DISCLAIMER: I do not own Star Trek or its characters. The following is a work of fan fiction and no profit was made. *NOTE*: This work is a sequel based on and inspired by the fan fiction story "Broken Promises" by L.P. Santos (aka Chrystal Michallet). I claim no rights to the original idea. I have received written permission by the author to use the idea as a basis for this story.



Stolen Promises

Trish



"Mommy, watch!" The little boy's bright and proud smile seemed strange nestled among his obviously Vulcan features as he called to the auburn haired woman across the playground of their apartment complex.

"I'm watching, Leonard!" Christine Chapel called happily to her son whom she had named after her best friend in the entire world and the person she most respected. She had been sitting on the bench in the shade for the past hour delighted by the scene of her child intent on teaching his sehlat cub to beg. The animal had been a gift from the boy's grandparents and had instantly become little Leonard's inseparable companion.

The small dark haired boy summoned up all his concentration and lifted his hand above the head of his pet, who dutifully sat back on its haunches and obeyed.

"That's wonderful, sweetie. I'm so proud of you," Christine clapped.

"And Bear too?" Leonard questioned, a bit worried.

"Yes, darling, and Bear too," his mother answered proudly.

Christine had been surprised at how easy it was to share a small two bedroom apartment with the sehlat, no more work than a dog would have been. She was also surprised at how calm and gentle the cub was around her son. At first she was a bit apprehensive but soon discovered that the alien creature was actually as protective of him as she was. The Star Fleet doctor snickered a little to herself wondering if there had actually ever been a Vulcan sehlat named Bear before. It looked so much like the famous stuffed animal that she and her inquisitive little boy had come up with the name practically at the same time. Christine was pleased that the animal brought her son so much joy, especially after how difficult things had been lately.

She had tried to hide her grief and pain from Leonard, but even his one-quarter Vulcan sensibilities had told him that his mother was hurting. He had been a perfect angel, but Christine wondered how healthy it was for a toddler to actually be worried about his mother. She had finally decided that he was her priority, and if nothing else turned out the way she had hoped she would still be the luckiest woman in the universe for having him.

Little Leonard was Christine's pride and joy, her very heart. There were times when she would be sitting in her office at headquarters and it would physically hurt to be separated from him even for the duration of the work day. Often the comm link would buzz moments later and it would be Fillomina, the elderly Italian woman who took care of Leonard during the day. She would soon find out that her son had been crying for her or just wanted to see his mommy for a minute. That was when she began to suspect that the bond between them was even more than parent and child; it had to have something to do with his father's half on him.

At that thought, Christine's heart sank a little. It had been so long since Leonard's father had been with them. She remembered the evening that Spock had shown up at her door. She knew he would come, his parents had already accidentally discovered that they had a grandson and of course had informed him of the boy's existence. As it turned out Christine was grateful that it had happened. The night of passion that she and Spock had shared and the revelation that he loved her and wanted to bond with her was overwhelming. There had only been one other time in her life that Christine had been happier, the night she had given birth to his son. She was sad that, although Spock had watched the boy sleep, there had not even been time for them to meet. Spock had been called away so soon, the very next morning after they had decided to marry and bond. His duty had taken him from them.

Christine remembered the heart wrenching news of his death. Her grief was all consuming. Losing Spock had been even more devastating than when Roger Korby had died. It was been so different, she had not had Roger's child. Each time Christine looked into her son's innocent face, she saw his father. She was grateful that she had that much of him left. Then the announcement that he had been found alive and had returned to Vulcan had filled her with a hope she thought had been lost forever. Something, though, kept Christine from taking her son to Vulcan to meet his father. A feeling of dread would not allow her to reunite with the man she loved, who had for so brief a time loved her. She had spoken with Leonard McCoy, and he had informed her that Spock's memory had been affected by his rejuvenation on the Genesis Planet, and it was returning extremely slowly. Her son's father needed time, time to regain his life and his control. It would have killed her if he did not remember. So she waited. If she returned to his mind, if he recalled watching his own son sleep soundly in the night, and if he still wanted a life with her, then he would come back to her. She felt that going to Vulcan would have looked like she was chasing him. She could not force him to want her again, and she did not want to intrude.

Yesterday had been the most painful. Christine had finally seen Spock again, at the hearing. Everyone was there, her friends, her colleagues, Sarek, everyone. The atmosphere was stifling, she felt as if she were watching her former crew members being led to their deaths. There had been a moment, just before they had all been brought into the arena, before Spock had honorably stepped over to join them, when Christine had been able to speak with him. She could tell nothing from his demeanor. For a moment she thought he was understandably worried about their friends. Then the terrible shock hit her. He seemed to know her as she had been. He did not remember what she was, the mother of his child. She tried to hold onto something. He was Vulcan after all, he was not going to run into her arms across the crowded room. Then she reminded herself that after everything he had been through, perhaps he was not yet ready. She saw him watch her, but could not determine if he remembered what they had shared, what they still shared. Then he was gone, off with Captain Kirk and the others for a test run of the new Enterprise. If that was what he wanted, then she could only wish him well. Her thoughts were brought back to the present by the sound of her son's laughter.

Christine looked up to see Leonard riding across the grass on Bear's back. She could not contain her merriment and laughed out loud. "Ride 'im, cowboy!" she cheered, nearly in tears from laughing so hard. She then reminded herself to focus on him and not dwell on his father.

After a time, the little boy's attention turned to still other imaginary pursuits. Christine could tell that this time he was saving the world from a destructive force. She caught her breath for a moment. She had been unable to get to him during the worst of the whale probe's havoc, and she had never felt so helpless so terrified. Her son seemed to have taken the near disaster in stride and was now using it as a vehicle for his play. Christine silently wondered if it was the beginnings of a career in Star Fleet for her little boy, and lost herself once more in watching him.

How much time had passed Christine did not know. The late afternoon sun was sitting lower in the sky and a cool breeze was beginning to find its way across the city from the bay. For some reason this was the most peaceful she had felt in a long time. It was then she heard the voice she knew so well behind her.

"Christine," Spock said lightly over her shoulder. She had not seen him climb the low hill that led to the playground. Nor had she noticed as he stood at a distance watching her watch their son at play.

Christine stiffened but could not answer. A light hand found her shoulder and rested there, giving her a gentle squeeze of recognition. She sat still silent but let her cheek fall upon the warm flesh of the top of his hand as he stroked her face with the back of his fingers. Closing her eyes, she savored his nearness.

"I did not get the opportunity to speak with you at length at the hearing," Spock stated plainly.

Finally, Christine found her voice. "No, we didn't have any time to talk," she answered.

"May I sit beside you?" he asked.

It was then that Christine looked up and to her surprise was greeted with warm and loving eyes upon her face. What had she expected, that he would be angry? She could barely contain herself, the joy at him simply being there was overwhelming. Quickly she reigned in her excitement. "Yes," was all she nodded.

Spock stepped around the bench as Christine cleared a place for him to sit down. She quickly stuffed the half eaten graham crackers and empty juice box that had been Leonard's snack into the bag of his things she always carried, and motioned for Spock to join her. He did so immediately. They sat in an awkward silence, neither knowing how to begin. Finally Spock peered across the deep green grass.

"He has grown." There was almost pride in his tone.

Christine smiled, not willing to hide the pride she felt in her little boy. "Yes. He is getting so big." She did not say how she wished he would stay small for just a while longer.

"You have done an exemplary job with him," Spock noted.

"I've been his mother," Christine answered. "I've done for him what any woman would who treasures her child."

"Indeed," was the only reply Spock gave. Then there was again silence.

"I have..." Spock began a few long moments later.

"I thought..." Christine voiced at the exact same time. They stopped, both a little embarrassed, and stared at each other. "Please you first," Spock said.

"No, you," Christine insisted.

Spock did not argue. There were things they needed to discuss. "I was disappointed that I did not see the two of you during my time on Vulcan," he admitted.

As if sensing that his mother might need him and wondering who this stranger was who looked so much like him, Leonard began toddling his way over to Christine, Bear close on his heels.

Christine closed her eyes. She should have gone. Swallowing hard to keep down the tears she began. "I wasn't sure you would want us there," she said painfully. "I wasn't sure you would remember us."

"Not remember you?" Spock questioned. He understood that Christine's fears stemmed from their history together, a past he wished desperately that he could change.

"I didn't want to intrude," Christine continued.

"You and Leonard are my family," he assured her.

"Are we? Or are we just an obligation?" She had not meant to sound so harsh, but her fear and concern for her son won out over her compassion and even her love.

"Christine..." Spock began. "You know you are much more than that." He wondered if she would ever trust how much she meant to him. The time spent apart had only intensified his feelings for her. Yes, it was a feeling he held for her, and it was love. After all this time he could finally admit that to himself, and to her.

"I'm sorry," she relented, tears forming in her eyes. "That wasn't what I wanted to say to you after all this time."

"It is understandable," Spock assured her. "Recent events have not allowed us the time we needed to strengthen our relationship, or to discuss our future together. I deeply regret the interim that has passed."

Christine was astounded. "Well, it's not like you could help it," she smiled, just as her son reached her crossed knees.

Little Leonard hung onto his mother's legs as she straightened a few wayward strands of his dark hair, noting to herself that he was about due for a trim. His eyes never left the man whose features were so like his own. Wonderment, fear, suspicion, even a strange feeling of attachment ran through the boy as he watched the older Vulcan closely. Even Bear warily sniffed at Spock's pant leg. Sensing something of his young master in the newcomer the sehlat cub sat dutifully at the man's feet. Christine reached down and took her son under the arms, lifting him onto her lap. His face was toward Spock and he still scrutinized the man who was his father. His cheek, however, rested calmly and reassuringly on his mother's chest.

Spock wondered for a moment if Christine even remembered he was there as he watched her wrap her arms around their son, enfolding him in a devoted embrace. Her cheek rested atop of the boy's head and he could not see her face. "Did you give Bear a good work out?" she asked her son, chuckling a bit. The boy nodded and uttered a soft, "Uh-huh."

It was obvious she sensed something out of the ordinary in her son. Spock marveled at her intuition as she brought her face around to look into Leonard 's. Again she smoothed his hair out of his eyes. "It looks like he gave you a good workout too," she said to her child. "Are you tired?" The boy nodded sleepily.

"We'll go upstairs in a little bit, sweetheart," Christine confirmed to her son. "First, there's someone very special I want you to meet."

Christine leaned back and smiled at Spock. Her eyes never left him as she introduced him to their son. "Leonard," Christine said to her little boy. "This is your father. Remember, I told you about him?" Spock was awed that Christine had already made him a part of their son's life.

The toddler nodded. "I remember," he said. The absence of emotion in his young voice was chilling. He watched Spock, almost sizing him up.

Spock could almost hear the unspoken questions on the boys lips. 'Why did you leave? Why weren't you there when I was a baby? Where have you been?' The reasons behind each were impossible for the child understand.

Then, suddenly, the little boy broke into a wide grin. His happiness and relief so evident on his face. "Hello, Daddy," he smiled.

Something deep within Spock nearly burst. He had never known an emotion such as he felt at that moment. So many times in the past, he would have squelched this strange and frightening sensation. However, much to his surprise he was not frightened. He would not be rid of this for anything. After a brief moment of shock he knew exactly what it was. It was love, not the same kind that he felt for Christine, not the kind he had for friends, not even like that he felt for his own parents. It was the love of a father for a child. His own son stared up at him, a boy he had not even known existed for nearly two years, the product of another's use of his body. None of that mattered now, the past was gone, and his future sat in front of him. Never had he felt so accepted, or complete. Spock could feel his heart melting as he stared into his own eyes, and then up at those of the woman who had given life to his precious gift. His gaze traveling back to his son, he answered the child sincerely and honestly. "Hello, my son," he said, this time not hiding his pride.

The tiny reunited family sat together under the shade of the old tree and enjoyed each other. The sun was touching the horizon before they realized it. "Would you ... stay ... for dinner?" Christine asked nervously.

"It would be my pleasure," Spock answered gratefully.

"Mommy's making pizza," Leonard grinned excitedly.

Christine looked a little sheepishly at her young son's father. "It's his favorite. I promised him," She explained. "I can make something else for you and me if you would prefer."

"I see no need for you to prepare two meals, Christine," Spock said, eager to experience some of his son's life. "It has been a long time since I have enjoyed that delicacy. As I recall, you are an accomplished cook. I would be pleased to sample your pizza."

Christine smiled, reliving a long ago memory. She wanted to joke and make him promise not to throw it at her, but decided against it. He understood the gleam in her eyes, and returned the look to her. "Alright then. My famous homemade pizza it is."

"Yay!" Leonard squealed, to the delight of his parents.

"Perhaps, after dinner, once our son has gone to bed. You and I could ... talk?" Spock suggested.

Christine smiled, recalling the last time they had spent an evening talking, and where they had ended up. "I would like that very much." Again, Spock understood the gleam in her eye.

"It has been sometime since we ... talked, has it not?" The corners of his mouth turned upward mischievously. "I can assure you I have come more than adequately prepared this time." Her smile told him she was more than willing.

* * *

"Lights on." Christine commanded as they entered the apartment.

The area had somehow seemed to have decreased in size since the last time Spock had been there. The furnishings were the same, however it almost seemed cramped. As he surveyed the space he saw a large structure made from open plastic blocks standing in the corner, a small wooden table complete with four matching chairs beside the sofa, and a myriad of toys were strewn all over the place. His keen eyesight even noticed an enclosed pool of some kind filled with small colored balls on the balcony. Apparently the child's play extended into that area as well. Spock realized that it was not the space that had shrunk but his son who had grown. The environment was designed to amuse a three year old child, and little Leonard was obviously the star of the household.

"Please forgive the mess," Christine apologized as she removed the light jacket her son wore. The boy could barely hold still. "I haven't had a chance to straighten up yet." Once relieved of his denim confinement, little Leonard took off across the living room with Bear in tow and jumped into the center of the block building which today was his castle. Bear did not realize that he was the dragon.

"It is quite understandable, Christine," Spock assured her. "The surroundings are very appropriate." He was glad that his son should have much to occupy his growing mind.

"Well, much of the credit for that goes to your parents," Christine laughed. "I don't think there's a toy store in San Francisco, or maybe even on Vulcan they haven't raided for him." Christine knew very well that Amanda and Sarek adored their grandson and she did not mind them spoiling him a little, a pastime which she herself was guilty of.

"They are extremely pleased with him," Spock confirmed. "We spoke often of him, and of you, during my time with them."

Christine's smile turned shy, he had remembered them. How she wished now that she had gathered up her son and gone straight to Vulcan the instant she had known of his return. For a moment she grew silent. "I'm sorry. I should have gone to you." She could not face him.

"You have told me your reasons. They were valid and logical. Not to mention that you had our son to think of. It would undoubtedly have been difficult traveling that great a distance with such a young child." He wanted to let her know that he understood. Unconsciously he drew nearer to her, hungry for her.

Her eyes cast to the floor, Christine could feel the heat from his body surrounding her own. "Still...." she began, but was silenced by the closeness of his face. Their breath mingled for a moment, just before their eyes met.

"Pizza, Mommy," a sharp cry reminded her, as her legs were bombarded and captured full force by all the strength a three year old knight could muster. Laughing she looked down to see her little champion clinging to her shins.

Christine bent down and lifted the happy child into her arms. "You really are hungry," she laughed. "All right. Come on." She gave Spock a knowing smile and he followed her into the kitchen.

Spock leaned awkwardly against the refrigerator as Christine sat Leonard upon a counter top. He watched them in awe.

"Are you going to help Mommy make the crust?" Christine asked Leonard.

The little boy shook his head fiercely. "No. The cheese!" he declared.

"Oh, the cheese." She nodded chuckling, knowing how sprinkling the last topping on the round pie was her son's favorite part.

Taking a bowl from the cupboard, Christine scooped several heaping cups of flour into it and added the other ingredients before mixing and kneading the contents with her hands.

"What did I forget?" she quizzed her son as she washed the sticky paste from her hands.

"The pan," he laughed. Christine laughed too and smiled over at Spock who was taking in the scene with as much glee as a Vulcan could. This was obviously a pattern with them. He felt a bit left out. He was, however, delighted to observe their interaction.

