DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Beth Carlson and is copyright (c) by Beth Carlson Originally printed in MAINELY TREK 4. Rated PG.

 

Continuance

Beth Carlson

 

Spock entered their home quietly. His gaze found Christine lying a couch on the sun porch. The sun shown into the room and now, in the late afternoon, it cast an even redder glow than usual.

She said she preferred the room because it was where her plants grew well. Lately it seemed she spent more and more hours here. He assumed it was because the sunlight streaming in warmed her.

The environmental controls had originally been set for a cool, moist atmosphere when they had moved here eighteen years ago on Jim's retirement, ten years before his death. Even though Spock had continued to raise the heat until she had complained it was "stuffy", she still had difficulty staying warm, as Jim had -- toward the end.

He walked softly through the archway, watching her sleep as he had so many times before. She slept peacefully and it occurred to him how very frail she looked in her clothing, wisps of white hair against the pillow.

In the last months, as he had felt her slipping away from him, it had become a struggle to watch her sleep, a war raging in him between allowing her to rest and desperately wanting her presence.

He was not sure he would be able to function without her, and even less sure that he would want to. But that, in itself, was not his choice to make. He would, in the end, be alone. He had always known it. It would be the price he would pay for the life he had chosen, and the Humans he had chosen to live it with. And where was that surety he'd had through all of those years in his ability to face that final payment?

Her face flickered in response to the pain and he stepped to stand beside her. Sometimes, if his touch was very light, he could take some of the pain from her without awakening her. He bent and reached out to touched her face very softly. It was not to be.

"My pain is my own, Spock," she said, her eyes remaining closed She gently took his hand in hers and lifted it from her face. "Leave me to it."

He sat beside her on the couch and she opened her eyes to look at him, reaching a hand to stroke the face she had touched so many thousands of times through the years. Its warmth felt comfortingly familiar to her hand and his aura oscillated at her touch. How long had it taken her to become sensitive to that most common of responses, and to all of the other things about him that she loved so? She smiled. How wondrously different they were from one another; how hauntingly alike they had become.

"One of the nicest things about being married to a Vulcan is that when you're old and gray, you still have a young and handsome husband to look at," she said still holding his hand. At 106, Spock was indeed in his prime. Perhaps graying a little at the temples, but not yet halfway through his life.

"And that is why you married me," he stated with some amusement.

Her face grew serious as she held his hand to her cheek and he saw that courageous fire of hers that he loved. It was because of that courage and her reaching that he could admit that he loved -- at least to himself.

"I married you because I loved you." She looked into his eyes. "And I loved you because in you was everything that I loved: honor, strength, courage, brilliance, loyalty -- and you loved so deeply..." He turned his gaze from her eyes and she touched his cheek. "Don't look away. Look at me, Spock," she said gently -- and he allowed his eyes to meet hers again. Only for her. "You loved so deeply that I wanted a part of it." She smiled. "And I have had it for 58 years."

"I have not said it," he answered, aware.

"And you never will -- in words. What is that statement you made? Humans are verbal to the point of obliterating all communication." Her smile turned wry. "Love is an action, Spock, a state of continuance. Words do not change of affect it. I have been loved. Jami-Len has been loved. Jim was loved."

Another wave of pain touched her and she closed her eyes to cycle it away. It was harder now; she was tired. When she opened her eyes again, Spock was looking at her, concern in his eyes.

"I'm fine," she smiled. "Hold me."

He stood and lifted her gently and easily, sitting on the couch with her in his arms as he had Jami-Len when she was small. Christine was so very light now, so thin that it hurt him inside to take her in his arms. And yet, it was what he wanted more that anything else: to hold her like this, to somehow keep death from her.

She was speaking again. How often he'd teased her for talking too much. It had become a game. But in this moment, he knew that when he could no longer hear her voice, something inside him would be dead as well.

