Spock sat with Jim on a bench in surprisingly comfortable silence, awaiting the next shuttle. Spock’s mind was abuzz with activity. He was about to eat dinner in a public place with a human male, one who happened to have another man’s child growing inside him. There were many people, human, Vulcan, or otherwise who would say that this was a terrible idea. Spock himself wasn’t sure what he was thinking by extending the invitation.
The next shuttle finally arrived. Once anyone who wanted to get off did so, he and Jim got on. He made sure to let Jim go first. They immediately took seats on the outer right row again. The shuttle lurched a bit as it started, and Jim grasped at the railing on the seat in front of them, looking a little uneasy. However, it passed. “Are you alright?” Spock asked, wanting to be sure.
“Yeah.” Said Jim. “It’s fine. I’m pretty much on empty right now.” Spock frowned a bit. If he interpreted Jim’s use of the words ‘on empty’ correctly, it probably meant that he hadn’t been able to keep any food down all day or perhaps longer, since the morning sickness started two days ago. He planned to have his padd ready to research the benefits of the teas sold in the tea garden once they arrived there. The shuttle had them there at a relatively quick speed. They found a café, and Jim immediately selected the egg drop soup with udon noodles, probably not wanting to take anything too solid yet. For himself Spock selected the Sōmen salad with sesame oil broth mix and sesame seed garnish. As they waited for their food to arrive, Spock decided to ask a question.
“Should you have perhaps ordered something more…” He trailed off, not sure how to say it.
“Fattening?” Offered Jim with a smirk.
“Substantial.” Amended Spock. Jim shook his head a bit.
“I don’t think it would be a good idea to totally fill up right away after the way the past couple of days have been going for me.” He winced a bit, as if recalling them was a little painful for him. “Besides, that’s what the shot was for. I can’t throw it up if it goes directly into my bloodstream. My new doctor is telling me about all the stuff I should be eating right now, and he gave me the shots for times when eating for to get the nutrients doesn’t quite work out.”
“That is a logical solution.” Stated Spock.
“Yeah.” Agreed Jim. “I hate getting shots, but it’s all for the best.” Their food arrived then. “Do you mind if we move to the outside area?” Asked Jim. “It’ll be quieter, and having all these smells in one room is bothering me a bit.”
“Of course.” Agreed Spock, welcoming the opportunity for some more breathing room. Outside, the smell of Jim’s pregnancy hormones would not overwhelm him. They moved with their food to a table out on a balcony. Spock looked around and realized they were the only ones out there. It was still hot summer weather, but a gentle breeze kept it from being too much by human standards. They sat down and began to eat.
Spock found his salad to be quite palatable. Jim also seemed to enjoy his soup. Spock found himself at a bit of a loss for what to say next. What did humans talk about while they dined together? He decided to ask Jim about his meal.
“Are you enjoying the soup?”
“Yeah.” Said Jim. “I’ve never had Japanese egg drop soup before, I guess it’s not too different.”
“What kind have you had?” Asked Spock curiously. He didn’t know there was more than one kind.
“I’ve had the Chinese kind. Or,” he amended, “I’ve had some American versions of the Chinese kind. I don’t know how they actually make it in China.” Spock nodded.
“Perhaps I will sample it sometime.” Jim frowned at that.
“Aren’t Vulcan’s vegetarians?”
“Yes,” replied Spock, “but we only do not eat products that are an actual part of the animal, like the flesh and other organs. Foods that contain animal byproducts such as milk or eggs are acceptable. As are products created by animals, like honey.”
“It’s not the egg part that I meant, though that would be a problem if Vulcan’s were total vegans.” Said Jim. “But egg drop soup, at least the kind I’ve had, has chicken broth in it. I think some recipes I’ve tried had gelatin in them, too.” Spock understood about the chicken broth, but not the gelatin. Why would a vegetarian be opposed to eating gelatin, a common and simple desert on Earth? Seeing his confusion, Jim explained. “Gelatin is made from collagen, the protein found in animal bones and skin.” Spock’s eyes widened a bit.
“I did not know that.” He managed. He’d been offered Jell-O, something he knew to contain gelatin, once before. He’d declined because its constant wriggling had made it rather unappetizing to him. He hadn’t known until just now how close he’d come to eating part of an animal. “I will be certain to remember it.”
