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McCoy stood in the doorway and watched Thalia. The young girl was tired out from the excitement of the day and had been asleep before he’d even laid her in her bed.

Her arm tightened unconsciously round her soft toy starship and McCoy felt his lips twitch into a smile.

He watched her breathing for a few minutes longer before turning back into their living space and letting her bedroom door swish shut. His smile faded as he glanced round the sparse room.

True, it was more luxurious than their previous quarters had been before the refit but it wasn’t a house. It wasn’t a home.

Spock stepped out from their own bedroom having changed out of uniform.

“Is Thalia settled?” he enquired.

“Yeah,” McCoy wandered over to join him on the couch. “Poor little mite was tuckered out.”

“It has been an eventful day,” Spock agreed.

McCoy resisted the urge to snort. Their whole lives had been uprooted since that morning. They’d awoken early and packed the last of their essentials before catching a shuttle out from Shikahr. They’d then been taken on board an escort vessel that had rendezvoused with Enterprise after lunch.

Jim had been delighted to welcome them on board and had eagerly shown them the sights – the observation deck, the engine room, the bridge, sickbay – before insisting on entertaining them to dinner.

Thalia had been full of questions throughout. It was enchanting to watch her trying to comprehend everything, her little brow furrowed until the adults diluted the jargon down to something comprehensible.

Vulcan she may be but she was still only 25 months old. Her vocabulary wasn’t yet a match for her curiosity so she was frequently frustrated as she tried to understand things around her. Or even get her own thoughts out.

Having a parental bond had evolved to help with language development but, because she was only joined to Spock, she picked up far more Vulcan than Federation Standard.

Which had been fine at home. They’d agreed that having Vulcan as her first language made sense since they were expecting to raise her in Shikahr. McCoy had even spent the time after she was born learning it himself. It had given him something productive to do while he stayed home with her when she was still a baby incapable of interacting beyond crying for feeds or nappy changes.

So while she could speak in Standard, it wasn’t the language she went to first.

Spock and McCoy were both able to translate but the rest of the crew didn’t yet realise such basics as ‘Enna’ being short for ‘Enterprise’ let alone coping with her occasional language mishmash. Only Uhura followed fluently.

It had worried McCoy to see the way his old friends had found it difficult to know how to interact with his daughter.

“Did we do the right thing?” he asked Spock, not for the first time. “For Thalia?”

Spock pulled him closer, offering physical reassurance as well as verbal.

“We have discussed this,” he reminded him mildly. “Thalia will undoubtedly be less self-conscious about her own dual nature if she experiences a wider range of races and cultures and we will return to Vulcan at the mission’s end in time for her to receive a more structured education.”

“I know we thought that but… what if she ends up feeling more isolated out here?”

“She will not,” Spock told him confidently.

“You’re sure?” Leonard pressed.

“I am. Asides from the prospect of alien encounters, the crew of the ship are already adopting her as one of their own.”

“You think so?”

Spock glanced down at him.

“I do. Jim naturally is most protective of her. Uhura was positively delighted in talking with her. Doctor Chapel seems to view her as the daughter she never had.”

Leonard gripped him tighter.

“Yeah but Scotty, Sulu and Chekov didn’t seem to know what to do with her.”

“The males of the species often find it difficult at first to interact with children. However they are more often most fiercely protective of them when threatened.”

He placed a kiss upon Leonard’s head.

“They will adjust and I do not doubt they will build their own bonds.”

“I suppose.”

“You are tired,” Spock noted as McCoy snuggled closer.

“Its been a long day,” he responded defensively.

“Indeed,” Spock agreed, standing and pulling Leonard with him. “So logically an early night is called for.”

McCoy allowed himself to be guided towards their bedroom but halted briefly in the doorway.

“Did you set the computer to monitor Thalia’s room?” he asked.

“Yes Leonard. We will hear if she wakes. Now come to bed.”

“Maybe I should check on her again? Just in case.”

Spock caught his arm before he could leave and tugged him close.

“Thalia is sleeping. As you should be. Now, come to bed.” He ran a hand soothingly across the doctor’s tense shoulders.

“Well, if you put it like that,” McCoy drawled, enjoying the tactile sensation.

Spock resisted the urge to roll his eyes and merely took his partner to bed.

Ɛ>

Spock was effortlessly feeding Thalia her breakfast of sliced bananas and yogurt when Jim joined them in the messhall.

“Morning,” he greeted them brightly.

Thalia squirmed round and reached excitedly.

“J’m!” she announced.

He tickled the back of her neck, making her wriggle some more before sitting down opposite.

“You all settle in okay?” he checked.

“Yeah,” McCoy answered keeping an amused eye on where Spock was having considerable more difficulty getting their daughter to focus on food now Jim had arrived. “Quarters have certainly improved since the last time you dragged us round the galaxy.

“See? Told you it wouldn’t be so bad,” Jim smirked.

McCoy sniffed derisively but wasn’t in the mood to argue the point.

“I’ve organised the rota,” Jim switched topics. “You’ll both work the alpha shift and then you can have the beta shift off and a proper night-time. Unless we have an emergency or something. And I’ve got child minders lined up for Thalia-”

Jim was interrupted by Spock speaking to the child in question.

“Wuhkuh.” He held the spoon in front of her as she stared wide eyed at him. “Dahkur. Reh-” Her mouth opened obediently and Spock nodded as he inserted the spoon.

“What was that?” Jim asked.

McCoy smirked.

“Thalia had until a count of three to behave.”

“What happens if you reach three?”

Spock arched an eyebrow at their friend.

“Thankfully, we have never had to find out.”

“Right,” Jim smirked too. “Anyway, like I was saying, there’s a rota for who’ll have Thalia each day. Arex has offered to teach her anthropology… at least reading her stories about alien species and explaining some of the varieties. Janice will take her for creativity… art and music basically. M’Ress will work on language with her-”

“I think we better speak to her about that.” McCoy glanced for confirmation to Spock.

“Yes. It might be preferable for her to focus on Federation Standard.”

McCoy nodded agreement before looking back to Jim. Jim glanced back to his notes.

“Garrison will do numeracy, and Harb Tanzer is going to teach her games in the rec room. That ought to cover us.”

“Thanks Jim,” Bones smiled at him. “I know this is a bit outside your usual remit.”

“It’s been a pleasure,” Jim countered. “And if it means I get the three of you with me on this trip then it’s well worth it.”

Ɛ>

The call came through from Joanna while they were still in the Sol system.

“Hey Dad,” she grinned at him. “You got there alright then?”

“Yeah, although I got bruises in places I’d rather not have bruises from the turbulence we encountered on that shuttle.”

“You are exaggerating,” Spock stepped up to his side and nodded at Joanna. “The ride was uneventful,” he corrected.

“Just because you’ve got a damn thick skinned Vulcan hide…”

“How’s Thalia?” Joanna interjected.

“Excited as a kid in sweet shop. Honest, we have to watch her constantly or she’d end up following some technician down a Jefferies tube.”

Joanna laughed.

“No surprise there. She’s got her curiosity from both of you. Is she still awake? Can I speak to her?”

“I shall see.” Spock moved off to check on her.

Joanna surveyed her father critically and interrupted him as she saw him move to speak.

“Are you regretting going?” she asked directly.

McCoy let out a sigh.

“Right now? I’m not sure. I mean I’m not dead set on running back to Vulcan so I guess I’m not.”

Joanna nodded sympathetically.

“I know it wasn’t an easy choice for you to make but I think you should know, whatever you decided, Thalia’s gonna grow up fine.”

“You sound awful sure,” he replied dubiously.

“Hey, you did alright with me didn’t you?” She smiled warmly at him.

There was a lot of things he wanted to ask her then but a delighted squeal distracted him and seconds later his youngest daughter was clambering onto his lap.

“J’anna!”

“Hey there Thalia!”

“’m fi’ yel-hali! Spo’ Enna!”

Joanna laughed.

“That sounds exciting but I don’t understand Vulcan sweetpea.”

“’m onna starship,” Thalia said with furrowed concentration. “Like Enna.” She held up her soft toy for emphasis.

“That’s amazing! D’you like being there?” She cast a glance to her father as she asked this.

Thalia nodded earnestly.

“Unca J’m’s here. He showed us the big… krani?” Thalia glanced to Spock, unsure of the word.

“Window,” he translated. “The observation room,” he added for Joanna’s benefit.

“Great. Did you see a lot of stars?”

“Hundreds!” Thalia’s eyes grew wide. “An’ Unca J’m says we’ll get t’ visit them.”

“You’re a very lucky little girl,” Joanna told her seriously.

“Uh-huh,” the young girl agreed, snuggling in against her father.

Leonard wrapped his arms about her and reflected that he was doubly lucky to have two such wonderful daughters.

Chapter Text

“Do you know,” mused Kirk, “I never feel we’re truly under way until we’ve made our first stop at Starbase. I don’t think there’s ever been a time a ship’s left dock without needing to pick something up before she can really set off. Last time it was you and Bones.”

He grinned across at Spock, recalling how the Enterprise had collected his friends on route to V’Ger.

Spock looked back somewhat indulgently.

“I believe it is a long running navy tradition,” he commented, playing to the captain’s habitual garrulousness in his excitement to be setting off once more.

Jim laughed, eyes alight with the thrill of the possibilities ahead.

Not for the first time Spock wondered at the disparity of attitudes between his two closest human companions who nevertheless ended up willingly side by side in their adventures.

That thought reminded him of something else.

“Captain. I would ask to be allowed shore leave at the Starbase.”

Kirk looked momentarily surprised before smiling broadly.

“Taking a family vacation already?” he teased.

“Negative. I merely need to purchase an item that I neglected to acquire before reporting for duty.”

“Uh huh,” Jim agreed, apparently unconvinced. “Well it shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll be staying on board and I don’t expect too many people will be taking their leave yet.”

“Thank you Captain.”

Jim continued grinning as he swivelled back in his chair and with hindsight Spock should have realised that didn’t bode well for his plans.

Ɛ>

Leonard was smiling broadly as he carried their daughter into the transporter room. Spock reflected that this was perhaps the first time he’d ever seen him happy to be transporting anywhere. It would therefore be the one time Spock could manage better without his company.

However he remained silent on that point.

He had finished his shift on the bridge and had gone to their quarters intending to inform Leonard that he would be going ashore briefly but would be back for their usual family dinner.

Instead he had found Leonard busily readying Thalia for a trip out. It would have been familial suicide at that point to refuse their company.

“I guess it is logical.”

Leonard’s amused voice broke through his musing and he raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

“Well,” McCoy explained, “taking Thalia ashore here. Her first offworld experience will be in a safe environment that nonetheless boasts a broad spectrum of lifeforms. Plus, we’ll get leave together ‘cause no one else has yet gone stir crazy.”

He smiled happily and bounced Thalia on his hip. She broke out into a sudden wide smile and clung onto his neck, losing her grip on her toy in the process.

Spock deftly bent and caught it, handing it back to her with a faint smile.

“Indeed,” Spock agreed. “However I confess I had not considered it in that manner. I do in fact have an errand to run.”

They were interrupted by the transporter operator.

“We’re ready now Sirs.”

“Energise,” Spock instructed.

A shimmer later and they found themselves on the transporter pad of the station.

As they walked forward Thalia began to crane her neck around in fascination of everything.

“So what’s this errand?” McCoy asked. “Do you want to get it done first so we can enjoy the rest of our time?”

Spock considered that briefly before shaking his head.

“That should not be necessary. I suggest we browse the shops available and I shall fulfil my task after Thalia has had her fill of excitement.”

Almost immediately she pointed towards a blue skinned alien.

“Ish vi?” she asked.

“That’s an Andorian honey,” McCoy answered.

“Pla-kur ish-veh.”

“He is blue,” Spock corrected. “Andorians are naturally blue.”

“Rehkuh karlar ish-veh! Rehkuh mallar!”

Both Spock and McCoy glanced where Thalia was now staring with wide blue eyes.

“That’s an Edosian,” McCoy told her.

“They are the only Federation tripedal species,” Spock added.

She twisted in Leonard’s grip to keep watching the Edosian as he walked past, once again losing hold of her toy.

“Po rehkur karlur ma ish-veh?”

“In Standard, honey. Why does he have three arms. Perhaps so he has a spare arm to carry his daughter’s toys?” Leonard suggested as he stopped while Spock retrieved the starship again.

“Maybe I should carry this for a while?” Spock proposed.

“Noo!” Thalia reached out desperately. “Bolau Enna nash-veh!”

With a hastily concealed sigh, Spock passed the toy back. Thalia hugged it close before being distracted again.

“Tra’s a piggie!”

McCoy winced and hoped to hell the Tellarite hadn’t heard her.

“Perhaps this was not the best idea,” Spock murmured under his breath.

Ɛ>

They spent a couple of hours walking around together, answering Thalia’s constant questions, before – to McCoy’s mind at least – Spock ditched him.

The Vulcan had suggested quite suddenly to Thalia that wouldn’t she like it if daddy bought her an ice cream? Her response had been to squeal delightedly.

Since McCoy was still carrying her, that ended up being conveyed at short distance right into his ear. It reminded him very much of Joanna when she was that age.

So McCoy conveyed her into an old fashioned ice cream parlour while Spock sauntered off to complete his errand.

In retaliation, Leonard made sure he and Thalia had the most outrageous ice cream on the menu. It was brought out on a platter with syrup, sprinkles, decorative swirls of chocolate and fruit, wafers and a veritable mountain of whipped cream.

They were still happily devouring it when Spock returned.

His arched eyebrow made the whole scenario worthwhile.

“I am not sure either of you will want to eat another meal after that,” he commented with mild reproach.

“Hush you. We’re on shore leave.”

Leonard relented slightly under Spock’s disapproval and offered him a spoonful. The Vulcan hesitated only a moment before accepting.

“You get what you needed?” McCoy asked conversationally.

“I did.”

McCoy arched his own eyebrow at the simplistic nature of the reply. Spock had pretty much learnt by now the humans generally preferred more communication to less.

“Can I know what it is?” he asked somewhat teasingly.

To his surprise, Spock hesitated and glanced from Leonard to Thalia and back again.

“I would rather not discuss it in present company,” he answered cautiously.

Leonard frowned, glanced to where Thalia was still thoroughly engrossed in covering herself in melting ice cream, and looked back to Spock.

Suddenly he blushed as his mind suggested several possibilities as to what Spock may have felt necessary to procure before their long mission into deep space and why he didn’t want to mention said items in front of their daughter.

“Oh. Right. Of course.”

He focused himself on scooping up some more ice cream but couldn’t stop his grin from spreading.

This mission was looking like more fun already.

Ɛ>

“Sooo,” McCoy drawled in his best seductive voice as he slid into their bed. “Can I know what you bought yet?”

Spock glanced at where McCoy had rested his head on Spock’s chest and was staring up at him with a somewhat predatory grin.

“It is not something that I would expect to interest you at the current time,” he answered earning himself a small frown.

“I’ll say when I’m interested,” Leonard told him. “An’ I’m interested now.”

“Your attitude indicates you are interested in more intimate activities than hearing about my shopping trip,” Spock suggested, running an arm around his companion’s shoulders. McCoy automatically shifted closer.

“Well, yeah,” he agreed, “but I thought the two were linked.”

“I did not purchase anything necessary for our bedroom activities.”

“You didn’t?” Leonard stopped his shifting. “Then why didn’t you wanna tell me earlier what you got?”

Spock eyed him intently.

“Because it was not something I wanted to discuss at that time,” he responded. “Nor do I particularly wish to discuss it now.”

He slid his hand down Leonard’s side to indicate what he would rather engage in. McCoy gasped but then focused his gaze again.

“Don’t think this conversation is over,” he threatened, before surging forward to seal his mouth over Spock’s.

Spock responded immediately and the conversation was postponed for the rest of that night.

Ɛ>

Spock was dressing Thalia when she asked him suddenly.

“Ra ki’daddy mahr-tor tu?”

He paused with one shoe still in his hand.

“Why do you wish to know?”

“Daddy ni-droi,” she told him openly.

It was what Spock had expected.

In the few days since their shore leave excursion, McCoy had sporadically tried to work out just what Spock had bought. It was not surprising that he was now prompting their daughter to ask.

“Then you do not wish to know yourself?” he queried.

Thalia thought about that while allowing him to affix her shoes.

“Qual se savas?”

Spock arched a brow at her.

“No. Would you like some fruit for breakfast?”

“Ha!”

He picked her up and headed out towards the messhall.

“Ra pa daddy?” she asked with a hint of anxiety.

He glanced at her worried frown and resolved to instruct Leonard to keep their daughter out of their debates in the future.

“I shall speak to daddy about it later,” he promised her honestly.

Ɛ>

Thalia was asleep.

Spock had waited until there was no chance that she would overhear them before accosting his human partner.

“I must insist you do not utilise our daughter against me.”

McCoy stopped short in the midst of buttoning his pajama top.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Did you or did you not coerce her into asking me about my recent purchase?”

Leonard frowned and almost aggressively set to work on his buttons again.

“I didn’t coerce her. I asked her if she’d like to help me uncover your secret.”

