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Rob Morris

August 14th 2293
U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-A

Personal Journal, Doctor Leonard H. McCoy:

We were riding to final retirement. We were riding to final dispersal and dissolution. But none of that mattered a damn for the moment, because we were riding in triumph. We’d all done it again—for the last time.

Like the photo-ops we’d all come to despise and were certain would one day kill us, we all stood on the bridge, minus Hikaru, Janice and Christine, of course. It was there we sighted the world that has for this crew embodied the yin and yang of military-style engagement and containment. Triumph and defeat, all raw and in our faces, all plain as the green of Spock’s blood. It is only when we see Serenidad that I allow myself to remember.

I have a step-son, half-Klingon and all honor. I have two sons, half-imps and all my heart. I have a wife—and I know that half the male humanoids in this galaxy curse me for that fact, regularly. A glimpse of her will tell you why. And it will tell you nothing about her at all. Why would I have to remember such a thing? I’m not senile, after all. But in order to be away from them, I cannot think of them any at all. Some would call it a sorry way of coping. But for all that time from the dinner with Gorkon, through Rura Penthe and Khitomer, until this very moment, it is how I remained sane. I made no talk of them, did not think to ask how they were, and even leered at women playfully, as though I were not a man with a waiting family.

That all changes now, as this little wonder of a planet comes into full view as we take orbit. I smile to think that maybe Sita was right. House Durit aside, Klingons who need less dilithium might just leave Serenidad alone, once and for all. It’s not exactly a border world. But that train of thought triggers another. My last conversation with my wife was a rather brutal, pointless argument. But that won’t be my last conversation with Sita. I am alive, and I am coming home to her. Once we’ve made up—then, then, we will really make up. I realize quickly that I am smiling. I notice almost as quickly that Jim is not. He sees me look at him, concerned.

"Bones—when I called Peter, before we left, I argued with him. Bitterly. It was like ten years ago—only I picked the fight. Picked it, and I wouldn’t let him walk away. Suppose I started things up again? Neither of us needs that grief."

I never know what to tell him. Peter Kirk can be a bitter angry young man, yet I’ve never known him to be casually so. What happened on and over Dianas was the result of a slow boil. It was all about comfort he was offered but never took, and help he needed but never sought. Yet, another perspective quickly offers itself up.

"Och, Cap’n, ye are not givin’ the lad his due. If he wouldnae take a swipe at me when I gave him some small cause to go at it, then I rather think your wee tantrum will do little more than put you further up in his prayers. When he came back to us, he came back for good. Since then, he has not given any of us cause to question the trust we placed in him. And if he takes a bitter turn, then I’ll straighten him out. He’ll hear me, and he’ll come around, just as quick as ye ken."

Jim smiles at Scotty, and nods. It’s very odd on one level. We all worried when Jim brought Peter back on board, after his time in Tantalus was done. But only Scotty openly bristled—and he did a lot more than just bristle. Yet by the time that mission was over, Scotty’s only threat was an admonition to write constantly. I would never dare ask if Scotty ‘adopted’ Peter Kirk to replace poor Peter Preston. I feel on some level it ties in though. Scotty’s niece has never kept secret that she holds us responsible for her brother’s loss. But where she shouts her hate from a distance, Peter Kirk stood firm while Scotty vented his spleen over the young man’s crimes right in his face. To a man like Montgomery Scott, that makes all the difference.

As Uhura makes contact with the surface, my anticipation builds. Each time with Sita is not merely like our first time. It’s like my first time. I hope Davie and Jimmy like Peter. Because Lieutenant Kirk is about to be assigned baby-sitting duties for the next two years or so. But Penda’s face quickly shifts from its almost natural pleasant look to a look of near-terror. When she avoids looking at me, I almost know.

"Captain, Connor Randolph says that while the royal family is secure and safe, the royal residence itself has been invaded by an unknown number of Kh’myr Klingons. She requests immediate aid. An E-M pulse has rendered the surrounding area transport-incapable."

