Kirk awoke to the smell of freshly ground coffee percolating. The aroma lead him into the kitchen where Spock sat at the table whilst Seleya prepared breakfast. Kirk hesitated in the doorway for a moment, unwilling to disturb the domestic scene. The Romulan woman had changed only a little since their first meeting. Her hair may have become streaked with silver and her face may have grown sharper and etched with a few more lines, but she was still breathtakingly beautiful.
Over a century had passed since the Enterprise had invaded Romulan space to steal the cloaking technology from the Commander. At the time, Starfleet had not been aware of any female Commanders in the Romulan fleet and their plan had been simply to convince their enemy that Kirk had acted on his own in taking their ship into the Empire. Spock was charged with convincing the Romulans that Kirk was no longer fit to command and then gaining their trust. The moment they had seen the way Seleya looked at Spock, both men had known that the plan must change.
As they had dragged the Captain to the detention room, Kirk had fixed his First Officer with a piercing look. Spock had barely responded. At first, he had been uncomfortable with his new role as an object of desire. But his discomfort rapidly became replaced with another emotion. Almost everything that followed had been entirely ad-libbed, and had very nearly failed due to Spock's distraction. Kirk had been forced to beam aboard the Romulan vessel without the correct co-ordinates.
In the end, the plan had succeeded despite Spock's deepening involvement with Seleya. Kirk had only realised the depths of that involvement when later, she had deliberately thrown herself into the transporter beam as Spock was rescued from the Romulan Ship. He could only guess how close his First Officer had come to betraying him that day.
Now Kirk stood in the doorway and tried to imagine how their second meeting must have gone. Freed from his oath to Starfleet and thinking Kirk dead, Spock would no longer have been able to deny his true feelings for the Romulan woman. Boy, would he have liked to have been a fly on the wall that day.
Then she looked up, and saw Kirk standing at the doorway. She hastily disentangled herself from her husband and fixed Kirk with her diamond sharp gaze. Caught eavesdropping, Kirk blushed, then strolled into the kitchen and smiled at the couple in his most disarming manner.
He never saw the fist coming. As he landed hard on his derriere, his hand flew to his bruised jaw and his eyes to Spock's face. As usual, the Vulcan displayed no emotion. He merely got up from his chair and offered Kirk a hand up. Kirk reached for the hand and as he was pulled to a standing position, Spock murmured into his ear, "It would appear that she does hold a grudge, Captain."
Kirk warily eyed his assailant, but all traces of anger and violence seemed to have left her. She poured a mug of coffee from the jug and held it out to him. "That much I owed you, Kirk. Consider your debt to me paid."
He gingerly took the mug and allowed a small smile to play with the corners of his mouth. "Why do I get the impression you're letting me off lightly? That's some right hook, ma'am."
Seleya turned back to the stove and continued to prepare breakfast. The two men seated themselves at the table and Kirk leaned forward. "I thought you were joking last night."
"Vulcans never joke."
"I believe you!" Kirk relaxed back into the chair, and watched as Seleya placed a bowl of what looked like red porridge in front of him. She waited until he had taken a mouthful before nodding and serving up breakfast for Spock and herself.
"Hmmmm... Good," mumbled Kirk, although even if the porridge had tasted quite foul, he doubted he would have had the guts to complain.
"It is a Rihannsu recipe. The colour comes from the blood berries, which are native to both Rihannsu and Vulcan. Another thing our people share. So, now that the pleasantries have been exchanged...."
Kirk rubbed absently at his jaw.
"...I assume you two have a plan."
"Plan?" asked Kirk looking at Spock. The Vulcan dabbed delicately at his mouth with a napkin.
"We must determine whether or not Q has been successful in protecting Captain Picard, and why he has not yet come back for you. Furthermore, there is the problem of Lien. It is only a matter of time before he finds you."
"Would Q have taken Picard into the nexus?"
"Unlikely - he believed that Lien was more powerful whilst inside the nexus. Our first priority should be attempting to locate Picard."
"So where do we start?"
"After the destruction of the Enterprise-D, the surviving crew were given extended shore leave. I know that Picard stayed on Earth. I had the opportunity to mind meld with him a few years ago, and I know of his deep family ties to his brother. Perhaps he would have gone to see him."
"Any idea where his family live?"
"La Barre, France. There is a vineyard belonging to his brother. It should not be hard to locate through civilian channels."
"Ok, that's a start, but what if he isn't there?"
"I have a contact at Starfleet Headquarters. He may have more accurate information on Picard's last known whereabouts."
"I'm sorry Ambassador Spock, I wish I had better news. As I told you at McCoy's memorial service, Picard contacted me a week ago to get information on your whereabouts. When I received your report from Captain Rodgers, I did some checking. He made plans to travel to Vulcan, but he never arrived there."
