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Ransom

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Ransom

Chapter 1

"Here's to the pilot who weathers the storm."

George Canning

 

Deneva

 

Jim sat in the Captain's chair, with Janice Rand hovering at his elbow. He was reading and signing off on his daily departments’ briefing notes as well as on the monthly and quarterly reports to Admiral Jameson. It was the bane of his existence, these reports. They were like Tribbles, every month they seemed to multiply exponentially. Thank God Janice kept up with it, because Jim knew he would have just given up on the whole thing after the first couple of months of his command. Without her efficient grasp of the Admiralty's requirements and the need for him to stay on top of his required reports and logs, the mountain of padds would have accumulated on his desk and buried him. He didn't know how Spock managed without a yeoman to help him, but then, Spock was a well oiled, highly efficient machine when it came to his paperwork. Vulcans, it seemed, could do an infinite amount of boring paperwork just as well as they could do everything else.

He glanced over to Lt. Hannity. She seemed to be handling all the paperwork well since Spock's absence, which made Jim even more certain that his choice of her to act as his temporary First had been the correct one. Janice handed him the monthly medical report which he signed without really reading it. He knew it was perfect. Bones' reports were always perfect and if there had been anything of note, it would have been highlighted or Bones would have told him. That report was the last of the padds. Jim sighed thankfully. "That’s it, thanks, Janice. Are we done?"

"Yes, Captain, you're finished. Doctor McCoy's report was the last and the longest. Christine said it took him several hours."

Jim frowned. Paperwork was part of the CMO's responsibility and Bones probably had as much work to do as Jim did, but the Captain didn't want his best doctor and CMO bogged down doing paperwork and reports which were, like his, repetitive and redundant. His time in the Med Bay could be much better spent. Try as they could, Admiral Jameson and Admiral Boyce couldn't seem to manage to cut down on the amount of reports their subordinates had to do. It seemed that since Nero, Marcus, Khan and Krall, the Admiralty required more and more CYA types of reports. Those debacles had left Starfleet in a mess, and the result was more and more paper trails designed to check and double check that everyone was on point and operating by the book. He made a mental note to speak with Spock, (when he came back from baby leave) and with Bones about assigning at least a part time yeoman to Bones, just to help him with routine non-confidential stuff. Christine was an admirable head nurse and she helped Bones as much as she could, but she had more than enough of her own work to do and so did Geoffrey.

"I’ll see you later, Sir." Janice told him. "You're finished until the end of the month."

Jim nodded thankfully with a whispered yea! She grinned and gave a friendly wave to the crew as she left. Jim covertly checked on his Alpha crew again. Lt. M'Ress was at Uhura's station, Lt. Hannity was at Spock’s station, and Lt. Reilly was at helm while Sulu was off ship for the next three weeks working on the upgraded helm modules. He’d stayed at the Academy to take the three week intensive course and he'd told Jim when they'd touched base during their bi-weekly comm calls, that it was a very difficult course and he was learning a lot. Admiral Jameson and Jim agreed that although they were short handed, they would be able to manage for the three week that Sulu would be gone.

The lift door opened and Bones came in for his daily mid-morning visit. "Morning, everyone."

"Good morning, Dr. McCoy," everyone chorused back. Leonard came to stand to the left and behind Jim and put a warm gentle hand on his shoulder.

Jim looked up at the face he loved best. "What's cooking, good looking?" The bridge crew always smiled behind Jim’s back, because their Captain practically glowed when the tall, long legged, handsome doctor came striding in to the bridge. Jim was well aware of his own reaction, a response that he couldn’t seem to contain or hide. He also knew his reaction to Bones coming in to the bridge bordered on the inappropriate, but he couldn't find it in his heart to care. His awesome bridge crew, including Spock, were so used to it, that they mostly just ignored it.

Leonard snorted looking down at the sparkling eyes, but his lips twitched. "Only good looking one here is you, Captain Perfect Hair." Bones got a lot of mileage out of Scotty’s old nickname for Jim.

"Definitely not true," Jim told him laughing, batting his thick lashed blue eyes at him. "Sooo then...what's up, handsome doc?" Some of bridge crew giggled. They all enjoyed the daily mid-morning Jim and Bones show.

"Stop already, try to act with some Captainly dignity." Leonard grumbled, but his grin took the sting out of the words. "Had a little change in schedule. Geoffrey wanted to trade lunch periods with me today, so thought I'd come see if you could go to lunch an hour later." He leaned in to speak softly in Jim's ear so only he could hear. "Apparently there's a new lieutenant in Science that he'd like to have lunch with. You know he never asks me for anything, so I said yes."

Jim glanced around the bridge at the busy crew all working and focused on their tasks. Lt. Hannity was hard at work and completely focused on the readouts displayed at the Science station, the closest to them. He spoke equally soft. “I'll check with Hannity, she always likes to log extra time in the chair, so I don't see why not. I'll comm you if it's a no, but otherwise I'll meet you there." A mischievous look came over Jim’s face. "Who's this mysterious lieutenant?" He whispered conspiratorially.

Leonard smirked. "He didn't tell me,” he whispered back. Then Leonard raised his voice so that all the bridge crew could hear. “I'll find out before lunch and pass on the information on the new personnel to you, Captain."

Jim smiled to himself. When they were on the same shift, Bones came to the bridge every day. No matter the shift though, the crew was so used to seeing him, they didn't bat an eye at his presence. Most of the time Bones pretended it was for some official business, so he’d bring Jim the Med Bay daily report himself which was totally unnecessary. Jim found it endearing, but he never said a word about it. He wanted to see Bones just as much as Bones wanted to see him.

"Okay, it’s time for me to get back to work, Captain." Leonard raised his voice again, "Alright, everybody, give the Captain some hell when you get the chance!"

All the crew grinned, and some laughed. Jim swiveled his chair and mock frowned at all of them. "Don't even think about it," he warned, as Bones got into the lift.

The rest of the morning sped by, and just as Jim predicted, Lt. Hannity was delighted to leave her Science duty to take the con so that Jim could eat with Bones. When he got to the mess, Bones was already at their usual table. He had ordered a chicken salad sandwich for Jim, sweet tea, and a couple of large chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Jim's eyes opened wide when he saw them. "Cookies?" Jim asked. "What's the occasion."

Bones smiled, showing one of his dimples."Your weight was a little down this quarter, so I thought a few extra calories wouldn't be amiss."

"Bones, my man, I love you! You're a prince among men!"

"Hmmm," Bones huffed, looking knowingly at Jim's blissful face. "Pretty sure that’s cupboard love I see writ plain upon thy face."

"But sincere cubboard love, Bonesy, totally sincere," Jim said, gobbling the two cookies fast.

They smiled at each other. "So what did you find out about Geoff?" Jim's curiosity was eating at him. Geoff was such a serious and dedicated doctor that he seldom showed interest in anything or anyone other than his work.

"Chapel says it's one of Spock's newest recruits from Yorktown. Lt. Cecilia Canseco. I looked up her credentials. She's a graduate of the Academy, asked to be posted to the Enterprise after Krall and, according to her test scores, she's very intelligent as well as quite pretty. Chapel says she's perfect for Geoff, serious and dedicated to her work. So if she's passed the Christine Chapel test, then as far as I'm concerned, she's good enough for Geoff."

"Chapel has a test?"

Bones nodded solemnly. "Yep, she sure does. She has a very rigorous criteria, sooo when anyone in our Med Bay staff starts to date somebody, the datee is either given a thumbs up or a thumbs down by Chapel."

Jim stared at him, blue eyes wide. "Bones, did Chris give me a thumbs up when you started dating me?"

Leonard was silent, casting his hazel eyes down on his plate.

"Bones? Bones? Did I pass?" Jim asked him anxiously. "Bones,” he hissed at the dark bent head, “did I get a thumbs up?"

Leonard finally looked up grinning. "Had you going there for a minute there, didn't I? 'Course you did, darlin'. Chris knew you were perfect for me!"

Jim breathed a sigh of relief and threw his napkin at him. "You're the worst, Bones McCoy! Scared me there for a minute...about a million people wanted to date you, both on and off the ship. I had to get in line!"

Leonard boggled. "Me? Jim Kirk, it’s you who's always had to fight them off with a stick! I was just lucky you finally looked my way."

"I'm the lucky one," Jim told him softly, looking at him with deep love. "So very lucky. I know I won the galactic lottery."

Leonard reached for his hand and cleared his suddenly constricted throat. Jim always did this to him. Just out of the blue he said the kinds of things that took his breath away. "Have you heard from Ny or the hobgoblin?" He asked changing the subject, struggling to get his composure back.

"Yep, the baby's doing great. Ny will send us some new holos next week. The Kenyan side of the family is besotted with baby Amanda. Ny said she hardly gets to hold the baby and Spock even less so and he doesn't like it one bit."

"How about that? Who would have thought that our walking computer would turn into a doting daddy?" Leonard smiled, but it was an understanding smile. Who could resist that adorable baby? It seemed even Vulcans were not immune to her sweet baby charm.

"You know what he told me, Bones?" Jim's voice was hushed and serious.

"What?"

"He said that he was always going to show Amanda all the love that he felt for her. He wants to be sure she knows how much he loves her. He doesn't want to have any regrets like he did when his mother died." Jim sighed, feeling a deep sadness for his friend. "That's been the hardest thing for Spock to deal with. Nyota told me he still feels deep sorrow and regret about it." Jim looked at him with eyes that normally flashed with blue fire, but which were now subdued and dimmed as he thought of Spock’s mother. "I'm just glad that Mom, Sam and me won't have to deal with regrets like that later on, that it wasn't too late for us."

Leonard put his warm hand over Jim's. "I'm glad too, darlin’ and I know it's made your mom and Sam very happy too. It's real good though, that Spock still has Sarek and Uhura, and of course, now, that beautiful baby. She'll have Sarek wrapped around her tiny baby finger in no time.”

Jim turned his hand to grasp Leonard's in a tight grip. "Best of all, I have you, Bones." Jim's eyes shone with love, with devotion, with gratitude. “I do fancy you quite a bit, you know.”

"Do you? Well now, ain’t that a coincidence, ‘cause I fancy you quite a bit myself." Bones smiled at him, dimples in full display.

Jim’s heart rate increased as a surge of love and thankfulness went through his whole body. His life was so happy and full now. He had his Bones, and by extension, he had Joanna and Eleanora who loved him and who he loved back. And now after so long without his own family, he also had his mom, Sam, Aurelan and their two adorable little boys. He had his beautiful new ship, his health fully restored, the best crew in the Fleet and a great boss in Admiral Jameson. He had his friends, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Ben, sweet Demora, Chekov, Geoff, Christine, and now, baby Amanda too. Yes, as the ancient words proclaimed, "his cup runeth over."

Bones' voice brought him back to the here and now. "I bet you miss the hobgoblin being on the bridge, Jim, and Uhura too."

"Yeah, I do, although Hannity and M'Ress are doing a stellar job. Those two members of our crew were the most logical choice to man those stations, Dr. McCoy," Jim intoned very seriously, in an uncanny imitation of Spock.

Bones burst out laughing and Jim grinned. "You've been practicing!" Leonard accused him.

"Pretty good, huh?" Jim said, looking smug.

"Very good, actually. You'll have to do that for Uhura when she gets back." They eyed each other and burst out laughing, both of them picturing Uhura's utterly faked scandalized and amused face.

Leonard checked the time and stood up. "I better head back to work. I'll get the scoop from Geoffrey about how lunch went and let you know at dinner. Have a good afternoon, Captain darlin'."

"You too, Bonesy." Jim watched the tall, handsome figure stride out of the mess and saw the many eyes, both male and female, following Bones as he walked out of the mess. Mine, he thought smugly, all mine, so eat your hearts out people. Jim sighed happily because sometimes he had to pinch himself to make sure that this was real, that he and Bones were really together. Not only together, but very happy together. Maybe it was because they'd been best friends first, he mused. They’d shared their deepest darkest secrets with each other, their fears, the deep pain from their pasts, Bones' bitter divorce, his father's death, the horror of Jim’s time on Tarsus and his sad estrangement from his mom and Sam. Instead of the secrets and pain scaring them away from each other, their sharing had only brought them closer together. Finishing his meal, Jim hid his grin behind his drinking glass so the crew didn't think their Captain was a crazy person, but the truth was that Jim Kirk had it real bad for Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy!

Jim went back to the bridge and met with Scotty about the helm upgrades. When Sulu got back, the two of them would get a crash course on the new modifications. Scotty smiled happily at that. "She's a bonny ship, Captain. Never thought any ship could replace our beautiful old girl, but this one is worming herself into mae’ heart."

"Mine too, Scotty, but we'll never forget our old ship, she gave us her all. Kept herself together until we could evacuate. She saved as many of us as she could."

"That she did, Captain, that she did." They were silent for a long moment, sharing their heartbreak for their old, beautiful ship broken and lost, her saucer forever entombed on Altamid, but, worst of all, the loss of so many of their wonderful crew who had perished because of Krall.

The Engineering comm beeped. "Lt. M'Ress to Captain Kirk."

"Kirk here, Lieutenant."

"Sssir, I have a priority comm call from Admiral Jamessson for you. He would alssso like Dr. McCoy and Lt. Hannity to be presssent for the call."

"I'll be there in a minute, Lieutenant. Please ask Dr. McCoy and Lt. Hannity to join me in the Captain's Ready Room."

"Aye, Ssssir."

"The lass still needs work on her syllibants," Scotty said, grinning at M’ress’ struggles with words that had an s in them.

"Yeah, but I like it," Jim smiled, “reminds me of someone’s brogue,” he teased. “I better go. I wonder what Admiral Jameson is calling about?" he mused. "I'll be back later, after I find out, Scotty."

"Aye, Captain. I'll be here just like I always am," Scotty assured him.

Jim took the lift which deposited him on the bridge. Bones and Hannity were waiting for him at the door of his Ready Room.

"What's all this about, Jim?".

"I have no idea, Bones. Probably some new mission orders, something must have come up suddenly."

He nodded to M'Ress. “Pipe the Admiral in to my large comm on my signal, Lieutenant."

"Yesss, Captain."

The three officers sat around the comm, and Jim pressed the "ready" button. The Admiralty logo came in, and then immediately after, Admiral Jameson's face.

"Captain, Doctor, Lieutenant. This is a priority one comm call, classified as Need To Know."

"Yes, Sir." Came simultaneously from the three officers.

"This morning I received a very disturbing comm call from Deneva, from Commodore, Rear Admiral Joaquin Castro."

Jim paled and his heart stuttered in premonition. "Sam," he whispered, eyes suddenly wide with alarm. "Something's happened to Sam." Bones put out a hand under the table and grabbed Jim's. Jim closed his fingers in a death grip around the warm, comforting fingers. "What happened, Sir? Is my brother Sam okay?" Please be okay, please be okay, Jim's frantic brain repeated over and over.

The Admiral looked somber. "As far as we know, Commander Kirk is all right" He drew in a deep breath. "Captain...Jim, your brother has been kidnapped. Apparently Commander George Samuel Kirk was taken early this morning as he got out of his hover just after he parked at the Deneva SF office complex. The Commodore received a holo this morning." He pulled up a holo of Sam tied to a chair, gagged, with his hands bound tightly between his legs. There was a hooded man standing behind him, holding him down as Sam struggled furiously. Jim saw the fury, the anger in Sam's blue eyes, but thankfully, he looked okay. He'd obviously not been injured or drugged, and at least no one was holding a phaser to his head. The man who was holding him down was unarmed.

Jim was stunned and speechless. Sam kidnapped! Why? Sam was a scientist, a research Agronomist. Why would anyone want to kidnap him? What could the kidnappers possibly want with an Agronomist? Then Jim's blood ran cold. Unless this was not about Sam Kirk, but was instead about Jim Kirk. The sound of Bones' voice seemed to come from a long distance away.

"What do they want, Admiral?" Bones asked, still squeezing his hand tightly. Jim desperately brought his attention back to the Admiral to hear the answer.

"That's just it, Doctor, we don't know what they want...not yet anyway. They told Commodore Castro they'd be in touch later with their demands. Meanwhile, they said that Sam would not be harmed.

"Aurelan and the boys?" Jim asked hoarsely. "My mom?"

"They're all fine, Jim. The Commodore sent Starfleet Security to the Kirk house immediately. No one will get near them. Your mother has been notified. Captain Ransom has already authorized transport to take her to Deneva. She’ll be accompanied by an armed security escort at all times."

"Thank you, Sir." Jim breathed a sigh of relief. "What's being done so far about finding and recovering Sam?"

"Nothing yet. Since we don't know what they want, we thought it best to wait before attempting anything. I'm diverting Enterprise to Deneva, Captain," he told Jim. "It's too bad your present location places you so far from Deneva, but I want you there as quickly as possible to assist the Commodore. Push your engines, Jim! Our first priority is to secure your brother's release. However, as you know, Fleet will not negotiate with kidnappers, extortionists, or terrorists. Until we know what they want we won't know how to respond or proceed. Captain…Jim, there's no one better at this kind of hostage situation than you and your crew. That’s why I asked Dr. McCoy and Lt. Hannity to be here for this briefing, they're assigned to assist you. As I said, it’s a ‘Need to Know’ mission, but you're free to recruit anyone else you need. I'm giving you limited discretionary powers for the mission and the freedom to negotiate with these people up to a point, but it will be totally off book. Once you get to Deneva and find out what they want, you'll run any further action by me first." The Admiral looked sternly at Jim. "Can you handle this mission and abide by my restrictions? Please be candid, Captain, no one will fault you if you want someone else to handle this. You may refuse this mission without prejudice if you feel too compromised to handle it. Commander Kirk is your brother after all, and I know you're very close."

Jim gripped Bones' hand even tighter. "I can handle it, Admiral. I want to handle it.”

"Good. I thought that would be your answer. We'll touch base again when you arrive. Best speed, Captain. Get there as soon as you can. Jameson out."

Jim turned to Hannity, his Captain facade firmly in place. She had been silent throughout the briefing, but she looked alert and ready for anything. “Lieutenant, tell Ensign Chekov to plot our course for Deneva."

"Aye, Sir. On it,” she said, hurrying out.

He toggled the comm. "Kirk to Engineering."

"Scott here, Captain."

"Change of orders, Scotty. We're going to have to push the engines. Best speed to Deneva, Admiral's orders, let Lt. Reilly know and we’re going to yellow alert. I'll brief you in a few minutes. Lt. Hannity,” he told her over the comm. “Go to Yellow Alert. Alpha shift is extended to 12 hours.”

“Aye, Sir,” came Scotty’s and Hannity’s unperturbed voices.

Jim turned to Bones. "Door lock," he ordered.

"C'mere, Jim," Bones said. He hugged Jim tightly to his chest. Jim was shivering, tremors running through his body. Leonard rocked Jim back and forth, one hand on his back, the other tight around his neck. "Easy now, darlin'. We'll get Sam back. We will." Pulling Jim away from his chest, he gave him a gentle kiss as Jim blinked rapidly. "We gotta' stay strong, Jim, for Aurelan's sake, for the children and for your Mom."

Jim nodded and drew back, running a trembling hand down his face. “You’re right, Bones, we will stay strong. It just got to me for a minute. We’ll get him back. I finally have my brother again, and I'm not about to lose him now. Did you see him, Bones? Sam was so angry, so brave.”

"That I did, the man is a Kirk after all, courage is in his DNA. And we'll be courageous too, Jim, until we get him home, right?" Bones looked into the anguished blue eyes and saw fierce determination settle across Jim's face.

Jim squared his shoulders, his eyes fierce.  "I'm all right now, Bones. Don’t worry about me, baby. Let me go talk to Scotty and then I'll talk to mom."

Leonard nodded, although they both knew that was a useless injunction. Leonard was a caregiver through and through and worry was coded into his DNA, but as he watched Jim walk out the door he saw that his back was straight and his steps were firm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter Text

 

 

On their way to Deneva, the magnitude of the mission to find Sam weighs heavily on Jim. Bones provides comfort and support.

Ransom

Chapter 2

"O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

 

After his briefing with the shocked Scotty, who immediately promised to push the engines as hard as possible, Jim went back to his Ready Room to comm his mother. Her haggard face lit up when she saw him. "Jim! It's so good to see you, sweetheart. Do you have any idea what’s going on? I don't understand any of this! Why on earth would anyone want to kidnap Sam? He's not privy to Fleet or Federation secrets; his security clearing isn't even that high. What on earth do you think they want with him?"

Jim’s heart hurt even more, seeing her worried, haggard face. "No one seems to know yet, mom. We just have to wait until they contact the Commodore again." He drew in a deep breath. "Mom,” he said, his face anguished. “What if it's about me? What if they want to use Sam as leverage to get to me?" His face was stricken as he faced his mother.

"Jim, no! No! Don't think like that! We don't know anything yet. Let's wait and see what these people want. Sam is strong and he's a Starfleet officer through and through. Did you see him?" She smiled grimly. "He was furious, strong and determined."

"Yeah, he was pretty mad. He looked good mom, at least no one seems to have drugged him, and he hasn't been tortured or beaten up from what I could tell." He sighed wearily. "We've got to find him and get him out of there as soon as possible, where ever there is."

"Jim, I'm really worried about Aurelan too. She's almost 8 months pregnant. This kind of shock and stress isn't good for her and the baby. It could bring on early labor.”

"Bones will give her a good going over as soon as we get there. Nobody's better than Bones, mom. He’ll take good care of her and the baby.”

"As well I know, son." She gave him a small smile, remembering how Leonard had saved her life.

"Mom, do you know if Aurelan has told Peter and Georgie anything about Sam?"

"No, I don't. But I'm sure she's told them something that’s easy for them to understand why daddy's not coming home tonight. They’re still so little. It'll be good for the boys to have you there, Jim. They love you very much."

"I love them too and I'll do all I can for them," Jim promised. "Mom,” he looked at her with anxious eyes. “Please be very careful when you disembark. I know you’ll have a Security escort, but we don't know who we're dealing with, or how ruthless they may be. And, yes, I know," he said as she opened her mouth to protest, "you're a Starfleet officer too, and can take care of yourself, but just be careful, for my sake, please, mom."

"I will, son, I promise.” There was a faint beep. “My comm time is up. I'll see you on Deneva. Goodbye, dear, and Jim, don't you worry about me, I'll be just fine. I love you." She touched her fingers to her lips and then to the screen.

"Love you too." Jim shut down the comm and sighed, still worried. Stubbornness, it seemed, ran deep and true in both the Kirk and Davis genes.

He sat back in his chair to think, fighting back his raging anxiety. What did these people want with Sam? Was Sam working on something classified? As an Agronomist, he only dealt with the production of plants to use as food, fuel, fibers, and land reclamation. Sam had also, throughout his career, done research in plant genetics, trying to increase crop production for marginalized lands. Jim had never asked, but he'd always thought it had something to do with Jim’s time on Tarsus. He knew Sam had been working on different projects so nothing like that would ever happen again. What was he working on now? Jim didn't remember if Sam had mentioned anything specific when he had been with Jim at Starfleet Medical. He'd only mentioned that he was on a mission for his boss and had met with other Agronomists from across the Alpha quadrant. It had been a very important conference, he'd told his brother. Jim pulled at his hair in frustration. Why hadn't he paid more attention? He had been so focused on his surgery and later his recovery and PT, that he hadn't asked Sam for more information. He sighed. He'd find out more from the Commodore, but meanwhile doing nothing was driving him nuts.

The Ready Room door opened. Bones. "Thought I'd still find you here." He looked keenly at Jim’s worried face. "Are you alright, darlin'?"

"No, I'm really not, Bones, I'm worried sick about Sam, and so is mom."

"I know, Jim. We'll be in Deneva pretty soon. Scotty's really pushing the engines hard. How is Win doin’? Did she have anything new for us?”

Jim cocked his head to listen. He could hear the hum of the warp engines as the ship flew at maximum warp. Usually the hum was very soft, practically undetectable in this new ship, but today it was loud. That only happened when the ship flew at maximum warp. “Mom’s staying strong, Bones. She's tough, but she's just as puzzled as the rest of us about why Sam was taken.”

Bones held out a hand. "Come on, Jim. It's time for early dinner since we’re on Yellow Alert."

"I'm not hungry, Bones. You go on without me. I'm too worried and stressed to eat."

Bones’ eyes flashed green. "Maybe so, but you have to eat. You have to be at the top of your game for this mission, and your body needs fuel to function properly,” Bones scolded gently.

"Bones...." There was a faint whine in Jim's voice.

"Stop your whinin' and come with me to the mess. You can have a dessert which isn't even listed in your meal card. I believe Chef made carrot cake."

Jim's blue eyes lit up at that. "Carrot cake? Wow! I get two desserts in one day? I can definitely work with that. Okay then," he let Bones pull him up from the chair. "The mess it is."

Once at the mess and sitting at their usual table, Jim had a bowl of soup, a glass of milk, an apple, and then his beloved carrot cake. Bones was amused to see Jim's face relax into sheer bliss at the first taste of the sweet, delicious cake.

"Good?"

"Perfect. Thanks, Bonsey."

Since Jim's fall from the Engineering scaffolding, his spinal surgery, and his lengthy stay at SFM for rehab,(1) Bones had kept an eagle eye on Jim's food intake. Doctors Troncale and Chu had stressed to both men that the Captain must try to maintain his optimum weight, and eat nutritious, well balanced meals. Jim knew this, but no matter how diligent Bones was about his diet, when he was stressed, Jim's food issues, the remnants of Tarsus, cropped up now and then.

"Are you headin’ back to the bridge now, Jim?"

"Yes, I need to relieve Lt. Hannity for her dinner."

"She's working out well as your XO, isn't she?"

"Yeah, she's doing a great job. She's a very hard worker, she's gaining great experience, and she's keeping up with all of Spock's duties."

"That's good, but just remember she's not the hobgoblin nor does she have Vulcan stamina. Be careful you don't burn her out."

Jim sat back in his chair, suddenly looking anxious. "Do you think I'm working her too hard, Bones?"

"Not you, darlin'. She's putting all the pressure on herself. She doesn't want to disappoint you. You gave her this opportunity to be your First Officer as well as head of Science. That's a very big job for one young woman, no matter how competent she is. She's very aware how much Spock does around here, and she'll kill herself trying to fill his shoes, but as I said, she's not a Vulcan. Do you know she's only twenty two, Jimmy?"

"No! Really, Bones?" Even in a young crew such as served on the Enterprise, twenty two was still very young to be a full Lieutenant.

Leonard nodded. "I've checked her records and her psych evals. She’s a lot like Chekov, started at the Academy at seventeen, did her course work in three years and got promoted from Ensign to Lieutenant fast because she’s so damn competent. You made a very good choice, Jim, just don't let her kill herself trying to fill those big Vulcan shoes."

Jim smiled at him. "That's why I keep you around, Bones McCoy. I should have known all that, looked more in depth at her Academy and service record, but I just took her competency and eagerness for granted." He looked around.  Because it was so early, there was absolutely no one in the mess. He and Bones were completely alone, so he leaned in and gave him a soft kiss. "What would I do without you, Dr. McCoy? Couldn't possibly do my job without you."

Leonard snorted. "'Course you could, you're a brilliant Captain, with or without me, always have been." He smiled returning the sweet kiss. Jim’s lips still had the taste of carrot cake on them.

"Nope, no, and again no, totally untrue," Jim told him, getting up. "Can't even breathe without you, Bones, and don't you ever forget it." He pulled his gold tunic down. "Okay then, I'm going to get an ETA for our arrival to Deneva. I'm sure Chekov and Reilly have it down to the nanosecond by now. The quicker we get there the better." He ran his hand down his face. "I just want to have mom, Aurelan and the children together, safe under one roof, with plenty of security there. This is all crazy, Bones." He looked at Bones, and suddenly paled. "Bones! What if Sam isn't enough? What if it’s you next time?” Jim asked, even though he knew better than to let his mind go there. He knew what it did to him to even think about something happening to Bones. He closed his fingers around Bones’ wrist feeling the strong steady pulse under his fingers. “What if I lose you too? What the hell am I supposed to do then? What if they try to come after you?" He clutched the back of the mess chair, his fingers going white at the possibility of his deepest fear manifest. "Maybe its safer if you stay on board the ship? No one can possibly get to you here." He looked down with panicked wide eyes at his doctor. He'd have Hendorff put security on Bones 24/7 and have the ship go on yellow alert while he was down planet.

Leonard stood up suddenly. "Jim…Jim, calm down, don't borrow trouble. We don't know anything about what those people want, and I'm not stayin' up here without you. Wherever you go, I go." He pried Jim's fingers from the chair back, rubbing soothing circles on the back of his hands. "We'll all be real careful, watch each other's back extra close, yeah?"

"But Bones...." Jim looked at him with pleading eyes.

"No, Jim. I'm not stayin' behind.  I’m goin’ to be with you on Deneva. We're gonna' get to the bottom of this shit same as we always do, together. You got that?"

Jim looked into the determined, stubborn look in the hazel eyes and saw when he was beaten. Sometimes, really most of the time, he could convince Bones to see things his way, bend him to his will, but this was obviously not one of those times.

"All right, Bones." Jim sighed giving up on the argument. "But promise me you'll stick close by me, like all the time close to me so I can see you.” Jim, taking advantage of the still empty mess, put his warm arms tight around him and nuzzled into his neck. “You know,” he murmured, “when we first got together, I used to think that even if our time together was brief, if I was stupid enough to get myself killed, it would still be enough because I loved you so damn much and it was such a miracle to have had any time at all with you. But now I know it's not enough, there’ll never be enough time to be with you, for us to be together.” Jim buried his face in Leonard’s neck. “Since I found out you loved me back and we got together, I understand my mom so much better. I couldn't live if you were taken away from me like Sam, and there’s nothing and no one in this whole universe that could keep me from finding you.”

Leonard snorted. "Don't get sappy on me,” he said sternly, his voice gone thick with emotion. “Just let anyone try to pry me away from you. Ain't never gonna’ happen, darlin’, never. Now come on, it's time to get back to work." Jim nodded, moving reluctantly away from Bones, but the sick feeling in his stomach was starting to uncoil and he let himself be led to the lift.

It wasn't like Jim to be so apprehensive, Leonard thought worriedly. Jim was always pragmatic and realistic, yet optimistic about any real or imagined danger, even on possibly dangerous Away Missions. He might worry about Leonard’s safety, but he always kept his worry well hidden and contained. They’d had many a talk about how Jim couldn't be an effective Captain otherwise. Sam's kidnapping had hit him really hard, Leonard thought. He’d have to keep a very close eye on him.

Back on the bridge, Lt. Hannity relinquished the chair to Jim. "Go get some dinner, Lieutenant."

"Oh, but Sir, I'm not really hungry. I have some reports from the Science department I'd like to look through."

Jim eyed her carefully. This was exactly what Bones had been talking about. He should have noticed it before now. He shook his head. "The reports can wait, Hannity. And," he looked at her sternly, “you take your full hour for dinner. You didn’t really get a lunch, remember? And no working during your dinner. Understood?"

"But, Captain...."

"That's an order, Lieutenant." He smiled to take the sternness out of it.

She sighed. "Yes, Sir."

"I can't have my First Officer overdoing it, Lieutenant. The work is never finished, you have to learn to pace yourself a little."

"But Mr. Spock...."

"Mr. Spock is a Vulcan. I can assure you that no one can keep up with him. I learned that lesson a long time ago. Go on now, go eat, relax, enjoy your hour." He told her gently and made shooing motions with his hands.

"Yes, Captain,” she said, looking longingly at the science console.

Jim smiled as he watched her walk to the lift. A formidable young woman, he decided. She would go far, probably command her own ship in the not so distant future. He turned to Chekov.

"Mr. Chekov, you and Mr. Reilly have our ETA figured out yet?"

