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A Conversation on Many Levels

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There was a woman waiting to meet Billy and his family when they got off the transport, and he had to admit he was glad of it – just the sight they’d had of the city coming in had been almost overwhelming to a man who’d lived all his life in the wide green and gold fields of Iowa. She was an elegant, proud-looking woman, dark hair twined up in a sleek bun on top of her head, smooth skin a few shades lighter than Molly’s, and she greeted them with a smile that was genuine and warm. “Bill and Molly Kirk? I’m Lieutenant Uhura, Dr. McCoy sent me to meet you. The captain said he thought this was your first trip out of Iowa, and even without all the construction going on this can be a tricky city to navigate.”

“It’s my first trip,” Billy admitted. “Jeremy's too. Molly has traveled a bit, though.”

Molly laughed. “Only to Haiti to visit my family. It’s just like Iowa, but in the tropic zone.” She shifted her quietly sniffling son a little higher on her hip. “We need to get Jeremy out of this crowd as quickly as possible, if we can.”

Uhura’s smile widened. “Oh, we can actually do better than that. I have Commander Spock with me…” She scanned the crowd of passengers, finally spotting who she was looking for. “There he is. He was seeing about your luggage, he’ll be over here in a minute.”

Sure enough, a dark-haired man strode over to them a moment later, carrying their two bags over his shoulder with apparent ease. He was a few inches over six feet with a slender build, and his slightly green-tinted skin and pointed ears marked him as a Vulcan. He put the bags down and gave a short bow. “Mr. and Mrs. Kirk, I am Commander Spock. You were not waiting long?”

That last question had been addressed to Lieutenant Uhura, who shook her head. “Just a few minutes, but I think Jeremy is already overwhelmed.”

“I had noticed that, yes.” The Vulcan fixed his dark eyes on Jeremy, who peeked at him from his mother’s shoulder. “It is very loud here, is it not?” he asked, and tapped his own temple. “Inside as well as outside.” The little boy nodded, sniffing again, and Spock nodded back. “For me as well, but I am used to it. I can, however, make it quiet for you if you would like, Jeremy. I have done so for your uncle on multiple occasions.” He held out his hands. “Will you trust me?”

Jeremy considered it; a man walked past who was speaking angrily to his companion and the little boy gasped like he’d been hit. He held out his arms, and Molly let the young Vulcan take him from her. The difference was immediate. Jeremy’s blue eyes went wide with wonder. “Wow.”

Billy saw the very slightest of smiles cross the Vulcan’s lips. “Yes, quite,” he agreed placidly. “When you are older, you will be able to do this as well. For now, I am pleased to be able to assist you.” The response was a strangling hug, which seemed to startle him somewhat…and then he relaxed, patting the little boy’s back. “You are most welcome, Jeremy.”

Molly had tears in her eyes. “You’re shielding him.”

Spock nodded. “Most Vulcans possess this same mental ability your son and his uncle do, although we call it by a different name. For that reason we are trained to control it from a very young age, and to assist others if necessary.” He gestured to the station’s large open doors with his free hand, then picked the bags back up. “Shall we go now? We have a vehicle waiting, and another transport is coming so it is about to become quite a bit more crowded in here.”

Billy reached for the bags. “I can…”

“I have them. The weight is negligible, for a Vulcan.”

Billy wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, and Uhura rolled her eyes. “He’s telling the truth, it just sounds like he’s bragging,” she assured he and Molly. “When he’s actually bragging, or bluffing, his left eyebrow goes up.”

“It does not.”

“Commander Scott has beaten you at poker how many times?”

The Vulcan did not quite huff. “He cheats.”

“He’s doing the same thing you and the captain are doing: he’s counting the cards. And he knows all your tells.”

“Vulcans do not have ‘tells’,” Spock informed her. “Unless we wish to, of course.”

“Of course.” She was teasing him, it was obvious, and Billy was starting to think it was mutual. He’d never met a Vulcan, and he’d always been told that they showed no emotion at all. Apparently he’d been told wrong.