Lost in his own thoughts and needs, he kissed her warmly, deeply, and she responded fully, forgetting her words. Spock! How she loved being in his arms. His mind slid into her easily; it took little provocation at times like this. They shared several moments of deep intimacy, Spock's mind triggering their minds and bodies and emotions into all of the colors and sensations of lovemaking, leading them to the heights of endurance, maintaining there an endless few moments, and then at last allowing the wave to crest and wash them both into satisfied oblivion.

They came to rest against one another, spent, never having moved, both relaxed and totally satisfied.

After long moments she spoke mind to mind. Where are your Vulcan manners? she teased, kissing his throat. You didn't ask.

My Vulcan good manners were corrupted by a very Human woman who never liked to be asked. Mentally -- or physically, he answered pointedly, and she laughed.

He remembered how at first it had irritated him if she laughed when they were together like this. He'd felt somehow as if it were coming from too close to himself, as if he were in some way responsible for it. Now, the ring of her laughter ran along in his head, warming him.

It had been a good 58 years, she reflected solemnly.

There was a long silence. He could feel something in her mind shielded from him, quietly there, far off. He came to it gently, touching the barrier, asking her permission to go there.

Burying her face against his neck and holding him tighter, she lowered the barrier.

His body reacted involuntarily to it; and he wanted, in that first instant, not to know, to retreat into the bliss of ignorance.

It was death.

This day.

Her physician's mind knew it; he harbored no doubts. The knowledge of it took all purpose from him.

Spock, she began softly. We have known it would come from the beginning. Known it even in the last months and weeks.

Yes.

She began to replay memories into his mind: Jami-Len's birth here on Vulcan 36 years ago, their first family home on the Exetron Six research station, their return to Vulcan after Jim's retirement, Jim's 83rd birthday when Spock had arranged for him to fly one of Vulcan's newest star craft, Jami-Len's Academy graduation with honors, her first command of a reconnaissance unit of six small ships and 80 crew.

Christine could sense Spock's spirits rising and she went on.

There was a party for their 50th anniversary that Jim had give the year before he died. So many had come. Jim's last ten years with them as a family had been a joy in itself.

And there was Jami-Len, a beautiful woman of 36, very much like her father -- quiet, stoic, brilliant, and already first officer of the USS Raintree, on of Starfleet's finest.

Jami-Len had learned to love the stars from her mother and her father, but most of all at the feet of her "Uncle Jim", whose tales never grew old to her, and who fostered her ambitions for a space career with love and tough practical advice.

It was only a matter of time before she had a starship command of her own. Everyone of any distinction in Starfleet knew it. And, as with Jim, Christine thought, it would be everything to her -- the beginning, the middle, and the end. She would be the first woman starship captain. Pride radiated from Christine. Jami-Len was ready, worthy...The pride was infectious.

As her mother was the first female chief medical officer. We have an honorable family tradition to uphold, Spock commented.

No. Our line will end with Jami-Len. She will not bear children.

As we supposed? She felt much amusement from him.

Jami-Len had, indeed, been an accident. A glorious, precious accident to be sure -- but unintended. The idea of leaving Kirk, McCoy, and the Enterprise had just never seemed bearable to either of them.

Christine had been 59 when she conceived, 60 at Jami-Len's birth. Between Christine's being at the end of her child-bearing years and the high probability that Spock, as a species hybrid, was sterile, caution had become a minor thing in their minds.

Once past the shock of it all and the adjustments to be made in their lives, they had taken it in stride, and with an ease neither of them had fully expected.

Jami-Len, when she arrived, had proved to be a delight to them both. She was working in the lab at twelve, pulling an adult research load at sixteen, and was breaking scholastic record for her age group in several fields -- notably military history, mathematics theory, and computer technology. She loved to learn, and her father loved to teach her.

She'd had the highest grade point average in her graduating class at Starfleet Academy and was in the top three percent in command training. Her Uncle Jim had been utterly and totally thrilled; her parents had failed miserably at trying to be a trifle more reserved. Jami-Len had taken it all in with an undying grin of pleasure that even her hard-earned controls could not tame.