"Aye, Keptin. It's already in your chair console. ETA to the Beta Darius system, then to Deneva, at our present course and speed is 1600 hours tomorrow."

"Excellent. Steady as she goes, Lt. Reilly. Let's hope Mr. Scott can keep the engines going at our present speed."

"Oh he vill, Sir," Chekov spoke with total confidence in his voice. His faith in Scotty's miracles knew no bounds.

Jim smiled at Chekov's words. In truth, he too, counted on the fact that Scotty could always pull a miracle out of his ass when it was needed. In fact, Jim knew that his wonderful crew, who regularly performed the impossible, was the reason Admiral Jameson had entrusted this mission to him. He knew if anyone could figure out who was behind this, could find Sam and bring him home, it was Jim and his crew.

"Sam." Jim's heart clenched in his chest. He thought of how he and Sam were once again the brothers they had been when they were children. Until Sam had run away from Frank, they'd always been very close, the five years between them mattering little. They'd loved each other, had been there for each other during Winona's long absences, Sam always being the protective big brother, taking the brunt of Frank's meanness, taking care that little brother Jimmy was always far away from all the ugliness.

Sam leaving home so suddenly, leaving him behind, had traumatized Jim severely. For many years he had harbored deep feelings of betrayal, anger, and bitterness. After Narada, after Sam had reached out to him, it had taken a long time for them to come together again as brothers. Forgiving Sam had been extremely difficult for Jim, and for Sam, the overwhelming guilt of leaving Jim behind had made it almost impossible to forgive himself. Still both had made the commitment to try. It had taken a lot of difficult comm and face to face conversations between them. At first there had been several angry, accusatory arguments, but with some intense counseling, and the constant loving support from Bones and Aurelan, the two brothers were finally able to work through their feelings of anger, guilt, abandonment and betrayal. Together they’d also made the decision to reach out to their mother after Narada, slowly rebuilding their relationship with Winona. Then after Khan and Jim’s “death”, all three had worked even harder to put their years of estrangement and pain behind them, to take full advantage of their second chance to be a family again. It took time, and more counseling, but they had finally forged a new, strong, loving family dynamic, and all three Kirk’s were the better for it.

While Jim was recovering from his Engineering accident and spinal surgery,(1) Sam had been there, wonderfully supportive, strong, positive and affectionate. He'd been with Jim through the toughest part of his hospital stay before going back to Deneva and they had gotten even closer during Jim’s recovery. It didn't bear thinking about, that now that Jim finally had Sam back in his life, that he could be hurt or even killed by the kidnappers. Jim clenched his hands into fists. They'd find Sam. Somehow Jim and his team would find him.

After the long twelve hour Alpha shift was over, Jim made his weary way to the Captain's quarters. Wednesday was out of his crate and greeted him at the door with loving puppy kisses and a wagging tail. He saw the mess trolley with hot covered dishes on it and the small table he and Bones used for their infrequent meals in their quarters. "Bones?" He called out. Bones came out of the bathroom, drying his hair, already dressed in sleep pants and a soft t-shirt.

“Thought it'd be nice to have a quiet dinner, just the two of us." He smiled softly at his tired Jim. "I used some of my water rations for a hot shower, why don't you do the same, sweetheart? It'll relax you. Then we'll eat, huh?” He bent down to pet the excited Wednesday.

Jim nodded. He stopped on his way to the shower to give Bones a tender kiss. "Sounds perfect. You always know exactly what I need. Thank you."

Bones smiled at him, his dimples flashing. "'Course I do. It's my job to know." He swatted Jim's very fine ass with the towel. "Go on now, 'fore our dinner gets cold. It's your favorite, chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and brownies for dessert."

"Bones, Bones, Bones. I didn't think it was possible to love you more, but I sure do now." Jim grinned at him.

Bones scoffed at him. "I'm sure you do. If I'd only known how easy it was to get you to fall in love with me, those months pining for you would’ve never happened." He shook his head in mock sorrow. "All I had to do was put a chicken fried steak and some brownies in front of you."

"True that," Jim laughed on his way to the shower, Wednesday following at his heels.

Bones chuckled. He counted it as a win that the drawn look had faded from Jim's face, if only for a little while.

Leonard put out Wednesday’s food. The puppy, he knew, would take a nap afterward. Food, naps, walks, and his two humans were on the short list of Wednesday’s favorite things.

They had a quiet dinner talking softly throughout the delicious meal chef had prepared at Bones' request. They avoided discussing, at least during dinner, the elephant in the room, how worried they were about Sam, and by extension, Winona, Aurelan and the children. Afterward, they cleaned up and had their dessert and coffee on the sofa. When they'd finished, Jim put his head on Bones' lap, with Wednesday curled happily at his feet. Bones carded gentle fingers through the thick sandy hair, darker now that no sun rays had hit it for several weeks.

Leonard leaned down to kiss Jim, sweetly and passionately. Jim sighed into the kiss, looking up at him. "I love you so much, Bones. I don't know how Aurelan can even stand this, it would drive me mad.” Jim’s eyes, those beautiful pools of blue that Leonard loved so much, suddenly gleamed.

Bones gently wiped the moisture away with his thumb. "She's a very strong person, Jim, and so are you."

"Not about you, Bones. Never about you." He reached up to pull Bones down for another kiss. "Let's go to bed, sweetheart. I need you." He set the puppy on the floor, and led Leonard to the bed, closing the door behind him so Wednesday wouldn't disturb them. “Lights fifteen percent.” He stripped Bones quickly and efficiently, then himself. Jim arranged himself over Bones' warm body, feeling the miles and miles of clean silky skin under him, feeling the strong pectorals flex underneath that skin. Jim pressed their bodies tightly together, wanting more, more pressure, more pleasure, just more. As always, the passion between them flared instantly. Jim pulled himself across Len’s chest, his long fingers tracing Bones' ribs, his arm muscles, the flat planes of his abdomen. His agile fingers caressed Bones' lips, then he leaned in to replace his fingers with his lips. He sucked gently at Bones bottom lip for a minute then moved down to taste the rest of Leonard's sweet smelling body, to nip and kiss each of his favorite places, his body already aroused, impatient, a deep, primal craving for Bones going through him. Jim’s eyes shone in the low light, his pupils blown wide, intensely blue, darkly ringed with love and passion.

When they finally came together, they moved in rhythm, gasps and soft moans filling the cabin, reverberating around them. Words of need and possession dropped from Jim's lips. They moved against each other, heat coiling through them and Jim felt all the tension and stress in his body go with the feel of Bones in his arms.

Bones moaned as Jim hauled him up to kiss him deeply, possessively. It was a hard almost desperate kiss, Bones making moaning noises against Jim’s mouth. At the sounds he made, Jim grew light headed with the sensation of being wanted, loved, cherished. Their cocks were pressed tight between them, and Bones hardly had room to move, but Jim made love to him, so sweetly, so passionately, that when they both came, reality faded away, leaving just the two of them lost in each other.

“Mine," Jim declared, panting softly. “You’re mine, Bones, always and forever, mine,” he muttered helplessly into Bones’ skin, floundering, as always, to articulate his powerful love for this man. “I'd kill anyone who tried to take you from me and if they took you from me, I'd tear the universe apart to find you.” If anything happened to Bones, Jim knew he would go insane, devastated with grief for this man he couldn’t live without. At some level he knew these thoughts were irrational and desperate, but they were utterly true nevertheless.

“Yours, darlin’ always yours,” Leonard whispered soothingly.

They lay in each others arms sated and blissful until reluctantly, Jim moved to get a warm wet towel to clean them off. Finished, he threw it towel on the floor and draped himself against Bones' pliant, relaxed body. "It’s always so intense between us," Jim murmured. His eyes were bright again, burning blue, crystalline, filled with love and tenderness. For these fleeting moments of passion with Bones, his fear and worry for Sam, had receded to the back of his mind.

"It is…isn't it…‘cause I love you so very much, darlin'. Go to sleep now. Good...night, Jimmy." Bones' voice was already slurred with sleep.

"Good night, my Bones. You know,”  Jim murmured into Bones’ chest, “Robert Browning said it best. ‘Men have died trying to find this place which we have found.” 

Later, a still sleepless and tired Jim watched from his window portal the colors of the warp field bubble that the ship generated. Jim only opened the portal when he was sure Bones was deeply asleep. He was always careful to close it before he himself fell asleep so Bones wouldn't see out in the morning. A couple of times he’d forgotten, and woke to hear Bones' throwing up in the bathroom. Jim was still draped over Bones' chest, with his arms around him, lulled and comforted by the rise and fall of Bones’ breaths and the steady heart beat under his head. He sighed tiredly, yawning. "Close portal," he told the computer softly. Maybe he would be able to sleep now. With Bones safe, warm, and deeply asleep in his arms, Jim closed his eyes and finally let sleep overtake him.

“Jim! Jim, wake up, sweetheart! Come on now, wake up!" Leonard gently shook Jim, trying to wake him from his nightmare. “Jim!” He shook Jim a little harder. “Wake up for me, Jimmy!” Jim’s eyes flew open, wide and panicked, filled with fear, as he searched all around for Bones.

“Easy, easy, now. I'm right here, Jim. That’s it now…wake up for me, darlin’,” Leonard soothed, cupping Jim’s pale and sweaty face. “You were just havin' a nightmare. You're alright."

“Bones,” Jim croaked through dry lips and a closed throat.

"Right here. I'm right here." Bones gathered him in his arms and stroked soothing circles over Jim's heart with the flat of his hand.

Jim sighed deeply at the gentle touch, reassured by the warm body that held him close. They arranged themselves in their original position with Jim’s head on Leonard’s chest. The doctor’s long fingers carded through the sweaty sandy hair, mumbling soothing words of reassurance and love. Jim’s hand reached up for the hand in his hair, gripping it around Leonard’s wrist, the feel of the strong pulse under his fingers grounding him in the here and now. He held on tightly, needing the feel of Bones, still afraid he was going disappear if he let go.

"Bad one?" Bones questioned softly. With all the trauma Jim had been through in his early life and during his Captaincy, he was occasionally prone to nightmares, especially when he was under stress.

Jim nodded against his chest.

"Wanna' talk about it?"

A frantic shake of Jim's head as he shuddered answered him. Putting actual words to his deepest fear, that Bones would somehow disappear, or be taken from him, would make it worse, much much worse.

"Shhh, it's alright, Jim. I'm right here," Bones' soothed, guessing correctly what the nightmare had been about. "Want me to get you some water?"

"No! You stay right here!" Jim clutched him tighter. He looked up at Leonard, the rings of blue around Jim’s pupils still dilated in fright.

"Okay, not goin'. But if I have to go to the bathroom, you'll have to come with me." He could feel Jim's smile even as he shook his head. "Damn it! Guess I'll just have to hold it then," he grumbled, and felt Jim smile again and the faint relaxation of his long, lean body. Leonard smiled to himself; mission accomplished.

"Think you can go back to sleep now?"

Jim sighed softly and nodded. "Getting sleepy now," he mumbled.

"Good. Sleep now, darlin'," Leonard gave a soft kiss to Jim's forehead and closed his own eyes.

————————————-

1 See “Broken”

Chapter Text

Jim gets an offer of help from an unexpected source.

 

 

Ransom

Chapter 3


"Anyone could be clever.
Anyone could be smart.
Anyone could be taught.
But not everyone was kind."

Louise Penny

"A Great Reckoning"

 

It was beyond Jim ability to swallow any food for breakfast. Leonard looked at him in sympathetic understanding, then replicated a small cup of chilled peach yogurt for him. That and a hot cup of coffee would hold him until the ship docked in Deneva.

"I'll be up to the bridge when we dock, Jim. I just want to do my handoff of the Med Bay to Geoffrey and check on a couple of patients. T’Lren has a broken ankle and has to have another round with the osteo regenerator, and Tomlinson came down with appendicitis and had her appendix out. She was scared and wanted her mama yesterday. Poor kid, first time she's been sick since she left home.”

Jim smiled a bit grimly. "Sometimes we all just want our mamas." He gave Bones a tender goodbye kiss and Leonard cupped his face to kiss him back. “Jim,” Bones said. Jim met his gaze, but it didn’t seem like he was looking for a response. “Jim,” Bones said again, and, God, Jim has always loved the way Bones said his name, soft, drawly, full of warmth and affection. Leonard looked deep into Jim's eyes. The cerulean blue was clear and crystalline, soft and loving, as they always were when he looked at Leonard. Jim stood still, standing patiently under the doctor’s warm hands and keen scrutiny until Bones nodded, satisfied. Jim was fine.

“Janice will come by later to pick up Wednesday, his crate, toys and food and take him to her cabin. She'll take good care of him until we get back. You go on now, I’ll pack up our stuff.”

"Good, thanks Bones.” He bent to pet the puppy. “Wednesday loves Janice. See you soon, Wedns, and I’ll see you later on the bridge, Bones.”

"Bye, darlin'.”

Leonard watched him go. Jim seemed fine this morning, his Captain's facade firmly back in place, but...Leonard would check on him mid-morning to make sure when he took the Med Bay daily report to the bridge. He finished his breakfast, cleaned up after himself, and checked his pad for the Beta and Gamma shifts report. Everything had been quiet during the night, the head duty nurse reported. Ensign Tomlinson had slept well and had been dismissed to her quarters this morning. She would be off duty for the next 24 hours. Leonard had also signed off on a personal comm call from home. It would take a couple of hours, but she would get to talk to her mama. That more than anything, would speed her healing process right along. There was nothing like a call to or from home to make a body feel better when they were sick.

The deep hum of the warp engines reminded him that they were burning rubber to reach Deneva as soon as possible. Leonard got out their two duffles and packed a few things for Jim and for himself. An extra uniform, briefs, their black t-shirts, sleep wear, a couple of sets of civvies, as well as their personal toiletries. They and Winona would be staying with Aurelan and the children. There was plenty of room. Sam and Aurelan had a large house, two guest rooms besides the boys' bedroom and the Master suite. There was also a small play room for the children and another room used as Sam's study. Winona would stay in the smaller guest bedroom and they would stay in the larger one. It would be better for the children and Aurelan to have family with them, and the boys would especially want Uncle Jim to be there with them.

Leonard also wanted to keep a close eye on Aurelan. At almost eight months pregnant, and under as much stress as she was, she was vulnerable for high blood pressure and the onset of early labor. He would keep a very close eye on her, make sure she rested and kept off her feet as much as possible. He was sure Winona would also keep an eye on her and they'd all help with the little boys. Thank God Peter and Georgie we're still too young for regular school, because there was no way in hell that Jim was going to let them leave the house even with a security detail. According to Sam, they both loved going to their play school three mornings a week, which gave Aurelan a much needed break, but it wouldn't hurt them to stay home with the adults. It would be easier for the security detail to have everyone together under one roof. He sighed. He'd promised Jim he would stay close by him at all times, and Leonard was determined to keep that promise, to not cause Jim any additional stress and worry, even if it constrained his activities. Lt. Hannity and the rest of the command crew would come and go to and from the ship as Jim needed them. Lt. Hendorff was under orders to have security keep a very close eye on anyone going off ship or coming back on board. Code words would be in place in order for anyone to get back on the ship.

Leonard finished with his packing and put both duffles on the floor. They'd pick them up on their way out. He wondered what time Winona's ship would get in, and if the Deneva Commodore had included her in his briefing. He checked the time; it was almost time for him to report to the Med Bay. He would brief Geoffrey and Christine this morning because Jim had added them to the Need to Know list. As Captain in charge of this mission, he’d decided that medical assistance might be needed at some point, and it was best if those two were in the loop from the beginning.

Once in the Med Bay, Leonard ushered Geoffrey and Christine into his office, engaged the privacy window and soundproofing to fill them in on what had happened to Sam and what their new mission orders were. They were both extremely shocked, but they assured their CMO they were ready to help in any way the Captain needed them. Leonard nodded. It was nothing more than he expected from these, his two best Med Bay friends.

The lessening of the warp engine hum and the sudden decrease in the ship's speed alerted him to the fact that something was happening. He was just about to comm the bridge when Lt. M'Ress voice came over his office comm.

"Dr. McCoy, the Captain requestsss your presssence in the transssporter room."

"M'Ress, what's goin' on up there?"

"I do not know, Doctor...the Captain hasss received a messssage to ssslow our ssspeed; there hasss been a requessst to take on a passssenger."

"A passenger? What passenger?" They were in a big hurry to get to Deneva so it had to be someone very important for Jim to agree to slow down the ship.

"I do not know, Dr. McCoy," M’Ress said again.

"Okay, M'Ress, tell the Captain I'm on my way." Leonard left the equally puzzled Geoff and Christine and took the lift directly to the main transporter room. He found Jim already waiting there, rocking on his heels impatiently. "Jim. What's going on?"

"Don't know, Bones. Had a priority one request from Admiral Jameson to take on a passenger, so that's what we're doing. I’m in the dark too.”

The transporter tech looked up. "Incoming, Captain." The silvery whirl of the transporter effect coalesced into the tall, slim figure of Spock.

"Spock! What on earth are you doing here?" A surprised Jim went up to him and clasped him lightly on the shoulder. "Not that it isn't great to see you, but you're on leave, man! What brings you here? Is everything alright? How is Amanda?"

Spock's eyebrow flew to his bangs in amusement. Trust the besotted Jim to ask about baby Amanda first. "Both Amanda and Nyota are well, Jim." He answered rather pointedly.

Jim flushed a little. "Good, good, that's great, glad to hear it. So tell me, what are you doing here? Not that I'm not happy to see you, but this is a huge surprise.”

Spock looked pointedly at the transporter tech.

“Ensign Amaro,” Jim turned to her. “Please excuse us for a few minutes. Wait right outside the door and come back in 5 minutes.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Spock waited until the door closed. "I received a rather urgent comm from my Father, Captain. The daily briefing from the Admiralty had reached him. As you know all the Federation Council members receive high security daily briefings about possible and actual problem situations across the Alpha Quadrant. The name George Samuel Kirk caught my father’s attention immediately; the kidnapping of a Fleet officer and a Kirk is indeed problematic. He commed me immediately to let Nyota and I know. After I spoke with Nyota, we both agreed it would be best if I came to offer my assistance in this matter. Commander Kirk is an exemplary officer, a father, a husband, a brother, a son. He is a good man. It is unconscionable that someone would do this to him. We, Nyota, Sarek, and I, all agree we must find him as soon as possible and return him to his home. My father is presently on Earth, therefore he was able to speak directly with Admiral Jameson about the situation, to tell him I was available to come to assist you. The Admiral was amenable to the idea and, afterward, Sarek put the Vulcan diplomatic shuttle at my disposal to rendezvous with Enterprise." He fell silent waiting for Jim to speak, his eyebrows quirked in a question. “I hope I did not overstep my bounds in coming.”

Jim blinked a few times, his eyes becoming suspiciously bright. "Thank you, Spock. Of course you didn’t! It means the world to me that you're here. Your help will be invaluable and I can't thank Sarek enough for getting you here."


“Ab hinestovirum bonum nihil deterred,” Leonard murmured and was amused at the faint green flush coming to Spock’s pointed ears.

Jim looked at him in question.

“Latin. Seneca. ‘Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable’,” Leonard translated.

Jim nodded, giving Spock a small, affectionate smile.

“I will notify the Vulcan shuttle captain that he may return to Earth. Father will send the shuttle for me again when Commander Kirk is found and returned to his family. Officially I am still on leave, Captain, so I will not be wearing my uniform."

The door whooshed and Ensign Amaro peeked in.

Jim waved her in. "It's not a problem, Spock. However we can have you, on leave or off leave, is fine with me."

Leonard agreed. "Good to see you, hobgoblin. That computer steel trap brain of yours is just the extra help we'll need, but just remember I never said that."

"Doctor, how can I remember something you never said?"

Jim snorted and Leonard arched his eyebrows so high it must have hurt.

"I certainly did not hear a thing that Dr. McCoy said, did you, Captain?" Spock's dark eyes gleamed in veiled amusement at Jim.

"Nope, didn't hear a thing." Jim grinned. He turned to the Ensign. "That will be all, Ensign Amaro, there will be no need for manning the transporter again until we reach Deneva. You're dismissed."

"Aye, Sir." Amaro said, trying to keep the grin off her face.

"Spock, come with me to the Ready Room, and I'll brief you. Coming, Bones?"

"You two go ahead, I still have to finish up a few things in the Med Bay, but I'll come join you for lunch."

Jim and Spock walked silently shoulder to shoulder to the lift and through the bridge straight to the Ready Room. Spock saw surprised wide eyes on the bridge as they exited the lift.

"As you were, everyone. Commander Spock is just here for a short visit," Jim told them over his shoulder as they entered the Ready Room and sat down.

"Spock, I can't tell you how happy I am that you've come to help us." Jim looked down at his tightly clasped hands. "But I feel really guilty taking you away from Ny and Amanda."

"Jim." Spock steepled his fingers, his dark gaze serene and placid. "As you know, presently, we are staying with Nyota's family so they can get to know Amanda, and she, they." He looked at Jim with a faint look of wonder on his face. "There are many members in the Uhura family, Jim. Many," Spock repeated firmly. "It seems to me they have come from every part of Kenya and beyond to meet the baby. They walked, they came in old fashioned buggies, they beamed in, they drove their own hovers and came in public shuttles. Parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, siblings, siblings' spouses or significant others, also their children, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even neighbors and close friends. They have rented every hotel room in the town. Every day they all seem to congregate in the Uhura compound to see Amanda, to talk with Nyota, to give her "baby advice," to offer to take care of Amanda, to cook, to shop, to sit and tell family and mythological stories." Spock drew in a deep breath, his dark chocolate eyes bewildered. "Jim, there is no privacy anywhere, there is no peace, no quiet, there is only excitement, eating, and much loud talk. Nyota does her best to find places where I can meditate in peace, but it seems that all the young Uhura children know about these places and they always seem to find me to ask me questions, about me as a Vulcan, about New Vulcan, how Nyota and I met, about the ship, our missions, the baby. It is endless. Believe me when I say that I am pleased, nay, more than pleased, to come here to help you to find Commander Kirk."

Jim's lips twitched. Spock was not used to the kind of noisy, exuberant interactions that Nyota's family indulged in, nor to the sheer number of close and extended family that she had. For the most part, Spock’s extended clan family had been wiped out on Vulcan. From what she had shared with Jim and Leonard, every time some or all of the vast Uhura clan got together, it was always a loud, boisterous, and, in fact, riotous and fun experience. It must have been overwhelming for Spock to experience it.

"I understand, Spock, but you're sure Ny is okay with this?"

"I am sure. She, herself, could not come, it would have been a slight, an insult, for her to leave her relatives, and although she expressed her willingness to do so, I said no. However she urged me most strongly to come. My father too, felt I should assist in any way that I can. He visited the Uhura compound for a very short time and has returned to the Embassy. He will, of course, return there for Amanda’s christening."

Jim tried to picture the solemn, quiet, very dignified Sarek surrounded by the excited, happy, boisterous Uhura clan. His mind boggled and just couldn't seem go there

"Spock, the ship hasn't been the same without you and Ny here. Just one thing, though. Lt. Hannity will remain as my First. She's doing a great job. My making her stand down from her position would totally undermine her confidence and it would be grossly unfair. Your contributions will and must be informal and peripheral to her duties. I hope that won’t be a problem.”

"Of course, Jim. I anticipated as much. Lt. Hannity is an exemplary officer and I agree wholeheartedly with your decision. This period of time when she acts as your XO offers her invaluable experience. I will not in any way interfere with her position nor impose myself as she performs her duties."

"Good, that's good, Spock. Of course we'll expect you to stay with us at the house. It'll be a lot more convenient for you and for all of us. There's a sofa bed in Sam's study that you can use. It’s very comfortable. We have a briefing with the Commodore as soon as we arrive. It's an official briefing, so I'm afraid you can't attend, but I'll report everything to you in complete detail afterward."

"That will be acceptable, Jim. Now if you don't mind, I shall go to my quarters for a short period of meditation. I'm afraid it has been far too long since I have undergone a complete meditation cycle."

"Of course, Spock. If you want Bones and I will meet you for lunch at the mess."

“That will be agreeable.” Spock nodded and took himself off to the peace, tranquillity and quiet of his quarters. Jim watched him fondly, grateful that his friend, with that brilliant Vulcan brain of his, was here to help them bring Sam home.

The Vulcan ship departed with Jim's heartfelt thanks and Jim gave Scotty the order to resume best speed. Now that Spock was here, Jim was more anxious than ever to reach Deneva and begin the search for Sam. He also wanted to see his mother. Winona must be beside herself with worry, but she would remain strong for Aurelan and the boys. He wondered what Aurelan had told the children and was glad he'd be there for the two little boys. He and the little boys had what Bones called "a mutual admiration society" going on. To Jim's blushing embarrassment, Bones, Sam, Winona, and Aurelan all thought it was adorable, and he had to admit he adored those two little tow headed imps.

Alpha shift dragged on until finally when he looked at the chronometer, it was time for lunch. "Lt. M'Ress you have the con. Lt. Hannity, Mr. Chekov, with me please."

Chekov looked up in surprise. "Aye, Keptin,” he said, as his relief slipped smoothly into the navigator’s seat.

Jim led them directly to the officers' mess where they could have absolute privacy. Spock and Leonard were already there. The mess server brought in the food and placed the dishes in front of the five officers. "Enjoy, Sirs," the crewman said and left them alone.

"Thank you, Rafferty. Please close the door and lock it. I'll let you know when we're ready to leave."

"Yes, Captain."

“Computer engage privacy screen and sound proofing,” Jim ordered.

"Mr. Chekov, Lt Hannity, greetings," Spock said to them.

"Mr. Spock, how are you? Are you back with us, Sir?" Hannity looked uncertainly over to her Captain.

Jim let Spock answer. "No, Lieutenant. I'm here strictly as the Captain's friend, to help the Captain during this current very serious situation. You will continue to fulfill your duties as First Officer and Science Department Head. I am here only for the time it takes us to find and rescue the Captain’s brother."

Hannity nodded, too professional and composed to show her relief that she was not going to be relieved from her position as XO after such a short while.

Chekov put down his fork, looking confused and turned to Jim. "Vhat situation, Captain? Vhat is going on, Sir? Vhat has happened to Commander Kirk, something happened to your mother?” He asked, his face horrified.

"Ensign...Pável.…" Jim drew in a deep breath. "No, not my mother, my brother. Let me fill you in." Jim told him about Admiral Jameson's comm with the news and vid of Sam's kidnapping. "So far there are no leads, no real ransom demands and no one taking credit for the kidnapping," Jim told the shocked Chekov. "Commodore Castro was told by the kidnappers that he would hear about their demands later. Pável, the reason you’re here is that I want you to be part of Sam's recovery team. We'll need all your genius computer and technical expertise, there's no one better than you and Mr. Spock and I trust the two of you implicitly."

"Of course, Keptin." Chekov's baby face had flushed with anger and grown grim with determination; his curls bounced as he nodded his head. "I vill be happy to help. Kidnapping Commander Kirk cannot be tolerated. Ve vill find him, Sir."

"Thank you, Chekov. I knew I could count on you. This mission is Need To Know only. I am hoping we can set up our headquarters at Sam's house on Deneva, that the house will become our base of operations close to the scene of the kidnapping. I'd much prefer that rather than any SF office or the ship. Whatever equipment you and Mr. Spock need, just tell Lt. Hannity and she'll get it for you. There’s already a large security presence at the house, Pável, and since you and Hannity will be beaming back and forth from the ship to the house, we’ll have to be extra vigilant and not take chances that another SF officer might be taken. You two must be very careful, stay alert, never go anywhere down planet unless you're accompanied by security. Also, I want you to carry you phasers at all times and to stay in the house or on the ship as much as possible. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Sir," they both responded.

"Our ETA to Deneva is 1600 this afternoon. Dr. McCoy and I are scheduled for a complete briefing with Commodore Castro as soon as we go into our parking orbit. Well beam straight down to his office. I'm not sure if my mother will be there yet, but after the briefing Bones and I will rendezvous with everyone either at the house or at Fleet headquarters. Just so you know in case we all do meet at the house, that I don’t know yet what we're going to tell the children, so don't say anything they might overhear.” He looked sadly over to Bones.

"It's probably best to say that we're all there working on a special project,” Leonard told them all. “It's the truth after all.”

They all nodded. Jim checked over his notes. "Lt. Hannity, make sure all hands understand that no one is to leave the ship. There will be no shore leave. Have Lt. Hendroff assign security to the main transporter room. All other transporters, including the one in the cargo bay, will be off line, locked and unavailable. No one will be able to beam in or out except from the main transporter room. Get with Mr. Scott to lock them all down after this briefing. Before we go down planet we'll implement a code word for beaming back to the ship. No code word, no beam in. Only we, the team, will know the code word and it will change daily. I'll send it encrypted to your padds every day. I'd like Lt. De Salle to man the main transporter, and Lt. Leslie to relieve him as necessary. Lieutenant Hannity, the two transporter officers will have to know what's going on, so please brief them and make sure they understands the necessity for complete secrecy."

"Yes, Captain." She wrote another note on her pad.

"I think that's all for now. When we reach Deneva, and after the Commodore's briefing, we'll have to meet again. You're dismissed."

After the two young officers left the mess, Leonard looked at Jim's untouched plate. His eyes met Spock's. "Jim, you haven't eaten anything."

Jim looked down at his food. "Oh, yeah, I forgot, but I'm not really hungry, Bones."

"You need to eat, Jim," Bones said. "Please eat something, you hardly had anything for breakfast. Your blood sugar must be low by now.”

"Captain, I believe you will need to be in optimum physical condition for this mission. If you skip your daily sustenance, your body will soon expend more energy than it is taking in. You know the Science, Sir." He looked sternly at Jim.

Jim looked at the two worried implacable faces in front of him. Really, he thought, chagrined at himself, he was getting way too old to pull this kind of shit, worrying other people with his food issues, especially Bones, the mother of all worriers. No one needed that, no one needed to be distracted by worrying about him. They all had to be focused on getting Sam back, and nothing else.

"You're right, both of you. Sorry, it won’t happen again, I promise. Okay, I'm eating, I'm eating," he said, picking up his fork and digging in.

Chapter Text

  1.  

 

Jim and Bones arrive in Deneva and meet with the Commodore.

 

 

Ransom
Chapter 4

“Your love, not your worry,
is the most valuable thing any of us can give our children.”

Jason E. Royle,

 

"Ve're coming into the Beta Darius system and Deneva's planetary orbital station, Keptin." Chekov turned to look at Jim.

"Take us in, Mr. Chekov”.

“Going sublight now, Sir.” Reilly said.

“Very good, Mr. Reilly. Lt. M'Ress notify Deneva Central that we need our vector and umbilicals for stationary parking."

M'Ress talked into her comm and nodded. "We have our vector, Captain. Ssssending coordinatesss to helm, SSSir."

Reilly's sure hands brought the giant ship slowly into the Deneva Orbital Space Station to their designated parking spot. "Umbilicals are ready to attach, Captain," he announced.

Jim toggled Engineering and gave the order into his chair comm. "Mr. Scott, engage the main umbilicals." He waited, with the appearance of a calm he did not feel, for the Deneva Ship Controllers to do their jobs.

Everyone on the bridge could hear the enormous umbilical clamps as the robots attached them to the ship with a bang loud enough to be heard through the thick triridium plating. The huge ship would hang becalmed and suspended in space without her engines running.

"Power down the ship, Mr. Scott, but please leave her running lights on."

The running lights of the Enterprise always stayed on while she was parked or in orbit. They acted as a beacon, welcoming the crew home when they were off her on shore leave or an away mission. To Jim, there was no prettier sight than to see his ship with her running lights on and the huge spot lights shining on her name and registration number.