Pavel departs the Bridge immediately to build a squad to take my home back by force, if necessary, and it seems like it just might be. But I do not allow this to shake me. For my life, the life Jim once swore loudly that men like us could not have, is safe. But then it hits me. Connor Randolph is thorough. Her message included only that my family is safe. No one else is mentioned. A frenzied oversight? I hope so, but as I do, Penda makes a very uncharacteristic slip in decorum.

"Jim, Peter is alone at the residence."

Spock is in Jim’s chair, and we are both in the turbolift before any other explanation is added. Yet despite what is likely soon to be the impossible grief of my dearest friend, only one thought stays in my mind.

My family is safe.


As we approach the palace estate perimeter, Pavel and Connor’s forces thankfully find no targets for their marksmanship. They fire on some likely positions anyway, though no taunting or angry Kh’myr emerge or return fire. No mines. No fields. We soon find out why. The crashed transport is full of dead and frankly roasted Kh’myr. What the hell were they carrying? A nod from Jim lets me know that Sita and the boys—including a reluctant Miguel—are safely on board the shielded Enterprise, with Spock and Uhura ordered to break orbit at the first sign of trouble. I want to be with them. But Connor says that Peter got Sita out, and then destroyed the emergency transporter so she couldn’t be followed. So more than my usual debt to Jim is involved here.

The guards rush Calita Iberez to join us, as we overlook the path leading directly to the house. Its funny. I now remember something else from before I left. The situation at the Klingon border had Sita’s proxodone supply dangerously low. How did they replenish it so quickly? The black market is unreliable, and if Miguel set foot on Qo’noS, they’d mindwipe him, implant a bomb in place of his livers, and send him back to give his mother a hug. But obviously, my wife is alive and mobile, so Calita, bless her skinny but cute behind, found a way.

"Leonard? Is there any word on Peter?"

So she’s met him. That’s not too surprising, considering his extended stay. So why do her words say more to me than they should? Before I can reply, Connor is speaking in her uniquely Xartheb tone of voice.

"The field is clear. We’re going in. Do not under any circumstances identify Lieutenant Kirk to the invaders. As long as he’s just another Starfleet officer to them, we have a chance."

"Kyptin, I vwill stay and keep the doctors safe. Enterprise is still in orbit, and I can call down a strike if need be."

This is Connor’s turf, and she knows the terrain. Pavel does not want to have the entire force wiped out at once, if an ambush escaped the sensor sweeps. As the first group descends, though, everything shifts. Thiel raises his weapon, and shouts.


A single Kh’myr does emerge—and promptly falls on the remains of what was once my front door. Even from our remove, I can see that he’s big. Way big. My tricorder tells me the rest.

"He’s dead."

Thiel shouts again.

"Commander Chekov, bring the doctors! We have a wounded man."

Only a single wounded man? Not to be flip or morbid, but are these the Kh’myr we know? As Calita, Pavel and I get closer, the fallen Kh’myr we saw actually gets much larger. I had wondered what had been in that smashed cryo-pod on the Kh’myr transport. Part of me wishes I’d never found out. Inside, though, things are even worse.

Jim is holding Peter up. My God. The boy is a bloody mess. Did he defeat that monster on the floor, or did some of Connor’s people arrive early? Calita gasps openly, then gathers herself and rushes to Peter’s side. Jim gently lowers him, and Calita removes her own flak-jacket to support his head. But I’ve taken care of this patient for almost thirty years, and assert what I think are my rights of primacy.

"Calita, let me tend to this young man. You know damned well what happens when you get too worked up."

And she was worked up. As worked up as I’d ever seen her, and that includes Davie’s birth. But as it turns out, she has rights in this matter that rival Jim’s.

"Leonard, go to the ship, and kiss your very anxious wife and children, who are desperate to see you. I am more than capable of taking care of my fiancé, all right?"

I stand up at that. My eyes are wide. But Jim’s eyes are like the blasted ship’s hull. He’s about to lose control. That Spock chooses that instant to beam down is a blessing as no other.

