Admiral Barnett glared at them over the comm link. “Do you have any idea how sensitive this is going to become?”
Jim and Spock nodded in unison. They had agreed to face Command as a united front.
“We felt that, until the pregnancy had reached a viable stage, it would be best to keep knowledge of its existence quiet.” Spock folded his hands and placed them on the table before him. “Female officers are not required to report their pregnancy until the fourteenth week of pregnancy.”
Barnett scowled. “Kirk’s almost twenty weeks pregnant. You’re a month overdue.”
Jim shifted slightly in his electric wheelchair until he was able to mimic Spock’s position. “With all due respect, Admiral, women serving aboard starships are required to inform their captain and chief medical officer of their pregnancy. As both the captain and chief medical officer on board this vessel learned of the pregnancy within hours of conception, I believe I fulfilled the requirements.”
Jim’s logical statement didn’t make Barnett look any happier. “You know as well as I do that the regulations state that the CMO and commanding officer of the individual in question are to be informed. Admiral Pike is your commanding officer. Is he aware of the situation?”
“Exactly.” Barnett sighed. “You two are in charge of our flagship. You’re supposed to be the ship we send into battle if necessary. Do you honestly expect us to be able to do that if you have a baby on board?”
A small smile graced Jim’s face. “You do realize who you’re talking to, right? I was born in the midst of battle.”
Spock hadn’t spent a lot of time considering what it would be like to have a baby on the Enterprise. It had only been two days since he sensed the embryo. He was having difficulty grasping the concept that the tiny blob he had sensed would soon be a living being. A living being he would help raise.
“And look how you turned out.” Shaking his head, Barnett interposed a few graphs on the screen. “Consider this—Humans on board a ship are ten times more likely to die of unnatural causes than Humans on a planet or colony.” The graphs disappeared, revealing his irate face.
After losing his entire planet, Spock had few qualms about raising his son in space. “For Vulcans, the chance of dying from unnatural causes on board a starship is smaller than on a planet.” The murder of six billion people had greatly affected that statistic.
Sobering, Jim bumped his elbow against Spock’s. “Exactly. Life is too short. I’d rather show our son the universe than spend our lives grounded out of fear.”
“But the Enterprise wasn’t built as a family ship! You don’t have a nursery or a school or—“
“Then we’ll upgrade.”
Jim spoke as if he assumed it would be easy to prepare for a baby on board a starship. Spock had been considering everything the child would need, and the list was daunting. They didn’t even have the simple things like diapers and clothing ready. They hadn’t even begun to consider who would care for the child while they were working or where he would stay during the day.
Spock had considered offering to help Jim prepare, but he hadn’t wanted to intrude in the planning when he had no claim to the child. Now that he knew he still held parental rights, he had begun to wonder if he should install a crib in his room.
Jim sat back and splayed one hand over his stomach. “As you said, we’re the flagship. My people signed five year contracts to stay on board. Did you honestly think no one would end up pregnant in five years?”
“Yes! We wrote the requirement right into those contracts.”
Sensing that their argument was losing ground, Spock brought up a recent statute passed by the Federation. “According to statute 612.234, no Federation member planet or colony may create or uphold a law that stands in the way of a Vulcan pregnancy until the Vulcan population stabilizes at two-hundred thousand or more members. The embryo is twenty-seven percent Vulcan, which makes it eligible for Vulcan citizenship and protection under the law as a Vulcan.”
“Which renders our contracts null and void.” Barnett clenched his teeth. The veins in his neck stood out alarmingly. “You two have an answer for everything don’t you?”
Spock replied before Jim could give a sarcastic response. “We only want what is best for our son.”
Barnett’s brow furrowed. “Our son? You aren’t romantically involved, are you? Because if you are, there are about a dozen different forms you need to file to get approval.”
“Nope.” Jim patted his belly. “We both care about the baby, that’s all. We’re both equally his parents.”