“Leonard, you are making too much of a simple errand.”

“If it was a simple errand how come you won’t just tell me about it?”

“Why ever I did not tell you originally, I now do so because I feel you must learn that sometimes I will have to maintain confidences.”

“I get that Spock! You tell me its confidential that’s fine. I’m a doctor, I understand confidentiality better than anyone. But in a relationship there should be no secrets. However inconsequential it is, we should share it. An’ that’s all you keep tellin’ me. It’s ‘not important’ or I don’t ‘need to know’. It ain’t right Spock. I should have a say in what’s trivial or important.”

They stared at each other across the bed before Spock turned abruptly.

“Where yer going?”

“I have work to complete. If I finish this evening I shall then meditate.”

“You ain’t comin’ to bed?”

“Not at this time.”

McCoy’s mouth set in a thin line before he stubbornly climbed into bed himself and huffed, “Fine.”

Spock watched his tense back a long moment before turning and stepping out of the room.

Chapter Text

McCoy had stomped into Jim’s room as soon as he’d discovered the captain was off duty. Since then he’d collapsed into a chair and lamented at length every detail of Spock’s evasiveness.

Jim had watched him quietly, noticing the bags that denoted lack of sleep and the worried look to his eyes, despite his aggressive tone. When the doctor finally ran out of steam Jim asked what he considered the most important question.

“Please tell me you don’t think Spock is cheating on you.”

“No of course I don’t,” McCoy snapped back. “It’s just… he’s keeping something from me. That never bodes well in a relationship.”

Jim shrugged.

“Everyone has secrets Bones. Even Vulcans.”

McCoy stared at him.

“You wouldn’t understand. You ain’t ever been in a long-term relationship.”

“Come on. Don’t you think you’re making too much of this ‘secret’ purchase? It’s probably just something for your birthday anyway.”

“Now I know it isn’t that. We don’t celebrate our birthdays.”

That caught Jim’s interest and he leant forward with curiosity.

“You don’t? How come?”

McCoy gave an unconcerned shrug.

“Birthdays aren’t really a Vulcan thing. And it’s a long while since I got excited over my birthday.”

Jim frowned.

“That’s actually… really sad.”

“You wait ‘til you’re my age,” McCoy told him. “Then see how excited you get being reminded you’re another year nearer the grave.”

“Well you’re a bundle of laughs tonight.”

“Sorry,” the doctor deflated. “It’s just… I know how easy it is for couples to drift apart. Just not bothering to tell each other little things because they don’t seem to merit sharing can escalate into whole parts of your lives becoming separate.”

“Bones,” Jim leant forward again and laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “While I’m not denying that’s probably true… sometimes the little things really aren’t worth bothering with.”

Blue eyes searched brown for reassurance and Jim threw in a warming smile for good measure. It apparently worked because McCoy let out a sigh and straightened up again.

“You’re right. I’m probably just worrying over nothing.”

“Course you are. Now, do you want a glass of something?”

McCoy smiled but shook his head.

“Thanks but no. I’m going to stretch my legs a bit before hitting the hay.”

“Another time,” Jim suggested as Bones stood up to leave. “And Doctor? Promise me you won’t brood on this.”

“I’ll do my best Jim,” McCoy promised.

Ɛ>

Spock walked swiftly.

It had not escaped his notice that Leonard was troubled recently however he wasn’t certain exactly why he was reacting so strongly. It wasn’t as if Spock had been caught in a lie or had broken a promise. He had not disappeared unexpectedly or avoided Leonard’s company beyond what his duty demanded.

All Spock had done was neglect to tell him the exact nature of his errand. For some reason the human would not accept his assurance that his purchase was not something he need worry about.

His reading on the topic suggested he had done nothing incorrect.

Leonard trusted him, he knew, but some doubt must have crept in. And Leonard did suffer periodic bouts of low self-esteem. This must be causing his present anxiety.

He had therefore taken the trouble to arrange a sitter for Thalia so that he might attempt to deal with his upset mate.

That meant finding him first.

Originally he had assumed the doctor would be in his office but on his arrival at sickbay he’d found Doctor Chapel on duty. She informed him Leonard had left to spend a bit of time with the captain at his shift’s end.

The Vulcan had followed, hoping perhaps that their friend had managed to comfort the doctor, only to find Jim alone. Apparently McCoy had been there but hadn’t taken him up on the offer of a drink, choosing instead to ‘stretch his legs’. This meant he could be anywhere aboard.

And given his propensity to pensive brooding, it was highly likely he’d walk further than warranted and forget where he was supposed to be. Luckily the updated computer allowed for an easy solution.

“Computer. Locate Doctor McCoy.”

“Doctor McCoy is in the forward observation room.”

Spock turned immediately in the right direction and set off in pursuit, hoping McCoy would remain there long enough for him to catch up.

As he arrived in the quiet room, he was gratified to find the doctor had seemingly given up on his stated purpose of stretching his legs and was now staring out at the panorama.

Spock allowed himself a moment’s observation as Leonard was unaware of his arrival.

The expression on the doctor’s face was quite familiar, being as it was etched with concern. It reminded Spock of all those times he’d been witness to the doctor’s deeply caring nature. He’d seen him worried over patients as diverse as a Horta to a Romulan – it never matter to the physician what creed his patient lived by, only whether he could ease their pain.

But it also reminded Spock of all the worry Leonard shouldered upon himself. He felt responsible for every member of the crew and felt it personally whenever anything happened to any of them.

Spock remembered seeing Leonard comfort a grieving technician when they found out their father was terminally ill, hiding the deep grief from the early death of his own father.

His mate felt things so deeply, and all too often held onto his pain too long and too tightly. It was something he planned to help him with in the future.

The thought suddenly occurred to Spock – why should that be a future endeavour? Why was it not something he start now? It was illogical to put off his plan any longer.

With that thought, he strode forward.

“Leonard.” He allowed a touch of affection to show in his voice as they were actually alone. Spock could only assume the crew had been considerately giving the good doctor space with his thoughts.

McCoy started slightly.

“Spock? What you doin’ here? Where’s Thalia?”

“Uhura is watching her. I wished to have some time in which to speak with you.”

“Oh? This anything about how secretive you’ve become lately?” There was a faintly accusatory air to his tone. Spock was not surprised to find that McCoy was still focused on his reluctance to reveal the exact nature of his Starbase errand.

“In fact, yes.”

Spock was thankful now that he had opted to keep his purchase about his person, fully suspecting that McCoy would check their quarters thoroughly to discover it. He reached into his pocket and wrapped long fingers about the small box.

As he drew it out of hiding, he bent gracefully down to one knee and held it up for examination.

“Doctor Leonard Horatio McCoy,” he intoned formally. “Will you do me the honour of consenting to marriage?”

It was the first time that Spock could recall the doctor being rendered totally and utterly speechless. Spock waited patiently while McCoy struggled to reassert control of his faculties.

“Oh my… you bought me a ring?”

It wasn’t the first response Spock had expected the doctor to make.

“Obviously,” he replied drily, still holding the pro-offered ring up.

“You bought me a ring.” McCoy seemed to be actually brought to tears by this fact.

Spock began to worry that he’d been mistaken in his research and he wavered slightly.

“Was that not appropriate?”

“Oh darlin’!” McCoy dropped to his knees too and threw his arms around Spock to hug him tightly.

“You have not yet given me an answer,” Spock pointed out.

“Oh! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Spock intended to affix the ring to Leonard’s finger at this juncture, as suggested by countless sources, however he was hampered by the doctor’s own ambition of seemingly kissing every inch of Spock’s face. This response was not covered by the computer.

Eventually, the Vulcan claimed McCoy’s mouth in a deep kiss and managed to slip the ring onto the correct finger.

Leonard was finally distracted by gazing at his new adornment and Spock shifted them so McCoy was more comfortably situated on the Vulcan’s thighs rather than the hard floor.

“I had intended to wait for your birthday to ensure a properly romantic setting-” he began to explain before being shushed by Leonard.

“It’s perfect, Spock,” he assured him, wrapping his arms again around him and resting their foreheads together. “I couldn’t imagine a more romantic proposal.”

Spock recalled the wide range of suggestions he’d studied that had assured him the perfect proposal require food, music, and a wealth of other things and concluded he was pleased for once he’d acted on instinct.

McCoy’s bright blue eyes were staring into his from an intimately close distance.

“Uh, how long did Uhura say she’d watch Thalia for?”

“She offered to keep her overnight,” Spock replied, noting the familiar light flare in the doctor’s eyes.

“Well then,” he drawled. “There is perhaps one thing that could make this truly perfect.”

A wicked grin spread itself across his face.

Spock’s own lips twitched in response. A few resources had indeed mentioned that addition to an evening proposal. He was pleased Leonard was eager to include it.

Without a word he stood swiftly, arms still wrapped about his human mate and easily carrying him up into the air.

“Now, what does this remind me of?” McCoy mused happily as he hung onto the Vulcan’s neck and nipped a pointed ear fondly. Spock recalled immediately and paused as they neared the observation room door.

“I would have everyone recognise that you now belong to me,” he said the words again that he’d spoken that very first time.

McCoy’s eyes sparkled.

“Just as long as you belong to me too,” he recollected.

“Always,” Spock repeated his vow. “Always.”

Chapter Text

Jim was having breakfast with Thalia when Spock and McCoy arrived in the messhall. At least, Thalia had an empty bowl in front of her and Jim was ignoring his own food in favour of apparently re-enacting some feat of derring-do using only her toy starship and a savas fruit.

“And that,” he told his wide-eyed audience, finally relinquishing his props and returning his attention to his plate, “is how we went back in time.”

Thalia continued to stare at the soft toy as if it itself had been journeying through time. Then she saw her parents.

“Sa’mekh! Daddy!”

She stood up on her chair in her excitement.

“Do not stand on the chair,” Spock admonished, even as he laid two fingertips to her temple in a brief link. She dropped down obediently and McCoy dropped a kiss into her hair.

“Everything okay?” Jim asked cautiously.

“More than okay.” McCoy bounced happily alongside Thalia. “We got engaged.”

Jim’s face split into a grin to rival McCoy’s.

“About time too. Congratulations!”

“Wha’s ‘ngaged?” Thalia asked. “Qual se Enna?”

McCoy chuckled as he sat beside his daughter.

“It isn’t a ‘thing’ honey. It’s when two people agree to formally acknowledge their relationship in front of everyone by getting married.”

“It is a legal recognition of the relationship Leonard and I have,” Spock suggested.

She thought about that.

“Does’n kanok-veh know?”

“Only those people who already know us,” Spock corrected. “A marriage will be formally written in records so even years from now, people will know we were committed.”

She frowned as she tried to understand what that all meant. Leonard pulled her onto his lap.

“You remember your birthday?” he asked.

Thalia’s face cleared and she nodded.

“Well, it’s like that. Everyone gets together to celebrate.”

“Speaking of which,” Jim interrupted. “You’ll have to have an engagement party. What do you say Thalia? Want to help your Uncle Jim organise a party for your parents?”

“Ha!” she agreed instantly, standing up and treading across McCoy’s lap to hug Jim.

He chuckled as he pulled her to sit on his lap.

“Should we make it a joint birthday party for your daddy?” he asked her but McCoy interrupted before she could answer.

“No. Let’s keep it just about Spock and me.” His look was warning enough and Jim let the matter drop.

For now.

Ɛ>

It was quiet on the bridge as they headed out towards their next assignment.

Jim sat thoughtfully in his command chair, occasionally signing off a report handed to him by a yeoman or responding to an update by the crew.

His eyes kept flickering to Spock who was as usual focused upon his own work.

Finally, Jim couldn’t stand it any longer and meandered over to speak with him.

“Mister Spock,” he kept his voice quietly conversational. “I was wondering what you were doing for McCoy’s birthday this year?”

Spock turned towards him.

“I had no specific plans,” Spock responded factually before adding. “Leonard often says he does not wish to be reminded of his birthday.”

Jim gave the Vulcan a pitying look.

“Spock, just because he says that doesn’t mean he wants you to ignore the day.”

Spock frowned in confusion.

“Captain, I believe that is exactly what the doctor wishes.”

“He may say that and he may think that,” Jim agreed, “but believe me he would love it if you did something special for his birthday.”

“I am not sure-” Spock began but Jim over ruled him.

“Trust me Spock. Take him to dinner, spend an evening star gazing, but do something. Otherwise you’re only reinforcing his belief that the day isn’t worth celebrating.”

Jim could see the Vulcan’s alarm at that conclusion.

“I shall consider your advice seriously,” Spock assured him.

Jim nodded, satisfied now, and headed back to his chair intent on guiding the rest of his crew as carefully.

Ɛ>

McCoy knew something was up.

It wasn’t so much Spock’s attentiveness – every once in a while the Vulcan seemed to remember his human mate might require greater shows of tenderness and strove to oblige, until work distracted them both again.

However Thalia hadn’t yet mastered the art of subtlety or concealment.

After practically every mouthful she turned to her sa’mekh and, not very quietly, whispered, “Now?”

To which Spock would reply by urging her to finish her food.

McCoy ate his own food quickly, not at all relaxed about the prospect of a surprise from his two favourite half-Vulcans. He loved them dearly but he didn’t want a repeat of Thalia reciting the sayings of Surak, in the original Vulcan, for nigh on an hour.

Eventually, both grown-ups had finished and it had become clear Thalia was too excited to eat anything else.

“Please,” Spock requested as he rose, “close your eyes.”

“Close my eyes?” McCoy repeated dubiously. “Oh hell! You haven’t bought her a pet have you?”

Spock frowned.

“No. I have a surprise for you. It is therefore necessary for you to close your eyes.”

McCoy would have argued but his daughter joined the fray.

“Please daddy. Please.”

“Oh alright,” he grumbled with a smile. “Since you asked so nicely in Standard.”

He dutifully shut his eyes and heard Thalia giggle delightedly. There followed the sound of steps, and something being opened and shut, before a clink indicated something set before him.

“You may open them now,” Spock informed him.

“Surprise!” Thalia added enthusiastically as McCoy looked in front of him to see…

A cake.

At least he hoped it was a cake. It was possibly some strange round, flat vegetable because it was quite a striking shade of green. The only thing that immediately suggested it was a cake were the candles adorning it.

Of which there were a lot.

He looked up to see Spock looking at him anxiously. Then he glanced to where Thalia was staring at him intently, clearly awaiting a response.

“I… don’t know what to say,” he admitted. “Did you make this yourself?” he asked his daughter.

She shook her head.

“Sa’mekh made it. I did the ha’feklar.”

“You made it?” he queried Spock with a slight frown.

“I did. I understood that the baking of a cake was something that should be done personally rather than replicated.”

Leonard nodded and glanced back to what had now been officially designated a cake. Now he looked he could see red icing between the candles. Actually… it looked to be being melted by the candles.

“Salur ha’feklar Daddy,” Thalia prompted, crawling forward herself. McCoy instinctively pushed her away from the heat of the many flames.

“In Standard honey,” he prompted.

“Blow… the candles,” she translated with a proud grin.

“Okay, okay,” he agreed before taking in a deep breath and blowing hard. It took him three tries to get them all out.

“How many candles did you put on this thing?” he asked Spock accusingly.

The Vulcan blinked in surprise at the question.

“I was informed it was necessary to put one candle for every year,” he replied.

McCoy’s expression turned dark but luckily they were interrupted by Thalia.

“Sos ki’…” she began before catching sight of her parents’ raised brows.

“Can I have some cake,” she asked slowly. “Please?”

“Of course darlin’,” Leonard cooed at his daughter. “And then I’ll give you a bath, huh?”

He pointedly ignored Spock as he began unburying the cake from its waxy covering.

Ɛ>

Thalia was in bed and Leonard was settled on the couch reading in his nightwear while Spock took a sonic.

The doctor deliberately didn’t look up as his fiancé re-entered the room.

“I apologise for disregarding your wishes,” the Vulcan spoke softly.

McCoy looked up in honest surprise.

“I ain’t ignoring you ‘cause you did something for my birthday,” he informed him to the Vulcan’s obvious confusion. Leonard sighed heavily and put down his PADD. “I’m upset because you chose to highlight my age rather than celebrating my life.”

“You are upset because I put the correct number of candles on your cake?” Spock surmised.

“Spock, those guidelines are for children. You’re supposed to stop counting candles when you’re an adult.”

“You feel I made you out to be childish?”

“No,” McCoy huffed and indicated Spock should sit himself down. “Putting so many candles on a cake at my age… it’s considered mocking. Teasing about how old I’m getting.”

“That was never my intent,” Spock assured him.

Leonard looked him full in the face for the first time since the debacle at dinner and saw the concern etched there. His anger melted at the sight.

“I know darlin’,” he said. “An’ I do appreciate you baking me a cake.”

Spock relaxed fractionally at Leonard’s gentle smile.

“Next year I shall remember to avoid as many candles,” he promised.

“Ya don’t hav’ta do anything-” McCoy began only to be interrupted by Spock kissing the back of his hand.

“I do wish to celebrate your life Leonard.”

McCoy’s smile grew and Spock moved closer to kiss his lips.

