“I’m sorry. What?” Jim stared down at the screen on his PADD.
“You are the father of record.”
He looked up into the face of the Caitian social worker, who stared at him expectantly. He looked back at holopic of the six year old twins on his screen. A boy and a girl. Caitian ears, sandy colored hair, blue eyes. Not possible, surely.
“I don’t think so.”
The social worker, M’Ress, gave him a look of extreme disappointment. “Captain, I have gone to a lot of trouble to track you down. You’re now involved in a second five-year mission. It is a miracle I was able to make it here during your shore leave. You are very secretive about your plans.”
“I’m not secretive,” Jim protested. “We weren’t sure where our shore leave would be.”
“Yet you knew you would eventually be coming to New Vulcan to take part in the bonding ceremony with your first officer, Commander Spock.”
Jim blushed. “I think you have the wrong guy.”
“Csearr named you as father in the official forms.”
“Captain Kirk,” she said, impatiently. “The twins, M’Rasha and M’Nisarr, are orphans. Csearr was killed in an accident. Her sister, Hsurr, is also deceased. They have no known relative other than yourself. If you do not take over care of them as their father, we will be forced to put them in an orphanage.”
Jim heard the door behind him open. Awareness flicked up his neck and he turned to Spock.
“What is it, Jim?” Spock asked, coming to stand beside him.
“M’Ress, this is Commander Spock, my husband. Spock, this is M’Ress.”
“Commander,” she said politely.
Jim thrust his PADD at Spock, searching his husband’s face as Spock perused the screen. There was only a brief flash of surprise in his dark eyes before he quickly returned to impassive neutrality.
“A mistake—” Jim suggested.
“There is no mistake. Look at them. They are yours. Are you denying that you were ever sexually intimate with Csearr?”
He glanced at Spock, uneasily.
M’Ress made an impatient sound, between a snort and a growl. “I am certain Commander Spock is well aware of your past indiscretions.”
Jim narrowed his eyes. “They were in the past and since I wasn’t with anyone, they were hardly indiscretions.”
She waved her hand at this. “I anticipated your reluctance to acknowledge them as yours, therefore with a simple paternity test, we can lay your doubts to rest. My time is limited, and I would like to make the exchange.”
“The…wait. Are they here? On New Vulcan?”
“Of course. They have been under my guardianship for months while I attempted to locate you. Your Federation friends were of little help, Starfleet less so. If you refuse them, then I will be left with no choice but to see them to some sort of foster situation.” She sighed. “I have a life of my own, Captain. I cannot be responsible for them indefinitely.”
“But…look. I’m a starship captain and we don’t allow children on ships.”
“I acknowledge your difficult situation, Captain. You will surely figure out what is best in this matter.”
“No.” She straightened. “Captain, they are not readily accepted amongst our people. The chances of someone adopting them and giving them permanent homes is very small. I suspect, the situation would be similar amongst Humans.” She faced Spock. “I am certain you understand what they are facing better than most, Commander.”
Spock hesitated briefly before saying, “Yes.”
M’Ress nodded. “Being children of two different species is a unique challenge for most. M’Rasha and M’Nisarr are lucky that in their circumstances, they still have a parent left. In the past, there have been such couplings that have resulted in total abandonment by both parents. Such intimate relationship with outworlders are discouraged, but Csearr and her sister, Hsurr, obviously found your appeal hard to resist, Captain. You are fortunate only two were born of your intimacies. In some cases, litters have been born.”
“I will leave you to discuss things with your bonded mate while I arrange for the paternity tests to be done. I am sure this is a shock, Captain, but in such matters, sometimes unplanned pregnancies occur.”
She left the room of Sarek’s house where she had come to see Jim.
He sat down in the nearest chair, burying his face in his hands. Spock knelt beside him and pulled his hands from his face.
“God, I’m so sorry, Spock.”
“Jim, we were not together when—”
“No. I know. It’s just…you didn’t bargain for any of this when we-when we got together.”
“Nor did you.”
“No, but, fuck.”
Spock arched his brow at this. “Did it never occur to you that pregnancy could occur during these…occurrences?”
“No. Yes. I mean. I’d had a shot. To you know. For birth control. And they said they had the suppression shot too, and I just…how would this happen?”
“Nothing is completely accurate, Jim.”
“What am I going to do?”
Spock sighed. “What are we going to do?”
Jim grabbed his hand. “You still…I mean, in spite of everything?”
“You are my mate, my husband. Through anything and everything.”
“But children?” He whispered. “Never in a million years did I ever think…that’s not my life.”
“They appear to be yours, ashayam. The resemblance…”
“In the eyes. I know.”
Spock smiled very slightly. “And the noses.”
“They won’t be allowed on the ship, will they?”
“It is not normal, but perhaps, under the circumstances, they will relent?”
“Or I’ll have to quit. And what of you? This isn’t your doing.”
“Jim, do you not want me by your side?” Spock demanded, his voice sharp. Jim felt his displeasure through their recently fully fulfilled bond. Fulfilled on the forge of New Vulcan. Through lots of claiming. The memories made Jim blush anew. Spock frowned. “What—?”
Jim shook his head. “Nothing. Just, um, remembering, our bonding ceremony.”
Jim bit his lip. “Um. Anyway. Yes, of course, I want you with me always. It’s just, this, we never even discussed this kind of thing.”
“Perhaps,” Spock agreed. “And perhaps we should. I have thought of having a family.”
“At one time,” Spock said, softly. “And when I thought of leaving to go to New Vulcan to help with repopulation.”
“Yeah.” Jim looked away, swallowed hard. “But with me?”
“Ashaya, I want everything with you. Always and forever.”
Jim looked back at Spock meeting his loving gaze. “This is a lot to take in.”
“Affirmative. But what the twins will need above all else is acceptance and love.” Spock stroked his thumb over Jim’s jaw. “You are extremely capable of both.”
“We’ve got this?”
“We do, Jim. We do.”