"Thank you Joshua. If you manage to contact him, perhaps you could let me know. It is a matter of utmost importance."
"Likewise, Spock. Landsbury out."
Spock clicked off the viewer and turned to face Kirk. "Vanished without trace. The Q involvement is confirmed but which Q?"
Kirk began to pace. "Lien can't have him. If Q had failed, surely he would have come back for us right away?"
"He assumed we would be returned to this reality from the nexus at the same point in time as we entered it. He is probably searching for us some 80 years in the past."
"God, temporal mechanics give me a headache." Kirk stopped pacing and turned to face Spock. "Worst case scenario - Lien has Picard and our friendly Q is looking for us in the wrong time period. Do we just sit tight and wait for one of them to show up?"
"I believe that Lien is biding his time, trying to restore his strength within the nexus. There is no way of knowing how long that will take."
Kirk sat down in a low chair and sighed. "I don't like this Spock - it's not my style to sit around helplessly and wait to be rescued. I almost wish this Lien would show up so that I can punch him right in his arrogant...."
"Captain, I at least have no choice. I was informed this morning that the Vulcan High Council will convene again tomorrow, and that I am to be called to testify regarding my actions. I cannot leave Vulcan until the matter is resolved. Perhaps you should find a shuttle and depart as soon as possible. If you tell no-one of your destination, it is possible that you can evade capture by keeping on the move."
Kirk shook his head, "I'm afraid we both know that's not an option. I don't have the skills to exist alone in this time period. I wouldn't know one end of an izolunar chip from the other."
Spock nodded sympathetically, "Then we have no option. We wait."
Kirk found Ashan sitting by the fountain in Spock's garden. Although the boy had not been present at breakfast and this was the first time Kirk had seen Spock's son, the resemblance was more than just striking. If he narrowed his eyes slightly, and imagined the boy in Starfleet Science blue - it could have been Spock the first time Kirk met him. His mind wandered back to that fateful day.
Officially, he had been given the Enterprise two weeks before his thirty first birthday, but he was still in the Base Hospital recovering from severe injuries sustained at the battle of Ghioghe. It was nearly a month later, that he had sneaked aboard for the first time, early in the ships morning cycle for an unofficial look around.
The Enterprise was due to leave space dock within the next two days, and Kirk had been disappointed that his friend Gary would not be ready to join them as first officer. His injuries at Ghioghe had been even more severe than Kirks. But the Admiralty had insisted that the Vulcan named Spock, would make an excellent First. He had served as Second Officer under Captain Pike for 13 years and was an outstanding Officer.
Kirk had no doubt that was true, but still, he was uncomfortable at having an unemotional Vulcan in such an important position. It was a Captain's prerogative to choose his own command crew, but if those people were unavailable, Starfleet could, and would, choose replacements. He was in no position to argue the decision this early on in his career, so he had bowed to the inevitable and vowed that when Gary was recovered, he would have him re-assigned to the Enterprise. Eventually, Gary would be his First Officer, Kirk was sure of that.
Spock was not entirely a stranger to Kirk - they had met once before at the Academy. He had attended a lecture given by the Vulcan (who was an upperclassman at the time) in his first semester. He had nearly fallen asleep during the presentation, though not because he was bored. The lecture had been quite fascinating, but Kirk had pulled an all-nighter to get through his astronomy exam that morning, and the effects had begun to catch up.
The Vulcan had pulled him aside after the class and reprimanded him for his lack of attention. As Kirk wandered the almost deserted corridors of his new Command, he hoped that the Vulcan first officer would not remember that particular incident.
Eventually, his travels took him to the place he really wanted to see - the bridge. As the red doors of the turbolift parted, Kirk was unsurprised to find that his command chair was occupied. Whilst in space dock, there was only a skeleton crew aboard, but the bridge was always manned by at least one Officer.Spock swivelled the chair around to face the unexpected visitor, and Kirk had his first experience of watching Spock's eyebrow fly into his hairline. The Vulcan stood quickly and folded his hands behind his back. "Captain Kirk, welcome aboard Sir. I was not informed of your arrival."
Kirk smiled in what he hoped was a friendly manner and stepped down from the upper deck. "I'm not really here Mr Spock, if you catch my drift?"
"I do not, Sir."
Kirk had been running his fingers over the navigation console. He turned to regard the tall dark haired Vulcan quizzically. He had forgotten that Vulcans took everything literally "What I mean is that I'm not officially here. I wanted to get the feel of the ship before I took command. You know, walk around before the crew came on board and indulge myself in a little self-congratulation."
The Vulcan remained standing to attention, but his face clearly showed his doubts as to the Captain's motives. "Aye sir. My shift ends in approximately 1.6 minutes, but I would be pleased to show you around should you desire it."