 

It was a beautiful sunny day, and in spite of the traffic and construction everywhere it didn’t take them long to get to the condominium they’d bought. Which was in a low building sitting on the edge of a pretty green park, clean and spacious and very modern-looking compared to the farmhouse in Iowa. Their furniture wasn’t due to be delivered until later that afternoon, so Molly decided that she was going to the open-air market they’d seen to do some shopping. Lt. Uhura had expressed an interest in going with her, and Commander Spock had offered to take Billy and Jeremy to the hospital. “Captain Kirk has been placed in an isolated room – injured empaths cannot shield themselves,” he explained. “Also, my personal experiences with transport personnel tell me they are universally noisy, on multiple levels, so perhaps it is best that we are not here when they arrive.”

Billy was all right with that – and he knew that Molly would rather direct the arrangement of the furniture herself anyway – so he got back in the little bubble-like transport vehicle with the Vulcan and off they went to the hospital. It was an almost unbelievably huge building which had apparently been just far enough away from the destruction in the bay area to avoid being damaged but still had a fabulous view of the bay and the wreckage all the same. If a view of a crashed spaceship that had killed hundreds of people and destroyed dozens of buildings could be called fabulous, anyway. Jeremy was wide-eyed. “That isn’t Uncle Jimmy’s ship, is it?” he whispered. “It’s all broken!”

Spock shook his head. “No, that is not our ship,” he confirmed. “Our ship is in orbit, being repaired. This ship belonged to…a very bad man.”

The boy’s blue eyes widened even more. “Ooh, you’re mad at him.”

“I was, yes. Being angry with him now serves no purpose, however, so I am endeavoring to let that feeling go.”

“You can do that?!”

And to Billy’s renewed surprise, the Vulcan almost smiled. “Yes. But it is not easy.”

 

Even with help, going through the hospital was somewhat distressing for Jeremy. He could tell that a lot of the people there were sad, and some of them were scared, and a few were angry. And the doctor- and nurse-people were busy and thinking really hard, the way his mommy did when she was working. He saw a lot of things he didn’t understand, but every question he asked the point-eared man called Spock was able to answer – and he enjoyed answering them too, Jeremy could tell. And told his daddy so when Daddy worried that Jeremy was annoying the Spock-man with too many questions.

They had just come up to another tall man with dark hair when Jeremy told his daddy that, and that man laughed. He was dressed like a doctor. “Yes, Mr. Spock very much enjoys answering questions,” the doctor-man told his daddy. “Mr. Kirk, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person. And this must be Jeremy, right?”

“I’m Jeremy,” Jeremy confirmed, and held out his hand because it was polite. The doctor-man shook it very carefully, and Jeremy beamed at him. “You thought you’re happy to meet me!”

“I did,” the doctor-man confirmed. “I’m Dr. McCoy, I’m a friend of your uncle’s – I think things at him all the time and so does Mr. Spock here. Want to go in and see your uncle now? He’s been waiting for you to get here.”

“He has?”

“He has,” Mr. Spock-man confirmed. “So we should not keep him waiting any longer.” He pushed open a door that had a pretty, warm-feeling picture hung on it. “Captain, I have brought you some visitors.”

The room had big, pretty windows that looked all over everything, and there was a bed in the middle with a man in it who looked sort of like Jeremy’s daddy, only sick. Jeremy’s daddy went up to him very carefully, but the man reached out and pulled him into a hug. “Oh god, Billy, it’s so good to see you.”

Jeremy blinked. His daddy was feeling a sad-happy, and so was his uncle, and it was confusing. “Mr. Spock-man,” he whispered. “I don’t know this one.”

The Mr. Spock-man smiled on the inside, and just a little bit on the outside too. “They are very happy to see each other, but sad because they have not seen each other in a long time,” he explained. “People sometimes feel more than one thing at a time. The one that feels like it is ‘on top’, so to speak, is the one you should acknowledge first.”

“Happy?”

The almost-smile got a little bigger, both inside and outside. “Yes, quite.”