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 Title: Diplomatic Choices (4/?)
Series: Insontis II
Characters: Kirk, McCoy, various
Word Count: 2200 (this bit)
Rating: K+
Warnings/Spoilers: Lack of real plot, ghastly amounts of fluff, etc. If you're in search of story with depth and substance, this is not the universe you're looking for. *Jedi hand wave*
Summary: Meet the human parents? Ish?
A/N: While this arc may have slightly more serious overtones, you have my word that there eventually will be enough fluff to choke an army of unicorns, so just hang tight while we do some Plot for a bit.

Chronological Order of This 'Verse:

When I Was a Child
Impeccable Aim
Lesson One
A Matter of Genetics
Taking Sides
Fangirls
Out of the Mouth of Babes
A Two-Way Trust
Lesson Two
Unleashed
Family Interlude
Artistic License 
Blackmail Potential 
Captain Sunshine
Sunshine and Darkness
Ducks in Space
Smart is Sexy
Lesson Four
Never Too Young
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Lesson Five
Persuasive Arguments
A Decided Lack of Amusement  (1/4)  (2/4)  (3/4)  (4/4)
Catch a Falling Star
An Infernal Device
Lesson Six (and Seven, really) (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)
The Second Time Around 
Lessons Eight and Nine 
Lessons Ten and Eleven (1/2) (2/2)
Outside the Box
Comprehension (1/4) (2/4) (Interlude) (3/4) (4/4)
And So It Begins
Fear Is Only Embarrassing in Public
Never Tease a Vulcan
Best Destiny (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)
Parting Ways (1/6) (2/6) (3/6) (4/6) (5/6) (6/6)
The Wounds of a Friend (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)
Lessons Learned

--

A Child of Two Worlds
First Impressions
Instincts
Lesson One, of sorts
Communication
Lesson Two
Lesson Three
Trust (Lesson Four)  (1/2)  (2/2)
Oversights and Undershirts
Learning Diplomacy
Lesson Five
Puppy Eyes and Panic Attacks
Taking Responsibility
Diplomatic Choices (1/5)  (2/5)  (3/5)  (4/5)



"I fail to see why I must be present at this social gathering."

The words were delivered without visible emotion but nonetheless gave the impression of intense disgruntlement, a quite impressive feat in one so young.

He stifled a laugh out of respect for the upcoming event, and reminded himself again that such expressions would likely embarrass the child in front of his Vulcan elders tonight – he must remember to reel it in a little.

"Despite your current status, you are still a member of this crew, and therefore should be present, Spock; also, as the only Vulcan aboard, I may require your interspecial diplomatic skills." The child's eyes brightened imperceptibly at this. "Is that satisfactory reason?"

"As you wish, Captain-Jim."

"If the event proves to be unpleasant, then you may be excused after the conclusion of the meal."

"That would be acceptable."

"I have hopes, however, that perhaps you may find the change of conversational scenery to be refreshing." Kirk gave his small companion a sidelong glance as they passed through Deck Seven's streamlined corridors toward the Guest Reception rooms. "Would I be incorrect in presuming that you are…conflicted, about the expectations being placed upon you by both myself and Doctor McCoy?"

Spock's eyes widened. "Is it so obvious?" he asked, in evident dismay.

Kirk shook his head, smiling briefly. "It is not, Spock. But it is a logical conclusion, and one I wish you'd told me instead of leaving me to figure it out for myself. I am but human, Spock; I am certainly not infallible."

A small boot scuffed along the polished flooring in a hilariously child-like gesture. "I have underestimated your observational skills."

"As you have overestimated our expectations of you, Spock." A hand stopped his progress into the recreation room, and the child glanced up, eyes dark with unease. "I require nothing more than for you to be whom and what you wish to be, pi'nerien. Be that Vulcan or human or both or neither, it is for you to decide and no one else – including anyone aboard this ship, or off of it. Do you understand?" (1)

"I understand," the child replied softly.

"And understand, too, Spock – we are just as uncertain as you are, in this matter." Kirk sighed, briefly rubbing his forehead. "I will admit to being entirely out of my depth with how best to assist you in this process."

Spock's little eyebrows drew together in a frown. "Have you a headache, Captain-Jim?"