After spreading the thick material onto the round tray, Christine headed for the refrigerator. Spock was uncertain which way to move and they ended up nearly in each other's arms. Christine smiled. "Excuse me," she said shyly.

"Of course," Spock answered, moving out of the way.

She reached inside and pulled out a large jar of red liquid. "The secret's in the sauce. I make it myself," she grinned.

"It's yummy," Leonard agreed.

"Then I shall look forward to tasting it," Spock declared.

Christine opened the jar and spooned a generous amount over the dough. Stepping back she asked her son, "Now, what should we put on it?"

"Mushrooms!" the child cheered. It interested Spock to discover that he and his son seemed to share the same tastes.

Christine opened the cupboard and rummaged around, finally emerging with a jar of small green circles.

"What's that letter?" She asked showing Leonard the label as she pointed to a part of it. Spock was gratified to see that she had already begun his education.

"M! My favorite one," her son replied.

"Your favorite because it's for mushrooms?" Christine smiled.

"No." Leonard seemed shocked. "M for Mommy," he said.

Christine's face danced with happiness and for a moment Spock feared she might cry. He watched as she gently took their son's face in her hands.

"Have I told you how much I love you yet today?" she asked him gleefully.

"Uh-huh." Leonard nodded.

"Well, I'm telling you again." Christine plastered his little face with kisses and the toddler giggled with delight.

"I love you too, Mommy," he answered.

Spock watched them, almost as an intruder for a moment. He reveled in the sight. Normally the display of emotion would have made him uncomfortable to say the least. Not this time, not with them. It was only natural that Christine had raised the child to express his feelings. She was human, and the boy was three quarters the same. It would be most illogical to expect him to adhere strictly to the Vulcan form of expression. He vowed he would not force that upon his son. The boy would choose his own way when the time was right. It was then that Spock received his formal invitation to take his rightful place in their little family. It came when his son, still enwrapped in Christine's arms, looked over at him and with the innocence only a child possesses spoke the words Spock would remember forever.

"And I love you too, Daddy," the little boy smiled.

At that Spock moved across the kitchen to join them. His arm found a comfortable and natural place around Christine's waist. His other hand cradled his son's head. "I cherish thee, my son," he said softly to the boy, who seemed to delight in the sentiment.

Spock eyes then met Christine's. They held each other's gaze for a long moment. They needed no words, but he needed to tell her. "And I cherish thee," he told her.

Christine could no longer fight her tears. They streamed down her face as she nestled close to him. "I love you," she said. "I always have." Their lips met with all the tenderness and passion they had saved for each other. The longing between them undeniable, the flames of their desire engulfed them. However, they would have to wait just a little longer. The sounds of their child's laughter brought them back to reality. Christine beamed, and even Spock seemed to smile as they helped each other prepare their son's dinner.

* * *

Christine and Spock stared at each other from across the table, longing burning in their eyes. Their son had been propped up in his booster seat and pulled as close to the table as Christine could get him. Spock thought to himself, amused, that it was somehow fitting that the child be seated at the head of the table. Bear was, of course, seated beside Leonard's chair waiting to catch the numerous tidbits as they fell. The youngster was still munching the last of his mother's homemade pizza when his father wiped his mouth with his napkin and raised an eyebrow.

"Was that K'halla root I tasted?" he asked Christine.

"Uh-hum." She nodded, taking a sip of the wine she had opened for herself and Spock. "I told you, the secrets in the sauce."

"That is a Vulcan spice. I have never tasted it so fresh off world before." He was surprised.

"I know this great little Vulcan store in old Chinatown. They have everything. We go there all the time," Christine smiled.

"Sem's! Yay!" Little Leonard chorused, recognizing his mother's description.

"Yeah, honey." She smiled at the boy, stroking his head. "He loves those little sweet nut cookies. They fill him full of them every time we go."

"Shau-Tan?" Spock asked astonished. "That was also my favorite as a child," he informed them.

"I guess you two really do have a lot in common," Christine smiled happily.

"I would seem that way," he answered still surprised. "I am pleased to see that you have begun instructing him in both of his cultures," Spock thanked her.

"Of course I want him to know about his Vulcan heritage," Christine assured him. "Actually, your father has been a great help with that." Christine looked thoughtfully at her son. "They are thick as thieves."

"Really?" Spock was again taken aback.

"Yes. Sarek absolutely dotes on him." Christine grinned. "They're pretty much the best of friends. Why, he must have spent at least three hours with Leonard the day of the hearing just before he left," she told him.

"I am at a loss, I would have never expected that of him." Spock's eyes were wide with wonder.

"Your mother gets a big kick out of it," Christine laughed. "She's been just terrific. I can barely get near him when she's around. Not that I'm complaining mind you. Leonard adores her and it obvious the feeling is mutual."

"Yes. She spoke often of him and very endearingly while I was on Vulcan," Spock told her. "She is extremely proud of him. She calls him her little ... munchkin?"

At that Christine broke out in sheer delight. "They truly have been wonderful. I wish they had been here when he was first..." She trailed off realizing what she was saying. Spock had not been there either.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." Christine began.

"Do not apologize. If I had acted toward you differently, I would not have missed his first two years. The fault is mine ... and the regret." He chastised himself with deep regret.

"No. I should have told you. I was just ... so scared. I didn't know what to do." Tears found her eyes and she blinked them back.

Spock's hand reached across the table and clasped hers. "T'hy'la," he whispered.

Spock had watched Christine all evening. She was in every aspect a perfect mother to his son and also a ideal choice for him. How could he never have seen that before? It tore his soul to think how she must have struggled, to bare and raise his child alone. That very evening as he became acquainted with his son, he had seen how hard she worked to make a good home for their child. She had done laundry, cooked dinner, picked up toys, all after a full day at Star Fleet and she still was not done. Through her happiness he noticed how tired she was. He should have been there to help her, to support her, and to cherish her.

There had been friends to help her of course. Apparently nearly everyone had known. Uhura still made frequent visits, Dr. McCoy was a constant and welcome visitor. Even the Captain had seen to their welfare. The only one missing had been him, the one who should have watched over them.

Christine did not blame him, did not hold him responsible for what Henoch had done to them both. Spock had known he had feelings for Christine long before Henoch had entered their lives. It was as he exchanged places with Henoch that their minds met only for a instant. The malevolent creature had read the emotions that Spock hid even from himself. Henoch had also sensed Christine's feelings for the Vulcan and had exploited them, had taken advantage of her and used her. Spock knew that if he had been true to both himself and Christine, it might not have happened, or at least she would not have felt she needed to run and hide from what their bodies had shared. The thought that his skin had been so close to her, touched her, caressed her, made new desire grow within so overwhelming that it screamed out to her.

Then he reminded himself of the terror and pain she must have gone through. It had not been pleasant for her. It should have been, she had longed for him for years. However, she had been forced to submit the very parts of herself which were saved for him to another being. The fact that the intruder had used his body to hurt her ripped at his heart. If Henoch had been there now, he would have choked the breath from him without hesitation or Vulcan regard for life.

Still the child sitting next to him watching him so innocently with his very face, was his, the product of his own flesh. The thought filled him with so much pride he thought for a moment he might burst. He had never dreamed it possible, that he could be a father, could raise a life to meet the world. No w Christine offered him an entirely different existence than any he had ever known before, and he embraced it. He wanted it with all his heart. Nothing and no one would ever take them from him again.

"One more drink of milk, sweetheart." Christine's sweet voice, watching over their child, broke his thoughts. He brought himself back to them in time to see her holding the plastic cup from which the boy drank up to his lips as the toddler greedily downed the last drops. Then the little boy belched.

"What do you say?" Christine acted shocked.

"'Scuse me," little Leonard replied wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Christine finished for him with a napkin.

"That was a most delicious meal. Thank you for reintroducing me to this pizza," Spock told her. "I was under the impression that it usually contained some form of meat," he questioned.

"Not in this house," she answer with a wink. "I'm raising him vegetarian. I've even stopped eating meat myself."

She was remarkable. Again Spock's amazement shown on his face. "Thank you. That was very thoughtful of you."

"I thought it was only fitting." She grinned at him as she reached over and pulled back the chair in which their son was beginning to squirm. Effortlessly she lifted Leonard to his feet, undid the bib she still tied around his neck, and sent him on his way. The full and sleepy child loped over to his coloring table and began work on his latest masterpiece.

"I'll just put the dishes in to wash," she told Spock as she stood up. "It'll only take a minute."

This was his chance, in some small way to try to make amends. "Allow me." He stopped her, and took the dish she had picked up from her hand. "I insist." Christine looked at him almost as if she was uncertain what do in the face of her broken routine. He had the solution. "Go relax and enjoy our son." She did not need a second invitation.

The dishes washing and the table cleared, Spock joined Christine and Leonard in the living room. She was lounging shoeless on the sofa, watching her little boy deep in concentration choosing just the right colors to set to paper. Spock sat comfortably beside her and she smiled. It seemed to both of them that he had always been there. Finally the little boy looked up.

"Here, Daddy! It's us!" The little boy beamed running over to his father with paper in outstretched hand.

Spock took the picture from his son's hand as Christine looked over his shoulder. She oo-ed and ah-ed at her child's genius. On the page, he had drawn as best as a three year old can, a tall dark man with pointed ears, a tall lovely woman with auburn hair, and standing between them holding their hands was a little smiling boy again ears appropriately fashioned to resemble his own. They stood in a wooded scene with flowers and green grass. Above them a red circle floated in the blue sky.

"Is that the sun, honey?" Christine pointed.

"No. It's Vulcan," the boy said.

Spock could not find words and for a moment he feared he would be overcome with the emotions that soared within him. He did, however, manage to control most of them, except perhaps for love and pride. "It is beautiful, my son. I will cherish it always."

The little boy beamed as Spock studied the print. He then looked at Christine, unsure of where to put it. She took the hint. "Refrigerator," she whispered.

Spock stood and picked up his son, carrying him into the kitchen. "Where would be the most appropriate place for your drawing?" he asked Leonard.

"There," the boy pointed to the freezer.

Taking a magnet from the top of the door Spock handed it to Leonard and positioned the paper with great care. "There?" he asked. The slamming of the magnet onto the paper, locking it to the metal gave him the answer he sought. He looked over proudly at Leonard who smiled broadly.

"Perfect!" Christine cheered as she came into the room. She stood back a moment to admire her son's handiwork and then her mother's job took over again.

"OK, Mighty Mite. Come on. It's time for your bath." She motioned to her boy who was still in Spock's arms.

"No." The toddler whimpered and buried his face against his father's chest. He was getting tired and cranky,

"Leonard. You must do as your mother says. She only wants what is best for you, and you do need to bathe," Spock corrected the child. Leonard sulked but gave no more resistance as his parents led him toward the bathroom.

Once inside the white tiled little room, it was clear that Spock was totally at a loss as to how to bathe a child. He stood in the doorway watching Christine in complete wonder. She calmly touched the buttons on the digital faucet, setting the water to a temperature exactly right for her little boy's delicate skin. She then opened a bottle of purplish liquid which had been placed well out of reach in a wire basket hanging from the shower nozzle, and drizzled a few drops into the water. Spock's keen senses quickly noted the smell of lavender. The tub was about a quarter of the way full when Christine shut off the water and sat down on the side of the tub.

"Come on, little one, it's just right." She reached up for the boy who still sagging in his father's arms. Spock put him down and he reluctantly toddled over to his mother.

Christine first removed Leonard's shoes and socks as he sat on her lap, then she stood him up and pulled his shirt over his head. That was deposited into a hamper which sat by the tub. Next came his pants and underwear which also found their place in the hamper. She lifted her small child over the tub and into the bath water, then she slid to the floor to kneel over the side in one seamless movement.

Little Leonard perked up a bit at the feel of the warm soothing water and he reached for the old fashioned plastic sailing ships that lined the tiled ledge opposite where his mother was beginning to lather up a wash cloth. Lost in his play, he hardly noticed as Christine ran the warm soapy fabric over his back and shoulders. She dodged several sprays of water as her son's armada sunk and rose over the waves of his very own ocean. Even Bear was eager to join in and stuck his nose over the side only to be pushed back by Christine.

"Oh, no, you don't. Your bath is Saturday," she chuckled.

Spock studied Christine, not knowing what to say. All of this was second nature to her, a part of her ordinary day. He would not have known where to begin. In a way he was envious. She had enjoyed times like this with their son from the very beginning, and he was a novice. He wondered if he could ever make is seem as easy as she did.

"I hope you're watching carefully," Christine smiled up at him. "This is your first lesson. I think you'll be ready to solo tomorrow."

"I do not think I ..." he stammered, "should attempt such an important task so..."

Christine interrupted him by posing the matter to their son. "What do you think, Leonard?" she grinned. "Do you want Daddy to give you a bath tomorrow?"

The boy's emphatic, "Yay!" accompanied by the huge splash of water as his happy little fists struck the surface and Christine's squeal as a swell struck her in the face gave Spock little room for any further argument.

"How can you refuse?" she laughed.

"It appears I cannot," he said apprehensively.

"Don't worry. I'll watch the first few times. Just to make sure you're doing it right," she said. He could tell that it was more to make sure their son would be alright and was grateful for the instruction.

Before Spock realized it, bath time was over and Christine laid the wash cloth over the soap dish to dry. "Ok, Big Guy. You're done," she said to their son.

Reaching up she grabbed a thick fluffy towel from the long bar over the tub and handed it to Spock. "Hold it open," she ordered happily. He eagerly complied.

It was hard to tell who was soggier, Leonard or Christine, as she hoisted the boy out of the tub and toward the towel. Spock instinctively knew to wrap the material around his son, as Christine took the boy by the shoulders rubbing him vigorously from head to toe. "Heater on," she commanded to the apartment's computer system, and soft waves of warm air filled the room preventing the toddler from getting chilled.

"Could you go get his pj's? There on the back of his bedroom door," Christine asked Spock who nearly jumped into action, striding across the hall. He remembered the smaller of the two rooms where he had watched the boy sleep months ago.

"Which ones?" he called back to her.

"What do you want?" Christine asked her son. "Rocket ships or horsies?"

"Rocket ships!" Leonard beamed.

"Guess!" Christine answered playfully.

Hoping he had made the correct assumption, Spock returned carrying the tiny pair of fuzzy footed night clothes decorated with stars and cartoonish space vehicles.

"I hope I have ... guessed right," he told Christine.

"Perfect. See, you know your son," Christine smiled as she began to dress her son for bed. Afterward she helped him vibe his teeth at the sink and combed his still damp hair. In no time he was ready to be carried across the hall and tucked in. She decided that would be a perfect job for his father.

Spock carefully picked up his drowsy little boy from the counter where Christine had set him and followed her into the child's bedroom. It was stacked with even more toys. Christine walked ahead of him and turned down the desert print bedspread. It reminded him of a Vulcan landscape and was certain that she must have had that in mind when she chose it. He laid Leonard gently down and Christine covered the boy, nestling him into the blankets.

"Story, Mommy," Leonard whimpered.

"Aren't you too tired for a story tonight?" Christine worried.

"Ungh-a." He shook his little head.

"Alright, a short one." She picked up a thin book from the child's bedside table as Spock sat down at the foot of the bed.

Christine snuggled down beside her son and gathered him up in her arms. Opening the book in front of him so he could see the words, she began to recount the tail of a silly old bear and a blustery day. Spock watched her intoning and inflecting the lines to the boy's amusement. He listened to his son echo, "Tut, Tut, it looks like rain, " after the woman he held so dear. He saw them both delighting in just being near each other and knew it was so precious and right. He never wanted to leave that spot.

When Christine finished she laid the book aside and rested her cheek on top of her son's dark hair. She hummed a lovely little lullaby and closed her eyes, marveling in the child's presence. For a moment Spock was uncertain if she even remembered he was in the room, until Christine opened her eyes and smiled at him with more love than he had ever seen. He felt his dark and lonely world float away, replaced by warmth and completeness.

After a few moment Christine settled Leonard back down onto the pillow and kissed his forehead. "Goodnight, Precious," she smiled.

"'Night, Mommy," the boy whispered. Then he looked over at Spock. "'Night, Daddy," he smiled.

