Thanks to Peachly, my beta, and thanks to Tonati, Dahliaxat, and Kami for reviewing. I definitely appreciate your comments and feedback. It helps me make changes to improve the story.
To anyone who is wondering, as far as this story is concerned, Sam does not exist. He was inconvenient lol.
Chapter 3: Georgia!
The room melted from Jim's eyes, and he felt tingly all over. Almost instantaneously, he found himself materializing in a lobby. A blond woman looked up at them.
"Oh, you're Spock and Jim right? 8:45?" she asked, her voice very Southern. "I'm Jocelyn, by the way," she added, addressing Jim.
Spock strode forward, Jim following him, who was still a bit dazed from the shock of transportation. "That is correct. How long is the waiting period?"
"Not long," she reassured them. Spock raised an eyebrow, conveying his doubt. In his experience, human doctors were notorious for their long waiting periods, exceeding even their Secretary of State offices. Of course, it had not been that way on the Enterprise, but his time on Earth had apprised him of this fact.
"Really," she said. "It'll only be about fifteen minutes."
Spock nodded, knowing that humans tended to be very imprecise. He turned and sat down, and Jim sat beside him.
"What doctor am I seeing?" asked Jim curiously. He'd only gone a few times in his life, when his injuries had been so severe that he and Frank could not hide them.
"Dr. Leonard H. McCoy," said Spock. "He just recently earned his title of Medicinae Doctor. He is a kind, warm hearted Southern gentleman. I think you'll like him."
Just then, shouting reached their ears. "I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker! If you want the results, you're going to have to cooperate!"
"He is kind and warmhearted buried beneath a rather colorful exterior," amended Spock.
Jim fought the urge to raise an eyebrow. He couldn't do it as precisely as Spock and would probably look ridiculous. Instead, he remembered what Gary had said about not buying the whole errands excuse. It seemed as if Spock knew this doctor. Just another mystery to add to the rapidly growing list.
Several minutes later - which, Spock noted, was more than Jocelyn had allotted - Dr. McCoy came out, looking rather disgruntled. His eyes softened, however, when he saw Jim.
"I'm Dr. Leonard McCoy. You must be Jim and Spock."
"That is correct, Doctor," said Spock, finding his heart warming despite himself. Dr. McCoy looked as though he was doing well, and he was glad to see it.
"Hi," said Jim shyly.
"Well, I got your readings you sent me from your medical scanner. I'm glad you had the sense to bring him in, instead of fooling around like the other people licensed to have medical scanners. Why you brought him all the way to Georgia when he's sick, though, I can't imagine, especially using those fool transporters. You want to rest him, not have his atoms floating around in random places!" He gestured them to follow. Spock immediately went, fighting back a smile. Jim followed with an uncertain look on his face. It seemed so unlikely that Spock would go out of his way to a doctor with a bedside manner such as this. Maybe it was all just as Spock said it was, and he and Gary were just paranoid.
They arrived in an examining room, and McCoy had Jim sit down, taking his own readings with his scanner. He made friendly conversation while he worked, asked Jim about his favorite subjects in school, what grades he got, and what hobbies he liked. He seemed impressed with the answers Jim gave.
When he finished, he frowned. "I'm not picking up everything you did on your scanner, Spock," he said, puzzled. His tone did not seem suspicious, however. It was very difficult to fabricate scanner results, after all.
"I made a few adjustments on mine, to make it more sensitive," explained Spock casually.
"Well, I wish I had you as my mechanic, then," he commented, thankfully not pressing further.
He was silent for a few minutes, finishing his physical examination and taking notes. Finally he said, "Well, Jim, looks like you're fortunate Spock is looking out for you. You're just starting to come down with pneumonia. Fortunately we caught it early, so it won't be as bad. I'll be prescribing some medication for you. When's the last time you saw a doctor?"
Jim shrugged. "I think a few years ago. Just in the ER, though. To fix my broken arm."
"I'm going to get you some ointment for that shiner as well. Did you anger your girlfriend?" asked McCoy jokingly. "She must have big hands."
