It's a point of fact that all dress uniforms are exceedingly uncomfortable. It doesn't matter if you're fat or thin, man or woman, alien or human—they are always tight and never cut quite right. They just are.
So when James T. Kirk finds out the Enterprise is scheduled to ferry a group of Ambassadors to Babel for a big treaty signing and that, as host to the diplomats, he will be required to wear his dress uniform for the better part of the ten day trip, he is not pleased. His only comfort is that he won't be suffering alone. As the next highest ranking officers, Dr. Leonard H. McCoy and impossible-to-pronounce-first-name Spock are required to join him for the majority of the formalities.
Naturally, the first to arrive is the Vulcan Ambassador. Even now with their numbers down in the thousands, they maintain their rigid standards. Out of respect, Jim has the honor guard (which is basically the more senior security officers in their dress uniforms) stand ready on either side of the shuttle doors with himself, Bones and Spock waiting a few meters away.
This is Jim's bridge time and he's not thrilled to be spending it down in the shuttle bay with his uniform's neck trying to cut into his windpipe, but he puts on a brave face. Bones does not. He's been complaining for five straight minutes, tugging his uniform and scowling viciously at anyone who looks his way. Spock, naturally, is maintaining his usual calm—and contributing a dry remark every so often.
(This banter used to bother Jim because he really wants them all to be one big happy family, but he's become convinced that this is their secret way of showing that they like each other. No, really—Bones is always bitching at him, too, and Jim knows the old man loves the hell out of him, so it totally makes sense.) (Unless he's missing some kind of underlying sexual tension thing, in which case he's still right about them liking each other, but he's not sure how he'd feel about having it confirmed.)
The shuttle door descends but, instead of a Vulcan, a blonde woman in her late forties steps out. She has crow's feet around her eyes and laugh lines but there's a youthfulness to her that makes it seem like she could be ten years younger. There's also a familiarity to her person that makes Jim suspect his collar actually has cut off airflow to his brain and this is, in fact, a crazy hallucination.
When she grins widely, though, Jim knows without a doubt that he isn't imagining the evil he sees beneath her good humor. That's when he knows for certain it's her. "Mom?"
Winona Kirk's smile broadens. "Jimmy!" She makes her way to him and wraps him in a tight hug. Then she pinches both his cheeks and kisses his forehead. Typical. (Does she not realize he's the captain here? Hello!)
Jim rubs his cheeks and tries not to look annoyed. He thinks normal mothers probably don't get a kick out of embarrassing their sons but his mom has never been whatever qualifies as normal, so. Best not to let her know it's working or she'll keep at it. (Bones, on the other hand, gets an elbow to the side for his poorly concealed laughter.)
It's with that in mind that he skips over any bitching and/or moaning and dives straight into the main issue: "Mom, what are you doing here?" She sure as hell wasn't mentioned as part of the Vulcan party—Jim would've noticed that. (And then maybe had time to stop it.)
"She has come as my guest." That comes from the man (well, male Vulcan) who exits the shuttle behind her.
There's more surprise on Jim's face now because he knows that Vulcan. He knows that Vulcan and that Vulcan should not be bringing his mother on Jim's starship as his guest. That Vulcan also shouldn't be the person representing Vulcan on Jim's starship because the person on the list was T'Pol and he is not her.
Spock raises one brow as he is often wont to do. "Father? We were not expecting your presence." Jim knows his first officer just well enough to see he's also caught off-guard by Sarek's appearance. "An explanation would be most appreciated."
That, Jim thinks, is the understatement of the fucking year.
Sarek inclines his head and looks at Winona. "Lady Winona has requested I defer to her on that subject and I have found no logical argument against doing so." (If Jim didn't know better, he'd swear Sarek was smirking just a little.)
Winona's eyes are practically glowing with mischievous amusement. "So!" She claps her hands together. "How 'bout a tour of the ship?"
Jim's not having that, though—no way. This is his ship, damn it! (God, he sounds like Bones. Not a good sign.) "Mom."
Of course, Winona's already on the move and heading for the shuttle bay exit. "Main engineering is only a few decks up, right?"