Spock stood and walked to the head of the bed, then he knelt down to see his son's face more clearly. Taking his finger he smoothed back the child's bangs. "Goodnight, my son," he answered.

At that moment, Leonard sprang upward and wrapped his arms around his father's neck. Holding tightly he buried his small innocent face against Spock's skin. The Vulcan's first instinct was to pull away at the contact. Christine took an unconscious step forward, anxious that her son's still tender feelings not be hurt. Spock, however, did not pull away. To even his own surprise he enfolded his child in his own strong arms and pulled the boy to him, cradling his tiny head. He held him for a long moment, reveling in the pure and unconditional affection between them. Then he softly returned the child to his pillow. "I cherish thee, my son," Spock told him.

"I love you too, Daddy," little Leonard yawned.

Standing, Spock could see the tears in Christine's eyes. He gently took her hand in his and savored the love and tenderness he found there as well. He was certain he did not deserve it, but would not give it up now for anything.

Before they turned to go, Bear, who had been dutifully sitting at his master's father's feet, jumped up on the end of bed and nestled himself in for the night.

"Christine?" Spock questioned. A sehlat would never be allowed inside at night on Vulcan, much less in a child's bed. There were special pens for the animals.

"It's alright," she assured him, and patted the animal on the head. She knew the animal was guarding her son. Together she and Spock walked to the door. They stopped a moment to look back at their son who was just finding sleep, and then switched off the light. Christine closed the door, leaving a small opening through which she could hear her boy in the night. Neither of them saw their son open his eyes and usher his sehlat cub under the covers with him.

Out in the hall. Spock was still holding onto Christine's hand. She stared into his deep eyes and the depths of her crystal blue ones nearly intoxicated him. It had been so long. Both knew how they wanted to night to end.

"Would you like some tea?" Christine offered.

"That would be most pleasurable," Spock answered her. "Perhaps afterward we could ... talk," his eyes teased.

"That would be most pleasurable," Christine smiled seductively at him.

* * *

Spock sat on the sofa in the living room as Christine prepared tea for them in the kitchen. The feeling of warmth, comfort, and safety which had begun earlier grew stronger as he lounged against the soft but durable fabric. He allowed himself to relax. Closing his eyes he listened to the sounds she made. The hushed clink of porcelain, the gentle pouring of warm water, and the swish of stirring lulled him into a wonderful feeling of domestic bliss. He could get very used to this. His son was sleeping peacefully in the other room and the woman he hope to soon make his wife would soon appear from behind the divider, her beautiful smile lighting his world. Vulcans hardly every sighed, but everything was so right that Spock could not help himself.

"You look comfortable," Christine grinned coming out of the kitchen carrying two steaming mugs on a small tray. She handed him one as she reached the sofa.

"Yes, the absence of stimulation is most enjoyable," Spock reported reaching for the cup she offered him as she put the tray on the table and sat beside him.

"Well, I hope it won't last too long." Christine blew the steam away from her mug before taking a sip, a teasing smiled playing on her lips.

"I simply meant that I quite enjoy the peace here," he amended. "You have made a wonderful home for our child." He took a drink of his tea and found the brew very satisfying. Christine had added just a touch of honey.

"I owed him nothing less," she said, thoughtfully.

At that Spock returned the tea to the tray and moved forward until he was practically face to face with Christine. "When I was last here, we spoke of our future," he said lowly.

Christine placed her cup beside his, but was unable to face him. "Yes. I remember," she answered.

"You were agreeable to our joining then," he confirmed. "Is that still true?" He had to know. He sat unable to breath hoping that she still wanted him.

Christine closed her eyes, treasuring the sound of his voice. "Yes. It is still true," she smiled. "Do you still want to bond with me?" she questioned.

It was then that Spock took Christine's trembling hand in his own and held them tight. He kissed her fingers and looked deep into her eyes. "There is nothing I want more in this entire universe," he vowed.

Christine sighed with relief. Tears of happiness shone in her eyes as she gazed at him. It had been so long, he had been through so much, and still he wanted her. For the first time in a long time she allowed herself to dream. "Welcome home," she whispered happily.

"I have been gone far too long," Spock answered her.

Spock then gathered her into his arms and brought his lips to hers, kissing her with all the passion and euphoria of a doomed being who had just been restored to life. He felt reborn. New hopes and dreams appeared before him and he chased them with wild abandon. Standing, he lifted Christine into his arms and slowly walked toward her bedroom, his lips barely parting from hers.

He laid her upon the bed as if she were glass. Bending over her, his kisses were hot and sweet, and matched those she bestowed upon him. His lips found her jaw, and traveled down her throat. Their fingers, hungry for the sensation of each other, worked at the closures of their garments until they stood before each other with nothing to hinder them. Christine reached and brought him closer to her, her senses intoxicated by him.

"T'hy'la, wait. I am not prepared." He halted. "It will only take a moment, let me retrieve..." Spock began.

Christine released him reluctantly. "Hurry," she said. He jumped up from the bed and hastily grabbed his tunic. Reaching into the pocket he brought out a small item. It was all she could do to control her reaction as she watched his silhouette enter the master bathroom. Her mind lingered on the image until he returned.

Moving stealthily across the room, he resumed his place, enfolding her in his arms. "Now, where were we?" His voice was low and throaty.

Christine inched over a bit, finding the perfect spot. "Right there." She smiled seductively and he succumbed gladly.

* * *

Spock awoke with Christine enfolded in his arms, her gentle rhythmic breathing playing softly against his chest. He savored the feel of her body next to his own and relished the knowledge that he would wake beside her each morning. He sighed with contentment and nestled against her. How right it felt to be there with her, almost as if they had shared hundreds of mornings together. Spock deeply regretted the time they had lost, much of which he had stolen from her through his own stubbornness and pride. He knew he could never truly make that up to her, but he intended to spend every moment trying.

Her unconscious body moved deeper into his embrace and he welcomed her. He allowed his thoughts to wander to the events in both their recent pasts. His newly restored life had so far shown him wonders he could not even have imagined. His love for Christine had always been there, but he had hidden it so deeply and so sternly that he had even refused to acknowledge the truth to himself. It had cost him dearly. She had been so brave, bringing his child into the world alone, never once blaming or accusing him. She had been willing to raise the boy alone rather than force him into obligation. There was no burden in the discovery that he had a son, only joy. This happiness had also brought with it a woman, whom he realized he loved more than his very life. He had never dreamed such emotions as he was feeling possible within him, and let them run free, cherishing the sensations. His strongest desire was to shelter and protect Christine and Leonard so that nothing would ever threaten or harm them. He vowed to do just that.

As Spock lay in the first few rays of morning light, contentedly studying the woman who would soon become his wife, a noise from the other room disturbed him from his thoughts. Somehow Christine, who had been sound asleep, had also been roused by it. He marveled that she watched over their son even in her sleep.

"Coming, Baby," Christine mumbled, still half lost in her dreams.

Spock brushed his lips lightly against her temples and laid her head softly back against the pillow. "I will see to him, T'hy'la. Rest, you have earned it." Christine did not protest. She smiled happily, enjoying that he was now there to be her heart and helpmate. She did not have to be the strong one at all times anymore.

Spock rose from their bed and retrieved the pants and tunic he had worn the night before, the only clothing he had there at the moment. Dressing and grooming quietly, he left Christine to the last few moments of her sleep and slipped silently into the hall. He found Leonard sitting atop his blankets playing with his model of the Enterprise. The boy's wide smile as he entered brightened Spock's world.

"You are awake early, my son," Spock noted.

"Uh-huh. Bear wasn't tired anymore. He woke me up." The little boy grinned.

"Bear should let you sleep." Spock looked disapprovingly at the sehlat as he sat on the bed beside his son.

"He always wakes me up," Leonard informed him. "Mommy calls him my 'larm clock." He shrugged, not understanding what she had meant. "She's always up now anyway."

"Your mother is tired. I told her to remain in bed," Spock said. The little boy nodded and continued to take the Enterprise through moves that Spock did not tell him would have probably annihilated everyone aboard.

For a while the older Vulcan lost himself also, his enjoyment came from watching his son at play. The boy was obviously extremely intelligent, with a quick mind, expansive imagination, and instinctive intuition. He reminded him of himself at that age. Spock was certain it was most logical to feel pride over such an exceptional child.

Turning quickly from his starship training, the three year old looked wide-eyed at his father. "I'm hungry," he announced.

"Come, we will find something for you to eat," Spock answered, holding out his arms. The little boy jumped into his waiting ride without hesitation.

Together they walked to the dining room where Spock sat the boy down in his customary place at the head of the table. "What does your mother fix for your breakfast?" he asked him.

Leonard smiled almost too innocently at his father. "Donuts!" he grinned.

Spock studied the boy with suspicious. "Leonard, I doubt very much that your mother allows you to eat donuts every morning."

The boy bowed his head, caught in his attempt at deception. "Oatmeal," he sulked.

"That is more appropriate," Spock agreed.

Rummaging through the cupboards Spock managed to find the box of oats, as well as a pan. He often prepared the same thing for himself. He measured out the meal, added the water, and set it to boil.

Returning to where Leonard was watching him with wonder he asked, "Shall we surprise your mother?" The boy nodded. Spock was certain that Christine would enjoy having her breakfast served to her in bed. He remembered how pleased his mother had been at that very gesture on special occasions.

"What do you think she would like to eat?" Spock consulted the boy.

"Pancakes!" Leonard answered immediately.

Spock considered the suggestion. At first he thought it might be another attempt by his young son to satisfy his sweet tooth. Then he thought that Christine probably would enjoy the customary Earth delicacy. Finally he thought with surprise how naturally he was fitting into his new role as a father.

In no time the oatmeal was ready and Spock dished up two large bowls for himself and Leonard. After adding a little milk to make the mixture a bit more palatable, he peered into the refrigerator and found his mother's secret ingredient for coaxing a small boy to eat grain cereal, maple syrup. Pouring a generous amount over both servings, he carried them to the table and set them beside the two glasses of juice he had already poured.

Spock ate slowly, watching little Leonard devour his portion. "Mmmm, good!" the child exclaimed, tasting the sweetness of the added syrup. Spock reminded himself to thank his mother the next time he spoke with her.

With their porridge gone, and after some very satisfying conversation, the two Vulcans went about preparing Christine's meal. It was then that Spock realized he had never actually tried to make pancakes before. Luckily, there was a computer port in the kitchen. That should provide sufficient assistance.

"Computer," he spoke to the screen. "Recipe, pancakes."

"Specify Buttermilk, Buckwheat, Blueberry, or Chocolate Chip," the mechanical voice ordered.

Chocolate chip? Spock thought to himself. Apparently Christine had programmed the recipes herself, he now understood from whom their son got his affinity for sweets. He was also a bit annoyed at having to choose. All he had wanted was a simple tutorial on preparing the basic food item. Spock reminded himself of Christine's advanced cooking skills and realized that her recipes were probably at least one step above basic.

Spock stepped over to the refrigerator and opened the door. He had noticed a large well stocked fruit drawer and wondered if it might contain the particular produce the computer had offered. He was in luck. "Blueberry," he stated.

The screen lit up with necessary steps and measurements. Spock lifted Leonard up and sat him on the counter, reading off Christine's directions as he went for his son to hear. He gathered the mixing bowl, flour, eggs, berries, everything he needed and set to work combining them with his son's help.

Cooking had never been an activity Spock enjoyed. He preferred the food units on the ship. The work was all done and the clean up was effortless. This was very different and he soon wished he had watched his mother more closely as she had prepared meals when he was young.

His first surprise came when he nearly lost sight of his son in a cloud of flour. The boy's coughing had told him that the youngster still perched on top of the counter as he waved the particles from the air. Apparently one needed to be rather careful when pouring the refined product into the bowl. Next Spock realized that Christine had quite a collection of cooking oils to choose from. He closed his eyes and picked. Olive oil was considered a fine quality component after all.

Leonard sat watching with delight as his father's expression changed from confusion to frustration. The little boy could not contain his laughter as he stirred the mixture. Spock had neglected to tell the child to take care when stirring in the blueberries, and by the time he turned around from preparing the skillet Christine's breakfast had taken on a decidedly purple hue. Having never actually seen this type of pancake before, Spock was sure that was how it should look.

* * *

In the master bedroom Christine rolled over and woke slowly, luxuriating in the night she had spent with Spock. He had not returned from seeing to their son and she wondered just what her two men were up to. The delicious smell of oatmeal wafted through the air and Spock's deep voice echoed from the kitchen, followed by the music of her son's laughter.

"What are you two doing out there?" she called happily.

"We are preparing your breakfast, T'hy'la," Spock answered. "Relax. We shall bring it to you shortly." Christine grabbed her robe from the side of the bed, flung it around herself, and stretched with abandon. Normally she would have been up hours ago and would be chasing Leonard around the apartment trying to get him dressed before Bear used the floor for a litter box. Resting against the pillows, she allowed herself to enjoy the long morning, thankful that neither she nor Spock were required on duty that day. They could spend a wonderful time together with their son.

Out in the kitchen Spock was beginning to pour the batter into the two inches of oil he had heated in the skillet. The cold liquid meeting the searing heat created a smoky haze so thick that Vulcan nearly choked, Leonard held his nose and tried his best not to cough, but to no avail. The hissing and Bear's growling was so loud that Christine opened her eyes worriedly trying to figure out what it was.

The first cake was turning black around the edges when Spock realized he had neglected to retrieve something with which to turn it. Searching through the cupboards he finally managed to pull out a spatula, along with half the contents of the drawer. The metal clanging on the floor jolted Leonard, Bear, and Christine.

"Do you need any help out there?" she called, picturing her damaged kitchen.

"Everything is fine," Spock answered in tone Christine was not certain conveyed annoyance or utter panic.

"Don't worry, Mommy," Leonard interjected. "We'll clean up the mess."

"Mess?" Christine questioned to herself.

Finally, after a few anxious moments, Spock walked through the door to the master bedroom, offering a tray with a heaping stack of something mostly purple and black, a dish of fruit, a cup of coffee, and a small pitcher of syrup. He was escorted by their son who had been given the duty of carrying his mother's orange juice. Little Leonard had only spilled about a third of it on the hall carpet. Christine sat up in anticipation.

Christine smiled widely. "Blueberry pancakes...?" she asked as Spock set the try on her lap. "My ... uh ... favorite," she finished, wondering if she had gotten it right.

"I helped Daddy make them," Leonard beamed proudly as he climbed into the bed beside her.

"You did?" Christine eyed her son curiously. He seemed to have gone gray overnight. A few quick breaths instantly revealed his black locks to be still covered with flour.

"I hope they will be to your liking. I used the recipe you had programmed into the computer unit," Spock said standing over her, ready to wait on her.

"I'm sure they're perfect," Christine smiled, trying to make herself believe it.

She dowsed the stack with as much syrup as she could manage and still keep her figure and dug in, fearing for her life. At least Leonard would have his father. The creations crackled when her fork split them and she tried to hide her concern with another smile. Spock seemed anxious for her to try them. The first bite tasted vaguely of blueberry, but was rather rich and smoky and reminded Christine of the pasta she had fixed a few days before. The second bite was not much better, but she found that with the third her sensation of taste was dimming a bit. Washing it down with coffee, she was relieved that at least they had used the food unit for that.

"It's deli ... cious," she smiled warmly, trying to swallow the remnants of the bite she had been chewing for several minutes. "I have two chefs in my house." Both of her men seemed proud at her approval.

At last, she had finished every last bite. All that was left to do was wait for any side effects. Although the meal was not quite right, Christine could not help but smile at the identical looks on Spock's and Leonard's faces. They were waiting for her approval. "That was a wonderful surprise. I loved it." She kissed her son's forehead and looked lovingly at Spock. "Thank you."

"I am gratified they were to your liking," Spock answered. Christine only smiled. "Is there anything else you require?" he asked.

"Oh, no," she returned hastily. "I'm stuffed."

With all of the humans and Vulcans sufficiently nourished, Bear began to whine. "He needs to go out. I'll get dressed,"Christine informed Spock, starting to get out of bed.

Spock quickly stopped her. "This is your day to rest. I will take him. Leonard can accompany me."

