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XV

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"Spock," Nyota whispers. From where she is kneeling next to the matress, she glances over at their son who is sleeping next to his father in his parent's bed. Thankfully, the Four Horsemen couldn't wake Raheem. Nyota touches Spock's cheek again, slapping softly, "Spock."

He finally opens his eyes. Her poor husband smells like cough syrup and sweat. She feels a slight guilt at waking him but brushes it off. She been on the bridge for the last forty eight hour, negotiating with Starfleet and she deserves a little selfishness.

"I'm sorry," Nyota says, "I haven't seen you in almost week and I missed you."

He turns on his side, blinking hard. In a raspy voice, he asks,"You have arrange for a support ship to come to our aid?"

Nyota nods, stroking his hair, "And I gave them a few choice words over that defective insulators they sent us that made the ship break down in the first place. But in true Starfleet fashion, they made it as difficult as possible."

"You are expected to be on the bridge again for your shift in approximately eighteen minutes," Spock says, his eyes watching hers.

She groans, "I know. I wish I was here with you taking care of the kids."

"I believe that is the strongest indicator of disdain I have ever heard," Spock says.

"It is pretty bad," Nyota says, chuckling, "Three more weeks and then we'll be in Africa for their birthdays, though right?" She stands, stretching, "I love you."

He holds out two fingers and she reaches out for him. The warmth of his presence in her mind lingers even after she leave their quarter and heads to her post.

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"I want the same style Mama gave me for Babu's birthday. The one with all the braids over my head." Jamila says, indicating on her scalp where the interlaced hair should go.

"I am only capable of making one braid," Spock replies.

"Father," T'Lor says.

"Okay but make it sexy," Jamila says.

"I will do no such thing," Spock says, "Where did you hear the word, Jamila?"

"Father," T'Lor says again.

"Auntie Suri said it to Mama last night when she called," Jamila says. She reaches out to grab her tricoder, making the plait Spock had started on her scalp uneven. He combs out the woven hair and makes another attempt.

"Your mother's conversation are private, Jamila," Spock says, "particularly those she informs you are meant to be private."

"If she wants them to be private, then she should use a communication line which is more difficult to tap into," Jamila says. She purses her lips. She must not elaborate further no matter how much she want to brag or Father will change the software in their home.

"Father," T'Lor says, pulling his sleeve.

"You know the rules in this home, Jamila," Spock says, "Just because you are capable of doing so does not give you the right to hack into other people's computers."

"I didn't hack anything. The program I made did."

Spock finishes Jamila's braid and allow her to leave the bathroom. He begins pulling T'Lor hair into a bun, a mercifully easy hair style.

"Father?" T'Lor says.

"Yes, T'Lor?" Spock asks. It is quiet in their home and he appreciates this. Earlier, when he was attempting to meditate, Jamila backflipped into a bookshelf and he had achieved no clarity from his session.

"May I be permitted to stay with Lydia as Jamila and Raheem are intending to do this morning?" T'Lor says.

Before he can ask her for elaboration, they hear a massive crash in the next room. Jamila runs back into the room, "Raheem did it."

"Your brother is ill and sleeping in his bed, Jamila," Spock replies. He is well aware that they are late, a frequent occurrence that he is yet to become accustomed to. He picks up his two daughter and moves to their room. He pulls out the clothing their mother selected for them the night before and instructs them to get dressed before turning his attention to his son, who requires another dose of medicine. Spock pushes away the remaining fragments of the sonic transducer his son was given to entertained himself with which the boy promptly took apart and holds the tiny plastic cup for Raheem to drink from.

"Daddy, why is T'Lor wearing her uniform?" Jamila asks, the article of clothing she is supposed to be dresses herself in at her feet.

"She is accompanying me to the science lab," Spock says, covering his son's mouth. Raheem dislikes the taste of his medicine and is prone to spitting it out. Despite his preventive behavior, Spock feels the sticky substance covering his hand. He prepares another dose.

"Can I come too?" Jamila asks. She rushes to get her uniform. Raheem finishes his cold medicine and collapses back on the bed. Spock picks him up.

"You are not permitted in the science lab by orders of the captain, Jamila. I am certain you recall why," Spock says. They are twenty seven minutes late. Despite the fact that she is still in her pajamas, Spock picks up Jamila as well and begins moving to the door.

