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POV: Richard Giotto (aka: Cupcake)
Year 5 of 2nd 5yr mission
T'Sai: 7 and 1/2 yrs old

God damn, but New Vulcan was hot! With sluggish, heat exhausted limbs, Chief Security Officer Richard Giotto lowered his bulky, perspiring frame onto a boulder. As his ass made contact with the clay colored rock he nearly jumped back to his feet. The heat emanating from its surface was scorching and made his posterior tingle unpleasantly but he was simply too tired to carry his weight any longer. He was a big guy, and even though he was agile and quick in a fight when speed was necessary, the gravitational force and surface temperature of the new Vulcan home world pressed down on him, turning his legs to jelly and his lungs to fire.

He didn’t bemoan the fact that he had willingly volunteered for this assignment, that he could have easily and quite rightly delegated this task to any first year ensign in his department. He hadn’t delegated this job for one very simple reason. And that reason stood thirty feet away among a group of Vulcan children in what passed for a playground. Or rather, an outdoor, agricultural classroom. It was a garden to his unimpressed eye. A stark, prickly, sand covered garden. But the children seemed interested and that was enough for him.

He had spent the first three hours of his day in a hot, stone building watching kids in sunken pods answer astoundingly difficult questions and another four traipsing all over the damn city on some as-of-yet-undefined field trip. He didn’t understand it. Didn’t want to understand it. He was here to keep an eye on the sprite and that was all. It could be argued, and by all accounts was (quite spectacularly in fact by the captain) that there were no dangers on this planet and T’Sai was perfectly safe among the company of Vulcans. The captain had been overruled by Commander Spock with one raised eyebrow and a pointed glare.

The commander’s concern wasn’t unwarranted. In her short seven years of life, T’Sai had managed to rack up a heck of a rap sheet of troublesome deeds that nearly surpassed Kirk‘s in size. Between her 16 hour disappearance mid-warp when she was only 3 and last months’ replicator malfunction due to tiny hands and Vulcan smarts, she’d managed to earn her own personal bodyguard/babysitter at the insistence of a stunning 98.73% of the crew who had signed the petition. It was agreed that two sets of eyes were better than one, and if one of those sets belonged to a highly skilled and expertly trained Starfleet security officer, then that was just less opportunity for catastrophe. The child appeared, against all odds, to have inherited the worst aspects of her parents personalities, and this created a walking, talking, ticking bomb.

If she wasn’t so damn adorable the crew would most likely have mutinied by now.

So, here he sat, sweltering and perfectly miserable while the captain and first officer attended a council meeting to determine what continuing aid was needed for the following year and his shipmates enjoyed a free day in blessed air conditioning onboard the Enterprise. And truthfully, he wouldn’t be anywhere else. For all her mischievous deeds, she was the heart and soul of the ship and there was not a single crewmember who wouldn’t give his or her or its life for her…or smack down a rude Vulcan child who had just dared to push his sprite to the ground.

He was on his feet in an instant, the gravity and heat all but forgotten at the sound and sight of T’Sai hitting the ground, hard. He strode forward quickly, but not quickly enough to prevent what happened next. Honestly, he wouldn’t have stopped it had he foreseen the event. One second T’Sai was splayed out on the ground, the next she was up and swinging. Her fist connected solidly with a young Vulcan male face and that young Vulcan male became the splayed out form on the ground. With a final step, Giotto placed himself between T’Sai and the growing group of children and teachers gathering around the scene. For all the propaganda purporting a Vulcan’s lack of emotion, the ensuing chaos shot their bullshit all to hell.

The children glared at T’Sai and demanded her punishment. The teachers spoke over each other as they espoused the values of Vulcan and T’Sai’s utter lack of decorum and logic. He wasn’t a highly educated man, but he recognized a slur when he heard it and that was all he heard pouring out from these Vulcans’ mouths. Phrases like ‘tainted blood’ and ‘inferior breed’ hit his ears like hammers and had his blood boiling. Hands fisted at his side, he was seconds away from laying someone, anyone, out when Commander Spock appeared next to him, T’Sai held safely in his arms. The commander must have run from the council chambers as soon as he sensed distress from his parental bond to have arrived so quickly.