"Yay!" The little boy cheered.

"I will draw you a warm bath and dress our son. You can enjoy the peace while we are out," Spock said, heading for the bathroom. A few moments later the inviting sounds of water filling the tub greeted Christine's ears. Usually she took showers, they were quicker. She could not remember the last time she had allowed herself time for a bath.

"I assumed you like bubbles in the water. I found a bottle of the liquid in the cabinet and added some," Spock told her.

"Oh, yes. That would be heavenly. Thank you." She grinned at his thoughtfulness.

Spock took the empty tray back to the kitchen and then returned for their son. He helped the child groom and dress and sent him for the leash which Leonard had told him they kept Bear on while outside. He found Christine in the bathroom testing the water with her toe. "I trust it is not too hot," he ventured.

"No. It's perfect. It's all so perfect." Christine turned.

Spock crossed the room and took her in his arms. "You shall never need to worry again," he told her as he brought his lips to hers. Christine melted into his embrace. They stood together for a moment, desire and passion igniting once more in the steam. They felt their bodies urging them on and their embrace tightened.

"Come on, Daddy!" Leonard called from the living room. "Bear's gotta go."

Christine smiled and Spock's eyes danced with amusement. "You'd better go on," she told him.

"I won't be long. We shall continue this later." He kissed her once more.

"I'm counting on it," Christine affirmed.

"You are not to lift a finger. I will clean the kitchen when we return," Spock promised as he turned to go.

"Don't worry. I'll probably still be in the bath," Christine laughed as he left the room.

Through the door Christine could hear the muffled sounds of her son and his father leaving with the family pet. She smiled in wonder to herself as she removed her robe and slipped into the soothing water. It was only yesterday that she had been certain his memories of her and of their son were gone, and she would never again know his presence in her life. Now she had a family. The man she had loved for so long was hers and her child was the joy of her soul. She marveled at the wondrous paths life sometimes took. Dreaming of the future she would share with Spock and Leonard and any other children that happened to come along, Christine sighed happily and did exactly what he had told her to do. For the first time in a long time, she rested.

* * *

After several glorious hours Spock and Christine lay bound in each other's arms. Her face rested on his chest and she sighed contentedly. Never had she felt so protected and safe. His warmth began to lull her into a peaceful sleep. His fingers lightly played upon the skin of her shoulders, every inch of her aura intoxicating him. He now knew what it truly meant to belong, to be cherished, to be needed, to be loved, and love in return without reservation. Exhaustion and the understanding that Christine needed to rest were the only things that kept him from exploring every inch of her body once more.

"T'hy'la," he whispered against her hair and was answered with a long and soothing breath against his skin. He closed his eyes and prepared to join her in slumber.

It was only a short few moments later that a muffled cry from the other room brought him back to awareness. Christine had already pulled away from him in the darkness and had moved to stand.

"What is it?" he asked alarmed watching her cover herself with a robe, concern for his son growing.

"He's having another nightmare," she answered, her focus totally on reaching her child. She was at the door before he could throw back the blankets.

Spock hurriedly jumped from the bed they had shared. "Lights on!" he order the computer as he pulled on the pants that had lain on the floor and headed for the doorway.

"M-OM-MY!" Little Leonard's voice was filled with fright and tears.

Spock reached the boy's door just as Christine was reaching his bed. She had already commanded the lights and her face was lined with worry. Their son was sitting up in his bed, his hair and pajamas disheveled from tossing in his sleep. He held out his arms as his mother approached and wrapped his tiny limbs around her neck as she enfolded him in hers.

"What's the matter, angel?" Christine questioned. Spock could hear the tears she fought back.

"They were bad, they hurt people," the toddler cried.

"Who, sweety?" Christine rocked him, cradling his head close to her heart. Spock crossed the room in two strides and sat beside his son and soon to be wife, concern evident on his face.

"Monsters!" Leonard nearly screamed, his tears starting again.

"Shh, shh. They can't hurt you." Christine stroked his head.

"They hurt a nice man and there was a lady," the boy said. "They had a big knife."

"What did these monster look like, my son?" Spock asked.

"Big and hairy, they had wrinkles on their faces," Leonard answered beginning to calm as he realized the terror was over and he was safe in his parents' arms. Bear growled lowly, still vigilent. Neither Christine nor Spock noticed that the animal was sitting on the pillow next to where their son had been laying.

"Klingons?" Christine whispered looking puzzled at Spock. "He's never seen a..." she began, but was interrupted by her son.

"They tried to hurt him," the boy whimpered.

"Who, the nice man?" Christine said, still rocking her frightened child.

"No." Leonard buried his face against her. "Daddy."

Spock and Christine looked at each other, both afraid they knew to what the boy was referring. It was David Marcus' death on the Genesis Planet, when the Klingons had held Spock and Saavik prisoner and had almost killed them as they had Jim Kirk's grown son.

"Has he had these nightmares before?" Spock asked Christine softly.

She nodded. "He's been having them since you... since you left on the training cruise. Not everynight, but there have been quite a few."

Spock closed his eyes. He was now certain there was a strong connection between himself and his son. Apparently, the boy was somehow seeing what his father had experienced.

"Come here, my son." Spock reached for the boy who allowed his father to take him from his mother's lap and cradle him his strong arms.

"I know the monsters you saw in your dream. They cannot hurt you," Spock told the still trembling little boy.

"They can't?" Leonard asked.

"No. I have seen them before and they have been stopped from ever hurting anyone again," Spock continued. His son looked up at him with wide eyes. "There are beings like the ones you saw. However, the ones who hurt the nice man and tried to hurt me do not exist anymore. Others like them are far, far from here. They cannot hurt you, or your mother, or me." Leonard laid his head against his father's bare chest. Spock enjoyed the sensation of trust and wonder that eminated from the little mind. He stroked the boy's dark hair. "I will never let anything hurt you..." he promised, looking over at Christine who was smiling at him proudly. "...Either of you."

"They were so scary," Leonard said.

"What is only in your mind cannot harm you," Spock told him. "Let me tell you a story I think that you will enjoy," he said, wanting to reassure the child and take the terrifying images from his thoughts. He laid the boy back against his soft pillow while Christine nestled beside him on the other side of the bed, forcing an unhappy Bear to find a place on the floor. Spock sat on the side of the mattress and took a breath to begin.

"You too, Daddy," the smiling boy insisted.

Spock thought for a moment, then decided that he could not refuse his son after such a traumatic nightmare. "Very well," he agreed and lay down opposite Christine, gathering both of them in his arms. "It is about a time when I, Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy..."

"Uncle Jim and Uncle Leonard?" the boy smiled recognizing his friends.

Spock looked at Christine in amusement. "Yes, and several other members of our crew..." he continued. "...had to believe that something in our minds could not hurt us...."

Spock went on to recount the tale of the Enterprise's dealing with the Melkots, in which the crew came face to face with the legendary Earp gang at the O.K. Corral, only to realize it was all an illusion. He told the child how he had helped his friends to imagine that the bullets which the beings fired would not hurt them. By the time he had finished his son was studying him with nothing less than hero worship and Christine could barely contain the delighted grin that stretched across her face.

"Now, do you see why I say those monsters cannot hurt you?" Spock asked the drowsy boy.

"Yeah. Because you stopped them," the toddler smiled.

It was not quite the moral that Spock had hoped to impart, and he began to attempt to correct the youngster's misinterpretation. Christine, stifling a laugh, silenced his futile attempt.

"Are you going to be alright now?" she asked their son, kissing his temple.

"Uh-huh," Leonard nodded with a yawn, barely able to keep his little eyes open.

"Alright. We'll leave the hall light on. How's that?" she asked. Her only answer was the a nod of a head that was beginning to find now peaceful dreams. Christine rose, tucking the covers tightly around her son, and motioned for Spock to follow her. Bear jumped back upon the bed as they left.

Christine closed the door halfway, but left on the hall light as she had promised. She and Spock stood togther outside their son's room. "He thinks you're Superman now, you do realize that?" she asked with a smile.

Spock raised an eyebrow at her. "It is not appropriate for a child to believe his father capable of protecting his family?" he asked.

"Oh, yes. Yes, of course," Christine laughed to herself.

She began to turn toward the master bedroom, when Spock caught her lightly by the wrist. "I meant what I said to him," he reminded her seriously, bringing her close to him. "I will never let anything hurt either of you. I cherish you both more than my own life."

"I know," Christine said, watching the fire in his eyes. "I have always been certain that you would." She lowered her head.

"It fills me with shame that I was not here for you," Spock told her. "I wish I could have been there when he was born."

Christine looked up at him through tears. "Oh, I wanted you there," she admitted. "Forgive me." she pleaded.

"T'hy'la, I have already told you. I understand. There is nothing to forgive," Spock told her. "I simply meant that, if I had been there for you through all of it, perhaps things would have been easier, and perhaps our son would not be having nightmares."

"I've tried to do the best I could, but it has been hard sometimes," she whispered.

"You have done a remarkable job," Spock assured her, holding her tightly. "I am in awe of you."

Christine looked up into his deep loving eyes. Suddenly there was something she knew she had to do. "Come with me. I want to show you something."

Christine took his hand and led him into the living room. She motioned for him to sit on the sofa as she crossed to the vid monitor. Choosing a certain vid disk from her small collection she placed it in the player and turned to join him. Taking his hand she squeezed it, smiled at him, and ordered the computer to play the vid.

The small dark screen across the room suddenly came alive. Spock saw Christine, her beautiful face red from exhertion and contorted in pain. She could not control the cries that sprang from her throat. She was half lying, half sitting on a medical table. Her knees were pointed to the ceiling, her abdomen large with his child. She gasped with effort complying to an unknown voice's command for her to push.

"My mother was taking the vid," Christine smiled at him. "I forgot she even had the recorder."

Spock could only sit silently and watch in wonder. He could see that Uhura was standing by Christine's side, her fingers tightly clenched around those of her friend. He heard her giving words of encouragement to Christine with a worried smiled on her face.

"Nyota was a Godsend," Christine recounted. "I don't think she let go of my hand the entire time, even when I'm sure I nearly broke hers. She never complained."

An older woman Spock did not know, but who bore an uncanny resemblance to Christine was holding her other hand. "That's my eldest sister." Christine explained. "She talked me through it. She was a great coach. She should be, she's got five of her own."

"That's a way, Chris! Keep pushing. I can see his little pointed ears!" Another familiar voice could be heard on the vid.

"Dr. McCoy was there?" Spock asked.

"Yeah, he was supposed to be helping my doctor ... wouldn't hear of anything else," Christine laughed. "Honestly though, he was pretty much of a basket case. He paced so much you'd have thought he was the father."

"I am grateful that you had such support then," Spock told her.

Christine's pain-filled scream was suddenly replaced by the sharp pitched tone of her newborn. At that moment Spock watched his son taking his first breath. He heard Christine laughing and crying at the same time and saw her reaching for their child, instantly protective. He watched their first moment together, happy tears mingling with newborn ones.

"Oh, Chrissy. He's beautiful!" her sister announced.

"He's perfect. Isn't he?" Christine looked down into the face of her new son. "I only wish..." For a brief moment her tears did not seem quite so happy. Spock finished her thought in his mind, before he saw her bury her secret longing and return her full joy back to her child as she kissed his soft tender head.

"I have missed so much," he told her as they sat on the sofa watching her memories, ones he did not share. "I can only imagine how amazing it must have been. I will never know that," he rebuked himself.

"It's true that you can't have that time back with Leonard. I will always regret that," she lamented. "But, I can still have more children," Christine smiled.

"Do you mean, you would be agreeable to having another?" Spock asked her.

Her smiled lit the room. "I would love to," she answered.

"You are extraordinary," he exclaimed, taking her face in his hands and kissing her. She took his hand and led him to his feet. They walked quietly down the hallway, pausing to check on their son. Christine was certain his dreams now were of his father riding in on a gallant steed to save them both, and then riding off with them into the sunset. She felt as though that were truly happening.

As they made their way back to bed, Spock stopped a moment where his tunic lay and began to reach into the pocket once more. "I will be only a short moment," he said.

Christine stroked his face and tasted his lips again. She touched his hand lightly and smiled mischievously. "Oh, forget it," she whispered.

Spock lifted her into his arms and walked slowly over to the bed. There were still hours until morning, and still many frontiers to explore.

* * *

A week had not passed before Christine found herself kneeling upon the Vulcan soil of Mount Seleya, pledging herself in bonding to her son's father. Spock bowed in front of her, his knees on the ground, his fingers lightly upon her face, vowing his eternal commitment to her. They were both awestruck by the depths of the other's soul and the scope of the love they held for each other as well as for their child.

They had been met at the space port the previous day by Spock's parents. It had been a wonderful family reunion. Little Leonard ran as fast as his could to the older couple yelling, "Gramma, Grampa!" all the way. Amanda scooped the toddler up in her arms and squeezed him tightly to her. She was beside herself with glee that she would have him with her a time. Even Sarek allowed the boy an informal embrace, much to Spock's surprise. The Vulcans in the terminal watched the display disapprovingly, however, none in the family noticed, nor did they care.

Christine and Spock were relieved to find that his mother and father had undertaken and completed most of the preparations for the ceremony and that all they need do was enjoy their special day. Christine and Leonard found themselves instantly welcomed and immediately at home.

Christine soon discovered that the bedroom Spock had told her his mother was preparing for their son was more like a child's wonderland. It was as least twice as large as their living room on Earth and contained every form of entertainment imaginable for a three year old to content himself. Leonard wasted no time acquainting himself with his surroundings. There were even accommodations for Bear who had also found his way to his native planet, after much insistence by his young caregiver. Amanda had heard that her grandson preferred to keep his pet near him at night and bought the largest and softest doggy bed she could find. Anything for her son's son. Christine and Spock feared they might not be able to coax their child to go back home with them.

Today Leonard stood respectfully by his grandfather's side. He wore a small version of their house's ceremonial robe and he looked like a small replica of his father. Christine had barely been able to contain herself when she saw her son in his outfit. Now the child waited patiently, watching his mother and father join. He would also have a special part in the ceremony.

Finally, their souls, minds, and hearts united as one, Spock and Christine looked up from their exploration of each other still momentarily lost in the sensation. They looked over at their son and Christine smiled happily at him. Sarek took the boy by the hand and led him toward T'Lar who was officiating.

The boy peered up at his ancient relative in wonder, but not fear. The clan's leader glanced over at Spock, remembering another child who had studied her with the same reverence.

The room was silent as she spoke to the child. "Leonard, son of Spock, grandson of Sarek," she announced. "We welcome thee as a son and heir of this house. May thee honor us as we honor thee, and may thee always take pride in thy heritage." Christine sighed contentedly as the old woman spoke, confident that her son's rightful place within his family was sealed by her words.

The boy was then led to where his parents still kneeled on the red dry ground. Christine enfolded him in her arms and sat him on her lap. Spock regarded them with pride, barely believing they were his. After a moment, he reached for his wife's face with one hand and his son's with the other. First he imparted the naming upon his son, who had not been given the ritual at his birth. He spoke to the boy of who he was within the clan, and assured him that he belonged. Next was the forming of the familial bond. While the cohesion with their son was not as strong as the one they share between only themselves, Spock and Christine formed an unbreakable union with the boy. They would be with each other always.

When the ceremony was over Leonard was returned to the waiting arms of his grandmother. She and the boy's grandfather would watch over him for a few days while his parents celebrated their union privately, as was custom. Amanda, of course, was on cloud nine at being able to spend the precious time with the child. She already had plans for their every minute together. She intended that little Leonard be kept so busy and so pampered that he would hardly notice Spock and Christine were not with him.

For the newly joined couple the time passed almost too quickly. While they both missed their son immensely the opportunity to be alone together and explore the nuances of their bond was magical. Every aspect of even their most secret selves were opened to them and they marveled in the knowing. Their memories, pasts, hopes, their very souls merged and became one being. Their love knew no bounds, and their passion no limits. Both delighted that they would never be parted again.