T'Lor, who had obediently dressed herself, grabs his bag and opens the door for him.

Jamila pounds on his back, stating repeatedly, "It was an accident and I said I was sorry! I want to go! Why can't I go? I never get to go anywhere!"

Fortunately, Nyota's friend Lydia lives only five doors down from their quarters. Lydia opens the door with her young son Marshall. She takes in the scene before her: the chief science officer with his triplets, his eyes illustrating the severity of his morning hardships.

For a moment, Spock is certain she will not rescind her offer to watch Jamila and Raheem. Instead she smiles, taking Raheem from him and pulling Jamila by the hand into their quarters, "Don't worry. They'll be back in school again before you know it."

"I'm going straight to the captain if you leave me here," Jamila warns.

"Thank you Lydia," Spock says. Then he picks up T'Lor and head to the science labs, thirty seven minutes late.

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T'Lor is not often allowed in the science labs. Today was an exception. Dr. Daoud, one of the xenolinguist researchers on board, would be conducting an experiment on telepathic waves and had requested T'Lor assist him by being an experimental subject.

T'Lor had been so proud, she had convince Mother to allow her to wear the small blue uniform Captain Kirk had given her. She knew Raheem and Jamie would never have been allowed to accompany Father to work and as she walked next to him, she held her head high and kept her face blank. Several of the scientist stopped to smile down at her and pinch her cheeks or ruffle her hair, ruining the bun Father had worked so hard on this morning.

"I didn't know you had another one after the twins!" Two of the ensigns say. T'Lor acknowledges this but does not correct them. Many people do not assume she is the sibling of Raheem and Jamila because she is small and takes after Father where they are tall and look similar to Mother. She simply squeezes Father's hand and nods.

Even Dr. Carol stopped to give her a hug. T'Lor resisted the urge to return the embrace, watching Father to see his reaction. Father nods at her.

"She looks more like you every day, Commander," Dr. Carol said, smoothing T'Lor's hair, tucking the stray hairs back into their place.

"Yes, we share many familial genotypes," Father replies and T'Lor feels a wave of pride.

Then, she sits down in the chair Father gave her. Dr. Daoud is working with another subject. She crosses her hand in her lap and tucks her head down while Father turns his attention to his computer. Hours past. The tMRI machine Dr. Daoud is using is malfunctioning. She waits patiently for her turns but eventually she can't resist the urge to look around.

Dr. Carol is doing a vast equation on one of the boards, using velocity equations she taught to T'Lor weeks prior. T'Lor remembers easily. Two ensigns are analyzing soil samples from one of the Class M planets the Enterprise inspected week before. The chemical composition is quite interesting. Dr. Daoud is still fixing the tMRI machine.

On the wall, which delights T'Lor so much she has to fight not to smile, is a copy of the study Dr. M'Benga published, on "Baby K." Months ago, Dr. Carol asked her to autograph it and T'Lor had allowed herself to be convinced.

Then, she notices one of the geologists working across the room.

"Father," T'Lor whispered. It was the first word she had said all day. The only noise she had made was a excited gasp when Spock had let her watch a flight simulation on his computer.

Spock is wearing a pair of headphones, the volume so high she can hear the sounds he is listening to.

"Father!" she said again with more urgency, pulling on his sleeve until he turns, pulling off his headphones, "Dr. Henry's compound is going to be unstable! He used the wrong constant. That substance is going to be exothermic!"

Spock glanced at the chemist at the opposite end of the room. Dr. Henry was preforming tests on of novel Orion compound. His board was covered in figures and measurements but they were merely formalities, educated guesses at best. "You are misunderstanding the equation. Dr. Henry is performing preliminary tests. His work will be trial and error but they are not dangerous. Sit down T'Lor or you will knock your chair over."

His daughter sat but her eyes never wavered from Dr. Henry's work. As the geologist moved to ignite the compound for a flame test, she jumped, anticipating a explosion. One of her feet was anchored in the lab chair. She fell hard, her nose hitting the ground, the chair tipping over with a loud clang.

Several of the scientists turned to look. Spock quickly handed his PADD over to an assistant and went to pick her up. T'Lor was holding back tears, her eyes jerking around as she saw she had an audience. Chin quivering, she buried her face in her father's neck. Blood from her nose soaked into his shirt but he ignored it, moving towards the medical kit.