"Aye, Sir."

M'Ress turned to Jim. "Deneva SSSpace Central saysss ‘Welcome to Deneva’, Captain Kirk."

"Return greetings with my compliments, Lieutenant." He toggled his comm. "Mr. Scott report to the bridge, you'll have the con. Are all the transporters locked, Scotty?"

"Aye, Captain, all are locked except the main transporter platform. Mr. Hendorff has already posted security there."

"Thank you, Mr. Scott."

Jim turned to M'Ress. "Lieutenant, please ask Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy to meet me in the main transporter room."

"Yesss, Captain."

He waited a few minutes until Scotty showed up on the bridge. "Good luck to yae, Captain. I've implemented the code word safety protocol. It's already in place. The code words are encrypted in your comm, Mr. Spock's, Dr. McCoy's, Hannity's and Chekov's. Mr. La Salle and Mr. Leslie have also been briefed, Captain. They will be the only ones manning the transporter and myself, of course, if the need arises. Beta and Gamma will keep the same Watch Officers, Sir.”

"Thanks, Scotty. We'll keep you posted."

He gathered Hannity and Chekov with a nod, and the three officers entered the lift. "Deck 6, Transporter room," Jim told the lift computer. "I want both of you on standby,” he told them. “You're off your regular duty rotations until I comm you, which will be as soon as the Commodore finishes his briefing. We'll either rendezvous at Sam's house or it may be that the Commodore will want us to use an office at the Fleet complex. I know you’re going to sleep here on board ship, but I prefer that you two not beam in and out often if it can be avoided."

"Yes, Captain."

The two security men stationed in the transporter room door saluted when Jim walked in. Spock and Bones, with their duffles slung across their shoulders, were already waiting for them. Jim nodded to La Salle and handed him the coordinates. "Gentlemen, are we ready?"

The three men stepped up to the padds and Jim gave the order to La Salle. "Energize."

The transporter room sparkled out of sight and another room materialized around them. The transporter room at Starfleet Deneva was a small and compact area, devoid of furniture or decoration. Besides the transporter chief, there were two security officers there waiting to receive them. "Welcome to Deneva, Sirs. The Commodore is expecting you. Please come this way."

The main front room of the Deneva Starfleet complex was spartan, with minimal decoration aside from the large, prominent Starfleet logo on the main wall. Bones called these types of rooms generic Starfleet blah. There was another security officer standing guard at the entrance to the main corridor and the three Enterprise men were handed off to him by the transporter security officers. Jim, Leonard and Spock eyed each other as they looked around. Security was very visible and very tight.

"Commodore Castro is this way just down the hall, Captain, Dr. McCoy," their escort said. He looked dubiously at Spock.

"Mr. Spock will wait for us here, Lieutenant. He is my First Officer. He's been on leave so the Commodore was unaware he was back on board the ship. I'll inform the Commodore of his return."

"Yes, Captain. Please take a seat, Mr. Spock. I'm afraid this is as far as you are allowed to go."

"I will wait here for you, Captain." Spock calmly sat down on the utilitarian bench placed against the wall.

The lieutenant led Jim and Leonard down the long corridor. Heavily armed security officers were present all down the hallway. They stopped in front of a plain nondescript door that had a small nameplate attached to it, Rear Admiral, Joaquin Castro, Commodore, Starfleet, Deneva. Jim knocked lightly on the rippled faux glass.

"Come in."

The lieutenant ushered them in, and gently closed the door behind him. The Commodore rose, as Jim and Bones saluted.

"Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, at ease. A pleasure to meet you. I've heard a lot about you from Sam. I only wish we were meeting under different circumstances. Please, let's not stand on ceremony, sit down both of you."

They took their seats and Jim gazed at Commodore, Rear Admiral Castro. He saw a man who was in his mid to late forties, clean shaven, his hair cropped regulation short and with lines of worry etched at the corners of his eyes. He was tall and lanky, with a long upper torso which looked fit and trim. His blue uniform jacket sat well on his broad shoulders and the jacket tapered down to his slim waist and very long legs. Commodore Castro had a firm jaw, an aquiline nose, and high cheekbones. His fine grey eyes looked kindly and sympathetically at Jim. The Admiral's gold pips on his blue collar caught the light as he pulled up three chairs so he could speak face to face with them. Jim remembered that Sam thought the world of his boss.

"He's a really good guy," Sam had told Jim and Bones, during the time Jim had been recuperating in the hospital, and Jim knew from personal experience that indeed he was. He had let Sam stay with Jim during his post surgery days when he could easily have recalled him to Deneva. Jim could see the stress and worry on the Admiral's face as he bade them sit.

"I'm very happy you're here, Captain, Doctor.” The Admiral drew in a long breath. “I haven't heard anything more from the kidnappers, so our status remains the same; their ransom demands are still unknown. Meanwhile, I've directed my most trusted security officers to patrol around Sam's house, 24/7. No one, absolutely no one, goes anywhere near that house without proper clearance and identification. I understand your mother is on her way here, Captain Kirk, and I’d like for her to be fully briefed and completely in the loop with you and your team. Her CO, Captain Ransom, has also been briefed. Your mother will not disembark the Equinox without adequate security."

Jim nodded, relieved. That was one big worry off his mind. "Thank you, Admiral. I'm sure you've also been briefed by my CO, Admiral Jameson about our mission here.”

"Yes, I'm relieved that you and your team will head this mission, Captain. I know you’ve had quite a lot experience with hostage situations, and I confess that I do not. My expertise has largely been in administration and agricultural research, but I and my staff are completely at your disposal. Whatever you need, we will provide." His grey eyes met Jim's blue ones. "I want you to know, Captain, that I think the world of Sam. My wife and I have gotten very close to Sam, Aurelan and the boys." A hint of sadness came into his eyes. "We were never able to have children, and Sam and his family have become part of our family. My wife and I are quite worried about Aurelan. She's well along in her pregnancy and this situation is extremely stressful for her.”

"My mother is also very concerned about her, Sir.  Dr. McCoy will give her a thorough check up as soon as we get to the house, and we'll help her with the boys as much as we can."

"Good. If you need any additional help with the children, my wife and I would be pleased to help. We can come to the house if need be. Peter and Georgie know us very well and have been in our home many times. I'm very happy you'll keep an eye on Aurelan, Doctor McCoy. It's unconscionable that something like this has happened to Sam. We just have to bring him home as soon as possible," he added simply.

Jim nodded, his throat tight. "We will, Sir. We will." He took a deep breath and handed the Commodore a padd. "This my team, Sir. They are the best of the best. Also, Commodore, Mr. Spock, my XO, who was on paternity leave has returned to help and will be part of Sam’s recovery team."

Admiral Castro's face lightened. "Excellent, Captain. Mr. Spock's sterling reputation is, of course, as well known across the quadrant as your own. Now then, I know you're anxious to get to the house to check on your family, but I wanted to ask you if your team would like to use an office here, or would you rather work from Sam’s house?"

"I'm not sure yet, Sir. Let me talk with Aurelan and my mother. We don't want to upset the boys, but I'm also hesitant about my officers coming and going from Sam’s house to here. It might put members of the team at risk. Sam has a study we might be able use for our work. We can secure it very easily.” He looked a question at the Admiral who nodded in understanding.

"Please don't worry, I am well protected, Captain, and so is my wife. We took steps for our protection immediately, as soon as Sam was taken." He took out his comm and handed it to Jim. “This is my personal comm code. It's highly encrypted, Captain. Please use it as needed. Of course you can also reach me through my office comm.”

"Thank you, Sir. I’ll give you mine, Mr. Spock’s and Dr.McCoy’s” Jim inputted the Commodore’s code into his comm and then put in theirs and returned it to the Admiral. “I'll let you know where our base of operation will be. Before we leave you, Sir, can you think of any reason why Sam was taken at this particular time? Was he working on something classified?"

"All of our research is classified, Captain, but not classified at the highest security level. Sam, as our chief Agronomist, has worked on several secret projects, but it is secret in the sense that his project results and data are not always ready to be published. Agronomy is a highly competitive field." The Commodore noted Jim and Leonard's surprise. "Yes, indeed, much like medical research, Dr. McCoy, our research can save lives, even entire planets sometimes, win prestigious awards, generate huge amounts of credits, and is mostly done in secret until research data is published. In my opinion Sam is the best Agronomist in the quadrant. His research has always been secret because it has always been extremely important. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have him. He could make much more money working for a private corporation, and he's been approached many times to resign his commission and work either as a free lance researcher, as a consultant, or for a corporation. He has turned down all such offers. Presently, he is working on several projects, and if it becomes necessary, I will share all his projects' information with you."

Jim nodded. "Thank you, Commodore, it may become necessary.”

The three men stood. "We'll be on our way to the house now, Sir. Dr.McCoy, Mr. Spock, my mother, and I will be staying at Sam's house. The rest of my team will go back and forth from the ship to the house as needed."

"As soon as I hear from the kidnappers about their ransom demands I'll be in touch immediately, Captain. Here is a copy of the original vid for you and your team. We've been through it many times, but we've gotten absolutely nothing from it. However, I'm sure your team will have people who are much more experienced in extracting possible information from these types of situations. As far as any tech equipment you may need, whatever we have here at the complex is at your disposal, and if you want to work from the house, we can move whatever you need there."

"Thank you, Sir. We'll also have access to anything we might need from the ship."

"Good. Now then, let me walk you out."

He ushered them out of his office and walked with them down the corridor, the security officers sticking close behind. Jim saw Spock sitting patiently, waiting for them. He stood as they came up to him and Jim introduced the Commodore. "It's good to meet you, Mr. Spock. I'm only sorry it has to be under these circumstances."

Spock acknowledged him gravely. "I, too, regret that we meet under these circumstances, Sir. Commander Samuel Kirk has spoken very highly of you, Commodore."

There was a faint pleased flush on the Commodore's high cheek bones. “Thank you, Mr. Spock.” He nodded to the three men, said his goodbyes, and accompanied by his security team left them.

"Let's get to the house." Jim looked around, there was no one close to them, but he moved them to a corner which was a little more out of the way. "Kirk to Enterprise."

"Enterprissse here," said M'Ress voice.

"We're ready to beam to Commander Kirk's home, Lieutenant M’Ress."

"Yesss, Captain. Mr. La Salle isss ready for you."

"Captain, Lt. La Salle here."

"Lieutenant, beam us to the coordinates I gave you for Commander Kirk's home. Code word Marietta."

"Aye, Sir. Energizing."

The silver whine of the transporter drowned out Bones’ growls and usual complaints about his atoms, and they materialized in front of Sam's house. As they materialized, two security officers immediately drew their phasers, until they realized who they were.

"Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, we were expecting you, Sirs." They looked at Spock, and then questioningly at Jim, their phasers remaining drawn.

"Stand down, gentleman. This is Commander Spock, my XO. He’s just returned from leave and will be joining us on this mission." He handed one of the officers a padd.  "These are the members of my team, their picture IDs and their positions on board my ship, and it now includes Mr. Spock. Please memorize the information and add them to the Commodore's list. They will be coming and going to and from the ship to this house. My mother, Commander Winona Kirk, will be arriving soon. Is she on the Commodore's list already?"

"Yes, Captain, as is her Commanding Officer, Captain Ransom.” The security officer consulted his padd. “We’ve added Admiral Jameson, Sarek of Vulcan, Mrs. Castro, Ensign Janice Rand, and someone named Commander Montgomery Scott."

Jim nodded. "Commander Scott is my CE and is currently in command of my ship. I think that's everyone, Lieutenant. If I add anyone else I'll inform you immediately. Keep a sharp eye out. As soon as possible, I'd like the names, picture IDs, patrol locations, and shift times of all the security officers that will be guarding this house."

"Of course, Captain. I'll bring the information in to you in a few minutes."

"Thank you Lieutenant Commander. We'll be inside for a while. By the way, how many of you are here?"

"There are 6 of us, Captain. Two of us stationed in the front, two in the back, and two constantly patrolling the street."

"Excellent. Here is my com code should you need it.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

Jim keyed in Sam’s security pass code to the front door and the three men walked in. "Aurelan, Peter, Georgie," he called out.

Two small bodies came flying from the back room at warp speed, and Jim knelt to hug the two little boys who threw themselves at his legs.

"Uncle Jim!" Peter shrieked.

"Unca Ji!" Echoed Georgie's little voice.

Jim hugged the two children tight to his chest, blinking rapidly. “Hey, little guys! Great to see you.”

"Jim...." Aurelan's husky voice reached him as she walked slowly to him. This was her third pregnancy and she was walking slowly, rocking slightly from side to side with the pregnancy waddle. He let go of the boys and rose to his feet, his arms opening wide. She walked straight into them, and he hugged her tightly, mindful of her large protruding baby bump. A small soft sob escaped her, but she valiantly reined in her emotions, mindful of her two children as she pulled away to look into the lápiz blue eyes identical to Sam's.

"Are you all right?" Jim asked softly. He looked carefully at her face. She looked tired and drawn, a little pale, but otherwise okay.

"I'm okay, Jim, but this baby girl has been very active. Probably senses I've been agitated," she told him, not letting go.

"Mommy, what's 'gitated?" Peter asked, still clutching Jim's long leg.

Leonard put down the two duffles and reached over to pick him up for a tickle. "Agitated means excited, like you are now," he said, making the little boy shriek with laughter. He set him down and went over to Aurelan. "I need to give you a good going over, young lady," he said, giving her a warm hug. She nodded into his shoulder. "I know," she whispered. "I think everything is all right, I had my routine checkup last week, but it's best to be sure."

"Boys, it's time for a snack, and then you can have 45 minutes of screen time," their mother told them. “Oh, and boys, this is Mr. Spock. You remember him from the ship, right?”

"Yes, Mommy!" Peter cried. "Hi, Mr. Spock! Yea! Screen time.”

“Yea,” Georgie echoed softly, looking up at the tall, slim figure with the pointed ears.

"Spock and I will give them their snack, Aurelan, while Bones checks you over, then we'll talk." He looked down meaningfully at the two little tow heads. She nodded.

"Boys, go with Uncle Jim and Mr. Spock to the kitchen. Uncle Bones is going to check me and the baby. We won't be long. Jim, there's yogurt and apples in the cooler. I peel and slice the apples, put them in two bowls, cover them with yogurt and sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top."

"Got it," Jim said. "Come on, boys. Spock, let's fix those snacks."

Jim sat Georgie in his high chair, put a bib around him, then hoisted Peter on to his booster. He grabbed the apples and yogurt out of the cooler, and the brown sugar and cinnamon from the pantry. He quickly peeled the apples, gave them to Spock to cut in very small pieces and poured the two yogurt cups in two small bowls. The apples went in next and he sprinkled it all with brown sugar and cinnamon, putting the bowls with their small spoons in front of the boys.

"Georgie, do you need help?" he asked the toddler.

"I do it," Georgie said. "Unca Ji, I knows how," he added, grinning at his Uncle, one adorable dimple flashing in his rosy cheek. He grabbed the spoon and dug in.

"A true Kirk," murmured Spock.

"You're a big boy, Georgie," Jim told him, bending to kiss the soft blond curls.

"Uncle Jim, where's daddy? Mommy said, he was gone for a few days 'cause of his job."

“That's true, Peter. That's why Uncle Bones, Mr. Spock, and I came, to keep you all company while Daddy is gone. Nana is coming soon too. That way you won't miss him so much. We're all going to be working on a special job while daddy is gone, but we’ll still have plenty of special time together.”

"I'll still miss daddy," Peter said quietly, "but I like that you and Uncle Bones came and Nana is coming," he added, softly.

Jim swallowed hard. "I know you'll still miss daddy, buddy, but we're all happy we get to see you, Georgie and mommy. We’ll have a good time. Now you guys finish your snack and mommy will let you have your screen time, okay?"

The children nodded and happily ate their snacks. Jim leaned against the kitchen counter looking at these two beautiful children. He felt a fierce sense of protectiveness for them. Somehow he and his team would get Sam home to his family, to Aurelan, to their new baby girl, and to his little boys. He looked up when Bones and Aurelan came in the kitchen. She smiled tremulously at them.

"Everything's fine, Jim. BP is a little higher than I'd like but it's understandable under the circumstances. Baby girl is just fine." He turned to the two children. "Guess what I have here?" He patted his bag.

"What, Uncle Bones, what?" Peter asked.

"What?" Said his little echo.

"The newest holo from Disney Galaxy. I bought it for Joanna, but she won't mind a bit if you two see it first."

A wide eyed Peter turned to his mother. "Can we watch it, mommy?"

Aurelan smiled. "Of course you can, since Uncle Bones was nice enough to bring it. Finish your snack first," she told them. "And after screen time, it will be close to lunch time and then a nap, okay?"

"It's about an hour and a half long, is that okay?" Bones asked her.

"It's fine. I'm pretty strict about screen time, but this one time and since it's Disney, I don't mind."

"I'll go get it started, then." Leonard said. "And Aurelan, after lunch, I want you to nap too, same as the boys, and no arguments," Leonard told, as she began to protest. "Doctor's' orders. I'd like to see your BP come down a little, and for that you need to put your feet up and rest."

She sighed and nodded. “I know, Len. I promise. I want to do what’s best for the baby.”

"Good. Come on, boys," Leonard told them. “Let's go watch this movie.”

Peter jumped down and handed his bowl to Jim, and Georgie put out his arms to wave at Jim. "Up, up, Unca Ji."

"Okay, monkey," Jim lifted him up. "Let's wipe your mouth and hands first, though." He used the bib to clean the little face and tiny hands. "Up you go, Georgie." He picked him up and handed the toddler to Bones.

"Come on guys, let's get the movie started."

As soon as they were out of the room, Aurelan sat in one of the kitchen chairs and put her face in her hands. She drew in deep shuddering breaths. Jim knelt in front of her and gathered her close. "We'll bring Sam home, Aurelan. I promise you, we'll bring him home."

Chapter Text

Ransom

Chapter 5

“We aim to be
men who’ll make
our mothers proud,
but we end up
making them cry,
and are only
slightly better
than our fathers,”

Phil Volatile

 

There was a light knock at the front door. Spock looked down at the kneeling Jim and the heartbroken, distraught Aurelan in his arms. “I will see what security wants,” he said softly, walking to the front door. He opened the door to find Commander Winona Kirk, flanked by red shirted security. He almost smiled to see the small, blond, slim figure surrounded by 4 huge burley security officers.

The Deneva officer guarding Sam’s front door came around them and handed Spock a pad. “The information that Captain Kirk requested, Sir.”

Spock nodded his thanks. “Commander Kirk. I'm gratified to see you.”

“And I you, Mr. Spock.” She turned to her security detail. “You're all dismissed. Thank you for the escort. Please convey my thanks to Captain Ransom, Lt. Commander Torres.”

“We’re to see you safely inside the house, ma’am,” the Lieutenant Commander looked down at her, his entire demeanor rigid with stubbornness, determined to carry out his orders to the letter.

She looked up at Spock, and Spock once again wondered at the inexorable charm and genetic physical beauty with which all the Kirks seemed to be gifted. From the holos he had seen of Jim’s grandfather, Tiberius, and George Kirk, their genetic beauty had been passed down by those two men, first to Sam and then to Jim, and now to the two beautiful little boys watching holos in the next room, and on the other side of the family, passed down to Winona Kirk from her own Davis ancestors. They were all physically compelling and very beautiful. Both sides of Jim’s family had eyes of every shade of blue from sky to violet, excellent bone structure, slender, well muscled bodies, and magnetic, charismatic personalities. The turquoise blue eyes looking up at him now, rolled as Winona stepped over the threshold. “There. I'm in the house now, Lt. Commander Torres. You may report to Captain Ransom that I've arrived safely.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Torres saluted smartly. “If you need us again, don't hesitate to contact me, Commander,” he told her, handing her the duffle he was carrying.

Torres also handed the padd with his escort orders to the security officer stationed at the Kirk door who signed off on it. The handoff of Commander Winona Kirk to her son’s house had now been completed to his immense relief. Captain Ransom, usually the most sanguine and easy going of men, had been unusually terse with his orders. “Guard her as if she was your own mother, Torres,” he had told his Security Chief, “and no matter what the Commander says, don't let her out of your sight.”

Spock closed the door on the red shirted crowd. “The Captain and Mrs. Kirk are in the kitchen. The children are with Dr. McCoy watching a Disney holovid in the living room. He is trying to distract them with the film.”

“Aurelan and Jim first,“ she told him definitely, as she brushed back her dark blond hair from her forehead. Now seeing her up close, Spock could see she looked drawn, worried and tired, with dark circles under her eyes that spoke of too little sleep.

She followed Spock to the kitchen. Jim was sitting at the table and he had fixed Aurelan a cup of green tea. To Spock’s eyes, she looked a little less tense and distraught. They both looked up as Winona and Spock came through the door. Jim’s worried blue eyes blazed with sudden joy and relief. “Mom! You're here!” He sprang to his feet and hugged her with glad strong arms.

Winona returned the hug tightly. “I'm here, sweetheart.” She kissed both his cheeks then disengaged herself gently. Aurelan stood slowly. “Winona, I'm so glad you're here.” Winona put both hands on her shoulders and looked deep into Aurelan’s eyes. “Are you all right?”

Aurelan nodded. “Len says the baby and I are fine.”

“Good.” Winona drew in a breath of relief and hugged her close. “I'm so relieved, Aurelan. Thank God Len is here, he'll take good care of you. I was worried how all this would affect you and the baby.”

As if conjured up by his name, Leonard walked in. His hazel eyes widened in surprise. “Winona! You’re here. It's great to see you,” he smiled in relief, and swept her off her feet in an exuberant hug. “Glad to have another woman here whose been a mama,” he whispered. “I can do the medical stuff, but she needs a mother’s nurturing too.” Leonard knew Aurelan had lost her own mother long before she had married Sam, and her father had remarried and lived off planet, but she and Winona had forged a close relationship.

Winona nodded. “Absolutely,” she whispered back. “Now then, let me go see those two little imps. I brought a couple of gifts for them…just puzzles and some picture books,” she told Aurelan. “We need to keep them happy and busy. I’ll be right back,” she said hurrying to the foyer for her duffle.

The four in the kitchen could hear the commotion when she walked into the living room. “Nana!” Shrieked Peter, “Nana,” echoed Georgie’s little voice.

Jim smiled ruefully at Bones. “Since Nana’s here now, Unca Jim and Unca Bones have been demoted to second place.”

“Wouldn't have it any other way,” Leonard smiled. He turned to Aurelan. “Rest time for you, young lady. I want you in bed with your feet up on a pillow for at least one hour, and no arguments,” he ordered, as Aurelan looked ready to protest. “We'll take care of the boys, don't you worry about that. You just put those swollen feet up on a pillow for a while.”

“All right, Len. I am a little tired and my feet are swollen.” She stood and stretched, putting her hands on the small of her back. “This baby is very active,” she told Leonard, grimacing. “That's why Sam thought at first that the baby was another boy. It's in the Kirk genes,” he said. “Jim was never still as a baby, toddler, or older.”

“Still isn't,” Leonard told her, his hazel eyes twinkling.

“Hey! You two, I’m standing right here!” Jim’s arms flailed in protest and he blinked big, innocent blue eyes at them.

“I know you are, darlin’.” He looked pointedly at the flailing arms and the watching Spock lip’s twitched.

Aurelan smiled as she lturned to leave the kitchen. “She may just turn out to be a very athletic baby girl, you know. She'll have to be to keep up with Peter and Georgie. We’ll just have to wait and see.” It was a small smile, but a real one nevertheless. Jim and Leonard looked at each other, satisfied that their little byplay had worked at least for a little while.

Spock handed Jim the pad the security officer had given him. “Jim, here is the information you requested about the security detail.”

Jim flicked through the list reading carefully. “Looks like they're all seasoned and experienced officers. All hand picked by the Commodore. That's a relief.”

Winona came back into the kitchen. “The boys are back to the movie and after that its lunch, then nap time. They can work on the puzzle after naps. Aurelan?” She asked.

“Sent her to bed for an hour, get her off her feet,” Leonard told her.

“Good.” She let the worry show on her face. “So how did the briefing go? What did the Commodore tell you two?”

“Sit down, Mom. Bones and I will fill you and Spock in. After this you’ll both be fully involved and included in all briefings.” Jim told them exactly what the Commodore had shared with them. “I have the holovid. I wanted to wait until you were here, so we can all watch it together. The more eyes that look at it, the more we might be able to discover something from it. After that, I'll let Chekov and Spock tear it apart frame by frame.” He sighed. “The hardest part is waiting for the ransom demands. I hope it happens soon, then we'll know exactly what we're dealing with.”

Winona agreed. “Let's use Sam’s study, Jim. He's got state of the art equipment in there.”

“Anything else we might need the Commodore said he'd supply, or I can ask Chekov and Hannity to send it down from the ship.”

“I think we should wait until the boys are down for their nap to view the vid, that way we won't be interrupted and they'll be safely tucked away in their room when we see it.” Winona stood. “I'll get started on making lunch.”

“We’ll help, mom. What are you thinking of for lunch?”

“Something simple. Grilled cheese sandwiches, home made tomato soup and a salad. Sounds good?” Her smile was a little strained, but it was genuine. They were all worried sick about Sam, but they had to be ready for anything, so food was a real necessity.

“Mom, I was thinking of asking Janice to come down to help with the boys. She was great with them at Christmas. She could bring Wednesday with her. They'd love that. Georgie adores Wedns. It will help Aurelan stay off her feet, and also free up our time. The Commodore offered one of his offices….” He stopped as Winona shook her head. “That's what I thought too. All of us here together, security pretty tight outside, the boys under our eyes. I feel a lot better about having us all here under one roof. So, what do you think about having Janice here?”

“If she's willing to do it, I think it's a great idea, sweetheart. It will be a huge help to all of us, and one less worry for Aurelan, since they won't be going to pre-school.”

“Let me ask her, Jim,” Bones told them. “She's not under my command, so I can tell her to be honest. Janice already has a lot of responsibilities to take care of, and it would be too hard for her to say no to her Captain. I'll go comm her.” Comm in hand, he left the kitchen to find a more private spot to speak with Janice.

“Thanks, Bones,“ Jim called after him.

He glanced at his mother. “Janice does so much already, that I want her to feel free to say she can't manage it. Even if she can't, we’ll do fine with the children.”

Winona adored the boys, and they adored her too, she’d be a welcomed distraction for Peter and Georgie.  Jim knew she was worried sick about Sam, just as he was, but they’d hide it as much as possible from the children. The knot of worry and rage in his stomach had been constant since they found out about the kidnapping and he'd seen the vid. But they were Starfleet officers; they would set their worry and anxiety at bay to do what had be done to bring Sam home. They had to stay strong and positive for Aurelan and the children.

Bones came back. “Your yeoman is awesome, Jim. She's happy to do it. She said it’ll be fun for her to leave the ship. She'll beam down with Wednesday after nap time. I was thinkin’ that we'll have to tell her about Sam. There’s security everywhere, and with all of us here…it's best if we tell her everything right away.”

“Yeah, you're right, Bones, Janice will have to know. Shes already on the security list anyway, and she’s very discreet and absolutely reliable. You know she doesn't gossip and she's privy to a lot of important information that comes in my Fleet in box. It's a relief she's coming with Wednesday.” He lowered his voice. “I don't want the children upset or worried about Sam.”

Winona hugged Leonard. “Great idea, Len. Thank you. Let me get lunch started. Mr. Spock, it will be vegetarian so you will be able to eat everything I'll fix.”

“Thank you, Commander Kirk. I appreciate your consideration.”

“Need any help, mom?”

“Thank you, son. It'll only be the grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and salad that I mentioned. If you could dice the tomatoes for me for the soup, and then shred the lettuce for the salad, we’ll add carrots and green peppers to it. Things will go much faster Mr. Spock, if you'll slice some fruit for Georgie, and Len if you'd set the table please. I think that's all the help I'll need.”

They hurried to do her bidding while Winona sliced the cheese, buttered the bread, assembled the sandwiches, then got the griddle out and oiled it well. The soup was soon bubbling on the stove and would be ready soon. “Jim, please pry the boys from their holovid and help them wash their hands. I just have to add the cream and seasoning to the soup and we can eat.”

Jim went to get the boys and they could hear Georgie’s giggles as Jim tossed him in the air. Winona smile tremulously. “George used to do the same thing when Sam was little. He loved it.” She dabbed impatiently at her eyes.

Leonard came over to her and hugged her hard. “Win, we’ll find Sam and we’ll get him home. Jim, Spock, me, the others, we won't rest until we find him. I promise you,” he whispered in her ear.

Winona nodded looking into the gentle hazel eyes. “I know, Len. It just…it just got to me for a minute.” She visibly pulled herself together and squared her shoulders. “Now then, let's get lunch on the table. I'll go get Aurelan, she needs to eat too.”

Jim came in with Georgie on his shoulders and put him in his high chair, tying a bib around him. Spock set his bowl of fruit and his cup of milk in front of him . He grinned up at the Vulcan, his dimples prominent. “Tank you…,” then he frowned, at an obvious loss about what to call Spock.

Jim smiled. “His name is Spock, Georgie.”

Georgie nodded. “Tank you, Pock.”

Spock almost smiled, but did not correct him. “You're welcome, Georgie. Would you like some cheese slices with your fruit and milk?”

“I loves cheeses,” Georgie told him decidedly.

“Then cheese you shall have,” Spock told him, putting some small cubes in his fruit bowl.

Aurelan and Winona came back to the kitchen. Leonard smiled at Jim, Aurelan looked much better, obviously the rest had done her a world of good.

Everyone sat down to eat. Jim basically had no appetite, but got the soup, grilled cheese sandwich, and a few mouthfuls of salad down him under Bones’ eagle eye. Aurelan too, made an effort to eat, knowing that for the baby’s sake she had to have good nutrition.

Jim smiled at the boys. “After lunch it’s nap time and when you wake up Uncle Jim is going to have a special surprise for you, okay? So no arguing about naps.”

The two little tow heads nodded solemnly. Georgia raised his arms. “Nap, mama.”

Jim laughed and plucked him from his high chair, cleaning his face and hands off before setting him down. He did the same for Peter holding him up at the sink so he could wash his small hands. “Okay now, both of you go with mama and Nana. Have a good nap,” he told them as Aurelan and Winona each led a child to their bedroom.

The three men cleared the table and cleaned up while Aurelan and Winona put the boys down for their naps. They went into Sam’s study to check his equipment setup. “Make note of anything else you and Chekov might need, Spock. The Commodore said he'll supply whatever we want or we’ll get it from the ship.”

“We can also avail ourselves of a tie-in to the ship’s main and library computers as well, Jim. There are no better ones available in the quadrant except for the one at Memory Alpha,” Spock assured him. “Mr. Chekov and I will see to that immediately since he is still on the ship. If you would give the order, Jim, I will get started here.”

Jim opened his communicator to contact Chekov. They spoke briefly of the plan and Jim gave the order then turned his communicator over to Spock. Jim had excellent hacking and main frame computer skills, but Spock and Chekov left him in the dust with their level of expertise. He listened carefully to Spock and Chekov as they worked over the comm. Sam seemed to have the best and latest high security software, Spock told them, as he worked. Winona and Aurelan came back and stood by to watch Spock do his work.

“Jim, we will have to access Commander Kirk’s files. Mrs. Kirk, do you know the Commander’s pass codes?”

“I'm afraid not, Mr. Spock. Most of Sam’s work was classified and he took great care that his research was inaccessible to anyone. I'm sorry.”

“Do you think the Commodore has his pass codes so we can access and view his encrypted files? I can probably crack the encryption, but it will take some time. It would certainly expedite matters if the Commodore had the Commander’s codes.”

“I'm sorry, I just don't know, Mr. Spock.” Aurelan bit at her bottom lip in frustration.