"Fiancé? My nephew has a fiancé? I go away for two lousy months, and he reorders his entire life? My Peter is going to get married?"

Spock may have sensed his distress, even on the ship. But he doesn’t need a mind-meld to feel it now.

"Jim, Peter’s well-being is in good hands. You know this. I suggest we let the doctors do their work."

That incredible man looks at our friend, and shakes his head. Jim’s not far from tears.

"Spock, I can’t lose him. He’s all I have left of my brother. We’re each all the blood the other has. It’s not fair. He paid his debts. He came back to me, whole. The Old Bastard got David. He can’t have Peter."

Connor checks the internal security recordings, while her people and Pavel’s sweep the residence. Besides the giant, three dead Kh’myr are found. All slain by a young man who once had to walk on crutches. Connor slams the wall, enraged.

"He killed one—one—of them with a projectile weapon, not even a phaser! The others—hand to hand! Captain Kirk had to hit Kruge with a stinking tree! But our guest here took on that freak with his bare hands!"

I try hard to ignore both the state of Peter’s body and Connor’s prideful shouting. I glare at Thiel, and he responds.

"Connor, beloved, the doctors are trying to save Peter’s life. You must not shout!"

Her face softens, as she looks at her man.

"I know, Thiel. But—I taught him. What did he find in my lessons that’s eluded me? How did he accomplish something that I’m just not certain I could have?"

My answer?

"Kh’myr arrogance. Probably none of the arrogant fools pulled their blasters. Why would they, on one lone Human?"

Connor joins the sweep, after saying some shocking words to the unconscious Peter.

"Get better, Pete. You owe me a rematch. And no holding back this time, okay, pal?"

That one has Jim kneeling by his nephew.

"Her? You beat.....her?!"

Sweet Lord, Jim. You’re thinking about family honor now? Or is it that you’re trying not to think about other things? Oh, here comes Pavel now, shaking his head as usual...

"Bozhe moi. Kyptin, there are three of them besides the giant. One decapitated, one shot, and one with a smashed nose and a snapped neck. He must have fought like a Siberian grizzly—after you wake him from his hibernation in February. You have cause to be proud, sir."

Jim isn’t listening. Calita nearly has Peter stabilized. I ask Connor a question.

"When can we move back in?"

"Not tonight, Doctor. We need to know, beyond any shadow of any doubt. Prepare to spend the night on Enterprise. And keep me informed. He’s a real warrior, that one."

At Calita’s nod, Jim gives the order, and we beam aboard, where not only a medical team awaits us. My wife is also there. Calita exchanges an odd look with her best friend. The hand Doctor Iberez places on her man seems almost proprietary, as though her claim might be challenged—or that it had been. Sita looks at us both, plaintively.

"Don’t let him die!"

I can’t define the exact type, or the depth. But I do know my wife’s face. I know her looks. The look she’s giving Jim’s nephew is unmistakable. It’s the look of love. And the question rises again. What was done about her proxodone?

Calita will stabilize her man in Sickbay. If she can’t, then we’ll already be in position to beam him to a hospital or break orbit for a starbase. But thoughts of anyone else vanish quickly as I cross the nearly empty transporter chamber, there to deeply kiss my beautiful wife. Only the needs of my children and decorum keep me from making love to her then and there. When we’re done, she adds fuel to a small but smoldering fire of suspicion within me.

"Is Peter going to make it?"

Now, should I be taken back by this question? Because I am. Why, I don’t know. Peter Kirk just saved her life, and acted to ensure the lives of the boys by cutting off his own escape. But that’s when it all hits me. The boys were apparently already at Connor’s secure bunker. The Kh’myr are seemingly nine steps ahead of us, and know our security grid. So the boys were only marginally safer with Connor, and probably miserable without Sita. I know of only one other reason why they would be sent away.

"Sita—go and ready Davie and Jimmy, so they both don’t have strokes when they see me. I have to go to Sickbay."