His tone had been a little too light. Jim suspected he suspected the truth, and was gently trying to get him to admit it. "I fell off my bike," he said hopelessly.
"Yeah, and I'm the president of the United Federation of Planets. Look, kid, I know a handprint when I see one. The shape and markings are all consistent with a sharp blow to the face by someone bigger and stronger than you. My and Spock's scanners also say this was not the first time something like this happened. Now you might not want to admit it to any of us, kid, but I think someone's abusing you. If you won't tell us, try to tell another adult who can do something for you. I can recommend a social worker to do an investigation."
Jim froze in fear and embarrassment. His parents would be FURIOUS, and Spock, what did he think of all this? Was he just doing all this because he felt sorry for him? "I think you're exaggerating," said Jim, trying to keep his voice casual.
"Exaggerating, my ass," McCoy said irritably. "I've got evidence of extensive bruising never properly healed because of repeated application of that same hand, mostly on areas that would normally be covered by clothing. I've also gotten evidence of fractured ribs never properly healed, either. I could go on."
Spock took this moment to speak. Jim did not meet his eyes. "Jim, you do not have to do anything you do not wish to. We merely wish to extend the offer of protection and investigation, should you wish to take it."
"What's your relation to him, anyway?" asked McCoy. He knew the handprints did not belong to Spock. His hands were shaped different, for one, and Jim's bones would all have been broken by his Vulcan strength, which they had not been, for the most part.
"I'm his neighbor. I just moved in and recently became acquainted with him."
"Recent? How recent?"
There was a pause. "I met him three days ago."
McCoy shot him a look of disbelief. "You met the kid three days ago, then you decide to drag him to a doctor in Georgia?"
"That is correct."
"Well, it's about time someone did," said McCoy. "How did he get the pneumonia?"
Spock explained the circumstances. Jim did not look at either of them, picking at the paper on the examining table. He felt like he was a problem and a burden. He did not like it at all.
"So he apparently decided that your book was more important than his own health?" said McCoy in exasperation.
"I would say he behaved like any young boy would under the circumstances," amended Spock, trying to soften the statement.
"Well, it's about time someone looked after him properly. Now, I can't order a social worker to investigate, unfortunately, without more evidence. But this is something you can provide, if you observe and document what you find out about the goings on between him and his parents."
"I will document it. However, I will not act against Jim's wishes. I will not force my assistance upon him."
"Looks like you got yourself a neighbor as stubborn as you are," said McCoy, addressing Jim again. His eyes were fond, though. "Well, kid, I can't do much more now than give you your prescription, write you a doctor's note, make some notations in your record, and recommend you get three days of rest. Go to Mr. Spock if you have any problems. And I don't want to hear about any more all nighters in the cornfield."
Jim nodded, getting up to go.
"Hey," said McCoy, his voice softer than it had ever been. "I like you. I can tell you're a good, intelligent kid. I hope Spock will take you to see me again, hopefully under better circumstances. Like an investigation. Take care, kid."
Jim nodded again, smiling shyly. Spock watched the exchange with pleasure. It had been so many years since he'd seen these two together. It had been worth all the effort and planning.
"Why don't you go to Jocelyn and she'll give you all the paperwork? I would like a word with Spock."
Jim nodded again and left rather reluctantly.
"He looks rather well for getting up early and the long speeder ride you must have taken to get to a transporter," McCoy commented when Jim was gone.
"I have my transporter license and one is installed in my house," explained Spock.
"What license DON'T you have?" wondered McCoy.
"Para-sailing. I never understood the logic of depending upon such a dubious contraption."
"And yet you'll step in a transporter and have your atoms flung about the cosmos. Logic, my ass. But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about. Two things," McCoy said. "Now, I know you told my receptionist that you have errands in town, and that's why you were here. But she also told me that you asked for me specifically. Now, perhaps it's not my business, but is there any reason for that?"
Spock should have known better than to expect McCoy not to be suspicious. It had clearly been too long since he'd spent time with the doctor. Or perhaps his eager emotionalism had clouded his logic. He would have to meditate on it. "There is no reason I wish to discuss."