“Don't worry Aurelan. We’ll manage. I'll ask the Commodore, Spock. He has to have all the master passcodes,” Jim stepped to the front window to connect with the Commodore on his encrypted personal comm. He peered through the translucent one way windows and saw the reassuring sight of the patrolling security officers. The Commodore answered immediately. Yes, he told Jim, he had the pass codes, but he was reluctant to send them by comm. He would come to the house within the hour and open Sam’s encrypted files.

Spock nodded his approval. “The Commodore is correct. There is great need for security.”

“Okay then, while we wait for the Admiral, let's view the vid again,“ Jim said.

Leonard interrupted. “Aurelan there’s no need for you to see this. I don't want your blood pressure to go any higher. Why don't you go rest, nap or read for a while,” Leonard suggested. “We’ll call you when the Commodore gets here”

“Yes, all right, Leonard. I really have no desire to see that vid again,” she said wearily. “Please call me when Commodore Castro gets here.”

Winona made to go after her, but Leonard stopped her. “Let her go, Win. She needs to cry, then she needs to rest. It will be easier for her if she can cry alone without any witnesses.”

Winona nodded. “She's a Starfleet officer’s wife and you soon learn to hide your worry and emotions especially from your children,” Winona told them softly, her mind going back to when she would worry about George when he was on a mission.” She shook off her memories and moved closer to the screen. “Go ahead, Jim, let's see the vid.”

Spock sat in front of Sam’s computer and inserted the holo chip. “I will run it first uninterrupted, then frame by frame, then voice only, then frame by frame without voice, then finally voice matched to each frame.”

“Should I have Chekov here, Spock?”

“It is not necessary at this time, Jim. He and I will be watching this many times, tearing it apart so to speak. This first time we will all watch and then talk about our impressions about what we’ve seen. Please be forthright, verbalize everything no matter how trivial you may think it is. The four of us will have different impressions and reactions about what we’ve seen and heard.”

He looked at the three of them, his gaze resting longest on Winona.

“I’m ready, Mr. Spock.”

“Jim, please close the study door. We would not want one of the children to inadvertently walk in on us.”

They clustered around Spock and the holo vid played.

Leonard took hold of Jim’s hand and Jim reached for Winona’s. Her hand curled tightly around his warm grasp. And suddenly there was Sam. Still in his Starfleet uniform, straining against his restraints, red in the face. There was a gag covering his mouth and what looked like a synthetic rope binding his torso, arms, hands, legs and feet. He was in a chair with his hands tied in front of him, tucked between his legs. A hooded man stood behind the chair, one hand on Sam's shoulder. The hand was not really restraining him, rather it was there to keep him steady so the chair would not tip over with his struggles. Sam was facing the camera full frontal, and his blue eyes were crackling with fury.

The person standing behind Sam looked tall, his waist was much higher than the top of the chair. He was wearing a black hood with slits cut out for his eyes. His body was also covered by a long black poncho like garment. There was also someone off camera, possibly the person taking the vid. It was this person whose voice was heard. The voice was artificially distorted so that there was no way to tell if it was a male or a female. The voice spoke of their plan to ask for ransom, but their demands would be forthcoming. It also assured them that Commander Kirk would not be hurt or mistreated, but that the situation might change if their ransom demands were not met. They would be in touch with the Commodore again soon.

The holo vid went dark. When it ended Winona drew in a long shaky breath. It was the second time she’d seen the vid, as it was Jim’s and Leonard’s, but for some reason this viewing hit her much harder. A muffled soft sob escaped her. Jim turned swiftly and drew her into his arms. “Mom, mom, we’ll get him back. We will. Admiral Jameson gave me discretionary powers to negotiate, and you know Spock and I have a lot of experience in hostage negotiations. We’ll get Sam back, I promise you.”

She nodded into his chest. “I know you will, Jim.” She gently disengaged herself from his arms and patted him lovingly. “I'm all right, son. Let's sit down so let’s write down our impressions before we forget anything we saw on the vid.”

Chapter Text

 They find out why Sam was kidnapped.

 

Ransom


Chapter 6

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery,
in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”


Veronica Roth

 

Jim finished his vid observation report which basically amounted to nothing, handed it to Spock, then toggled his communicator.

Enterprisse here.”

“Lt. M’Ress, please ask Mr. Chekov to beam down to Commander Kirk’s home. Mr. Spock is ready for him.”

“Aye, Captain.”

“Lieutenant, make sure Mr. Chekov is only beamed to the coordinates I left with Mr. De Salle. Security will be outside the house waiting for him.”

“Yesss, Captain.”

Jim turned to Bones and his mother. “Are you two finished with your observations, because as soon as Chekov arrives he and Spock will go through them with a fine tooth comb. He's the best, mom. He and Spock won't miss a single thing on that vid.”

“I'm sure he is, son, and yes, I’ve finished with my observations.”

As they handed their padds to Spock, Winona shook her head in discouragement. “I’m afraid I didn't notice anything of significance, Mr. Spock.”

“Me neither, Spock. What about you, Jim?”

Jim shook his head in frustration. “I didn't either.”

Spock took the other two padds. “Mr. Chekov and I will compare your three reports very carefully, then together, we will go over them again as we watch the vid once more. Mr. Chekov will bring fresh eyes to the process. It is early days yet to expect much, but we will persevere.”

Jim went to the front door to wait for Chekov. The door chime alerted him that Chekov had arrived. When he opened the door, the security officers had flanked themselves around Pável in a protection formation until he entered the house. Jim thanked them and ushered Chekov in. “We’re in the study, Pasha. My mother has arrived. You and Spock will have your work cut out for you trying to extract any information from that holo vid. It seems pretty bare of anything useful.” He clasped the young Ensign on the shoulder. “Just do your best, Pasha, that's all I ask.”

“I will, Keptin. Ve vill get Commander Kirk home again. Of this I am sure.”

Jim kept his warm hand on Chekov’s shoulder and took him straight to the study. After Pavel greeted Winona, Jim left him with Spock. Pavel’s eyes were already fixed on the monitor. Jim closed the door quietly and the three went into the living room.

Jim looked at the time. “Commodore Castro should be arriving soon. I hope that once we get a look at Sam’s encrypted files we’ll have more of an idea of why he was kidnapped. It has to be something connected with his work, or,” he added bitterly, “something to do with me.”

As if on cue, the front door chimed again. When Jim answered it, he was happy to see that the Commodore was not only flanked by the front door security officers, but he was also closely guarded by his own security detail. “Come in, Sir. We’re happy you're here. My mother has arrived, Commodore.”

“Ah, I'm glad to hear it, Captain. Family should be together during difficult times,” he said, dismissing his personal security detail. “It will be good to meet her, I've heard so much about her from Sam, although,” he added somberly, “I wish it was under different and better circumstances.”

“Yes, Sir, we all wish the same. Please come this way, we’re in the living room. Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov are looking at the vid you gave me; they're tearing it apart frame by frame. I'm loath to interrupt the process right now. It’s very tedious and painstaking work, but as soon as they've finished we can go back to the study to open Sam’s files. I gather there's been nothing more from the kidnappers?” Jim asked, ushering the Commodore to the living room. Winona and Leonard stood and saluted.

”Please, Commander, Dr. McCoy, sit down. No military formalities here,” he told them. Then to Jim. “No, nothing, Captain. I would have notified you immediately. I fear they are conducting a war of nerves with us.”

“It's what usually happens in these types of situations, Admiral. We’ll have to wait them out no matter how nerve wracking it is for us. They’re counting on rattling us by working on our nerves. It's what's these people do. They believe that the more anxious and worried we are, the more easily they can manipulate us.”

Commodore Castro went to Winona’s side. “Commander Kirk, I have been wanting to meet you for a long time, although, I'm extremely sorry that it’s under these circumstances. I somehow feel as if I already know you, Sam has spoken so much about you.” He took her small hand in his large warm one and held it gently. “We are doing all we can to get Sam home again. Your son is quite a remarkable man and dear to me. My wife and I are very grieved this has happened to him.”

“Thank you, Commodore.” Winona returned the warm pressure of his hand. “I have complete confidence in Jim and his team. I know they’ll find Sam and bring him home, because you see, Sir, I have two remarkable sons,” she told him. “It just took me a long time to realize it,” she added softly, sadly.

“Mom, no,” Jim protested, his face pained. He looked helplessly at Leonard, his blue eyes wide and troubled. He thought his mother had put her guilt and remorse for neglecting her two boys for so many years behind her. They had, the three of them, slowly, painfully, carefully carved out a new path as a family, but it was obvious from the pain in Winona’s eyes that with her present worry and stress about Sam, painful memories and guilt had resurfaced.

“Win,” Leonard cut in, his voice gentle, but decisive. “Why don't we get Commodore Castro and all of us some drinks and snacks while we wait for Spock and Chekov. We're all gonna’ be here for a quite a while I'm sure.”

“Yes, of course.” With an obvious effort, Winona shook off her painful introspection and straightened her shoulders her Starfleet officer’s demeanor firmly back in place, as she followed Leonard to the kitchen.

“Please sit down, Sir.” Jim told the Commodore, distractedly, following his mother’s figure with worried eyes.

“Captain, is your mother alright?” Commodore Castro sat down also looking at her retreating figure, his face troubled. He pulled some padds from his leather pouch as he spoke.

Jim sighed. “As much as can be expected under these circumstances, Sir. None of us are really alright, but we're holding it together as best we can. Mom is strong though, and although she's worried sick about Sam, she'll continue to stay strong.”

“Yes, as Starfleet officers we’re expected to stay strong and resolute, no matter the circumstances, but sometimes,” the Commodore added, his kind face sympathetic, “it's extremely difficult. How are Aurelan and the children doing?”

“They're all napping, Admiral. Bones told Aurelan she had to rest for the sake of the baby.” He glanced at his chronometer. “The children should be up soon. Aurelan too. She’ll be happy to see you.”

The Commodore smiled. “It will be good to see them. My wife and I enjoy the boys so much. They're delightful, both of them. I'm assuming that some sort of explanation has been given to them for Sam’s absence and for all of you being here?”

“Yes, Sir. We told them Sam is gone because of his work, and we're here visiting to keep them company while he's gone. My yeoman has volunteered to help with the children, keep them busy and entertained. She'll be beaming in shortly with our little dog.”

“Good, that's good, Captain. My wife has volunteered to do the same. She can come whenever you need her. The boys know her well and like her very much.”

“Thank you, Sir. That's very kind. We will probably avail ourselves of your offer. Janice has many responsibilities on board ship, so that would be a great help, although all of us will be here for them. Aurelan has their day pretty well structured, but since they're not going to preschool their schedule has been disrupted and they're going to miss Sam coming in after work.”

Winona and Bones came back carrying two trays, one laden with drinks, the other with fruit, cheese, crackers, napkins and small plates. They set both trays down on the coffee table for every one to help themselves. Leonard looked pointedly at Jim, who dutifully picked up a slice of cheese and a cracker. He knew he had to eat.

“Please, Commodore, help yourself, Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov should be with us soon.” Jim got up and began pacing, munching on his cracker. “In fact,” he said, “I'll go check on them and tell them you're here. They may be at a good stopping point.”

Leonard made to follow him, but Aurelan, with Peter and Georgie following after her, came in to the room. “Admiral Castro,” Aurelan said, smiling slightly. “I didn't realize you were here? Why didn't anyone let me know?”

“I just now arrived, Aurelan.” He went up to her. “How are you, my dear? Is there anything Mrs. Castro and I can help you with?” He looked meaningfully down to the children not wanting to say anything more specific in their presence.

“Thank you, Admiral. Nothing right now, but Mrs. Castro is welcome to visit anytime. Peter, Georgie, what do you say to Admiral Castro?”

“Hi, Uncle Admiral,”’ Peter said. Georgie waved his small hand. “Hi.”

“Boys, hello.” The Admiral beamed down at the two little boys.

Leonard brought out his communicator to show the children.“Come here to me, boys,” he told them. “I'm going to make a comm call and I want you to listen. Let's go over to the corner, shall we?” He ushered them to the corner of the living room, knelt to their level, and toggled his communicator. “McCoy to Enterprise.”

Jim came back and his loving eyes followed the little group. Bones was always awesome with kids.

Enterpirssse here.”

“Lt. M’Ress, this is Dr. McCoy. Please let Yeoman Rand know we’re ready for her to beam down with Wednesday.”

“Yes, Ssssir.””

Leonard looked down at the wide eyed children. “Wednesday is comin’ for a visit. Are you two ready to play with him?”

The twin pair of blue eyes, identical to their father’s and their Uncle Jim’s lit up with excitement and glee. The Kirk Eyes, Leonard called them. “Yea! Wednesday’s coming here, mommy.” Peter ran excitedly up to Aurelan.

She smiled down at the excited little face. “Yes he is. Uncle Jim’s friend, Miss Janice is bringing him. Remember her?”

The two little heads nodded, eyes solemn. The door chimed and Leonard picked up Georgie in his arms. “Let's go answer the door. I bet you it’s Wednesday.”

He opened the door, happy to see that security had stepped to the side of the house, and they were not really visible to the children. There stood Janice with the excited Wednesday in her arms. She smiled at the two children and at Leonard.

“Come in, Janice. We've got very two excited little boys here ready to play with Wedns.”

“Hi, Peter, hi Georgie. Do you remember me from your visit to the ship at Christmas?”

The two little blond heads nodded. “Miss Janice,” said Peter.

“That's right.” She smiled down at the two beautiful children. “Shall we go in the playroom so Wednesday can run around? He loves to run and play,” she said, bending down so they could pet the excited little dog.

Leonard led them all to the playroom, bypassing the living room. Time enough later for Janice to greet everybody. He left Janice with the boys in the large, cheery playroom, mouthing thanks to her on his way out. The children were already on the floor with the puppy.

Jim was talking to the Commodore when Leonard came back. He looked up and met Bones’ eyes, Leonard smiled slightly. “The children are happy with Janice and Wednesday. They’ll be occupied for a while.”

“Good. I'm glad the boys are busy.” Jim turned to Aurelan. “We're about to go in the study and open Sam’s encrypted files, Aurelan. Spock and Chekov are finished with looking at the vid. I'm afraid they didn't find anything helpful either,” he told her. “Are you feeling up to being in there with us? If not we can fill you in later.”

“I want to be there, Jim. Maybe we’ll find something in his files that might give us some answers.”

Winona took Aurelan’s ice cold hand in her warm one, and they went into the study to join Spock and Chekov. The Commodore handed Jim a data chip. “Here is my master pass code, Captain. In case anything were to happen to me, I want you to have complete access to Sam’s files.”

Jim’s eyes opened wide. “Commodore…,” he protested.

The Commodore shook his head. “It's best for us to be prepared for any and all eventualities, Captain. We don't know how determined, how ruthless these kidnappers are. I know I'm well protected, but I feel better knowing you have access to these files. Please protect it to the best of your ability, Captain Kirk, and once Sam is home, I'll change all of the master pass codes.”

“Yes, Sir. Thank you for your trust.”

The Commodore nodded and sat at Sam’s computer. He looked up at the assembled group before he began. “After the initial viewing of the files, I'll explain more.” He inserted the data chip. “Computer: This is Admiral Joaquin Castro, serial number SFC647-0296--COMDP. Confirm identity by retina scan.” The Commodore leaned his face into the red eye of the computer camera.

“Identity confirmed,” the metallic, monotone computer voice responded.

“Computer: Open files designated and linked with the following passcode: alpha zeta mu 774124 epsilon delta 01 002 0003 00004 pi. Kirk, George Samuel, Commander, Starfleet Agronomy Department, Deneva Station.”

“Working,” came the disembodied voice of Sam’s computer. “Files available. Would you like to view the files on screen or printed?”

“View on screen,” Commodore Castro commanded. He leaned back. “There they are gentlemen. All of Sam’s current research files.”

Everyone who was standing around the Commodore stared at the screen hoping it would provide a clue, an answer, as to why Sam had been kidnapped.

The Commodore pointed with his index finger. “The files are arranged by dates. The first ones are all the results of Sam’s current research. I'm afraid that some of it may be incomprehensible to anyone who is not an agronomist, but I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. I'm current with all of Sam’s recent research, all his trials, and all his results.”

“Trials?” Bones asked.

The Commodore nodded. “Like most of Fleet’s medical research, all of our research must also be translated to real world situations, so trials are set up to determine if what we've discovered is actually beneficial to plant, animal or human life, Dr. McCoy.“

Aurelan had been silent until now. “Sam is very proud to be a part of what Commodore Castro has accomplished since he took over the Deneva Agronomy Research Base,” she told them.

The Commodore looked pained. “It isn't me, Aurelan. It's Sam and his team. They've done remarkable work,” he responded, “as you shall see when you look at his files.”

Aurelan looked distractedly at them. “What I don't understand, is why the kidnappers haven't contacted you yet, Commodore? Why haven't they told you what they want?” Angry tears came into her eyes and she brushed them away impatiently. “It's the waiting that's so hard. I need Sam to come home and so do our boys.”

Winona took hold of her hand and squeezed it tightly in comfort. “It's a tactic, Aurelan. It's a well known scare and intimating tactic.” Her eyes took on a feral gleam. “We won't be intimidated, and neither will Sam. He’s a Starfleet officer, and a Kirk. We do not succumb to intimidation.”

“Mom is right, Aurelan. It is a tactic. We've seen it before. I'm sure it won't be long before we hear from them. Now if everyone is ready we’ll begin to look over the files. Admiral, is there anything you can tell us about Sam’s research that would give us some background information about what's on these files?”

The Commodore nodded. “Yes, of course. Sam didn't want anyone to know just yet, and I respected his request to keep this particular research a secret even from his own team. He was conducting all of this project research entirely on his own, as his time permitted. It was a very personal mission for him. I, of course, had to approve the research since he was using Fleet resources, and I was very happy to do so. His research will help millions.”

“What was the research?” Jim asked, a sudden premonition tightening his guts.

The Commodore drew in a deep breath. “It had to do with the crop failures and famine on Tarsus,” he told them, his eyes pained.

“Tarsus!” Both Winona and Jim exclaimed. Mother and son had paled at the mention of that horror. Leonard saw the sudden anguish in Jim’s eyes and drew closer, his body leaning against Jim’s, radiating warmth and comfort. Jim leaned hard into Bones’ warmth and reached out blindly for his hand. Aurelan grabbed one of Winona’s hand tightly.

The people in the room knew that Starfleet fiercely guarded all information about Tarsus. The names of the Tarsus 9 survivors and the full catastrophe of what had happened under Governor Kodo’s tenure was known to very few people outside of High Command, and almost all of them were present in Sam’s study. That Sam had shared his knowledge of Tarsus with the Commodore, spoke volumes about the trust he had in his commanding officer and the highly classified nature of his research.

The Commodore spoke softly and somberly. “It has been Sam’s vision, his steadfast goal, to develop a type of grain totally impervious to blight and disease. It has long been his dream to find a resistant type of triticale that will do away with famine on any world. As you know the variant form of triticale that was farmed extensively on Tarsus was completely ruined by chroniton particles in the atmosphere and the blight then spread to all other crops on the planet. It was that disaster of enormous proportions that caused the famine and the resultant atrocities ordered by Kodos. The same thing happened later on a farming colony in the Maltese asteroid. Thankfully,” the Commodore added, soberly, “famine was averted there when rescue ships were called and arrived very quickly.”

“Sam’s research has produced a new variant of triticale. It’s a genetically engineered hybrid of quadrotriticale, a high yield perennial grain of wheat and rye with four distinct lobes on its stalk. So far it has proved resistant to mold, chroniton, blight, fungus, drought, strong wind and flood waters. It is practically indestructible to the elements. Sam was going to present his research at the All Worlds Federation Agriculture and Agronomy conference on Terra. Since it was his own personal research, his own idea, all done on his own time, he informed me from the very beginning that he'd decided to give his research findings away to all Federation worlds, totally free of charge. It is the work of years of research, failed trials, blind alleys, and frustrations. This year Sam finally succeeded. All seed trials have been successful. The seed has grown beautifully and resisted everything we threw at it. It will be the end of famine on any known world across the Federation.”

The Commodore’s eyes glowed. “Sam’s research could have brought him untold wealth and fame, and if I have any thing to say about it, it may possibly bring him the Galaxy Nobel Price in Science. He has told me repeatedly and steadfastly that he refuses to consider selling his research findings to any seed corporation in the quadrant. They will all want it because it will make all other wheat and rye seed hybrids obsolete. Its worth in credits is incalculable. That's one reason his research has been so secret. He doesn't want any seed company to profit from his research.” The Commodore looked up at Jim. “He’s named it the JT Quadrotriticale Variant.”

Jim drew in a shaky breath. “Oh, Sam,” he said softly and turned to his mother with a full heart and stinging eyes.

Winona’s own eyes too, filled with tears. She turned and folded Jim in her arms. “More than anything, Sam has wanted to make it up to you in some way for leaving you behind when he ran away,” she said softly in his ear. Jim hid his face in his mother’s neck as a sob escaped him and she clasped him closer. After a minute, Jim raised his head, unashamedly wiping tears from his eyes. Aurelan had tears running down her face and Bones too had tears in his eyes. Leonard stood close, holding her hand tightly, protectively. Jim turned to her and drew her to him. “He's quite something, that husband of yours,” he told her softly. “I'm so proud of him, I can't even stand it.”

“Me too,” Aurelan smiled up at him tremulously. “Wait until he gets home,” she said, “we’ll show him just how proud we all are of him, right, Jim?”

“Right,” Jim told her, reaching for Winona’s hand. Bones swallowed hard and put his long arms around them all. The four of them stood holding each other overcome by the magnitude of Sam’s gift to Jim, as the other three men looked on sympathetically, Chekov not really understanding anything that was going on, but realizing something of enormous importance was happening. Spock had through the years of serving with Jim, surmised some things, but not everything about Jim’s history on Tarsus. 

The strident beep of the Commodore’s comm startled all of them. He answered quickly. “Admiral Castro here.”

“Admiral, this Scanlon, Sir.”

“Yes, Scanlon? My Flag Aide,” he mouthed silently to the group.

“Sir, a small package was delivered by hand just a few minutes ago. It has been scanned, checked by the bomb robots, then sent by the robots for medical analysis still in its original wrapping. Medical analysis indicated it was a holo chip. It has been declared safe to open, Admiral. The courier robot was also carefully scanned and even doubled checked by our in-house bomb monitors and robots. It's memory chip just indicates that it came from the courier’s office. I contacted that office, Sir. The manager told me that the package was dropped off by putting it in their night receiving slot and labeled for delivery to the Starfleet complex and your office. Exact credits for the delivery cost were secured with the package.” Scanlon paused. “What are your orders regarding the package, Sir, what shall I do with it?”

“Just one moment, Lt. Scanlon.” The Admiral looked at Jim a question in his eyes. “Captain?”

“Spock, Chekov?” Jim asked. They looked at each other and came to an unspoken agreement.

“Captain, I think it would be best to have the package beamed directly here. The fewer hands who handle it the better.”

“Can that be done, Commodore?”

“Of course, Captain. Lt. Scanlon,” he said into his comm. “Have the package beamed directly to Commander Kirk’s home to my coordinates. I'm in Commander Kirk’s study.”

“Aye, Sir. I'm going to the transporter room now. It will be there shortly. Scanlon out.”

Chapter Text

Jim notices something very important.

 

Ransom

Chapter 7

“We cannot feel the bars
unless we push against them.”

Erin Morgenstern

The silvery whine of the transporter alerted the group that the chip was being beamed in. Jim had a brief moment of admiration for the transporter chief who was able to transport an object with the pinpoint accuracy that rivaled Scotty’s. The chip landed on the floor by the Commodore’s feet. He bent over, picked it up carefully and handed it to Spock.

“Lets hope this will be more helpful than the last one, Commander Spock.”

They all crowded around the computer as Spock inserted the vid chip. And suddenly there was Sam. Jim heard Aurelan gasp and he put a consoling arm around her, and with the other grasped his mother’s cold hand. Bones, too, came to stand close by Aurelan, ever vigilant of her pregnant state, still worried about her elevated blood pressure. All eyes were riveted on the screen. Jim rocked back and forth on his feet unable to quell his anxiety.

Sam’s hands were still tied on his lap, he was still sitting in the same generic plastic chair, the hooded person was still behind him and the gloved hand was still gripping his shoulder. Sam’s blue eyes were blazing with fury as he struggled in the chair, bound and gagged just like he had been in the first vid. His fingers were twitching spasmodically as the arm on his shoulder restrained him. The hand kept him from tilting the chair over, but was not in any way hurting him. The same altered disembodied voice behind Sam spoke again. “As you can see, Commodore, Commander Kirk is unhurt. The clock on the screen will inform you this is a real time recording. Commander Kirk is being well treated, and he will continue to be if you do as we ask. The Commander has not been drugged, starved, or tortured. We are not interested in brutalizing him, nor will we, if our demands are met. Tomorrow you will hear from us again detailing our demands. Meeting these demands will be extremely simple. Today, Commodore, we just want to assure you, and your Starfleet superiors, that your officer is unharmed. That is all.” The screen went blank.

The seven stood silent staring at the darkened screen. A small sob escaped Aurelan and she put a small fisted hand against her mouth. Bones put a comforting arm around her shoulders. “Easy now,” he murmured in her ear. “Remember the baby. Try to remain calm, Aurelan. You want me to give you a small dose of something to relax you? I promise it's perfectly safe for the baby,” he said, his deep rumble calm and soothing. “I want to keep your blood pressure down as much as possible.” He ran the tricorder over her, “and it's gone up again.”

“I think it would be the best thing to do for the baby,” Leonard continued, as Jim and Winona looked on anxiously. They all waited silently for her to decide.

“All right, Leonard, if you think it's best for the baby.” He nodded and reached into his Med bag for the hypo. Aurelan held out her arm and Leonard pressed the hypo. Almost immediately they could see the tense set of her shoulders relax a little. Leonard ran the tricorder over her again and nodded satisfied. “Better. It’s goin’ down already,” he told her. “Much better.”

The Commodore stood, looking relieved. “I’m very sorry to have to leave, but I must be getting back to my office. I want to be available to my staff because they’re all extremely upset about Sam. He is highly regarded and liked by everyone, and his team is simply devastated,” he confided softly, as he took his leave. “Please let me know if there is anything else you need from my department and I'll have it send over immediately. I'll be in touch as soon as the kidnappers contact me.”

“I'll walk you out, Sir,” Jim said, leading him to the front door. “We’ll let you know if Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov find out anything from the vid. They'll begin working on it immediately. For now, it looks as if we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what the ransom demands are.”

“Yes, I'm afraid so, Captain. It is, as you say, a war of nerves.” Jim opened the door and the Commodore’s security detail immediately flanked him. “I’ll be touch first thing in the morning, and please let me know if you need Mrs. Castro to help you with the children tomorrow. She is most anxious to help in any way she can.”

“I will, Sir, and thank you again.”

Jim made his way back to the study to find Aurelan was not there. “Aurelan is with the boys. Janice and Wednesday beamed back to the ship, Jim. She had some of your paper work to complete. She's said to tell you that she’s doing as much of it herself as she can without bothering you, that these reports were not really important, but they are time sensitive and had to be finished today. She also said to comm her if you needed her to come back tomorrow.”

“She's going way above and beyond, Bones.” Jim smiled wanly. “All my officers are.”

“‘Course they are. They all want to help get Sam home, darlin’, and they’d do anything for their Captain,” Leonard looked keenly at Jim’s exhausted face and at the silent Winona’s too. “Come on you two, lets go start dinner. Spock, you and Chekov are taking a break to eat and I don't want any arguments. We all have to eat and rest while we can.” He looked meaningfully at Jim.

“Yeah, you're right. You heard our CMO, Spock, Chekov. Food and a little break.”

Spock nodded absently, his mind already focused on the vid.

“Keptin, Mr. Spock and I vill vork on the new vid until it is time to eat. Ve vill continue afterward too. Ya, Mr. Spock?””

“We will indeed. Let us proceed, Mr. Chekov.”

“We’ll call you when dinner is ready,” Winona told them, but the two men were already deep into the vid and didn't even nod.

The three left them to their work and Jim turned to his mother. “I feel as if I should be in there helping them. It may be that the more eyes that see the vid the better.”

“First, let them do their thing,” Bones told him. “Those two are the best there is. You can look at it later with fresh eyes. Win and I will too.”

“We’ll look at the vid again after dinner, Jimmy,” Winona assured him. “Besides Aurelan, we two know Sam best, and one of us might spot something that Spock and Chekov haven’t.”

“Mom, are you sure you're up to viewing it again? It's really hard seeing Sam like that,” Jim grabbed her hand and held it tightly. If it was difficult for him, he could only imagine how his mother must feel.

She nodded. “I’m very sure, sweetheart. I feel better doing something.”

“Me too, Mom.” Jim drew his fingers through his hair, gathering his thoughts. “I have to comm Admiral Jameson to give him an update. I'll be in to help with supper in a few minutes.”

“Aurelan and I will manage, son, it will keep her busy and I can keep an eye on her and the children while we’re all in the kitchen.”

Winona went in search of Aurelan and the boys and Jim and Leonard went into their bedroom. Bones settled his warm hand on Jim’s back, his hand traveling up to brush gently against the soft short hair at the nape of his neck. He rubbed lightly over the back and neck muscles that were corded and bunched tight with tension. He closed the door and locked it, so Jim could make the call without the boys accidentally overhearing anything about Sam. As soon as the door closed, Bones drew Jim into his arms.

“Alright, darlin’?” He asked softly.

Jim nodded. “I'm alright, Bones.” But there was pain in the big blue eyes looking at him. “It was just so hard seeing Sam like that. But he's strong and tough and for now at least, he's alright. I feel absolutely sure we'll get him home.”

“Of course we will. You're in charge of this mission, Jim, and there’s no one better than you in a crisis; no one I would trust more to get Sam home safely.”

Jim pulled away from Bones just enough so that he could see Bones’ beautiful hazel eyes. They were steadfast and true, looking back at him with complete certainty and confidence. Jim’s voice wavered as he whispered, “I don’t deserve you.” As he looked at his Bones, he thought that he loved this man with the same passion and fervor that he loved the stars. Bones was, and would always be, exactly what he needed, and that fact would never change.

Bones smiled, his dimple flashing. “It's the other way around, darlin’. I don't know what I ever did to deserve you, but I'm the luckiest man in the universe that's for sure, but that better not go to your head, you hear?”

“I hear you, Doctor mine.” Jim reached up and ran his hand through the thick dark brown hair, pulling Bones’ head down to Jim’s waiting lips. He kissed Bones deeply, slow and almost achingly tender, taking his time, savoring the feel and taste of Bones’ lips and mouth, letting himself bask in the warmth and comfort he provided.

Bones returned the kiss and whispered into his mouth.“You deserve much more than I can ever give you, Jim, but I thank God I have you and I'll always try my damnest to give you everythin’ you need, all that you deserve.” Leonard stroked Jim’s lower lip with his thumb before pressing soft kisses into his forehead, to his jaw, to his cheekbone, a tender one to the tip of his nose which made Jim laugh shakily and finally, another kiss to his lips that Jim responded to passionately.
 
Jim sighed as he reluctantly drew away from Bones’ arms and sat on the bed so he could make his comm call to Admiral Jameson. Bones went to shower to give Jim some privacy while he spoke to the Admiral. When he came out still towel drying his hair, Jim was still sitting on the bed his hands dangling between his knees.

“Jim? What did the Admiral say?”

“He gave me discretionary powers to negotiate with the kidnappers. Very limited powers because Fleet doesn't negotiate with terrorists, but apparently we have a little more leeway with a kidnapping. Everything will depend on their demands.” He looked up at Bones, his eyes worried and bereft. “What if they're demands are too impossible to meet?”

