The small girl behind his younger counterpart’s legs was peering out at him warily. Jim fussed at her and tried to get her to move forward to greet the ambassador. “T’Lema! You’ve seen your Uncle Selek over transmission lots of time.” She hid even further behind her father’s legs., until Spock turned to her and simply said, “He is our friend and not a threat. Hiding is not a logical reaction.” Apparently being called “illogical” could convince her to do anything.
The child stepped forward a few steps and regarded him warily with her hands clasped behind her back. She nodded respect to him as any proper Vulcan child would have, but the rocking back and forth on her heels showed she most definitely had her human father’s energetic nature. When he nodded in return, he received a flash of a smile and then she was beside the Captain, hanging onto his arm and looking up to him for approval.
“Interesting,” thought the older man. He would be very interested in seeing what other traces remained of this child’s Vulcan heritage or if she would act entirely human.
After being shown to his quarters, the four of them proceeded to the mess hall for a quick meal. They began the walk with T’Lema following sedately behind her fathers, when Jim suddenly turned and called the girl’s name, “T‘Lema Amanda Kirk! What do you think you‘re doing?”. She had somehow managed to scale one of the handhold bars and was attempted to reach an air vent.
“This vent leads to the mess hall! Unca’ Pavel showed me the layout!”
Her half-Vulcan father chimed in with “It would take you approximately 4 times longer to reach the mess hall by climbing through the air vents then by simply walking.”
“Oh. Never mind.”
The child then leapt down as though she had been doing nothing abnormal and began walking beside Spock with her hands behind her back, as Jim shook his head and sighed. “Selek” was suddenly reminded of Saavik when he first took over her care, the way she would climb like a monkey and needed very rational reasons not to do something before she would agree to listen to him. He thought that in this, T’Lema was very like his former charge.
Seeing the mutinous glare she shot Jim when he told her to walk by him so people walking in the opposite direction could go down the corridor though, he believed that in her case they might be traits from her fully human father.
He was surprised when every member of the small family selected a vegetarian meal in the serving line. The Jim Kirk he had known had been very fond of animal protein and never broken the habit of eating meat, although he would sometimes abstain for Spock’s comfort. This Jim just shrugged at the questioning look in his eyes and said, “With both of them not eating meat, it just seemed easier to become vegetarian as well.”
They sat and “Selek” studied them as he ate. This Jim ate as quickly as his own friend had, likely a result of his starvation on Tarsus as a teenager. That was something both Jims had had in common. Spock ate slowly and methodically, although he did make some small attempts at conversation with his older self. The child across from them however, quickly picked out the foods she was fond of and left the rest on her tray. Selek noticed a fondness for mushrooms and an apparent dislike of green peppers, judging by the small pile of them that she had separated as she picked them out of her meal.
“You did not eat the peppers?”
“They’re gross! I mean, I am not fond of their flavor and texture.”
Fascinating. She did make attempts to behave as a Vulcan then.
What types of bribery had worked with Saavik when she was young? “If you will eat your Andorian grass sprouts, which are similar nutritionally to the peppers, then I will show you an interesting mathematics game as a reward.”
It was amazing how quickly a little bribery worked, and he realized that was mainly how he had survived his time as Saavikam‘s guardian.. After the sprouts vanished T’Lema arched a thin brow in the direction of her tray.
“Most satisfactory.” Selek responded, “Now it is only necessary to clear the table and I will allow you use of my PADD.” She jumped out of her seat to obey and the older version of Spock realized that Jim was watching their interaction with amusement and nudging his own partner gently to do the same. He arched an eyebrow and turned his attention back to the girl-child he planned to spend as much time with as possible. The ache he felt at realizing he had chosen for her to never exist in his own timeline seemed penance enough, but still hurt.
His eyes drank her in longingly, like water in the desert, and for the first time he felt envious of his younger counterpart. He had met Jim at a younger age, they bonded publicly in a way he and his own t’hy’la had never dared, and now they had a beautiful child that was part of both of them. Perhaps it was karma to balance the loss of Vulcan, but it still ached.