"Well, when you wish to discuss it, let me know," he grumbled irritably. Damn secretive computeroid Vulcans. "The second thing. You watch that kid like a hawk. I don't know how invested you are in him, but he needs to be convinced to get his situation investigated. If I found myself a willing witness, I could order it myself. Don't think I won't try." He pointed his finger at him for emphasis.
Spock held back his urge to smile at the familiar gestures and language. It certainly felt like deja vu to hear McCoy using his authority in his medical profession to override what he believed to be an unwise decision on Jim's part.
"I've taken a liking to this kid. And I know Vulcans scoff at emotionalism, but try to make an exception for him. And watch your own health too! I have not taken any specialized xenobiology courses, but even I can recognize stress in Vulcans. I would be waving my tricorder over you right now if I didn't have to get to my next appointment."
Spock hid his relief. He was not sure what McCoy with find, but he was not sure it would be not suspicious.
"Something big happened to you recently. Maybe the reason why you moved to the middle of nowhere, away from other Vulcans, seeking human companionship? All behavior that is not typical of Vulcans."
Spock decided to give away one fact about himself to alleviate his uncomfortably accurate scrutiny. "That is because I am not fully Vulcan. I am half human."
"Well, you sure kept that one under wraps. Does the kid know?"
"I have not had the opportunity to tell him."
"Well, maybe if you don't keep so many secrets from him, he might be a little freer with his," pointed out McCoy. "Now, I'm a doctor, not a psychologist. But what that kid needs is a good father figure. I imagine even you would be better than what he's got."
Spock did not take it personally. In fact, he was delighted to find himself in the middle of the familiar banter. "Indeed. Perhaps even an irritable doctor would be preferable."
"Why you -"
A nurse opened the door just then, looking apologetic. "Doctor, we've got a patient in the lobby demanding to see you right now. He seems to be in a lot of pain."
"I'll be right out," said McCoy. He turned back to Spock. "I'll be checking up on you, you know. And I mean it about finding a witness. I have my ways. Goodbye, Mr. Spock." And with that, McCoy marched out of the room with Spock at his heels. They both made their way to the lobby where Jim was waiting.
"Take care, kid," called McCoy after them as they left. Jim waved in response.
"Now we must go on my errand and contact your mother. I have arranged a place for you to rest in the same building I will be in," Spock informed him.
Jim did not respond immediately. They had just stepped outside, and he was seeing Georgia for the first time. It was definitely hotter than Iowa. He bet Spock was glad of that. The greenery was a bit different, and he was surrounded by southern accents. He took in the sights eagerly, and Spock indulged him by keeping his pace slow.
They arrived at a rather boring looking building, and Spock and Jim went inside. "My skills with computers are required here," he explained. "They have graciously volunteered the entertainment room for your use. Please stay there while I conduct my work. It should only be a few hours."
Jim nodded, and they parted ways. Jim sat down and decided to text his friends. They wouldn't be able to respond until lunchtime, but he wanted to anyway.
JKirk: In Georgia! McCoy said I was just starting to come down with pneumonia. But he says we caught in time so it won't be too bad. I have the rest of the week off from school though. I'll take pictures here with my comm so you can see!
Now starting to feel a bit bored, he looked around at what there was to do. There was a TV, arcade, snack machine, soda machine, several tables, cards, a chess and checkers set, and even a 3D chess set. He flipped through the channels on the TV and sat next to the chess set, fiddling with the pieces. He liked the knights the best. He'd always wanted to ride a horse, but of course his parents wouldn't let him, saying it was too expensive. Even if his deceased dad's brother had a ranch and would let him ride for free. Apparently they didn't want him to have anything to do with his real dad's family.
He settled on a sweet action movie and continued moving the pieces randomly as he watched. He lost track of time, enjoying his freedom. He wondered what it would be like to explore Georgia all by himself. For a moment, he considered it. It would be wild. It would be cool. Daring. Fun! Then he imagined Spock's reaction if he ran out on him. That immediately shut down all thoughts of escape. If it had been Frank, he wouldn't have hesitated. It would have been worth some bruises and shouting. But it definitely wasn't worth losing Spock's regard. He felt he was on thin ice with that as it was.