I leave before she can somehow stop me. I have to get this thought out of my mind. It’s too wild to just let go. The ache I feel will be satisfied, in time. Because we are both alive.

As I get to my deck, though, I receive part of my answer. Directly in front of my office stands Miguel, two precious bundles dropping out from his powerful arms. My legs feel the impact of a pair of photon torpedoes, then vice-like grips like tractor beam has them.

"Daddy! DaddY!Daddy! DaaaaaaaddddY!"


Miguel never moves away from that door, and what I hold in my not-so powerful arms prevents me from even ordering him away. So for now, I joy in holding my pride and joy. They grow both excited and calm in my grasp. Yet now I know part of it, because they were all waiting for me. My wife, stepson and protege pointedly do not want me examining Peter Kirk.


As life drifts slowly back to what we foolish folk dare call normal, I realize I am being guided by my family. When Jim and Spock offer to take the kids for a few hours, Sita outright lies and tells our friends they have to be with me. Bull. They know I’m going to be around from now on. They worship Jim and Spock. Miguel is a bit less subtle about matters, asking me to help him review new security measures. Yeah, right. Calita has not been home at all, to shower or change. Love for her—God, its hard to say—fiancé? Or an effort to keep me out of the loop?

Locking myself in the shower, I start it and remove my robe—with my clothes on underneath. I decide to bypass my handlers, once and for all. Using my wristcom will bypass Connor Randolph, as well.

"McCoy to Enterprise. Beam me to the following coordinates."

A stabilized Peter is now at the hospital. And I know an access corridor hidden from view near his room. Sorry, Calita. But I’ve seen your man through some very hard times. I need to know if he’s perhaps returned the favor.


As I enter his room, I see that outwardly, Jim’s nephew is in remarkably good shape. His internal diagnostics tell a different story, though.

"Son, I thought I told you never to face a Klingon directly. You faced four. Typical Kirk arithmetic."

I’m whistling past the graveyard, of course. This young man put the life of my family well ahead of his own, apparently with no more thought than Jim would give. Blast you, Peter. Your probation is two years done with. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.


I turn, and see Jim. I’m not at all surprised. He so wants to be here, if his nephew wakes up—or if he never does. Right now, either possibility could happen.

"Captain, you look like forty kilometers of bad road—all of it racetrack."

"I won’t abandon him, Bones. Once, when he needed me—I wasn’t there. I had some good reasons, and some not so good. But here and now, I will make my stand. He will not die alone."

I have to get rid of him. But I also can’t allow this man to wallow. We’d never get him back.

"Jim, you’re both made a certain way. Hell, you were raised and influenced by the same people. You didn’t offer help that he didn’t ask for. A failure of communications. Joanna once told me that while Heather’s complaints against me were valid, she resented her mother’s efforts to lay all the divorce on me even more than my lack of effort. So now, Joanie and I are speaking, but Heather and Joanie aren’t. I pray that changes, but that situation makes you and Peter and Scotty and his kin look like a public exchange between Spock and Sarek. We are what we are, Captain. Nothing can change that except us, and then only by degrees."

"Your point?"

"Jim, stop regretting what you can’t change. And consider that unlike David, you will have a chance to say goodbye, this time."

Gently, he strokes his nephew’s hair, and smiles.

"Thank you, Bones. Always."

Catching a break, I make good if deceptive use of it.

"You wanna thank me, Jim? Go find Calita. Waylay her something fierce. I don’t want her to catch me double-checking her work."

He smiles and does what I ask. And I hate myself for lying to him. Using my own hospital code, I shut and seal the door. Now, only Calita or the General Administrator could get in and stop me.

"Forgive me, Peter. But I have to know."

His left shoulder is a work-in-progress. Thankfully, few of the bone fragments shattered loose by the giant Kh’myr’s dagger traveled. Blood loss was not what I thought it would be. Bad, yes. But not truly life-threatening, considering how rapidly he was treated for his wounds. His stomach took a hard blow, like a medicine ball was fired from a cannon. But I’d still classify the blow as more of a wind-stealer. His ribs took an impact, but his lady was on that soon and they are back in place. The dagger was not poisoned, though it did contain heating elements meant to facilitate its cutting power, simultaneously sealing and re-opening wounds as it went.

