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Sequel to A Measure of Worth

Written for [info]ksvalentine '11 for the prompt 'Sarek is forcing Spock to take a bondmate. He hasn't stipulated gender, though'.

Contains:  trauma recovery (deals with slavery and child abuse), language, kid!fic (not de-aging), fluff and angst, fake medical details, a liberal interpretation of Vulcan psychology and development


The news that Bones brought Jim that morning wasn’t as surprising as it should have been. The fact that Shen’s vocal cords had been removed filled him with rage, but he was thankful to know the doctor that had done it, while unethical, was not a butcher, had been good at what he’d done, and was able to expertly remove them without damaging the surrounding tissue. The good news was that meant that Bones could repair it. The bad news was that it would be a long and painful process, and there would likely be months of speech therapy needed to get Shen talking. He wasn’t sure if he could subject Shen to something of this magnitude so soon, when everything was so new to him.

Spock had of coursed argued with him. “Shen is a Vulcan, and as such, he will recognize the logic of the situation.”

“He’s a traumatized child!” Jim all but yelled back.

“You are thinking of Shen as though he is a human child. He is not. Treating him as such will do more harm than good.” Spock resorted with infinite patience.

“And you are an expert on Vulcan development psychology because you’re such a textbook case right?” It was a cruel bard, Jim knew, but he couldn’t stop the words.

Spock visibly stiffened. “You know as well as I, Captain, that my situation is unique. While I have not studied it extensively, I have lived it. Despite my mixed heritage, I feel I am most qualified to judge this situation. Please consider the strength of your bond and the effect it is having on you and your judgment. I am as concerned for him as well, and would never suggest anything that would harm him.”

Jim swiped a hand over his face as a wave of guilt washed over him. “Shit, Spock. I’m sorry. This is all so weird.” Pausing he glanced over at Shen again sleeping in his bed. He still felt like he should be touching him, but Spock had said that too much touch could be just as bad as too little. Spock was right, there was so much that he didn’t know so much that he didn’t understand. Shen was a Vulcan, and he kept forgetting that. “You’re right. I am trying to treat him as though he was human, but that’s all I know, Spock. Jesus Christ. I can’t do this. I’m going to hurt him. I’m going to—”

Spock grabbed his shoulders, cutting him off. “Captain,” he began, then amended, “Jim. You will learn. I have taken the liberty to upload a number of articles on Vulcan development to your PADD as well as included a list of a number of other sources I feel will be useful. There is an abundance of information available for first time parents.”

“Parents,” Jim repeated dazedly. “I never— I mean— I didn’t think that I would ever be a parent. I never wanted kids. I can’t—” Jim broke off, unable to say it.

“Jim,” Spock spoke softly. “You maybe not have planned it, but now you are. You must accept that, or you will harm Shen. He cannot handle a rejection.”

“Shit, Spock. I know that, and I would never do that. I’m making a mess out of this. What I’m try to ask if for your help. Not just your knowledge, which I’m thankful for, but your assistance.” Jim swore he almost felt a vague sense of guilt coming from the Vulcan before he spoke, but that was impossible.

“I meant to inform you earlier, but an opportune time never arose. Shen has also created a bond with me. It formed in sickbay, during the meld.”

Jim startled, not having considered the possibility, though it was so obvious now. “So it really is you I’m feeling then.”


“I feel Shen’s mind constantly, like it’s shouting at me. But there was something else there, almost a whisper that I could never make out. That’s you, isn’t it?”

“I never considered the possibility. In most cases both parents are bonded to each other. I will have to research cases in which they are not. Currently I am not blocking the bond because I feel so would be injurious to Shen. Due to the strength of the bond between you both, there must be some bleed of thought and emotion. When it is safe, I will teach you how to shield as well.” Spock glanced over at Shen as he began to shift restlessly on the bed.

As Jim reached over to touch him, Spock’s hand shot out, stopping the movement. “Do not rely on touch. Use the bond.”

Jim nodded in understanding. “Show me.”

It was a week before they started Shen on solid foods. They’d learned the hard way the first day that he was left to himself for just a minute around food. They’d returned to find that he’d gorged himself sick. After that they made sure not to have food around him. At Bones’ orders and Spock’s suggestion, Jim had a purple gespar peeled, seeded, and cut into small pieces that he was to feed Shen individually. There was no need to have a repeat of the week prior.

Sitting down carefully on the edge of the bed that Shen was still sleeping in, he couldn’t help but feel his heart both warm and constrict at the sight before him. In just a week Shen had improved in leaps and bounds, but he still had a long way to go, and Jim knew that things were too easy thus far. Things never went this easy. Something was going to have to give at some point, and he hoped that he’d be able to help Shen hold himself together.

