This is not the sequel to War Games, because that is much longer and not finished, as I just started it and I blame pretty much the entire convention for making me suddenly desperate to write it, and I can't even explain what happened there. I've finished two X-Men stories and this and I'm dreaming in fic. Third floor terraces in LA hotels are apparently fic writing shrines or something. Who knew?
This, however, is part of that sequel, but mostly, it's just domestication, Trek style. Next up (eventually), Emma coaxes Charles into body test-driving, because telepaths have weird ideas about what to do when you're bored on a Saturday night.
Sepak is almost entirely his mother's son, dark brown skin and dark brown eyes; unlike T'Mana, he's intensely quiet and self-contained. He also has an unusually high birth psi-rating, which Jim was aware of pretty much from the moment they arrived at the Ambassador's home. T'Mana at barely a year old is developing along above-average lines, but at nearly three months old, Sepak's already well ahead of her, so Jim's shields are getting a serious workout.
Telepathy with children, however, is a lot different from adults; while T'Mana is already fairly competent with verbal communication and learning by example the concept of shielding, both children carelessly project their wants and needs in concept-thoughts that Jim can't help but find pretty damn interesting to observe. This also leads to sudden bouts of what feels like desperate starvation during Sepak's or T'Mana's feeding times and a weird desire to nap during the early afternoon, which Spock seems to find amusing in some obscure Vulcan way.
So basically, Jim's as well-rested and nutritionally balanced as he's ever been in his life and Bones is disgustingly smug. It's really irritating.
It's barely five in the morning when Jim half-wakens to follow a surprisingly urgent summons; he's already in the nursery and retrieving Sepak when he wakes up enough to hope to God the wires never get this shit or the stories of his glamorous life of saving the universe are really going to suffer. Being whipped by people below the age of reason isn't exactly the kind of thing that inspires the awe of the masses and the fear of the Federation's enemies, though granted, if he was in the market to get laid--
"But you are not," Spock says from the doorway as Jim eases Sepak's head against his shoulder and pretends he's not smiling like an idiot at the kid's mental hum of contentment. This, Jim supposes, should be a lot more embarrassing than it is, but he really can't summon the interest. "You do remember that the Ambassador said to awaken him if you should hear--"
"They have two kids under two," Jim says as he passes Spock on his way to the kitchen. "They need their sleep." As Spock joins him by the stasis unit, Jim hands over the sleepy bundle, trying to project yes, food, getting to it before finding one of the pre-made bottles. At some point, and God help him if this ever gets out, it's stopped being faintly horrifying he's holding bottle of milk that came from a sentient being (ie, T'Sora). "They need the rest, and hey, we're here. Plus, it drives Nyota crazy; I keep worrying I'll wake up to her with a hypospray and a textbook on neuron transfer for telepathy purposes. You're watching for that, right?"
"No," Spock answers, sounding terribly Vulcan and patient with lesser beings as they settle on one of the surprisingly comfortable couches in the family room.
Taking Sepak, who is starting to project an uneasy suspicion there is no food left in the world, Jim feels the shift to baby-pleasure and glances at Spock in time to see the faintest suggestion of a smile. "Just admit you get a kick out of being an uncle already."
"Pretty sure we still don't have a concept base for 'earlier alternate self due to time manipulation', but hey, you want to get that into the Standard dictionary, knock yourself out trying."
Spock gives him look that suggests Standard will be brought to its knees anytime now. Jim offers a silent apology to every linguist in the galaxy; they won't ever see it coming.
The combination of early morning and privacy mean that Jim can indulge himself in the simple pleasure of touch, leaning back against Spock's shoulder and just wallow for a while. Spock's not at all adverse to physical contact in private--Jim might even say it's moved from 'encouraged' to 'mandatory'--but in public not so much, which Jim gets, fine. But this isn't their ship and they aren't on duty; this is the Ambassador's home and pretty much the only family either of them have left, and Jim's been mostly-married to a Vulcan long enough to want to exercise a few of his spousal rights.
"I told the Ambassador I'd take him in the mornings," Jim says softly, watching Sepak's eyes close in contentment. "They won't admit it, but with the care and feeding of Romulan refugees and the lobbying with the Elders, they're stretching themselves way too thin."