"Apologies to Azetbur. But only a Kh’myr."

His palms bled, probably from that pile-driver move he did on the one Kh’myr’s nose cartilage. As he fought to snap the bastard’s neck, he was stabbed in the thigh. No cut is a good cut, but the bleeding was not arterial. The gash on his forehead was from a glancing, not a direct blow, thank Heaven. The punch the giant threw, the one that Peter caught, started the bones in his hands on a slow backwards journey. Calita’s notes tell me she almost didn’t catch that.

"Peter, you should be mostly unconscious. But you shouldn’t be comatose."

So I take it to the next level. Blood scans are telling. Mister Kirk was suffering from one of the worst cases of anemia I’ve seen since Jim—well, take a pick. His electrolyte and other nutrient levels are being raised very, very slowly. Signs of complete physical exhaustion abound. Consistent with a battle royale with four creche-bred killing machines—or is it? Peter is in excellent physical shape, and is very stringent about his basic diet and exercise regimens. Avoids rich foods like the plague, since his stay at Tantalus. Plus, I saw the security tapes. Only the last one, the giant, really ran him ragged. Voices around the corner tell me my time is nearly up.

"But I only went out with one admiral at that time. Oh, God. Poor Lori. No wonder Peter seemed to warm up to her."

"Jim—Uncle Jim—I really need to get back to my patient, qué?"

I make the scan of Peter’s lower torso, and undo the seal. A call to Enterprise has me away before she sees a thing. Calita, darling, you’re a friend and a little treasure. But God help you if you’ve kept something from me.


Back in my office at the residence, Davie interrupts my work.

"Daddy—is Cousin Peter going to die?"

"No, of course not. Cousin Peter loves you boys, and he’s fighting to get well for you right now."

He smiles. That little smile makes me feel young as only his mother’s touch can.

"Peter said the same thing about you coming back!"

Peter did a lot while I was away.

"Did he now? Tell me, was he nice to you and Jimmy?"

"We both love Peter, Daddy. He’s like a grown-up, but not really. Are you sure he’s gonna be okay?"

"You calling your old dad a liar, David?"

"No! Peter said that’s not nice."

He leaves, blissfully unaware of just how many lies we’ve built around us, all to keep the peace. As my scan finishes collating, I painfully add one more.

Peter Kirk’s crotch is a reddened, sore mass of overused tissue. None of the Kh’myr hit him there. Hospital personnel say Calita barely left the hospital for almost two weeks.

My wife’s supply of Proxodone is very, very fresh. Her scans indicate that it was only introduced to her system within the last three days. Her last dose would have run out just before we met with Gorkon. Miguel is the only other candidate, and he’d be a basket case by now if he had. I feel a sudden need to find Teresa.

I hear her in the room Peter was using. She’s cursing, lightly.

"Damned thing! I only want that one song."

I vaguely recall Jim mentioning his late brother’s love of an obscure music genre, something about one-shots. Peter Kirk kept his father’s collection.

"Is this it?"

The frown on her beautiful face tells me it isn’t. But as it begins to play, I feel a nibble of fate. Good fate, for once.

"Oh, how happy; you have made me; Oh..how happy, you have made me; I have kissed your lips for a thousand times; and more times than I can say; I have called you mine; You have stood by me; In my darkest hour..."

She looks at me, and I can’t help but offer my hand to dance. In my eyes, she sees somehow that I know.

"Don’t hate him."

I kiss and hold her, and hurriedly lock the door. Is making love here Freudian? Do I care? In the afterglow, I assure Sita that her continued life is my only concern. I inquire only gingerly. He was good to her, and didn’t let the wanton monster she can become provoke him to anger. Apparently, Sita was two steps above animal when Calita returned—with medicine Miguel fetched from the black market. They both knew—and both tried to keep it from me. What Peter Kirk did does not anger me. That he kept up with ‘The Witch’ as I call Teresa’s later stage, fully explains his exhaustion. It’s also amazing, on a medical level. No, Peter is a hero in my eyes. He willingly took the scythe-blow the Old Bastard meant for my woman—twice. Peter and my Sita are innocent of wrongdoing.