“I learned that in high school.” Said Jim. “A classmate of mine who was a pretty hardcore vegetarian told me. She told me a lot about food, vegetarian and more. Like that French fries are cooked in animal fat, so those were off limits to her too.” Spock was so focused on what Jim was saying that he almost missed the fact that Jim had mentioned something relating to his childhood. “I think the worst one was veal. I had no idea it was made from baby cows. I can’t stand the thought of eating it.”
“I must confess an interest in human vegetarianism.” Spock admitted. “On Vulcan, many of the animals are inedible to us. After Surak’s reformation came about, it was considered illogical to kill them if they can simply be avoided, as it would serve no purpose. As our dietary needs can be met through a vegetarian diet, we abstain from eating any product that comes from killing an animal. Humans, however, have no reason to avoid eating most of the animals found on Earth.” Jim nodded.
“For one thing, we only breed specific animals to be eaten, just like we do for other purposes. Some are just off limits due to endangered species laws from a couple hundred years ago. Poaching is still a problem even in this day and age. Plus, we’re more than capable of maintaining a healthy diet without meat in it.” Spock looked at him curiously.
“Have you ever sampled any vegetarian food?” Jim’s nose wrinkled.
“Yeah, I’ve tried tofu and soy products.” He grinned. “That’s how I learned that I hate tofu and I’m allergic to soy. But anyway, with humans, vegetarianism tends to be a lot about animal rights, or sometimes, religious tradition. Some people just can’t stand the thought of killing and consuming a living creature. They think it’s wrong. And I can kind of understand why. There are still a lot of facilities that are inhumane to animals. I mean, yes, they’re going to die, but that doesn’t mean they have to suffer though what life they have. I grew up on a farm. If an animal couldn’t really be helped it was put down, because it couldn’t do its job anymore and to let it go on in pain would just be senseless, not to mention cruel.” Spock actually felt his throat tighten when Jim said that. Jim must have noticed something in his expression because he looked concerned as he asked, “Are you okay?” Spock hesitated before answering.
“When I was a child, I attempted to undertake a rite of passage prematurely. I went out into the desert alone, as is the custom. I was followed by my family’s pet sehlat, I-Chaya. I was attacked by a le’matya, a vicious desert animal, and I-Chaya fought it to protect me. Because of I-Chaya, and a cousin of mine who also followed us, the le’matya was incapacitated. We all began to make our way back to the city when it became apparent that I-Chaya was injured. He was poisoned by the le’matya’s claws. My cousin remained with him while I made my way back to the city to fetch a healer. We returned, but it was too late to restore him to full health. The healer gave me two options. I had to choose whether or not to give him a painful, prolonged life, or to release him from his pain. I chose the latter, more logical option. In doing so, I chose to be Vulcan.” Jim, who’d been listening intently the whole time, looked at him sympathetically.
“That’s a pretty rough thing to deal with as a kid, especially if the animal is special to you. A lot of humans would have said it was the more merciful thing to do.” He remarked. Then he frowned, confused. “What do mean you chose to be Vulcan? I thought this was a rite of passage for Vulcans.”
“It was.” Agreed Spock. “However, I am half human. I was instructed to choose one way of life over another and adapt suitably.” Jim’s eyes widened.
“You’re half human?”
“Indeed. My mother is a schoolteacher from Canada.” Jim smiled and nodded a little.
“In that case, I think I’ve heard of you.” Spock was surprised.
“Have you?” Jim nodded.
“Yeah, in school we learned about the First Contact and how humans and Vulcans have been interacting together since. We learned that one of their ambassadors married a human and they had a baby together. That’s you, right?”
“You are correct.” Said Spock, encouraged by Jim’s positive reaction to his admission. “My father encouraged me my entire life to be completely Vulcan. I was under constant scrutiny from everyone I met. They were all looking for traces of human characteristics in me. My father was greatly disappointed when I chose to enlist in Starfleet instead of attending the Vulcan Science Academy.”
“I know what you mean.” Remarked Jim. “For as long as I can remember, people have told me how much I remind them of my father, because I look like him and everything. Everyone’s always expected me to be just like him, and for a long time, I wanted to be. But then I started getting into trouble. It wasn’t anything too serious, I didn’t steal or do drugs, but I got into fights, I destroyed some property, and I spent a few nights in jail. After that, people kept saying how disappointed in me my father would be if he was alive, how I take his sacrifice for granted by acting the way I do, and how George Kirk’s son should just be better than that.”
“George Kirk?” Repeated Spock, surprised.