"Mmm? A little, Spock. But that's to be expected, you know. I had to spend the last hour listening to Doctor McCoy's weekly Medical report." The child's lips twitched in mirroring amusement at the familiar jest, though the eyebrow-frown remained. "Come, I believe your fellow Vulcans are eager to make your acquaintance, though I have the feeling they are not quite prepared for your current condition."

"That, I suspect, is a vast understatement."


It was.

For a species known for avoiding any and all shows of emotion, the surprise had seemed clear enough on the faces of at least two of the ambassadorial delegation when the captain of the Enterprise strolled blithely into the Guest Reception room, followed dutifully by a solemn Vulcan child.

The resulting explanations had taken up the entirety of the pre-meal conversation and a good portion of the meal itself, and by the end of what felt like a worse interrogation than his years-distant court martial, said captain of the Enterprise was silently vowing to make sure Spock made this up to him upon regaining his full status and age.

"I completely understand your concerns, Doctor T'lar," he found himself saying for what seemed like the dozenth time in as many minutes, and only Spock's wide eyes across the table prevented his voice from losing the pleasantly diplomatic it had continued to hold thus far. "But you will, I am certain, see the illogicality of attempting to rectify the situation in discordance with the instructions Commander Spock set for us himself prior to beginning the experiment."

Two seats down, McCoy inhaled a lungful of fruit juice and proceeded to distract the entire delegation for a moment with his coughing. Spock's eyes narrowed slightly.

The Vulcan physicist with whom he had been conversing did not look amused. "As those instructions were obviously lacking in both preparation and in execution, your proceeding upon their recommendation in this matter brings your own judgment into question, Captain."

Mentally counting to ten, Kirk merely inclined his head in acknowledgment. "You will no doubt find many beings across the galaxy who share that opinion on not just this one instance, Doctor. Nonetheless, in this particular matter there is only one opinion which affects my decisions, and I will respect that one until given reason to do otherwise."

A slanted eyebrow rose in delicate derision. "Reason, greater than your complete incompetence in rearing a Vulcan youngling?"

"T'lar, enough," Solvak interrupted for the first time from McCoy's other side, delivering what looked to be a warning over top of his drinking glass. "These matters are none of our concern, nor are they the reason for which we have availed ourselves of the Enterprise's hospitality."

"The welfare of nu'ri-veh is of concern to all." (2)

"And you will find that such a sentiment is not solely relegated to the Vulcan species, T'lar."

The stately woman looked back across the table, scorn clear in her tone. "Nor, it would appear, is the casual indifference to the Vulcan Way when it pleases one to disregard it."

"Now, look here –" McCoy broke off abruptly at a sharp look from down the table, and amid much muttering buried his protests in the last of his drink. The exchange did not go unnoticed by Solvak, apparently, because it was with some amusement that the calm ambassador turned his attention from one to the other.

"You are most infathomably ill-equipped to raise a Vulcan child, Captain." T'lar looked pointedly across the table. "Such an endeavor would prove difficult enough for those of his own kin, given his unusual handicaps."

Kirk's bland mask slipped just a fraction. "I would suggest, Doctor, that you phrase your opinions with more care while aboard this ship."

A haughty look, delivered after a sideways glance at the wide-eyed child sitting silently beside her. "I beg your pardon?"

"I did not stutter, Doctor." That smile hadn't slipped even an inch, but it had grown infinitely more dangerous. Spock's eyes were the size of dinner-plates at this point. "But I am more than willing to repeat myself if my meaning was less than clear. You will offer my crew – of any age, any race, and any combination thereof – the same courtesy you would one of your own party while on this ship."

"Or what, Captain?"

"Or you will be off my ship, Doctor. And I will not be particularly concerned as to the mechanics of the process."

The dumbfounded indignation would have been comical had it not been for the signs of controlled Vulcan anger visible to everyone in eyes and facial expression.

From down the table, he could see Scott's jaw dropping at the clear threat, followed by a significant look between the engineer and McCoy. Let them, he was done at this point in tolerating such bigotry – and if this is how an adult Vulcan would treat a child? With this much prejudice, this much absolute disregard? He cannot imagine how horrible Spock's childhood must have been, bullied by these people's children, miniature cloned extensions of their own xenophobia.

"T'lar, you will recuse yourself to meditation," Solvak's calm voice washed over the table, dispelling the tension with obvious practiced ease.