Petting the long hair away from Shen’s forehead, Jim grinned as Shen instantly moved into the touch. He still wasn’t used to it, didn’t know if he’d ever get used to it, the awe that someone could have so much trust in him, could need him so much. It was a scary thing, and made him feel like he had to try and be a better man.

“Shen, it’s time to wake up. I have something for you.”

Jim had always imagined that Vulcans were morning people and were wide awake the instant that they woke up, but he’d quickly learned with Shen that he was wrong. Shen would scrunch up his face in the most adorable manner before he finally blinked sleepy blue eyes up at him. It would have been odd, those solemn eyes following his every move, but it wasn’t.

Jim didn’t hold his attention long this morning though. As the scent of the fruit hit his nose, causing it to twitch, his eyes locked on to the plate in Jim’s hands. He hesitated for a moment before reaching out for it.

“No,” Jim stated as he kept it from Shen’s reach. Seeing his face fall, Jim hastily grabbed a piece and offered it to him, while adding, “This is yours. I’m not going to take it from you, but you have to let me feed you. Do you remember last week, when you got sick? We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Do you understand?”

Shen nodded, and snatched the piece of food from Jim’s hand, barely chewing before he swallowed, causing him to choke.

Jim hastily patted his back. “Hey, now. Slower. You have to chew it. You can have as much as you want, but you need to chew it first.” He offered another piece. “Let’s try this again.”

Shen looked up at him from under long bangs before snatching it from his hand again and shoving it into his mouth. He made a show of chewing, but if the gulp he made was anything to go by it wasn’t enough.

“Slower,” Jim repeated, holding the piece near Shen’s mouth, and sliding it in as his lips parted.

Jim repeated this for several minutes until the plate was half empty, slowing down as he began to feel the contentment flowing across the bond from Shen. Shen had to relearn the signals from his body, learn to recognize when he was full, and he had to learn that he could eat whenever he was hungry. Slowing down gave his body and brain time to process the signals.

Ten minutes later after another quarter of the fruit was done, Shen refused another piece, causing Jim to smile sadly. Jim knew what it was like to be starved, how hard it was to trust someone with food, the need to gorge himself when it was there. Jim pushed the thoughts away. It was best not to dwell on Tarsus IV. There was no need to accidently expose Shen to the horrors that Jim had seen, when he still had a long way to go to get over his own. Despite it all, Jim was amazed how well Shen was doing.

As the door slid open and Spock entered, Jim wasn’t surprised.

Before Jim could greet him, Spock spoke, “Jim you are the best man I’ve ever known.”

Jim’s eyes widened at the words.

“I did not mean to overhear you, but it appears that I am also able to pick up things from you across the bond.” Turning to Shen, Spock asked, “Shen, are you ready?”

Jim couldn’t help but worry. “Do you understand, Shen?” He knew that Spock had explained the procedure, had given him documents to read himself, but Jim still didn’t want Shen to have to go through the pain of it, but knew there was no other way.

Shen nodded expressively, and Jim could feel his desire down the bond.

“Then let us go. Dr. McCoy is waiting for us.” Spock stated.

Jim grinned as Shen eagerly jumped out of bed and pulled on his clothes. In the past week, Shen had warmed greatly to Bones, so different from his initial fearful reaction. Jim wondered if it had to do with the friendship that Jim and Spock shared with the doctor, and whether Shen was picking up on that. Regardless Shen, bubbled over with excitement whenever the prospect of seeing Bones came up. It was kind of cute, and amusing see Bones so at a loss in the face of it. Normally people weren’t excited to go to sickbay. It had quickly become apparent that Bones was great with children.

The walk to sickbay seemed to last forever. Jim didn’t even pay attention to the curious looks that they received walking down the hallway. Even though Shen had been here for a week, and the crew had been made aware, the majority of them hadn’t seen him, as Shen was still leery around strangers as well as large groups.

Bones was waiting for them as he arrived, and smiled reassuringly, but Jim wasn’t to be placated.

There were a number of other survivors from the Orion ship still in sickbay. Those strong enough to leave were assigned passenger quarters until they were able to find a place for them. It would be another week at least before they would meet up with the ship that would take them home.

“Ready, little guy?” Bones asked.

Shen nodded and took his hand.

Walking to the room where the surgery would take place, Bones reminds them once again. “You don’t have to stay for this. I can let you know as soon as it’s over.”

Jim shook his head. “Yes I do.”

Bones nodded his understanding, and closed the door behind him.

Jim and Spock stood at the window watching as Shen laid in the bed, and the anesthetic was administered by Nurse Chapel. The procedure itself was relatively simple. A template made from Shen’s own stem cells was inserted. The hard part would take place in the weeks to come. Bones would give him injections that would stimulate the cells and tell them what to become. The problem was that the rapid growth caused pain, particularly at the beginning before it settled into an uncomfortable itching feeling.