That was something else Spock was having trouble grasping. Jim wanted him to be the baby’s father, even after what he had done.
He had avoided telling Jim the truth for months because he was afraid of destroying their friendship. It had become harder and harder for Spock to avoid the truth as Jim’s belly grew. Knowing that he had raped his best friend had eaten a hole inside Spock, one too deep to fill with work or meditation.
Confessing his offense to Jim had filled in some of the hole. Receiving Jim’s forgiveness had erased it completely. And in the place where the hole had been, something new was forming. Spock didn’t know how to define it yet, but he knew Jim and the baby were part of it.
“You see nothing wrong with your actions?”
“Of course we do.” Jim’s shoulders slumped. “We should have told the truth from the very beginning. But I didn’t want to be poked and prodded by doctors my entire pregnancy.”
That statement wasn’t a lie, but it did imply Jim hadn’t been observed during his pregnancy. McCoy had, in fact, assessed Jim’s health daily and subjected him to intense physical exams weekly. Nothing about his pregnancy had been left to chance. Currently, he was on strict bed rest and was not allowed on his feet for more than one hour a day, including the time he spent using the restroom and bathing. His diet was also being monitored, and he was taking a cocktail of drugs to keep his blood pressure and toxicity down and help the baby mature faster.
Barnett pursed his lips. “What’s done is done, unfortunately, and we’re going to have to deal with this as best as we can. Vulcan law requires that we allow Vulcan children to serve with their parents, so we can’t ground you. And as much as I’d like to demote you back to ensigns, the public would have a fit.”
Saving an entire planet tended to engender rabid loyalty in its populace.
“So, we’re going to act like we knew about this the whole time. It was an accident, but you two decided to step up and take responsibility. Extenuating circumstances and all that. We’re allowing you to keep the baby on the ship, as obviously being on planet doesn’t promise safety. We’ll paint a picture of you as a new-age family traveling the universe together.”
The image Barnett created was a poignant one. Spock wished it were truer.
“We can point out how much you’ve both lost. You’ll end up the media darlings of the Federation.”
Jim’s nose wrinkled as if he’d caught a whiff of Klingon cheese. “Been there, done that, never going back.”
“Too bad.” Barnett shook his finger at them. “Since we can’t discipline you overtly, this will be your punishment. And you will behave, or we’ll let the media interview you.”
“It is a reasonable consequence for our actions,” Spock said quietly.
Jim crossed his arms. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“Then you shouldn’t have kept this a secret!” Barnett shook his head. “Never mind. I’ve got damage control to do, and I have to get authorization to retrofit the Enterprise with a nursery. But before I can do either of those things, I need to figure out what ship to send to deal with those rebel Romulans you ran into.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “More than one hundred years of peace, and they pick now to cross the Neutral Zone?”
“We can deal with the Romulans.” Jim shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well, Spock can.”
“I appreciate the offer, Kirk, but you’re in enough shit already without adding angry Romulans to the mix. We’ll be assigning you to some simpler missions for the next few months. You might not consider space dangerous for a kid, but I do.” Barnett nodded at them. “I’ll contact you after I discuss what you have said with the rest of Command. Barnett out.”
The screen went blank.
Jim groaned and slumped in his seat. “We are in so much trouble.”
“I believe the discussion went well.” They weren’t being removed from the Enterprise, nor were they being demoted. While Spock didn’t want to be thrust into the media spotlight, dealing with a few reporters was hardly a just punishment for the lies they had told.
“It could have been worse, but I really hate the media. There was always some paparazzi or another hanging around on my birthdays when I was a kid. They wanted the scoop on how I felt about my dad’s death.” Jim stretched his hands above his head. “Fuck them. They’re not getting anywhere near my baby.” He twisted side to side in his chair. His back popped, and he groaned. “I am so sore.”
“Would you like me to rub your feet?” Spock had massaged Jim’s feet several times earlier in the pregnancy, but his guilt over the rape had made touching Jim difficult. Eventually he had stopped offering, and Jim had never requested it.