Bones looks far too happy with these developments for Jim's comfort. "What're you so happy about?" he hisses.
The doctor doesn't answer. Instead, he saunters up to Winona and offers an arm. "Mrs. Kirk, I'm Leonard McCoy—chief medical officer. I would be honored to show you to Main Engineering."
Spock clears his throat. "That will not be necessary, Doctor." Somehow he's managed to maneuver himself to the front of their little group. "I will escort Commander Kirk and my father; I believe you are needed in Sickbay."
Bones glares at Spock but doesn't argue—he knows the Vulcan is right. Jim smirks at him but his reprieve is short-lived.
"And, Captain—" Spock has his Too Innocent face on and Jim knows he's about to lose this argument before it even begins—"your presence is required back on the bridge."
Having successfully disposed of them both, he directs Sarek and Winona into a nearby turbolift and then they're gone.
"Damn hobgoblin," Bones grumbles, arms crossed.
Jim nods. "Yeah." Then he shoots a mean look at his supposed best friend. "Also, you suck."
Bones snorts, unapologetic as always.
Unfortunately, Jim doesn't have time to get any revenge—he has to figure out what the hell his mother is doing on his ship. And how she knows Ambassador Sarek.
Spock is not one for showmanship, so when they arrive in engineering he says only: "And this is main engineering."
His father responds in kind, "Indeed." Sarek moves about with mild curiosity, observing a few readouts here and there.
Commander Kirk, on the other hand, has a look of pure, unadulterated glee on her face—not dissimilar to the sort Spock has seen her son display on several occasions. "Oh, wow," she breaths, running a hand over one of the chamber casings. "Isn't she beautiful?"
Neither Spock nor Sarek see fit to respond to this obviously illogical statement, not that the female Kirk seems to notice. She's muttering about dilithium crystals and scrolling through schematics, seemingly having forgotten the Vulcans are even there at all.
Spock clears his throat, clasping his hands behind his back. "Father, I—am gratified to see you are in good health." Outwardly, at least, Sarek shows no signs of aging or even lingering grief.
"Indeed," he repeats, turning to look at his son. "I, too, find your wellness satisfying."
Nearby, Commander Kirk snorts. "And I thought Jimmy and I were crap communicators."
Spock raises an eyebrow but does not reply. (Neither, he notes, does Sarek.) There has always been a distance between himself and his father—one that was bridged by the presence of his mother. Now that she is no longer with them, it is only more difficult.
Still there is no logic in ruminating over that which cannot be changed, so Spock simply gestures toward an exit. "Perhaps you would like to see the bridge next?"
The way Commander Kirk's eyes light up, he is already certain of her answer. He wonders how his Kirk—Jim, rather—will feel about their appearance. (And feels absolutely no joy or amusement at the predicted outcomes, either. That would not be very Vulcan of him, after all.)
Jim Kirk has been sulking ever since he returned to the bridge. Normally Hikaru Sulu would just leave him to it but there's an underlying panic in his body language that makes him anxious. For all his flaws, Kirk is not easily put on edge. From the way Uhura and Hannity keep exchanging glances, he can tell he's not the only one who's noticed, either.
The answer to Kirk's mysterious behavior is revealed not twenty minutes after the captain returns to the bridge. The turbolift doors open and there's no mistaking the look of abject horror on his face as Spock enters with Sarek and an unfamiliar blonde woman.
"Jimmy, you know you can get more efficiency out of your warp nacelles if you keep them just slightly out of alignment. No more than point-zero-zero-one degrees," the woman says as she strides forward confidently. "Right now you're wasting plasma."
This is quite probably the most miserable Hikaru has ever seen Kirk and he's seen him face down Klingons and ex-girlfriends. "Commander Spock, I wasn't aware the standard tour now included the bridge area."
Spock raises his brow in his way. "This is hardly a standard tour, Captain." He nods to the woman. "As I'm sure you're aware, Commander Kirk worked extensively on the Enterprise; I felt it appropriate she see the metaphoric fruits of her labors."
Everyone within listening distance stops pretending to work and stares openly between Kirk, who is scowling darkly at his XO, and the woman that apparently shares his name. The Vulcans are the only ones to keep their dignity, moving to Spock's station to discuss logic or science or something else in undertones.