Vulcans had kept the clan system of their tribal forbearers for a lot of reasons both logical and not, but it can't be denied that it's one of the reasons that Vulcan was able to achieve their technological proficiency at such a fast rate. Clan duty, while resting in custom, not law, is as deeply ingrained in Vulcan society as breathing.
T'Sora's clan had died with Vulcan, and with the Ambassador's relationship with Sarek strained to breaking, there's no one to take up the simple daily tasks that are as much an inalienable right as a duty. T'Sora and the Ambassador had claimed both him and Spock as family, so by God, Jim's going to take advantage of it, and if Nyota, Bones, and the rest of the senior staff want in, God help any Vulcan traditionalist who tries to stop them.
Jim has to admit it's nice when Starfleet's orders basically amount to hang out at the colony to make friends and influence people for vote-gathering purposes; hanging out with Sepak qualifies nicely.
"I admit," Spock murmurs, picking up the thought, "that I do not find our time here objectionable."
Jim nods, understanding what Spock can't quite admit; the memories of the home and the mother and family he had lost are still too raw. Sarek's only half a city away but it might as well be a different world entirely. Jim had never had a home like Spock's, had never had the bone deep security of a family; he tries not to envy Spock, but he'd take the grief of losing so much to have the memories of having it at all.
So maybe it's not entirely altruism that makes him wake up at five in the morning to feed a demanding telepathic baby who has the mental equivalent of a voice like an icepick; he wants not just to be allowed to do this, but have the weight of expectation on him that he should, the certainty that he will, because he's family and that's what families do.
On the other hand, he's pretty sure his arm is falling asleep and Sepak is definitely contemplating the fact the food seems to be running out but the hunger isn't.
"Give him to me," Spock answers. Jim tries not to find Spock's increasing comfort with dealing with beings who cannot converse in full sentences hilarious, but it is. Getting to his feet, Jim shakes the blood flow back into his hand before warming a second bottle and, on consideration, adds a third; it feels like that kind of a morning.
Pausing at the doorway, Jim watches Spock and Sepak study each other with identical expressions of intense curiosity; it's a reminder all over again that the Spock and the Ambassador share the same DNA and that genetically speaking, the kid is as much Spock's as the Ambassador's. Spock doesn't want kids--and that Jim believes--but barring death in the line of duty or accident (and so barred, Jim thinks a little viciously; so not going to happen, not while he's still alive and if he has anything to say about it, and certainly not when he's dead), Spock will outlive Jim by at least a century (if the Ambassador is an example, maybe two) and will still be in his prime when he's free to consider taking another mate. It's not an unpleasant thought that Spock might choose to marry someone with whom he could have a real family, something to match what he lost.
You are my family.
One day, Jim will learn not to think so goddamn loudly. "I don't need reassurance, promise," Jim says with a grin, settling on the couch and reaching for Sepak. Spock gives him a flat look before taking one of the bottles and proceeding to feed Sepak with the same attention to detail that he devotes to fixing science when the laws of man and nature try and contradict him. They should probably stop doing that, Jim thinks sympathetically; like with Scotty, they tend to lose, and lose badly.
"Perhaps you could refrain from arranging a future that is neither inevitable nor foreseeable," Spock answers, studying the bottle like he's searching for design flaws. Jim checks the automatic rejoiner that the next Spock-spouse will at least get a Spock who won't bitch about towels on the bathroom floor, thank you very much, because it's very early and they're only just awake, and Spock's objection is based on the potential existence of a future that doesn't include Jim.
Vulcan has no conceptual base for love as humans define it; the emotional component has never been separate from the physical drive that's pon farr. Jim's secondhand sense of Vulcan instinct and racial memory is stronger than probably any other sentient being has ever managed, bonded or not; being a partially-in-denial telepath has its advantages when it comes to the limits of linguistic and cultural understanding.
