S'chn T'gai Skon is the cutest baby Jim has ever seen.
Granted, he hasn’t been around babies much, and while they’re always cute (especially little Edosian babies, holy shit those guys are just tiny orange fluff balls with too many limbs and big yellow eyes), he’s pretty sure he can lay claim to this one: Skon is the cutest baby he’s ever seen. He is, in fact, downright adorable.
He’s a giggler, little Skon, and spends most of his waking hours laughing at everything and everyone. He chortles when his mom tickles his toes, and hiccups with glee whenever someone indulges him in a rousing rendition of The Purple Turtle from Planet Smurtle, and squeals whenever he sees his father, which is funny on a whole other level because if Spock thought retaining emotional distance was hard before, it doesn’t even compare to keeping your composure when a little roly-poly of a baby is giggling just because he saw your face.
Jim’s never really been around babies, so it takes him a while to get past the unbelievable shock every time Skon does anything. Until now, Jim’s been under the completely erroneous assumption that babies are just tiny wrapped bundles in their mom’s arms until they become mobile. He hadn’t accounted for a nine-month-old to have a personality, to be a person, even if it’s a little one.
He finds it constantly amazing that Skon thinks peas are disgusting, loves the stuffed toy dog Jim had bought for him on Starbase 4, and stoically tolerates the Vulcan papoose thing that Uhura carried him around in when she’s off-duty. He’s a huge fan of the rec room (and all of the cuddles and tickles he gets there), hates the engineering deck (“Vulcan hearing is particularly sensitive throughout the first years,” Spock had said, cradling Skon’s small head as he wailed against his father’s chest), and has made pooping at the worst imaginable time a kind of living art.
He also – and for this Jim is assured of Skon’s impeccable good taste – loves Bones with the kind of unfocused totality that is Jim’s absolute pleasure to witness.
To say Skon loves Bones is like saying Jim’s just kinda into motorcycles. Skon is infatuated with Bones, adores him on a level so frankly endearing that it will never stop being the funniest thing Jim has ever seen. Skon wants Bones to hold him 27 hours a day. If Bones makes the mistake of coming into the Mess Hall while Uhura is there eating, Skon strapped to her chest in his papoose, Skon will literally scream with delight and continue screaming until Bones comes and gets him. For a period of time between months three and four Skon wouldn’t sleep unless he was rocked in Bones’ arms, and even now there are at least two of Bones’ shirts in Skon’s crib at any given moment. It’s so weird, and adorable and awesome and basically Jim’s reason for living.
“Does it ever bother you?” Jim finally asks one night in the Mess, having a cup of coffee with Spock before Spock relieves him for beta shift.
“To what are you referring, Captain?”
Jim motions his head down the table. Spock’s little son, with his tiny pointed ears and his tiny sunshine face, is chewing on Bones’ collar and babbling nonstop as Bones tries to give the twice-yearly inoculations against Levodian fever to the ensigns on ship. It was pretty hard to do when you had a baby trying to explain the many and sundry ways he loved you with his entire heart sitting in the crook of your arm.
“Many things are now lost to my people,” Spock says, as Skon yanks on Bones’ cowlicks to get his attention. Bones gives him a gruff kiss on his tiny head in reply, and the ensign in front of him nearly melts right out of her chair. Jim understands the feeling.
When Jim glances back at Spock, he’s surprised to see a rare flash of something on his face. Jim’s known him long enough now to see real affection in that minute shifting of his mouth, and buries his own smile in his cup of coffee. “In this case, I am glad to see this tradition kept alive.”
“What do you mean?”
“Vulcan children are not raised by two parents. It takes, as you say on Earth, a village.”
“Well yeah Spock, but there’s a ‘village’ and then there’s that,” Jim says, because Skon is gazing at Bones with so much flat-out admiration that Jim just knows Bones has to be humming My Tennessee Mountain Home, Skon’s favorite song ever. Jim is like ninety-eight percent sure that when Skon starts to talk, it’s going to be with a southern accent.
“A Vulcan father’s duty to his offspring is to help them moderate their reactions and control their emotions. To guide them in the way of our people,” Spock says. He looks down into his coffee. “On the event of Skon’s birth, I considered this: there are just over ten thousand Vulcans left. Some live on New Vulcan, but most, like myself, are seeded among the stars. My planet is gone, and with it our civilization. In time our culture too will fade, until it is but a memory of who we once were.”
He glances across at Skon, who is literally cheek to cheek with Bones, one tiny arm wrapped around his stuffed dog and the other around Bones’ neck, watching with wide eyes as Bones inoculates Chekov. Pavel is talking to Skon in a-hundred-miles-a-minute Russian, and Skon is listening like he knows exactly what Pavel is saying.
“When my son came into this world, I turned my back on the ways of my people,” Spock says, and when Jim looks up at him with surprise, Spock is gazing back, placid and calm. “I did not, nor will I ever, guide him to moderate his reactions, or control his emotions. I have let him feel the true depth of my esteem for his mother, and for the men and women aboard this ship. I let him feel my wonder at his arrival. And when my son became aware, and that wonder was answered, I helped it flower.”
Spock doesn’t look upset about it. If anything, he seems satisfied. Content, even in his grief. He’s gazing at his son, the love he can’t express burning in his expression, in the words he’s speaking. “My own father guided me away from all that makes me human, and in doing so gave me a half-life. I will not consent to such a fate for my child.”
Bones suddenly gets up from across the way and stomps over to them, Skon beaming like sunshine in his arms. “Alright, someone needs to take this little nugget of a boy off my hands while I get through these idiots. I have no idea why they all waited till the last minute. I’ve been here all week,” he bellows, and the frankly ridiculous long line of ensigns waiting for their shot have the grace to look abashed. Skon does a pretty good passing imitation of Bones, glaring at them too with his little sloping eyebrows all puckered and god almighty it is the cutest thing Jim has ever seen.
Bones gives Skon a big kiss on the forehead, which makes his nose wrinkle, and plunks him in Spock’s arms. “Now you be a good boy and eat your supper for your pop, you hear me?” he says, and Skon smiles at him, his one teenie white tooth showing. “And you, eat something green,” he says, kissing Jim on the forehead too, and Jim says, “Yes Mom,” and Skon screeches, “Ah Ma!” and Bones throws up his arms and mutters and stomps off like the grouchiest bear ever.
Skon grins up at his father like Bones yelling on top of his lungs is the funniest thing ever (which it is), and Spock isn’t smiling back, except in all the ways he is.