But his fiancée and her firstborn have a whole hell of a lot to answer for.


I wait until Calita’s getting off shift at the hospital, and Miguel’s session with Connor Randolph is done. Then, the Enterprise transporters do their work. As they are taken via beam into Sickbay, they look stunned and a bit angry. My patented glare erases that, and lets them know, as the man once said, the jig is up.

"Teresa has been my patient for about twenty years. Peter has been my patient for longer than that. Their health is always my concern, even in this circumstance. First things first. Doctor Iberez, you’re off the case. Miguel, I expect much better from you than a clumsy deception."

He nearly recoils. There are times I forget that I’m one of the only father-figures he’s ever known. But I have to get this lesson through to him.

"Leonard, I kept this from you to protect Peter."

"Oh, really? Well, son, I might almost accept that. But did you really think that I would attack him or even resent what Peter did? What I want to know is, how did you get him to do it? Sita—is well, Sita. But that aside, no boy raised by Marjorie Kirk willingly goes with another man’s wife. Even at their worst, I’ve seen both Jim and Peter agonize rather than see that line crossed."

Of course, my wife is beautiful, and a young man is a young man. But I cannot believe Peter would simply disrobe and jump in. George and Marjorie Kirk kept their long marriage going by taking to heart the part about forsaking all others. Their children were bred and raised with that lesson. Ruth aside, if Jim sees a ring or the equivalent, he walks in the other direction. Funny how many people don’t add that little fact to their trash-talk about him.

"I did not directly ask him to be with Mother. I only exacted an oath from him to protect her life no matter what he had to resort to."

Calita looks him over with her own frown.

"No. He left directly asking my man to yours truly."

"If you had merely been honest with Peter about Mother’s condition from that first incident, he would have not been so taken aback!"

I call a cease-fire before that fabled Iberian temper really comes into play.

"Miguel, stand down and beam down. Your mother wants a few choice words with you."

Now truly wincing, my half-Kh’myr stepson leaves muttering as he heads towards the transporter room.

"Peter only had to face the giant. I have to answer to Mother..."

I look at Calita, and I say one word:


"Details? Are you crazy?!"


"My wife and patient had a major episode while I was away. I need to know how it progressed."

She acquiesces, very grudgingly. You think Starfleet officers take discipline badly?

"She was already in a bad way when Peter arrived. We were doing everything for her short of using that last precious dosage. By the time I met him, she was already flirting with him by way of a few pranks."

A nice, somewhat lonely young man with Jim’s looks. Add that to Sita’s tendency to fixate on a friendly face as a means of getting through her rough spots. Throw in the raw pain of the past two months, and they could have ended up together in any event.

"I fell for Peter, hard. But I began to wonder if fixing us up wasn’t Teresa’s way of putting someone in between her and Peter."

Apparently, the feeling was mutual. He proposed on something like their third date. Oh, Sita. Did you even tell Peter about her? Peter, did you even ask why such an incredible young woman wasn’t already spoken for? Or were you trying to get my wife off your mind, no matter what?

"Calita, how much did Peter know about her addiction? Did he know what he was dealing with?"

Again, a look can tell so much. She actually tries to turn away.

"She kissed him. Hard and long and deep. I told him she had a nervous tick resulting from her imprisonment on Qo’noS. I told him that it made her extremely impulsive."

Which is a bit like saying that Peter was mildly upset during the Dianasian mission.

"Young lady, once you had established that Peter could be trusted, the rest should have been revealed. How did it finally play out?"

"The pool. She snuck up on him. Underwater. After stealing his suit."


Well, I mentally joke, that boy always was a bit too tense for his own good. The joke almost forces the carnal image away. Almost.