A sharp bark of sound he couldn’t decipher left Commander Spock’s mouth and it instantly quieted the mob surrounding them. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the commander standing arrow straight, tension radiating off his stiff form. His expression was pure ice but the commander’s eyes blazed with tangible fury.

“Explain.” The word was low and guttural, like an animal giving warning before ripping your face off. Giotto was eternally grateful that it had not been directed at him.

“Yes. I believe I too, would appreciate an explanation.” This new voice came from a tall, severe looking Vulcan who stood behind the boy with the copiously bleeding nose. Oh shit. Two alpha males protecting their young, he was sure more blood was about to hit the Vulcan sand.

Words filled the air in rapid fire succession but it was entirely lost on him. Whatever was being conveyed about the incident was being said in Vulcan. The teachers spoke first, then a few children joined in. They were obviously giving their account of the incident. From the defiant jut of T’Sai’s chin and the angry flush of color spreading across her pale face, he could assume they were either lying or being extremely uncomplimentary. Or, judging by what he’d witnessed already, a distasteful combination of both. When the boy who had pushed T’Sai spoke up she nearly leapt from the commander’s arms in her attempt to strike him again.

“You shut up! You don’t know anything about my parents you, you lackwit! I’m happy to be a half-breed if being full-blooded means I’d be as stupid as you!”

“Enough. Shh.” The commander stroked a hand through his daughter’s hair to sooth her anger away and press a kiss to her brow. He spoke softly to her in Vulcan. Whatever it was, it eased the tension from her tiny shoulders and brought color to the other Vulcan parent’s face.

“Son, it is presumptuous of you to assume that this child’s emotional instability is the fault of her human father’s genetic contribution. You have overlooked the fact that her half-Vulcan father himself, lacks proper control and rationality. In truth, it is a wonder he can even call himself Vulcan at all. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to refer to him as Rihansu instead?”

Okay, that word he understood. Hands fisting again, Giotto stepped forward, completely prepared to break his hands on that smug face. He was pulling back when a new voice joined the party.

“Careful there Stonn, or Spock might break that pretty face of yours. Again.” The captain stepped up and ran a hand over T’Sai’s head, checking for injuries (that bond has to be the most convenient thing ever) but left her where she was. Presumably, if one were to hazard a guess, to keep the commander from choking a bitch.

“Captain Kirk, it appears that your husband is as unstable now as he was in his youth. For your safety, it would benefit you to request he study with a Kohlinar adept. Although it is unlikely he could achieve completion of study, it is possible his Vulcan blood would allow him to retain some of their knowledge.”

“And it would appear that you have not learned anything since our childhood encounters, Stonn. You are still rik’ozhika and it is truly unfortunate that you have passed this lack onto your offspring.”

“Translation: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. There’s bad blood between these two, in case you haven’t guessed yet.” Captain Kirk said to him in an aside. Well, he hadn’t lowered his voice or even glanced his way but that was about as subtle as James Kirk got. What stunned Giotto was the captain’s utter lack of concern. He was acting like it was an everyday normal occurrence to see two Vulcan males in a pissing contest that was close to devolving into violence. And he’s seen a Vulcan in full rage, it was not a pretty sight.

“Jim, if you would please accompany T’Sai to the ship I will join you shortly.” Commander Spock shifted as if to pass his daughter over but the captain merely shook his head and stepped back.

“Are you crazy? I’m not leaving if you’re about to kick some Vulcan ass. I want to see and maybe join in. Cupcake, take T’Sai back to the ship and have McCoy check her hand. I think she’s busted a finger.”

Before he could respond, T’Sai voiced her own objections.

“I would prefer to stay, Daddy. I believe I have not yet finished my discussion with Stonnick.” Oh, that glare was as heated as Spock’s and Giotto firmly believed she would be perfectly happy to reduce the boy to a bloody mess.

“Violence is not Vulcan. It would appear, Spock, that you have been remiss in educating your child in the Vulcan way.”