When Mrs. Kirk grins the resemblance becomes nothing short of obvious—she's his mother, there's no doubt. "I'll send my notes to your chief engineer," she says innocently. Her impression of innocence is nearly as bad as her son's.
The Captain looks as if he'd like to bang his head against a wall. "I'll let him know to expect them." He turns to his first officer and continues, "I believe you have a tour to continue?" There's something a little dangerous in his tone and Spock doesn't argue—not that he would've, anyway.
"Commander Kirk, Sarek—if you'll follow me." Spock leads them to a different turbolift and in seconds they're gone.
Most of the bridge crew is still watching Kirk and he glowers at them. "Don't you have work to be doing?" he snaps as he crosses his arms.
Hikaru turns back to his station and makes a point to check all the helm settings before speaking. (He knows he shouldn't, but he just can't help himself.) "Captain," he glances over his shoulder, "I wasn't aware we were having a parent's weekend. Mine will be sad they missed it."
Beside him, Chekov is grinning. "Da, my mozher—she vill be heartbroken."
Adams is laughing behind her hand, while Hannity smirks. Hikaru doesn't mind the female attention.
Kirk, on the other hand, is not nearly so amused. "I should write you up for insubordination," he grumbles. "But instead I'm going to make a tactical retreat—I'll be in my ready room. You have the bridge, Mr. Sulu." He catches Hikaru's attention and there's a glint in his eye. "Make no mistake; I will have my revenge."
Such threats are not to be taken lightly when one's captain is James T. Kirk; however, Hikaru keeps smiling. He can't help it. The fact that Kirk's mom is on board is hilarious and awesome—and whatever revenge he might suffer will be well worth it if he scores a date with Adams.
This is pretty much Leonard McCoy's nightmare. After three days, all of the dignitaries are finally aboard and they're en route to Babel. Unfortunately, tradition dictates the senior staff share in the welcome banquet dinner thing and that requires him to wear his dress uniform again (as if he hasn't enough over the past seventy-two hours) and he can't even enjoy the food because Jim keeps poking him to complain about his mom and Sarek.
"Damn it, Jim," he growls after it happens for the sixth time, "if you're so bothered by this, why don't you, I don't know, go talk to your mother about it?"
Jim gets this scandalized look on his face that is so wrong for him to be wearing there aren't even words. "Bones, c'mon, you know it's not that easy."
Leonard raises an eyebrow. "Actually, I don't know that." He doesn't actually know much of anything about Winona Kirk or Jim's childhood or their relationship because Jim's always been rather mum on the subject. (No pun intended.)
Crossing his arms, the captain glowers at the back of Sarek's head. "Let's just say I had a step-dad growing up and I'm not eager to repeat the experience—especially if that dad is also Spock's dad. I mean, it's practically incestuous!"
How Jim figures that, Leonard has no idea other than maybe he doesn't actually know what the word incestuous means. "It's really not," he replies dryly. "And that still doesn't explain why you won't just talk to her."
Jim scowls. "You're no help at all!"
Finally, something Leonard both understands and agrees with. "You're right, I'm a terrible friend. Why don't you go find a good one and leave me alone with my roast beef?"
(Yeah, right, he should be so lucky.) "You're not getting off that easy." Jim has him by the shoulder and drags him toward a small group of Betazed and Andoran diplomats. "Come on, Doctor McCoy, let's mingle."
Leonard glares at him but to no avail. Stupid supposed best friend never leaving him with a moment's peace. Jim's torturing him because he's miserable, too—he's certain of it. Leonard tugs at his collar and hopes there's a medical emergency. (Later, he'll kick himself for that; he knows better, he does. Especially on the Enterprise.)
Although she's already met Sarek, Nyota Uhura feels a certain amount of trepidation about him being aboard—even after seeing him again at the welcome reception. (Sure, there are numerous other delegates around, as well, but still.) Before there was so much other stuff going on with the Narada and Vulcan being destroyed and everything; now there's time—time for Spock to possibly speak with his father about the nature of their relationship.