The exhilaration of their daughter's accomplishments glowed in their minds. See, Spock? There has been nothing lacking in my life. Truly.

His grief filled their minds once again, oppressively. Yes. It came quietly, a word to say -- the expected answer -- but no answer. Completely meaningless to him.

There was silence as they held on another, their minds resting together as kittens nestled in sleep, warm and totally natural. After long moments, he spoke quietly into her mind. You have been life to me. You have been all to me that I could not be, and given all that I could no have. He paused and Christine listened, knowing as she always did, when he needed to express himself. I almost lost you when Jami-Len was born. I did not know then how I would bear it. And now, somehow the unbearable must be borne.

You will bear it proudly, and with dignity, as the Vulcan you are, she assured him, wondering how he would bear it, knowing that she could not go on without him -- and yet knowing that she was somehow doing just that.

Jim once said, "We forget that Vulcans are not indestructible." As we forget that Humans are incredibly resilient. You are the best of both, Spock.

There was a long silence.

I do not wish to be alone again, he thought quietly.

Her heart broke within her. Nor do I wish to leave you, my husband. Had it not been the terrible aloneness that she had seen in Spock that first attracted her to him all of those long years ago? And now she was helpless not to leave him there again. But I do ask for your acceptance, that I may leave without the weight of you denial.

NO! There was deep burning anger in the single word. Anger not at her, but at death, the thief.

She waited for him to calm before she formed words within his mind. Do not make me bear you anger, Spock. I cannot. It is beyond my endurance you leave you, knowing the hatred that is tearing at your heart. Death is natural. It is right. It is what must be. Hurt for it, Spock, but do not hate it.

There was silence once again and she felt him begin to thrust her mind away protectively as he did when he felt the need to spare her some thought or discomfort. But then, he could not and his consciousness rushed hers, enveloping her in all that was Spock. She felt his body still and a tremendous soul-stopping strength of spirit, which she never felt from him fore, arose and turned the tide of rage away. The floodgates of vulnerability and pain opened within himself, and his body slackened with the reality of it, allowing the pain to soak deep into him without the insulation of anger or denial. Yes -- my wife, she who is everything to me.

As you are to me, she answered and lifted her face to kiss him and seek again the time of intimacy between them.

It came almost without their conscious bidding. It was as it had been in the beginning -- full, and tender, and hungry -- enriched with the years of knowing.

The room had darkened in the moments shared, and as the mind touch lightened and she felt the warm, sweet satisfaction spread through them, Christine whispered deep inside his mind in perfect Vulcan, My husband...

She did not draw another breath.

He cried out to her. But he was now shatteringly alone within his own mind.

There had never been a deeper pit of loneliness than that which he felt.

He held her closer, feeling the strange limpness of her body against his. A blackness swept up in him that did not know honor, or courage, or Vulcan dignity, or Human resilience -- and he put his head against her and weept deep convulsive sobs of despair. She had been loved.

* * *

It was a long while before he could face letting go of her body, but he forced himself to lay her down and cover her.

The comline beeped and he made himself walk to answer it. "Yes," he said in Vulcan; it would be his lab or an acquaintance. The visual flashed on. It was Jami-Len.

"Father?" He turned on his own visual, standing there in the shadowy illumination from the street lamp outside. "I called as soon as we were in visual range," she went on, ignoring the fact that she could barely see his face on the screen. She had more immediate concerns on her mind. "How is Mother?"

It occurred to him that it was dark in the room and that she could not see him and he turned on the soft comline light.

She saw his face. "Then it has happened," she said quietly.

"Yes. A little over an hour ago," he answered with effort.

She closed her eyes and lowered her head for a moment. Had she not waited for the luxury of seeing them as she spoke... He saw her jaw working and she took a deep breath. "I will be there in 8.6 days, barring complications. I am aboard the freighter Manchester." She stared down again and breathed deeply, then looked up. "Was it hard for her?" she asked, masked even from him.