“I believe this discussion is at a close. At times,” Spock spoke directly to his daughter as if imparting great knowledge, “We must accept that attaining understanding from those incapable of logic is fruitless and as your father would say, ‘we must cut our losses’. Good day, Stonn. Stonnick.” Without a backward glance, the commander turned, firmly took hold of his husband’s wrist to compel him to follow, and headed back toward the city proper.

They had barely reached the main street before the commander let loose his hold on the captain to clasp T’Sai’s hand for closer inspection.

“I do not believe it is broken, Jim. Merely bruised.” Tenderly, he lifted the swollen, greenish black digits to his mouth to press soft kisses over the damaged tissue. T’Sai lay her head against his shoulder and blinked back a trace of tears.

“I’m sorry, sa-mekh.”

“May I inquire as to what you are sorry for?” The commander brushed a finger across her pale cheek to ghost away the tear that had escaped.

“I resorted to violence when provoked. I allowed my control to falter and behaved as one without logic. I am not Vulcan. I’m sorry I shamed you.”

The commander stopped dead, closing his eyes against her quietly spoken words. Giotto knew he should allow them the privacy they deserved but he couldn’t look away. He watched the captain step into the commander’s body, resting his forehead against the back of his neck, hands gripping his hips in silent emotional support. It was an extremely personal display and he felt shocked and honored that they would allow such intimacy to be viewed by him.

The commander drew a shuddered breath before pressing lips to T’Sai’s forehead, cradling her head to his shoulder.

“You will never, could never cause me shame, ashaya. What has been expressed here by others is no reflection of my personal opinion. It is my desire that you choose who you are to be and to know that your options are infinite and not limited to Vulcan or Human. Trust me in this fact, ko-fu, no matter your choice, I will always be proud of you.”

The moment was heavy, steeped in meaning that he couldn’t grasp but was evident by the captains soft kiss to the commanders nape, and the subtle tremble that traveled the commanders frame. It didn’t last long, however. With a sudden glint in his eyes, the captain shifted up on his toes to hook his chin over his husband’s shoulder.

“Is that all you have to say, Spock?”

Giotto watched Commander Spock straighten, tug at his uniform shirt where T’Sai’s leg had bunched it up and clear his throat. His entire demeanor screamed discomfort and it obviously amused the captain and had caught T’Sai’s curiosity as well.

“I would be remiss if I failed to mention that your violent outburst is not, in fact, unprecedented. In my youth, Stonnick’s father provoked a similar reaction from myself.”

“You hit him?” T’Sai’s eyes bulged and her tone held a hint of awe.

“Pummeled would be more accurate.” The captain snickered when the commander swatted at him for his comment.

“I merely expressed my differing opinion with more force than was necessary. Also, I broke his nose. I believe it could be said that it is now a family tradition.”

Giotto couldn’t contain the snort that escaped him but immediately sobered when the noise brought all attention to him. Suddenly he was once again aware of his discomfort and the sweat soaking his undershirt. He became more at ease when the captain slung an arm across his shoulders in a companionable manner as opposed to ripping him a new one for failing to protect his child.

“I may be wrong, CC, but it looked like you were about to cause some damage when I came on the scene.”

“Ah, yes sir. I admit, I was surely tempted.”

“Good man. You would have had your ass handed to you before you could blink, but still, the thought counts. Now,” The captain said with glee, rubbing his hands together. “I heard there was a certain ambassador who’s acquired a recipe for senshai sorbet. I think we deserve a little treat after all of this craziness. You sure her hand’s not broken? We could have McCoy beam down to check her out.”

“She is well, Jim. I believe it would benefit us all to enjoy a moment of relaxation.”

Giotto followed after the trio when the captain insisted that he accompany them to try Ambassador Spock’s dessert. It wasn’t long before T’Sai was on her feet and running ahead of them in her eagerness to taste the frozen concoction. With utter satisfaction, Giotto ambled along in the heavy heat of the colony as his commanding officers strolled together in quiet conversation. It truly was a beautiful day.

ashaya: love (used as an endearment)
sa-mekh: father
ko-fu: daughter
Rhiansu: Romulan
rik'ozhika: without logic
senshai: A completely made up Vulcan fruit existing nowhere outside this story.

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