“Yeah.” Replied Jim. Spock took a moment to process this piece of information. There had to be very few Federation people who had not heard of George Kirk, the man who’d been forced to take command of the science vessel Kelvin after his captain was killed by rogue Romulans. Equally famous was the story of his son, the Kelvin baby. Kirk had stayed behind after the surviving crew had left in escape pods and attempted to take on the enemy ship. His wife, who’d gone into labor prematurely, had been in one of the pods, giving birth to their second child as he did this. Then, in order to secure his family’s escape, he’d set the Kelvin on a collision course with the other ship. The impact had destroyed both ships, a considerable feat given their different sizes. The only explanation for this was that the Kelvin must have struck a specific point on the enemy vessel, a fuel point perhaps. According to the story, the last thing he would have heard before the crash was his new son’s first cries. George Kirk was immortalized as a hero, and his two children grew up without a father. Spock realized that Jim was waiting for him to say something.
“In that case,” he said, “I believe I have heard of you as well.” Jim just nodded. They continued to eat in an easy silence, until Jim’s comm rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the caller I.D.
“Sorry,” he said, standing up, “I need to take this.”
“Of course.” Said Spock, watching Jim head inside to the restroom. As he waited, he thought about the information he and Jim had exchanged. They had both grown up in the shadow of great, or perhaps even unreasonable expectations. Spock was the son of an ambassador, expected to have perfect behavior that would reflect well on his family. Jim was the son of a hero, expected to grow up and do great things, whether he wanted to or not. Both of them had rebelled against that idea and were considered less because of it. He couldn’t believe how easy it was to open up to Jim. Perhaps it was an effect of the mental compatibility between them. It was about ten minutes before Jim returned.
“Sorry,” he said again, “that was my sister-in-law. She wanted to check up on me. She, or my brother, calls once every few hours. I would have been back sooner if I’d thought to forego mentioning the morning sickness.”
“Are they the ones you are here visiting?” Asked Spock. Jim had mentioned before that he was just visiting San Francisco.
“Yeah,” replied Jim, ‘though visiting may not be the right word. I’m staying with them until the baby’s born. I may look for some kind of temporary job that doesn’t involve physical labor, something in computers maybe, but they want to keep me right there with them.” Spock’s mind raced. Jim was staying here for the duration of his pregnancy. Perhaps he didn’t want anyone back home to know? He knew that hundreds of years ago on Earth, unmarried young women who found themselves pregnant from a pre-marital affair were forced to conceal it to keep from shaming their families. Was that the case with Jim?
“What are your plans for after your pregnancy is finished?” He asked, hoping for some clue about Jim’s thoughts on his situation.
“I’ll go home. Keep working on improving my life. I work in a garage, and my boss said he’d try to hold my job for me, but he didn’t make any promises.”
“And what arrangements are you making for the child?” Asked Spock. Jim shrugged.
“I just have to keep it healthy until it’s born. Sam and Aurelan, my brother and his wife, are gonna take care of everything else.” Spock’s lips twitched downward in a barely perceptible frown. Jim seemed like an intelligent, caring, sympathetic individual, yet he was planning to leave his child behind in the care of relatives. Even though Spock felt an instinctive animosity toward the child, he still couldn’t help but disapprove of Jim’s plan. Perhaps he’d initially planned to terminate the pregnancy, and his relatives had persuaded him to have the child and leave it with them. He couldn’t resist asking about it.
“You do not wish to raise your child?” Jim’s eyes widened a bit.
“My-you think-I’m-” he cut himself off before he stuttered anymore and took a deep breath. “Oh my God, I know what you’re thinking. I’m sorry, this is my fault, this whole thing is still pretty new to me. I’m not used to explaining it to other people yet.” He paused a moment. “Sam and Aurelan are the baby’s parents. I’m just carrying it for them.” He registered the look of unmasked surprise on Spock’s face and smiled sheepishly. “I probably should have mentioned that before.” Spock had to take a moment to come up with a steady reply.
“You are acting as a surrogate?”
“Pretty much.” Answered Jim. He looked down at the table. “Oh man, we still need to finish our food.” He began to eat again. Spock watched him for a moment before he returned his attention to his own bowl. As he did, Spock could only think one thing.
This changes everything.
Spock didn't mention the pregnancy again immediately. They paid for their food (Jim insited on paying for his dish) gathered up their things and left to find the tea shop. There were many teas, and their aroma’s mingled in the room. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to agree with Jim.