"No. She was prepared. We were together. She was not alone."

"I am glad." She gave him a fleeting smile. "I am eager to see you, Father."

"And I you, Daughter." She looked so like her mother. Christine! He calmed his breathing and tried to relax his chest muscles.

She lifted her hand to him and he responded in kind. Neither of them said the words.

The visual blinked out.

On the ninth day the Manchester pulled into orbit around Vulcan and Spock met his daughter at the freight docking station.

How well she had matured since he had last seen her. Even from a distance, she looked and walked like Christine. But as she came closer, he could see himself in her. The blatantly mixed features of cross-breeding had fallen upon her as they had not upon him; she appeared neither fully Human nor fully Vulcan. And yet, he thought, she was a strikingly beautiful woman.

"Father." She nodded.

He inclined his own head to her. "You look well, my daughter." He took command of the antigrav that carried her travel case, and she allowed it, falling the traditional three steps behind him.

She was still silent as they began the trip home. His eyes glanced to her from the road as the aircar sped along. He wondered what more control she sought from the scenery rushing by. Her aura, faint from birth, was being held deep inside her, and the fact that he could barely feel it over just the short distance he sat from her stung him.

They continued on to the home where she had spent so many contented leaves. She could not stop thinking that it would seem so empty now.

When they arrived, Spock opened the door and allowed his daughter to enter first, at her own pace. She strode in without hesitation, but he sensed that her manner was forced. Her aura flared out of control for a moment, its colors flickering with pain -- and then she retrieved it, muting its colors, returning it to hiding.

Looking around, she found her family home much the same as it had been two years ago. The furniture had been moved. The emptiness was overpowering.

Spock watched her walk onto the sun porch, following at a short distance. Touching the soil beneath a plant, she turned to him in complaint. "Father ... they have to be watered or they'll--" She stopped short. Her gaze met his and she lifted her jaw, breathing in and holding it a minute. Sometimes, he thought, she was more Vulcan than she had any right to be, given her Human inheritance -- and perhaps more than was good for her. She averted her eyes from him and began to pass him to leave the room.

"Jami-Len," he said softly and she stopped.

She did not look at him. "Yes?" she replied flatly.

"Do not shut me away from you. I am your father."

She looked up at him and the eyes he saw were very much his own -- dark, deep, shielded. "If anything, I have shut myself in -- not you out."

"It does neither of us service," he answered gently, allowing her to see his own pain. It was an unfair use of psychology -- something Christine had used on him more times than he cared to admit -- but it worked. Her aura flooded him, a welcome relief. She was home.

"I am sorry, Father. I'm being selfish." She took a step into arms that came about her.

There were no tears, but he felt her uneven breathing, even has he felt his own. And there was strength in the touching. It felt good to hold her close and the feel her arms around him. He had not realized until these last days without Christine how dependent he had become on touching and being touched. Fifty-eight years was a very long time.

"Come, Jami-Len," he urged after a few moments. "I wish to hear about the Raintree."

They went back into the main living area and sat. The conversation had extended far into the evening before they realized it. She was pleased to see that he was still deeply interested in Starfleet and still very much aware of the siren song of deep space.

* * *

She awoke to noises in the kitchen. Looking around her room, she was overcome by memories. There were so many things here -- so much of her mother's love for her evident... The ache welled up in her and she got up. There was no purpose posed in entertaining pain.

Slipping on her robe, she padded out to the kitchen to greet her father with a quick hug from behind. "Good morning, Father."

"Good morning, Jami-Len," he answered, not turning. "I've made coffee for you."

"Thank you. You remember my vices well." A flicker of a smile touched her lips as she poured. "Come. Sit with me.

"In a moment."

His back was to her and he was busy with something before him. She asked no questions, biding her time, observing. He seemed distracted and it began to concern her. She sipped at her coffee and was about to go over to confront him when he moved. He brought a small bowl from the counter and came to the refrigeration unit, still not looking at her. He removed something from the unit, blocking it from view with his frame, and turned.