And, while she's confident in herself and her person, she knows there are expectations for the remaining Vulcans now to repopulate and Spock being involved with a human is not conducive to that. She'd like to think Sarek will have a certain amount of understanding, since he himself had married a human, but it's difficult to know what the logical response might be, since theirs is a new reality.
So Nyota does her best to mentally prepare whenever she goes places where Sarek may also be present, like the lounge that has been put aside specifically for ambassadorial use or the mess during mealtimes. What she does not expect—and later she'll kick herself because it makes perfect sense—is to discover him already engaged in conversation with Kirk's mother when she finally does happen upon him.
It's breakfast time and the pair is sitting across from one another at a table with seating for four, talking in low tones. That alone isn't enough to catch her off guard but they're touching fingers in a manner that she knows to be intimate from her experiences with Spock.
It's odd that they would bond in such a public place and Nyota cannot shake the feeling that she's intruding even by simply looking at them. She grabs a banana and exits the mess again, mind whirling. Just what is the relationship between Sarek and Winona Kirk, anyway?
Even though he's technically the second officer, Montgomery Scott has been able to avoid the majority of the hubbub that's taken over the ship and for that he is immensely thankful. Never mind that he doesn't particularly like all the formality and doubletalk; he really just loathes being taken away from his engines for any reason—particularly if he's on duty. Besides most of the diplomats make like they can't understand his accented Standard half the time, anyway, so it's not like his presence is missed.
In fact, the only event thus far Scotty has had to attend was the big reception a couple days earlier and that ended up having a bit of excitement when the Tellarite ambassador tried to pick a fight with Spock's pop, so he can't rightly complain there. Other than that, though, everything's been business as usual for him—excepting with several tours of guests coming through daily.
Today is no exception and Scotty's just about to go off-shift when Keenser, who often gets elected to go when there are problems in Jeffries tubes thanks to his smaller size, pages main engineering for assistance. He waves off his second and heads out to see the little bugger himself. (He may not admit it aloud, but he really has a soft spot for the guy. After all, they spent six months with only each other and whatever beasties live on Delta Vega for company.)
According to the computer, Keenser is at a junction on Deck Seven that empties out into a corridor, so it isn't particularly difficult to get there. Scotty pulls out the access panel fully expecting to see his former assistant staring at him. Instead, a lifeless body slides onto the floor in front of him. And it's not just any lifeless body, either—it's that Tellarite ambassador he saw arguing with Sarek.
Scotty stares at the body for a good minute before looking up to see Keenser peering at him. "Well, shite," he mutters and the alien nods his agreement.
Pulling out his communicator, Scotty flips it open. "Scott to Commander Spock."
The reply is prompt: "Spock here."
"Commander, ye'd better get down t'Deck Seven, Section Sixteen pronto." He sees Keenser nodding to something behind him and turns to see a small crowd starting to form. "An' bring a security team with ye."
There's a very brief pause, then: "On my way."
Scotty flips his communicator shut, frowning deeply. So much for their easy diplomatic mission, eh?
It's times like these that Leonard McCoy wishes he could kick everyone out of his Sickbay—except the sick and those working there, of course. Spock, Giotto and Kirk had joined him forty minutes earlier to hear Sanchez's autopsy report and, after dispatching Giotto to make certain all the diplomats are still safe in their quarters, have spent the majority of their time arguing over whether or not they should call Sarek in for questioning. (Apparently Spock wants to, despite the fact that he's his father and Kirk doesn't because what they have is strictly circumstantial evidence.)
Leonard has tried reasoning with them and suggesting they move their discussion to Jim's ready room but neither is hearing him. The worst bit is they're stuck in a circular argument that doesn't look to be ending anytime soon because they're both so damn stubborn.
Everyone falls silent, though, when Sarek enters Sickbay of his own volition.
Naturally, Spock regains his bearings first. "Father, I was not aware anyone had requested your presence."
"They did not," Sarek replies, eyebrows raised. "I—"
That's when M'Benga walks in. "Ah, Ambassador Sarek, right on time." He's smiling until he sees the ship's three ranking officers staring at him. "Is something the matter, gentlemen?"
Spock is frowning. "Why is my father meeting with you, Dr. M'Benga?"