T'Lor lifted her head long enough for him to check her and dress her bleeding. Then she returned her face to his neck, her legs wrapping tightly around his waist.

Spock pats her back, " There is no need for such distress, T'Lor."

"They all saw me fall," T'Lor says, her tiny body shaking.

In the back of his mind, he can feel her thought buzzing. He pull her hand off his neck, using the contact to enter her mind. Immediately he is aware of emotion so familiar he questioned whether they were in fact his own, back from dormancy.

Recalling a piece of advice from his father, that he should speak to her in words she can understand, he tells her, through their bond, In nebulas, some materials come together to form stars. That is their fate, what is the universe desires to happen. Other materials are push away to become planets. They are nowhere but where they are meant to be. You may feel distant from them all but that may be what is intended for you. You cannot know your fate, ko-fu.

T'Lor leans back in his arms. He knows she does not understand entirely what he said. She has loosened her arms around him, however. He adds, It is acceptable for you to be sad or embarrassed but do not allow it to hinder you.

Behind them, Dr. Henry says, "Thank you for worrying about me T'Lor." He holds up the beaker he was using for his experiment. There is a thin, pink film around the top but it did not explode, "It's fine, see?"

T'Lor nods. Dr. Carol comes to Spock's other side, reaching around to pat her on the shoulder, "You did good T'Lor. It's good to speak up when you think something is wrong. It makes you a good teammate."

"Thank you Dr. Carol," T'Lor replies. She shrugs in Spock's arms and he puts her on the ground. She folds her arms behind her, straightens her back, "Are you prepared to perform the test yet, Dr. Daoud?"

One day, when he is certain she is capable of objectivity, Spock will teach her the Vulcan way just as he will her brother and sister and it will mean more to her because the logic and stoicism will be a reflection of her own self.

Until then, he is pleased with her as she is.

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"Your heart is talking to me," Raheem says, his ear pressed to his mother's abdomen. He mimic the noise he hears, "Pathump Pathump Pathump," he makes a face, "I don't know what you're saying Mommy's Heart."

Nyota has been reading the same sentence for five minutes. She puts the report down on the table. Kirk told her to spend the afternoon working at home so she could watch Raheem and Jamila and she had tried but even Kirk hadn't believed she would be productive, "That's where Baba and T'Lor heart is, Raheem. You're listening to my liver."

"T'Lor's heart sounds like this: Pshah Pshah Pshah," Raheem says. He leans back to kneel over Nyota. "It talks different from the old heart T'Lor had," he assures his mother.

Nyota smiles, stroking his face. His fever has dropped and he sounds less congested. "Do you feel better?"

"I do," Raheem says, poking around his neck until he finds his carotid artery. He begins counting the beats aloud in French.

"No more sneaking in to kiss your sisters goodnight when they're sick, okay?" Nyota reminds him.

"You got it," Raheem says.

The door to their quarters opens and Spock and T'Lor enter. Nyota smiles at them, "Hey. Did you get the afternoon off too?"

"Kirk informed me that I needed to spend time with the children," Spock replies. He sits on the empty space at the end of the couch where Raheem and Nyota have been relaxing, "Perhaps we could share a meal and play a board game?"

"We should have curry mother," T'Lor adds, "Casin will alleviate Raheem symptoms."

"I'll do my best," Nyota says.

"And we can watch baby videos," Raheem says.

Nyota glances at Spock. He is proud of the mementoes he made for his triplets. Memories are impermanent and recollection is imperfect. Thus it is only logical he captures them in videos. He took dozens in the first days of their lives alone and he still frequently makes them. Thus, when he tells them they are not alone in the universe he will have ample evidence in support of this assertion. Raheem, in particular, loves them.

"Sounds good," Nyota says. She sits up, "Would you get Jamila, Spock? She's in her room."

Spock goes to his children's rooms. He returns quickly, "She is not in her room, Nyota."

Nyota stand up, rushing to check. She looks under the bed, in the closet, in all of the places her daughter goes when they place hide and seek. "Did she leave again?" Nyota asks, a trace of panic rising in her voice, "How does she do this?"

Raheem and T'Lor exchange a glance. Both know about the ventilation shaft in their room. The opening is large enough for them to climb through and is easily accessible if one climbs the post of the queen bed T'Lor and Jamie share. T'Lor often uses it to get tea and fresh fruit when she's hungry at night and Raheem uses it to visit Schrödinger's, the unfortunately named cat who belongs to an engineer with liberal views on bedtimes. Mama and Baba are not aware of these uses. Jamie, however, is not so cautious.