“No thanks.” Jim turned on the wheelchair, then backed it away from the table. “It’s time to face the troops.”
Since Jim was allowed so little time out of bed, they had arranged to meet with the senior crew members directly after speaking with Admiral Barnett. They headed for the conference room, Jim leading the way. When he found out he wouldn’t be allowed to walk, he had requested Scotty rig up an electric wheelchair. He didn’t want to give up what little independence he had.
Nyota, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and Dr. McCoy were waiting for them in the conference room. Jim pulled up to the table where his chair normally sat; someone had moved it aside to make room for him. Spock took a seat next to him. They wanted to present a unified front when they explained the situation.
Scotty spoke first. “Ach, Captain, you don’t look so well. I’ve seen dead sheep that look healthier than you.”
Jim snorted. “Thanks, Scotty. Nice to know pregnancy suits me.”
Spock wanted to pinch the bridge of his nose, but he refrained. Trust Jim to just blurt out the news.
Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov wore the same confused expression. Chekov blinked rapidly, then tilted his head to the side, assessing Jim as if he were a star chart. “I thought you were male, Captain.”
“I don’t think I heard you right then.” Sulu frowned. “I mean, you’re a guy.”
“Yep. And I’m pregnant.”
The men stared at Jim’s belly. Nyota watched Jim’s face. “How are you, Captain?”
Jim smiled at her. “I’m fine. My body’s not too happy about the baby though, so I’m going to be on bed rest until he pops out. It could be anywhere from four days to four months before I’m able to return to duty.”
“Plan for closer to four months,” McCoy interrupted. “We’re looking at a micro-preemie birth, which means he’ll probably be in sickbay for two to three months after he’s born, if not longer.”
“How did it happen?” Scotty wondered aloud.
“Remember that away mission about four months ago when Spock and I got captured? I was drugged. Spock saved my life, but in the process…” Jim patted his stomach. His hand lingered longer than necessary, and Spock wondered if the fetus was moving.
“Commander Spock is the father?” yelped Chekov.
The disbelief in his voice hurt. Spock could be a good father.
Jim nodded, his hand still pressed to his stomach. “Spock is the father. We have both elected to retain parental rights, and we are equally the child’s parents. Starfleet has agreed to allow us to continue serving on the Enterprise, and we need help preparing.” He turned to Scotty. “You and your team will have to set up a nursery. We’ll be assigning a yeoman to help care for him when we can’t. We’re also going to need things like a crib and a changing table in each of our rooms.”
A crib for his room? Spock hadn’t known Jim was expecting him to take that large of a role in the baby’s life. His stomach churned. He didn’t know if he would be able to care for an infant, especially a Human infant. He had no experience with children.
“Command okayed this?” asked Sulu.
“Indeed. Due to recent legislation, the Federation and Starfleet are required to make allowances for Vulcan pregnancies and child-rearing.” Which Spock appreciated, as it was likely the only reason they were being allowed to remain on the Enterprise.
“And since Command is fine with this, we need to start telling people. I need you guys to inform your underlings about what’s going on and why.” Jim straightened in his seat, his posture now ramrod straight. “Spock and Bones have written up all the pertinent information about the situation. I’d like you to each hold a department meeting and inform your people about what’s happening. Try to get everyone possible to attend the meetings; I don’t want gossip and hearsay spreading. The truth is bad enough.”
“Yes, sir,” said Nyota. The others echoed her.
“Good. This meeting is over then. I have a date with a biobed I have to keep.” Jim scooted away from the table. “Spock can answer any questions you have.”
Sighing inwardly, Spock nodded. “Goodbye, Captain.”
Jim waved and headed out the door, Dr. McCoy following behind.
Spock glanced at Chekov and Scotty’s faces. He could already imagine the thoughtless inquiries that would spill out of their mouths. Though, at least they weren’t scowling at him like Nyota.
This conversation was going to be absolutely fascinating.
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