Jami-Len's face contorted for a very long moment, tears coming to her eyes -- and then she mastered them and swallowed.

It was an elaborate fresh fruit platter and dip that had traditionally been her welcome home breakfast. It took extensive purchasing and at least an hour's preparation. Her mother had done it as a labor of love every leave for eighteen years.

He set the platter on the table and she rose to hug him, the colors of her aura flaring and flooding into a swell of communion with his. "I love you, Father. Thank you."

"It is a tradition," he responded, receiving the hug with a slight hug back. "Now sit. Eat."

She grinned at him and sat. "I am--" she started to use the colloquial word "starving", but shot him a look and changed it, "very hungry."

He was amused. Often she was very Human.

"Father," she began as they finished eating. "I have a surprise for you also -- but I have to show you, and it will take several minutes to prepare."

"Very well," he answered and she left the room. He rose and began to clear the table, covering and storing the remaining fruit. He had just wiped the table when he heard her footsteps.

"Father."

He looked up. At first he was puzzled. She was in uniform. But why? And then he saw -- not the commander's stripes that she had worn for six years, but captain's stripes. She smiled as realization touched his face.

"Also a tradition," he said quietly, remember too well a previous conversation. "Your mother would have been pleased."

"And you, Father?" she asked, a half smile meeting his serious face, daring it to change.

"Is it necessary to state the obvious?"

Yes. It was obvious. There was very little her father's eyes could hide from her. Right now he was not trying to hide the pride there, though his expression did not change. They sat and she poured herself more coffee.

"Which ship?"

"The Darathwatch. Phillip Hughes is taking Vice-Admiral Posen's seat in Diplomatic. They wanted to fill it as soon as possible."

"The Darathwatch is on a deep space mission," he stated, a tinge of something she could not identify in his voice.

"Yes, one year into it. Exploration -- as was your Enterprise." She paused. "You doubt my ability to handle it?" she asked with a level voice but with clear defiance in her eyes.

"My thoughts have no bearing on what is to be."

"They bear heavily on me. Please share them."

Spock sensed a new coolness in her. Had she misinterpreted his concern? "I do not doubt, for a moment, your ability. You are a brilliant woman, capable in every sense of commanding a starship. I would, however, prefer to see you begin that command in something less than deep space exploration."

She considered. "Granted. It might be preferable." She sighed. "But it has not turned out that way -- and it doesn't frighten me. It is what I have wanted. I will do well, in any event."

He nodded, believing her. "Are you keeping Captain Hughes' crew?"

"It was offered. I declined. Uncle Jim gave me some valuable advice on that. He said, 'Keep your eyes open all along the way for quality people in every field and make friends with them. And when you get your ship'..." She grinned. "He never said if -- only when... 'When you get your ship, call those people. Get them any way you can. And allow them the choice of their own crews. Once you get them, protect them with your life, defend them with everything you have, and they will be all they can be for you.' I'm following his advice to the letter."

She thought her father looked a little sad; sometimes the memory of Uncle Jim was very strong, even now. She went on, "I have most of them on roster already." She began listing of crew chiefs, including names, ages, home planets, service records, and commendations.

She had a very good memory and Spock could almost hear Christine's sigh as Jami-Len continued and he placed all the information into order in his mind. It was something that came perfectly naturally to both of them: the need to know the specifics of a situation and the patience to take it all in. She concluded a short time later. "What do you think, Father? They were the best that were available to me." She grinned. "And some procured at great -- say, finagling".

"Impressive," he agreed with a raised eyebrow. "Marty Chekov is Commodore Chekov's granddaughter, is she not?"

"Affirmative. Top helmsman, too."