Although they would have quite eagerly stayed in each other's arms forever, Christine and Spock were forced to bring their reveries to an end. They both had their duties to return to on Earth. Christine did not want to think of the work that must have piled up in her absence and Spock would be reporting back to the Enterprise soon, once again as first officer. Besides, they could not wait to be reunited with their son. It was obvious that although the child had been well loved and looked after while his parents celebrated their time together, he had longed for them as well. His loud joyful cry and open arms as he ran to them upon their return to Sarek and Amanda's home evidenced his elation at seeing them again. The next day the little family reluctantly said their farewell and departed for home.

Once back on Earth, Spock wasted no time moving his sparse belongings to the apartment he would now, of course, share with his wife and their son. Although, as a Vulcan he saw little logic in accumulating mass collections of possessions, the addition of his things in the small space taxed the capacity of the rooms to their limits. The couple soon began house hunting. Both looked forward to their future with excited anticipation.

It was after a long and hectic day at Headquarters only a few weeks after their return from Vulcan, in which Christine had not even found a few minutes to call Fillomina and check on Leonard, that she and Spock would soon find their blissful peace shattered.

* * *

Christine sighed with near exhaustion as she pulled her small ground car into the old driveway north of the city. Her head was still ringing from the endless barrage of activity at Headquarters. There had been reports of the Klingons increasing their efforts to gain information about the Genesis Project and security had been tightened throughout the Federation. Star ships all along the Neutral Zone were on heightened alert and apparently Star Fleet intelligence was working overtime. The Genesis Project, the words made her cringe. That horrible attempt to play Creator had almost cost her the man she loved, the father of her child. She smiled to herself and rubbed her neck as she glanced toward the sky. She could see Space Dock faintly outlined in the setting sun and knew that Spock was up there seeing to running of Enterprise. It filled her with so much pride, she had to catch her breath. Through their bond she felt him sensing of her thoughts and playfully nudging her mind. He also reminded her that he would be home for dinner.

She was still smiling when she climbed the ancient wooden steps to the screen door of the enchanting Victorian cottage that Fillomina called home. The old woman's husband had passed away several years before and her grown children were all scattered across the globe. She doted on Leonard and considered him another one of her grandchildren. Christine knew she could not have asked for a better caretaker for her son.

She pulled the screen door open and began to knock on the front door. Then she realized it was opened a bit. It was not like Fillomina to leave the entrance unattended. A chill of worry ran through Christine as she shoved open the wood and glass frame and went inside. It was deathly quiet and her fear grew with each step she took. She prayed she would find them both playing in the back yard.

"Fillomina?" Christine called. There was no answer.

"Leonard?" she tried. Nothing.

Her pace quickened as she searched the rooms downstairs. There was no one. Panic gripped her throat and she bolted up the narrow staircase to the second floor. There, only inches from the landing she found Fillomina's motionless form.

"Oh God!" Christine cried, her fear for her son overtaking even her medical instincts, she stepped beside the woman and ran toward the little room that was kept for him.

"Leonard?" she screamed. Her stomach lurched as she realized the room, strewn with his toys, was empty. "Leonard? Where are you?" If something had happened maybe he was hiding. "It's Mommy." Her heart raced faster and faster with each passing moment. She opened the closet, peered under the bed, ran through the upstairs rooms shouting his name. There was no answer.

Then she heard something, a groan. It was Fillomina. Christine ran back to where the old woman was beginning to come to herself, a massive bruise already forming on her temple. The younger woman reached her and dropped to her knees, taking her by the shoulders in one motion.

"Fillomina?" Christine shouted in frantic horror. "Where's Leonard?... Where's my baby?" she gasped, unable to hold back frightened tears.

The old woman shook her pounding head as realization came to her. Her soft eyes filled with fear and shock and tears ran down her cheeks. "Oh, Chris-tine," she choked through her fright and Italian accent. "They ... took ... him!"

* * *

Spock felt Christine's terror ever before her own thoughts formed. Their strong bond made the distance between them vanish. On the bridge of the Enterprise, moored in Space Dock, her mind touched his and her overwhelming panic nearly catapulted him from his station. His comm unit buzzed exactly at the moment he was reaching for the button to contact her. He quickly depressed the switch that would accept the incoming message.

The viewscreen over his console instantly showed his wife's beautiful, but stricken face. "What has happened, Christine?" he asked urgently.

The tone of his voice and Christine's frantic sobs brought the attentions of the entire bridge crew upon his worried stance. Captain Kirk turned in his chair and walked forward, eager to help his friends in whatever might be wrong. Dr. McCoy, who had been on the bridge discussing plans for the evening with the captain, joined him. The old doctor's face was creased with worry. He could already tell that Christine was near hysterics. His former head nurse was one of the most stable people he knew. It could only mean one thing. Something was wrong with her child. He swore that if anyone had hurt his little namesake, they would have to answer to him. McCoy was also certain that he would have to get in line behind the boy's father, and Uncle Jim.

Spock barely noticed his two friends standing behind him as he tried to help Christine back to coherency. She had already tried twice to tell her husband what had occurred by the time the two officers reached the upper bridge deck. She could not force her words to make sense. "I do not understand, my wife..." Spock told Christine formally due to his small audience. "Please calm yourself." Through their bond he tried to sooth her but her fright was too great.

"He's gone!" she nearly screamed at him.

"Who is gone?" Spock asked, his own fear growing. He was certain she meant their son.

"Leonard. They took him," Christine cried, her voice choked. For a moment she lost herself in grief and spoke to the air. "Oh, God, they took my baby."

"What do you mean they took him? Who took him?" Kirk interrupted.

"I ... don't ... know." Christine was close to hyperventilating. "Fillomina didn't see them. They knocked her out and when I got here he was gone." Her tears streamed down her face. "Spock," she begged. "Please, I need you."

Spock clenched his jaw, fear, worry, and rage all battling against his most valiant efforts at control. How could this be happening? Whoever had stolen his child away, would pay dearly. He cared nothing for whatever consequences would befall him. "T'hy'la," he said, now unconcerned with the eyes watching from every station on the bridge. "Try to calm down. You will be of more help to our son with a clear head." Christine nodded as she sensed his stability with her. "Notify the authorities. I will be with you shortly," he told her.

"Captain. I hereby request immediate leave, and permission to beam to the planet's surface," Spock asked Kirk formally, standing stiffly.

Kirk studied his first officer. Of course he would grant the request. It was not that which caused him to hesitate, but the look in Spock's eyes. He had never seen such resolute hostility. He worried what the Vulcan might do to whomever it was who had kidnapped his son. He reminded himself of how he had felt the day his own son had been taken so violently from him. He understood his friend's pain more than anyone could know. "Of course," Kirk answered.

Spock nodded and turned to go. "Uhura. Notify Starfleet Command. I will accompany Mr. Spock to San Francisco," Kirk ordered falling in step behind his preoccupied first officer.

"Aye, sir." Uhura could not contain her worried tears as she complied.

"Yeah, notify Star Fleet," McCoy echoed. "Notify the Federation Council, notify the Vulcan Embassy, notify the blasted Girl Scouts if they can help. I'm going, too." He did not know what he could do, but Christine needed all the support she could get right now. He caught the turbolift just as the doors whooshed shut and accompanied Kirk and Spock to the little Victorian house just north of town.

Fillomina's home was already swarming with Federation Security personnel when Spock, Kirk, and McCoy arrived on the front porch. It had been impossible for them to beam directly to the house and it had seemed to take forever to get through the nearest Star Fleet facility, even with their credentials. Christine bolted from her seat on the sofa where she was being questioned and comforted by several officers, and rushed to her husband as he came through the door.

Neither cared that they were center of attention. Spock wrapped his arms tightly around Christine and held her close. He tried his best to whisper words of reassurance to her although he was not certain he believed them. She held on to him like a life line. Her world had been turned upside down and he was her only strength.

Christine lifted her face to his. The pain in her eyes tortured his already grieving soul. "Why?" was all she could whisper, knowing that Spock was no more capable of explaining the horror than she.

"I do not know, my T'hy'la." He stroked her hair. "However. I intend to find out," he vowed.

"Captain Spock?" a very professional middle aged human man asked the Vulcan and received an affirmative nod. "I'm Detective Simmons, Federation Security, California Division. I'll be heading the investigation into your son's disappearance."

"What evidence have you found so far?" Spock questioned, eager for answers, his arm still tightly around Christine's waist.

"Well, we've got nothing definite on the kidnappers yet. This doesn't look like just a random job. It appears whoever did this was after your son specifically," Simmons reported.

At that moment Fillomina, who had been talking to a young female officer stood and made her way shakily over to them. "I don't know who they were," she interrupted in tears. "They were huge. They wore masks and I couldn't see their faces. I tried to fight them. There were four and they were too strong. I told Leonard to run, but he's just a boy and he was too frightened. He tried to fight too, but they took him. I ran after them. That's when they hit me and..." She lost her voice in her crying.

"He must have been so scared," Christine whispered, as McCoy moved to help the traumatized old woman to sit.

"I'm so sorry," Fillomina cried.

Spock looked at her compassionately. She was as worried as they were. No one could have expected her to be able to fight off four assailants. "It was not your fault. I know you tried everything you could."

Christine looked up frantically at her husband. "Who would have anything against him? He's just a child. He's never hurt anyone." Her tears fell uncontrollably as she looked in confusion toward Kirk and McCoy for answers as well.

Spock closed his eyes, his worst suspicions coming true. "I doubt, T'hy'la," he said to Christine, "that it is revenge against him they are seeking."

"You're probably right, Captain," Simmons said. "You are quite a well known officer and..."

"Have most probably accumulated my share of enemies over the years, however unwittingly," Spock finished for him.

Christine studied him. "You've never hurt anyone intentionally, either. Anything you may have done has all been in the line of duty."

"The Federation may see it that way, but others might not," Kirk answered for his friend. He was certain there were still old nemeses around the galaxy who would take great pleasure in wreaking havoc on the entire crew.

"There could be another possibility," Simmons offered. "It could be that the individuals want something that they think you can give them. Hopefully, that is the case."

"Why do you use those terms?" Spock asked.

Simmons looked tentatively at Christine. "It's alright. I want to know," she answered.

"Well, in the latter case, the boy will be very valuable to them. A bargaining chip. That will give us some leverage too, we could stall and use the time to find him," Simmons informed him, years of experience behind his eyes.

"And in the case of the former?" McCoy asked, afraid to hear the answer.

It was obvious the detective did not want to voice what he had seen too often in the past. Christine's eyes pleaded with him for some hope. Even the usually intimidating Vulcan seemed to cringe with dread. Simmons was certain he would never get used to these cases. He hated them with a passion. However, he needed to prepare the toddler's parents somehow.

"If this is a revenge kidnapping..." He forced his voice not to sound hardened. "Then it would be more likely for the perpetrators to harm the child."

Christine sank against Spock. "Oh, God," was all she could say through her muffled sobs.

Spock closed his arms around his wife. "We will find him, T'hy'la. I swear it," he vowed.

* * *

Two agonizing days passed with no word. Christine and Spock kept a sleepless vigil in their small apartment. Joined in their distress by Kirk and McCoy, they were certain the entire universe had ended. They did not know if their little boy was still on the planet, if he was being well cared for, or even if he were still alive.

The home that had, just a few days before, been filled with the contagious laughter and antics of a lively three year old, was now command central in the efforts to find him. Officers had been assigned to remain both there and at Fillomina's home in case contact was made with the kidnappers, and Detective Simmons refused to leave the apartment. Christine had asked Fillomina to stay with them after the attack and abduction, and the old woman had gratefully agreed. The couple's friends from the Enterprise one by one, joined the anxious watch. Uhura tried to give her friends some kind of hope, but in such a desperate situation, even her usually bright attitude in the face of adversity could not be found. Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov waited nervously unsure what to do or how to help, but knowing they wanted to be there if the need should arise. Kirk and McCoy felt helpless. They were so used to being in control and in command, the waiting was testing the limits of their endurance.

Through it all Christine and Spock drew strength from each other. Their worst nightmare had come true and there was nothing they could do. Even after Spock's best attempts, Christine refused food and rest. She felt as though her sanity and her grip on reality were failing her as she fought the urges to scream and vomit nearly every second. Spock could still feel little Leonard through their family bond. He comforted Christine with that knowledge at least. He did not tell her the tremendous fear and longing for them that he sensed from their son, but he was certain she knew.

* * *

On the afternoon of the third day Sarek and Amanda arrived at the tiny San Francisco apartment. They had been attending a conference on the Martian Colony and had quickly bid their apologies once the news reached them. Spock greeted them with the traditional raised hand, fearful that his anxiety would show too much. He had expected the tears of his mother, but for some reason had been surprised at the deep lines of worry that evidenced his father's strain and concern for his grandson.

Christine allowed herself a short moment of relief at seeing them, but her tears quickly found their tracks once more as Amanda embraced her supportively.

"How can this be happening?" Christine searched the older woman's face for any wisdom she could offer. "I'm so scared. What am I going to do?"

Amanda softly took her daughter-in-law's chin in her hand, and tried to speak as calmly as she was able. "You're going to be strong ... for your boy," she told her.

"I don't think I can," Christine said, feeling Spock's arm on her shoulder. He did not care for appearances at that moment.

"It is in our times of crisis that we often find a deeper strength than we ever thought possible," Sarek told her understandingly. "I have no doubt that your courage will not fail you in this, daughter. You will not allow it." Even he allowed her comforting embrace, then turned to Spock.

The elder Vulcan motioned for his son to follow him to a quiet corner, silently acknowledging the others in the room along the way. "What has been learned?" Sarek said in a whisper, not wanting Christine to hear.

"There has been no contact, Father," Spock answered.

"You are aware of the Klingon activity lately?" Sarek questioned.

"I am," Spock said. "If I may, I fear that I have reached the same conclusion."

"That they may somehow be involved?" Sarek clarified.

"Yes. However, for what purpose, I cannot speculate," Spock said.

"I have spoken with officials at our embassy, as well as our agents in the Klingon Council. They are attempting to discover if there is a connection," the ambassador told him.

"Much appreciated," Spock nodded.

"Now. I suggest we return to the women. They will need our support," Sarek told his son, watching Amanda and Christine still holding on to each other in tears.

The two generations of the Vulcan-Human family spent a long and weary afternoon. Sarek received a few calls on his personal communicator, which he took privately, but gave no indication of having learned anything from them. Christine filled her time trying to calm herself by touching little Leonard's things. She arranged and rearranged them until McCoy thought she would wear them out. Spock stood stoically, the muscles in his jaws threatening to burst through his skin. His rage and terror was not so easily controlled or hidden where his son was concerned.

Kirk felt helpless. It was not a feeling he was used to, or one that he liked. He had a sneaking suspicion he knew what the private talks between Spock and Sarek were about, but did not intrude. They would enlist his help in due time, should it be needed. His heart went out to Christine. She was coming apart. She paced, and fidgeted, tried to keep herself busy, but returned to the frightened crying that was her right.

Kirk watched as Christine stood at the window, her fingers steepled to her lips. She almost seemed as if she were scanning the city for any glimpse of her little boy. He could hear her whisper, "...Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God..." over and over again, trying to find some comfort in a world gone mad.

Uhura approached her friend and lightly touched her arm. "Chris. Sweety. Why don't you try to eat something? You've had nothing for two days. You need to keep up your strength. I could get you some toast and coffee."

Christine did not turn toward the face she had known for years. The woman who had supported her through everything from the loss of a man she once loved to the birth of the very child who was now lost to her. She only stared straight ahead, unable to think of anything at all. "I don't want any toast. I don't want any coffee," she suddenly railed. "I just want my son!"

Almost before the words had left her mouth, Christine's sorrow overtook her. She had not meant to be short tempered and knew Uhura was only trying to help. However, at that moment all the rage she had pent up, had simply exploded and in the wrong direction. She turned to her friend with tears in her eyes.

"Oh Lord, Ny. I'm sorry. I just...." she began. There was no need to finish and Nyota did not let her. She simply took Christine in her arms and stroked her hair.

"I know. I know. Shhhh," Uhura comforted her. There were no uneasy feelings, only worry for her very dear friend and the little boy she prayed they would find.

After a few moments Christine pulled from Nyota's embrace. Her eyes embarrassed, thankful, and filled with terror at the same time. She could take no more and hurried down the hallway where she secluded herself in Leonard's bedroom. The sounds of her sobbing were unmistakable. Spock went to her immediately.

