It had been seven days before Spock had ventured out and away from the Academy grounds again. His typical routine consisted of going to classes, the occasional trip to the library in search of research materials, taking meals in the mess hall, and spending any additional time in his quarters working, studying, sleeping, and meditating. It was Saturday again, and he had the weekend off as usual. He was back in Golden Gate Park, but was now taking the opportunity to visit the Japanese Tea Garden. It was the oldest Japanese tea garden in America. He was curious about the old Earth architecture, as well as the tea aspect. As he was no longer on Vulcan, he was trying to sample the various teas that Earth had to offer. It was only logical, as he would be able to obtain them much more quickly and easily than real Vulcan tea, and they would be less expensive, too. He also wanted to visit the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, a museum for fine arts. At the moment, he was dining in a local Chinese Restaurant. Fortunately, they had a salad bar, which, he’d found more than satisfactory. He was also interested in sampling his first traditional Earth fortune cookie, something his mother seemed to recall with fondness. As he finished his meal, he called for the bill. A single fortune cookie arrived with it. As he made his payment, he cracked it open and pulled the small strip of paper from the inside.
The time is right to make new a new friend.
Were he human, he might have felt a little hopeful at seeing that. He knew these fortune cookies were random, vague, and general in their advice. But he was Vulcan, and Vulcans had no need for friendship, let alone the random advice of a cookie. He absentmindedly placed the slip of paper in his pocket as he took a cautious nibble. It was somewhat sweet, but nothing particularly wonderful or bad. Rather pleasant. He finished it, got up from his seat, picked up his bag, and left to go meet a public transport. He switched shuttles at the park, getting on one that would take him by the Japanese Tea Garden on its way. Each shuttle had three rows of seats. Spock took an empty seat right next to the outside on the right side. He was so intent on the goings on outside the shuttle that he didn’t notice a familiar scent growing stronger until-
“Spock, right?” He whipped his head around to find none other Jim Kirk standing there, looking much the same as he had one week ago, down to the clothing. The only noticeable difference was the brown messenger bag very similar to his own, though it was rather lumpy, as if the contents were larger that what was in his own bag, or perhaps unevenly placed. “My name’s Jim Kirk? We met like a week ago, at the camping grounds.”
“I recall.” Spock replied quietly. He recalled something else. “Did you return to assist Misters Mitchell and Finney in removing their camping equipment?” Jim seemed to take his acknowledgment as an invitation, waving his hand dismissively as he sat down next to Spock.
“I did that yesterday. I actually came here because of what you mentioned last week. Today, I’m going to visit the Academy of Sciences.” The shuttle began to move, transporting its passengers to various destinations throughout the park. The movement of the vehicle resulted in a breeze going through the inside. It carried the scent of Jim’s pregnancy away from Spock, giving him the opportunity to turn his head toward him for a better look at his profile. His breath caught momentarily at the sight: Jim’s eyes were closed, his face an expression of bliss as he savored the smell of the clean park air. He opened his eyes, saw Spock watching him, and averted his gaze as a small flush rose to his face. “Sorry,” he muttered, “I just can’t get enough of this air.” Spock cocked his head to the side slightly.
“Is fresh air hard to come by in Iowa?” Jim grinned.
“That depends on what you mean by fresh.” He took another deep breath of the air flowing his way. “I’m from Riverside Iowa, home of Starfleet’s Riverside Shipyard. Depending on where you are and which way the wind’s blowing, you can breathe in a lot of fumes. Also, I grew up on a farm. It might not have a lot of chemical smells, at least not when all the machines are put away, but there are plenty of other ones that will bother anyone passing through: sweaty animals, manure-based fertilizers, slaughterhouses. And when you’re living there, right in the middle of it, it doesn’t really matter which way the wind’s blowing.” Jim finished his last sentence with a wry grin. Spock very nearly winced at the last thing Jim mentioned. As a vegetarian, he almost felt nauseated by the thought of having to breathe air tainted with the smell of blood and raw dead meat. And with a Vulcan’s stronger senses, the smell of feces, sweat, or chemical fumes would likely be a significant bother too. He attempted to change the conversation to another subject.
“Do you plan to visit any other parts of the park?”
“Yeah,” replied Jim, “My brother actually got me a year long pass before my first trip, and I want to come back as often as I can, while I can.” He shook his head ruefully. “Before I know it, I’m gonna puff out like a blowfish. I’ve already stopped doing sit-ups and crunches. You know, to let the muscles get soft so the expansion won’t be so difficult. Soon, I’ll probably only be able to walk for exercise. I never thought I would have to just willingly let myself get fat.” Spock tried not to let his tension show at the mention of Jim’s pregnancy. Instead he asked,
“Are you experiencing apprehension at the physical changes your body will go through?”
“A little.” Admitted Jim. “A guy’s pregnancy lasts just as long as a girl’s, but the body changes sooner, probably because of the differences in the male form. You know, slim hips, distribution of weight, and all that.” Spock nodded thoughtfully. He felt himself beginning to move past the discomfort the thought of Jim’s pregnancy had caused him and was letting his curiosity take over.