“Perhaps I might give you another present now?” he suggested. “I do believe I owe you an act of fellatio.”

Leonard leant away to avoid another kiss as Spock advanced.

“Wait a minute,” he asked. “Do you keep count?”

Spock very slowly and deliberately raised an eyebrow.

“Right,” McCoy agreed licking his lips subconsciously. “But we’re gonna discuss that later.”

“Of course, Leonard,” Spock agreed as he set to work on distracting his fiancé from any further concerns for the rest of the evening.

Chapter Text

It was a well-known fact that things on the Enterprise rarely ran smoothly.

Jim and Thalia had spent many hours talking about and organising a proper party to celebrate her parents’ engagement however, when the designated time approached, Starfleet suddenly assigned the Enterprise to host a diplomatic party.

Consequently, the engagement party had now morphed into a diplomatic dinner engagement.

“Sorry your party’s been shanghaied,” Jim apologised again as he walked with Bones towards the hanger bay.

“Don’t matter,” the doctor shrugged. “Least I’m not trussed up in some starched monstrosity.”

In a concession to the unfortunate change of plans, Jim had agreed Spock and McCoy could wear formal Vulcan robes instead. It was quite strange to Jim seeing the doctor dressed that way but he wasn’t about to comment on it.

Not that he’d let the slur to his own apparel pass.

“You’re just jealous ‘cause I look better in uniform.”

“Believe whatever makes you happy, Jim.”

They walked in companionable silence until a thought struck Kirk.

“Is Spock bringing Thalia later on?”

“No. I believe Uhura is bringing her. She and Chapel are playing dress up with her.” He smiled fondly. “Spock’s overseeing that diplomatic protocol has been observed.”

“Of course.”

And indeed as they arrived at the hanger bay, the First Officer was issuing instructions to the awaiting honour guard. However he was obviously distracted at his fiancé’s arrival. Moments later he joined them.

“Leonard. The attire suits you well.”

McCoy felt himself blush slightly at the compliment.

“Now now, Mister Spock,” Jim admonished in amusement. “Don’t go making my CMO blush before we greet our guests.”

McCoy scowled at him before schooling his expression.

“Since we have a minute,” he spoke disarmingly, “Spock and I wanted to speak to you.”

“Oh?” Jim glanced to where the shuttle was being tractored into the landing area.

“Yes.” McCoy bounced on his toes. “We were wanting to ask you to be best man.”

Jim’s gaze was still focused on the rotating shuttle and it took a second for the words to sink in.

His eyes snapped back to his best friends.

“You want me to be best man?”

McCoy grinned while Spock responded, “Naturally. We did not expect it to be a surprise to you.”

“Well, no. I mean, obviously I hoped… but I didn’t want to expect…”

“There’s no-one we’d rather have,” McCoy interrupted his friend’s pleased ramble.

Jim smiled and felt himself well up.

“Guys, I-”

A bosun’s whistle interrupted him and his eyes widened as he realised their guests were disembarking.

“Damn it Bones!” he admonished before hurrying off towards the diplomatic group.

Behind him McCoy laughed at the successful distraction.

Ɛ>

“Are you a dinosaur?”

McCoy hoped like hell that the Gorn weren’t too familiar with human facial expressions as he winced in embarrassment.

“What is a dinosaur?” their guest queried.

“Before mammals rose to prominence on Earth,” Spock started explaining, “a race of reptiles were the superior beings. These were known as dinosaurs, or ‘terrible lizards’.”

“Terrible?”

“Derived from the word ‘terrific’,” Kirk explained smoothly. “They held their reign of dominance for millions of years and are a source of fascination for modern humanity.”

“What happened to them?”

“An asteroid strike had a devastating impact on the Earth of the time and the majority of the creatures living then were rendered extinct,” Spock answered.

“A pity,” the Gorn captain replied.

“Indeed.”

As the meal continued with the more usual chit chat, Thalia nudged her father in the side.

“He didn’ answer me,” she objected.

“He can’t be a dinosaur honey,” McCoy whispered back. “You heard sa’mekh. They died out millennia ago.”

Thalia turned back to her plate and stared hard at it. McCoy waited, recognising the expression and knowing something else would be forthcoming.

“But… birds were dinosaurs. Why not Gorn?”

“They’re from a whole other planet.”

Again there was that concentrated expression.

“Maybe they moved.”

“Maybe honey,” McCoy relented. “Why don’t we ask sa’mekh later? Right now, you should finish your food.”

Ɛ>

“It is tolik juice,” Spock explained. “You will not like it.”

“Why?” Thalia queried as she clung onto his neck.

“The taste is particularly strong.”

“Daddy likes it,” she pointed out.

McCoy glanced to them as they approached and smiled as Spock handed the drink over.

“Daddy likes many things you would not,” Spock told her.

“What’s that?” McCoy queried.

“Thalia was curious about your tolik juice.”

“Ah. Sa’mekh’s right,” Leonard confirmed. “You wouldn’t like it.”

Thalia didn’t look happy and McCoy melted.

“How’d you like to dance with me sweetheart?” he offered.

Thalia grinned widely and began to wiggle impatiently to get down. Spock released her and McCoy led her over to where there was space for them to dance.

Spock was so distracted watching his daughter balancing on his partner’s feet as he walked her through the steps that he didn’t immediately notice his company.

“It reminds me how many similarities we have,” the Gorn commented.

Spock turned to him and awaited an explanation.

“Your species are as attentive to their young as ours. We are both protective of those we hold dear.”

The Vulcan nodded his agreement.

“Indeed. It is wise to remember such similarities.”

“I am curious though,” the other continued. “You are both males…”

Spock tensed as he awaited the inevitable commentary on their life choice.

“Why does the translator provide two different terms of address for you both?”

Spock was momentarily surprised by the question. The Gorn clearly felt he hadn’t been understood.

“You are referred to as sa’mekh and the doctor as daddy.”

“Sa’mekh is the Vulcan word for father,” he explained. “Daddy is a Federation version.”

The diplomat considered this.

“Then would you not use the Vulcan word in relation to the doctor?”

“The doctor has a previous daughter by a human partner who refers to him as daddy. He wished both his children to know him by the same title. It was then only logical for me to adopt the Vulcan name to differentiate between us.”

The Gorn nodded his understanding and continued to watch as McCoy now swung his daughter up to swirl her round.

Spock couldn’t resist questioning the Gorn in turn.

“You do not seem surprised by two men having a child.” It was more of a statement as he wasn’t really sure how to ask what he wanted.

“Gorn children are hatched from eggs,” his companion explained. “Almost as soon as we discovered fertility treatments the gender of the partners became irrelevant. It is as easy to develop from two males, or two females, as mixed partnerships. Some females have even been able to reproduce entirely by themselves.”

Spock considered that quietly.

While the Federation were making great strides, it was useful to be reminded that there was still much to learn from other cultures.

McCoy and Thalia’s laughter drew his attention and he looked up in time to catch Leonard’s eyes. The doctor immediately reached out a hand to encourage Spock to join them. He hesitated only a second before moving forward to join his family.

As he held Leonard in one arm and Thalia in the other he reflected on his great good fortune.

Ɛ>

The Gorn were surprisingly pleasant guests to have aboard but there was certainly a feeling of relaxation when they’d gone.

Spock and McCoy took Thalia to join their friends in the rec room, where everyone was unwinding from being on their best behaviour for days. As she hurried over to play with Christine and Nyota, the men settled themselves round a table with their usual eclectic mix of beverages.

After some talk of incidents from the visit, and the usual teasing about drink choices, talk turned to wedding plans.

“You should get married in Moscow,” Chekov declared. “A winter wedding in the snow would be most beautiful.”

“No laddie,” Scotty interjected. “For sheer beauty ya need the Scottish highlands.”

“I think we’d rather have somewhere warm,” McCoy told them before an argument could begin. “Neither of us much enjoy the cold.”

Chekov shrugged.

“I’d have thought you’d be insisting on a full Georgian wedding,” Jim suggested.

McCoy glanced to Spock.

“I did that once,” he commented. “With all the trimmings. Don’t really want a repeat of that. This should be something special to us.”

“Well, what about San Francisco?” Sulu put in. “That’s where you live, it’s the base for Starfleet Headquarters which is how you met, and it’ll be real convenient for all of your guests.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Your suggestion is most logical. Leonard?”

McCoy nodded thoughtfully.

“Yeah. There’s some really pretty spots round there. And it’s plenty warm enough in summer.” He glanced for confirmation to Spock who merely looked placidly back.

“A summer wedding in San Francisco it is,” Jim declared. “Now, how about we help you with your guest list? There’s certainly a number of people I can think of who’d brighten up any occasion.”

As talk turned to desirable conquests, Leonard leant back and rested against Spock’s side, infinitely satisfied with his own partner.

And, if Spock’s arm wrapping around him was any indication, Spock was equally satisfied.

Chapter Text

“It is a routine survey mission,” Spock reassured the doctor. “I expect to be back in time for our family dinner.”

“Humph,” McCoy stood on the edge of the transporter platform and glared. “How often are any of our missions ‘routine’?” he challenged.

“While it is true that a higher than average percentage of our missions bring something unexpected, it is purposeless to worry.”

“I ain’t worried!” McCoy exclaimed. “I’d just rather be going with you.”

“Even though we shall be utilising the transporter?” Spock teased his mate gently before turning serious again. “We agreed that it would be logical for one of us to remain on board with Thalia at all times unless absolutely-”

“I know, I know,” Leonard interrupted, stepping closer so he could embrace the other man. “Doesn’t mean I have ta like you going on your own.”

“I will not be on my own,” Spock pointed out. “I am part of a six man team.”

“You know what I mean,” McCoy objected, continuing to hold onto him.

Spock returned the embrace and relented.

“I will miss your company too,” he allowed.

McCoy pulled back and coughed awkwardly.

“Ya can’t fool me ya know,” he muttered. “Yer just trying to get out of finalising our guest list.”

Spock tilted his head slightly.

“We shall decide the final list upon my return,” he promised.

McCoy locked eyes with him.

“I’ll hold you to that,” he said.

Ɛ>

“Why can’t Starfleet design a communicator that works more than half the time?” McCoy demanded of nobody in particular.

Uhura gave him an understanding look.

“We knew they would most likely be unable to keep in touch while they conducted the survey,” she reminded him.

“I know, I know,” he grumbled.

“Take it as a good sign Bones,” Jim interrupted. “The material they were looking for is what disrupts communications. It probably means they’ve found it.”

“Then why haven’t they signalled for a beam out?” he challenged back.

“They have to survey the extent of the mineral, calculate difficulties in prospective mining, scan for any additional-”

“Alright, I get it.” He stood from his perch beside Uhura’s station. “I’ll be in sickbay if anyone wants me.”

“Doctor,” Uhura called softly before he could disappear into the turbolift. “I’ll comm you as soon as we hear from them.”

He smiled gratefully.

“Thanks Nyota.”

Ɛ>

McCoy tried to lose himself in his work but found that difficult.

He knew he was probably worrying unnecessarily. There was no reason to expect anything untoward from this particular assignment and lord knows, they’d been on far more hazardous missions, both together and apart. But the fact was this was the first time he’d ever had to consider how he’d tell Thalia bad news.

Not that there currently was bad news, he reminded himself.

He focused again on another missive from Starfleet Medical about a change in regulation for monitoring dosages used on field trips.

While he was admittedly enjoying being back in space with Jim and Spock, his changed position in the Medical department was taking some getting used to. He outranked Chapel still, which essentially meant he had to act as the filter for all Starfleet communications. She was Head Doctor, meaning the actual sickbay ward was now her domain. There was no question of his being very welcome there, but he didn’t want to interfere with her first real chance of authority, so he stuck to his office mostly. Unless there was patients naturally. Then it was all hands on deck.

Which was just fine most days but now he was feeling restless so he stepped out into the quiet ward and glanced around.

“Anything I can help with Christine?”

He had hoped to sound casual but her look told him she saw right through that. As usual.

“Well, if you have time, perhaps you could look through a thesis I’ve been working on? I’d appreciate a second opinion.”

“Gladly.”

Ɛ>

He looked up immediately as Jim entered the messhall and couldn’t quell the question in his eyes.

Jim shook his head slightly even as he headed over.

“Shouldn’t we have heard from them by now?” McCoy demanded anxiously as Jim sat down.

“I admit, I’d have thought we’d have heard something,” Jim agreed. “But there’s still no reason to worry.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” McCoy snapped before looking guilty. “Sorry,” he muttered. Jim waved the insult away.

“Have you said anything to Thalia yet?”

“No. I didn’t want to interrupt her routine and worry her for no good reason.”

“What are you going to tell her now?”

“Just that sa’mekh’s still away on a mission. But that’s not the problem.”

Jim frowned.

“Then what is?”

“I can tell her every reassuring thing under the sun and smile like there’s nothing wrong but she’s a touch telepath. Soon as I touch her she’ll feel my worry.”

“I thought she couldn’t do that yet?” Jim asked.

“Not with most people, no. But she’s attuned to me and Spock. We have a family bond although I can’t sense it.”

“No good telling you to stop worrying I suppose?”

McCoy gave him a look.

“Sorry. Can you… postpone actual contact? I doubt Spock will be away much longer. He’ll know you’re worrying.”

“I’ll try-”

He cut himself off as the door opened and Janice Rand led Thalia in. She smiled widely and McCoy’s anxiety disappeared for a moment as he grinned back.

“Hi honey,” he greeted her before glancing to Janice. “Everything alright?”

“Yes. Good as gold as usual.”

Jim scooped the young girl onto his lap.

“How’d you like to have dinner with me and daddy here tonight?” he enquired.

“Please,” she smiled before a frown creased her little brow. “What about sa’mekh?”

“Sa’mekh’s still busy,” McCoy answered softly. “But he’ll be back soon as he can.”

“Come on.” Jim stood with Thalia still in his arms. “Let’s go choose some dinner.”

Ɛ>

Jim stayed with them through dinner and even carried Thalia back to Spock and McCoy’s quarters but eventually he had to go.

While part of McCoy wanted him to stay, a large part wanted him to get going and find out just what was keeping the away team so long.

Leonard let Thalia play games on a PADD while he pulled up some more work on their desk computer. He pretended not to notice the time passing but eventually he couldn’t in good conscience put off the inevitable any longer.

“Time for your bath sweetheart.”

Thalia hesitated a moment before putting down her PADD. Leonard smiled to himself as he remembered the arguments he used to have with Joanna on those occasions he managed to be around to perform the evening routine.

Thalia held out her arms and Leonard resisted the instinct to retreat. Focusing all his thoughts on his love for his daughter, he picked her up and headed for their bathroom.

She cuddled into him as he focused on getting everything ready but all too soon his mind slid to Spock. He felt her arms tighten about his neck and knew some of his worry must have seeped through.

Determined to do better, he began reciting lullabies in his head as he undressed her and lifted her into the water. Unfortunately, she was apparently just as gifted as Spock.

“Why’re you worried?” she asked.

He sighed and soaped up a sponge before answering.

“Sa’mekh has been away a long time. I miss him is all.”

Thalia seemed to think about that.

“He’s gone away before,” she pointed out reasonably.

“Yes, but I haven’t been able to contact him today. I’d like to know he’s okay.”

“He’s okay,” she replied promptly and with utter seriousness.

McCoy halted his ministrations at the conviction in her tone. Cautiously he began rinsing her off.

“You sound very sure,” he suggested.

“I can feel him,” she answered, turning her blue eyes onto his.

It suddenly dawned on McCoy. The Vulcan telepathic bond between parent and child. His heart swelled with sudden affection.

“Thanks darlin’,” he smiled. “I needed to hear that.”

She tilted her head in a manner reminiscent of Spock and then smiled.

“You’re silly,” she told him.

Ɛ>

McCoy had gone to bed but wasn’t asleep when he heard Spock return. He waited quietly as the Vulcan changed into nightwear and then stopped by Thalia’s room before joining his partner in bed.

“Finally decided to come back have yer?” Leonard murmured quietly.

“Ashayam.” Spock wound his arms round him. “You should be asleep.”

“Can’t sleep,” he muttered before amending. “Wanted to talk to you.”

“Can it not wait ‘til morning?” Spock sounded tired. “I promise I shall review the guest list then.”

“It ain’t about the guest list!” Leonard snapped before relenting slightly. “I ain’t angry,” he assured him. “But… well, I was worried today. Until Thalia told me she could feel you through yer bond.”

“I am glad you were reassured.”

“Yeah,” McCoy agreed, hesitating slightly. “Got me thinking though. I’d like us to have that.”

There was a sudden stillness as Spock absorbed that statement.

“You wish to bond?” he clarified.

“I… yeah. I think so.”

Another silence followed before Spock placed a chaste kiss to his neck.

“We will discuss this in the morning Ashayam.”

“Okay,” Leonard agreed and finally managed to relax, safe in his Vulcan’s embrace.

Chapter Text

“You are sure this is what you want?” Spock asked.

Thalia had been collected by Harb, and Jim had given both of them leave, so they had plenty of time for whatever they decided to do. McCoy seemed as fully resolved today as he had been the previous night but Spock wanted to make absolutely sure.