“Excuse me.” He said, and quickly left the room. Spock followed him and found him outside, on a small stone bench, bent over with his head between his knees, breathing deeply.
“Are you alright?” He asked, concerned.
“I’m fine.” Said Jim. “Just all those different smells getting to me again.” He stood up, a little unsteady. I think maybe I should be getting home.”
“Would you perhaps like me to accompany you?” Offered Spock.
“Nah, I’ll be fine.” Replied Jim with a smile. “Thanks, though.” Spock did insist on walking with him back to the shuttle station. As they walked, Spock thought fast. Given what he heard, he was very interested in seeing Jim again. But he didn’t want to ‘spook’ him, as the saying went. He listened with ‘half an ear’ as the saying went, while Jim spoke. “I’m sorry if I threw you with the whole surrogacy thing, I just didn’t expect to have to explain it to someone I just met, you know.” Spock nodded, absently, too lost in thought to really respond. Then, he had an idea. As they neared the shuttle station Spock looked at him and said,
“Jim, as an aspiring scientist, I am very interested in becoming more familiar with certain aspects of non-Vulcan anatomy. Human male pregnancy is something I have not been able to study extensively. I can easily acquire all the necessary scientific data, but I would also be interested in hearing about your unique firsthand personal experiences, as well as your opinions. Would you perhaps be willing to meet with me occasionally and share them with me?” It wasn’t a total lie, and it would give him an excuse to see him again without hoping to just come across him somewhere like their other two meetings. Jim looked at him, startled.
“Uh, maybe. Is this like, for a project or something?”
“No,” Spock assured him, “it is a purely personal interest.” Jim hesitated.
“I should probably ask Sam and Aurelan first, but if they’re cool with it, I don’t see why not.” He reached into his bag and pulled out his personal padd. “Why don’t we exchange information and I’ll let you know after I talk to them?”
“That is acceptable.” Said Spock, getting out his own padd. They exchanged contact information and put the devices away.
“Their apartment isn’t far from the academy since they both work there. I’m also there a lot because that’s where my new doctor is.” Jim told him. “If they’re okay with me talking to you, I could probably meet you there pretty easily. Oh, there’s the shuttle.” Spock watched Jim get on and find a seat. He smiled and waved at Spock as the shuttle started. Spock hesitated, and raised his right hand in acknowledgment. Then, he watched the shuttle until it was out of sight. Once it was, he turned back to the entrance to the tea garden. He had some teas to look through.
Once back in his quarters, Spock’s mind was racing with new possibilities. He now knew that Jim was only acting as a gestational surrogate, carrying a child as a favor to his brother, and that was rather helpful in easing the instinctive jealousy that he felt about it. He hadn’t mentioned anything other than a job waiting for him back in Iowa, so it was likely that he was not in any committed romantic relationship. He was capable of bearing children, which would make him more desirable as a mate in the eyes of Spock’s family. The only real concern to the family of a Vulcan who took another male for a mate was the kind of complications the continuation of the family line would be put through if its heir entered into a sterile union. The fact that Jim might be able to bear him a child someday put the odds more in his favor as far as his Vulcan family members were concerned, should his father ever decide to reclaim him as a son.
However, there were still plenty of factors that could work against him. Jim was a young, attractive, outgoing human male. Spock had seen the way other people’s eyes followed him. It was possible that Jim would not want to be tied down to anyone at his age. He might want to still explore all the possibilities open to him. Not to mention the fact that they were from different species. Spock knew his parents union was a rare one. Individuals from two races like humans and Vulcans were sometimes just too different to work or live together harmoniously. Jim might simply find him too alien to consider romantically, though they seemed to have started off well enough. But there was one very serious possibility that he had yet to consider.
Jim could very easily be heterosexual, or ‘straight’, as humans liked to call it. A person’s reproductive instincts and capabilities did not automatically make them attracted to the gender that would help fulfill them, though if that was the case, Jim would be termed bisexual because of his ability to get pregnant as well as impregnate. He might just be a straight man, capable of bearing children, who was kind, generous, compassionate, and secure enough in his masculinity to be willing to carry a baby for a barren relative.
He gave that last one a fair bit of thought. He and Jim seemed to have found it easy enough to talk about themselves to each other. Maybe, with the right questions and the right timing, he could learn what Jim’s preferences in a romantic partner were. Only time would tell. For now, he was going to meditate, and perhaps try some of the tea he’d bought in the park. And look up all the possible uses of gelatin. Just in case.