“Jim, don't go there,” Leonard told him sternly. “We have no idea what they want, so let's just wait and see. It's just strange that they targeted Sam and apparently, so far. it has nothing to do with you or Winona. But just remember that we've been in really tough straits before and we’ve gotten through them. This will be no different.”

“Yeah, you're right, Bones. We've been in so many tough situations I’ve lost count, but thanks to my awesome crew we've overcome every one of them.”

Leonard cupped his face. “We all think that it's thanks to the awesome, fearless, courageous Captain that leads us.”

Jim’s cheeks pinked under his hands. Leonard flicked one of them lightly. Jim had never been able to take a compliment for, as he always said, “just doing my job.”

“I'm just anxious to do something,” he told Bones. “Waiting is always the hardest part of any mission.” He visibly drew himself together putting on his strong Captain’s facade again. “Let's go help mom with dinner, then I want to watch that vid again with fresh eyes.”

With the boys present, dinner conversation was general and as light as they could manage. At Jim’s strong insistence, his almost orders, Spock and Chekov took a break for dinner. Chekov was introduced to the boys, and he charmed them with his strong Russian accent. Winona, Aurelan and Bones had prepared a delicious dinner for everyone and mindful of the children, the adults set aside their worry about Sam just for this brief period of time. Jim kept a sharp eye on the children, especially Peter, but he seemed fine, still talking excitedly about Wednesday’s visit. Georgie was too young to sense the stress and worry felt by the adults. Jim also cast keen glances at his mother. There were lines of stress around her mouth and eyes, but when her eyes met his, she nodded. She was good, she telegraphed silently to him.

Bones’ eyes checked to see that Aurelan was eating and drinking enough. Before bedtime, he would check her blood pressure again, and give her another mild dose of the sedative he'd used earlier She needed to sleep well, and with the new vid from the kidnappers expected tomorrow, it would be a very stressful day for her…for all of them.

Jim, Leonard, Spock, and Chekov, cleaned up after dinner sending Winona and Aurelan to the living room to play games with the children. Leonard wanted Aurelan to put her feet up, so Winona volunteered to sit on the floor to play Candy Galaxy with them. Their giggles and laughter at Nana’s poor game performance brought a small smile to Jim’s face as he listened while they cleaned up the kitchen.

The four men adjourned to the study and Chekov inserted the chip into the computer again. They stood silently listening closely to the masked man again. Something, a movement by Sam, caught Jim’s attention; he leaned forward. “Spock, turn the sound off, please.”

Spock looked at him quizzically. “As you wish, Captain.”

“Jim, Spock, call me Jim. You're on leave, remember,” he said abstractedly, his eyes never leaving the screen. He peered closer, sighed and rubbed his eyes.

“You need your glasses, Jim? Are your eyes bothering you?” Leonard asked.

Jim nodded. “My eyes are tired.” He made to get up, but Bones’ hand pushed him gently back down.

“I'll go get them,” Bones told him.

“Thanks, Bones.” He sat in front of the screen, frowning, his eyes fixed on Sam until Bones came back with Jim’s black framed reading glasses. Jim put them on, leaning closer to peer at the screen. “Bones, look at Sam’s hands,” he pointed.

Leonard leaned over Jim’s shoulders to get closer to the screen. “His fingers are twitching,” he said. “Maybe they did give him sort of drug to make him compliant, and it's causing the hand spasms,” Leonard said. “Although if they did, it didn't work, he sure is fighting those restraints.”

“I don't think it's spasms, Bones. It looks deliberate to me,” Jim said thoughtfully. “It reminds me of something, but I can't think what. Play the vid again, Spock.”

Spock did and they all leaned closer to watch it again very carefully. “Damn it to hell! What is Sam doing with his hands?” Jim’s voice was tight with frustration.

“Keptin,” Chekov speaks hesitantly. “What if we slow down the vid?”

Jim flashed him his most blinding smile. “Brilliant, Pavel.”

Leonard was amused to see Chekov’s cheeks turn pink. Even if he was more grown up now, praise from his idol still made him blush.

“Wait, Pável. I want Mom to see this.”

“I will call her, Jim,” Spock said.

They waited silently until Winona came in with Spock and he locked the door. “What is it, Jim?”

“Mom, I want you to watch Sam’s hands. Pável is going to slow down the vid, and play it without sound. I don't want to say anything more. I want to see if you see what I see.”

Winona’s eyes didn't even blink as she watched the vid. “Jim,” she whispered. “Sam is signing, it's the old ASL I taught you children when I wanted you to be quiet.” She turned to the others. “For a time, I suffered from severe migraines, and any noise was excruciating. Before the doctor found the appropriate medication for me, I taught the boys sign language so they could talk to each other when my headache was severe. My great granny was born deaf with no internal or external hearing structures at all. This was well over a hundred years ago, in rural Iowa, so cloning body parts and experimental surgeries to correct those types of genetic anomalies were not available to her. According to what my grandmother, her daughter, told us children, as soon as she was a toddler, her whole family, siblings, aunts, uncles, parents, all went together to Des Moines to the deaf school there to learn sign language. It was quite something to see them all. Hands flashing as they talked with her. Great grandmother Abby was very beautiful,” Winona added...

“ ‘Course she was,” muttered McCoy.”

“...and all the young men in the area wanted to court her in spite of her deafness. However, she declared that the only man she would marry had to learn to sign as well and as fast as she could. So my great grandfather, Franklin, learned ALS and married her as soon as he passed her signing test.” She smiled. “She was quite something even at a very great age. The stories she told us!” She shook her head admiringly. “She died when I was in my late teens so I remember her very well. All her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren learned ASL so we could speak with her. We all thought it was a lot of fun to use a secret language no one else could understand. I got the idea of teaching it to Sam, who then taught it to Jimmy. They both learned it very quickly, they loved to sign.” She looked at Jim tears in her blue eyes. “Sam is so smart. ASL is so antiquated, so obsolete, that he knew no one but us or someone like Uhura would know it or even notice it. He must have hoped that one of us would see the vid, Jim.”

“What is he saying, Jim?” Leonard put a warm hand on his shoulder. Jim covered it with his own and squeezed it in excitement. He scooted closer to the screen. “Run it in real time, Pável. It’s been a long time, but I think I remember most of it. Mom you help me out, you were the teacher after all.”

They all watched Sam’s moving fingers. His hands were tied between his legs, close to the chair seat, but his fingers could be seen clearly as he signed. “One, two, three, four. Okay, he’s counting,” Jim said. Sam flattened his hand. “New word,” murmured Jim. “M E N. Four men.” Sam flattened his hand again. New word. “T E R R A N.” Flat hand. “C O R P O R A T E.“ Flat hand. “A M  H E R E. Flat hand. A M  O K.”

“There are four kidnappers, they're from Earth, and they're from a corporation. They're holding Sam here on Deneva. He's fine.”

Jim leaned back and drew a deep shaky breath. “Yay, Sam,” he said softly to the screen just like they used to do as children when one of them did something really well.

“Play it again, with sound Pável.”

With the distraction of the man’s distorted voice, Sam’s hand movement became even less noticeable. Jim raised his eyes to his mother. Her face glowed with relief and pride. She put her arms around him and pressed a kiss to his sandy head. “I'll go tell Aurelan,” she said. “It will help ease her mind.”

Jim sat thinking. “Spock, we need to see the original vid again. Maybe Sam left us a message there too.” They sat looking at the first vid, but there was nothing. Sam’s hands sat still and lax in between his legs.

Jim sighed in disappointment. “I hoped there was more.”

“The Commander most probably had not formulated his very unique plan of communication yet.” Spock said, faint admiration in his voice, as he toggled the computer and ejected the vid chip to hand to Chekov. “Mr. Chekov, when you return to the ship, have Mr. Scott scan the two chips for any anomaly. It is too much to hope for, but perhaps some DNA might be collected. He has all of our DNA on file for elimination purposes.”

Jim stood and stretched his tense tired shoulders. “Time to call it a day, guys. We need fresh eyes and brains tomorrow for the next vid. Let's have an early night. I think we’ve done as much as we can do for now. Spock, you're sleeping in here. Aurelan left your bedding on the bookcase there.”

“Thank you, Jim. I will be most comfortable. I will have peace and quiet for a meditation period as well.”

Jim nodded and opened his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise.”

“Scott here, Captain.”

“Scotty, Pável is ready to beam up. Use your code word signal, Pável”

“Aye, Keptin. I will see you early in the morning. Scotland,” he said into the communicator, and they watched him disappear.

“Goodnight, Spock. Get some rest. I'll see you in the morning.”

“Night, Spock.”

“Good night, Jim, Leonard. I hope you rest well also.”

In the living room, they saw that Aurelan, the children, and Winona had already gone to their bedrooms. “I'll be there in a minute, Bones. I'm going to check in with the security officers. I’m sure the new shift has come on duty.” He opened the front door and the sentries came to attention. The Lieutenant in charge gave his report. “All quiet, Captain, we just had our regular shift change. The new shift sentries are already on patrol. I'm changing their patrol areas randomly. I've just sent the names and ID’s for this shift personnel to your padd.”

Jim thanked him, checked the new names and faces on his padd, and spoke briefly to the Lieutenant. “My padd will be on my pillow all night, Lieutenant Holloway. Anything at all that comes up, something you're unsure of, don't hesitate to comm me.”

“Aye, Captain. I will. Goodnight, Sir.”

Jim turned off the living room lights, but left a lamp on just in case he was called in the night. He stood still in the middle of the room, a tall, slim figure, his head cocked, listening intently. All was quiet. He walked to the guest bedroom and closed the door behind him. Bones was already in his sleep pants and t-shirt turning down the bed. “I'll be right back, Bonesy. Gonna’ take a quick sonic,” he grabbed his sleep pants from his duffle, went into the bathroom, and after a quick five minute sonic, with teeth brushed, sleep pants on, he was back in the bedroom. He commanded the lights off and got in beside Bones, groaning at the feel of the smooth cool sheets, and the welcome weight of Bones’ warm body beside him.

Bones turned on his side and looked into the cerulean crystalline eyes he loved so much. He traced one of his long fingers down Jim's cheek. “Alright, darlin’?”

Jim nodded, leaning into the warmth of the broad calloused hand. He kissed Bones’ palm, then kissed across Bones’ jaw and cheeks before giving him a soft lingering kisses on his lips. “I'm alright, baby. Feeling much better after getting Sam’s message. I'm so proud of him, Bones. He found a way.”

“He's a Kirk….” Leonard smiled softly. “It's to be expected he'd find a way.”

“I feel a lot more confident now that we’ll find him.”

“ ‘Course we will. I have no doubt of that.”

Jim brought his hands up to cup Bones’ face. God, how he loved that face. He kissed him tenderly then tucked his face in the crook of Bones’ neck. Leonard held him close for a few minutes savoring the warmth of Jim’s familiar body, once more thanking the universe, that Jim had opened up his heart to him, not tentatively, but wholly and completely, entrusting him with all his feelings and all his vulnerabilities. Jim nipped a soft kiss to Leonard’s throat, nuzzling and burrowing into him. He huffed softly in comfort. Leonard smiled to himself. He knew there was no way that Jim was going to let go of him. When Leonard wiggled away from Jim, dislodging him slightly, Jim made a small protesting noise. Leonard chuckled as he got into a more comfortable position in the bed. “C’mere, you,” he murmured, pulling Jim closer to him. He kissed the corner of Jim's mouth with slow, sweet precision, nibbled down his jawline until he was at Jim's neck, and pressed a light kiss there. He stopped there breathing deeply, inhaling the scent of Jim’s warm, clean skin. “Jim, I love you, love you for now and for always, darlin’.”

Jim made a small, desperate sound in the back of his throat as he slid his hand under Bones’ t-shirt to stroke the soft skin there. Jim tilted Bones’ head up and brought them together in a kiss, sighing softly into Leonard’s mouth. Bones was not ordinarily a sappy person, as Jim had often teased him, so when he said those kinds of words, it always moved Jim profoundly, sometimes to the point of tears. How the hell did he get so lucky having this man in his life?

“I love you, Bones, more than I can ever express. You're everything to me. Thank you for not leaving my side today. It relieved my worries to have you close.” Jim sighed tiredly and huddled closer to Bones under the blanket, shivering a little. Bones wrapped his arms tightly around him, so that he and Jim were cocooned and enveloped warmly in the thick blanket. He dropped a kiss on Jim’s head. “I'll stay right close to you the whole time we're down here, so stop worryin’ about me. Now, go to sleep, Jimmy. You need to rest. We have a long day tomorrow.”

Jim closed his tired eyes. “Goodnight, my Bones, I can’t picture my life without you, always want you with me,” he murmured, already half asleep.

“No place else I'd rather be. ‘Night darlin’.”

Chapter Text

 

Pancakes and some puppy love provide a distraction while they wait for the kidnapper’s demands. 

 

Ransom

Chapter 8

“There is an alchemy in sorrow.
It can be transmuted into wisdom,
which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.’”

Pearl S. Buck

 

The faint knock woke Jim. He wiggled carefully out from under Bones’ arms and got off the bed, he would let Bones sleep a little longer. He opened the door to see Peter in his footed pajamas. Jim put a finger to his lips and motioned to the still sleeping Bones.

Peter nodded in understanding. “Nana said breakfast will be ready in 30 minutes Uncle Jim, it’s pancakes,” he whispered.

Jim smiled down at the serious little face. “Thanks, Peter. Is everyone else up?” he asked just as softly.

“Uh huh. Except for you and Uncle Bones.”

“I'll wake up Uncle Bones and we’ll join you all for breakfast in a few minutes, okay?”

Peter nodded, his job was done and he was hungry.

Jim padded over over to the bed on bare feet, got on the bed and straddled the still sleeping Bones. He bent over to whisper in his ear. “Time to get up, Bonesy. Mom’s fixing breakfast.”

Leonard groaned in protest and looked up into eyes as blue and crystal clear as a glass marble. He raised a lazy hand to swat him away, but instead cupped Jim’s face. “Jim, if you love me, I beg of you, let me sleep just a little longer,” he mumbled sleepily.

“No can do, Sleeping Beauty. You don't want to miss mom’s pancakes do you? You love her pancakes.” Jim nuzzled in the crook of Bones’ neck, the only part of him that wasn't covered by the blanket. He tugged the blanket down, and kissed up the knobs of Bones’ spine, then pressed a kiss to Bones’ shoulder blade, then to the stubbled cheek. Leonard sighed, resigned, and turned his head so their lips met in a leisurely kiss. His hands came up to stroke Jim’s sides, their warmth making Jim shiver. How he loved Bones’ hands, Jim thought, then nibbled softly at Bones’ plush bottom lip. They made out like horny teenagers for a few minutes, their lips greedy for each other, until Jim sighed and pulled back reluctantly. “Mom’s waiting for us, Bones. You know she refuses to serve anyone cold pancakes.”

“Alright, alright, I'm wakin’ up.” He gave Jim one more lazy kiss, staring with fake sternness into the mischievous, sparkling eyes looking down at him. “It's unforgivable that you're such a morning person, but a man could get used to waking up like this every day. Kisses and pancakes always make me happy.”

“Bones! You know I wake your lazy ass like this every single morning, at least every morning when we're on shift together, and occasionally I even give you pancakes. Now get up, you lazy bones!” Jim laughed softly at his bad joke. He never got tired of using it.

Leonard trailed a hand up through Jim’s hair and Jim reached up for it, pulling it down and kissing the calloused palm tenderly. Bones pulled him down to press soft kisses against Jim's cheek, his temple, over both blue eyes, his hands carding through the thick sandy hair.

Jim sighed happily. In his pre-Bones life, Jim had been kissed by many many beings. There had been good kisses, mediocre kisses and a few really spectacular ones, but no one, no one, had ever kissed him like Bones did, tenderly and passionately all at the same time, Bones’ kisses were addicting. “We can take a real water shower this morning, Bonesy. Together,” he added coaxingly.

The hazel eyes looking up at him lit up with sleepy pleasure. “Ummm,” was the intelligent response.

Jim grinned, pulling Bones up. “It’ll have to be fast though, breakfast is waiting.” His smile suddenly faded as he remembered. “Admiral Castro will probably hear from the kidnappers this morning, and hopefully we’ll finally find out what they want.”

After a quick, though mutually satisfying shower, the two men made their way to the kitchen. Winona was at the stove. “Good morning, boys, pancakes and bacon are finished. They're in the warming oven. Jim, please set out the plates, utensils and the milk for the boys. Len, please put the butter and syrup on the table, and pour the orange juice. Aurelan will be here in a minute.” She glanced at the two little blond heads and then at Leonard. “I heard her pacing last night,” she added very softly. “I woke up several times and heard her each time. I don't think she got much rest.”

Leonard nodded. “I'll give her a good goin’ over this morning, Winona.”

“Please do, Leonard. I'm worried that all this stress may bring the baby early.”

Jim looked at both of them, his eyes wide and worried. “Bones….”

“Jim, Winona,” Leonard broke in with assurances. “Aurelan will be fine. Even if the baby decides to come a little early, she's almost eight months along, not optimum, but good enough. I checked the baby’s weight and she’s already six pounds two ounces when I examined her with the fetal monitor yesterday. I'm here for her if anything happens early. I've delivered hundreds of babies…of all different species, even a gorn baby once.”

“Bones,” Jim groaned. “Please, please, I beg of you, not the gorn baby story again.” He still remembered Bones flirty conversation with Carol Marcus about his steady hands and the gorn baby delivery and the horror that followed that conversation. He'd almost lost Bones that day, and the memory still made him feel shaky so he avoided thinking about it as much as possible.

Winona, not knowing anything about Bones’ arm being stuck in the augment’s torpedo, smiled. She had heard the gorn story already, as had most of the Enterprise crew...several times.

Leonard huffed, affronted. “Fine! I just want y’all to know that Aurelan will be in good hands ‘cause I'm here.”

Jim smiled his repentance. “I know, baby, she couldn't be in better hands,” he agreed soothingly. “Mom, where is Spock?” He  looked around.

“He's in Sam’s office talking with Nyota and that adorable, sweet baby. I'm sure he misses them very much.”

Leonard grinned. “If that's not the cutest baby goin’ in the whole da…darn universe! With those little pixie ears and all that black curly hair! We’re all mighty thankful it's curly and absolutely can't be combed into a bowl cut. Jim’s madly in love with her, aren’t you, darlin?”

“True, that. Amanda’s the sweetest baby, mom. Hardly ever cries, smiles at everybody.”

“Just like Nyota, thank the good Lord,” Leonard muttered under his breath.

“You were like that, Jim. You were the most beautiful baby. All smiles, blond curls and big blue eyes. People would stop me in the street to tell me what a gorgeous, adorable, baby you were.”

“Mom!” Jim protested, turning beet red. Peter and Georgie giggled at seeing their Uncle Jim’s fiery red face.

Leonard grinned down at the two little boys. “Still the prettiest blond I’ve ever met besides you two, don't you think so, boys? Don't you think Uncle Jim is pretty?”

Georgie nodded solemnly in agreement. “Peety, Uncle Jim.”

Jim glared at Bones. “Alright, that’s enough, Bones McCoy. Stop it!  You too, mom. You're both embarrassing me and it’s time to eat. Georgie, do you like pancakes? I know Peter does.”

“I does like ‘em Unca Jim. Daddy makes them good.”

The three adults’ eyes met over the boys’ heads. “Well, Nana taught daddy how to make them so they'll be exactly the same.”

Jim put one on Georgie’s plate added the butter and syrup and cut it up for him, then did the same for Peter. “If you want more, there's plenty more.” Jim hoped he could get his own pancakes down, his stomach was tied up in knots waiting for the kidnappers’ demands and he was sure his mother, Bones, and Aurelan felt the same.

Spock came walking in with Aurelan beside him. She looked so pale and tired that Leonard knew he'd better give her a very thorough check up today.

Just then the doorbell rang. “I'll get it,” Leonard told them. “Y’all start eating, I'll be right back.”

Winona saw the faint furrow that appeared on Jim’s forehead as he tracked the tall, lean form of Leonard walking out of his sight into the living room. With difficulty, Jim tore his gaze away knowing that the heavy security presence was just outside the door. He turned to Spock. “Uhura and Amanda doing alright, Spock? I'm sure they're missing you.”

“And I them, Jim. But I am needed more here,” he added placidly, sitting down to his pancakes and juice. “Nyota has not changed her mind about my being here. On the contrary, she was most adamant that I should remain to help for as long as I am needed.”

Leonard came striding back with Chekov trailing bashfully behind him, and Jim’s tense shoulders relaxed immediately.

“Sit down, Pável, have some pancakes,“ Winona urged him smiling, setting a plate piled high with pancakes and bacon down in front of him.

“I vould love some, thank you, ma’am,” Pável said, shyness forgotten. He sat down quickly. Home cooking should never be turned down no matter that he'd just had breakfast in the mess a half hour ago. “Keptin, Janice vill be coming soon. She has some reports that need your signature and…,” he beamed at the children, “she is bringing Vednesday.”

“Mama!” Peter told Aurelan, excitedly. “Miss Janice is bringing Wednesday again!”

“I know, darling. You and Georgie will have a good time with Wednesday,” she said, smiling wanly, bending and kissing the two little curly heads.

Leonard gave her a keen glance, while Jim and Winona exchanged worried glances. Aurelan's did not look at all well this morning.

“Sit down and eat, Aurelan. After breakfast, we’re going to your room. I'm giving you a thorough going over and the baby too,” Leonard told her in a soft no nonsense tone.

The rest of the meal was eaten in silence except for the gentle childish chatter of the two children. When the doorbell rang, the excited Georgie raised his arms to be let down and both children ran to the door. “Boys, wait. I'll get it. You might scare Wednesday,” Jim told them hurrying after them to the door. He looked through the peephole. “It is Miss Janice with Wednesday. You two run to the playroom and wait for the puppy there.”

They scampered off as he opened the door. “Janice, come in. Hi Wedns,” he told the ecstatic puppy, scratching his small white head. Janice handed him a small pile of padds. “These only need your signature, Captain. I’ve handled all the rest, these I'll take with me when I leave. They have to be sent by end of shift today.”

“I'll get these done right away then.  Janice, thank you for taking up the slack. The boys are waiting for you in the playroom. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your doing this,” he said, walking her to the playroom.

“No problem, Sir. I love little kids, and these two are absolutely no trouble at all. They're both adorable, sweet, and so well behaved with Wednesday. He loves playing with them.”

Bones and Aurelan had left the table, as had Spock and Chekov. “Spock and Pável are already back at work in the study, Jim,” Winona told him. “They wanted to check the two vids again, and Spock is looking at Sam’s research data. Leonard took Aurelan to her room for her checkup.” She sighed. “I'm worried, son. She doesn't look at all well. It's this waiting that's so hard on her…on all of us.”

“I know, mom, but hopefully we won't have to wait much longer. Once we know the kidnappers’ demands, we can formulate our plan of action.”

They waited in silence until Leonard returned, a slight frown on his face. “Unfortunately, I detected some signs of early labor, and her blood pressure is up again. I told her she has to spend the entire day in bed and after some protest she's agreed. She wanted to rest on the sofa, but there’s too much comin’ and goin’ in the living room, and there’s no way she’ll ignore the boys if they come ask her for anythin’.”

Jim nodded. “You’re right about that. Aurelan is an amazing mother, those boys get a lot of love and attention. You know, she really had no mothering role model, her mom died in an accident when she was a baby. She was raised by her dad, who did a fantastic job. She’s a wonderful person, I couldn’t ask for a better sister-in-law.”

“You’re right there, darlin’. Well, I’m bound and determined to hold off birthin’ this baby until Sam is home. Anyway, I’m gonna’ do my best. I've elevated her feet on some pillows. I also gave her something to bring down her blood pressure and something mild so she can sleep. I'm hoping with total rest and being off her feet I can forestall early labor.” He smiled reassuringly at them. “Try not to worry. If the baby comes fast and early, if need be I can deliver the baby right here. Chapel can beam down to assist me and she’ll bring the sterile portable incubator. Home deliveries are not uncommon, you know, so I don't want you two to worry.” He gave Jim and Winona a reassuring smile. “She’ll be fine, I promise.”

Winona nodded and patted him affectionately on her way out. “Thank you. Len. I'm going to check on Janice and the children, then I think I’ll go rest for a while, I didn’t sleep much last night.”

“Mom...,” Jim looked worriedly at her.

“I’ll be fine after a nap.” She grimaced. “I’m not as young as you two super men.” She kissed Jim lightly on the cheek and patted Leonard’s face affectionally. “I don't know what we’d do without you, Len.”

Jim watched her leave the kitchen, got up from the table and put strong arms around Leonard. “Mom’s right, Bones. I don’t know what we’d do without you.” He gave him a soft kiss, warmth curling in his stomach at the sheer awesomeness of his Bones.

“Jim, this is your family. So they’re my family too. It’s my job to take care of all of you.” He returned the soft kiss. “Now then, let’s go see what Spock and Chekov are up to.”

“I doubt they’ve found anything else, but it’s better than sitting here waiting for Admiral Castro to comm.” He sighed gustily. “I hate waiting, it’s driving me crazy, Bones.”

“It’s driven’ all of us crazy, Jim Kirk, including, I’m sure, Admiral Castro.”

Spock and Chekov were looking closely at the vid frame by frame. Spock looked up as they came in. “Jim, Mr. Chekov and I have spotted a small clue in the frame at the very beginning before the camera was moved slightly.”

Jim peered at the computer screen. “What is it, Spock?”

“See here, Keptin.” Chekov pointed with one long finger. “There is writing there. It is a number, Sir. I believe it is a nine.” Leonard handed Jim his glasses. Jim put them on completely unaware that Leonard had been carrying his glasses for him. Spock looked at him knowingly, and Leonard’s lips twitched.

Jim looked up. “Is there any way to get better resolution?”

“I am presently waiting for Lt. Reilly to beam down a new computer module we are using in the Science Departments. It enhances Science specimens to almost a molecular level, not unlike an electron microscope does, but the image retains its cohesiveness to the naked eye.” Spock’s comm beeped. “I believe that is Lt. Reilly. Spock here.”

“Mr. Spock, I am in the transporter room with the computer module I retrieved from one of the Science labs. I’ll beam it down immediately.”

“Very well, Lieutenant. I'm sending you my coordinates now.”

The silvery whine of the transport beam deposited the tiny module on Sam’s computer desk.”

“Damn,” Jim muttered impressed at the accuracy of the beam in. “Reilly is as good as Scotty!”

“Module received, Mr. Reilly. Thank you.”

“Aye, Sir. Reilly out.”

“Now, let us see what we can discern with the image augmentation.” He removed the vid, then turned off the computer and opened the main computer console panel to remove one of the existing modules. He then inserted the new module, checked it carefully, and turned the computer on again. He then inserted the holo vid and turned on the frame by frame choice until he arrived at the frame in question. And there it was. On the wall, plain as could be, was the number nine.

“Bingo!” Jim whispered. “They're in a building that has at least 9 floors. Great work, guys! Chekov, I want you to go through all the Deneva office buildings plans. Look for all nine story buildings here in town. It’s not a large city in spite of being the capital of the planet.” Jim knew from Sam’s posting, that Deneva did not have a huge population, so none of its towns and cities were unduly large and a lot of the planet was rural with vast farming areas.

There was a sudden loud wail from the play room. “Georgie,” Jim said, springing from the chair to the the playroom, Leonard right behind him. Georgie was on Janice’s lap crying his little heart out. Janice was trying to soothe him with softly whispered words and Peter was patting him gently.

“What happened, Georgie?” The little face flushed and tear stained turned to Jim. Georgie raised his arms. Jim took him and the toddler put his hot little face against Jim’s neck still sobbing. “Shhh, it’s alright, Georgie, I’ve got you. Don’t cry, baby boy. Can you tell Uncle Jim what happened to make you cry?”

“I hurted him, Unca Jim,” Georgie hiccuped. “I hurted Wednesday.” His big blue eyes filled with more tears and they trickled down his chubby red cheeks.

Jim wiped the little cheeks tenderly with the pads of his fingers and looked at Janice. “He tried to pick up Wednesday, Captain. He’s done it before with no problem, but this time the puppy’s leg got caught somehow and Wednesday cried out. Georgie thought he hurt Wednesday, but see, Georgie, the puppy’s just fine.”

Jim cradled Georgie in his arms, and sat down on the floor with him. “Georgie, stop crying,” Jim chided very gently, “and look at Wednesday.” He turned the small body so he faced the puppy.

“Wednesday, come,” Jim told the puppy. Wednesday, always quick to obey, came over to Jim and sat down next to him on the floor. Jim settled Georgie more comfortably in his lap and picked up Wednesday. He gave him a cuddle and a kiss on his little black nose. “See, Georgie? Wednesday’s just fine. Hold out your hand, baby.” Georgie held out his small dimpled hand.

“Kisses, Wednesday,” Jim told him. The puppy’s little pink tongue came out and he licked Georgie’s hand. Georgie giggled happily through his tears at the feel of the puppy’s raspy tongue. Peter came over and snuggled up to Jim. “Hold out your hand, Peter. Kisses, Wednesday.” And again the puppy licked Peter’s hand. Both boys giggled and Jim grinned. He had a lap full of equally happy little boys and puppy.

Leonard snapped some quick pics to share with Aurelan, Winona, and Sam when he came home. Jim looked up and gave him a rueful grin before kissing both little tow heads, dislodging them from his lap so he could stand. “Alright boys, Uncle Jim and Uncle Bones have to get back to work on our project. You can play with Wednesday for a little while more, but then Miss Janice will have to go back to the ship. She has to be getting back to her job.”

Then to Janice. “I’ve almost finished with those signatures, Janice.”

She nodded. “There’s no big rush, Captain, as long as I have them by the end of shift so I can send them on to Fleet.” She sat down on the floor. “Boys, let’s roll the ball for a little while and have Wednesday chase it.”

“Miss Janice and boys,” Leonard told them, smiling down at them. “I’m going to bring some snacks for you to munch on, okay?” He and Jim walked out and Jim sighed worriedly. “Georgie loves Wedns, and I know he felt terrible about accidentally hurting him, but they’re both very independent little guys, and you saw how clingy they were with me.”

“Yeah, they were, and by the way, darlin’ you were great with Georgie and with Peter too. I think they’re starting to miss Sam now, and besides that, their daily routine has been disrupted. When Aurelan and Win wake up, we’ll make sure the boys get some extra love and cuddles from mama and Nana.”

“Bones, we just have to find Sam and get him home. We have to.” Jim’s comm beeped startling them. “It’s the Admiral,” he said and answered it quickly. “Kirk here.”

“Captain. I’ve received the ransom demands from the kidnappers. Their demands are specified in the new vid. I’ll be there in a few minutes so everyone can view it.”

“We’ll be waiting, and Sir, we have new Intel that we’ve just discovered to share with you.”

“Good, that’s very good. And Sam has sent us another message. I don’t know what he’s saying, but it is definitely another ASL message. Castro out.”

Jim hurried to the study. “Spock, Pável, the Admiral has received the ransom demands. He said Sam has another message for us. I’m going to wake mom up,” he told them, “I’ll be right back. Bones what about Aurelan?”

“We better wait to see what’s on the vid, Jim. Also, I’m going to go ask Janice if she can stay through lunch. We need her to keep the boys occupied.”

“Good idea. If need be, I’ll release her from duty. The paper work can go hang for a couple of days.” Jim said over his shoulder as he hurried out to wake his mother.

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

.

Chapter Text

 

 The kidnappers state their demands and Sam gives them more information. 

 

Ransom

Chapter 9

“The best defense is a confusing offense.”