He was so occupied by his thoughts, the movie, and the chessboard that he didn't notice Spock come up behind him, until he spoke. That Vulcan could sure sneak up on a person!
"You play chess?" asked Spock.
Jim turned to face him. Despite his expression not changing much at all, Jim would describe him as excited. Maybe it was something about the eyes. "Well, not really. I know what each piece does, and I've played with Gary a few times. But I don't know a whole lot about the game."
"Would you like to learn?"
To be honest, chess wasn't really on Jim's list of priorities right now. Exploring Georgia was. But Spock looked as excited as he'd ever seen him - well, with the exception of when they first met, but anyway - and Jim didn't want to disappoint. "Yeah." He smiled.
Spock immediately sat down and set up the board properly. Jim could tell he was a pro and prepared to get steamrolled. But Spock was more interested in instructing than winning, and Jim found himself interested despite himself.
He also noticed, that as they played, Spock looked.... different. Jim couldn't quite put his finger on it, and spent some time trying to figure it out. He looked less...stressed, maybe? That was it! Jim had never thought of Spock as stressed before, especially since he had a much more calm personality than anyone he'd ever met, but now that it was lessened, the difference was obvious. He seemed happier somehow, more at home, playing chess with him.
Jim resolved to buy Spock a chess set, if he didn't already have one.
His comm buzzed, interrupting them. Spock gestured him to answer it.
Jim took a look.
GMitch: Glad to hear you're doing well. Find out the real reason you went to Georgia?
Jim felt a bit self conscious texting about this in front of Spock. With everything that had happened lately between them, he still was not convinced that he could not read his mind. Nonetheless, he messaged back.
JKirk: No, not really. He was a bit weird about the doctor, though, seemed like he knew him even though he'd never seen him before. Maybe he's just a psychic or something. You should have seen the room he made for me. It was tailor made to me, and I never told him anything. He gave me an explanation, but I think it was bullshit. Even so, he's great. I'm half hoping he'll kidnap me. LOL
GMitch: Psychic? Maybe you've got something there. Vulcans are supposed to be touch telepaths, you know. It still doesn't explain the crater behind his house, or why he's here instead of Vulcan.
JKirk: He seems to like me a lot. I bet I'll find out eventually.
As long as nothing went south, of course. Beyond the literal meaning.
BenFin: You will, Jim! I'm glad to hear you're going to be all right. I want to meet that mysterious Vulcan of yours! He sounds neat. A real mystery!
JKirk: When a good opportunity comes up, definitely. I should go now, though. He's been patiently waiting for me to finish.
BenFin: Wow, he makes a special room for you, takes you to Georgia, AND lets you text in front of him without getting mad. Is he for sale?? :D :D
JKirk: No, LOL, but he's pretty good at talking parents into things. :D Talk to you later.
"Sorry," said Jim. "I'll turn it off."
"No, there is no need. The chance to interact with someone your own age and species must be welcome to you. I have no objections."
Jim's stomach dropped at the possible implications. "No, no, I'm turning it off," he said. "I like spending time with you," he added shyly. He turned off his comm. What if he blew it?
Spock's eyes warmed for a moment. "Speaking of interactions, we need to contact your mother to plan our next move."
Jim tried to hide his disappointment. He'd tried to forget he had to return to his parent's house, but now he had to face it. Seriously, Spock could take him away on a spaceship and he'd have no regrets. But unfortunately that is not the way life worked for him. Spock had better things to do than take care of his problems. He was a brilliant guy, and he was just some stupid kid. Why was he even bothering?
Spock, of course, wasn't stupid and caught on to his silence. He bet Spock was listed in the dictionary as the antonym for stupid. "Jim, there is not much I can do for you, unless you consider Dr. McCoy's plan," reminded Spock.
"No," he whispered, barely audible, but Spock's Vulcan hearing caught it.
"Jim, I would take responsibility for you, if you were to change your mind. Or if you would prefer someone else, I would find that person or persons. I will assist you in any way you need. You may be surprised at what I can do for you."
Jim found he could not speak.