Then the turbolift doors opened for a second time, and a rather harried young Ensign spilled out onto the upper bridge level. "Ensign Wardlaw reporting for duty Sir - sorry I'm late."
The Ensign looked from Spock to Kirk, and flushed deep red. It was bad enough being late on Spock's shift, but to show herself up in front of the new Captain too. My career is over she thought glumly.
Spock glanced down at the chronometer between navigation and helm and back at the nervous young woman. "You are not late Ensign - my shift does not end for another 58 seconds."
Kirk could not fully suppress the grin that was tugging at his mouth. Spock stood motionless as the seconds ticked by, and fixed the perspiring woman with a hard stare. At exactly the right time he said, "You have the con, Ensign."
Wardlaw almost leapt to the command chair. Spock walked slowly to the lift and hesitated turning back to the Captain. His eyebrow quirked again, which Kirk took to mean - are you coming? Kirk vaulted up to the upper deck and joined his new First Officer at the lift.
"Thank you for your kind offer Mr Spock, I haven't seen the recreation facilities yet. Would you mind?"
The Vulcan stepped into the turbolift after Kirk and shook his head. "Of course not sir. Do you play chess?"
Kirk returned to the present, and realised that he was grinning like a fool at Spock's son, who in turn, was scowling back at him. Kirk stepped forward and tried to force his fingers into the Vulcan salute. He failed.
"You must be Ashan. I'm pleased to meet you."
The boy rudely turned his back on Kirk, and picking up a pebble, threw it absently into the fountain. Kirk frowned. He had been looking forward to meeting the boy, and this was not how he had pictured the scene. He tried again
"I'm James Kirk - my friends call me Jim."
The boy regarded Kirk over his shoulder, "I know who you are, Terran. My mother has told me all about you."
"Ah," said Kirk a little uneasily. What exactly had Seleya told the boy to make him react like that? He decided to try for a friendly tone, "So, how are you finding Vulcan? Beautiful place isn't it?"
The boy stood and pushed past the startled human. "If you like that sort of thing."
Kirk reacted without thinking. The boy's tone was getting under his skin, and he didn't like it. His hand shot out, and grabbed Ashan by the arm, his intention being to find out why the boy was being so hostile. He could not have foreseen the violence with which the boy reacted. For the second time that day, Kirk found himself flat on his backside.
"Keep you filthy hands off me, Terran. I have no desire to speak with you, or any of your kind - you would do well to remember that."
And with that, he stormed off into the house leaving Kirk rubbing at his bruised jaw yet again. Firm, strong hands hauled him to his feet and he turned expecting to see Spock, but it was Seleya who stood there.
She smiled slowly and reached forward to brush some of the dirt from Kirks arm. "You must forgive my son, Captain Kirk. He has recently discovered his true heritage, and it does not sit well with him."
"You mean he didn't know he was part human?"
"Until a week ago, my son thought that his father was as Romulan as I am. Their relationship has always been a difficult one. I fear the anger you just witnessed was more directed at his father, than you. I apologise for his behaviour."
Kirk absently brushed at the seat of his pants while regarding Seleya speculatively. "No need. I'm getting used to being assaulted by every Rihannsu I meet."
She surprised him by taking his arm and slowly leading him deeper into the garden. They walked in silence for a while then Kirk stopped and turned to her, feeling just about comfortable enough in this woman's presence, to risk asking a personal question.
"You said that the relationship had always been difficult. Why?"
"Logically - it was necessary for Ashan's survival, and for our continued safety, that he think of himself as Rihannsu. Spock could only make a very few trips to my world after we were married, so the boy grew up without getting to know his father. He resents his absence. We told him that Spock worked for the government, and had to be away a lot, but he felt abandoned.
By the time Spock came back to Rihannsu three years ago, the damage was already done. Even then, for obvious reasons, Spock could not visit often without blowing his cover. When we were forced to flee the Empire, it was necessary to tell Ashan the truth. He feels betrayed and disorientated and he focuses these feelings on his father. One can understand these feelings."
Kirk nodded and began walking again, unable to meet the woman's eyes. "I suppose so. My own son harboured some of the same feeling towards me."
"You speak in the past tense - I take it you resolved your differences?"
Kirk hesitated, then taking a deep breath he let it out slowly, "My son is dead, but you are right, we did manage to resolve our differences before he died. For that I will be eternally grateful."
She cast her gaze downward. "My apologies, Captain Kirk. It was not my intention to stir up painful memories. I am glad that you and your son finally found the good in one another. It is my hope that the same thing will happen for Spock and Ashan, one day. Unless they kill each other first."
Kirk laughed and rubbed absently at his jaw again, "He just needs some time to adjust to the changes. And to spend some quality time with his father."
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