Bonding by definition encompasses all of self; there are reasons that it's shrouded so deeply in Vulcan privacy that even the Standard word is at best a misdirection from a fundamental truth that every Vulcan lives with from the moment of birth to the moment of death, why only those who achieve kolinahru can discard it (significantly, even among them, few do). Vulcans are born with a space within them, unclaimed mental territory that demands to be filled. Bonding in childhood tends to assure the compatibility of the mind that will inhabit that space; the first pon farr and every one after is not only the instinctive physical drive of procreation, but the assurance that the space is filled, an unspoken acknowledgement that an unbounded Vulcan can never be complete and always feels the absence.
Jim had had no context for that when he and Spock bonded, and it had taken a while before he understood, really understood, that Spock coming to Iowa had been about Jim himself; sex in the line of duty had been one thing, and Spock would have done it without hesitation. Inducing pon farr in himself, however, wasn't a requirement for Jim's survival; that was for Spock who found in Jim the being for whom that space was meant to be filled.
The only comfort Jim has at this point is that pon farr is really fucking distracting, or they could have skipped the unpleasant almost-plak tow and just fucked on the floor when Spock showed up. Jim will never get over that he wasted three fucking days having fits of erotically charged psychosis and the equivalent of a multiple personality disorder when he could have been having mind-blowing sex the entire time.
Spock takes the third bottle with the resignation of someone who really thinks Jim should get over it already. Jim hands it over with a "Yeah, not likely," because he won't and that's that. "And by the way," Jim says, because he can, "still in love with you," and settles against Spock to contemplate both Spock's Vulcanly irritation with human emotional irrationality combined with the subconscious warmth that's yeah, whatever it's called, they're both feeling it.
Sepak, satisfied that he is no longer in danger of starvation, falls asleep almost as soon as the third bottle is empty, drooling contentment with the universe onto Spock's shirt before he's placed in his crib to sleep away the hours before morning.
Spock, being Spock, changes his shirt even though they're both going right back to bed; being charming and persuasive at large dinner parties slash lobbying efforts are exhausting.
"Question," Jim says sleepily when Spock has settled them both to his satisfaction; Vulcans are, in retrospect unsurprisingly, huge fans of minimal physical distance during periods of sleep, which might be some kind of quasi-instinctual response to perceived vulnerability and defending one's mate but Jim calls it cuddling because hey, it is. He'd never had a relationship that lasted long enough to approach that stage, nor ever thought he'd want to, but what do you know, Spock's a universe of surprising life lessons, and this one Jim will enforce to the death if necessary. "Did you give any orders regarding expanding the Captains' quarters? Because we have a new door, and there are new rooms attached to it."
"You have complained that the captain's quarters are inferior to those that are assigned to visiting dignitaries--"
"I'm saying, why do they get better view of space that the guy who lives in space. It's insane."
"--so Yeoman Rand, in consultation with Lieutenant Commander Scott,--"
"Oh God, have you seen his quarters? Do you want his idea of interior design? Not," Jim adds in a fit of honesty, "we're any better, but still--."
"--is engaged in extensive renovations of all officer quarters, which is why the bridge staff is currently enjoying the Ambassadors' hospitality." Spock hesitates. "I believe the Ambassador was the one to suggest that the length of our stay made this an ideal time to--"
Jim rolls over to stare at Spock, a little awed. "He's good."
"I believe he and T'Sora--" Spock hesitates, but Jim knows what he means; clan and family in this case are flexible in membership but not in meaning. "Yes."
"Good." The edges of sleep are close enough to touch, but-- "They're getting ready to leave." Last night's very civilized gathering hadn't ever said the words, but no one there had any illusions regarding the direction of the vote; their intentions, while unspoken, were definitive, and between fits of interior decorating, Rand's been preparing for the Enterprise to host those Vulcans who have been forced twice now to seek a new home. "It's not fair," Jim whispers, the bitter anger impossible to suppress. "Not for any of them, but the Ambassador--it's not enough he lost his entire goddamn universe; now he has to lose this, too."
"Home is not always a place," Spock answers slowly. "It is what you carry within, and what you invest with its meaning."
Jim thinks that may be the most romantic thing Spock has ever said to him; Earth Enlightement poets have nothing on Vulcans sometimes. "Yeah," he murmurs. You're that for me, too.
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