"T'hy'la?" He knocked lightly on the door before he entered.

He found Christine sitting on their son's bed, her face buried against a stuffed purple dinosaur that had been one of Leonard's favorites the year before. Her shoulders shook with the force of her crying. Instantly he sensed her utter panic and moved to sit beside her. He turned her from the toy and she laid her face against his chest still sobbing uncontrollably. He wrapped her in his strong arms, remembering the declaration he had made to his son that he would always protect him, shame burning inside him. He had not been able to keep his word. The despondent parents sat there alone together, desperate and frightened for a long time. They were not Vulcan, they were not Human, they were not Starfleet officers. They were simply two people who feared they would never see their son's smiling face again, and the possibility was more than either could stand. Spock knew he had to do something to help Christine, even through his own trauma.

He cupped her face in his hands and pulled her gaze to his eyes. The pain he found there was nearly more than he could bare. "Close you eyes, beloved," he requested. She complied without question.

"Do you feel him?" he asked her.

"What?" Christine choked opening her eyes.

"You are Human and often unable to sense the small fluctuation I notice through our bond," Spock explained. "Your fear has magnified this."

"I'm sorry. I just can't control this," she apologized.

He kissed her temple lightly. "No. That is not what I mean. I would never ask you to hide your reaction to this or any other situation. Your feelings are part of what I cherish about you."

"Then what are you trying to tell me?" Christine whispered, her breath coming in spurts as a result of her sobs.

"T'hy'la," Spock said. "We also share a bond with our son."

"And I can't feel him." She was suddenly overwhelmed with grief. "Does that mean...?" She could not say it.

"I can feel him," Spock told her with such intensity that it almost frightened her.

"Then he's still alive." She allowed herself a smile. "Why can't I feel him?"

"Because your grief is overwhelming your connection to him. This happens because you are not inherently telepathic. I have not lost him because I am," he explained.

"How do I get him back?" she questioned, tears down her cheeks.

"Close your eyes. I will bring him back to you," he promised. "The bond is already there, you just need to open yourself to it even over your distress," he told her. "I want you to try to relax. Search. Seek him in your mind. Search deeply for that feeling that only you share with him. Find his spirit. It is in you always."

Christine's eyelids clamped shut and she forced herself to concentrate. She looked harder than she had ever sought for anything, past memories, past hopes, even beyond herself. Then she sensed something, a spark, a tiny little whisper that touched her soul. Her joy was so great she could not help laughing.

"He's still here," she gasped.

"Yes. I feel him too," Spock told her.

"Why can't I talk to him like I hear you in my mind?" Christine asked.

"A familial bond does not create such a connection. It is more a knowing than a cohesion. Besides Leonard would be too young to understand even if it were. But he is still with us," Spock told her.

"Can he feel my fear?" Christine asked, worried that she had somehow made the ordeal worse for her little boy.

"Probably not, but he can feel that we are as close to him as if he were here with us," he assured her. "Talk to him if you would like. It will make you feel better. It will help you keep the feeling of his presence, and he will sense you with him."

Christine wasted no time. *Don't be afraid, baby.* Spock heard her say in her mind, and joined her in the sensation. *Daddy and I are looking for you. We won't stop. We love you.* She sighed.

Christine held fast to the little string that connected her to her son. Even if he could not hear the words, he would feel her love for him. Nothing was more important than finding him and bringing him back to safety. In a brief instant she felt a flutter of energy run through her soul. She understood that could have only meant one thing.

*Mommy!*

Spock and Christine allowed themselves to lose all sense of reality for a moment, focusing only upon their son and his essence in their minds. Their fear had not abated, but at least they had something to hold on to. They had not noticed that the night sky was turning dark and the stars that brought them together were beginning to shine. Suddenly the sharp buzz of the apartment's comm unit jolted them from their contemplation.

Together they hurried out the bedroom door and into the living room, nearly tripping over Bear who had sat mournfully in the middle of Leonard's room since he had disappeared. Detective Simmons stopped them from pouncing on the button.

"Remember, talk reasonably. We can't afford to antagonize them. Try to keep them on as long as possible so we can trace it," he told them

"Understood," Spock agreed. Christine nodded.

Stepping clear of the monitor, Simmons hit the button and then joined the rest of the anxious audience in the small living room. The atmosphere on the other end of the link was dim, however it did not obscure the sight that shook Christine and Spock to their core. Their son sat, looking straight into the monitor, his actions impeded by an arm far too strong for him to protest. His little face seemed more confused than frightened, as he stared at them from the lap of a Klingon.

"Ah, Captain Spock," the young dark warrior charmed. "And your lovely wife, Dr. Chapel. How very advantageous that I find you at home. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kor. I believe you knew my father, Commander Kruge."

* * *

Christine and Spock stared helplessly at the monitor, oblivious to the far too audible gasp that rose from their family and friends at the revelation of the identity of little Leonard's kidnapper. The couple's collective attention was focused completely on their son. He all but disappeared under the massive arm of his Klingon capture. His tiny face peered out over the aged leather of the alien's uniform, his brow furrowed with fear.

"Leonard!" Christine sobbed and held out her hands toward the vid screen as if to touch her child.

"Mommy," Leonard whimpered and began to struggle only to have his actions forcibly stopped by the pressure of the arm that encircled him. He cried out a little at the discomfort.

"Please, don't hurt him," Christine begged urgently. Beside her Spock swelled with rage. He did not dare to open his mouth in protest, lest he lose complete control at the sight which was chiseling itself into his mind. He would never forget the anxiety in his young son's eyes, or the expression on his confused face. He swore that this particular Klingon would pay, and pay dearly.

"Do not struggle, my son," Spock tried to comfort his child, fearful the boy would be injured. "Do not be afraid. We are with you."

"How touching," Kor grinned. "Do not fret yourselves. I would never harm such a fine young man," Kor mocked feigning a proud smile at the youngster and ruffling the toddler's hair. Little Leonard stared up at him annoyed. "That is, of course, not unless I get what I want."

"What is it you want?" Spock broke his silence, eager to bring an end to the ordeal. Beside him Christine could not breathe, she waited in panic to hear the Klingon's demands.

"It is quite simple really." Kor laughed with self satisfaction. "You see what I am after is extremely valuable. However, I doubt that even your Federation would see it as worth the life of the three year old son of a great military hero, the grandson of a revered ambassador..." Across the room, Sarek's jaw tightened at the remark. He too was struggling to maintain control over his anger. However, only Amanda could sense the slight break in his resolve and touched his sleeve lightly, comforting him even through her own terror.

The haughty Klingon continued. "...I, however, see it differently. I think it would be a fair exchange."

"What ... is ... it ... you ... want?!" Spock repeated himself slowly and emphatically, his lips pursed over his teeth.

"My, my, patience, Captain Spock, patience." Kor chuckled, handing Leonard a piece of what seemed to be a pastry. Christine, who had been lost in the image of her son, wanted to scream for him not to eat it fearing the bread were poisoned, but she felt Spock try to calm her. It would be very unwise to antagonize Kor at that instant.

"Very well, I suppose I've kept you in suspense long enough," Kor sighed. "I will immediately return your son to you, unharmed of course, once you have given me..." The huge dark being leaned forward to stress his point, his eyes steeled with ambition and greed. "...Genesis!"

"I will contact you later to discuss the details," Kor informed them and the screen went dark.

Kirk had stood motionless against the wall with McCoy and the other members of the crew during the transmission, he did not wish to be detected by the kidnappers. Now his head spun to meet the dread-filled eyes of his first officer. He knew exactly what the Vulcan was thinking. The Federation would never give up the Genesis information, especially not to Klingons, not even for the life of a child.

* * *

McCoy closed the door to the master bedroom quietly behind him and turned somberly toward the waiting stares of Christine's family and friends. It had been four days since his former head nurse had slept or eaten. Spock had felt as though he were watching his wife disintegrate before his very eyes. He had begged her to rest, pleaded with her to keep up her strength, but even when Christine had attempted to swallow a few mouthfuls of the soup Amanda had made for her, she could not keep it down. Her entire body was beginning to react to the stress of waiting for news of their missing son. Finally, realizing she would be of little help to her child in the hospital Christine had agreed to accept a mild sedative, but only enough to calm her nerves so that she might be able to sleep for awhile. She had consented to the medication more to ease Spock's mind than for her own comfort.

"I don't know how much more of this she can take." The doctor shook his head. "She can't even stop shaking."

"She's strong, Bones," Jim reminded him.

"How strong does one woman have to be?" McCoy seethed, recalling every defeat his dear friend had suffered in her life.

"I'll sit with her," Amanda offered. She had rattled around the apartment with others all morning and was eager for something useful to occupy her time. Sarek's absence was noticeable. He had requested and was granted an emergency meeting of the Federation council to discuss the only option that seemed logical to anyone who had waited within the tiny San Francisco home over the past days, relinquishing Genesis to the Klingons. No one expected him to succeed. However, they did not mention a word of their faithlessness to Christine or to Spock.

"Thank you, Mother," Spock said quietly. The strain was also taking its toll on his hardened nerves and he felt as though he needed to be alone for a time. He turned abruptly and headed for the balcony. Amanda's worried eyes followed him, but she made no move to do the same. She was well acquainted with the Vulcan male's need for privacy in trying times. Instead she entered Christine's room without making a sound, ready to be there if she were needed.

The small crowd dispersed, whispering their theories and thoughts to each other. McCoy and Kirk headed directly for the kitchen and the large pot of strong black coffee which had been kept brewing. Grabbing mugs from the cupboard they eagerly downed a first cup in silence and then started a second. This was the first chance they had found to speak privately.

"Alright, Jim," McCoy began. "You'd know more about this than I would. They're not going to just going give Genesis away, that's pretty obvious."

Kirk took a long slow gulp from his cup. "They'd sooner destroy Genesis than have it fall into enemy hands," he finally said.

"So they would even sacrifice a defenseless baby?" McCoy said disbelievingly.

"For Genesis, they would sacrifice anything, and anyone." Kirk's eyes were serious and unmoving.

"What do you think?" McCoy was suddenly uncertain where his friend stood on the matter.

There was a long pause as Kirk tried to find the best way to voice his thoughts. "To give that device to those people would be madness. You know what they would do with it?"

"Are you saying...?" McCoy bristled.

"I don't know what I'm saying," Kirk answered. "I used to think I didn't believe in the no win scenario." His eyes went suddenly far away. "That was before...." Jim broke off.

"I know what it feels like to lose a son, Bones." Kirk whispered. "If there is any way that can be avoided here, then that is what has to happen. No matter who ends up with Genesis. All that matters now is that little boy," Kirk stated, peering around the corner at the outline of his Vulcan friend silhouetted against the California sky.

After a few moments the captain and the doctor resumed their endless pacing. McCoy stopped at the French door which led to the terrace. It was closed and he was uncertain if he should venture outside. He knew he would not be welcome, but something in him forced him to turn the knob.

He studied Spock for a moment, not knowing if the Vulcan even realized he was there. There was something different in his old friend's stance. Something he had never seen in him before, almost some kind of weakening. His shoulders rose violently up and down as if his breath was being timed. He grasped the railing so hard that his knuckles were white, and McCoy could not tell if his eyes were even open.

"Spock?" McCoy cleared his throat.

"I wish to be alone, Doctor," Spock said, barely moving a muscle even to speak. McCoy realized that his teeth must have even been clenched.

"I know you do, but that's the last thing you need right now," the old doctor said softly.

Spock's resolve softened a bit, knowing his friend was only trying to help. "Please leave me to my thoughts," he requested.

McCoy would not budge. "Stop blaming yourself," he demanded.

It was as if Leonard McCoy had read his mind. The thought that his past would now be the means of harming his son ate through Spock's soul like acid. He could barely face Christine. He knew that she did not blame him for their son's having been stolen, although it was through connection to him that their lives had been tainted by all of this. The image of little Leonard's frightened eyes had burned itself into his very being.

"You are ascribing emotions to me, Doctor," Spock tried to protest. "You know quite well..."

"Don't give me that," McCoy almost shouted. "Don't you stand there and try to tell me that you feel nothing at the disappearance of your own son! You know I know you much better than that."

"And who else is there to blame?" Spock said hoarsely. There were only three people in his entire life he could never truly hide his feelings from. His mother and his wife were two, and unfortunately his antagonistic comrade was the last. Usually they would have engaged in some type of witty and jokingly insulting banter, but not with this.

"Those Klingon bastards who did this. They are the only ones to blame." McCoy moved a step closer.

"If not for me, they would have never been given the opportunity. Perhaps it would have been better if I had never revealed my knowledge of our son to Christine," Spock wondered aloud.

"Do you honestly think that would have helped any of you?" McCoy chided him for the very idea. He had never seen Christine so happy. His namesake had desperately needed his father, and the change for the better that had taken place in Spock over the past few months was remarkable.

"You would give all this up?" the doctor prodded on.

"I would do anything for his safety," Spock vowed.

Suddenly the light of understanding sparked behind McCoy's eyes. "That's what worries you, isn't it? That you really would do anything?" he asked. "I knew there was something stirring in there after all. You want them dead, don't you?"

"That would be against everything I believe in," Spock protested in vain.

"And you want to choke the life out of that Kor with your bare hands, don't you?" McCoy was not going to let this opportunity pass without full exploration.

"I am a Vulcan..." Spock started to remind him once again.

"You're a father," McCoy countered. "I don't know what I would do if someone tried to hurt my daughter." McCoy thought for a short second. "Yes I do. I'd rip their damned heads off. She's a grown woman, been taking care of herself for a lot of years. She's got a family of her own, a good for nothing husband and two beautiful little girls, and I would still give up my life for her."

"That is admirable. However, the situation of which you speak is hypothetical. Mine is very real," Spock said.

"Whatever. I don't think you'd find a man anywhere, Human, Vulcan, or anything who wouldn't do anything they had to for their children including cold blooded murder," the doctor assured him. "The rage you're feeling is normal. It doesn't make you any less of anything for it."

They were both quiet for a long while standing of the balcony overlooking a city that was still going about its normal paces unaware of the drama that had overtaken a few lives. There was no need for anymore words. Spock was unwilling to admit to the doctor that he was right, although he did admit it to himself. He knew that he would do anything to bring his son home.

* * *

"This is completely unacceptable!" While Sarek's tone could not be described as irate in Human terms, his words echoed in his ears as he addressed the Federation Council. His hands were clasped behind his back and tore at each other so hard in an attempt to control his anger that he thought they would bleed. His worst fear had come to pass.

"I am sorry, Mr. Ambassador. Believe me. I truly am," The President of the United Federation of Planets addressed him. "However, we cannot under any circumstance turn over such a weapon to our enemies."

"At the cost of my grandson's life?" the Vulcan answered contemptuously.

"I wish there was another way," the President offered. "If there was any other course of action, we would take it without hesitation."

"Now, through your refusal to act in this matter, you may have just signed the death certificate of a three year old child," Sarek reminded him.

The stately Commander in Chief bowed his head. "My hands are tied."

"Hear me now," Sarek nearly hissed through teeth gritted in disgust. "If anything happens to that boy, I will, without hesitation, resign my position. I will then make it my life's duty to ensure that every citizen of the Federation knows what price bought Genesis, and just how much protection they can expect from their government."

"I am sorry." Tthe President could say nothing more.

"Tell that to his mother," Sarek nearly spat at him. He turned and quickly left the hearing room, unable to stomach another moment with those he once considered friends.

Sarek did not look forward to what lay ahead. He had hoped against his own fears that he would be returning to Spock and Christine's apartment with joyful news. That their son would soon be returned to them. Instead he would be the bearer of still more dreaded news. How could he face Christine? He could see the anticipation in her eyes once again replaced by bleak reality. She had been through so much. He forced himself to be ready for the tears that were certain to come from both her and Amanda. He wondered and mostly dreaded the other whose eyes would be overcome with hope too strong to hide. How would he face Spock?

Breathing deeply to steady himself, Sarek stood for a moment in the hallway outside the small apartment. He was here and it was illogical to forestall the inevitable any longer. He knew the door would be unlocked for all of the security personnel who had made the tiny abode their headquarters over the past four days. Turning the knob quietly he stepped inside.