"I have heard." He sat back thinking. Her crew was indeed, impressive. Not one of her department heads lacked deep space involvement. They were an amazingly diverse group; it would be the most racially mixed command crew ever assembled, and each was one of the best in his or her field. Jami-Len had taken Jim seriously; a crew like this could only be the result of years of watching and "finagling."

He became aware that she had not named a science officer, nor specified which of the crew mentioned would be her first officer, though certainly Frank Johnson, with 21 years' service, thirteen of it in deep space, would seem the ideal choice, contingent upon the suitability of his psychological profile. He began to scan his mind for science officers he knew to be available.

"Uncle Jim also said, 'A Deltan navigator is best. I have the Deltan. And a Vulcan science officer is invaluable.' Father, it's the Vulcan I need."

He ran over the new data in his mind almost instantly and began to make a suggestion, but she cut him off. "Will you do it?" she asked, searching his face.

Spock looked at her strangely, surprise written in every plane of his face. "Certainly you are joking." Both eyebrows disappeared beneath his hair.

"Must I be?" She stared back at him. "You are the best. I need a good science officer and first officer I can trust and depend on. Your advice would be priceless. It is a flawlessly logical choice, Father."

"Does the Darathwatch deserve a captain who needs her father's advice to function?" he asked pointedly.

She gave him a half smile. "Does the Darathwatch deserve a captain who is too pompous to seek the counsel of those older and wiser?"

"Nepotism, Jami?" He was vastly amused at her. He had always enjoyed their small battles of wit. Even if this one was absurd, he would play along.

"Of the worst sort, Commander." She grinned. "Jami" without the "Len" had always been a chiding, loving term he used to tease, and she loved to hear it from him.

He was serious now. "I have logged no star hours in over 36 years." It was surely out of even the range of consideration; she had to see that.

"Nonessential. It would return. Your brain and sense of judgment have not lain fallow. You have retained currency in all fields."

"And there is the problem of our relation ship." It was beginning to become apparent that she was totally serious -- and he was not sure exactly why he was beginning to feel at once foolish and irritable.

She looked into his eyes, and he saw the look of a starship captain in hers: the control, the aggression, the self-assurance. She had matured a great deal in two years. "If you doubt your ability to take commands from me as your captain, or doubt your judgment in a crisis involving me, then I strongly suggest you reject my offer."

The expression on her face was not that of a daughter to a parent, but that of a commanding officer to a subordinate, and for a moment it rankled. But...

It would need to be that.

"And if I overstepped my boundaries?" he asked with a raised eyebrow, waiting for her response -- testing her -- considering.

The starship captain still sat before him, and now she tilted a dark head and raised an eyebrow of her own in a very Vulcan gesture. "Then, Commander, you would be relieved of duty. As would any other officer." She looked at him evenly, "I will stand for no insubordination from any crewmember."

"And from your father?" he asked slowly, his eyes remaining on her. She did not look away for a long time to assure him that there would be no preferential treatment, but then her gaze lightened and she smiled.

"You would not do that to me. If you were anything but Vulcan, I would not consider it -- nor would Starfleet, as much as they want you back in harness -- but you are Vulcan. And I am." She took his hand. "I will always be your daughter and submissive to you in that. I will always listen to you and watch your thoughts carefully."

He inclined his head to her. "You have considered others."

"Before Mother's death, yes. Since, none. One does not seriously consider beyond the ideal while the ideal is yet in reach." She paused and swirled the bit of coffee in he cup. "I foresee no problems, Father, that cannot be dealt with. Will you come?"

There was silence as he thought, staring at folded hands on the table. "Father. I will not badger you. You are the best, you are still relatively young, and you still love the stars. You cannot deny that. But the decision must be your own."

Looking up, he stared at her for a moment. She was right. He did miss space. He had little to keep him on Vulcan; his research was valuable, but he could be replaced. He searched his daughter's face and his own mind. No. He would not try to use their relationship to push against her decisions and rank given authority, nor would she allow it if he did. He felt a rush pride in her and an excitement.

Starship duty.