Leonard turns to glare at him. "Doctor-patient confidentiality, Spock," he reminds him. (Not that he isn't curious himself, but he does so love to one-up the half-Vulcan.)
"Thank you for the courtesy, Dr. McCoy; however, it is past time I spoke with my son on this matter." Sarek's folds his hands behind his back. "You asked me, Spock, why I have come here instead of T'Pol and the reason is this: I am unwell. I have been informed my heart possesses a cardiac defect, which has grown progressively worse these past months. None on New Vulcan were prepared to treat me, so I began correspondence with Dr. M'Benga to see if he might be able to help me." He nods to the doctor. "I am here for a preliminary examination. If all goes well, we will commence surgery in two days' time."
There's something in the way Spock is looking at his father. (If he didn't know better, Leonard would say it was something emotional—something like concern, fear, sadness.) After a moment of stilted silence Spock speaks. "I will accompany you." It isn't a question.
M'Benga looks poised to argue but it's Sarek who responds, "As you wish."
Spock nods to both the doctor and his father who head for a biobed on the far side of the room before turning to face Jim and Leonard again. "If my father does indeed have such a defect, he would not have been able to execute a Tellarite without severe strain or perhaps even cardiac arrest; he would not appear as he does." He glances momentarily over to where M'Benga is starting to set up. "Therefore, I will confirm the diagnosis to eliminate Sarek as a suspect."
Leonard snorts softly—some excuse—and earns an elbow to the gut from Jim. "Of course, Spock," Kirk says. "Take all the time you need."
With another nod, Spock clasps his hands behind his back and goes to join his father.
When Leonard turns back to Jim, he sees his friend frowning deeply. "Sorry to lose your only lead?" Even if he didn't want to pursue it right then, it was still more than the nothing they've got now.
"What?" Jim shakes his head and shrugs. "Oh, no."
Leonard stares at him. "Then what—? Jim." His expression is incredulous because he is. "Don't tell me you're jealous because Sarek finally told Spock what he's doing here."
The show Jim makes of looking shocked is really what gives him away. "Bones! How could you—?" Leonard gives him a Look and Jim deflates. "Okay, fine! A little bit."
Rolling his eyes, the doctor cuffs his idiot friend on the back of his head. "Then why don't you talk to your mom already?"
The stubbornness on Jim's face says he's not ready to give up his bullheadedness yet. Leonard crosses his arms and resists the urge to roll his eyes again. Idiot.
The onset of alpha shift on the day following the murder discovery finds Pavel Chekov rocking back and forth in front of Commander Spock's station. He's been trying to contain himself, but he just can't help bouncing from heel to toe. He's exhausted, excited and a little anxious-slash-terrified about speaking with the Commander. (He's a very intimidating man.)
When the Commander arrives, he raises a brow in the way that tells Pavel he's waiting to hear whatever it is the navigator has to say.
"Commander Spock," he starts, forcing his body still and his voice not to crack, "I took zhe liberty of reviewing zhe case, and I believe I have discovered zhe culprit."
Nodding once, Spock signals for Pavel and the Captain, who has just entered the bridge, to follow him into the Captain's ready room.
Although Captain Kirk looks a little confused and not quite alert, he follows the pair. "You have the bridge, Mr. Sulu."
Hikaru's, "Aye, sir," echoes behind the trio.
Then the door swishes shut and Pavel is left with the ship's CO and XO staring at him. (Well, to be fair, only Spock is staring; Kirk is more blinking blearily—probably because it's oh-eight-hundred and nobody's actually started explaining anything yet.) Still, the young ensign is uncertain and more than a little nervous.
Thankfully Commander Spock picks up the narrative for him. "Ensign Chekov has just informed me that he believes he has deduced the identity of the responsible party in the ambassador's death."
That wakes Kirk up. His blue eyes are bright and clear as he looks at Pavel. "Oh? Do tell, Ensign."
A faint blush colors his cheeks but Pavel nods. "Vell, Keptin, after our briefing on zhe murder, I reviewed Cmdr. Giotto's notes. Eet ess clear someone vanted Ambassador Sarek to appear guilty but zhey did not know of his health problems." Here, he chances a look at Spock but his expression is stoic as always. "Zhere are only a few who could perform such an act of wiolence vizhout any obvious signs of distress and even fewer who stand to gain anyzhing from eet."