“This will be permanent Leonard. To break such a bond would require trained healers and many weeks patient treatment. Even then it could leave indelible mental scars.”

“You having second thoughts?” McCoy replied with a hint of challenge. Not enough to hide his inherent insecurity though.

“Not at all,” Spock assured him immediately. “Only I would not wish to be responsible for any injury to you. And you do have a habit of hiding your discomfort at times-”

“Spock,” Leonard interrupted firmly. “You were there when the Vulcan healers checked me. You were melding with me at the time. I couldn’t hide anything from you or them. I’m ready for this.”

Spock hesitated.

“I would never wish to hurt you,” he admitted softly.

“I know darlin’. And you won’t.” Leonard smiled luminously. “This will only make things better for us.”

Spock contemplated him seriously before leaning in to share a kiss. When he pulled back, Leonard was slightly breathless but any lingering tension had dissipated.

Spock tenderly reached his fingers up to their familiar place resting on Leonard’s face. The doctor relaxed into the by now comforting gesture and Spock felt further reassured that his mate genuinely wanted this.

This was only emphasized as his mind reached for Leonard’s and found the human’s already opening for him.

This was easy for them but Spock knew the next part might prove difficult.

Although they had shared more with each other than either had with any other living being, there were still secrets. Spock’s own concerns about proving himself worthy – of his father, to other Vulcans, and for Leonard.

And Leonard… his pain that ran so deep.

He could feel the man resisting as Spock moved towards those memories.

“Ashayam. You must let me in.”

“I’m frightened.”

It was true. Spock could feel the pervasive fear thrumming through their connection. It reminded him forcibly of when McCoy had willingly let the Vians torture him to spare his friends.

“Nothing here could make me think less of you.”

The Vulcan knew Leonard would also see Spock’s memories of that mission. His admiration and distress at his love’s selflessness.

Something about the memory must have worked to influence McCoy because Spock could feel the man’s unwilling giving up of his most painful memory.

A hospital… an elderly man… his father… begging… begging for release… his son… letting him go… the pain of a cure… just weeks too late…

Spock’s love flowed unrestrained into Leonard, washing him in comfort and reassurance, love and desire, ownership and submission. The bond bloomed strong and joyous.

As Spock pulled away from the deep meld, Leonard couldn’t help but gasp at the sensation. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. From his resurfaced grief and from his overwhelming affection.

Spock sat and watched him carefully.

“You… That…” McCoy couldn’t find the words. What words could possibly describe this? “Is this what you had with T’Pring?” he struggled to control his swirling thoughts that bled into Spock’s. “How’d she ever give this up?”

“My bond with T’Pring was nothing like this.” Spock reached over and wiped the tears from his new bondmate’s cheeks. “It was… pale and weak. I had anticipated a bond with you would be more… satisfying.”

Leonard snorted in a most undignified way and then glanced up in surprise.

“I can feel you. Your emotions.” He frowned. “Least, I think they’re your emotions.”

“It will take some time to adjust,” Spock explained. “Vulcan emotions… are slightly different to a human’s. It may take you time to learn to recognize them.”

Leonard smiled.

“How about you teach me some of them?” he suggested.

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Ashayam. I must remind you, I am able to read your thoughts with greater clarity now.”

“So?”

“I can tell the… amorous nature of the emotions you wish to be taught.”

“And? Any reason you shouldn’t start by demonstrating those?”

Spock felt his mate’s happiness and joy glowing in his mind and decided that there really was no logical reason to delay those lessons.

“Now would perhaps be a most opportune time,” he agreed and allowed Leonard to pull him up and towards their bedroom.

Ɛ>

Jim caught up with McCoy the very next morning, bouncing into the doctor’s office.

“So,” he asked as he sat himself unasked. “How’s bonded life?”

McCoy attempted a glare but couldn’t maintain it.

“Really Jim? It’s been a day.”

“I know,” Jim smiled but then gave him a concerned look. “But I wanted to make sure you were coping alright. Not overwhelmed or suffering any adverse affects.”

“Honestly? There’s no sign of my allergy at all. It feels… hell! I can’t explain it. Good though. Reassuring.”

Jim smiled again.

“I’m glad to hear it.”

“I’ll tell you one thing though,” McCoy leant back thoughtfully. “Spock’s a damn sight more emotional than I’d have expected.” He frowned slightly. “Bit disconcerting really.”

Jim laughed out loud.

“Disappointed you aren’t the emotional one anymore Doctor?” he teased.

McCoy waved the teasing away with a smile.

“It’s just a case of getting used to it. I’m still kinda unbalanced.”

“Do you need any time off?”

“No, no. Normal routine’s best.”

“Okay then,” Jim stood up. “Well, let me know if you need anything. As a friend or your captain.”

“Hey!” McCoy objected with a frown. “Was this a professional visit?”

Jim clapped him on the shoulder.

“It was both,” he assured him. “Much like a lot of your visits to me.”

Ɛ>

McCoy was smiling to himself as he fed Thalia her evening meal. Although it was more a case of collecting dropped vegetables than actually feeding her.

He hummed happily.

“Spock?”

“Yes Ashayam?”

Leonard smiled wider at the surge of affection he felt at the term of endearment. Partially his own but some was certainly the Vulcan’s.

“I wanted to ask you about some wedding plans.”

“Leonard, what matters to me is that we are married and you are happy.”

Leonard shot him a particularly fond look but grumbled.

“Well don’t that make me sound selfish.”

Spock reached two fingers to Leonard’s before querying.

“What was it you wished to discuss?”

“Well, I was looking through some suggested vows and…” he paused while he passed Thalia some more green beans, “I’d like something a little more personal to us.”

“Did you have something specific in mind?”

“I’d like for you to come up with your own vows Spock. Something that shows why you want get hitched to me.”

“I understand. And will you also determine your own vows to speak to me?”

“Sure will.” He smiled beatifically again.

“C’n I say something?” Thalia asked.

“At our wedding?” Spock questioned.

Thalia nodded earnestly.

“Please?” She made her blue eyes wide as possible in what Spock considered to be a good imitation of her daddy when he wanted something.

“I believe that can be arranged,” Spock acquiesced, casting a confirmation glance to Leonard.

“How about you sing a song for us?” McCoy suggested. “We’ll find a special song for you to learn.”

Thalia smiled widely.

Ɛ>

McCoy was walking with Scotty towards sickbay when he caught sight of Spock. A smile pulled at his lips and he briefly lost track of what the engineer was telling him about the possible adjustments to the biobeds.

Since bonding, he found himself getting more distracted by Spock than he had in a long while. It was almost worrying sometimes how little else seemed to matter when the Vulcan was near. Vulcan emotions were certainly stronger than he’d ever believed.

Spock likewise focused on him as he approached and McCoy saw a flicker of annoyance on his face, accompanied by a thrumming emotion through the bond which McCoy couldn’t immediately identify.

He frowned slightly at the obvious upset in his partner and almost forgot Scotty entirely until the man clapped him on the shoulder.

“Tell you what,” the scotsman suggested. “I’ll come back once I’ve run some tests.”

With a grin at the pair he continued off down the corridor, leaving McCoy to eye the Vulcan suspiciously.

“Alright,” he eventually asked, “what’s that look about?”

“I do not know to what you refer,” Spock stood apparently calm.

McCoy tentatively tried to probe his feelings through their link but felt nothing unusual. As far as he could tell from his limited experience anyway.

“You looked like something offensive had just come into your field of vision not your beloved mate and our mutual friend.”

McCoy blinked as there was another flicker of emotion from Spock, almost too quick this time, but suggestive of definite distaste. He felt his own surge of panic.

“You didn’t want to see me?” he queried worriedly. “Have I upset you? Is it because you’re stuck with my emotions always-”

“Ashayam,” Spock interrupted. “I am always pleased to see you. And I find the constant presence of your emotions to be quite comforting as it means you are close and well.”

Spock allowed his own fondness to reflect along the bond, helping to reassure McCoy. However opening the link between them allowed McCoy to glimpse the other emotions also close to the surface.

His relief over the reassurance turned into a confused frown.

“Jealous? You were jealous?”

Spock shifted slightly and closed up the open bond.

“Jealous is a strong word. Uneasy, perhaps.”

“Because I was talking to Scotty?” McCoy continued in disbelief. “Alright, firstly, you know I don’t have eyes for anyone but you. Right? And secondly, not everyone’s fool enough to think I’m a prime catch.” He spoke teasingly but it was hard to deny an undercurrent of self-doubt. Especially to someone with a hotline to his head.

Spock’s defensiveness was easily apparent.

“It is my considered opinion that you are indeed a ‘prime catch’,” he insisted, warming McCoy’s heart in the process. “And I am merely… concerned that you may at times prefer human companionship to my own.”

McCoy smiled as he bounced on his heels and considered trying to worm more compliments from his lover. He decided he sadly didn’t have time.

“I’ll admit that at times I do want some human company,” he admitted, feeling the expected flash of alarm, “but that doesn’t mean I ever don’t want yours.”

Spock didn’t look entirely satisfied but McCoy was due in sickbay. He leant forward and gave the Vulcan a kiss.

“We’ll talk later,” he assured Spock.

Chapter Text

McCoy slid himself into bed beside Spock who was still working on a PADD.

“You know I asked you to come up with some vows to read for our wedding?” he asked without preamble.

“Indeed?”

“Well, I’ve found something I’d like to read. It’s a very old Earth sonnet but I think it sums us up.”

“I was under the understanding that you wished me to prepare a personal statement. Something ‘personal to us’ as I recall.”

Spock actually frowned and Leonard sensed a simmering annoyance.

“Well, I’m a doctor not a poet! I didn’t mean you have to compose something yourself.”

A terse silence fell and Leonard awkwardly shifted himself closer, laying an apologetic hand on Spock’s forearm.

“Did yer actually write me something darlin’?” he asked softly and was relieved to feel the tension dissipate.

“I did,” Spock confirmed.

“Can I read it?”

Spock glanced down at him in contemplation before returning his attention to his PADD. For a few seconds McCoy wasn’t sure if that meant a yes or no but then he was handed the device.

He shifted to a more comfortable position and eagerly began to read.

As his eyes scanned further and further though, the frown on his face grew deeper.

“Spock. This is just a list of my achievements. I was hoping for something with a bit more romance. Y’know. To show why you love me.”

“But these events form the basis of who you are. Your training in medicine reflects your personality. Your dedication likewise emphasises your essential nature. As I love you for being you, I do not see why it is inappropriate to list those things that demonstrate this.”

McCoy eyed him.

“Well, why don’t you just say that? That you love me for being me?”

Spock stiffened slightly.

“I would prefer to detail the reasons as I originally intended.”

McCoy opened his mouth to argue with that when Thalia’s voice sounded through the system monitor.

“Daddy! Daddy!”

“Coming!” he called immediately although without activating the unit she wouldn’t hear. Seconds later though he was stumbling awkwardly into her room.

“I’m here sweetheart,” he cooed. “What’s wrong?”

She was sat in the middle of her bed, hugging Enna, with tears running down her cheeks.

“Did you have a nightmare?” he asked, tenderly brushing the tears away.

His touch obviously soothed her and she took in a shuddering breath.

“It’s in my head,” she clutched her toy tighter. “Sa’mekh’s quiet.”

Leonard frowned slightly before understanding dawned.

“Oh! You’re worried about sa’mekh because you can’t sense him so well?”

Thalia nodded mutely and Leonard smiled.

“It’s alright darlin’. Sa’mekh’s fine. I guess he’s quieter now ‘cause he’s sharing my head too.”

“You can hear him?”

“Well, probably not so well as you could but yeah.”

She didn’t look wholly reassured so he reached down and lifted her up.

“Come on,” he suggested. “We’ll go see him and you can see for yourself he’s fine. Then I’ll put yer back to bed and read you another story. How’s that sound?”

“Please,” she murmured into his neck.

He hugged her tightly and carried her in to sit with him and Spock a while.

Ɛ>

Thalia’s nightmare had distracted Leonard from his complaint about Spock’s vows but the thought came back to him the next day when Jim stopped by to check on whether they were setting up a present list.

“What do you think?” Bones demanded as he paced in frustration. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting a little romance is there?”

“Bones.” Jim tried to sound diplomatic. “Don’t you think you’re asking a lot of him?”

“What? To say he loves me at our wedding?”

“Yes,” Jim replied firmly. “He’s Vulcan. At least, he always tries to live the Vulcan way. And Vulcans don’t admit to love.”

“But he does love me. He’s told me so!”

“I know. I’d never deny that. But I’ve never even heard him say it to you. And you want him to admit it publicly? In front of all your friends?”

“But it’s true,” McCoy almost whined.

“Of course. And everyone knows it. So why are you pushing for him to vocalise it? You knew what you were getting when you started up with him. Do you really want to change him?”

McCoy frowned unhappily.

“Of course I don’t. I just… I guess I want something symbolic.”

“He’s marrying you Bones. Isn’t that symbolic enough?”

“Yeah. I guess I have been getting a bit pushy. After all it’s his day too.”

“A bit and give and take, Bones,” Jim advised. “Let him shape the day too. Now. Are you or are you not requesting presents?”

“No. Donations to charity. We did agree on that.”

“Good.” Jim relaxed and grinned. “So what about the honeymoon? Because I had a few ideas for you.”

He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and McCoy decided he suddenly had other places to be.

Ɛ>

“Spock?” McCoy glanced up at the sound of the door swishing and smiled as he saw the Vulcan. “I’m glad you’re back. I want your input on this.”

Spock glanced him up and down.

McCoy had had time for a shower after putting Thalia to bed and was now sitting quite relaxed in his pyjama bottoms and an old t-shirt.

“I’ve been looking at a few honeymoon options,” he continued, oblivious to the Vulcan’s scrutiny. “And since it’s your honeymoon too, I want us to agree on something for once.”

He looked up with a grin and Spock finally moved to join him on the couch.

“I shall be happy to accommodate your wishes,” Spock told him.

“I know,” McCoy looked back at the PADD, “but I’d like to do something for you too.”

“I can think of many things you may do for me,” Spock suggested lowly.

McCoy smirked.

“I’m sure ya can but right now I’d rather know what kind of holiday you prefer. You know, if you can’t have one with science studies and research labs.”

Spock leaned closer and placed a kiss to his human’s neck.

“A locale with a comfortable bed will be sufficient,” he said.

McCoy shifted away just enough to discourage the attention to his neck. Although the amorous feelings seeping through the touch were decidedly pleasant.

“Spock,” he sighed. “I’m trying to seriously consider this. I don’t even know what sort of location to look at! I was guessing somewhere with places of interest. Like historical sites and- and-”

He lost track of his sentence as Spock resumed his devotion just under his jaw. There was a definite frisson of lust now.

Then he snapped back to himself with a sudden realisation and pulled back.

“Whoa! Are you trying to distract me from this for some reason? Why don’t you want me to discuss our honeymoon?”

He stared intently at the Vulcan and instinctively began logging the unusual visible signs.

“Leonard,” Spock spoke breathily, further alarming the doctor. “I simply wish to postpone the discussion.”

As Spock edged forward again, McCoy put out a restraining hand.

“Wait,” he instructed and Spock obediently stopped. “Spock, are you feeling alright?” He could see the sudden tensing across his lover’s shoulders but he pressed on. “Because you’re unusually flushed and your pupils are dilated more than normal.”

Spock managed to shift himself back to a more respectable distance.

“I am in fact feeling somewhat more… emotional than usual,” he admitted.

McCoy laid a hand on the Vulcan’s forehead, noting the elevated temperature and feeling those persistent feelings through the bond. It took him several long seconds to piece everything together but then his eyes widened and he swore.

“Shit! It’s… it, isn’t it?” Spock didn’t verbally answer but his lack of denial was enough. “Why the hell didn’t I think of this sooner? We knew this would be coming up soon. And I’m even damn well sharing your mind now!” He ran a hand through his hair.

“The bond is still new,” Spock spoke soothingly. “You would have no base line to compare with.” He unthinkingly reached a hand to stroke McCoy’s arm comfortingly.

McCoy watched the hand with detached interest as his mind continued to whirl.

“And you didn’t realise?” It wasn’t quite spoken accusingly.

Spock glanced at where his hand was holding Leonard’s arm and cautiously removed it.

“I believe I attributed the changes to influence from your own mind. Although perhaps our bonding in fact hastened the condition.”

McCoy huffed but chose not to pursue an argument.

“Right,” he said decisively. “I think you should go to sickbay.”

Spock actually frowned at him.

“Leonard. You are aware there is no treatment for me that can be found there.”

“I know that,” Leonard replied gently. “But we can’t just give in to the Pon Farr here and now. We have to make sure Thalia will be taken care of.” He looked up in alarm. “She won’t sense anything will she? Through the parental bond?”

Spock shook his head.

“The bond between parent and child goes silent at the onset of Pon Farr.”

McCoy growled in annoyance.

That’s what she was telling me,” he muttered before falling back into doctor-mode.

“Right then. You go to sickbay. I’ll speak to Jim and make arrangements.”

“May I not stay here?” Spock coaxed.