“Have you experienced any typical symptoms of pregnancy yet?”
“Yeah, I have.” Replied Jim, as the shuttle came to a rather sudden lurching halt. “Two days ago, I-” His reply was cut off as the shuttle stopped. He clapped a hand over his mouth, jumped up, and hurried to the exit. Spock, concerned by his sudden movement, followed him off the shuttle, somewhat cut off by others getting off. He looked around and quickly spotted Jim, who was bent over and vomiting into a garbage receptacle. Some of the other passengers looked concerned.
“Are you alright?” He asked after Jim’s retching had stopped. Jim straightened up.
“Yeah.” He muttered roughly, “Like I was saying just before that happened, two days ago, I started having morning sickness. Though, as you saw just now, it’s not at all limited to mornings.” He looked at Spock, a pained expression on his face. “Do you know if there’s a restroom nearby?” Spock looked around at their surroundings for the first time and saw that they had arrived at the Conservatory of Flowers.
“I believe we will find a restroom inside the Conservatory building.” He said, drawing Jim’s attention to the famous structure.
“Yeah,” agreed Jim, “you’re probably right.” Spock had to resist the urge to place a steadying hand on Jim’s back as they made their way inside. They located the restroom easily. Jim took a couple handfuls of water in his mouth, swished it around, and spit it out before reaching into his messenger bag and pulling out a small travel sized toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. He saw Spock watching him and grinned a bit. “I was worried that I might start puking any time or any place, so I started carrying these with me. Looks like I was right to worry.” He wet the brush, squirted out some toothpaste, and began brushing his teeth and tongue.
After thoroughly scrubbing his mouth out for a couple of minutes, he spat out the toothpaste, then gathered water in his hands once again to rinse. Once he was finished, he rinsed off his toothbrush, then got a paper towel and began to dry it off. He also took a moment to splash some water on his face, and dried it off with another paper towel. He threw the wet paper away and returned the toothbrush and toothpaste to his bag again.
He paused suddenly to check his watch. “It’s about time.” He muttered. He reached into the bag again and pulled out what Spock recognized as a reusable hypospray. He pressed it against the neck and winced a bit as he injected himself. He then returned it to its spot in the bag.
“Vitamin supplements.” He explained, seeing the questioning look on Spock’s face as they moved to leave the bathroom. Spock looked at him, still concerned.
“If you have been experiencing frequent bouts of nausea for more than forty-eight hours you should probably find some water to keep yourself hydrated.” If there was one thing growing up on a desert planet had taught him, it was the importance of knowing where water could be found. Jim grinned at him.
“Way ahead of ya.” He reached back into the bag and pulled out a large bottle of water, still mostly full, and took a few good swallows. It was likely the main source of the lumpiness in the bag. Spock couldn’t help but admire his foresight and preparedness. As he lifted the flap of the bag again to put the water bottle back he snuck a peek and saw the bag also contained a personal padd, as well as an old fashioned paperback book with the title ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting: For Male Pregnancies’ printed on the spine. It was clear that though he wasn’t very far along, he was taking preparation for this pregnancy very seriously.
Just like that, he suddenly became aware of the scent Jim gave off once more, and he had to fight to keep from backing away from him. These thoughts gave him a momentary pause. In his concern for Jim, he’d forgotten all about the scent his pregnancy caused him to give off. Could it be possible that their compatibility was strong enough to withstand the fact that the man was carrying someone else’s child?
“You certainly seem well prepared.” He commented, hoping Jim would not notice his turmoil. Jim smiled and patted the bag.
“My sister-in-law helped me put it together. She calls it my pre-baby baby bag. I actually got the idea from seeing yours last week, and I thought something like that could come in handy.”
As they left, Jim’s stomach gave a small rumble. “Wow.” He said, shaking his head. “As disgusting as this is going to sound, even though I just threw up, I’m kinda hungry.” Spock nodded thoughtfully.
“I was planning on going to go to the Japanese Tea House today. Perhaps you might find something you can eat there, and perhaps they will have some herbal tea to help ease your upset stomach.”
“Maybe.” Said Jim, brightening up. “I was planning a trip to Chinatown later this week for something like that, but it couldn’t hurt to check there first.” Several thoughts flashed through Spock’s head right then. He was alone here. His father had disowned him and his betrothed had rejected him. He hadn’t even had a chance to communicate with his mother. Vulcan or not, a friend sounded like a pretty good thing right now. And with compatibility as strong as theirs, some form of relationship might be possible, especially if Jim’s mate had left him to deal with this pregnancy alone for whatever reason, and that might be a possibility worth exploring. He came to a decision.
“Then, would you care to accompany me to the Japanese Tea Garden now?” Jim looked at him for a moment, clearly surprised, before he smiled in that dazzling way again.
“That’d be great.”