It was Christine's eyes he met first. Something in her had almost thought that he might be bringing her son home to her and she had rushed to the door as soon as it opened. Her face looked a bit fresher from the few hours sleep she had somehow torn from the afternoon, but her eyes were still plagued. She knew immediately, he did not have to tell her.

"They said no," she whispered, the words too painful to her ears. Her shoulders fell to accompany her hopes.

Sarek nodded silently. "I am sorry, my daughter." He was barely able to hide his own pain.

Christine swallowed hard, the tears leaking from her eyes. "I know you did everything you could," she said as she turned and ran toward Leonard's empty room.

"Thank you for you attempt, Father," Spock said almost in a whisper. "You have honored us." He did not wait for a reply, but turned and followed his wife into what had now become their sanctuary.

"I have done nothing for them," Sarek lamented as Amanda came to stand beside him and grasped his fingers. "I have failed them."

"You have done for them what no else could and you did your best," Amanda comforted him over her own grief. "It is not your fault that the Council chose Genesis over the life of our grandson." She fought her tears valiantly but in vain, as her husband pulled her closer. "You tried with everything you had."

"...And it was not enough," Sarek answered.

* * *

Again, Spock found Christine on their son's bed. This time she clutched his pillow against her as if it were a shield. He sat down next to and took her in his arms, resting his face against her neck. Her sobs needed no other invitation. She turned and buried her face against his chest, crying gutturally until nothing was left.

"They're just going to let him die," she wept. "What kind of people are they?"

"I do not know, my T'hy'la," he answered. "Obviously not the kind we thought they were." Disillusionment and pain rang heavy in his voice.

"Is it over?" Christine searched his face. "I can't just give up."

"Nor will I," Spock vowed. "I will not accept this."

Christine looked at him, her eyes piercing his very soul. "What will you do?"

"I do not know yet, but when the times comes, I will be certain," Spock answered her.

Christine's strength was quickly failing her and she rested against her husband's chest. Her mind could think of nothing except her lost little boy. She felt Spock trying to sooth her through their bond, but also sensed his turmoil and anger. She tried not to let him know that she knew. They sat quietly, alone together. Each other's only courage.

Together they jumped with a start as the comm buzzer rang. Spock grabbed Christine's hand and they ran together into the living room. They did not even feel the penetrating eyes of those present as they reached for the button, this time not waiting for directions from Detective Simons.

The picture on the screen was again dark and dreary as the familiar twisted Klingon face appeared. "Again I am fortunate to find both of you at home," Kor mocked.

"Where is my son?" Spock demanded clasping Christine's hand in his, not caring what appearance he gave.

"He is well. You have my word on it," Kor laughed.

"Your word is not good enough," Spock hissed. "I want to see him."

Kor rolled his eyes. "Really Captain. This is becoming most tedious."

"Please." Christine stammered weakly.

Kor eyed her with feigned sympathy. "Wwweeelll. Since you put it that way my dear." Kor turned his head as the view changed. A Klingon woman, stronger than any human male held Leonard securely in her huge arms. She pretended motherly affection over him as he cowered against her.

"Leonard!" Christine screamed.

"Mommy!" The little boy brightened.

"My precious. Oh, I love you so much." She was trying to tell him all that she could, not knowing what time they had left or if this were the last time she would ever see him.

"Wanna come home, Mommy," the toddler whined. "Daddy, come get me. Monsters!" Leonard cried. Spock winced at his words, remembering the nightmares that had plagues their child only months before.

"Monsters!" The vid returned to Kor who over exaggerated his shock. "Really. Just what have you been teaching this child?"

"Please...Please." Christine sobbed. "Just let him go. Please let him come home, where he belongs."

"In due time, my dear. In due time," Kor said very satisfied with the terror he was inflicting. "Now, let's get to the important matter. Genesis." He laughed. "I assume that you have related my demands to your Federation Council."

Detective Simons shook his head violently. "Don't tell him..." He mouthed from behind the comm unit.

Spock understood. "They are still deliberating." This untruth seemed comfortable and right.

"Well, they'd better hurry." Kor's demeanor turned much less agreeable.

Spock was suddenly certain. "Perhaps I can offer something much more likely to speed their decision."

"Really? I am intrigued." Kor grinned. "What?"

"Myself," Spock offered. Christine stared at him, this was what he had meant.

"What?" Kor could not believe his ears.

"Take me in exchange for my son," Spock said. "A Starfleet officer with first hand knowledge of not only Genesis, but many other secrets as well. I do believe they would be much more worried about what you could glean from me."

"Hmmm. You have a point." The Klingon thought for a short moment, not wanting to seem too eager. "Very well," Kor conceded. "I will return this..." Kor looked disgusted. "...this ... adorable child and you will become my pris... I mean my guest as I await news of Genesis."

"I'm sure you will find your decision quite profitable," Spock assured him.

"I'd better," Kor threatened. "I will contact you regarding the exchange."

"I look forward to it." Spock stared as the vid screen went dark.

Christine watched him in horror. Would she lose her son or her husband? Spock pulled her close. "Everything will be alright, T'hy'la. I swear it."

* * *

Spock and Christine somehow found themselves on the balcony of their small apartment. Darkness had found the sky, and a cold wind was beginning to blow in off the bay. Spock removed his over tunic and wrapped it around his wife's thin and shivering shoulders. He knew they did not shake from cold. Christine caught his hand under her own and he rested his cheek against her hair.

"Do not cry, beloved. All will be well," Spock told her, sensing the change in her body chemistry that told him tears were falling from the eyes that brought him so much peace.

"You don't know that." Christine drew closer against him.

He could not lie. He could not truly proclaim such a thing. In truth he had no right to. All he could do was assure her once more that he had no intention of failing. "I will bring him home," he whispered.

"From where? You don't even know where they are," Christine lamented.

"He is on Earth. I can sense him near," Spock told her.

"In San Francisco?" Christine brightened a little.

"Perhaps not, but not much farther," he said.

"I'm trying so hard to be brave for him," Christine sighed desperately. "He's out there somewhere and he needs us. I can't stand the thought of another day without him."

"I have every confidence you will not have to face that prospect," Spock said. Christine was grateful for his encouragement, even if she did not feel strong enough to believe him.

She turned toward her husband. "I've not helped at all."

"You have been brave for him, lesser woman would have fallen completely apart by now." Spock took her shoulders looked into her eyes.

"And I haven't?" Christine chuckled a little, remembering the days of weeping, on the verge of nervous collapse.

"You have been worried and terrified, but, no, you have not fallen apart. You are keeping hold of the last bit of hope you have, and you are doing so for our son," he proclaimed.

"I've been a weak coward," she cried. "You've done everything while I either sobbed or threw up." She could barely look him in the face. "Now you're doing this, and what have I done?"

"You gave him life," he told her. "You gave me the greatest gifts anyone could. Our son and yourself," he whispered to her.

"And I can't do anything for him now..." She could not finish.

"Don't, Christine," Spock silenced her. "You have demonstrated courage beyond all measure. You are a mother and your child is in danger, no one could have expected anything else from you."

She reached up and stroked his face. "Now, I'm going to lose you too. How can I stand that? I just found you again."

"You shall not lose me, T'hy'la," Spock vowed.

Christine's eyes lightened. "I can almost believe you."

"Believe me," he swore, his lips brushing her temples as he pulled her to his warmth. "I am the one who stole so many years from us. I will not give them up now."

They were silent for a long time, holding each other in the stark and lonely night, their son somewhere beyond their reach. Christine could feel the depth of Spock's love for her radiating through his skin, and he reveled in the strength of her emotions for him. He was certain he did not deserve it. The wind tosseled her hair against his upper lip and he breathed in her scent. Even through her terror and grief she alluded a heady seductiveness that intoxicated him.

Gently lifting her face to his eyes he stared at her, enraptured by her beauty. "Hear me now. I will return to you. I will bring our son home, and I will come back."

Her expression almost turned to a smile. "You've said that before," she reminded him.

His mind traveled back to the early morning just before the training cruise, when he had held her in his arms as she begged him not to go. He had sworn to her then that he would return. Even through death he had kept his promise to the woman he loved. "Did I not do as I said I would?" he teased her.

Christine wrapped her arms around his waist and explored the plains of his back. Sighing with a newfound confidence, she finally smiled. "Yes, you certainly did."

Spock bent his head to Christine's face and nestled his lips softly against hers. It was quite possibly one of the last kisses they would ever share. It was most definitely one of the most passionate they had ever known. Through their bond Christine could hear his thoughts. She listened quietly allowing him this time.

From somewhere long ago, something his mother had taught him came to the surface. He had never told his father he believed. Suddenly there was only one thing for him to do. Lord. He spoke without words. Please do not allow this miraculous woman whom I love so dearly to know anymore pain. Christine tightened her loving hold on him. Together they stood against whatever darkness would surround them.

For an instant Spock opened his eyes, his face still resting against Christine's neck. The face that he saw watching them from the window was as familiar as his own. The expression he found there was not. He would have expected disappointment and reprimand, instead he found a pride and approval he had never seen there before. After a few moments, Sarek nodded to his son and then turned from the window allowing the couple their privacy.

* * *

The moisture in the cold night air ate through Spock's skin and burrowed its way into his bones. He had never been comfortable in Los Angeles and he quickly discovered that he liked this part of the city even less. The deteriorating wharves and docks of the waterfront had been in want of restoration for years and had changed little in centuries. Rust and grime covered everything, even the ancient graffiti was obscured by it. He wondered for a moment how such a place could even exist in the modern era, especially in the Federation. He quickly reminded himself that even on Earth not everything was as yet equal and certainly not everywhere was as welcoming and beautiful as his home of ShiKar, or even his adopted residence of San Francisco.

Spock was grateful that Christine was safe at home and had been spared this. He wondered if this would not have been her total undoing, knowing that their little boy was somewhere among these hovels. He shuddered at the thought, as his hatred seethed almost unchecked within him. He could feel little Leonard somewhere near, although not even his sensitive ears could detect an echo of his son's familiar voice. The thought occurred to him that the child might be gagged to prevent him calling out to his father. The image enraged him and he forced himself to stop in an effort to control the madness that threatened to send him storming through the buildings searching for his child. Even if it were with a Klingon, he prayed that the boy was not alone, not here.

He thought of his conspirators secreted away in the dark, their life signs masked by detection shields which would make it appear that only air stood behind the mound of old empty fuel drums where Jim now waited in silence. Kor would not be able to uncover the doctor in the shadows behind the dilapidated warehouse, nor would the Klingon know that his father trailed him only meters behind. The technology was crude. The personal cloaking devices had only been in existence a few months. They had been the result of secrets gleaned from the H.M.S. Bounty, the Bird of Prey in which the Enterprise crew had returned to Vulcan. Although Starfleet had not yet managed to copy a cloaking device strong enough to hide a ship, these small prototypes which they had procured from Headquarter by way of Spock's and Kirk's credentials, were at least enough for what they needed. If they were lucky it would work. If they were not, Christine would be a widow in a few short hours. Spock knew he could not fail.

"Good." A shadow moved. "I see you have heeded my warning and come alone." Kor stepped into the thin moonlight, enough for Spock to see the malicious grin on his face lit by the dials of the tricorder he used to scan the night. The Vulcan gave an inaudible sigh of relief, their plan had not yet been foiled.

"You gave me little choice," Spock answered.

"A very wise man," Kor agreed.

"Where is my son?" Spock demanded.

"He is safe. You will see him momentarily," Kor placated.

"I will see him now!" Spock yelled.

Kor scoffed. "You are hardly in a position for such an attitude, Captain."

"Perhaps you are right, but you leave me not other alternative," Spock answered. "I at least have the right to know that he is well. He is, after all, the chip with which you have chosen to bargain." The words burned his throat like acid.

Kor thought for a moment. "Very well." He held up his hand, and Spock noted that it was filled with a phaser. "After you."

The Klingon motioned him into a building whose door had suddenly opened. There was obviously someone else on the other side. Spock complied and disappeared into the darkness of the warehouse. He did not see his compatriots holding their collective breaths in apprehension.

* * *

The atmosphere inside the musty warehouse was little better than that in the open air. However, almost instantly Spock found that his sensation of his son was now stronger than anytime since the boy had disappeared. He was here. Spock was directed further into the building by the nozzle of a phaser in the small of his back. There was little else to do but continue in the indicated direction. He was keenly aware of two sets of heavy footsteps behind him, although he did not turn to confirm his observation.

He was led to a small but sturdy door. "Open it!" Kor demanded.

Spock took the knob and turned it lightly, fearing the door might be set to explode. He soon found it was not. The light in the room was dim, but he easily made out the small figure that cowered in the corner. The tiny quivering mass turned toward the noises that brought more fear into his father's perception of him. However, the fear lasted only a millisecond as the boy realized who had come for him.

"Daddy!" Leonard shouted. He rose quickly and ran with outstretched arms to his father.

"Leonard!" Spock shouted. Full and complete joy overwhelming any control he might have been able to muster. A wide smile broke over Spock's face as he met his child and scooped the toddler up into his arms. He forgot the phasers that were trained on him. He forgot his father and friends waiting outside, he forgot that his own life was great peril. All that mattered was his boy. The child was alive and safe and at last in his protective arms once again. More than anything he wanted Christine to be there for that moment. He was soon brought back to reality.

"My, my. What a touching reunion," Kor mocked. "If I were not Klingon I suppose I should feel tears well up right now."

"Our bargain," Spock growled as he held his son close to him. "My life for his."

Kor yawned a little, and inspected his nails. He watched the Vulcan set the child on his feet and turn almost threatingly toward him. "Yes, our deal. We did have a deal, didn't we?" Kor pretended to think for a moment. "Alright. Your life for his. Perhaps that would be fitting tribute to my father." With that said the Klingon took his phaser and leveled it directly at Leonard's head.

Filled with a burning rage he had never known before, Spock threw himself against the Klingon with all of his Vulcan strength. Kor was knocked off balance easily and stumbled against the wall, his phaser skittering across the floor. The other Klingon, whom Spock now saw was a female, moved in to avenge and protect her master. Spock dispensed with her easily, slamming his rock hard fist against her chest. He could not have known that with that blow he had driven her heart through her back.

Confused and frightened once more, Leonard screamed. Suddenly a cloaked figure rushed into the room, followed by two equally disguised beings. The first made his way directly over to the young boy and hurried him into his grasp. The toddler struggled but was no match for the adult. Then a familiar voice quieted him.

"Do not be afraid, Grandson," Sarek's calm tone soothed the frightened child. "You are safe now." He quickly fled the room with the boy, sheparding him to the safety of a waiting groundcar.

The life and death struggle in the room was not over. "Spock!" McCoy shouted, warning his friend of Kor's newfound balance as Kirk leaped to secure the phaser. Both were successful. It would now be a fair fight. The fury of a son against the ferocity of a father.

Kor jumped at Spock, only to be once more thrown to the floor. A sharp kick shattered the Klingon's ribcage, but still he fought. Holding his aching bones, Kor propelled himself toward the Vulcan's middle and knocked him off balance. McCoy and Kirk tried to find an opening in which to join, but could not. This was Spock's fight.

Spock quickly rose to his feet, wasting no time in looking for a comfortable stance, he moved quickly around to face Kor and let loose another punch which knocked the Klingon to his knees. Seeing his chance, Spock bent down and grabbed Kor by the shoulders. The alien struggled in his grasp but Spock managed to get an arm about his chin. Tightening his muscles slowly, Spock almost enjoyed draining the life from this monster. Images of his son's frightened eyes and Christine's anxiety allowed him no other course. He doubted he would have chosen one. In a instant, a sharp and easy crack sounded against the walls of the room and Kor limp body fell to the floor. It had been the ancient way.

Spock stood staring for a moment, trying to regain his composure. He looked around wildly. "Your father took Leonard to the car. He's safe," Kirk told him. Satisfied, Spock nodded.

All three stared for a moment at the body of the Klingon. It was Kirk who spoke. "He got what he deserved, but how are we going to explain this to the authorities?"