McCoy was tempted as a man but as a doctor…

“No,” he said simply.

He thought for a moment Spock would argue but then the Vulcan nodded briefly and stood.

“I hope to hear from you soon,” he said, hand twitching to reach for his mate.

“Soon as I can,” McCoy promised, for once being the responsible one and letting Spock leave.

Ɛ>

“Thanks for doing this Jim.”

McCoy had settled Thalia in her travel cot, currently set up in the captain’s quarters. When he’d reappeared Jim had been waiting for him with a glass of brandy which the doctor had accepted gratefully.

“No problem Bones. You know everyone adores Thalia. So just you go and… ah… adore Spock.” He smirked.

“Don’t joke about it,” McCoy snapped. “It isn’t just some roll in the hay. He could die from this.”

Jim turned serious.

“He won’t die though. He has you. You have a bond. There’s no reason to expect any problems.”

“It’s just…” McCoy all but wrung his hands. “What if I’m not enough? What if our bond isn’t strong enough? Lord knows, my mind’s not adapted for this.”

“Bones,” Jim resisted the temptation to sigh at his friend’s persistent worrying. “First off, you’re everything to Spock. There’s no way you’re not enough. And secondly, you haven’t had any problems with the bond yet have you? You’ve certainly been through enough preparation for it – medication, therapy, Vulcan healers. Did any of them suggest it might be a problem?”

“No,” McCoy admitted.

He still looked nervous and, in a way, Jim could understand. He’d had a lot of sex in his time, occasionally for ulterior motives where the fate of a mission hung in the balance, but never where the life of his partner might be at stake.

“If anything does go wrong,” Jim added softly, “the Intrepid isn’t far away and you know I’ll abandon this patrol to get you both to Vulcan.”

McCoy managed to smile.

“Thanks. I appreciate that.”

Jim clapped him on the shoulder to break the sombre mood.

“At least try and enjoy it though will you?”

That brought a brief laugh out of the doctor before he nodded and stood. Jim settled back in his seat as he watched McCoy activate the comm.

“McCoy to sickbay.”

Sickbay here.

“Tell Spock he can come back to our quarters. I’ll meet him there,” McCoy added softly.

Yes, Doctor,” the nurse responded promptly.

McCoy turned back to face Jim who waited expectantly.

“Well,” he said. “Guess I’ll see you in a few days.”

Jim smiled.

“Take all the time you need,” he offered again. “Just take care of yourselves for once.”

A genuine smile finally graced the doctor’s face.

Chapter Text

Jim made sure he’d got himself ready before he went to wake Thalia.

He found the young girl stood up in her cot, looking intently over the side at him, and he was struck anew with the wonder of her blue eyes.

“You’re lucky your grandmother has blue eyes,” he told her seriously. “You’re going to break hearts someday.”

Thalia blinked but remained quiet, apparently unsure what to expect from him.

“Let’s get you ready shall we?” he suggested and hoisted her up.

He maintained a continual chatter as he went through her morning routines and she gradually relaxed. By the time they left for the messhall she was hugging his neck and chattering back as normal.

“So you remember who’s picking you up tonight?” he asked again.

“Doctor Chapel,” Thalia dutifully repeated. “C’n I have pancakes?”

“Sure. How about we both get some and cover them in bacon and maple syrup?”

She scrunched up her nose.

“Wha’s bacon?”

Jim glanced at her, seeing her little pointed ear and suddenly remembering why bacon wasn’t a good idea.

“I was… joking about the bacon,” he said. “It’s not something you’d have on pancakes. We should have blueberries.”

“Ha! I like berries.”

He resisted sighing with relief. Imagining Spock and Bones’ response to his feeding their daughter meat was not pleasant.

Ɛ>

“Are ya really a doctor like my daddy?”

Christine smiled at the little girl.

“I certainly am. Your daddy taught me.”

“Were you my age?”

Chapel couldn’t help but laugh. Children really had no concept of age.

“No. I was older than you.”

Thalia thought about that.

“Were you J’anna’s age?”

“Closer,” Christine agreed. “Now, would you like a story before bed?”

“Yes please.”

“What story would you like? Do you have a favourite?”

“I wanna story ‘bout my daddy.”

Christine blinked in surprise.

“Alright,” she agreed and wracked her mind for something suitable. “Has anyone ever told you how your parents first realised they loved each other?” she queried.

Thalia shook her head solemnly and moved to sit herself in Christine’s lap. Once comfortable she turned and tried to reach her soft toy which was just too far away. Christine grasped it and handed it over before beginning.

“Well now, your daddy was in love with Mister Spock a long time before he even realised it himself.”

“Did you know?”

Christine smiled as she remembered their many lamenting conversations.

“Yes, I knew,” she said. “Then one day, your sa’mehk had to meld with Doctor McCoy. And, without meaning to, he put the idea of starting a family in his head.”

“Is tha’ when they had me?”

“No… it took a little while longer for them to realise what happened. Your daddy spent a while getting pregnancy symptoms, feeling queasy and eating strange things. He didn’t know it was because Spock wanted him to have a baby. He didn’t even know Spock liked him.”

“Did sa’mekh work it out?”

Christine nodded.

“Eventually. But he was worried that your daddy would be upset.”

“Why?”

“He didn’t know your daddy loved him.”

“But he did?”

“Yes. He loved him very much. And told him so.”

“Is tha’ when they had me?”

“Well, they waited ‘til they were back on Earth… but yes, they knew then they wanted to have you.”

Thalia contemplated that seriously for a while.

“C’n you read Frog Princess now?” she finally asked.

Christine laughed.

“Of course. Once upon a time…”

Ɛ>

Scotty carefully helped her remove the outer case of the tricorder.

“Is this like my daddy uses?” she asked as he set it aside.

“Which daddy d’ya mean, lassie?” he asked distractedly as he sorted through the basic toolkit.

Thalia frowned.

Daddy daddy,” she explained.

“Oh! McCoy. Right. Ah, actually no. He has a medical tricorder. It’s similar though.”

“Does sa’mekh use this?”

“Spock? Yeah. He uses this kind.”

“Can he dis… dis…”

“Dismantle. Aye. Fine man with a computer is your da… sa’mekh.’bout the only other person on board I’d trust to reassemble the warp drive in a hurry.”

“What about daddy?”

“Your daddy…” Scotty hesitated briefly. “Is the finest doctor I’ve ever met but I wouldn’t trust him to rewire a tricorder.”

Thalia looked stunned at the idea that her daddy wasn’t all knowing. Scotty smiled at her.

“Just as I wouldnae trust your sa’mekh to treat me after a bout of shore leave. Ever’one has their skills,” he explained. “Tha’s why we work together. ‘cause no-one can know ever’thing. You understand?”

She nodded.

“Aye.”

He grinned.

“Now let’s see if your skills follow your daddy’s or sa’mekh’s.”

Ɛ>

Sulu had brought Thalia to the hydroponics lab but had to leave her with Chekov when his supervision was required on an ensign’s experiment.

When he returned the sound of childish bickering drew his attention primarily because he recognised one of the voices as being his friend’s.

“No. Russia is best.”

“Georgia!”

“Russia. It has vodka.”

“Georgia has peaches. ‘n’ what’s vodka?”

“It is a very famous drink made from potatoes,” Chekov said before glancing up at Sulu. “Hello Hikaru.”

“Chekov,” Sulu kept his voice low so Thalia wouldn’t hear. “Why are you arguing with her?”

Unfortunately, Sulu had forgotten Thalia was half Vulcan.

“My daddy says arguing shows ya care,” she told him. “’bout the person or what yer arguing ‘bout. Tha’s why he argues with sa’mekh so much.”

Both the grown ups looked to her and Chekov nodded approvingly.

“See?” he told Hikaru. “We both care about our homelands.”

Thalia swiftly clambered up and over to hug Pavel.

“I care about you too,” she told him.

Chekov smiled fondly.

“That is why this argument is so much fun,” he agreed. “I care about you and Russia.”

Ɛ>

“Did you like the avocado?” Uhura asked as she took Thalia’s plate back to the replicator.

“Uh huh. I ain’t had avocado before.”

“Haven’t, honey,” Uhura corrected her. “Not ain’t.”

“Daddy says ain’t.”

Uhura wondered how to counter that argument and decided to change the subject. Let Spock and McCoy sort that one out.

“Would you like some dessert?” she asked instead.

“Please.” Thalia leaned forward so she was practically standing on her chair.

“Sit down then,” Uhura commented before fetching another bowl of food.

Thalia sat again but continued to crane her neck to see.

“Here you go. Fruit and yogurt.”

Thalia smiled widely and reached her fingers in to pick out the fruit.

“Use your spoon,” Uhura told her patiently.

Thalia picked up the spoon but deposited the already gathered fruit into her mouth.

“Wha’ ‘s it?” she mumbled.

“Mango,” Uhura answered. “And don’t talk with your mouth full, honey.”

Silence fell as the girl enthusiastically worked her way down the bowl, getting a noticeable amount down her fingers and round her mouth but the majority went in. Uhura smiled as she watched her.

“Nice?” she asked when there was nothing left to smear anywhere.

Thalia nodded enthusiastically.

“Well then,” Uhura cleared away the last of the debris. “Since you’re all sticky I think we should get you cleaned up. Then how about I teach you some songs before bedtime?”

“Ha!” Thalia once again stood up on her chair.

Uhura smiled indulgently and picked the youngster up.

“How’d you like to learn a song about a rainbow?”

“Wha’s a rainbow?”

Uhura glanced at the child in her arms in surprise.

“You’ve never seen a rainbow?”

Thalia shook her head and Uhura couldn’t resist hugging her a little closer.

“Well, we should be able to make one with the shower water.” She smiled. “I think you’ll like it.”

Ɛ>

Jim was sitting playing a card game with Thalia when the door opened to reveal Spock and McCoy.

She dropped her cards in her enthusiasm and barrelled across the room, too excited to even speak.

“Thalia!” McCoy scooped her up and hugged her.

Spock put his own hand on her shoulder and offered a gentle smile.

“I missed you,” Thalia told them.

“Oh, we missed you too beautiful,” McCoy told her planting a loving kiss to her forehead. She wrapped her arms tighter about his neck before turning and reaching for Spock. The Vulcan swiftly took her from his mate and surveyed her critically.

“Have you been a good girl for your babysitters?” he enquired.

“Yes! An’ I learned lots. Do you want to hear a song?”

“Certainly,” Spock agreed and deposited Thalia back down.

She bounced slightly on her heels before beginning.

Sbahong ranong faf-kurong yar-kur,
Gahv-kurong zhar-kurong krup,
Kup-uralau kur-kesek nash-veh, uralau kur-kesek,
Kup-uralau du wuh’ isha!

McCoy laughed delightedly

“The rainbow song,” Jim deduced, recognising the tune.

“I am unsure if the colours are accurate,” Spock suggested. “However you sang it most pleasingly.”

McCoy knelt down so he could look Thalia in the eye.

“You know what? I think that’d be a fine song for you to sing at our wedding. What do you say?”

“Ha!” She threw her arms about his neck and he lifted her up again.

“Speaking of your wedding,” Jim began. “I hired you a wedding planner. Someone on the ground in San Fran with the time to sort all the bookings.”

“Thank you Jim,” Spock replied gratefully but McCoy frowned dubiously.

“What did you tell him Jim?” he asked suspiciously. “You didn’t tell him we wanted an Elvis impersonator or something did ya?”

Jim swept his hand across his chest.

“Cross my heart,” he promised. “I told him to focus on it being intimate. Nothing elaborate. Do you seriously think I’d mess around with something so important?”

“I guess not,” McCoy relented.

Thalia had been staring at Spock seriously and in the momentary silence, spoke up.

“Are you feeling better now sa’mekh?”

He reached out again to touch his fingers to her cheek.

“I am indeed,” he confirmed.

Jim smiled at the touching scene.

“I’m glad everything went okay,” he agreed.

McCoy smiled.

“And now that everything’s settled again, the bond’s much calmer.”

“Calmer?” Jim queried.

“I was not sufficiently in control of my emotions before,” Spock admitted. “It made the bond more distracting that it should have been for Leonard.”

“Yeah. Now it’s more like… a background hum. Unless I focus on it. Before it flared at me so I could hardly ignore it.”

“A regrettable side-effect.”

“I c’n hear ya again sa’mekh,” Thalia added.

Spock smiled softly at her.

“The bond should not go quiet again for many years,” he assured her.

She nodded and then asked, “C’n we go home now?”

McCoy glanced across her head to Jim.

“Thanks again Jim.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he assured them. “And if you need me again in seven years time, you only have to ask.”

Chapter Text

Thalia sat upon the large floor cushion and hugged Enna to her chest.

“He woke one morning from his feather bed to find his son in a fever,” Arex read. “For five long days and five long nights, he sat, the Soldier, at his son's side, wife beside him. But no matter the medicine, no matter the prayer, the fever raged and the sickness worsened.”

Ɛ>

“Doctor McCoy!” Doctor Chapel’s alarmed voice drew McCoy out of his office at a trot.

He arrived to find her frantically working over a young officer.

“What is it?” he demanded briskly, noting her almost frantic work with the regenerator as a nurse set up a stasis field.

“He’s haemorrhaging,” she explained. “Almost as fast as I can heal him. I don’t have enough hands or time to keep him from dying and isolate the cause.”

McCoy switched the settings on the monitor and grabbed a handheld scanner to begin checking readings while Christine fought to keep their patient with them.

“Dammit,” he muttered. “His system’s flooded with warfarin. How the hell did that get in there?”

“Right now I don’t care,” Chapel responded. “We need to start Prothrombin complex concentrate replacement therapy.”

“On it,” McCoy confirmed.

Ɛ>

“So the Soldier dipped his fingers into the glass and let the drops fall onto his son's head. At once, his son shuddered and opened his eyes. He looked up at his father and mother as if it were a morning like any other and he had just waked. "I'm hungry," he said, and sat up.”

Ɛ>

Christine let out a sigh as their patient stabilised. Still in critical condition but no longer slipping away from them.

“I’ll set up 10 mg of vitamin K1 by slow intravenous infusion,” she suggested.

McCoy nodded but his mind was now back to worrying about where such a large dose of warfarin could have come from. It certainly hadn’t come from their pharmacy. So someone else on board must have had a supply. And that should have been reported to the Senior Surgeon on board. i.e. him.

“I’m going to try and get to the bottom of this,” he announced before heading back to his office.

“Sickbay to bridge,” he spoke into his comm.

Bridge here. What’s up Bones?

“I’ve got a mystery down here Jim. If you or Spock can spare me some time?”

Spock’s on his way now.

Ɛ>

“And it went well for the Soldier until one day, far from anywhere, he gets a message from home to say the Old Czar has fallen ill and sends for him. So off he set, from the far off where he was, riding all night, riding all day, until home and hurrying to the palace-doors flung open, fifty of the Czar's wives weeping in the long corridors - and into the bedchamber where his patron lay, gray and giving up the ghost.”

Ɛ>

“It seems logical to assume, as the warfarin was not declared, that its intended purpose was nefarious.”

“Yes, but was the target our junior lieutenant or someone else?”

“Without knowing more details it is foolish to speculate.”

“Then I’d suggest you find more details Commander.”

Spock arched an eyebrow at the aggressive tone and McCoy relented slightly.

“I’m used to dealing with accidents and illnesses Spock,” he explained. “But a deliberate act of poisoning?” He shook his head.

“It is… disturbing,” Spock agreed. “Can you hypothesise how the warfarin was administered?”

“Given the way it spread though his tissue, into his blood stream and liver, I’d think it likely it was ingested.”

“And you do not suspect it was self-inflicted?”

“No,” McCoy was adamant. “Nothing in his records suggests such a likelihood and by all accounts the symptoms were as much a surprise to him as his colleagues.”

“He was affected in the messhall?” Spock queried.

“That’s right.”

“So already we have narrowed our search to someone with access to the replicators and the skills to alter their parameters.”

Ɛ>

“So he thought on it and thought on it and knew what he must do. Once again he held up the glass, and for the first time he addressed the black-eyed creature. "Sir," he said. "The Czar has been my friend and father. Take me, and spare him, I beg you."
The black eyes stared back, unblinking. A hush settled on the chamber.”

Ɛ>

“Mister Scott,” Spock greeted the engineer briskly. “I need you to set up a computer trace on any terminal used to make alterations to the messhall replicators in the past 24 hours and then cross-reference your findings with crew locations at the relevant times.”

“Aye sir. Twill take wee while to set up. And if a terminal in a busy room was utilised, you may find more crew present than you’d like.”

“Do your best Mister Scott. I believe I may have another option for luring out our saboteur.”

As the engineer left, McCoy approached Spock again.

“What are you up to Vulcan?” he asked.

Spock turned his dark eyes on the doctor.

“I intend to convince our would be poisoner that they are discovered and thus trap them.”

McCoy’s lips set in a firm line.

“Guess I better see if Arex can keep Thalia overnight.”

Ɛ>

“Suddenly the sack bulged as if gulping in the air. A suck, a hiss, and a whoosh. Quick as a flash, the Soldier leapt up and yanked the drawstring tight. Then he was jumping up and down on the bed, his family looking on in amazement. "I've done it!" he cried triumphantly. "I have captured Death in my sack!"