Spock scrutinized him for a minute, sensing he had pushed Jim far enough for now. He did not like it, but he found that respecting Jim's decisions no matter what, was so deeply ingrained in him he could not find it in himself to resist the urge, as illogical as it currently was. Still looking at Jim in concern, he pulled out his comm and dialed. He told her about the pneumonia and the medicines Jim was taking, and the doctor's note for the three days off. Jim sat frozen and unhappy in his seat, not meeting Spock's eyes through the exchange. Spock unleashed the full force of his considerable diplomatic skills on Winona, trying to persuade her to let him keep Jim under his care until he was better. It was close. Jim was rather impressed that Spock had managed to make her sound so unsure of her decision to have Jim come back home. In the end, though, Winona did not cave, saying that Frank was insisting that he come back before day's end. She would not say why, just said vaguely that it was a private family matter. Spock did not like that Frank was so stubborn about it, and logically concluded it could not be anything good. Unfortunately, there was little he could do.
Jim looked quite glum when Spock finished the call. Spock was unsure of what to do. Despite his many years among humans and Jim in particular, he could not quite grasp the illogic of it all. If Jim was unhappy in his situation, why did he not accept legal intervention to improve it? It is what any Vulcan would have done, in the unlikely and rare event it happened.
But Jim was not a Vulcan. His own Jim was not. Although he had his moments, especially as he grew older, he had never really acted like one. His Jim, Kirk Prime, was a proud man who liked to find his own solutions to things. Perhaps having someone else find those solutions for him was unpleasant? Yet, Spock had often been the one to come up with answers, and Jim had always been eager to listen to and enact them. Yet Jim always made the final decision. Perhaps he perceived this as a blow to his personal power? Having the situation come to light, would make him appear weak, even though that was not the case. His Jim had certainly always tried to appear strong, except in those cases he had allowed himself to fall apart in Spock's presence. He had thought it was to retain the respect of command, but perhaps it was more personal than that?
Perhaps, then, Spock was going about this entirely the wrong way. Maybe if he inspired Jim to feel strong and proud in other respects, he would not mind the idea of a court case so much. With this in mind, he changed his tone and addressed Jim. "We do not have to leave Georgia right away. I know a diner we can eat at before we go. You may take pictures on the way if you wish. I would show you the town, but I do not want to make you more ill."
Jim brightened slightly, but not much. Spock led him to a diner that he had gone to with McCoy shortly before he died. Of course, it did not look quite the same as it had then, but he was pleased to see it there all the same. He knew McCoy Prime had frequented it on his lunch breaks. There was a chance they'd run into him again before they left.
Jim did take some pictures. Spock let him order anything on the menu, and Jim perked up a bit more. Spock kept his eyes peeled on the entrance, watching for McCoy.
The doctor did not disappoint. Looking disgruntled, as usual, he entered the diner, got his food, and scanned for a seat. He spotted them and headed over.
"You again," he said without preamble. "You'd better not be dragging him all over town. He needs his rest. Pneumonia can be serious business."
"Do not concern yourself, Doctor. We are headed back after this."
"Good," said McCoy, sitting down with them. "Not that I mind your company," he added to Jim.
Jim smiled at him. McCoy was beginning to grow on him. "I like Georgia. I hope I get to come back someday."
"Well kid, I have an extra room for whenever that happens. I mean it, too, don't you think otherwise. You can even drag this walking computer along with you," he added, as if it were a great sacrifice on his part.
"Perhaps, if this 'walking computer' could tolerate massive amounts of illogic and irritability," said Spock without regret.
"I'd say where you could stick your logic, Vulcan, but we are in polite company," bantered McCoy.
"Indeed. Perhaps you'd better leave then, Doctor."
"Why you green blooded hobgoblin! You better watch your mouth. You never know when I might find a hypo with something nasty in it." He turned to Jim. "How can you stand him?"
Jim smiled a bit. He could tell, by the lack of any real malice in McCoy's voice, that he was not entirely serious. "Well, there are a few perks to being around him."
"Enlighten me," said McCoy.
Jim told him about getting all his favorite foods, the way his room was decorated, getting the book, and his tolerance for texting (most adults did not like it, he'd found).