Pavel took a deep breath to calm his nerves. "Zhe newly appointed Ambassador Gav ees one who does. Not only does hees family have a longstanding grudge vizh zhe wictom's clan but, vhen I did some looking into affairs on Tellar, eet became clear he stands to gain much from a falling out vizh zhe Wulcans."
There's an uncharacteristically grim expression on Kirk's face. "I see. I trust you've written a report supporting these claims?" Off Pavel's nod, he turns to his first officer. "Spock, have the Tellarite envoy restricted to quarters and bring Ambassador Gav to the conference room. Dismissed." He glances at Pavel again as the teen turns away and adds, "And, Chekov—good work."
The pride Pavel feels makes up for the exhaustion threatening to overwhelm him now that his adrenaline is running out. He exits the ready room with Spock and prepares to go to his station when the man places a hand on his shoulder. "Ensign, a word?"
Though it's phrased as a question, they both know it's an order, so Pavel allows Spock to steer him into a turbolift.
"Deck Five Section Three," is the first thing Spock says. The second is more informative: "Ensign, I am curious—why have you taken such an interest in this case?"
Shrugging, he doesn't meet the commander's eyes. "Vell, security has alvays been of interest to me," he says. "And… I did not vish for anyone to zhink Meester Sarek vas responsible." Already, people have been gossiping and speculating and since word of his medical struggles are not public (nor should they be), there's been nothing to stymie it.
Spock, as usual, is unrelenting. "Why?"
"Because—eet ees not right." Pavel frowns a little, looking at his hands. "I could help zhis time, Commander, do you see? I vould not fail as I did—before." On Vulcan with Amanda Grayson, he doesn't say. He doesn't have to.
The turbolift stops and the doors open. They both step out and Spock places his hand on Pavel's arm again. "You did not fail, Ensign—then or now." There's something almost understanding in his eyes and it humanizes the commander in an unexpected way. "It is illogical to think otherwise."
Pavel thinks that's probably his way of trying to make him feel better (if such a thing is even logical in and of itself), so he smiles a little. "Zhank you, sir."
It's only when Spock lets his arm drop away that Pavel realizes they're outside his quarters. "You're relieved of duty, Ensign, until you've properly rested." And, even though he thinks he's perhaps been mildly scolded, his smile doesn't dim.
Despite being present during the operation and having the ability to read as well as any doctor (if not better) the status and condition of his father, Spock is still inexplicably relieved when Sarek opens his eyes thirty-six hours out from Babel. (Vulcans tend to have a longer-than-average period of unconsciousness during their recovery as their minds are more sensitive to the influences around them.)
Dr. M'Benga arrives almost instantly and waves instruments around, while a nurse assists. Spock allows Sarek privacy as M'Benga discusses the surgery and recovery thus far, returning only when his father is alone again.
Sarek studies him with a critical eye and memories of his childhood come unbidden to the forefront of his mind. Now, however, Spock is more confident—and has not misbehaved, either. "My son, you look pale."
Raising a brow, Spock allows this with a nod. "As do you, Father."
"Yes," he agrees, "but I have been unwell. It is logical that my appearance would alter."
Spock wonders if he imagines the disquiet he hears. "And I have been—concerned about your wellbeing."
Sarek rests against his pillow and closes his eyes. "An illogical waste of time and energy."
"Perhaps," Spock says, "however, I do not believe that ever stopped Lady Amanda."
The lines on his father's face relax and his eyes open again briefly. "Yes, I believe you are correct." He touches Spock briefly on the cheek and the love felt for Amanda Grayson is shared between them. "She would be gratified, I think, to see us here. Together…"
Spock remains with Sarek even after he drifts into unconscious again. It's an illogical action in and of itself, he's certain, but something his mother would've done without hesitation. And, since she cannot, he sits vigil in her stead. Which, if one thinks on it, is a logical course of action. (Though he doubts other Vulcans would see it that way.)