Jim didn’t think about it when he reached over and grabbed Spock’s hand, twining their fingers together, it just felt like the right thing to do. Spock didn’t try to pull back, just returned the pressure.

The screaming startled him awake, and god it was terrible, the worst sound that he’d ever heard, and it kept going on and on and on, ever as Jim pulled Shen tightly to him, forcibly holding his arms in place to stop him from scratching himself. He felt Shen’s pain and terror through the bond as though it was his own. So overwhelming it was, he had difficulty finding words, or projecting calm and comfort across the bond as Spock had showed him to do. But that had been in a quiet setting, completely different from now where he was anything but composed with Shen’s emotions buffeting his mind.

Jim startled as his door suddenly opened and a ruffled Spock strolled in.

Spock didn’t hesitate to slide into the bed with them, wrapping his arms around both of them, cupping Shen’s face in his hand. The screaming instantly stopped, and Jim’s ears strained to make out the quick flow of Vulcan coming from Spock’s lips, but it was too quiet and fast for Jim’s rusty Vulcan skills to pick up.

Shit, that was another thing that he needed to ask for Spock’s help on. They’d been lucky that Shen knew Galactic Standard, but Jim wasn’t going to ignore Shen’s heritage, particularly not now that there were so few Vulcans left. They hadn’t even begun to test Shen’s knowledge yet, and Jim knew that was something that they needed to remedy shortly. They needed to begin some sort of teaching regimen to go along with his speech therapy.

The past week had been hard watching Shen be in pain, but he’d dealt with it well, soldiered through it with more courage than someone his age should have. It broke Jim’s heart that the first sounds Shen made were those of pain. But the worst of it seemed to be over. Bones said that there would be itching for a few days, but that it was normal and a good sign. There would likely be some discomfort for a while as he broke in his new vocal cords.

Feeling Shen finally drift back into sleep, Jim’s eyes rose to meet Spock’s own. “Stay.” It wasn’t a question or an order, but a hope. Jim didn’t know what was going on between them. It seemed to change every day, morphing, growing. When he’d brought it up to Bones, he’d just smiled and given Jim a knowing smile, and wouldn’t tell Jim what that meant to his immense frustration.

Spock nodded and slid down under the covers, stretching Shen out between them.

Jim followed his example, getting comfortable. Turning on his side, he reached over for Spock’s hand, pulling it so that they were both resting on Shen’s stomach. He closed his eyes, letting himself drift, feeling both Shen’s contentment and the shadow of Spock’s own pleasure through the bond.

Jim had never really had a family before, never dared imagine or hope that he would have one in the future, but he couldn’t help but think that this must be what it was like. It was wonderful, and scary, and exhilarating. He didn’t know where it would take him, but for once, he didn’t worry about the future. It looked brighter than it ever had before. And with such thoughts easing the way into dreamland, it didn’t take long for sleep to claim him.

Spock watched in wonder at the sight beside him. He’d accepted decades ago that children were not to be in his future. He’d never seen this possibility, never predicted this, but it was a gift that he would not take lightly. The healers on Rok had expressed a desire to examine Shen, but Spock was strangely reluctant to visit, fearing that they would take Shen from him.

As it would also be a number of months before they were to venture anywhere near the region, such worries were unfounded. Spock knew also that the fears were baseless as they would only do what was best for Shen, and Spock knew that removing them from their care would not be advisable for some time. Shen was weaker than he appeared, and Spock could not help but wonder if he did more harm than good when he organized the chaos in Shen’s mind.

There was a natural progression to healing the mind that Spock had overstepped. It had not been his intention. He was no mind healer, but had felt he made the right choice for the moment both for Shen and his Captain. In such a state, Shen could have easily torn Jim’s mind apart with his wild fear.

Directing his attention towards Jim, Spock could not help but wonder what was going on between them. In his research, Spock had been unable to find any records of a child having two parents that were not bonded. All accounts were of bonded couples or single parents. As a large amount of data had been lost with the destruction of Vulcan, Spock knew that it was possible that there had been accounts of unbonded parents with children, though the information could have been lost. If that wasn’t the case and there really were no instances of such a thing, Spock wondered what that meant for Jim and him.

Despite the growing friendship and intimacy that had developed between them over the past month since Shen had entered their life, Spock did not know where he stood with his Captain and friend. The risk of rejection was high, and Spock did not know if it was worth the risk. Yet, watching them sleep so soundly, placing so much trust in him, Spock began to believe that it was.

Vulcan language:
Rok = hope
Shen = to rise or ascend
Gespar - native fruit that tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a Rigellian kir - tangy and piquant; lives in temperate zone of Kir Province

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