Kimberly Pauley

 

 

Winona and Jim came hurrying back to Sam’s study just as the doorbell rang. Jim detoured to answer it. He opened it to see Admiral Castro at the door accompanied by his bodyguards and also flanked by the two door duty officers.

“Admiral, please come in. We’re all in the study. It’s a relief that we’ll finally get to hear the ransom demands. Afterward, Sir, I’ll have to make a report of everything to Admiral Jameson, tagged for his eyes only,” Jim added. “The mission to find and retrieve Sam is exclusively under his command.”

“Of course, Captain.”

Jim walked him to the study where everyone was waiting with ill concealed impatience. The Admiral handed over the vid without ceremony. “Two things. The ransom demands are not really about credits per se, and now that I know what to look for, I saw that Sam has a longer message for us, although I couldn’t understand it.”

“We’ll listen to their demands first before we take a look at Sam’s message,” Jim decided. “I want to know exactly what we’re up against.”

Spock inserted the vid and there they were, the two men just as before, Sam, sitting tied to the chair, the hooded man behind him still putting a restraining hand on his shoulder. Sam’s blue Science tunic had been discarded somewhere, so he was a stark dark figure clad only in his black pants and long sleeved black t-shirt. He was still gagged with his hands bound in front of him. His blue eyes still shone with a fierce defiant light as Sam fidgeted in the chair. The hooded man began to speak in the same distorted computer voice used before. There was no way of knowing if it was the same man or if this someone completely different.

Without preamble he spoke. “Admiral, here are our demands: You will draw up a contract of sale for all of Commander Kirk’s research on the quatrotriticale variant. The contract will name The Starfleet Deneva Agronomy Center as the seller and The Andromeda Seed and Grain company as the buyer. Don’t bother to look us up, we are a dummy corporation with no history, one created solely for this transaction. The sale price is 500,000 credits. We feel this is a fair price for an untried grain variant. The credits will be deposited in a Starfleet account in any local bank of your choosing. The credits amount is nonnegotiable. The contract must be completed and legally signed by you, as the designated representative of the Streefleet Deneva Agronomy Center, in two days time. We will contact you for the delivery method of said contract. Once we have read and accepted your signed contract, we will notify you. At that time, all of Commander Kirk’s research will be down loaded unto a specially encrypted chip which we will provide for you and which you will then send by transporter to a location of our choosing. The coordinates where you are to take the chip for transporting will be transmitted to you after we have accepted the contract. If the contract is satisfactory, we will sign it and deposit half of the credits in your chosen bank. At the same time of the deposit, you, Admiral, will beam in the encrypted chip with all the Commander’s research. Once our Agronomy team has meticulously reviewed and checked his research and find it acceptable, you will be notified that the other half of the credits have been deposited. At that time Commander Kirk will be released. He will be taken to an undisclosed location and will be given a disposable communicator to contact you for pick up. If the research you give us proves to be faked in some way, or unusable, the Commander will be transported to a non Federation planet where his memory and identity will be altered and you and his family will never see him again. After this communication there will be no further messages from us until we contact you for delivery of the contract. That is all.”

After the vid finished and faded to black, everyone was silent. The Commodore cleared his throat diffidently. “Something occurred to me while I sat in my office waiting for this new message. How, I wondered, did these men find out about Sam’s research? He and I, we thought, were the only two people that had any knowledge of what Sam was doing? No one else had access to Sam’s research or to his highly encrypted files. My conclusion is that someone betrayed Sam, that there’s a traitor among us who somehow found out about the research Sam was doing and sold that information to these people. Sam worked on his JT Variant exclusively by himself, no one else ever helped him. His research has never, in any way, been a part of the Center’s research. I knew of his JT variant research only because I had to approve all his trials, but he and I did not confide in anyone else nor did we at anytime discuss his research in the office. It pains me to think that someone in my department betrayed Sam, that somehow, someone got wind of what he was working on and went looking for someone who would be interested in it.”

Jim’s eyes opened wide. “Of course! We should have thought of that earlier. That’s really the only way the kidnappers could have found out about Sam’s research, from someone in your department who found out at least a little about it.”

The Commodore’s eyes were bleak. “It also means I have a treasonous viper in my Center to root out.” His face set in a determined grimace. “Either Sam or I were careless, but I will find that person, have no fear of that, and I don’t think it will be all that difficult. Early this morning I contacted a very reliable outside source to do an undercover scruitny of all our employees’ bank accounts. Any large or unusual deposit will be spotted immediately. Even if the culprit has opened a second, separate bank account it will be found. Whoever did this will not get away with it. He will be apprehended, arrested, courtmartialed, and sent to a Fleet penal colony.”

“That is certainly gratifying to hear, Commodore.” Spock spoke for all of them. “However, your investigative source must be very discreet, we don’t want that person to realize that he has been discovered. He might alert the kidnappers and they in turn might remove Commander Kirk to another location.”

“Please don’t worry, Mr. Spock. This individual has done covert work for me before. He’s the best. He won’t leave any trace of what he’s doing. One other thing I will share with you. If this contract negotiation is approved by Admiral Jameson, it might reassure him to know it cannot be a legal or binding contract. The JT Variant does not belong to the Starfleet Deneva Agronomy Research Center, it belongs to Sam alone.” The Commodore smiled grimly. “Somehow, they overlooked that vital piece of information. So please pass that along to the Admiral, Captain. Now then, perhaps we can look at Sam’s message?”

Chekov ran the vid again, and this time Jim and his mother focused solely on Sam’s hands. His hand and fingers, still between his legs, flashed quickly. AM OK, flat hand; EMTY BLDG; flat hand; tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, MEN.

“Six men now,” Jim murmured.

Flat hand; JIM WIL FIND ME.

Jim blinked hot tears away. Sam’s total trust in him was overwhelming. “I will, Sam. I promise.” Jim murmured to himself. “Even if I have to search this whole damn planet, I will find you.”

The vid finished and there was a moment of silence. “Play it again, Chekov, in case mom and I missed anything.” After the vid finished for the second time, Jim stood up to pace. He always thought best on his feet. “Alright people. We have to find that empty building. Chekov, we have the all of the parameters for your search now, an empty building, nine stories high, somewhere here on Deneva.”

Chekov nodded and leaned in to talk softly to the computer. The soft breathing of everyone present was the only thing that could be heard as the computer worked its magic. “Showing results of search,“ said the mechanical computer voice. On the screen was the map of Deneva with only one building highlighted.

Winona grabbed Jim’s hand tightly. “Sam is in there, son,” she whispered.

“And we’re going to go get him, mom. But first, before anything else, I have to report to Admiral Jameson to update him. I’ll be right back. Chekov, Spock, keep at that vid, see if there’s anything else on it.”

“While you’re gone, I’ll go check on Aurelan,” Leonard told him.

“I’ll go start lunch,” Winona got up. “I have to keep busy or I’ll go crazy with worry. Admiral Castro, please, I hope you will stay for lunch with us. The children will enjoy it so much.”

“Thank you, Commander. Of course I will if it will make the boys happy.”

“Jim, please ask Janice to stay also.”

“Thanks, mom, I will. I’ve also got to hand off these padds I’ve signed to her. After lunch I’m afraid she’ll have to get back to the ship. She has a lot of duties and responsibilities to attend to. We’ll put the boys down for their nap, and then we’ll have to figure out something for them to do this afternoon. Maybe another vid or puzzles.” He shook his head worriedly. Keeping the boys busy and happy was one of his main concerns. The little boys were used to spending a lot of time with Aurelan and also with Sam after work and on weekends.

“Captain, please let me comm my wife to help with the boys this afternoon. She really wants to help and she would enjoy it.”

Jim glanced at his mother who nodded. “Thank you, Commodore. That would be extremely helpful. We’re under a severe time constraint to device our plan of action. Excuse me, Sir, I really must report these developments to Admiral Jameson.”

“Of course, Captain. I’ll comm Mrs. Castro right now and have her come after the children’s nap time.”

Winona got busy preparing lunch with the Commodore at her side, happily and without ceremony, helping her. He set the table, pulled out Georgie’s high chair and Peter’s booster, poured their milk and filled water glasses for everyone else.

He really is a dear man, thought Winona. It’s no wonder Sam and Aurelan think so highly of him.

“I think I’ll fix a tray for Aurelan. Leonard doesn’t want her to get up, so she can eat in bed. She’s not going to like it, but I think Leonard will be adamant that she doesn’t get up.” Winona confided to the Commodore.

“Good idea, Win, and I am adamant,” Leonard told her, coming into the kitchen and overhearing her. “She’s doing a little better. Her ankles are already less swollen and her BP is down. She’s missing the boys though, so after lunch I thought it’d be good for them to cuddle on the bed with her for a little while before their naps. The boys are really starting to miss Sam too, so mommy time is even more important right now.”

Winona smiled. “They’ll love cuddling on the big bed with her. That’s a good idea, Len. No wonder Jim says you’re such a great daddy.”

“Just common sense,” Leonard muttered, his cheeks pinking, “and that’s something Joanna has always loved to do. What are you fixing for lunch, and can I help you with anything?”

“I thought we’d have baked Mac and Cheese with a toasted bread crumb topping, fresh arugula salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, sliced fresh fruit for the boys, milk, water and tea, and cookies for dessert. Jim loves my cookies. They were Grandma Davis’ recipe.”

Leonard grinned. Everyone loved Winona’s cookies and cakes, and cinnamon rolls, and pies. He sighed. It was always hard to go back to the more generic Enterprise food after eating Winona’s cooking and baking, although Chef Muriel did her very best to provide tasty, nutritious meals for the hundreds of crew aboard the ship...including non humanoid species. It was an extremely difficult job being head chef on a Constitution sized ship. However, the non humanoid crew members usually opted for the nutrient cubes that were always available and which tasted, in Len’s humble option, like old fashioned cardboard and it did make Chef Muriel’s job a little easier.

“That sounds delicious. I’m happy I’m staying for lunch,” Commander Castro smiled at the thought of the home cooked meal.

Winona opened the refrigeration unit. “I’m afraid we’re going to need groceries soon, feeding so many people depletes the larder quickly. I’ll start making a list. Maybe there’s a delivery service available from a grocery chain that we could use.”

“Make your list, Commander Kirk, and I’ll send one of the security officers to pick up the groceries. It won’t take long. The Lt. Commander can send one of the off duty officers. I would prefer to do that than have a strange delivery robot or human come to the door. By the way, Doctor, my wife is coming this afternoon to help take care of and entertain the children.”

Leonard frowned slightly. “Is it safe for her to come here, Sir?”

“Absolutely. She will be beamed door to door. I wouldn’t risk it any other way. She’ll arrive directly after nap time. My transporter Chief is the very best as you saw when he beamed in the holo vid. The boys and my wife like each other very much. We’ve taken care of them a couple of times when Sam and Aurelan had to attend a late party or a dinner and we all enjoyed those evenings. Aurelan and Sam are very protective of the boys, they don’t leave the children at night unless it’s absolutely necessary, and then only with someone they know very well.”

“Well, if you’re sure it’s perfectly safe, we certainly appreciate her helping us with the children.”

“Len, please take this lunch tray to Aurelan. I know she’ll still want to get up to eat if I take it, but she won’t argue with you...she listens to you far more than to any of the rest of us.”

“Every one listens to Bones.” Jim smirked coming back into the kitchen. “He always knows best and besides, the crew is too scared not to listen to their CMO.”

Leonard snorted. “Yeah, and you listen best of all, Jim Kirk, that’s why you always do exactly what I tell you to do when you’re in the Med Bay.”

Jim chuckled. “I listen when I can, Bonesy, really I do.”

“Yeah, right,” muttered Leonard on his way out with Aurelan’s food tray.

Jim grabbed a piece of tomato from his mother who was washing the vegetables. “Admiral Jameson sends you greetings, Commodore, and you too, mom. He said he’s given me full discretionary powers to implement our mission rescue plan. I’ll share everything later at our official briefing, but this is the gist of it. Our mission goals are to negotiate with the kidnappers, agree to their terms and to their contract, give them the new Deneva Fleet bank account to deposit the credits, deliver Sam’s research to them while simultaneously making sure we are in place to free Sam, arrest the kidnapping bastards, and retrieve Sam’s research.”

The Commodore stared aghast at Jim. Spock who had come in, noticed the Commodore’s expression. “Do not fear, Admiral. We have undertaken and succeeded on many difficult missions and some that were even deemed to be “impossible” by others. Captain Kirk is well known for his mission prowess and success rates.”

“Spock!” Jim protested, face pinking.

Spock turned a bland face to him. “Yes, Captain?”

“You’re exaggerating! It wasn’t just me, it was all of the crew!”

“Indeed, Jim, I am not exaggerating. My remark to the Admiral was based purely on empirical evidence as our mission logs will attest.”

Winona smiled at her bright eyed, handsome son. “No use protesting, sweetheart. We all know it’s true and I agree with Spock. You’ve accomplished some impossible things.”

“Mom!” Jim flushed even redder. He hated to be praised for what he saw as just doing his job. He’d much rather give all the credit for their successful missions to his great crew.

Winona took pity on him. “Go get Janice and the boys, Jim. I hope Janice brought food for Wednesday,” she mused.

“Wednesday only eats mornings and evenings, Win. We try not to overfeed him, don’t want him to get fat. One of us walks him around the deck in the morning and he runs with Jim in the evening, at least for one lap around the upper deck, because it’s hard for the little guy, his legs are still pretty short,” Leonard grinned. “We’ll give him a small treat though, he, like Georgie loves cheese.”

The children came running in, followed by the excited Wednesday and a laughing Janice. She was looking particularly pretty today, her hair loose and tumbled around her face in a riot of curls, her blue eyes happy. “Sit down, Janice, you too boys. Mac and Cheese today, one of your favorites, boys.”

Peter looked around. “Where’s mommy, Nana?”

Georgie looked around too. “Mommy?” He asked his big blue eyes beginning to glisten with tears.

“Well, now.” Bones knelt by them. “Uncle Bones put mama to bed because the baby is kicking her really hard, so it’s uncomfortable for mama to sit for very long. Nana fixed her a tray so she could eat in bed today. But as soon as you finish eating all your lunch, I thought both of you would like some reading and cuddle time with mama on the big bed, yes?”

“Yes!” crowed Peter. “Yes,” Georgie nodded his curly head. “I wants to cuddle with mama.”

“And so you shall, little dude,” Jim said, kissing the velvety rosy cheek, “so eat up and we’ll go see mama, okay.”

The boys ate with good appetite and after they had finished lunch, Jim cut six very small pieces of cheese, gave three to Peter and three to Georgie. He showed Georgie how to feed the small pieces of cheese, one at a time, to Wednesday. He opened Georgie’s tiny hand, flattened the small palm, and placed a piece of cheese in the middle. “Sit, Wednesday,” he told the puppy. “Now, Georgie, stand still and let Wedns eat the cheese from your palm.”

“Cheese, Wedns,” Jim told him, and the puppy gently, politely and delicately scooped the cheese off Georgie’s palm. Georgie giggled at the feel of the little pink tongue. Then Peter took his turn, and soon all the cheese was gone. “Now boys, tell Miss Janice goodbye because she has to go back to the ship.”

Both children threw themselves at Janice as she knelt in front of them. “Bye, Miss Janice,” they hugged and kissed the gratified Janice and Wednesday too. Leonard picked them both up and whisked them off to Aurelan’s bedroom.

Jim walked Janice to the door, handing her the signed padds. “I can’t thank you enough, Janice. You’ve been a lifesaver with the boys. They love you.”

“My pleasure, Sir. They’re both adorable, and it’s obvious they love each other very much. They’re always hugging each other and Peter helps Georgie out a lot. They’re very sweet natured.”

Jim smiled. “Mom says Sam was like that with me when I was a little guy. I sort of remember it.” He sighed. There were too few of those memories, and he treasured every one of them.

“You’ll get him home soon, Captain,” she told him. “I’m sure of it. And if you need me tomorrow, I’ll be happy to come, Sir,” she added, as Jim contacted the ship with the code word for her beam up.

“I’ll let you know in the morning, Janice. We may need you again. Thanks for helping us out today.” He watched her disappear and walked back to the group. He would begin the briefing and they would device their plan of action. Before that, though, he would go in to talk for Aurelan for a few minutes. Jim didn’t want her to feel isolated or out of the loop. With the children there with her, all he could do was reassure her as discreetly as possible that their plan to retrieve Sam was already well underway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter Text

Jim shares his plan for Sam’s rescue with the team. 

 

Ransom


Chapter 10

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

With the briefing concluded, and after Jim had spoken to Aurelan, he dismissed Chekov to return to the ship. They would meet again tonight after dinner to fine tune the rescue plan looking for weaknesses and pinpointing their time line down to the second. The Commodore returned to his office, but he assured them that Mrs. Castro would be with them by mid afternoon and he’d come by after work to collect her. When Winona showed him to the door, she invited them both to stay for dinner. Leonard went to check on Aurelan’s blood pressure and Winona went with him to put the boys down for their nap. Jim was left alone with Spock in the study.

Jim eyed his unflappable First Officer. He would never show it, but he must be missing his little family terribly. “Since we’re taking a few hours break, Spock, why don’t you get on the comm with Uhura, check on the baby and then get some rest. I’m sure we’ll be up very late tonight. I’m going to drag Bones to our rooms to rest, he’s really been on edge about Aurelan and the baby. He’s being hyper vigilant, trying to delay the baby’s birth.”

“It would be the most optimistic and desired outcome, Jim. I confess I do wish to converse with Nyota and see Amanda. At this age she is growing and developing very quickly.”

Jim nodded in understanding. “She’s adorable, Spock. I know you miss them very much.” He sighed. “I’m also going to try to convince mom to take a nap, or at least lie down to rest.”

Leonard came back to the study. “Aurelan is sleeping and Winona put the boys down for their nap. I convinced her to rest for a while.”

“Good man, Bones, I was planning to tell her to do that, and we’re going to do exactly the same thing. Come on,” Jim grabbed his hand, and the two Academy rings, Jim’s own that he had given to Bones, and George Kirk’s, that Winona had given to Jim on his thirtieth birthday, clinked together. Jim pulled him gently along to their room. Leonard followed without protest and closed the door behind him as they entered the bed room.

Leonard gave Jim a keen, assessing glance. There was deep worry in the blue eyes, and here, away from everyone, Jim looked young and very vulnerable. It made Leonard’s heart ache for him, because once again there was more worry, more hurt, and more suffering for his Jim. It wasn’t fair, Leonard thought bitterly. Jim had been through more pain in his thirty years than ten other people. He shouldn’t always be the one to take on such heavy responsibilities, such heavy burdens. But that was the way Jim was. He took on extra burdens so that others didn’t have to. Since he’d become Captain, he’d been that way, totally devoted to his crew. Because of Khan and Krall, Leonard had seen first hand how far Jim would go to save them all

Leonard sighed. He stood in front of the night stand picking up the things on it in a desultory way. He and Jim deserved some time off, he thought. They needed time to recharge, some private time together that being in their quarters on the Enterprise didn’t provide. There, they were always at the beck and call of the Med Bay, the crew, and High Command. Maybe after they got Sam back, they could take some time off, just the two of them. Yes, they’d go somewhere away from everything and everyone, somewhere warm and sunny, and not tell a soul where they were.

Jim pressed a soft kiss to Leonard’s cheek. He felt Bones’ start of surprise before Leonard kissed him back, his gentle hands cupping Jim’s shoulders.

“Come back to me, Bonesy, you were very far away. Are you alright?” Jim’s brilliant blue eyes were narrowed with concern.

Damn it, now he’d gone and worried Jim. “Sorry, darlin’ just thinkin’ deep thoughts about us, wishin’ we had more time, just the two of us together.” Leonard sighed again, because in his heart of hearts he knew it was not going to happen any time soon. Jim always put his duty, his mission, and his crew first. Leonard knew that was the way it would be from that very first time he’d let Jim kiss him when they’d quit dancing around each other and made love, he’d known then what he was in for. And really he wouldn’t have it any other way. Jim wouldn’t be Jim otherwise and the thought of a life without Jim Kirk always terrified him. Even back at the Academy when they’d just been friends, he’d realized he couldn’t be without Jim. That same thought now made him tighten his grip. Jim was never ever going anywhere without Leonard even if it meant another five years in space...he could and would handle it...all of it. He could handle anything as long as he was with Jim. He’d made that decision when he fell overwhelmingly, passionately in love with his restless, brilliant, fearless, beautiful, best friend.

“I wish the same, Bones.” Jim said, blinking tiredly at him, his voice soft with regret.

Leonard noticed. “Come on, sweetheart, let’s get in that bed and take a nap. Wishful thinkin’ later. The house is as quiet as it’s gonna’ get, so let’s take advantage of it.” Leonard sat on the bed, took off his boots and stripped down to his t-shirt and briefs. He patted the bed so Jim could do the same. They slipped under the comforter into the cool sheets and Jim sighed blissfully as Leonard gathered him in his arms, carding a soothing hand through the short sandy hair. Jim caught the hand and pressed it to his lips. “Sleep, Jimmy. Alarm, ninety minutes,” he told his comm.

Jim’s eyes fluttered, then closed. “Love you, ‘one’s,” he murmured as his breathing changed and evened out. He was already asleep. Leonard, pleased, smiled to himself. He kissed Jim softly, still smiling into his hair, as he too closed his eyes.

Ninety minutes later, the soft vibration of his comm woke Leonard up. Jim was still sound asleep in his arms. He listened carefully and could hear nothing outside their bedroom door. The boys and Winona must not be up yet, but, he was sure it wouldn’t be long. He waited still and patient, letting Jim sleep a few more minutes, until sure enough, he could hear Georgie’s high pitched toddler treble. “I’s hungee, Nana.”

He heard Winona’s chuckle. “You’re always hungry, little man. Hmmm, let’s see if I can find a good snack for you and Peter, my Georgie Porgie.”

“I not Porgie,” came Georgie’s indignant little voice.

“That’s right, you’re not,” Winona laughed. Their voices faded as they went into the kitchen.

“Jim, Jim, darlin’. Time to wake up now.” Leonard shook him gently carding through the sandy head. The beautiful blue eyes opened and Jim smiled up at his favorite sight in the universe.

“You had a good nap, sweetheart, wish I could’ve let you sleep longer, but the boys and your mama are up. Georgie’s very hungry,” Leonard added wryly.

Jim grinned and stretched his head up to meet Bones’ lips, exposing the long, pale column of his throat to Leonard’s hungry gaze. “Georgie’s always hungry,” he murmured against Bones’ mouth. “I can relate,” he said, and deepened the kiss. Jim absolutely loved kissing Bones. It was maybe his favorite part of being with Bones, indulging himself with those slow, intense kisses that were often a prelude to more, but sometimes just an end unto themselves, because God damn it, Jim really loved kissing his Bones.

“Damn it, Jim,” Leonard groaned, desire thrumming through his body at the feel of Jim’s mouth against his.

“We have time for a quickie,” Jim whispered enticingly, thrusting his rock hard cock against Leonard’s hip, his fair skin already  flushed pink with arousal.

Leonard went from half hard to full hard in three seconds. “Yeah, okay, but...,” he nibbled at Jim’s bottom lip, “you’re insatiable.”

“So are you,” Jim chuckled wickedly against his mouth. “I’ve always been lucky,” he added huskily, “our libidos are perfectly matched.” He reached for the lube under his pillow and wiggled out of his briefs. He pulled Bones’ briefs off one handed and commanded, “door lock.” He sat and moved forward across Bones’ legs until he was practically in his lap. Jim pressed their bodies together, and at the feel of Jim’s rigid cock, Leonard’s mouth opened on a moan. Jim quickly took advantage and slipped his tongue between his lips, desperate for him. Leonard pressed one hand to Jim’s back to steady him and Jim took them both in his warm calloused grasp and started to move his hand. “I love you, love you, love you, Bones,” he muttered against the other man’s lips, as their passion rose quickly. Jim gasped into Bones’ mouth, lost in sensation, his senses overflowing with the scent and feel of Bones. They were both so aroused that, under Jim’s hand, it didn’t take long. They climaxed together, panting into each other’s mouth. Then sated and blissful and unwilling to move, they stayed tangled together, Jim still on Bones’ lap, sticky, covered with sweat and cum, but neither of them much caring.

Jim sighed, and brought their foreheads together. “Bones," Jim breathed, "Bones, Bones, Bones.” His hands moved restlessly up and down Leonards’s torso. “You're my Bones, you know that, right? I can never seem to get enough of you.” Jim's smile was bright and beautiful, his blue eyes filled with love as he stroked tender fingers along the corner of Bones' eyebrow and down his cheek.

Leonard’s fretful heart eased at the sight of those sparkling eyes. In the most hidden and secret part of his soul, Leonard had always believed that his love for the man in his arms was unique. He was certain that no one else could possibly love Jim as deeply as Leonard did, does, and always will.

“Nor I of you, darlin’.” Leonard’s dimple flashed as he chuckled softly. He ran deft fingers through the strands of Jim’s sweaty hair, which always curled slightly when it was longer and damp. “You’d think we were still hot to trot teenagers the way we go at each other.”

Jim grinned and reluctantly lifted his body off of Bones’. “I’ll always be hot for you, Bonesy, even when we’re old and grey. Don’t you know, sweetheart, you’re always gonna’ be beautiful to me. Always. Now come on Mr. Hot To Trot let’s take a shower. Spock has a nose like an old Hound dog. He’ll smell sex on us a mile away.”

“Serves him right if he did,” grumbled Leonard irately. “He’s got no business sniffing around you.”

Jim laughed hard at that and lead him to the shower.

They dressed in fresh casual clothes and joined Winona and the children in the kitchen.

“Did you rest, mom?”

“I read for a little while then dropped off for about an hour. Len, I peeked in on Aurelan and she’s still asleep.”

“Good, just what she needs. That very mild sedative I gave her helped relax her so she could really rest.”

“All done, Unca Jim,” Georgie raised his arms to be pulled out of his high chair. Jim complied, hugging the small warm body on his way to the sink to clean off his tiny hands before setting him down on the floor. He did the same for Peter, holding him closely. Peter clung tightly to him, his small head nuzzling in the crook of Jim’s neck.

“All right, little buddy?” Jim whispered in his ear. His eyes met his mother’s as Peter nodded against his neck, but Peter didn’t relinquish his tight grip on his Uncle. Jim tenderly rubbed his back, knowing Peter was missing his daddy.

The door chime rang and Winona’s cheery voice announced. “I think that’s Uncle and Auntie Admiral. Auntie Admiral told Nana she wanted to come play with you boys after nap time.”

Peter’s head came up from Jim’s shoulder, his blue eyes suddenly bright and interested, and he wiggled to get down. “Shall we answer the door?” Jim asked, setting him down. He grabbed the giggling, squealing Georgie and set him on his shoulders and the three went to answer the door with Leonard and Winona trailing behind them.

When Jim opened the door, the Admiral and Mrs. Castro, flanked by their Security detail stood there smiling. “Auntie Admiral,” squealed Peter in delight. Georgie reached out his arms to be carried by Mrs. Castro.

“Boys,” Winona laughed. “Let our company come inside first. Please come in, obviously you’re very welcome!”

Amidst a flurry of hugs and giggles, introductions were made, and then the boys and Mrs. Castro happily made their way to the playroom. ”I’ll visit with Aurelan after dinner for a short time. I know she needs total bed rest right now,” Mrs. Castro whispered to Winona on her way to the playroom.

Winona nodded. “Boys, I’ll bring snacks for you later, don’t tire Auntie Admiral out, alright?”

“Okay, Nana. We won’t.” Peter assured his grandmother, pulling at Mrs. Castro’s hand.

“Now why don’t I believe that,” Winona murmured to the Admiral.

The Admiral smiled down at her. “Don’t you worry about Anna, Commander Kirk, she has more stamina than most of my security officers.”

“Shall we go into the study, Sir?” Jim led the way. “I think we’re ready to finalize our plan of action to recover Sam. Mr. Spock, please call the ship and ask Mr. Chekov to beam down.”

“Yes, Captain.” Spock moved to the window to give the transporter Chief the code word and Chekov’s beam down order.

The silvery whine of the transporter soon brought the Ensign into the study. “Sir,” Chekov saluted the Admiral.

“At ease, Mr. Chekov. Please, let’s dispense with all military protocol for the duration of this mission.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Chekov told him shyly.

They went into the study and Jim locked the door behind him. He went to Sam’s computer and requested the office soundproofing module to be enabled. He then opened his personal comm to speak with the outdoor Chief Security officer. “If you need to contact me, please use my direct comm code for the next hour, Lieutenant. I’ll be conducting a briefing and will not be able to open the front door.”

“Aye, Captain,” replied the disembodied voice of the duty officer.

“Alright everyone find a seat. Mom, you sit here by me, so you can see everything clearly,“ Jim patted the chair he’d pulled up close to the monitor.

“Thank you, dear.” Winona exchanged a tiny tender smile with Leonard at Jim’s obvious concern for her.

“Before I begin with my part of the briefing, Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov have some new Intel for us. Mr. Spock?”

“Thank you, Sir. Computer, enlarge current screen to maximum.” Everyone peered at the sudden virtual image of a large building. “This is where Commander Kirk is being held,” he informed the riveted group. “With the description that Commander Kirk was able to give us, Mr. Chekov found the building almost immediately. The building is empty, virtually abandoned, offered for sale or lease as is, so the kidnappers were quite sure they could occupy the ninth floor indefinitely without anyone noticing they were there. As soon as Mr. Chekov returned to the ship last night, he had Mr. Scott train our ship scanners set on maximum on the building. Mr. Scott calibrated the scanners for human heat signals. This is the result. Mr. Chekov?” The computer screen shifted to an interior view of the building. There on the screen, enhanced by the red human heat signal, were the figures of five men walking and moving around the room. One figure, smaller than the rest, was still and unmoving. Spock pointed with one long finger. “There is Commander Sam Kirk, most probably still tied in the chair, thus the height differential between him and the others.

Jim grabbed his mother’s hand and held on tightly. “Sam,” she whispered. “Jim, it’s Sam.” She blinked rapidly and looked with shining eyes at Ckekov. “Thank you, Pavel, thank you.”

Chekov blushed pink and ducked his head. “I did wery little,” he murmured.

“No, Pasha,” Jim told him. “You did a lot. Thank you.” Jim released his mother’s hand to clasp Chekov’s arm in gratitude then grabbed hers again.

“As you can see from the cots and the table,” continued Spock, “it appears the men eat and sleep there. Only one person seems to leave at a time. Presently, there is one person unaccounted for. That individual may have gone out to buy food or perhaps to set up the bank account, but Mr. Scott will keep the scanners trained on the ninth floor for the duration of our mission. He is keeping constant watch on the six men.” And indeed they could see the figures on the screen walking, sitting, and talking to each other. “Which now leads me to our mission briefing. Captain Kirk?”

Jim kept a tight hold of Winona’s hand. Starfleet Officer or not, this was her older son that they were attempting to rescue and her hand was icy cold with nerves. “Now that we have this intel about the building and our scanners trained on the men, we can proceed with plans for ingress and egress. Let’s have the building schematics on screen, Pavel,” Jim continued, and the computer screen changed. “Mr. Spock, Mr. Chekov and I agree that the building layout and construction makes it very difficult for us to enter it with any element of surprise. As you can see, the building interior has been almost gutted. There is really nothing left but the main walls, the flooring, stairs and the windows. And that’s the same for every floor.”

Spock nodded. “It appears that at some point a major renovation was planned for the interior of the building, but then abandoned. All the interior walls and doors of the existing offices were removed, as was the lift, and it is probable that plans for several different configurations and sizes of the rooms was planned. Be that as it may, the state of the interior of all the floors makes it very difficult for our team to enter the building from the ground floor with any degree of stealth and quiet, or from any floor for that matter.”