Ɛ>

With the short list presented to him by Mister Scott, Spock set up an unobtrusive message to be dispatched to every possible suspect.

If your warfarin supplies are running low, you should visit sickbay at 2300. Otherwise a report will need to be submitted to Starfleet.

He left it unsigned.

Most crew members would ignore the message as irrelevant to them. However the underlying warning should strike a chord with at least one.

At the appropriate time, Spock, Doctor McCoy and Kirk were settled into one of the empty rooms. Doctor Chapel was in the main ward with instructions to direct anyone seemingly responding to the warning their way.

As the computer counted the time up to 2300 and then continued its count past that time, they were all silent.

Then a quavering voice broke the tension.

“Hello? I… er… got your message.”

The ensign who stepped into the room focused initially on the doctor before becoming painfully aware of the two other senior officers blocking his retreat.

“Mister,” McCoy drawled angrily. “You’ve got some explaining to do.”

Ɛ>

“The news, whispered from one of the Czar's wives to the next, spread through the town as fast as gossip, which is what it was, and nothing spreads faster. Within four and a half minutes the whole town knew and within seventeen minutes the whole country knew and by the following morning it was the news in a thousand languages. Death a prisoner!”

Ɛ>

It was morning and Thalia was quietly watching her parents. She could sense nothing disturbing through their bond but they were both quiet.

“Wha’s wrong?” she asked.

McCoy was startled by the question and Spock answered her first.

“Why do you believe anything to be wrong?”

“Yer quiet.”

“You are,” he corrected automatically. “We both had a difficult day yesterday dealing with… a disturbing problem.”

She frowned, unhappy with the incomplete answer, and tried to think about what might have disturbed them. They dealt with a lot of things without worry but…

“Did you have’ta catch death in a sack?”

Leonard choked.

“Where’d ya get that idea from?”

“Arex read me a story ‘bout a soldier who had a magic sack. He caught death.”

McCoy shook his head and Spock responded,

“Such stories are not real. They are useful to teach lessons but should not be confused with reality.”

“So you didn’ catch death?”

“I had a very sick patient,” Leonard explained patiently. “Who was made ill by someone behaving very badly. We caught the bad person who made him sick.”

Thalia thought about this.

“Sounds like the story to me.”

Ɛ>

That night Spock had put Thalia to bed and read to her from the ‘Sayings of Surak’. It was usually only his routine whenever she’d spent her day with Arex, since she’d already had plenty of stories by then, but it seemed appropriate that evening.

Leonard often joked it was the best method for getting anyone to sleep but in truth Thalia was often interested in talking to her sa’mekh about them.

When Spock returned to join the doctor, McCoy was unusually pensive.

“Do you think we need to talk to Arex about the stories he’s reading Thalia?”

“I do not believe so. It is natural for a child Thalia’s age to use such stories to boost their understanding of the world. She understands they are not real and Arex explains the rationale behind them.”

“I just worry about her experiences onboard ship. Some of our missions can sound fantastical. I don’t want her linking us with the heroes from her tales.”

“Life on a starship will offer her a different perspective to a life on a planet,” Spock agreed. “However all children view their parents with such a mindset at her age. By hearing make-believe stories she will be able to develop her sense of what is real and what is not. Without fantasy for comparison she is more apt to think every far-fetched tale is true.”

“You saying it’ll help her to judge reality by hearing imaginary tales?”

“I am.”

“Huh.” McCoy settled again but Spock could feel his lingering unease.

“You don’t think we’ll wind up disappointing her? By comparison with those heroes?”

“I believe,” Spock said carefully, “that she already knows we are flawed individuals quite unlike the heroes of her stories. But she admires us all the more because of it.”

Leonard hugged him tighter and Spock felt his gratitude along the bond.

“I love you, you know?” he murmured into Spock’s chest.

“I do. Just as I love you. Despite your many flaws.”

Leonard couldn’t help his laughter.

Chapter Text

Sickbay to bridge.

Jim was quick to answer.

“Bridge here McCoy. How’s the away team?”

In the pause that followed, Spock glanced over from his post.

Sickbay’s in quarantine Jim,” McCoy answered abruptly. “I’ve got Garrison in isolation but the whole place is in lock-down as of now. I need you to make sure the transporter operator proceeds straight to quarters and stays there. And clear the corridors for her.

Jim glanced to Spock who gave a brief nod and moved to comply.

“How serious is it Bones?”

There was a familiar sounding huff over the comm.

I don’t know Jim. I think we’ve caught it in time but I don’t want to take any chances. It isn’t pleasant.

“What are the symptoms Doctor?” Spock queried. “I will alert Lieutenant Rand to watch for them.”

It manifests itself similarly to strychnine poisoning,” McCoy answered promptly. “Tell her to watch out for any feelings of tightness or restlessness. If she has any spasms we’ll need to bring her in immediately.

Spock turned to Uhura to ensure the message was passed on with sufficient emphasis.

“Can you cure it?” Jim demanded.

Too soon to say,” Bones responded with a hint of frustration. “Until we know the source we can’t effectively cure it. I can manage the symptoms though so it shouldn’t be fatal.

“Doctor,” Spock interrupted, “are you in isolation with Ensign Garrison?”

Course I am,” McCoy snapped back. “I was in charge of his assessment so if I was going to be infected I likely already am. I’m not about to unnecessarily risk any of my other staff.

Jim glanced across to where Spock was standing rigidly.

“Is there anything else we can do?” Jim asked.

Not officially but… ah… Spock?

“Yes Doctor?”

You’re going to have to explain to Thalia why I’m staying away. Promise me you won’t scare her.

“I shall endeavour to explain factually without causing her undue alarm.”

McCoy huffed again.

“Don’t worry Bones,” Jim assured him. “We’ll all be watching out for her.”

Okay.” Bones hesitated again before continuing. “Spock? Call me later won’t you?

“Of course,” Spock promised with a touch of fondness.

Okay,” McCoy said again before cutting the call.

Jim turned fully to look at his First Officer.

“Are you okay? Do you need to go check on Thalia or anything?”

Spock shook his head.

“Thalia is best left undisturbed with M’Ress for now. Interrupting her routine would only highlight the unusual nature of the disruption. I will collect her as usual later and explain then.”

“Alright. Well, you know you can call on any of us if you need help don’t you?”

Spock arched an eyebrow at the captain.

“I fail to see why I should need assistance but the offer is nonetheless appreciated.”

As Spock returned to his post, Jim smirked.

Ɛ>

Thalia was fine when Spock collected her from M’Ress but she almost immediately picked up on the concern in her sa’mekh.

“Daddy is well,” Spock told her immediately, “but he must stay in sickbay with a very ill patient. He will not be home for some time.”

She frowned but accepted that without argument.

Spock chose to take her for dinner in the messhall rather than eating alone in their quarters and Uhura joined them at their table, helping to further distract her.

In fact, it wasn’t until bathtime that Spock experienced any difficulties with his daughter at all.

“No,” she declared stubbornly.

He stared hard at her.

“It is more logical to use the sonic,” he informed her.

“I want a bath!”

“It is unnecessary to spend the time and resources on a bath when the same result can be reached more quickly and efficiently with a shower.”

“I want a bath!” she repeated before her eyes suddenly welled up. “I want daddy!”

Spock knelt down and gathered his crying daughter up.

Hush, little baby, don't say a word,” he sang softly to her. “Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.

He rocked her gently as he sang the song he often heard Leonard sing to her. Gradually her tears calmed and she lay quiet against him. He stroked her hair back from her face and looked down to her.

“Would you like to comm daddy now?” he asked her.

She nodded silently.

Spock carried her across to the desk monitor and settled them both comfortably in front of it before signalling sickbay.

The screen came to life and Leonard beamed at the sight of them.

There’s my darlings!” he enthused. “How are you?

As Thalia burst into chatter about seeing M’Ress and Uhura, Spock reached tentatively along his bond to Leonard. He sensed tiredness but no alarm.

And how’re things at home? Sa’mekh taking care of you?” McCoy asked with a teasing glance to Spock.

Thalia nodded but then burst out.

“He won’t let me bath!”

McCoy seemed startled at that and looked to Spock. The Vulcan could feel his query through their link and allowed his own discomfort to show back.

“It would be far more efficient to shower,” he explained.

McCoy tilted his head slightly but then looked back to Thalia.

Sa’mekh’s right,” he said. “You’re very lucky to get a bath at all. Most people on this ship don’t even have a tub. Uncle Jim doesn’t even have one and he loves having a bath.

That was a slight exaggeration. Jim loved having a water shower but it seemed a good argument to Leonard. Thalia however merely frowned.

“If’n I have a tub… I can have a bath.”

No,” Leonard answered slowly. “Sa’mekh doesn’t like water you see.

Spock frowned in response to that in a matching expression to his daughter.

You wouldn’t want to upset sa’mekh would you?” Leonard questioned Thalia.

She turned and peered up at Spock.

“You don’t like baths?” she queried.

“I do not,” he admitted. It was the truth but not the reason he thought she should shower. If there was sufficient cause to offer her a bath then his own discomfort would not matter.

Thalia wrapped her arms about his neck.

“’m sorry sa’mekh.”

He hugged her back.

“That is alright,” he told her, shooting a half grateful, half irritated look to Leonard. McCoy merely grinned at the pair of them.

Wish I were there to give you a bath sweetheart,” he commented.

Thalia turned back to him.

“When you home daddy?”

Soon I hope honey.” A noise behind him made him turn away and Spock felt the spike of alarm. “Sh-” he cut himself off abruptly. “Gotta go sweetheart. Be good.

The screen went dark and Thalia crawled forward as if she might crawl into it and rejoin Leonard.

Spock spoke quickly to distract her.

“Will you have your shower now?”

She turned back to him with a thoughtful look and he worried she would find some new argument to resist. However she did not.

“Okay.” She shifted back and wrapped her arms back around his neck, allowing him to pick her up.

As Spock moved to commence her shower he had to suppress a brief flash of worry for Leonard.

Ɛ>

It was quiet in the messhall until Jim dropped into the seat opposite Thalia and Spock.

“Lieutenant Freeman will take Thalia to cover Garrison,” he announced.

Spock nodded briefly and resumed feeding fruit to his daughter.

“Everything alright?” Jim queried.

Spock glanced across.

“Neither Thalia nor myself slept well Captain.”

Jim nodded understandingly.

“Do you need your shift covered?” he offered.

“Negative,” Spock responded immediately before being interrupted by Thalia.

“J’m.” She was hugging Enna with unusual determination today.

Jim smiled gently at her.

“Yes Thalia?”

“D’you wanna bath?”

He blinked at the unexpected question.

“Err… not right now. I’m going on duty after breakfast.” He glanced at Spock for some explanation.

“Thalia was disappointed I gave her a shower instead of her usual bath last night,” Spock explained.

“Oh!” Jim understood immediately. “Would you like me to come give you a bath later?” he offered.

She nodded intently. Jim glanced to Spock.

“Will that be alright?” he queried awkwardly.

“I should be grateful for your assistance,” Spock admitted.

Ɛ>

Thalia was talking via comm to Leonard when Spock let Jim into their quarters.

So Jim’s gonna give ya a bath huh?

The doctor sounded tired but he was smiling for his daughter.

“Uh-huh,” she agreed.

Well, I better let you get on. Captains are busy people you know.

“Okay. Love you daddy.” She leant forward and kissed the screen before clambering down and letting Jim lead her into the bathroom. He was aware of Spock settling down to talk to Leonard as they went.

It was actually pretty fun to splash about with the bath water. Thalia seemingly had none of Spock’s reluctance to get wet and she thoroughly enjoyed splashing the water at her Uncle Jim.

It was only after she was properly cleaned and he was drying her off that he realised they’d made something of a mess in the bathroom.

“Ah. Do you think sa’mekh will be annoyed we made a mess?” Jim asked conspiratorily.

Thalia gave this some consideration.

“He doesn’t really mind much when me an’ daddy make a mess. Says he does but he doesn’t.”

“Well, let’s hope he’s as forgiving to me.”

Jim pulled her night things on and scooped her up.

Spock looked up as they returned.

“You are ready for bed?” he enquired standing and reaching to take her from Jim.

“Yes, sa’mekh,” she replied, suddenly sounding more sleepy than she had minutes ago. “C’n I have a story?”

“Certainly,” he responded as he took her into her bedroom. “Which would you like?”

Jim waited until the two Vulcans were gone before darting back into the bathroom to clean up.

Spock might forgive McCoy leaving a mess. Jim wasn’t so certain about himself.

Chapter Text

“Daddy? Sa’mekh? I don’ feel well.”

McCoy mumbled incoherently as he tried to wake. He was still recovering from his long stay in sickbay treating Garrison. While everyone was now well again, the doctor was still sleep deprived.

Spock was already awake, quite often merely joining his human partner in bed but not sleeping. He lay a calming hand upon McCoy before focusing on his daughter.

“What is wrong?” He gestured for Thalia to join them on the bed.

She clambered up and crawled over to snuggle against him.

“’M too hot,” she mumbled. “An’ ma head hurts.”

He touched his fingers to her face gently to feel her symptoms himself.

“You are feverish,” he confirmed. “It is likely a temporary virus.”

Though he would not have admitted it, he had felt a momentary worry it was the ailment McCoy had already thought he’d beaten. At least his bondmate was not awake to have picked up on that illogical thought.

He considered helping her into a healing trance but decided it probably wasn’t severe enough to attempt that with her yet. The idea that he should take her to Doctor Chapel to check over also occurred to him yet he quickly dismissed it.

To do so he would have to wake Leonard who would then probably by unable to sleep for worrying about Thalia. And he could sense no disturbing illness in her. Just a general malaise.

“You may sleep with us tonight and I shall monitor your symptoms. I believe sufficient rest should cure you.”

She nodded quietly and made herself more comfortable against him. He stroked her hair as he would often do to calm Leonard and was rewarded by her drifting back into sleep.

Ɛ>

“Goddamit! You should have woken me!”

They were standing in sickbay, either side of the biobed as Doctor Chapel went to fetch some medicines.

“There appeared to be no reason to disturb you-”

“Thalia’s sick! That’s reason enough!”

“It itches,” she commented.

“Don’t scratch sweetheart,” McCoy told her before turning back to Spock.

However the distraction had allowed the Vulcan to regroup.

“The delay has made no difference to the ailment nor treatment. She did not show any visible signs of the condition until breakfast and it was only at that point you insisted on a visit to sickbay.”

“That’s not the point!”

Spock arched a brow and was about to enquire as to what precisely was the point, when Chapel returned.

She ignored the two men and moved straight across to Thalia.

“Well now, you’re going to have this rash for a few days but this injection should speed things along. Used to be people were stuck with the itchiness for nigh on ten days.”

She carefully administered the treatment and then held up a bottle for the young girl’s inspection.

“This will help to stop it itching. Just get daddy or sa’mekh to rub it on when it gets too bad.”

She glanced to Thalia’s parents, somewhat surprised at their quietness.

The first thing she noticed was their intense focus. Then she spotted the hand about the wrist.

“You two are still arguing aren’t you?”

They broke apart, apparently surprised to be caught in their telepathic quarrelling. She crossed her arms.

“I hope you at least caught my recommendation?” she challenged.

McCoy waved her annoyance away.

“Christine. I know how to treat chicken pox.”

“Fine,” she agreed. “And you also know it isn’t serious.”

He glanced guiltily at Spock.

“Yeah.”

The Vulcan paid no attention to his mate’s contrition and moved back to the biobed.

“Come Thalia. I will carry you home.”

Ɛ>

Thalia was settled back in her bedroom, surrounded by construction sets, books and soft toys. Jim had immediately approved leave for both McCoy and Spock the moment he heard Thalia was unwell.

Spock was sitting stiffly, working from a PADD.

“Spock?” Leonard spoke softly, hovering awkwardly. “I’m sorry I got so riled at yer. It’s just… this is the first time Thalia’s been ill and… I feel I let her down.”

Spock looked up at him.

“How so?”

“Well… it’s like before isn’t it?”

Leonard’s distress was showing clearly through the bond now his anger had faded and Spock immediately put down his work to focus on him. He shifted and made space for Leonard to sit beside him. As he did so, McCoy focused intently on his gripped hands.

“I put my work first, didn’t I? Spent days treating the crew, then when my own daughter got sick I was too damn tired to even wake up properly.”

Spock suddenly understood McCoy’s heightened emotional state.

“Your work as a doctor is of great importance. Your dedication to duty has saved literally millions of lives.”

“But at what cost?” McCoy snapped. “How often have I let the people I love down while caring for strangers?”

“Leonard, neither Thalia nor Joanna has suffered neglect through your dedication to work. In Thalia’s case she has myself available and in Joanna’s she had your ex-wife. It is impossible for any parent to be available every moment for their child. Did you hold me culpable of neglect when I was delayed on the latium survey mission?”

“No of course not. It weren’t your choice to be delayed.”

“Nor was it your choice to be subjected to quarantine regulations. We each have our duties we have sworn to do. Thalia understands that. And more importantly, she knows you love her deeply.”