"I’ll presume you told him then."

"Leonard, I had a lot of difficult choices to make. On behalf of several people I love, including my future husband! Besides, it wasn’t even clear that he was an option, until Starfleet told him he wasn’t going anywhere."

She’s fudging, but I won’t call her on it now.

"Did you max out Sita’s birth control?"

"Of course!"

"Did you max out Peter’s?"

Her pretty face freezes outright. I hate playing this card with a woman who’s suffered as she has. But a doctor puts her patients first, last, and always. Our pain and our love must never cause us to ignore hard medical facts, like the potency of a young man.

"Calita, I think that you’ve tried to deal with an uncomfortable situation. Primevally uncomfortable. It got to you. It happens. So get yourself together, and think over where you, in your well-intentioned efforts, went wrong. You didn’t inform Peter of Sita’s condition. You didn’t protect Peter from what Jim can tell you is a horrible prospect—a child you can never acknowledge. Finally, you tried to lie to me about all of this. Is there anything else I should know?"

She’s embarrassed, and a bit upset as she gets up, and tosses down a padd.

"Our friend Peter came up with this study—after three lousy hours! Maybe I don’t want to be his doctor after all. Leonard, why the hell didn’t he follow Teresa out—or go with her?"

Poor kid has it bad. She really doesn’t understand the tradition she’s hooked up with. The one that her man has resumed, since his madness was cured.

"‘Lita, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Lie down with lions, and you get eaten. With Kirks, you prepare to see them take wounds you can’t believe, and risks you can’t forgive. Since you were a little girl, you’ve hung around and been a friend to a princess. Now, though, you’ve chosen to become part of a true galactic dynasty. Get used to what it all really means."

She seems almost in tears as she goes.

"Maybe that’s just not in me. You’re welcome to your patient, Leonard. And keep him out of red sunlight."

Apologies to your matchmaking, Sita. But if Peter has grown up, then I worry about Calita. And marriage takes two grown-ups, at the bare minimum.


I pass Pavel on the way to Peter’s hospital room. I ask the obvious. I don’t like what I hear.

"Da, those Cossacks have now put a price on the lieutenant’s head. Their price was higher than the Orion Syndicate’s price. So there is now a bidding war, damn them all."

Nobody pisses the wrong people off quite like the Kirks. Scotty is still maintaining his quiet vigil, joined by Spock.

"...yet I still dinnae ken how the lad did all that. He is a man as any other. If he could perform such feats, then why did he not merely shake me off when I bent back his arm?"

"The answer, Captain Scott, is balance. On Dianas, Peter was a broken, tired thing, and definitely out of balance. Performing an action such as we viewed on the recording requires calling up one’s every last reserve. One as badly lost as he was could not have broken your grip."

Scotty looks at the unconscious young man, and I know that look. When he watched his Peter dying—that was the look. You don’t forget that.

"When he didnae ask for help, to ease his soul’s pain, he paid a price. When he called upon his every reserve, he paid a price. So when does a good young man stop paying for debts he himself did not incur?"

Scotty’s Bible reading has him at Augustus’ census, so Spock and I leave him be. My old friend asks me a very pointed question.

"Doctor, where is Doctor Iberez?"

"She’s angry at him, Spock. The way I get angry at Jim—cept’ I’m not in love with him, to boot."

Spock almost cracks a smile, bless him.

"Indeed. Doctor—please keep your patient well. As one who also found his way back, I find his progress heartening to observe. I believe that I would miss him."

Having a bare moment, I look over the findings Peter made on Sita’s blood work-up. Damn. Fifteen-odd years for me. About ten for Calita. Peter Kirk takes three hours, and comes up with a marginal but telling improvement in my wife’s existence.

My kids love him. Miguel lied for him. He stood up to Sita’s illness. He’s now showing not only traces of Jim, but of his lost cousin. I can live with almost all of this. Yet on some level, this is still the little boy I remember.

"No. Not a boy. Not anymore."

