," She gave a hardly tug on his arm in the direction of the bed, smiling at his surprised face as she went along. "Besides, if you talk to me too much in one day, you'll run out of things to say."
"Oh I doubt that. I'll always want to speak with you Nina."
"I know," She paused with a tearful expression on her face. "You told me that once before on Kronos, and I believed you."
Being caught off guard by the knowledge of his accidental memory trigger allowed for her to take full advantage of pulling him the rest of the distance towards the bed. They landed on their sides unceremoniously, Nina making sure to hold back on laughing too much after they had already put Maggie down for her nap. Her body was depleted of energy much faster than his, her muscles already weary with fatigue while she used her arm for a pillow. He kept her close with a hand on her waist, noting the instance her breathing evened out with sleep after her lids had shut. She was taken far away from him into slumber, and he missed her company instantly, fighting back on the impulse to shake her awake so they might converse more. While he could learn no more from her words, he took to observing with his eyes, and he must have studied her for hours before he felt his own exhaustion catch up with him. Before letting sleep pull him under, he arranged all of his findings about her until they added up to form a conclusion, one that he lost the opportunity to say as he was captured by unconsciousness. There he joined with Nina, together held in an iron grasp of winter.
What do you think his conclusion was?! I don't know, because it's over! What a happy/sad relief it is. I started this story as something fun, not knowing much at all about Star Trek (I maybe know a little more now) but I think I came out of it feeling a little bit better about my writing. There's still things I would change if given the chance, but this flows to the purpose I wanted it for, and if I managed to make even one person happy with this piece of free fan service, than I did my job. I left a lot of things opened for you guys to ponder and question about, more than I thought, and only because I know they could be done in the form of one-shots if we want more. For now, I need a break from Khan and Nina though, and I'll let them remain together in a place not so different from where they started out. Come join me for my other fics if you desire, Horizons and Empty room, both of which will get back to regular updates pronto. Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.