Leonard finally met Spock’s eyes.

“You’re sure?”

Spock’s gaze melted at his partner’s worry.

“She feels it through your bond, just as I do. Never doubt her assurance that you love her.”

The doctor finally let himself relax and he curled himself up against Spock’s side.

“Wish I were as skilled with that Vulcan mumbo-jumbo,” he muttered.

“You are perfect as you are,” Spock assured him.

As Leonard drifted into a much needed doze, Spock picked up his PADD and continued his work one handed, unwilling for move his other arm and disturb the human.

Ɛ>

“Why didn’t you tell me you hadn’t had chicken pox?”

“You did not seem concerned.” Spock frowned. “I assumed there was no risk of infection.”

McCoy sighed and decided there was no point arguing about it now.

Thalia was well on the way to recovery but Spock had woken up with his own rash which was leaving him twitchy and irritable. He was doing his best to hide that fact but to his bondmate it was obvious.

“Sit up,” Leonard suggested. “I’ll put some more lotion on your back.”

“Sa’mekh?”

Both men glanced over to where their daughter had appeared in their bedroom doorway.

“Yes Thalia?” Spock replied calmly.

“D’you wanna play a game? T’ take yer mind off the itchin’?”

“That is an excellent idea.”

She smiled widely and crawled forward onto the bed.

“What is the game?” Spock asked her.

“Arex gave it me. ‘s Happy Families.”

“Can I play too?” Leonard asked, sitting himself beside Spock.

Thalia nodded and handed him the cards.

“Deal please daddy.”

McCoy deftly shuffled and passed out the cards, briefly explaining the rules to Spock as he did so. Thalia then began by asking him for a Vulcan child.

Play continued with Thalia seemingly changing her mind about what she was collecting. Leonard didn’t care. He avoided whatever species he thought she might be gathering and deliberately forgot having asked her or Spock for the same card more than once.

Spock seemed to be systematically collecting his cards, asking first Leonard and the Thalia for each specific species family member. Doubtless an effective method but not fast.

Leonard hoped the Vulcan was operating that way to allow Thalia a fair chance but he couldn’t be sure.

“I win!” she declared happily laying her cards down.

Leonard smiled and glanced at her collection. There were the set of Tellarites that she’d gotten mostly from him, and the Edosians that Spock had systematically handed over but…

“Honey, you haven’t got all your families complete.”

She frowned and stared at her cards.

“Have,” she insisted.

“You have only two Vulcans and two Humans,” Spock pointed out reasonably. “Not a set of four.”

“’tis a set,” she replied stubbornly. “Two Vulcans like me ‘n’ sa’mekh, ‘n’ two humans like daddy and Joanna.”

She looked from one parent to the other.

“Tha’s right isn’ it?”

Leonard smiled and pulled her into a hug on his lap.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “That’s quite right.”

Ɛ>

Eventually he left Spock and Thalia playing cards in order to head down to the galley. He returned with three bowls on a tray.

“Dinner time folks,” he announced.

Thalia immediately dropped her cards and began to scramble forwards. Spock instinctively began gathering them up in her wake.

“No, honey,” McCoy stopped his daughter. “We’ll eat here tonight.”

“In bed?” Spock queried with a raised brow.

“Yup. Just the thing when you’re ill. You don’t ever see me getting my patients round a table do ya?”

The Vulcan knew better than to argue with that sort of statement, at least in front of their daughter, and simply helped her sit herself back against the pillows.

McCoy sat in front of her and placed the tray on her lap, passing one bowl over to Spock.

“Plomeek soup?”

“Home made,” Leonard answered.

Thalia was grasping for the spoon but he pulled it away.

“No honey. I’m going to feed ya tonight. I don’t want to have to get the cleaning bots or a change of bedding because you dropped your cutlery.”

She frowned and pouted until eventually they agreed they would both hold the spoon.

It was a bit awkward eating on the bed, and they had to swap feeding Thalia halfway so Leonard could eat, but overall he felt it was worth it.

He left Spock with a PADD as he went to give Thalia a bath and then brought her back in to read her a story. Spock held her in his lap while Leonard read and McCoy could feel his contentment along their bond.

Finally, Thalia was half asleep and her daddy carried her away to bed before heading into the shower himself. By the time he got back, Spock was once again engrossed in some work.

“Enough of that,” Leonard told him, taking the PADD from unresisting fingers. “You need to get some sleep.”

“I am a Vulcan-” Spock began before being interrupted.

“With chicken pox and as your doctor, I am prescribing sleep.” He relented a bit at Spock’s aggrieved expression. “Honestly, it’ll help you recover quicker.”

“In that case, it is logical to follow your recommendation.”

As he began shifting down to make himself comfortable he was surprised to find Leonard crawling in beside him as usual.

“Doctor?”

“Don’t worry,” he grumbled, “I already had chicken pox and if I were going to get it again I’d have done so by now.”

“That was not my concern.” He met the curious blue eyes staring up at him. “I did not expect you to wish to share my bed at this time.”

McCoy blinked.

“Spock,” he said firmly. “If we’re getting married that means in sickness and in health so, unless it’s unavoidable, I’m not leaving your side.”

“You are not put off by my unsightly appearance?”

“Darlin’. It’ll take a hell of a lot more than a few spots to put me off ya.”

As Leonard curled himself comfortably against him Spock wondered, not for the first time, how he had securely such a loving mate.

Chapter Text

“Please Uncle Jim. Please.”

Jim looked into her wide blue eyes, with her adorable little pointy ears, and wondered how Spock or McCoy could ever refuse her anything.

Still…

“It’s not really suitable for girls. That’s why it’s called a bachelor party. You’ll have your own party with Janice and M’Ress and Christine and U-”

“But I wanna stay with daddy and sa’mekh!”

Jim glanced for support to his friends but neither of them seemed willing to intervene.

They’d made no secret of the fact they didn’t really want a bachelor party. Spock did not understand the logic of it, patiently explaining that ‘celebrating a last night of freedom’ hardly reflected a willingness to marry.

And McCoy wasn’t interested in getting blind drunk, or at least so drunk he’d end up embarrassing himself, which he knew full well was Jim’s purpose in arranging the party.

However, Thalia’s clear upset at Jim’s refusal brought Leonard into the debate.

“Don’t worry honey,” he assured her. “We don’t want to be apart from you either. Now how about we go try on your new dress to show Uncle Jim?”

She shot another look at Jim before letting her daddy lead her away.

Jim slumped back as she disappeared.

“What happened to Vulcan restraint of feeling?” he asked mock-seriously.

“I believe we sacrificed that by agreeing to join you once again aboard the Enterprise,” Spock replied drily.

“Spock, it’s traditional to have a bachelor party. It dates back centuries.”

“I do not believe either Leonard or myself object to the concept of a party. It is however the nature of the party we find concerning.”

Jim considered that.

“So we just need to find something less raucous to focus on than a night’s drinking.”

Spock was about to reply when Thalia bounced back into the room in a very pretty silver dress.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

“You look beautiful,” Jim declared. “A proper fairy princess.”

“I’m gonna wear it on my birthday. Will you be there?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

He blinked as a sudden idea occurred to him and a slow grin spread across his face.

“Jim?” McCoy asked with a warning tone. “What are you plotting?”

“Nothing,” Jim answered disarmingly. “I just wondered, how about making your bachelor party into Thalia’s birthday party?”

McCoy frowned.

“I’m not sure that sounds like a good idea.”

“It’d be great! We’ll turn it into a big kids party! Just with adults!” He turned excitedly to Thalia. “How’d you like that? A big party in the rec hall with games, and music, and jello?”

“Ha! Please.” She turned and clambered onto Spock’s lap. “Please, sa’mekh. Please.”

Spock shared a defeated look with Leonard.

“Very well.”

Ɛ>

“This is going to be the strangest bachelor party ever.”

“Come on. It’ll be fun. A chance for everyone to unwind.”

Jim was escorting Scotty ostensibly to make sure he attended but primarily to ensure that he didn’t sneak any alcohol in. True to his word, Jim had arranged the party as a big kids party.

Which meant no booze.

They were also both in casual clothes – Scotty, naturally enough, in his kilt and Jim in a checked shirt and jeans – and both were carrying gifts.

As they entered the fully decorated rec hall, Jim couldn’t help his grin.

Harb Tanzer had really done wonders. Streamers and balloons in all shades of green to blue covered every bit of ceiling. There was a long table covered in fancy looking party food – sandwiches cut into stars, cupcakes decorated with wings, and towers of bright fruit. Music was playing through the speakers. Jim didn’t recognise it but it sounded upbeat.

“Captain. Mister Scott.” Spock’s formal greeting highlighted his unease, despite his casual appearance. “If you’d like to put the gifts on the side table, you’ll find a selection of drinks in the corner.”

Jim grinned and handed his present to Scotty to put aside.

“Where’s the birthday girl?”

“Thalia is currently applying make-up to Leonard.”

Jim thought he’d misheard for a moment but a glance in the direction Spock was looking proved him correct.

Thalia sat with Janice, apparently following her directions as she applied make-up to her daddy. Bones for his part seemed to be quite patiently enduring it. A small crowd were watching with interest as a rainbow was added to the opposite cheek from a selection of glittering stars.

“Thalia informs me she shall attend to me next,” Spock informed Jim.

Jim laughed delightedly and clapped Spock on the shoulder.

“Don’t worry Spock. We’ll all get made-up, how’s that?”

Ɛ>

The dancing began once everyone was suitably plastered with at least lipstick, eyeshadow and blusher. Most had submitted to face painting so there were numerous butterflies, tigers and other exotic animals. Spock managed to look quite elegant with his striking cat’s whiskers and multihued eyeshadow shading.

Thalia had diligently painted both Leonard’s and Spock’s faces, creating unique and bright works of art, while Jim had practically ordered all other crew members to join in. While there was a good deal of resistance and grumbling to start with, once everyone was similarly decorated the atmosphere noticeably relaxed.

Jim was surprised at the music choice but Thalia was delighted.

Turn and face your partner friend,
Shake their hand and bow your head
Now do-si-do and holla ‘yeah’!
Get on your horse and gallop away.

McCoy dragged Spock over to partner him while Thalia dragged Jim over to join in. He wasn’t really sure of the steps but she just giggled and told him to watch her daddy.

Truthfully it was easy enough to pick up the basics and make up the rest. He suspected Spock was using telepathy to guide his own steps. Either that or he secretly practiced country dancing in their quarters.

Which, given Thalia’s enthusiasm might actually be true.

Her enthusiasm was certainly contagious and plenty of the crew were keen enough to join in. Soon everyone was ‘do-si-do’ing to the best of their ability. Watching Arex adapting the instructions for his three limbs was an education in itself.

Ɛ>

Tiredness eventually overwhelmed even the most enthusiastic country dancers and Spock guided his bondmate and daughter over to join everyone sat down for some food.

The table rang with laughter as stories of childhood pranks were eagerly shared. M’Ress related how, in her enthusiasm to retrieve a toy bird she’d accidently flown into a tree, she had herself become stuck up there and had to submit to the embarrassment of being carried down by her town’s law official.

Jim for once kept quiet and allowed the others to entertain the table. Instead he enjoyed arguing with Thalia about the sandwich fillings. She refused to believe they contained squashed frog or slices of moon.

He was so engrossed with trying to win their debate that he missed the cue as Garrison sneaked off and he was just as surprised as her when the lights dimmed.

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Thalia,
Happy birthday to you!

Her eyes glowed as the triple layered cake was deposited in front of her, decorated in swirls of blue and green icing and lit by three candles.

“Blow them out honey,” Leonard encouraged.

She stood up on her chair, leant in close and blew hard.

As all three candles went out, the tables erupted in cheers.

McCoy kissed her head and passed the cake to Spock to start cutting slices.

Ɛ>

Harb corralled everyone back up for some party games – pin the arm on the Edosian, Medusan’s buff – but it soon became clear the birthday girl was tiring. Spock worked with her to help guide her from being caught by the designated ‘blind man’ but then he led her to open her presents.

The rest of the party guests continued to mingle but all stopped by to wish her felicitations and receive thanks in turn. She had situated herself in her daddy’s lap as she opened her presents from everyone and a selection of games, toys, art materials, and clothes were accumulated in front of her. She was clearly getting sleepy but wasn’t going to stop until every present was opened. Nevertheless, around them the party had wound down.

Finally, Jim handed her his parcel.

She tore open one end reached in, pulling out something made of a soft blue material. With a slight frown she turned her blue eyes onto Spock.

He picked up the fabric and held it so she could see it properly. It was a perfect miniature science dress, complete with emblem and sleeve stripes.

“Oh!” She grabbed it and hugged it to her. “C’n I wear it now?”

“Not now sweetheart,” Leonard told her. “You’ll be having a bath soon. Tomorrow,” he promised softly.

“What do you say?” Spock prompted.

“Th’nk you Jim.” She crawled forward and wrapped her arms about his neck.

“You’re very welcome,” he told her.

As she shifted back, she couldn’t quite hold in her yawn.

“And now,” McCoy said, shifting her so he could stand. “I think its bedtime.”

“Noo,” she mumbled, nonetheless burrowing her face into his neck.

He laughed quietly and stroked her hair.

“Thanks for arranging this Jim,” he looked to his friend. “I reckon it’s the best birthday party any little girl has ever had.”

“While your statement does tend towards exaggeration, we are indeed grateful to you for your efforts,” Spock added.

“Harb did most of the hard work,” Jim commented modestly.

“However everything proceeded under your instruction,” Spock pointed out.

Jim grinned.

“Well, when you put it like that...”

They started making their way back towards their quarters.

“I think it was a good substitute for a bachelor party wasn’t it?” he queried thoughtfully.

“Absolutely,” McCoy agreed. “I mean, we’ll actually remember this.”

“Just think, the next time everyone gets together like this, it’ll be your wedding day. We’ve already turned for Earth.”

“Hell of a thing,” McCoy agreed. He glanced down to Thalia and smiled. “She’s fast asleep,” he commented. “We still have to take her make-up off.”

Spock reached across and tenderly touched her cheek.

“I do believe we shall manage that without waking her. She is quite deeply asleep.”

“Well then gentlemen.” Jim stopped outside his own quarters. “I will bid you all goodnight.”

They waved him goodbye and set off to their own quarters.

“D’you think Jim will remember to remove his own make-up?” McCoy asked idly.

“I do not doubt he shall notice it before he retires,” Spock responded before adding thoughtfully. “Though I doubt he will have nail polish remover to hand.”

Leonard stifled his laugher.

Chapter Text

McCoy cursed and swore but he never actually argued against the mission.

Zaran II were under attack. Orion pirates were conducting vicious raids. Of course the Enterprise should render immediate assistance.

Even if it meant he missed his wedding rendezvous in San Francisco.

Truth to tell, he wished he had something more constructive to do to distract him from that thought. The ship was engaged with the raider’s vessel, positioning itself to offer the best protection for the planet.

That meant taking the brunt of the attack themselves. From what the trickle of casualties told them, the Orions had seemingly decided not to retreat but to take on the Enterprise. They were hampered by having to remain in position between the attackers and the surface which meant they couldn’t bring all their weapons to bear nor perform effective evasive manoeuvres. This gave their attackers a distinct advantage.

A number of the crew felt it was only a matter of time before they had to give up or suffer irreparable damage.

McCoy knew Jim would never opt for the first option, He only hoped he wasn’t forced to concede the second.

Several times, Leonard considered comming Thalia, but he knew that was a bad idea. She was in safe hands. Or as safe as anyone could be on the ship.

And McCoy believed that somehow Jim and Spock would come up with a solution. They always had before.

Bridge to sickbay.

“McCoy here.”

We have injured personnel up here…” A jolt through the ship interrupted Jim and McCoy barked back before he could finish.

“On my way!”

He grabbed a medikit and set off.

Ɛ>

When he reached the bridge his immediate focus was on the few patients but he was peripherally aware of what was happening.

The tension was palpable.

Several consoles were burned out. Engineers were scurrying about frantically rewiring and Scotty’s voice was easily heard over the comm reporting failures and improvised patches that would hold the ship together a little longer.

As McCoy stood up from his last patient, Spock met his eyes.

“Thalia?” Leonard asked briefly.

“Safe and unaware of the current danger,” the Vulcan responded crisply.

Leonard felt Spock’s anxiety though the bond. Not for himself of course, but for his bondmate and daughter.

McCoy swallowed, suddenly aware of how serious the situation was. He stared hard at Spock before turning to the captain.

“Jim. Can you marry us? Now?”

Jim looked across to him as though he were mad.

“Now? Bones, we’re in the middle of a battle!”

“Exactly.”

McCoy stood his ground but was even more worried as Spock joined the discussion.

“The probability of a successful conclusion is-”

“Please don’t,” McCoy interrupted before returning his attention to his captain. “Jim. This was supposed to be our wedding day. Now I don’t even know if we’ll survive another hour. Please.”

Kirk glanced at the viewscreen, then around at his crew. Sulu was focused on his defensive manoeuvres, Chekov was busy managing the torpedoes and phasers, and below decks Scotty was orchestrating the delicate balance of holding the ship together.