Nyota rushes to the comm. Jamila likes the Dr. McCoy even if he doesn't act like he's fond of her so she calls medbay first.

"I'm prepping for surgery," McCoy snaps when she calls, "Third damn time this week."

Next Nyota calls the engine rooms. Scotty laughs for a almost three minutes straight before he tells Nyota, "Get a tracker on that one, ya know?"

Jamila has been forbidden from the bridge, as all the children on the Enterprise are, but Nyota calls there next.

"Kirk here," the Captain says when she calls.

"Is Jamie there?" Nyota asks.

Kirk hesitates to respond for a second too long, "No, of course not."

"Spock," Nyota calls to her husband who is checking their bedroom for their daughter, "She's on the bridge. With her husband."

Spock had been more than a little horrified when Jamie had first plopped herself into Kirk's lap and announced she wanted to marry him. Nyota had, of course, explained this statement, at Jamila's age, was more a gesture of fondness and admiration than anything else. Still, Spock watched her daughter carefully, lest her intentions changed.

He is out the door, several steps in front of his wife.

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"Did you read that dissertation I gave you?" Kirk asks.

"Yup," Jamila says, tracing the golden braid on his sleeve. Months ago, she and Raheem wrote a letter to Starfleet requesting that the female uniform be modified. She is currently wearing the fruits of that labor, a golden Starfleet dress uniform with one thin, unofficial braid around the sleeves, an honor Kirk allowed when she graduated from preschool.

"Did you understand it?" Kirk asks, taking her hand so she must look at him.

"I axed T'Lor if I didn't understand any of the words," Jamila scrunches her face when she hears her own lisp, "I asked T'Lor. I think I got it all."

"What did you think of it?" Kirk asks.

"Was he your daddy?" Jamila asks, "George Kirk? Mommy said he was."

"He was," Kirk says. Jamila turns to him, her eyes searching his face. He smiles but she sees through it, leaning into hug him.

"He was brave," Jamila says, "Right?"

"Yeah," Kirk says, stroking her back, "But you understand why? Why he saved all those people right?"

"Mommy said it's because he knew he was part of something bigger," Jamila says, "I don't understand what that means though. Like, was he giant or something?"

"No," Kirk says, trying not to laugh, "You know how one day you're going to become the captain of a ship -"

"I'm gonna graduate the Academy in two years," Jamila says. Her mother told her to say this and it always makes Jim smile.

"Yeah," Kirk says, grinning, "After that happens and Raheem is your chief communication officer and T'Lor is your chief science officer or maybe even your first officer?"

"I would do what your daddy did for them," Jamila says, anticipating his question, "If I had to. I'm their big sister."

"Exactly, my dad felt that way about his entire crew. He knew they were all worthwhile," Kirk says, "It's like he thought he was their big brother and he did what he had to do."

"I got it," Jamila says, tucking her head under his chin, "I'd do it for you too."

"Thanks sweetheart," Kirk says, "But remember what I always say right? Be smart. If you have only ten seconds before the ship crashes, think for nine and act in one."

"Always," Jamila says, "Then I'll be a great Captain like you."

Kirk bits his lip at this. He always finds compliments like that funny. In his mind, he is still a dumb kid with no clue but in Jamie's eyes, he sees a man with a character worth pursuing.

She, and his brother and sister, like the rest of the crew make all those lonely years almost worthwhile.

Then, because it was only seems right to punctuate this tender moment with some words of wisdom, Kirk adds, "You know Jamie, any task you half ass will always be meaningless."

Kirk tries.

Jamie appears to be thinking about what Kirk had said to his delight until she says, "There are no asses on the Enterprise, half or otherwise. Which is unfair. Mommy wouldn't let us have any animals. She says we wouldn't take good care of them. But I would Uncle Jim! I would. Auntie Makena was going to promise she would get us a miniature saber tooth cat but then Mommy unplugged the comm. I would be the best cat owner. Can you talk you her?"

The comm next to Kirk beeps, indicating someone is calling. Kirk hits the button,"Kirk here."

"Is Jamie there?" Nyota asks.