Jim is incredibly relieved when he hears Sarek has awoken and is healing well. (One death during this mission was plenty.) He knows he's not the only one who will be, either. He comms the Vulcan envoy directly to inform them of the ambassador's progress before heading for the aft observation lounge.
As he suspected, his mother's sitting in front of one of the large windows, staring out at the stars as they fly past. (She told him once that the reason she stayed in Iowa after George died wasn't for the memories but the view. Winona Kirk has always loved the stars, and she wanted her boys to be able to share that with her.)
Jim slides into the seat beside her, a small end table between them, and takes in the view with her. "Ambassador Sarek was awake briefly; he's recovering well."
A small smile forms on Winona's lips and her shoulders relax. "Good, good." For a moment Jim considers putting his hand on hers but doesn't.
He crosses his legs and wonders why he feels so damn uncomfortable. "I'm curious—why weren't you waiting with Spock?"
Her smile morphs into a more familiar smirk. "You know how Vulcans are; they hate to appear emotional in front of us less civilized societies." She turns toward Jim for the first time. "Besides, it seemed important that Spock have this time with his father."
Clenching his fists, Jim tries to ignore the flare of temper he feels. (He hates it when she does this; when she says things that are more than what she's saying. Her tone is always so knowing but he doesn't think that's fair—she hasn't been around nearly enough to know him so well.) "Well, good."
There's a brief lull in conversation until Winona speaks again: "Jimmy, why don't you just ask me what you really want to know?"
See? She shouldn't know these things! It isn't fair. "Fine." Jim can't keep the annoyance out of his voice now. He's heard from various crew members all about Winona and Sarek's quiet conversations and touching, and he's more than ready for some answers. "Am I going to have a new Vulcan step-daddy?"
Winona snorts. "No, God no." She shakes her head. "Like I have the patience for that."
"Then what the hell are you doing here, Mom?" he snaps. He's tired of these damn games. "And how is it you even know Ambassador Sarek?"
"I know Sarek," Winona says slowly, "through Amanda Grayson. She and your father became friends on the Alexandria; she was part of the diplomatic corps and he was assigned as part of their security attaché." She waits a minute to let that sink in (though it really takes longer). "Sarek and I renewed our acquaintance at the memorial service in her honor on Earth and I…" Here she purses her lips and frowns. "Vulcans deal with grief differently from humans but hurt is hurt, Jimmy. It can be hard to mourn personal losses when there's so much more. I know what that's like—and what it's like to lose a spouse.
"We began corresponding, speaking of George and Amanda, of all the lives lost, of our estranged sons…" She reaches toward him but lets her hand drop when Jim stiffens. "We became friends. Sarek confided in me about his illness and the possibility of receiving treatment on the Enterprise. At the time he wasn't certain he wanted to burden Spock with the knowledge when he'd lost his mother so recently. Then, when T'Pol agreed to allow him to attend the Babel treaty signing in her stead, he asked me along for support—though I'm sure he has some other, more logical explanation—and well." Winona shrugs and gestures vaguely to herself. "Here we are."
Jim nods slowly, trying to absorb. "So that's why you came."
It isn't a question but Winona answers, anyway. "Well, that and I wanted to see you." This time she does touch him, a gently rub of her thumb on his cheek, and he lets her. "And your ship." She smirks again. "Looks different than the last time I saw her."
Despite himself, Jim smiles a little. "I'll bet." He looks at his mom. "But why didn't you tell me you'd be here?" Warn him, really, so he could've mentally prepared—and/or hid.
Eyebrows raised, Winona gives Jim a Look. "Would you have let me come if you'd known in advance?" she counters. The guilty expression on Jim's face is all the conformation either of them needs. "Exactly."
Jim hates that he feels like a chastised child; he's the captain of a starship now! Doesn't that count for anything? (Unfortunately, he suspects it never will where his mother is concerned.)
Winona pats his hand. "It's okay, Jimmy—I understand." To her credit, it seems like she really does. "But that won't stop me from being part of your life." It sounds as much like a promise as a threat.
Taking her hand in his, Jim gives it a little squeeze as he looks back out the window. "Okay, Mom. Okay." They sit together in silence for a while and then talk for longer.