They didn’t need his commands right now.

“Alright.” He swung around. “Uhura, bring up the legal registration document for weddings. You and the Lieutenant can act as witnesses.”

“Ready Captain,” she confirmed.

Jim looked between his two best friends. Bones was gripping the guard rail as though his life depended on it and Spock was still monitoring his station.

“You guys ready?”

McCoy gave a terse nod and Spock replied, “Affirmative.”

Jim took a deep breath.

“Friends, we are here now to witness the joining together in matrimony of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Commander Spock…”

The ship juddered as another strike hit them and Sulu called out, “Sorry!”

The captain focused his attention on getting through this impromptu ceremony quickly.

“If anyone has any objections, speak now.”

Everyone held their breath, expecting at the very least another disorientating manoeuvre or hit to the shields. However it was for that second blissfully quiet.

“Guess not,” Jim grinned. “Leonard McCoy, do you take Spock as your wedded husband?”

“I do.” The doctor couldn’t quite restrain his own grin.

“Spock. Do you take Leonard McCoy as your wedded husband?”

“Affirmative.” Spock needless to say was still primarily focused on his scanner.

“Right,” Jim announced, “in that case I formally-”

He was interrupted by Spock.

“I will say my vows now.”

Both humans stared at his back as the ship was rocked again.

The shields cannae take much more o’ this,” Scotty voice crackled through the speaker.

“Darlin’,” McCoy suggested. “Not sure we have time for vows.”

“Then I will paraphrase.” Spock spun away from his work station to focus on the doctor. “Leonard. I love you.”

McCoy’s mouth dropped open. Unfortunately his grip also weakened and the next shudder almost sent him flying. Fortunately Spock’s reflexes were fast enough to catch his arm before he could fall.

“Damned hobgoblin,” Leonard murmured fondly as he found his balance again. Spock leant forward and placed a chaste kiss upon his partner’s lips.

Then he swivelled back to his work.

Jim cleared his throat.

“Well, by the power vested in me, I declare you officially married.” He also swivelled back to focus on the ongoing tactical situation, calling back over his shoulder. “Uhura, fill in the necessary and dispatch.”

“Yes sir.”

“I better get back to sickbay,” McCoy said unwillingly. He felt suddenly lightheaded.

But as he reached the turbolift he heard a familiar signal from the communication board.

“That better not be a mail delivery error,” he grumbled turning back to the bridge. Uhura completely ignored him.

“Captain!” she exclaimed. “It’s the Intrepid!”

All eyes were on the viewscreen before she could say any more and everyone watched with relief as the Federation ship swooped between the Enterprise and her attacker.

The Orion ship took some hits from the new arrival before turning tail and fleeing.

“They’re hailing us,” Uhura reported.

“Open a channel.” Jim drew himself up in his chair.

Moments later the Captain of the Intrepid appeared, flanked by Sarek.

“Captain, Ambassador,” Kirk greeted them. “Are you a sight for sore eyes.”

“I realised something significant must have occurred for my son to miss his wedding,” Sarek responded calmly. “And on discovering the situation was able to convince Starfleet to dispatch assistance.”

“It is much appreciated,” Jim assured him before smiling devilishly. “But your son hasn’t in fact missed his wedding.”

“Indeed?”

Both Jim and Sarek focused their gaze onto Spock who looked as near discomforted as either could remember seeing him. A cough drew their attention away though.

“That’d, ah, be my fault.”

McCoy stepped over to join Spock.

“I guess I panicked and your son just did what was logical to reassure me,” he suggested.

“That is not entirely accurate,” Spock amended. “Today was our agreed wedding day. I saw no reason to delay it unnecessarily.”

“Quite logical,” Sarek replied calmly. “Your wish was to marry. There would be no sense waiting especially if time became a limiting factor.”

“I’m sorry you couldn’t be witness,” McCoy offered.

“It matters not that I was witness only that it was done. I believe congratulations are traditional.”

“I’d offer to invite you aboard…” Jim began ruefully.

“It is unnecessary,” Sarek replied. “We shall arrange to assist you back to Earth. Perhaps in the meantime you might join us on board the Intrepid?”

“Sir, we’d be delighted.”

Ɛ>

Sbahong ranomg faf-kurong yar-kur,
Gahv-kurong zhar-kurong krup,
Kup-uralau kur-kesek nash-veh, uralau kur-kesek,
Kup-uralau du wuh’ isha!

Sarek smiled indulgently at his granddaughter as the crew around the dining table offered their appreciation of her song.

“She carries a tune well,” the captain of the Intrepid offered.

“Indeed,” Sarek agreed. “I believe it would be wise to encourage her musical interests. I shall purchase a lytherette for her,” he announced.

“It is unnecessary,” Spock rejoined automatically. “The Enterprise recreation room has a full complement of instruments she may utilise.”

“Nonsense,” his father countered. “Her own instrument would enable her to become far more proficient through familiarity. Added to which, you will not remain on the Enterprise indefinitely.”

As Spock made to respond, Leonard laid a hand on his sleeve.

“Just let him buy her the instrument, Spock.”

Thalia glanced between the grown ups, unsure of whether she was getting a present from her sa’mekh’al or not.

“Say thank you,” Leonard prompted, which answered her unasked question.

“Th’i-oxalra.”

Sarek raised a brow at the Vulcan response.

“I understood you were focusing on Standard as her primary language.”

“We have,” Spock confirmed. “However I believe she is aware that Vulcan would be a more appropriate language in these surroundings.”

“Logical,” Sarek complimented her before turning back to his son. “I seem to recall you struggled with Federation Standard for some years.”

Spock frowned minutely.

“Growing up on Vulcan, with parents who both spoke the language, it was natural for me to focus on that language.”

“Indeed. However it would seem your choice to relocate to the Enterprise has had a beneficial effect upon Thalia’s language skills.”

“I agree her command of Vulcan is adequate for a child her age,” the Intrepid captain submitted. “However the human influence is still noticeable. Her song choice, for example, was an Earth one.”

Leonard wasn’t quite sure whether to take that as an insult but decided he’d rather prove the Vulcan wrong than not.

“She’s just as well versed in Vulcan traditions,” he countered before turning his attention onto his daughter. “Thalia, sweetheart, how’d you like to recite those sayings of Surak you learned?”

She nodded quite eagerly and retook her place in front of the dining table.

“Vah mau vah tor-yehat ri stau,” she began slowly. “Tilek svi'khaf-spol t'vathu - tilek svi'sha'veh.”

Leonard settled back smugly, ignoring the arched brow Spock offered him, and wondered if even stoic Vulcans would get fidgety after the first half hour of a child’s recital.

Chapter Text

Although they’d missed their wedding ceremony, a great number of their guests had stayed on to offer their congratulations. A large marquee had been set up in Golden Gate Park for them and the caterers had seemingly been happy to rearrange their booking.

McCoy was pristine in a white linen suit while Spock was dressed in traditional dark desert robes. Thalia had insisted on wearing her blue Starfleet dress.

Despite the formalities having been concluded already, they decided to go ahead with a proper exchange of vows in front of everyone.

“That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow which I then did feel
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken,
As I by yours, you’ve passed a hell of time,
And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.
O that our night of woe might have rememb’red
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
And soon to you as you to me then tendered
The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits!
  But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
  Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.”

Leonard smiled widely at Spock, primarily relieved to have made his way through the archaic text without fault. Spock brushed their fingers together in the ozh’estra.

In the audience around them, a lot of people were dabbing their eyes.

He noticed Sarek passing Amanda a handkerchief as she smiled through her tears.

“Leonard McCoy,” Spock began. “Over the years we have known each other, I have used one word to describe you more than any other.”

McCoy arched a brow at him, fully expecting to hear either the word ‘illogical’ or ‘emotional’.

“‘Doctor’,” Spock said simply. “For even when I could not see past your emotionalism, I have always recognized you to be the epitome of that profession. Your scientific acumen has advanced dozens of areas of research upon the Enterprise alone without factoring in the effect your research papers have had. The dedication you always show to your patients is exemplary. I have witnessed you push for revolutionary treatments just as you’ve defended them from unnecessary procedures. No-one meeting you could ever doubt your genuine warmth of feeling towards whomever falls under your care.”

He dropped his eyes and took Leonard’s hand again.

“I consider myself most fortunate to be given this opportunity to join our lives together forever. So that I may continue to benefit from your devoted attention and watch with admiration your very many accomplishments.”

Leonard could no longer tell how many of their guests were crying since his own eyes were flowing.

Ɛ>

It was as the last plates were carried away that Jim stood and tapped his knife against his glass.

“If I can have everyone’s attention,” he called. “As best man, it’s my duty now to make a speech.”

There were a few cheers from various corners of the room and Jim grinned indulgently before continuing.

“As many of you are aware, this is usually the time where I do my best to embarrass the groom, or in this case grooms, with tales from our shared past. And believe me, I’m certainly not lacking in material.”

There were a few laughs as people clearly remembered their own past exploits with the couple.

“However, I don’t want to do that. These two men are the best friends I could ever hope for. I wouldn’t be here… wouldn’t be the man I am… if it weren’t for each of them. There’s not a person here who hasn’t had their life enriched by one or other, or both, of them. And I’m sure you’ll all agree that no two people deserve happiness more than them.

So I ask you all to charge your glasses… and drink to the happy couple!”

A chorus of ‘to the happy couple’, echoed round the room.

“Oh and if anyone wants to hear any of those embarrassing tales,” Jim grinned at his audience. “Just stand me a drink later.”

He sat down to general laughter and a smile from Bones.

Next to him Sarek rose gracefully to his feet and the room hushed again.

“Welcome guests,” he began. “I have been told that it is traditional for the father to say a few words to honour the joining of his child in matrimony.

“When my son first told me he intended choosing Leonard as his life partner, I thought the decision illogical. Up to that point in time, every communication we had received from him concerning the doctor referred only to his illogical nature and excessive emotionalism. In fact, my son often detailed in length the many reasons why he thought Leonard was irrational and confusing.

“I was prepared to reason with Spock against the partnership however my wife convinced me to trust my son’s judgement. Time has proven her to be correct in this matter. I see now that they bring balance to each others’ lives.

“So, in the human tradition, I will ask you all to raise a glass and toast the newly wed couple. Live long and prosper my sons.”

As the room echoed to the toast of ‘live long and prosper’, Leonard leant close and wrapped has arm fondly about Spock’s.

The general chatter in the room was raising in volume again when a new voice broke the noise.

“Excuse me?”

Every eye turned to see Joanna McCoy stood defiantly awaiting some quiet.

“Ah know it ain’t traditional for the daughter to speak but me an’ Thalia would like to wish our daddy and sa’mekh well too.”

She hoisted her younger sister up to stand on the table so she could be seen.

“‘n’ if we could have your indulgence… we’d like to sing a song.”

She leant close to her sister’s little pointy ear and whispered.

“Ya ready?”

Thalia cast her wide blue eyes around the room and looked fearfully at her sister. Joanna gently turned her so she was facing her parents.

“Jus’ focus on them,” she suggested. “Okay?”

At Thalia’s nod, both girls began.

“Hush you bye,” – “Hizhuk rom-halan tu,
“Don't you cry,” – “Tor fam maf tu,
“Go to sleep, little baby.” – “Hal yuk-tor, pi’kan-bu.
“when you wake,” – “Lu kum’i tu,
“You shall have,” – “Dungau-ki’ tu,
“all the pretty little horses.” – “Ek takov pi’kenellar.
“blacks and Bays,” – “Nesh-kurong khav-kur,
“dapples and grays,” – “Haul-kurong ras-kur,
“All the pretty little horses.” – “Ek takov pi’kenellar.
“Hush-a-by,” – “Hizhuk rom-halan tu,
“Don't you cry,” – “Tor fam maf tu,
“Go to sleep, my little baby.” – “Hal yuk-tor, pi’kan-bu.

The room burst into applause as they finished and both Amanda and Leonard broke into tears again. Joanna carried Thalia over so they could hug him.

“Thank you,” he murmured softly. “Thank you.”

Ɛ>

Unfortunately, the musicians they’d hired hadn’t been able to rearrange. McCoy in truth had not been bothered about a traditional first dance but strangely it was one of the few things Spock had requested.

Luckily they had enough musical friends to put together a passable band and Spock was able to lead his new husband onto the dance floor.

Leonard had no idea what Spock would have chosen for their song – deciding for once to allow the Vulcan free rein – and he was surprised as Uhura began to sing.

Although moments later he realised he couldn’t imagine any other song.

Lavender blue, dilly, dilly
Lavender green
If I were king, dilly, dilly
I'd need a queen.

As he wrapped his arms around his husband, McCoy felt utterly complete.

“You know,” he murmured. “I’m so happy right now.”

One of Spock’s hands stroked his hair before the Vulcan whispered back,

“As am I.”

Leonard smirked.

“Don’t go having an emotional breakdown,” he teased playfully.

Spock ignored the ribbing and continued.

“I had not expected the legal formality of our wedding to affect me as much as our bonding.”

McCoy looked him in the eyes several long moments.

“Well, you always did say you wanted everyone to recognize I belonged to you, didn’t ya?”

“Indeed. Having all our acquaintance witness our commitment is undoubtedly gratifying.”

“Anyone ever tell you that you’re right possessive when you want to be?”

Spock arched an eyebrow at him pointedly.

“You object?” he queried.

Leonard smiled and tucked himself back against his husband.

“Not at all.”

Ɛ>

McCoy stood on the veranda and smiled happily.

They’d left the party early, as Thalia had begun to tire, and caught a short shuttle ride down to Conyers. Joanna had joined them and was taking charge of her sister for the next few days.

Though they were all staying together in the big old family house, the girls were staying in one half and their parents in the other. Tomorrow they’d all go out together but for this evening – their official wedding night – it was just Spock and Leonard.

A hand resting on his shoulder and a flood of affection announced the Vulcan’s arrival.

For a few minutes they stood silently looking out across the unspoilt landscape, draped over with a velvet blanket of stars.

“It’s beautiful ain’t it?” McCoy finally queried.

“We are stars wrapped in skin,” Spock quoted softly. “The light you are looking for has always been within.”

“Damn romantic Vulcan,” Leonard muttered, pulling Spock’s arms around him.

“It is our honeymoon,” Spock countered.

Leonard sighed contentedly. It was warm tucked against the Vulcan and he had no wish to move just yet.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to treat you to all the best that Georgia has to offer. We’ll have a picnic on the Appalachian Trail ‘n’ go on to the Biosphere Reserve. I’ll teach you to ride a horse ‘n’ how to square dance proper.”

Spock was silent for a moment as he continued to hug his husband.

“I believe,” he said slowly, “that I already have the best that Georgia has to offer.”

He kissed the doctor’s neck to emphasise his meaning.

Leonard smiled.

“An’ are you going to treat me proper?” he drawled.

“I certainly intend to, Adun,” Spock promised and, lifting his mate into his arms, he carried him into the house.

Chapter Text

The birthday cake was beautiful and it only had a single candle.

“Thank you darlin’.” McCoy offered his husband a kiss to show his sincere gratitude. An instinctive human response despite the fact that Spock could now sense his feelings with ease.

“I have also purchased you a gift Ashayam.”

“Ya didn’t hav’ta do that,” Leonard drawled contentedly. “Got everything I want already right here in these quarters. My wonderful bonded husband and my beautiful little girl.”

Thalia was curled on the sofa next to them, fast asleep and hugging her toy. She had insisted on staying up for his birthday despite his late return from surgery.

“Nevertheless,” Spock insisted as he handed over the wrapped item.

McCoy smiled softly as he opened it.

Inside was a holo-frame with an image taken from their honeymoon – Spock, Leonard, Joanna and Thalia.

“It’s beautiful,” he murmured softly. “Everything I ever wanted.”

Spock settled more comfortably beside him, relaxed now he had pleased his mate.

He was about to suggest they put Thalia to bed when the comm system sounded.

The Vulcan moved swiftly to answer it, glancing to check it hadn’t awoken Thalia. McCoy soundlessly gathered the girl up, still fast asleep, and carried her into her bedroom.

“Spock here.”

Ah, Spock. Just the person.” Jim sounded uncomfortable.

“Yes Captain?”

An… interesting piece of archaeological data has just been looked at. I… think you should come take a look.

“Now Captain?” Spock cast a glance to where Leonard had re-entered the room.

I think you’ll want to see it right away.

“Of course. Where is the archaeological data from?”

There was a long pause and Leonard moved to join Spock.

The Beta Niobe system.

McCoy felt Spock’s spike of alarm but he couldn’t immediately place the location.

“On my way.” Spock cut the comm briskly before turning to Leonard. “I hope I shall not be long.”

“That’s alright.” He kissed Spock briefly. “I’ll be right here when you get back.”

Spock seemed to hesitate a second before nodding and heading on his way to meet the captain.

Leonard settled himself back on the sofa and tried to recall why Beta Niobe sounded familiar.

It took him a few minutes to place it and then a wave of anxiety swept through him.

Beta Niobe – the star that went supernova at Sarpeidon.