He had forgotten the urgency of its calling.

* * *

Eighteen days later the Darathwatch was in dry dock over Starbase Eight, Captain Jami-Len Chapel at its con.

"Life systems -- clear," came the voice of Koah-Lon.

"Departure clearance from dockyard, Captain," announced the Aranessian communications officer.

"Thank you, Cmdr. Ltania."

"Weaponry -- maximum capabilities. Security -- clear," came Frank Johnson's voice from his station.

"Main umbilical disengaging as per you orders, Captain."

"Thrusters at station-keeping, Miss Chekov."

"Clearance assured. Departure plotted," sounded the deep baritone of the Deltan navigator, Reilan.

"All stations go," came a well-loved voice, and she looked to him with that "almost" smile. "--Captain," he finished with a secret nod. She returned the nod, Vulcan dignity firmly intact, and went back to her command.

Spock watched her, remembering the wide eyed six year old on Kirk's lap, hearing story after story until her mother packed her off to bed amid volumes of protest.

He saw her at eleven, gangly and impatient, waiting for "Uncle Jim's" leave to find out if he'd gotten the copies of the log tapes he'd promised on his last leave.

At fifteen, there was Jim's voice, "No, no, no! In the time you've spent thinking, three Klingon vessels have surrounded your ship and most likely blasted hell out of your number three and number six shields!"

And at Jami-Len's plaintive wail, "Then what should I have done? I have to think, don't I?" And Jim's warnings and explanations, complete with wild gestures.

At 22, on her leaves to the Vulcan home, they were on tactical war games, pure and simple -- Jim giving the situations, Jami-Len the orders; Jim the countermoves, Jami-Len the defensives; Jim the attack...

It was no longer a game to them. It was deadly serious. From time to time, Christine would pry her loose with complaints of "Uncle Jim's tired, Jami-Len."

But invariably Jim would wave her away. "One more, Chris. I'm fine." After a time, there would be a roar of joy from them, and Jim would call out, "Spock! She just knocked the hell out of them!" to which he would often reply, "You are turning my daughter into a war monger." And always the answer, "No, just the best damn starship captain in Starfleet history!"

Spock reflected as he watched his daughter. It was possible. Perhaps the second best in Starfleet history. Jami-Len, like Jim, was one of a kind. Her training was Jim Kirk's legacy to Starfleet, as well as his legacy to Jami-Len. And now somehow, even to him. He saw her turn on the log recorder on the console.

"As per Admiralty orders, I, Jami-Len Chapel, do herein take full and operational command of the USS Darathwatch on Stardate 90480." It was official. She afforded her first officer a brief glance and returned her attention straight ahead. "Take us out, Lieutenant."

"Aye, sir." Mary Chekov's voice sounded slightly breathy with excitement.

"Impulse power at your command, Captain." The disembodied voice of Stevens from engineering flowed from the intercom.

Another few moments passed, and Spock checked his readings. "Still all go, sir."

"Clearing dry dock." Reilan turned as he spoke to smile at her, and she returned a slight smile and a nod of recognition for his thoughtfulness.

Spock watched her with a swell of pride. She took a deep breath and spoke, her voice controlled, assured, without doubt of her authority. "Impulse power, warp point four."

He felt the throb of the engines and looked around the bridge. The crew was attentive, calm, well trained -- awaiting her command. The Darathwatch's captain was composed, a sense of unyielding courage about her, her aura flowing from her as strongly as he had ever felt it.

She looked very much like Christine -- and for a moment he could almost feel his wife against him, her supple young frame in his arms. Clearing his thoughts, he looked at Jami-Len again. Jami-Len, the essence of himself and Christine, conceived in his arms. He could feel the tight hard coolness of Christine's stomach against his hand and the ripple of life beneath that was his daughter. He could hear the cry as her lungs first filled with air, feel the sticky mucus he had swept from her cheek as he first held her.

"Warp point six."

Something inside of Spock burst.

THE END