"You're spoiling him rotten!" observed McCoy to Spock, with glee in his voice. "How do you explain the logic of THAT?"
Spock's eyes gleamed. "It would be illogical to give him things he doesn't like as well, when I know I can easily cater to his preferences."
"It would be illogical not to spoil him, you mean," said McCoy in disbelief. "Didn't know that was part of the Vulcan philosophy. Are all Vulcan children spoiled?"
"Vulcan children are purely logical. They do not have the preferences that human children have. However, that does not mean that I believe that human children are inferior," he reassured Jim.
"I see. What about you, then? You're not fully Vulcan. Were you spoiled?"
Spock's own childhood was so long ago, it seemed like it was a different universe. In fact, it had been. His eyes flicked to Jim and noticed his look of shock.
"You're not fully Vulcan?" he asked.
"No. I am half Vulcan, half human. I did not intentionally hide this fact from you."
He could see Jim had another question, but seemed afraid to ask. "Oh, that's okay. I didn't even know it was possible."
"There was some intervention with biology experts to ensure my survival," Spock explained. "Jim, if there is something else you would like to know, always feel free to ask. I may not be able to answer, but I do not object to questions." Spock was secretly glad Jim had managed to distract McCoy from answering questions about his own childhood. Although not objectionable in the way Jim's was, it still was not his subject of choice.
"How old are you?" asked Jim.
"I am 155.2573 years old, in Earth terms," revealed Spock.
"Can't you just say you're 155 years old?" quipped McCoy.
"I believe in complete accuracy, doctor. With all the approximations in your language, it is no wonder that misunderstandings occur so often in your species."
"Not all of us are made of computer circuits, Spock," grumbled McCoy. "I see no harm in giving an 'approximation' of your age. Hell, you could just tell him you're an old fart and call it good."
Spock's eyebrow shot up. This was not something McCoy had ever said to him before. Perhaps that was because where he came from, McCoy was older than him. "I see no logic in telling him that I am, as you say, an 'old fart.' Not to mention the scientific impossibilities of that statement."
Jim giggled in response. Spock's eyes softened. He had not heard Jim laugh since he had last been with Kirk Prime, and that had been decades ago. It was a welcome sound indeed.
McCoy looked pleased as well. The expression was brief, but Spock caught it anyway. "Who ever called that phrase scientific? It's an expression. An accurate one."
"There is nothing specific about that statement, therefore, I do not understand how you have come to the conclusion that it is accurate. I believe you need to examine your logic, doctor."
"I can't believe we're dissecting the phrase, 'old fart.' Vulcans," McCoy muttered to himself, as if it were a curse word. "I'd love to stay and continue on with this conversation," he added, his tone betraying otherwise, "But I've got a clinic to return to, and you have a young man you need to get back in bed."
Spock's eyes shifted to Jim. Although his eyes spoke of his enjoyment, the rest of his body language betrayed his exhaustion and discomfort of being sick. "Indeed, you are correct doctor."
"Take care, Jim," said McCoy. "And I meant what I said about a free room. And I even meant what I said about bringing HIM along. A door is open here for you in the Southeast. Don't you forget it." McCoy patted him on the shoulder as he got up to go.
Spock arranged his fingers in the Vulcan salute. For the first time, his real feelings of friendship for the doctor were betrayed in his eyes. Jim and McCoy did not understand it. It seemed out of proportion to the little time they had spent together. "Live long and prosper, Dr. McCoy," he said, really meaning it. "Until we meet again."
"We will. In fact, you should be scheduling a checkup for yourself," McCoy admonished Spock. "Make sure he does," he added, addressing Jim this time.
"Will do," promised Jim, smiling. "It was nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too. You rest and stay in bed until you're better! Got to go, or I'll be late." With that, McCoy left.
"It is time for us to be leaving as well," Spock said. He paid for their food, and Jim followed him out the door.
The city was large enough to have its own transporter room. Jim took a few more pictures on the way. They did not have far to walk. Within moments, Jim felt the strange tingling again and resigned himself to what was to come.