I order a gift made for him, because this man is going to wake up. As I finish the order, a beaming Scotsman tells me I was right to do so.

"Doctor—call for the captain! Tis grand, grand news—the very best!"

Penda’s reaction on the line is free of almost any restraint. She let me know that Valeris’ cozy betrayal hit her hard. So perhaps the recovery on all levels of this young man is a real boost. But no one can beat Jim as he bounds down the hall, his spirit for a moment young again. He’s awake, and if I have to compete, at least it’s not with a memory.

"Now what the hell do I say to him?"


My turn comes quickly, and I just as quickly realize that he may be as nervous about speaking to me as I am to him. Some dilemma. You make marathon love with the most beautiful woman in the galaxy, and the simple urge to boast about it must be forever denied, simply to keep decorum. Perhaps that’s my angle.

Peter, you and I now have something in common. But we can only talk about in private, all right?

No. I can see where that would lead. Maybe a humorous twist?

I thought it was just me. But now we know for certain what Sita’s favorite position is, heh?

Ugh. Definitely out. Plain-talking?

I want you to know that I know what you and my wife did...and that I’m all for it.

No, I’m not. What am I, an idiot? I’ll live with it, easily enough. But I’ll never wish that this had to occur.

Just get it all off your chest, then we can put it in the past.

In between his giggling, running to the bathroom, and just staring dumbly at me, I’m sure that would be a memorable conversation.


"Peter, I would like to talk with you about a very tender subject..."

No, I don’t. Neither does he. The one thing neither of us want is to ever talk about this. We’re not built that way.

"...about a very tender subject that we will never, ever discuss. I mean it, Peter. Not a word. Because of you, she’s alive. That’s all that counts, and I love you for it. I am not a widower. My sons and stepson still have a mother. Serenidad, this crazy beautiful world, still has its Princess. So we will not discuss the Kh’myr you rescued her from. We will not discuss any actions you undertook to accomplish this miracle. We won’t quip, or wink, or talk in code. You will never bring the subject up. Am I understood?"

He understands, and even seems grateful. No offense to Noel and Van Gelder, but there are times when silence is golden and public denial is a very, very good thing. After he endures the tender mercies of Sita and the boys, I move away to speak with my wife on another tender subject.

"Did you tell him about some of Calita’s, shall we say, difficulties?"

"Leonard, I never thought they’d fall this hard for each other. I was beginning to enter my fog when I set it all up. Don’t you think this all took me by surprise?"

I hold my walking heart, and let getting Peter and Calita to the altar be a concern for another day. If that day ever comes. I have my doubts. Though I love them both, I have my doubts.

Two Weeks Later

I look at the small platter of Starfleet medals, and joke with my now-former commanding officer that not a one’s for him. But it’s all good. Because the name Kirk is still the one on nearly all of them.

Jimmy and Davie look on with pride as their ‘cousin’ is knighted by their Mommy. When Peter finally leaves in two weeks, it better be while those two are asleep. He makes one hell of a babysitter, to boot. I surprise both Jim and Sita by taking my chance to speak. I surprise me, too.

"Peter, I had this inscribed plaque made while you were recuperating. Lieutenant, never feel that you have to live up to the words of this poem. Because to my mind, you already have.

His face flushes with embarrassment, so I naturally call him to his feet. This isn’t six years ago, Peter. You’ve earned all of this, and more. Later, some of my friends look at me while Sita dances with her hermanito Peter, and I can’t resist the chance to quip.

"Well, I’m going to say it if no one else will. They make one cute couple!"

When Jim dances with his niece-to-be, I wisely make no comment at all. Peter finds me, and looks me over.

"Doc, I have a question, whether you like it or not."

It seems I’ll maybe have to remind him of our agreement.


He smiles.

"How soon after warning me off did you try to patch things between Jim and Spock?"

Jim’s nephew and I are going to get along just fine.

"Oh, I lasted all of three hours. You may have caught some of the blow-back from one of my attempts when you made that CommPic call."

This moment, with these people, is a dream from which I never want to awaken.

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