"You won't have to," McCoy declared, raising his own phaser. In a flash the body and the evidence was gone.

"Come on. Let's get out of here," Kirk clapped McCoy on the back and the three returned through the dark streets to their vehicle in silence.

Just before they reached their destination Spock turned to McCoy. "Thank you, Doctor," he said quietly.

"Don't mention it," McCoy smiled.

"No. I mean thank you for everything." Spock would not forget the matter. "You were there for Christine when I was not. You were there for my son when I was not. You have treated him as if he were your own. You attempted to assist me in my own struggle during this time. Now you saved his life."

"That boy's very special to me." The doctor looked thoughtful for a moment and then in true McCoy fashion lightened the moment with a joke. "He is my namesake, after all."

Then it was Spock whose expression turned thoughtful. "I am glad Christine named him after you. I could not think a greater honor for my son."



* * *

Christine had paced the same path in the carpet of her living room for over an hour. It began at the hall to the bedrooms, circled around the coffee table, through the maze of toys that sat waiting, and stopped for a moment by the window. The privacy screen was still in place but she could see vague dots which told that somehow, even despite the drama which played out for her family, the city lights of San Francisco still beamed and the rhythm of life still went on in the streets below. She exhaled loudly and rested her face in her hands. They were still alive, she could feel them both. From her son she felt confusion and fear. She had to concentrate more to sense anything at all from the child since her familial bond with him was not as strong as that she shared with her husband. From Spock she could feel dangerous and conflicting emotions. Rage, fear, caution, and desperation permeated the being they had become. The only comfort she could take was the knowledge that at least they were both still alive, for now.

The walls of the apartment closed in like a tomb. Her friends tip-toed around her, unsure if they should offer support or simply leave her alone. They chose the latter, for which she was grateful. Christine wanted to focus all her energies on her husband and son. Amanda would, from time to time, venture over and give her daughter-in-law a loving hug of comfort. Christine was appreciative beyond words for the older woman's presence, but somehow, at that time, she could not form her sentiments. Her mother-in-law understood. She too was nearly panic stricken.

As another hour passed, the mood in the already grim apartment had darkened considerably. Still there was no word. Suddenly Christine stopped in her ritual track. She felt something, something she had not known for days. Spock's joy radiated through their bond. His unshielded emotions were so strong she had to grab onto the back of a chair for fear of collapsing. There was no question, it was certain. Finally she knew. At nearly the same moment, from across the room, Amanda raised her head. She was sensing the same relief and happiness from Sarek.

The two women met and grasped hands. "They've got him. They're coming home," Christine declared, her eyes wide with wonder. Amanda nodded vigorously in concurrence and drew her son's wife into her arms. Christine allowed all her apprehension and terror to flow from her body as she happily embraced her son's grandmother.

This new wait was equally interminable. Every sound from the hallway drove Christine to the door, only to be exasperated by a couple walking their dog or by her neighbor returning from buying groceries.

"Oh, when are they going to get here?" Christine rolled her neck and exclaimed to the sky.

"Maybe there was a delay at the transporter station, or in traffic," Amanda suggested. "They'll be here." She smiled and was graced in return by the first grin Christine had managed in over a week.

At last the key code sounded in the wall. The knob turned and every lung in the room was unable to function. The door opened, for a moment nothing. Christine took a tentative step forward. Then at last Spock appeared in the doorway with little Leonard wrapped safely in his arms.

Christine could not contain her joy. "Ha!" She laughed and screamed at the same time. Without realizing that her feet were carrying her she ran to her husband and son, throwing her arms around them. She did not care if her display of emotion embarrassed Spock, and she intensified her actions when she realized that it did not. He let Leonard slide easily into her arms as his father, the captain, and the doctor came into the room and closed the door. Amanda quickly ran over to her own husband and welcomed him lovingly. She was not in the least surprise when she received the same in return. They stood together in peace and joy watching their family once again united.

Christine took her son in her arms and melted to the floor with him, her knees losing all strength. She held the child as though he were once more an infant kissing his face, his ears, his hair, his neck, his arms. "Oh, my sweet, sweet precious baby," she whispered to him. "Oh, I love you so much."

Leonard squirmed gleefully in his mother's arms, once again happy and content. He knew he was safe. "Mommy!" he cried with all his might. At last hearing his young master's voice, a gaunt Bear bolted from the middle of the boy's bedroom floor and out into the living room. With a sound that no other sehlat ever made before he jumped at the child, his tongue greeting him. Little Leonard laughed as the animal's tongue tickled his ear. Christine laughed at the sound of her son's merriment.

Spock sank to his knees beside his family. He stroked his son's head and rested his other hand comfortingly on Christine's back. For him there was noting else in the room. Christine looked deeply into his eyes, tears streaming down her face, and stroked his cheek with her hand. "Thank you. You promised you would," she choked happily.

"...And I did. T'Hy'la" Spock answered her.

"Oh, thank you," Christine repeated. "Thank you all." She looked up at Kirk, McCoy, Sarek, Amanda, and all of her friends who had given her so much help and strength, and who had brought her child safely home to her. Their smiles told her there would have been no question about what they would do. Kirk's face was absolutely beaming at the sight of the reunited mother and son, and McCoy stood puffed up with pride.

Christine buried her face against her son's neck and her sobbing began anew. This time it was delightful and amusing. He was back in her arms and she had no intention of ever losing him again. "My treasure," she vowed to him. "I am never, never, never, ever going to let you go!" she declared.

The little boy turned one eye and looked, almost apprehensively at his father. "Never?" His voice, muffled against Christine's clothing, was a bit worried.

"Your mother exaggerates, my son," Spock assured him.

"Oh, no, I don't." Christine pulled her baby closer and rocked him even harder.

"Mommy. I can't breav," Leonard exclaimed.

"I'm sorry." Christine laughed and cried at the same time. "I'm sorry, Sweety." She lowered his head back in her hands and watched his smiling face watching her. She checked for any signs of harm and any changes she had missed over the week. His little hands moved upward to explore her cheeks.

"Mommy? Why are you crying?" the little boy asked concerned.

"Because I'm so so happy, Baby," Christine answered him.

At that Sarek cleared his throat. "If I might suggest we allow them a moment of privacy." He moved to open the front door and held it while the Enterprise crew filed out into the hall, everyone still smiling from the site they had witness. Amanda took a moment to bend down and give her beloved grandson a kiss on the forehead. Her action was greeted with a laugh and tight squeeze around the neck from the child. Without words she embraced Christine and gazed proudly at her son. He understood and nodded.

Spock looked up at Sarek, admiration and respect in his eyes. "Thank you, Father," was all he could say.

Sarek stared at him for a moment, watched his grandson and daughter-in-law and then noted, "It was the logical thing to do." He then turned and followed Amanda into the hall.

The guests had no sooner entered the hall when a very perplexed Detective Simons strode off the elevator. "Just the people I want to see," he yelled down the hall.

Reaching them, he looked around. "Where is Captain Spock and Doctor Chapel?" he asked.

"They are inside ... with their son," Sarek answered in a tone which would normally signal the end of a conversation.

Simons kept questioning. "With who? He found him...? How?" His confusion suddenly gave way to understanding. "How'd he get him back?"

"It was the strangest thing," McCoy offered, suddenly glad he had thought to vaporize the dead Klingon woman as well as Kor before they left the warehouse. "Just turned the corner and there he was."

"Yeah," Kirk assisted while Sarek fell silent. "I guess those Klingons just gave up."

"After all of this, they just turned tail and ran?" Simons looked suspicious.

"Probably, something like that." The glint in Kirk's eye told the detective he would get no more information from the starship captain or anyone else standing around. Simons was also certain that they would not be seeing anything more from Kor or his cohort. He was glad of it. Finally one of these cases with a happy ending and the scum getting what was coming to them.

"Well. I guess we can close the book on this case," Simons grinned at Kirk and the rest of the co-conspirators. "Tell Dr. Chapel and the Captain that I'm happy for them."

"We certainly will," Amanda smiled. With that, the detective turned and retreated down the hallway. He had a lengthy and carefully worded report to file.

"Now. What do you say?" McCoy began. "I know where there's an all night grocery store." He thought a moment. "Let's see, we need cake, punch, balloons..."

"For what Bones?"Jim smiled.

"A good old fashioned Welcome Home Party, of course." The doctor looked shocked that it hadn't occurred to anyone else.

"That is a very logical suggestion," Sarek answered.

Inside the apartment Spock and Christine still held their son, and each other, on the floor. It did not occur to either of them to find a more dignified seating arrangement. "The danger is gone, T'hy'la," Spock assured Christine.

"You did it, didn't you?" She asked, searching his face. She knew he had killed Kor and any other Klingon who had stood in his way.

"I did what I had to do, what anyone would do." He too looked deeply into her expression looking for any hint that her feelings toward him had changed as a result. He found none.

"I can say nothing fitting enough to honor what you have done. You saved our son's life, and you denied everything you believe in to do it," she said.

He touched her cheek with his fingertips and kissed the top of little Leonard's head. "Everything I believe in is right here," he vowed and moved closer to her. At last they shared an unhindered and passionate kiss.

"Ooooooo," Leonard fussed in childish disgust, watching his parents silently renew their promises of love to each other. Spock and Christine looked down at their son in amusement. At once their lips parted and they each began planting kisses all over his face as he squealed.

* * *

Spock finished locking the apartment. The impromptu party had lasted into the early hours of the morning. It had only been the yawns of a sleeping child and tired eyes of the boy's exhausted mother that had drawn the celebration to a close. Now the apartment was once again peaceful. His family was safe and everything was right. The site that greeted his eyes upon entering the master bedroom caused Spock to stop. He wanted to save it in his memory forever.

Christine looked radiant lying against her pillow, her hair surrounding her face like soft feathers. Cradled in her arms, already finding pleasant dreams, their son slept soundly. Christine looked up from her study of their child and her beauty as she smiled at him took his breath away. Spock had already prepared for bed and was eager to join her. The moment he had been anticipating could wait for awhile longer. He padded across the carpet and slipped softly beneath the blankets with them. He pulled his family into his arms and sighed at their nearness. Reaching over, his lips met Christine's. In their kiss he found no trace of the fear or anxiety that had devoured her the past week. There was only happiness and love. He sent those feelings back to her with all his might and she echoed his sigh as she laid back against the pillow. They needed no words. Gently he lowered his head and kissed the dark silk of his son's small head. In that contact he did not feel fear or loneliness, there was only peace, belonging, safety, and love. Everything he had once denied himself, now belonged to him. He had protected it with everything he had and had won.

As he held his wife and son close to him in the dark, Spock heard a tiny whimper from below at the foot of the bed. He exhaled in exasperation, and looked at Christine. Her eye were kind and loving as she shrugged and nodded at him.

"Oh, alright," Spock moaned. "Come on," he commanded and patted the bed. Bear burst onto the comforter, circled twice at his master's feet and plopped down heavily on the mattress. Christine stifled hysterical laughter as she watched her husband's face. She could have sworn he laughed.

* * *

It had been five weeks since their son had been rescued. Christine and Spock returned quickly and easily to the normal pace of their life, which was as normal as it could be for two Star Fleet officers. Little Leonard had suffered very few ill affects from his abduction. Of course that was due mostly to a few strategic mind melds initiated by his father. Spock was determined that his son should not be traumatized by the incident and replaced the worst of the toddler's memories with happy images of Christine, Bear, and a few of himself. The other memories were fading on their own as the boy busied himself discovering life.

Leonard was growing rapidly and the small apartment which overlooked the city was shrinking even more quickly. The couple had begun house hunting before their son had been kidnapped and had not found the time to renew their quest. For that reason it came as a complete surprise to Christine, one Saturday morning, when Spock suggested that they drive down the coast a short distance and look at a house he had in mind.

"I didn't know we'd started looking again," Christine smiled as she cleared the breakfast dishes. "Where is it?"

"It is in Monterey," Spock answered.

A contended and whimsical grin crossed Christine's face. "That's where I grew up."

"I know." He informed her. Sometimes she forgot that he knew everything about her and she about him, they had grown so comfortable it was second nature. "I thought it was a logical place to begin," He stated.

"I can't really argue with that," Christine laughed. "Alright. It's beautiful outside. I'll make a picnic lunch and we'll make a day of it. You get Leonard ready." Spock agreed and the family was ready within half an hour.

Driving down the coast they would stop at inlets to let their son play in the tide pools or to let Bear out when he needed it. The day was perfect, the breeze mild and sweet, and the sun warm and welcoming. "We're here," Christine announced as they passed the first few buildings at the city limits, her memories running involuntarily through her mind. It had been so long since she had been back. Her mother had moved to Lake Tahoe and remarried after her father had passed away and her sisters had scattered to the winds. One had even been taken from them before her time. It was a bit hard for her to relive the painful recollections, but the happy times far outweighed anything negative.

Spock looked over at Christine lovingly and took her hand as they turned down a street as familiar to her as the one on which their apartment was located. Stopping in front a shady cottage she looked over at him with wonder.

"What do you think?" he asked her.

"This is it?" Christine questioned. He nodded.

"Oh, Spock," she beamed. "This is the house I grew up in."

"I know," he told her. "It seems you were happy here. I thought our son might enjoy that same contentment." Her eyes began to glisten. "I hope I have not made an error."

"Oh, no. It's a wonderful idea. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else," Christine agreed.

"Shall we?" he offered.

"Yes," she answered gleefully.

Spock and Christine stepped out of the car. She quickly opened the backdoor and unfastened their son from his safety seat. Setting him on his feet, the three year old wasted no time in running patterns across the yard with his sehlat. It seemed he sensed his mother had done the same as a child.

"I think he's already home," Christine smiled.

"Let us look around," Spock said, watching their son and almost smiling.

The second porch step still creaked, but the door was not nearly as heavy as Christine remembered as they called their son to follow them inside. The young boy found as much inside to entertain him as there had been outside. The couple walked around the first floor. The rooms had seemed so much larger to Christine when she was little. She could almost hear her sisters playing, see her mother standing at the stove, and smell her father's pipe. She stopped in the hallway that led upstairs to take it all in. Spock watched her memories play out in his mind. There was no doubt. They were home.

"Are you alright, T'Hy'la?" he asked her.

"I'm fine. So much has happened, but it seems like I never left," Christine smiled and took his hand.

Leading her husband upstairs, Christine stopped at the corner of the landing. Several notches had been cut in the woodwork. There were carvings next to them. She fingered the one that read "C 10". Spock realized it was her family growth chart.

"We'll have to put Leonard on here." Christine's eyes twinkled.

Leading Spock from room to room, Christine had a story and a laugh for each one. "There's where I used to hold my tea parties," she told him in one. "There's where I knocked my front teeth out trying to fly," she said at the attic steps. "We all used to get in bed with my parents on stormy nights," was the story for the master bedroom which would now belong to them. "And this, this was my room." She turned a circle as they entered a light and airy space with a sloped ceiling and a window seat. It overlooked the tree-filled back yard and garden below. "It's perfect, don't you think?" Christine smiled widely.

"For what, Beloved?" Spock asked her.

Her eyes gave no hint of her secret as she crossed to stand in front of him. She lightly took his hand and placed his palm over her stomach. "For the nursery," she answered.

He stared at her in amazement. "Christine..." Spock stuttered. "...Are you?"

"I am." She laughed. "I didn't want to tell you until I sure. I didn't want to get your hopes up. I had an appointment yesterday." She beamed. "We're having a baby."

He felt his legs weaken and his heart leap with joy. "How far...?" he whispered.

"Five weeks," Christine answered proudly.

Suddenly his face turned serious. "Then now would not be the best time for us to move our residence. You do not need the stress."

"Now is the perfect time," Christine countered. "I brought our son home to an empty apartment. I want to bring our daughter home to our own house."

"Daughter?" he coughed.

Christine nodded, her eyes bright. "It a girl. Well, she's going to be."

Spock drew Christine into his arms and kissed her softly. Every instinct he had told him to protect her, to care for her. That was exactly what he intended to do. "My T'hy'la," he murmured. "There are no words to describe how much I love you."

"Or how much I cherish thee," Christine answered.

Their next kiss was serenaded by the sounds of their son's happy laughter.



THE END



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