Chekov took up the narrative. “Ve briefly considered beaming in the team to the eigth floor, to try to access the ninth floor from there, but again, there is no place for us to hide, the uncarpeted stairs and floors, the lack of valls will announce our presence immediately. According to Mr. Scott, any noise at all in the lower floors would echo in the empty building. Beaming directly into the ninth floor is also problematical. It might cause a trigger happy individual to open fire on us as soon as the transporter effect is heard or even to turn a phaser on Commander Kirk in retaliation.”

Winona and the Admiral exchanged a horrified look.

“Don’t worry, mom, that scenario was completely off the table from the beginning.”

“Indeed, Commander. It was never seriously considered. It is far too dangerous.”

“So what is our plan, Jim?” Bones asked.

“Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Scott, Mr. Chekov, Mr. Hendorff, my Security Chief, and I will meet later tonight to finalize our plans, but briefly we’ve decided to ingress from the roof.”

“Jim, the roof?” His mother sounded dismayed.

“It’s the fastest, safest, and easiest way in, Mom. Look here,“ he said, pointing to the screen. “There is this whole side of the building on the ninth floor that’s nothing but windows, built that way, we’re sure, to provide a break from unrelieved walls. There are eight windows facing east separated by these wide masonry panels. The same goes for the west side. We’ve chosen the east side because it’s darker. Sometime after midnight, we’ll all beam in to the roof, two at a time, so no one will hear us. From the roof the team will rappel down the masonry panels as quietly as possible. Scotty will continue to monitor the men’s heat signatures and, through our ear comms, he’ll give us real time information about where the men are in the room. As soon as we know that, the team will crash through the windows and take them by surprise, stun them, and we’ll release Sam.”

“Jim, what if the windows are made of real glass? Crashing through sharp glass could severely cut and injure someone.” Leonard frowned at the thought of possible lacerations and a lot of blood.

“Scotty’s scanning the windows to be sure of their composition. Whether they’re made of glass or not, there’ll be shards of whatever it is, so we’ll have to wear some protective gear and goggles for rappelling. Once we know what the windows are made of we’ll make the final decision about what type of protective clothing to wear.”

Winona nodded, somewhat appeased at hearing that.

“Meanwhile the Admiral will proceed with his part of the plan. He’ll wait for half the credits to be deposited in the Starfleet account and then he’ll them send the signed contract. He’ll wait for it to be returned, and once they send him the coordinates for transporting the encrypted chip, he’ll beam the research data to them. They’ll probably do a quick overview of it. Thanks to Chekov, they’ll find it complete. He’s made quite sure of that. While they’re occupied checking it, Scotty will be able to tell us exactly where they all are in the room. It’s at that time that we’ll make our move. They’ll be so completely focused on the research data, that our appearance will be a complete surprise to them. We’ll stun them, grab Sam and Mr. Hendorff will arrest the kidnappers immediately.

Admiral,” Jim turned to face him. “I don’t want you to be concerned that the research chip is vulnerable. Mr. Chekov and Mr. Spock will plant a worm in the kidnappers’ file copy. You can be sure it will be completely undetectable, they’re the best at this type of covert operation. Even if by some chance we can’t recover the chip, they can activate the worm remotely and destroy all the research on it. No one but Sam will have the JT Variant Quatrotriticale research, I promise you.” Jim’s face was hot with contained rage; rage that anyone would try to steal Sam’s research. It was not going to happen, not on his watch. After all his years of hard work and focused dedication, no one was going to get their grabby hands on Sam’s research.

Leonard looked at Jim knowingly. One of the wonderful, maddening, admirable qualities about Jim Kirk was that he didn't believe in no-win scenarios, nor in letting anyone take what was not rightfully theirs. Pirates, kidnappers, Klingons, Romulans, and extortionists had learned that to their peril. Jim Kirk always inspired his crew to do their best, sometimes against impossible odds, and they always did.

“The Captain is correct, Commodore. Mr. Chekov and I will make quite sure of it. No will have access to Commander Kirk’s research except Commander Kirk himself.”

The Admiral breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s very good to hear, Mr. Spock. I must admit I was concerned about that.”

It had been a very long day and Jim was ready for a little decompression time. “On that note, we’ll adjourn the briefing for now. Some of us can help mom with dinner. Bones will check on Aurelan, because I know Mrs. Castro is hoping for a visit with her.” The Admiral nodded at this. “I’ll go rescue her,” he grinned. “Tonight after the children are asleep, Mr. Scott and Lt. Hendorff will beam down and we’ll iron out the last few details of our plan.” He looked over to his mother. “Are you alright, mom?”

“I’m fine, dear. I think it’s a good plan, simple and elegant. I feel at peace with what you’ve planned. I know your team will rescue Sam, save his research, and bring him home.” She stood firmly. “Shall we adjourn to the kitchen? We can chat, relax, while I cook.” She smiled at the Commodore. “I love to cook, it satisfies something in me.”

Leonard smiled at her. “And you’re a mighty fine cook, Win, as Jim and I can attest. I’ll go check on Aurelan. I may let her get up for dinner. She’s probably eager for some company, and the boys will be happy to see her out of bed.”

“Admiral, If you’ll excuse me,” Jim turned to him. “I’m sure Mrs Castro is ready for a break. I’ll go rescue her and corral the boys to get them in the bathtub while mom fixes dinner. After dinner it’s story time and then bed time. Is that schedule okay with you, mom? “

“That would be a huge help, Jim. But just a fifteen minute bath, dear, or they’ll play in the tub for hours.” She laughed. ”And don’t let them splash water all over the floor. Last night I tried to get them in the shower to save time, but Georgie is afraid of the spray and he screamed bloody murder, so I gave that up. You should have heard him, I was afraid he’d wake Aurelan.”

Jim chuckled. “Georgie is nothing if not dramatic.”

He went in to the playroom to see Mrs. Castro sitting on the floor with Georgie in her lap. They were deeply engrossed in finishing a large floor puzzle. “Put that piece in that spot, Georgie, and let’s see if it fits.”

Georgie’s little fingers placed it in its place and it slid in perfectly. He looked up and gave Jim a big dimpled grin. “I do it, Unca Jim.”

“So you did; good job, Georgie! Boys, Nana would like to talk with Auntie Admiral, and you two are getting baths.”

“Don’t need a bath, Uncle Jim.” Peter was quite definite. “I’m real clean.”

“No baf.” Georgie stuck out his bottom lip. “See? Clean.” He held out his hands for Jim to see and fluttered his long eyelashes winningly at Jim.

Mrs. Castro hurriedly got up and turned her head away.

Jim composed his face to sternness. “Well, you’re both still getting a bath, because mama is eating dinner with us and you need to smell good when mama kisses you. She likes it when her little boys smell good.”

Two pair of bright blue eyes looked up at him in sudden delight. “Okay, Uncle Jim. We’ll get clean for mama,” Peter told him.

Georgie nodded his curly head. “Okay, Unca Jim.”

“Go get your pajamas, boys. Wait for me in the bathroom.”

Jim looked at Mrs. Castro ruefully. “I don’t know where Georgie learned that eyelash thing he does, but it kills me every time.”

Mrs. Castro’s eyes twinkled. “I must commend you on your excellent negotiation skills, Captain. They’re so adorable that I cave in to them every time.”

Jim chuckled, and followed her out the door. “Dealing with angry Klingons seems somehow much easier to me now.”

Chapter Text

 

 The rescue plan is finalized. 

 

Ransom


Chapter 11

“Not only had my brother disappeared, but--
and bear with me here--
a part of my very being had gone with him.”

John Corey Whaley
“Where Things Come Back”

 

After dinner, Mrs. Castro went to Aurelan’s bedroom to chat with her for a few minutes. The children came in for their bedtime kisses and cuddles, and Winona, carrying the sleepy Georgie, took them to their room and put them to bed.

When Mrs. Castro came back into the kitchen, she assured them that although Aurelan was still very worried about Sam, she was much calmer now that plans for his rescue were well under the way. Mrs. Castro had also listened to her concerns about the children and quickly assured Aurelan that the boys were in good spirits. They were  getting lots of the love and attention from everyone in the house.

Mrs. Castro also told Jim that she would clear her schedule to be available whenever they needed her, and then, wishing everyone a good night, the Admiral ordered her direct beam out to their home.

Jim assembled his team in the study while they waited for Hendorff, Hannity and Scotty to log off their duty shifts. It was time to finalize plans for Sam’s rescue. 

While they waited for the three, Bones, fetal monitor in hand, went to check on Aurelan. The readings he saw there made him insist that she couldn’t get up again. She absolutely had to stay in bed and keep her feet elevated. When he came back to the study, Jim and Winona saw the worried furrow on his face.

“What is it, Bones? Has something happened?”

“She’s not in labor yet, but it’s gonna’ happen sooner than later. I’ve given her a betamimetics derivative. The drug is formulated to slow down early labor. It’s a tried and true drug therapy we’ve used for many years which can delay birth for several hours or even for days. In this case, I’m hoping that using Terbutalinethrex will stop any contractions.”

“Winona, we have to do everything we can to keep her in bed. I’ve told her that she can only get up to go to the bathroom. I don’t want her standing up even to shower. She’ll have to make do with sanitizing bathing wipes until I say otherwise.”

“Bones, if she goes into labor soon will the baby be in danger?” Jim’s eyes, tinged with worry, had gone a dark blue. Winona’s face too, had paled with concern.

Forcing his own trepidation aside, Leonard sought to reassure them. “If she goes into labor, the baby will be a month early. It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst case scenario. It’s still considered a premature birth, but things could be a lot worse. Of course, the longer the baby stays in the womb the better, but I don’t want you two to worry unduly. I’ve explained it all to Aurelan to relieve her concern. She felt a hell of a lot better when I told her lower birth weights are seldom an issue these days. The baby will have optimum medical support when she’s born and the fetal monitor readouts say the baby is a little over six pounds...that’s good enough for her heart and lungs,” Leonard explained. “What concerns me most is that we’d have to move Aurelan to the Deneva Fleet hospital to birth the baby, and I hate to risk it, even by transporter. The Fleet hospital here is a huge medical facility and we don’t know any of the staff that would attend her and the baby. So, I’ve been thinking of a different option just to err on the side of caution. What if we beam Aurelan straight to my Med Bay to have the baby, Jim? I’d feel a lot better about her security if we did that. ‘Course it may be unnecessary if her labor stops and we can get Sam home before the baby comes, but just in case, what do you think of the idea? Chapel, Geoffrey and I would attend her, and those two are the best there is.”

Jim’s sudden grin was blinding. “Bones, that’s a perfect solution...mother and baby would be safe! Aaaand the baby would be the first baby born on the Enterprise, and she’d be a Kirk baby too!”

Leonard and Winona exchanged a glance and a small smile at Jim’s excitement.

“Trust you to think of the baby and the ship together,” Bones told him, amused. “Don’t know what Sam’s gonna’ think about that when he comes home to find his wife in labor, birthin’ that baby on board the ship.”

Jim’s excitement died suddenly. He looked away and down at his feet. Leonard saw his jaw harden and his lower lip tremble. Jim sucked in a breath, bit at his traitorous bottom lip, and pressed his hand hard to his mouth blinking rapidly.

Leonard’s heart hurt at seeing Jim’s pain. Winona saw too, and her eyes met Leonard’s. She reached for her younger son, wrapping warm arms around him. “Shhh, baby. It’s alright.” She hugged Jim closely as he brought his head down on her shoulder and his arms went tightly around her. He took in deep shuddering breaths, his face hidden, buried against her neck.

Winona rubbed soothing circles on his back. Jim's heart was beating too fast, Winona realized, as she continued her soothing motions. “Sam is coming back to us, Jim. I know he is. You’ll bring him home, sweetheart.” Leonard’s worried eyes met hers over Jim’s head.

Finally, Jim gave a deep sigh, slowly regaining his composure. He looked down at the blue eyes so like his own. “Sorry, sorry, mom. I’m alright now. It was just the thought that Sam might not be here for the baby’s birth that suddenly got to me. He’d be heartbroken to miss it.”

“That’s not gonna’ happen, Jim,” Leonard told him fiercely. “Not if Aurelan and I have anything to do with it. Between the drug I’m givin’ her to delay the birth, her stayin’ in bed, and her will power, we’re gonna’ do all we can to delay the birth of that baby girl.” Jim studied Bones’ determined face in front of him, then nodded slowly, somewhat reassured.

Jim’s comm beeped.

“Kirk here,” he said, clearing his clogged throat impatiently.

“Captain, Mr. Scott here. Hendorff, Hannity and I are ready tae’ beam down to the house.”

“We’re ready for you, Scotty. Come on down.” Jim straightened his shoulders and put his Captain’s facade firmly back in place, walking into the study. With Scotty, Hannity and Hedorff present, the team was now complete.

They all gathered haphazardly around Sam’s monitor, some standing and some sitting on whatever they could find.

“The Commodore has something he’d like to say first. Go ahead, Sir.”

The Commodore cleared his throat. “As you all know, I suspected that knowledge about Sam’s research had been discovered, that somehow, a member of my staff found out what he was working on and sold that information.” His face was set in a fierce frown. “The outside source who did the undercover work on my staff, looked closely at all bank accounts, including mine,” he added, smiling a bit grimly, “and has now reported his findings to me. It didn’t take him long to find out who it was, the big deposit of credits gave him away immediately. It was just as I thought, the culprit opened a second bank account for the deposit, thinking he could cover his tracks. It’s unimportant who he is, a young Ensign who does clerical work for Sam, and who somehow noticed Sam’s extra logged in hours to access the lab, along with my approval for the extra research time. I’m sure he thought it was an easy way to make extra money. He was smart enough to put two and two together, to realize Sam’s extra time in the lab meant that he was doing some extra and important research, so he passed that tid bit of information on to some unscrupulous corporation. All these grain and seed corporations in the sector have feelers out to see what and from whom they can buy promising, or even minimally promising research, to try to further their profits. Sam’s sterling reputation as a grain researcher did the rest. They figured that if he was working on something after hours, it was very important research. Thankfully, there was no way he could get his hands on the actual research.”

The Commodore looked at the group. “I have given orders to monitor his activity, but not have him arrested just yet. I didn’t want to tip off the kidnappers by doing that. After we get Sam back, he’ll be arrested and his Starfleet career will be at an end. He’ll be tried by a Starfleet military tribunal, court martialed, and sent to a SF military prison.”

“A wise decision not to divulge your knowledge of his perfidy, Commodore,” Spock agreed.

“It’s a relief to know who it was who betrayed Sam,” Winona added. “But also disheartening to know that someone would do that just for credits.”

“It is, Commander Kirk.” The Commodore looked bleak. “It is both disheartening and shameful to know I had someone like that on my staff. I’ve always had full confidence in all my officers, but perhaps it is better to find out that I was too trusting.” He straightened his shoulders and looked at Jim. “Shall we get started on our plan for getting Sam back?”

“Yes, Sir. We’ll get started,” Jim said. “But I believe you have one more update about the contract?”

“Ah, yes, thank you, Captain. I have drawn up the contract of sale for all of Commander Kirk’s research on the quatrotriticale variant. I made quite sure, by using other Starfleet contracts as models, that it’s as legal and professional looking as possible without getting Starfleet lawyers involved. It’s already signed by me as the legal representative of the Starfleet Deneva Agronomy Departmen. I also opened the Starfleet bank account in my name as the legal representative of our department. The account is at the Deneva Global Bank. The kidnappers will now be able to deposit the credits they stipulated in their last comm. Should they want to check, the bank has a sterling reputation among our Deneva citizens. I expect to hear from the kidnappers tomorrow about the delivery method of the contract, and at that time, I’ll give them the account number.”

The Commodore hesitated. “I don’t anticipate any problems with the delivery of their encrypted chip, or down loading all of Sam’s research to it.” He looked worriedly at them. “However, I can’t help but be concerned that the kidnappers will figure out that it’s not a legal binding contract because the JT Variant belongs to Sam alone and not to Starfleet.”

“I doubt if that will happen, Commodore,” Spock reassured him. “If the contract looks legal and binding why would they question it? If it would set your mind at ease, I will also look at it. As head of our Science department, I have had much experience with contracts from different vendors who submit bids for our Science department. Not everything that we need on the ship is bought by Starfleet. We have quite a substantial budget to spend since we have fourteen Science labs.”

“I would appreciate that, Mr. Spock. I have brought the contract with me, so after our briefing I will give it to you to look over. Now then, to go on with my part of the mission. I’ll have to wait for them to give me the coordinates where I’m to take the chip for transporting. I feel sure it will be a public transporter hub and not our office transporter. Once they sign the contract I’m to wait for them to send it back and for their deposit of half of the credits. Only then will I beam in the encrypted chip with all of Sam’s research and wait for kidnappers to look over and check  the research.” The Commodore looked at the notes on his padd. “I think that’s everything I have for you.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Jim swallowed, his throat tight. The timing for every single thing they were going to do was crucial, but as he looked at his team, Commodore Castro, Bones, Spock, Chekov, Scotty, Hendorff and Hannity, he knew they were absolutely the best there was to bring Sam home.

“Alright, as soon as we get the word from the Commodore that the contract is signed and the chip has been sent by transporter, we’ll beam in to the roof. They’ll be distracted checking Sam’s research and it’s at that time we’ll go in and get him. Scotty’s scanners will be trained on them at all times. Who’ll be manning the scanners, Scotty?”

“ ‘T’ill be Mr. De Salle, Sir. He’s the best there is, besides meself, of course.”

“Good...that’s good. I think we’re set, there’s nothing else to do for now, so we’ll adjourn and wait for the Commodore’s okay tomorrow. Chekov, Hannity, Scotty, Hendorff, you’re dismissed to return to the ship. We’ll reconvene tomorrow at 0800 for last minute checks. Scotty, I want everyone to have body armor, rappelling equipment, climbing boots, night goggles, gloves and face masks.“

“Aye, Captain, I’ll see to it all,” Scotty assured him. “Goodnight, everyone.” Scotty said, pulling out his comm. “De Salle, four to beam up, laddie. Code word Haggish.”

The silver whine of the transporter beam took them away and Jim turned to the Commodore. “I’ll see you to the door, Sir. I hope he hear something early tomorrow morning.”

“I too, Captain. Goodnight, everyone.”

Jim came back to find his mother in the study, Bones and Spock filling her in on the briefing. Winona looked at her son’s exhausted face. “Jim, you need to get some rest; all of you do. Let’s all head for bed. I know it’s early, but we’re all tired. Even Spock looks tired and we’re standing here in what is his bedroom,” she smiled wanly at him.

“It is of no consequence, Dr. Kirk. Vulcans do not require as much sleep as humans. Thus, I have been able to help Nyota with the baby when Amanda wakes for her two o’clock feeding. Nyota expresses milk to put in bottles so I can feed Amanda and Nyota can get some much needed sleep. It is also a time for me to bond with the baby in the Vulcan way. Her mind is still unformed, but she is receptive to the comfort and love that I project to her.”

“That’s mighty fine, Spock. Nyota and all new mamas need all the rest they can get, especially when nursing, and father and  baby bonding time is extremely important. And speaking of new mamas, I’m goin’ to go check on Aurelan before I go to bed. You go on, Jim. Get ready for bed, I’ll be there shortly.”

Jim kissed his mother goodnight and made his way to bed. He took a quick sonic slapped on his beard suppressant and got into his sleep pants, then snuggled under the warm covers to wait for Bones. He was going over the mission plans again in his head, when the bedroom door opened.

“How is she, Bones?” Jim asked anxiously.

“She’s doing well, darlin’. The rest is doin’ her a world of good. No contractions at all,” he replied, voice muffled as he pulled off his two shirts, black pants, and briefs. “I’ll be with you in a minute, just gonna’ take a quick sonic.”

He was back quickly, clad in his softest and oldest sleep pants and faded t-shirt. Jim was sitting up against the head board, and he quickly pulled back the covers so Leonard could slide in. As soon as Bones was in bed and pressed up next to him, and he released a breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding. He scooted closer to the warmth of Bones’ body, and put his head on the broad shoulder. “Bones, Bones,” Jim whispered, his stoic facade going completely by the wayside, his mental and emotional exhaustion suddenly overwhelming him. Thankfully, he was here in the best and safest place he knew, with his Bones. Here it was always safe to let down his guard, to drop his Captain’s invincible persona, to let his worry and anxiety show. Here, with Bones, he could be vulnerable, show his worry, his fear, his regret for the lost years without his brother. Here he could just be just Jim, worried sick about his brother, his sister-in-law, his mother and Sam’s two beautiful little boys.

“I’m here, Jimmy,” Bones whispered with his hand pressed flat against Jim’s back. “I’m right here.”

Jim's blue eyes were dulled with fatigue, with his need for Leonard’s comfort and reassurance. Leonard knew that Jim’s fear of abandonment, of being left behind again, had flared up with Sam’s kidnapping. After long years of not having his family, Jim had finally gotten them back, and the fear that he might lose one of them again was eating at him, tearing him apart. Leonard held him tight, steadfastly offering him the protection and safe haven he desperately needed. Jim pressed his face into Leonard’s chest hearing the reassuring steady beat of his heart, while Leonard massaged his back gently in soothing circles, providing comfort with touch.

Jim had always been about touch, an arm around Len’s shoulder, a hand on his back or curled around his neck, always seeking the warmth of touch, of skin to skin contact. Even back at the Academy, when they’d only been room mates, just friends and nothing more, Leonard had understood that Jim was starved for touch, for physical warmth and affection. Late at night, even after a tryst, Jim would often creep into Leonard’s bed, just to burrow into his back, curling himself into Leonard’s warmth. Leonard had always let him do it, knowing how much Jim needed to touch. He’d wake up to find Jim wrapped around him like an octopus. They had never discussed the fact that friends, even best friends, didn’t sleep together like that. Both of them had been content to just let it happen, Leonard already realizing he was falling in love with Jim, and Jim already deeply attached to Leonard. So tonight, as he had done so often, Leonard was more then willing to cradle Jim against him, dropping soft kisses on the sandy head, murmuring meaningless words of comfort in Jim’s ear.

“I love you, Bones,” Jim muttered tiredly into the broad chest. “I need you. Always need you so much.” Bones, his beautiful, brilliant Bones always here for him.

“Love you more, darlin’ and I’m here, I’m always here. Sleep now, Jimmy.” Leonard brushed the hair out of his forehead and kept on with the soothing motion of his hand. He heard Jim take a deep breath of release and relaxation. His breaths gradually slowed and evened out, as he fell deeply asleep.

Chapter Text

Waiting is hard on everyone. Jim is on edge. 

Ransom

Chapter 12

“these bones are mine
when they creak
when they moan
when they whine
there’s only one thing
i can claim these bones
are mine i tell you
they are mine and kind
to abandon no thing
that makes this pulse
no one but me”


Cindy Williams Gutierrez

 

Jim woke up feeling rested and energized. He looked over at one of the old fashioned clocks that Aurelan loved and collected, and saw he’d slept over 8 hours. Jim couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept so long, and as a consequence he had a persistent and urgent need to use the bathroom. He turned very carefully to face the still sleeping Bones. The doctor’s face was relaxed in sleep, a faint scruff already appearing on his chin, his lashes dark and thick against his cheeks. Jim smiled at the sight. God, how he loved that face, those long lashed eyes, those plush lips. There was no one else in the universe he'd rather wake up to. Bones was so dear, so near, and always just what Jim needed.

He stretched and drew in a deep breath. Today was going to be a big day. The Commodore expected to hear from the kidnappers this morning about the delivery method of the contract and he’d give them the bank account number. Spock had assured Jim he’d check over the contract before retiring and let the Commodore know if there was any issue that had to be corrected. Jim assumed that since Spock had let him sleep through the night, he’d found the contract was fine. They’d have one more team briefing after the Commodore’s initial contact with the kidnappers, and go over some last minute things, but basically they were ready. They had a good plan, as well as a backup plan just in case.

Meanwhile this morning, he thought that he and Bones would enjoy some much needed quality time. It might be a long time before they could have any alone time again. Jim came back from the bathroom, leaned in and nibbled at Bones’ jaw, making sure his own stubble tickled. Then Jim’s lips went up, and paused on Bones’ lips. Jim felt a little tremble, and then the feather soft touch of a return kiss against his mouth. Ah...so Bones was waking up. The hazel eyes blinked and his lips spread into a loving smile at the blue eyes so close to his own. “Morning, darlin’.”

“Morning, Bonesy.” Jim kissed Leonard again, feasting his eyes, warm with love, on Bones’ sleepy face.

Leonard brought up his hand wrapping his fingers gently around the back of Jim’s neck and pulled him in close. With just millimeters between them, he stared into Jim's laughing eyes. Jim closed the distance between them in a heartbeat, his lips brushing against Bones in feather light touches, but Bones was having none of that. He took over, kissing each corner of Jim's lips, taking his sweet time about it, until the kiss suddenly changed as desire erupted between them. Jim parted his lips eagerly for Bones’ tongue.

Leonard nibbled at his bottom lip, and one hand around Jim's neck tightened, while the other one crept under Jim’s soft cotton t-shirt. His sensitive fingertips explored the silky flesh of Jim’s back and sides, lingering on a couple of raised scars that he had never been able to fully erase. Jim's hands explored too, as he shifted to the edge of the bed, his breathing heavy now. Leonard rose fully on his knees, while Jim's hands were busy making soft circles all over Bones’ back and traveling up to stroke his hair with trembling fingertips.

Their hunger deepened and spurred them on as they hurriedly pulled their shirts off and sleep pants down. Jim flipped Bones over to lay on his back, quickly reaching for the lube on the side table. He covered his fingers with it and began to prepare Bones gently, carefully. He didn’t hurry in spite of Bones’ impatient growls.

Finally, when neither of them could stand it any more, Jim straddled Bones and entered him. He breathed deeply, relishing the hot tightness sheathed around him. Jim began to move, withdrawing slowly and pushing deeply, while Bones, with his pupils blown wide, urged him on.

“Harder, darlin’. Yeah, just like that, you’re so good so perfect, Jimmy. Harder darlin’!” Jim’s warm body stretched as he pulled in and out, his full and welcomed weight on top of Leonard.

Jim, with sweat already pouring off him, found his rhythm, thrusting faster, harder, deeper. “Bones Bones Bones,” Jim chanted, breathing out the words. “Nobody has ever made me feel like you do,” he whispered. Leonard looked up to see that Jim’s blue eyes were brilliant with passion. Jim let out a hoarse shout as his orgasm suddenly barreled through him, traveling from his groin up to his chest, making his whole body arch and flex. White noise filled his ears as ejaculated inside of Bones.

Leonard, feeling the hot semen inside him, let go, and splashed Jim’s chest, abs, and stomach as he came. Jim sagged forward when the strength in his arms gave out. He was only dimly aware of Bones’ low murmur as he arranged them both to lie on their sides to catch their breaths.

Jim cupped Bones’ stubbled face tenderly, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “So good always, you’re always so amazing, Bones. You’re perfect, sweetheart. Love you so damn much.” Jim sighed contently thinking as he always did after they’d made love, how lucky he was. Bones was his and he was Bones’, and that would always be true in this or any other universe. In the dim recesses of his memory, he recalled how once he had struggled to say ‘I love you’ to Bones. Back then, in spite of his passion, the words had seemed trapped in his throat, a lump that he couldn’t dislodge. Now it seemed he couldn’t say it often enough.

“Love you more, Jim.”

They cuddled together ignoring the mess between them, exchanging soft, loving kisses. Leonard’s hand cupped Jim’s face. “Shower together?” He asked, hazel eyes twinkling mischievously.

“Hell yeah. More sexy times in the shower. Come on.” Jim pulled him impatiently off the bed, happily distracted for this brief time from his worry about Sam.

“You’re insatiable, you do know that, right?”

“Only insatiable for you, Bonsey, only for you. And I gotta say, you keep up with me in a spectacular way.” The shower was long and leisurely...no shortage of water on Deneva, and they made the most of this unaccustomed luxury.

No one was up yet, so Jim started the coffee and Leonard decided to make breakfast for everyone. “What do you think, Jim, fruit and yogurt for Peter and Georgie? Then oatmeal if they want some. Eggs and soy bacon with toast for the rest of us. Spock can eat that, right? With coffee and juice. We’ll take a tray in for Aurelan. I don’t want her getting out of bed for any reason. We’ll get Win to help her with a bed bath and brushing her teeth. That baby girl isn’t comin’ this early if I have anything to say about it.”

Leonard got busy at the stove while Jim set the table. Winona came in, showered and dressed an stood looking at them. “This is a pleasant surprise.” She smiled, looking at Leonard busy at the stove.

Jim looked up. “Morning, mom.” He looked keenly at her face. “Did you get any sleep at all?”

“I did, dear. I think I got about 6 hours. Pretty good for me. Has anyone checked on Aurelan and the boys?”

“Not yet, mom. We just got up ourselves.”

“I’ll go check on her, tell her I’ll bring in her breakfast.” She went out and came back very quickly comm in hand. “The most adorable sight you’ve ever seen. The boys crawled into bed with her last night. Peter is snuggling Georgie, and Aurelan is snuggling both of them. I didn’t have the heart to wake them up. Look, I took a picture for Sam.” She flipped open her comm for them to see.

“Well now, if that isn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,” Leonard murmured softly.

Jim agreed. “Sam will love that holo, mom.” He looked at his own comm. “It’s still pretty early,” he said, “and I need to comm the Commodore. I want him to delay sending the kidnappers the contract as long as he can. They won’ look it over for long. What they really want is that research data chip. He can’t delay too long, though,” he mused, “don’t want to spook them. Since we can’t beam on the roof until it’s good and dark, I want the contract and data chip to be sent as late as the Commodore can manage it. That way the kidnappers will be busy well into the night looking at it. From what we saw, the genetics and grain growth algorithms are pretty complicated stuff.”

Jim went into the bedroom, locking the door behind him before speaking with the Commodore. He didn’t want Peter to wake up and accidentally walk in to hear any part of the conversation.

“Breakfast will be ready in ten minutes, Win.” Bones got out one of Aurelan’s trays to get it ready for her breakfast. “Would you mind setting the table?”

They worked silently together, waiting for Jim to come back. Leonard filled Aurelan’s plate with fruit, eggs, toast, and juice. “No coffee for her this morning. She doesn’t  need caffeine agitating her.”

Winona carried it in and came back with Georgie in her arms, and Peter trailing after her, both still in their pajamas. Spock came in too, moving quietly, as he always did. He was like a cat, there, before you even realized he’d come in. With an economy if movement, he helped Winona with Georgie’s booster and bib, nodded silently to Jim and Leonard, then went to the counter to help.

“Aurelan is eating with a good appetite,” Winona reported to Leonard.

“Good. Are you hungry boys?” Leonard asked the two little blond heads.

Peter nodded, his sleepy eyes on the food.

Georgie grabbed his spoon, waiting. “ ‘Pock,” he said, his big blue eyes on the Vulcan. “I wants toast and butta, and juice, and yogurt, and eggs and milk.”

“Will all that food fit in your stomach, Georgie?” Spock asked him seriously, loading his small plate with the toast and eggs. He put the fruit with yogurt in a separate small bowl for Georgie and his milk in his snippy cup.

Georgie nodded decidedly. “Mama says I is a big boy now.”

“He’s a really good eater, Mr. Spock,” Peter told him, digging in to his own food.

“Indeed he is,” Spock said, his dark eyes twinkling with amusement, a faint smile twitched his lips as he watched the toast and egg disappear and Georgie attacking his fruit and yogurt with gusto.

Leonard watched the little byplay with amusement. Making Spock smile was quite an accomplishment and he hoped the Vulcan hadn’t sprained something on his face. Such was the power of adorable Georgie Kirk, he thought wryly.