Kirk glances at Jamila. He has every intention of responding truthfully. Unfortunately, while Raheem and T'Lor were cute, Jamie is beautiful and - to the misfortune of Spock and Uhura - very much aware of how useful such are trait for people for manipulating people. She shakes her head and he lies.

"No, of course not."

"Spock. She's on the bridge."

"They'd didn't give you permission to be down here did they?" Kirk asks.

"Not explicit permission," Jamila says, shrugging.

"I should have known," Kirk says. He had known, or at least strongly suspected. He just hadn't wanted to send his friend away, "Before they get here though. I know you can easily wear them and I love attention too but give them a break, okay?"

"Sure," Jamila says.

Spock and Uhura enter the bridge, T'Lor and Raheem in tow, minutes later.

"Hi," Jamila calls.

"She told me you okayed this," Kirk says, simultaneously

"I'm sure she twisted your arm," Nyota says. She holds out a hand and Jamila - she is smart when she has to be - immediately goes to her.

"You know," Kirk says, hoping to distract Spock and Uhura, "Their birthdays are coming up. Did we decide where we're going on vacation yet?" He had invited himself on their family trips for years now. He babysits though, so they tolerate it, "How about Risa?"

"Risa is not appropriate for children," T'Lor says.

"Your parents have been there," Kirk says.

Jamie grins, "Really?"

They have. Spock and Uhura went undercover as tourists once to learn more about an assassination rumor. For their background story, curtesy of Kirk, Spock had been an international sports star, a tall dark, handsome and silent type and Uhura was his giggly girlfriend/groupie who liked to joke about his endurance.

"Yeah," Kirk says, "You have to to hear that story! So what happened was -"

"Mars, spring break, freshmen year," Uhura says, quickly.

Kirk looks up, "Wait. You know, I forgot that story, sorry."

Uhura smiles at him. He might threaten but he wouldn't. If he has ammo on her past, she has an arsenal on his.

"Perhaps Yosemite," Spock suggests.

Nyota shakes her head. Spock likes nature, particularly when its dangerous like when he can climb s mountains, hike volcanos and such, an easy feat for him. Those same activities are difficult for Nyota, who is usually carrying at least one child.

"We're going to Africa," Nyota says, "My sister will be visiting my parents and I really want to give my brother who just had a baby that that annoying truck he gave us for them."

"Yeah," Kirk says, "Nairobi has a museum which holds worlds biggest ball of yarn. Jamie loves cats! It'll be the best."

"We'll iron out the details later," Nyota says, "We have to go," she begins herding the children off the bridge, "Sarek is going to call later tonight and I want to make sure we're there when the call comes in."

"Okay," Kirk says, standing to escort them, "But remember, me and the three are playing baseball tomorrow."

Baseball had been Jim's idea. "I'll do all the work but they need some good old fashion hobbies," he had said. Bless his heart, but he was misguided. The games always proceeded in the same fashion. Raheem would quickly grow bored and would escape to the track or pool. T'Lor, a player who was a dangerous mix of being both unskilled and too small to be effective, would be hurt and closed to tears after only a few minutes. And Jamie, a bad winner and an even worse loser but an excellent thrower of tantrums, would end the game by expressing her discontent with the world by stomping the floor until Jim finally gave up on the whole thing, grabbed the trio and ran.

Kirk has a short memory.

"Sure," Nyota says. She and Spock have the day off tomorrow and the idea of sleeping late makes her almost delirious with joy.

"It's a date," Kirk says. They begin to leave. Spock glances back at him, noticing the emotion on his face.

"You may visit later," Spock says, suddenly, "If you wish to share a evening meal with us."

Kirk smiles so hard he feels like his face will split, "I'll be there."

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"Hello," Nyota says when her father-in-law appears on the communication screen, "How are you?"

"I am well," Sarek says, "I have news on the alliance being brokered between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. I will share when the children and my son are present."

"Really?" Nyota says. It is good news. She can tell and she is pleased. She raises her voice, "Raheem, T'Lor, Jamila, Spock, Sarek is on the comm."

She waits, every time he calls. He has a question meant only for her, "Are you content, ko-fu?"

Nyota thinks about it. She remembers every day but she does not mourn anymore. She thinks but only for a moment before she responds, honestly, "I am content, Sa-mekh."

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A/N: The end. Thanks for reading! Your support and reviews have been awesome!