For a moment the stately Vulcan looked as if she would protest, but after only a moment she nodded fiercely and swept from the room like a miniature ice storm. One of the aides followed, for reasons unknown, and Solvak waited until the door closed behind them to turn his glance down the table.

"Please accept my apologies for my colleague's words, Captain. T'lar is a most brilliant researcher, and one of the foremost professors in the Vulcan Science Academy. She can be, however, highly loyal to the traditionalist ways of our people."

"It was not I she was offending, Ambassador," Kirk answered calmly, but inclined his head in acknowledgment of the rare apology. "I trust that you will ensure no further such incidents occur?"

Solvak's lips curved slightly. "You have my word, Captain. Though T'lar is not accustomed to being…how do you humans say it – crossed?"

"And that, Ambassador, is another trait not solely relegated to Vulcans." Kirk's eyes flicked briefly across the table, to where Spock was currently fidgeting with a napkin-ring. "You may find that despite our shortcomings in child-rearing, humans can be as protective of our young as any other species."

"So I see, Captain. I believe I shall retire and allow you and your crew some peace; we have no doubt upset the routine of your crew enough for one day. Storen, Solka, you will remain in the guest chambers or the Science laboratories, provided you do not hinder the work of Captain Kirk's crew."

The other two Vulcan aides, who had been looking a bit like kittens watching a table-tennis match, staring at first one side and then the other during the minor word-battle, scrambled up and left the room with almost hilarious alacrity, no doubt to rid themselves of the human emoting being broadcast everywhere in their vicinity.

Solvak rose from his chair and nodded to McCoy, Scott, and then turned back toward the captain. "I wonder, Captain, if I might request the escort of your First Officer back to my quarters?"

Somewhat startled at the inquiry, Kirk glanced across the table. "Spock?"

The child's wide eyes glanced from one to the other, gleaming with obvious interest. Well, never let it be said he wasn't going to try his best to let the child have as much of his heritage as possible, provided the Vulcans sharing it weren't total bigoted jackasses, which Solvak was not. So far, at least.

He smiled in encouragement, despite his misgivings, and knew he'd made the right choice when Spock slid out of his chair with an expression of almost excited curiosity.

"You report back to Sickbay for your vitamin shot at 2100, mind," McCoy called after them, and received a tolerant eyebrow in response as the door shut.

A heavy expulsion of breath, and Kirk slid down in his seat a fraction, head resting on the back of the uncomfortable dining chair.

Something poked him in the arm, and he opened his eyes, peering down to see a hypospray nudging him none too gently.

"Not tonight, Bones," he sighed, straightening back up. "I have too much work to do."

"And with a headache like that – and I'm not talkin' about the Ice Princess that just left – you're not gonna be of any use to anybody in the morning if you don't take something and get some rest. Doctor's orders."

"Orders which I have the liberty of disregarding. I'm fine, Bones."

"You're a bad liar, Jim. Scotty, help me out here?"

"Ahhh…well, sir. Y'see, 'tis never a good idea to take sides between ye."

Kirk laughed, and gestured their Chief Engineer out of the room, following at a more sedate pace with McCoy bringing up the rear. They split from Scott at the lifts, their loyal Chief Engineer promising with a sly grin to try and coax some more speed out of the engines so this mission could be completed ahead of schedule.

"Sure you're all right, Jim?"

"Yes, Bones. Go torture some other poor fool in Sickbay or something."

McCoy scowls, jabbing a finger in his sternum as they enter the turbolift. "Fine, but you tell me if you start feeling worse, y'hear me?"

"Deck Five. Wait, what?" He squints at the man in consternation as the doors begin to close.

"Yeah, you're not that good of an actor, Jim. I'm not so sure this is just a migraine. Even the Lady Amanda mentioned you were looking puny, and you're going to need to be on top of this thing with Spock while we have this delegation aboard."

"Oh, for pity's sake, Bones." He scrubs a hand over his face in annoyance, wincing as the rapidly-flashing lights exacerbate the headache. "Save your mother-henning for Spock, will you?"

"Nope. Now take this, and I'm having Scotty kill the power to your computer at 2300 hours so like it or not, you're getting some rest."

"Bones!"

"Uh-uh, I'm not a Vulcan, Jim. That look doesn't work on me. Nice try."


1. pi'nerien - literally, little first officer

2.nu'ri-veh - young one(s)

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