Leonard filled the adults’ plates. “Do you want oatmeal, or eggs, buttered toast and fruit, Spock.”

“I believe I will take eggs and fruit, Leonard. I am quite hungry this morning.”

The three adults had just sat down to eat when Jim came back. “Morning, boys.” He bent to kiss the two blond heads before sitting down. “The Commodore will be in a “meeting”, with the Admiralty,” he reported carefully making air quotes, mindful of the two little blond heads at the table. “When the first comm comes in, his Flag Aide, Lt. Scanlon, will say that absolutely no interruptions are allowed during those Admiralty comm meetings. They can comm him back in a couple of hours after the Admirals is finished with him.”

“Excellent.” Leonard said. It was a good cover story for the Commodore. “Everyone knows you don’t interrupt or argue with the Fleet Admirals when they wanna’ talk to you.”

Winona stood. “Boys, let’s go wash up, brush your teeth and get dressed. After that I’ll take you outside so you can play on the swing set.” She looked over to Jim, who nodded. There was security patrolling outside the perimeter of the fence and the fence was high enough that even a tall person couldn’t see over it.

After the children left with Winona, Jim began to clear the table. He picked up and stacked the dishes on top of each other. One wobbled precariously, then fell and shattered on the floor. “Damn it! Look what I’ve done,” he said, kneeling to pick up the larger pieces. Leonard noticed his hand was shaking slightly.

“Are you alright, Jim?” Leonard got up and knelt to help him pick up the shards. “You need to settle down. It’s hard this waitin’ I know it is, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you.”

Jim looked up at him from the floor, his blue eyes shining brilliantly in the strong kitchen light, a muscle in his jaw bunching. “Just a little nervous,” he said, lips tight. “Don’t loom over me, Bones, I’m fine, just a bit edgy about tonight.”

“The cause is sufficient,” Spock told him, “but, Jim, all will be well,” he added. “Our mission will be successful and we will retrieve Commander Kirk. We are prepared. Our mission parameters are thoroughly thought out and our recovery team is well trained for this type of retrieval and rescue mission.”

“Spock’s right, Jim. When have we ever failed in any of our missions? This one will be no exception. You’ll see, we’ll get Sam back. Come on, darlin’, get out of the way so I can sweep up the small pieces.” He held out his hand to pull him up and Jim took it.

Leonard was concerned. It wasn’t like Jim to be so on edge. He was always confident and totally decisive when he led any mission and his self confidence was well earned. He had saved all his crew over and over again. Saved them with his courage, his charm, his tactical brilliance and his sheer stubborn belief that there was no such thing as a no win scenario. The fact that this mission was about Sam had shaken Jim to the core. He reached for Jim and drew him tightly against him. “It’s gonna be alright, Jim, you hear me?”

Jim nodded, drawing strength from Bones’ warm body pressed tightly against him. “Yeah, I hear you, Bones. I’m okay, just feeling a little anxious.”

Very anxious, Leonard surmised from the rigidity of the jaw pressed up against him.

“I’ll be fine once we get started on bringing Sam home.”

“ ‘Course you will. You’re Jim Kirk!” Leonard pressed a gentle hand to the clenched jaw. “Now then, why don’t you go outside with your mom and the boys. A little sunshine and fresh air will do you good. Spock and I will finish cleaning up here. Then I’m gonna’ go check on Aurelan and the baby.” Leonard left it at that. Jim’s uncharacteristic nerves would settle down, and right now Aurelan’s condition took precedence over a few nerves.

“Yeah, good idea, thanks, Bones.” Jim picked up his comm and went outside into the bright sunshine with the laughing children.

Spock and Leonard looked at each other. “The Captain seems unusually anxious about this mission, Leonard.”

Leonard swept at the broken debris with vicious swipes. “It’s because it’s Sam, Spock. He can’t distance himself from that and be objective like he can be with our other missions.”

“Yes...he would be the same if it was you, or his mother, or the children. I, too, would feel much anxiety if it was Nyota or Amanda.”

Leonard’s eyes flickered up in surprise. Spock seldom admitted to having any type of “feeling” no matter the circumstances.

“Indeed, Leonard,” Spock raised an eyebrow at him. “I do understand Jim’s feelings. What is that old Terran saying. ‘When you love someone you give hostages to fortune’,” he paraphrased. “I fully understand that, particularly now that Nyota and I have Amanda.”

Leonard threw the shards in the recycling and looked out the kitchen window. Sam and Aurelan’s back yard was lovely. When they had bought the house, they had also bought and planted several large trees that had already grown enough to provided shade. There was a also a covered brick patio where the BBQ grill resided, as well a rustic picnic table with benches around its four sides. Aurelan, who believed in eating fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, had planted a small vegetable garden in one corner of the yard and there was a flower bed in the other corner, where different earth like flowers bloomed colorfully year round. He could hear the squeals of glee from the fearless Georgie as Jim pushed him on the toddler swing, and Jim’s answering laughter. Peter was yelling.“push him higher, Uncle Jim, Georgie likes to go real high,” then Winona’s protest. “Be careful, Jim, that’s high enough!”

Leonard smiled as he went in to check on Aurelan, the fetal monitor in hand. She was sitting, reclining against the headboard, reading on her padd. Leonard looked over at her food tray and was pleased to see that she had eaten well. “How’s that baby of yours? Settled down some?”

“No contractions since last night, Len. That’s a good sign, right?”

“A very good sign.” He ran his usual tests on Aurelan and was pleased to see that her blood pressure had come down and seemed to have stabilized. The baby’s heartbeat was strong and steady, no longer agitated by her contractions. He gave her another dose of the Terbutalinethrex. “I’ll continue with this dosage, because it sure looks like it was working.” Between the drug, keeping her blood pressure down, and the mandatory bed rest, Leonard hoped to delay the baby’s birth as long as possible.

“The boys?”

“Outside with Jim and Win. They’re having a good time on the swing set. When they come in, I’ll have Win help you with a sponge bath.” Leonard sighed. “I sent Jim outside, he needed the distraction. He was getting real antsy waiting for word from the Commodore that the contract needs to be sent and the credits deposited. Once those two things happen, he’ll send Sam’s research and we’ll go get him later tonight.”

Aurelan clutched at Leonard’s hand. “I’m so frightened, Len. What if something goes wrong?”

He tightened his grasp in comfort. “Jim’s team is the best there is, Aurelan. Have faith in him, I always do. Now then, I don’t want you to get anxious while we’re waiting for word from the Admiral. You’re doing real well, so I’m going to give you a very mild sedative to help with anxiety and keep your blood pressure down. It won’t affect the baby at all because it doesn’t penetrate the placenta barrier. One of us will come in periodically to keep you posted on what’s going on. We’ll let you know right away when the Commodore comms Jim.”

Aurelan sighed deeply. She felt calmer with Len’s reassuring words. She also felt a little less than fresh, and badly wanted a sponge bath and a change of night clothes. She really missed her morning shower. Leonard read her mind. “I’ll go out with the boys and send Winona in to help you freshen up, how’s that?”

“That would be lovely, Len. Are the boys behaving alright? I hope they’re not being too much trouble. They’re always so active and I’m sure they’re missing their three mornings in pre school.”

“They’re good as gold, darlin’. You and Sam are doing an amazing’ job of being mama and daddy to Georgie and Peter. This here little girl is very lucky she’s coming into this family. Both Janice and Mrs. Castro offered to come back this afternoon after naps, so what does that tell you. They wouldn’t have wanted to come if the children hadn’t been good.”

Aurelan smiled. “They are sweet and generally well behaved, if I do say so myself, but Georgie is a handful, he’s so active and he wants to be doing something all the time...he tries to copy Peter, even when things are way too hard for him to do. I’m trying to work on his learning how to “be patient”.”

Leonard grinned, having much experience with the Kirk “patience. “And just how well is that workin’ out for you?”

Aurelan laughed softly. “About as well as you’d expect,” she said. “Isn’t it funny how Peter is so much like Sam, very calm, methodical and patient, and Georgie is so much like Jim, so not?”

Leonard laughed out loud. “The boy will take the universe by storm some day, same as his Uncle Jim.”

Aurelan giggled. “I’ll send him to you to tame him, you’ll have had a lot of great experience by then.”

“One can only hope,” Leonard responded. “Let me go call Win, and you can get your bath. We’re probably won’t have to wait too much longer for Commodore Castro to get that comm. One of us will come let you know. Try to rest now.”

Leonard went outside and surveyed the four Kirks. All of them so damn beautiful, he thought, looking at the sun kissed beautiful children, at Jim’s blue eyes that rivaled the color of the sky, his thick lashes turned golden by the sunlight, and at Winona’s lovely face soft with love for her grandchildren and her son. Jim and Winona looked a question over to him. “All good, no contractions, but she’d like a bed bath if you wouldn’t mind helping her, Win. I’ll take over for you here.”

They took turns pushing the excited Georgie on the swing, catching Peter as he shrieked coming down the slide. Jim looked at his comm. It was getting close to the children’s snack time, and the Commodore hadn’t commed. Good news that. The longer they could stretch the time out, the better for Sam’s retrieval team. The later the Commodore could stall, the better.

“Boys, it’s almost time for your snack. Let’s go inside and wash your hands and faces. What do you think about some oatmeal cookies and milk?” Jim asked.

Peter nodded. “I’m hungry, Uncle Jim.”

Hungee,” his little echo nodded his curly head in agreement.

Jim pulled Georgie out of the swing and set him down on the grass. “I’ll race you! If you're not fast you're last,” he crowed, pretending to run fast, pumping his arms and legs.

The boys squealed and ran into the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Ransom


Chapter 13

“A journey of a thousand miles

must begin with a single step.”


Lao Tzu

 

They all trooped inside the house. The children, rosy and hungry from the fresh air, sat at the kitchen table while Jim and Bones prepared their snack. The two ate hungrily, the outdoor play time giving them a bigger than usual appetite. Jim watched them lovingly. How he adored Sam’s children. To think that he might have missed the boys’ growing up years, their sweet love and affection for their “Unca Jim”, if he and Sam hadn’t made the effort to reconnect as brothers and find each other again. It gave him a frisson of horror when he allowed himself to think about it.

Someday, Jim mused, maybe he and Bones would experience this too, having children of their own. They had Joanna, and Jim loved her as if she was his own, but he wanted to experience having a child with Bones, however they could manage it. Whether by surrogate, adoption, or artificial womb, he didn’t care as long as it happened...having a Bones looking adorable baby would fill him with absolute joy. They had talked about it, in their quarters, in the dark, cozy and warm under Bones’ old quilt. That’s when, in soft hushed voices, they planned out what their lives would be like after their tour of duty. They hadn’t yet discussed a time frame, but now Jim felt that after finishing this tour of duty, it might be time to talk seriously about when adding a baby to their family might become possible.

Winona came out of Aurelan’s room. “Boys, mama would like to see you. You can sit on the big bed with her and read or just snuggle. She still has to stay in bed because the baby is kicking a lot. If you ask her, I bet mama will let you feel the baby kicking. Let’s go in the playroom and pick out a couple of books for her to read to you.”

She glanced at the clock. “Shouldn’t be too long now before the Admiral is finished with his “meeting.” I’ll be back when I get them settled,” she called back, as shooed the children out in front of her. “They can stay with Aurelan a good long while which will settle all three of them down. She’s really missing being with the children. I’ll fix their lunch in a little while and take everything on a big tray.” She smiled. “A bed picnic will be a treat for the three of them.”

Once the children were out of the room, Jim commed the ship to speak with Lt. Hannity. “Hannity, please go to a secure location.”

He waited until she said, “Captain. I’m in your ready room. Door is locked and sound proofing is on.”

“Good. I’m waiting for the Commodore to comm me, Lieutenant. I want you to join us on the retrieval team this evening. Please advice Mr. Chekov and Mr. Hendorff to begin all preparations. You being with us will help our odds, we’ll be seven to six. The four of you will beam here early this evening with the following equipment for each of us: night vision goggles, black hooded face masks and gloves, full rappelling equipment, charged phasers, ear buds for our comms, and stasis cuffs. I’ll want M’Ress on the com. I also want Lt. De Salle on the transporter and Lt. Reilly on the scanners. Inform Mr. De Salle that he will beam all the equipment down to Sam’s office. Scotty has the exact coordinates. I don’t want the children to see any of the equipment, so we’ll suit up once they’re safely tucked in bed.”

“I’ll get everything ready, Captain, and notify the other officers. Anything else, Sir?”

“Not at this time, thank you, Lieutenant. Kirk out.”

The listening Leonard shook his head. Even after all these years, he was still impressed by Jim’s thoroughness; his meticulous planning down to the last detail for all missions. This was exactly why Leonard hated games like chess where you had to think out many moves in advance. He was lousy with strategy, lousy at working out the pieces for puzzles, making all the disparate pieces fit until it became a whole picture. He much preferred direct, up front, hands-on techniques that plowed straight through. Jim said that’s why he was a brilliant surgeon, but shit at negotiations. Leonard could live with that, with leaving all that in Jim and Spock’s very capable hands.

Jim closed his comm and looked into Bones’ shining hazel eyes. “What?” He asked puzzled.

“You’re somethin’ else, you know that?” Leonard drawled. “Even after all these years, you still impress the hell out of me. Smart and good lookin’. I only hope to God that you’ll always use those brains of yours for the forces of good.”

Jim’s blue, blue, eyes lit up to an even more impossible blue. He suddenly grabbed Leonard, pasted himself against him, his breath light on his cheek and ear, his knees pressed against the warmth of McCoy’s thigh. “Glad I can still impress you, Bones,” he said, voice low and husky, before leaning in and gently catching Bones’ face with both hands, pulling him in for a quick, chaste kiss. He pulled back to look at him, aaaand yes, there it was, the dimple Jim adored which only showed up when Bones’ heart was full, happy, about something Jim had done.

Winona came back into the kitchen. “Get a room, you two.”

Leonard flushed red, but Jim just smiled at her and held on to Bones a little tighter.

“Mom! You’re embarrassing Bones...and me too,” he added, ducking his head a little with that sweet, unguarded smile on his face that always melted Leonard's heart every time he saw it.

“No reason to be embarrassed, sweetheart. It makes me happy to see you two happy. Your father and I were happy like that too, so very happy.” She smiled softly remembering. There was no sadness on her face, just a calm serenity and tenderness as she remembered the man she would love her whole life.

Jim’s comm interrupted the moment. “It’s the Commodore,” he told them. “Bones, go find Spock, please.”

“Captain,” came the tinny voice from the communicator. “I’m now officially “available” to take incoming comms. Lt. Scanlon will answer my comm and pass it over to me as soon as the kidnappers call. I didn’t want to put them off for too long for fear they would get suspicious. Also, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to talk to them. The contract is ready and it’s as simple and clear as possible. Mr. Spock read it over carefully and he approved the wording.”

Jim could hear the shuffling of the pads on the Commodore’s desk. “I expect to hear from the kidnappers any minute now about the delivery method for the contract. I’ve given Lt. Scanlon a dedicated comm just for their communications. No chance for interruptions that way. I’ve got the bank account number here on my desk. I don’t anticipate any problems or questions after they receive the contract, so I’m sure they’ll sign it and return it quickly with their encrypted chip. Are Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov ready with Sam’s research? Is the worm installed? Because they’re going to be impatient about getting their hands on that chip.”

“Yes, Sir. The research is ready to go and Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov have installed the worm. I can assure you that it’s totally undetectable, deeply embedded and completely hidden.”

“Good. Good.”

“Also, Commodore, we decided to down load everything into a temporary data chip first. As soon as you receive the coordinates, Mr. Spock will transfer the research to the kidnappers’s own encrypted chip for the beam out. We didn’t want to transfer anything directly from Sam’s computer to their chip, just as an extra precaution. I think we’re alright on time for tonight, Sir. Mr. Spock assures me that checking Sam’s research will be a long and tedious process which should keep them occupied for many hours, hopefully well into the night. I looked the research over myself before we transferred it to the temporary chip, and Sam’s data is very complex, full of difficult algorithms. While they’re occupied with the data, Scotty will be able to tell us exactly where they are in the room by reading their heat signatures and at that time we’ll make our move from the roof....”

“Captain.” The Commodore interrupted in a whisper. “Lt. Scanlon is here. The comm from the kidnappers has come in. I’ll contact you after I speak with them.” He hung up without another word.

Spock and Leonard came hurrying back into the kitchen. Jim closed his comm looking at them with wide eyes. “It’s time,” he told them. “The kidnappers are speaking with the Commodore right now. He’ll call back as soon as he can.”

Winona came back from Aurelan’s bedroom and Jim told her that contact with the Commodore had been made. The four of them settled in to wait, the silence heavy and oppressive. Winona, Leonard and Spock sat at the table, while Jim paced. Up and down, up and down he paced, his face tight, his teeth worrying at his lower lip, restless and apprehensive. Spock sat still and impassive, while Winona sat immobile with her hands gripped so tightly that her knuckles showed white. Leonard’s eyes never left the pacing Jim.

The minutes crept by slowly, Jim’s comm was on the table between them all, a small dark thing, remaining stubbornly silent. Damn, it’s taking too long, thought Jim.

No one moved, no one said a word. Finally, Jim’s communicator beeped softly, he looked down. The comm was from the Commodore’s personal, highly classified communicator ID.

“Captain.” The Commodore’s voice sounded a bit weary.

“Commodore! We were getting anxious. What happened, Sir? Did everything go alright?”

“Yes, well. Not at first,” the Commodore answered tiredly. “First, I had to listen to a lengthy angry tirade about keeping them waiting when they first contacted me. The man went on and on about how I had put Sam’s life in danger by making them wait. I could tell it was all a bluff, Captain. I may not be out in the black commanding a ship like you are, but I am a fully trained Starfleet officer and I know a bluff when I hear one. They were trying to rattle my nerves, but I didn’t lose my composure. I let him talk, then I gave back as good as I got. I told the bastard off, pretended to be angry. I asked him if he wanted me to antagonize the Admiralty and put the sale of the grain research in jeopardy? Did he want me to risk a charge of insubordination by ignoring a comm from the Admiralty, get myself replaced, and possibly have another officer take over the Deneva Research facility? I reminded him that if that happened, there would be nothing I could do. I would have to follow my orders from High Command and step down.” Jim could hear the grim chuckle over the comm. “When I said that, the kidnapper backed down immediately, started to back pedal right away. Admitted that I had made the correct decision not to antagonize high command and endanger both the sale and Sam. You and your mother were absolutely correct, Captain. It is a war of nerves, but I stood firm.”

Jim breathed a silent sigh of relief as the Commodore went on. “The kidnapper then gave me the coordinates to beam in the contract to them. Scanlon sent it just a moment ago. I anticipate that they’ll have someone knowledgeable look it over very carefully. It’ll be checked with a fine toothed comb before returning it to me with their signature and approval. I will however check it over again myself to make sure it hasn’t been altered in any way.”

“Hopefully, Sir, right after that, they’ll deposit half the credits in the bank and send you their encrypted chip to download.”

“So I assume, Captain. I will not budge from my office until I get the signed contract back from them and they notify me that half the credits have been deposited. As soon as both those transactions take place, I’ll send the kidnappers the encrypted chip with Sam’s research. Meanwhile all we can do is wait.”

“I’ll comm Admiral Jameson right away to update him. Thank you, Admiral.”

“We’re almost there, Captain. I’ll update you as soon as I hear more. Castro out.”

Jim turned to the waiting group. He gave them an exuberant thumbs up and Winona and Bones sighed in relief. Even Spock’s shoulders relaxed.

“It’s on!” Jim’s eyes glowed. At last things were falling into place and they could retrieve Sam tonight. “We just have to wait for them to beam in the encrypted chip, send it back to them, wait for it to get dark, suit up and we’ll go get Sam.”

“Oh Jim,” his mother closed her eyes in relief, then smiled brilliantly at her younger son. She reached her hand out to him.

“I know, mom.” Jim grasped her small capable hand in his large warm one. “We’ll have Sam back before you know it. By late tonight if everything goes well.”

Winona stood briskly. “I’m going to cook a big lunch,” she smiled radiantly at the three men. “It’ll keep me occupied, and everyone can eat well. I’ll set some food aside for the ship’s crew for later on, because I doubt that anyone will be interested in food tonight.”

They all helped Winona with lunch. Winona took a lunch tray in to Aurelan and collected the children for their own lunch at the table. After lunch, Leonard took the boys to their room. With the promise of a story, he succeeded in putting them down for their nap. Now that Aurelan had eaten a good lunch, Jim went in to tell her that tonight was it...they were going to bring Sam home.

“Oh, Jim!” Aurelan burst into tears when she heard the news. “I know you’ll bring him home, but I’m so frightened. What if something goes wrong!” Her whole body shook with her sobs. Aurelan had been so stoic and controlled, but now her control, to Jim’s alarm, had finally broken.

Jim put his arms around her. “Shhh,” he soothed her. “Everything’ll be all right, Aurelan. Please don’t cry, it’s not good for the baby for you to get upset like this.”

Aurelan’s shoulders shook in his arms. “I know,” she whispered through her sobs. “I’m trying to stop, but I can’t seem to!”

Jim gently disengaged himself. “I’ll go get Bones.” He hurried to the boy’s room and stood silently at the door. Leonard looked up from the book he was reading.

“I need you,” he mouthed silently. “Aurelan.”

“The end,” Bones said. “Here’s Uncle Jim, boys.” He bent and kissed the two curly heads. He met Jim’s worried eyes and hurried out.

Jim leaned down to kiss first Peter, then Georgie in the other bed. “Have a good nap, boys. Nana said you could have some screen time after nap,” Jim improvised quickly. “But you have to go right to sleep.” He stood between the beds looking down at them sternly, and two pair of blue eyes closed tightly. “Good job,” he said softly and closed the door the door behind him.

He hurried back to his mother and Spock in the kitchen. “Aurelan is very upset. Bones is with her right now. Her composure finally cracked when I told her we’re going to get Sam tonight.”

Winona sighed worriedly. “I was afraid of that. She’s been so strong, but under that facade, Sam’s kidnapping has taken a terrible psychological toll on her. She’s tried so hard to be strong for the boys and for the baby.” She bit her lip. “Shall I go in to her, Jim?”

“Let’s wait on Bones, mom. See what he says. I’m sure he’s doing his best to calm her down.”

They waited impatiently until at last Leonard came in. “I gave her a sedative,” he said. “It’s a little stronger than I like, but she was very upset. Her hormones are all over the place, too. I’m going to alert Christine and Geoffrey to get ready. I’m not sure how much longer I can delay childbirth.”

The afternoon dragged by. Under Leonard’s watchful eye, Aurelan slept on. The children woke up from their naps, and Winona put on another Disney movie for them to watch. The boys were delighted. It was more screen time than mama ever allowed them to have.

Jim, desperate for something to do while they waited for the Commodore’s comm, asked Spock to play a game of chess. He had to do something to keep his mind occupied. Winona busied herself with baking cookies, while Leonard on Sam’s large comm in the study, conferred at length with Christine and Geoffrey about the ship’s obstetrics setup. He had already forwarded them Aurelan’s stats, her previous labors’ duration, her list of prenatal and current vitamins and meds, and her height and weight.

Thankfully, Aurelan was a healthy, strong young woman, with a history of normal childbirths behind her. It was due to the stress of Sam’s kidnapping that her current pregnancy had turned risky. Finally, Christine called a halt to Leonard’s fretting, her face on the comm stern and determined.

“Boss, stop worrying. Geoff and I are ready when you and Aurelan need us. There’s nothing else for us to do except wait for her labor to start. We’re on it. Let’s just hope Sam is back before the birth.”

Leonard sighed. Christine and Geoff were the best, but he couldn’t help worrying. He was going crazy waiting. “You’re right, Christine. I’m just antsy. And now I have to talk to Jim about my staying behind in case Aurelan....”

“Leonard, no!” Geoffrey interrupted. “Christine and I will beam down to keep an eye on Aurelan while you’re gone. You need to be with the team. What if something happens and they need a doctor?”

“Len, you know how Jim is,” Christine interjected. “You need to be with him! If anyone is going to get injured, it’ll be the Captain.”

Leonard felt torn. Aurelan was his patient right now, and she and the baby needed the very best care, but as CMO, his primary responsibility was first and foremost to the Captain of the ship...to Jim. Finally he sighed in resignation, “Yeah, I know exactly how Jim is, and you’re right. If anyone’s going to get hurt it’ll be him. Alright, Geoff, Aurelan will be in yours and Christine’s care tonight until we get back.”

“Good. You’ve made the right decision. Christine and I will beam down this evening. We’ll be with her the whole time you’re gone.”

“I’ll tell Aurelan. She already knows the two of you so I’m sure she’ll be fine with you monitoring her.” He said goodbye, closed the comm, and went to check on the boys. The vid was almost finished and Leonard decided to take them outside again to play on the swing set for a while. The sun would be setting soon, and then it’d be time for their supper, bath time, a little cuddle time with mama, and then bed time.

They were just sitting down to dinner when Jim’s comm beeped. He rose from his chair. “It’s the Commodore. I’ll take it in the study,” he said. “Spock, with me.”

Winona and Leonard waited impatiently, but mindful of the children, pretended to eat until Jim came back.

When Jim and Spock returned, they sat down. With a glance at the boys, he held up his now silent comm. “The Commodore’s business is finished. Our retrieval team is scheduled to assemble tonight at 0100. According to the Admiral, everything went very smoothly, no problems or issues. The credits were deposited in the bank without incident. They were fine with the contract, and the deposit took place immediately afterward. The Commodore then received the coordinates for the data chip beam out. Spock had Mr. Scott send our prepared data chip directly to the Commodore’s office and it’s already been beamed to the buyers,” he said, carefully. “After dinner I’ll brief Admiral Jameson. He’ll be pleased that everything went well. Our team is set to go at 0200.”

His mother nodded, then bent her head down blinking rapidly so the children couldn’t see the sudden sheen of tears in her eyes. Jim placed his warm hand over hers and squeezed it in comfort. “You’ll see, Mom, all of us will be back before you know it.”

He leaned his elbows on the table, and with fork in hand, he smiled brilliantly at the children. “So, boys who wants to tell me all about the Disney vid you watched this afternoon? Unca Jim has been working all afternoon, so I missed all of it. Was it good?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter Text

Ransom

 

Chapter 14

“The Wrong shall fail the Right prevail...”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

The transporter’s soft silvery whine signaled the last of the team members to beam in from the ship. Hannity and Chekov had arrived. The rescue team was now complete, Spock, Scotty, Hendorff, Chekov, Hannity, Bones, and Jim. Scotty had beamed down a bit earlier bringing with him the two bins filled with everything Jim had requested for use for the mission.

The two large SF military bins were filled to their brims with everything they needed for Sam’s rescue: the body armor, night goggles, thick black long sleeved shirts, black face hoods, heavy black gloves, rappelling equipment, ropes, hooks and anchors, the ear buds for their comms, and on top of each pile, their fully charged hand phasers set on heavy stun. Bones' complete medical field kit was on top of his pile. Jim knew that Bones had already checked its contents or he wouldn't have set the med field kit down. Spock double checked the hand phasers to make sure they were fully charged. At the last minute, Jim had Hendorff add six stasis cuffs to the pile. It would be easier on everyone if the kidnappers, once apprehended, were unable to make any surprise moves.

The group stood ready in the study waiting for their Captain to give his last minute orders. “All right, everyone, let’s suit up. After we’re ready we’ll do a comm check with Lt. M’Ress.”

Winona came in to the study accompanied by Admiral Castro. He’d transported in and would wait with her until the team returned. Everyone saluted the Admiral as he walked in, but he waved away their salutes. “Let’s dispense with protocol for the duration of this mission,” he told them. “Please, carry on.”

“I just checked on Aurelan and she and the children are fast asleep,” Winona told Leonard. “The sedative you gave her helped to calm her. The wait would have been too stressful for her. Dr. M’Benga and Christine are in the bedroom with her, so stop worrying, Leonard. She’ll be fine while you’re gone.”

He nodded, resigned to leaving his patient in the hands of someone else. It’s not something he was comfortable with, but as his grandpa used to say when something had to be done, ‘needs must when the devil drives’. He just couldn’t trust Jim’s safety in anyone’s hands except his own. So now here he was getting ready to go down a nine story wall just to be with his idiot Captain. How was this his life?

They helped one another put on the light weight body armor with its complicated straps and fasteners in the back, then everyone clipped on their phasers and communicators, draped the rappelling equipment diagonally over chest and shoulders, and put on their thick gloves. The hoods could wait until they were on the roof. Lastly, Leonard hefted his field med kit and put it carefully across his body patting it softly. Truth be told, these days he never went on a mission without a fully outfitted  field med bag right on him. He’d edited and added to its contents through the years, and Starfleet had taken his suggestions very seriously in outfitting the newest medical field med kits. He checked the contents again, meeting Jim’s knowing eyes. He admitted to himself that he was a little paranoid about its contents, but then with Jim Kirk and his history of mishaps, allergies, injuries and even death, paranoia was a close intimate friend.

Jim opened his comm. “Captain Kirk to Lt. M’Ress. Are you ready for our comm check, Lieutenant?”

“Yesss, Sssir. Ready.” One by one she called the team members through their ear buds. One by one each of them responded.

“All ear budsss are active and connected to my main comm board, Captain.”

“Very good, Lieutenant.”

“Kirk to Lt. De Salle.”

“De Salle here, Captain.”

“Lieutenant, we’re ready. We’ll beam in to the roof two at a time to avoid making too much noise. I’ll go first, then Dr. McCoy with Mr. Spock, then Hannity and Chekov, and last Scotty and Hendorff. Is Mr. Reilly there with you manning the sensors?”

“Aye, Sir.”

“Good, I’m ready. Wait 10 seconds between beam ins. Use the exact same coordinates for everyone. The coordinates are for the West corner of the roof and we’ll rappel down from that wall.” Jim turned to his mother and kissed her lightly, reassuringly. “See you in a little while, Mom. Sam will be with us when we get back.”

Winona nodded. “Be safe, sweetheart, and bring him home.”

“Good luck, Captain,” the Commodore said.

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Energize,” Jim said into his comm. He materialized on the roof and moved out of the way. Ten seconds later Bones and Spock appeared, then Hannity and Hendorff and last, Scotty and Chekov.

“Lt. M’Ress,” Jim spoke softly but clearly. “Tell Reilly we’re ready for the visual feed on the room and it’s occupants.”

“Aye, Ssssir.”

Immediately, Reilly sent the real time read out to all their comms. Jim motioned to the team to come in close and huddle together.

“All six men are there,” he whispered into their ear pieces, pointing to the infrared bodies. “Look,” he said, indicating the two figures at the table, their heads bent over a monitor. “Looks like they’re going over the research. And there’s Sam,” he pointed to the figure on a chair. His head was bent low and he was still. “Looks like he’s asleep, and he’s well away from the cots where the other four are sleeping. That’s good.”

He looked at the sensor readout carefully, and gave his orders very softly. “Scotty scanned the windows and they’re cheaply made of a polymer based transparent material. One strong kick and they’ll give way easily. Be sure to unclip your rope immediately once you’re in. Spock, you and I will grab the two men working at the table, Scotty, Chekov, you get the ones on the cots closest to Sam. Hannity, Hendorff, you grab the other two. Bones, you go directly to Sam, untie him, and check him over for injuries.”

He looked sternly at his team. “Put stasis cuffs on them immediately, we want them subdued and disabled. If anyone resists or puts up a fight, stun the hell out of them! Don’t even hesitate. We’re not going to prolong this. Spock, we’ll need to take that computer with us. We’re going to back track every movement these bastards made and bring down their seed company. It’ll be the end of them. Alright, people, let’s get down this wall and get to Sam.”

They moved to the West edge of the roof and Jim eyed them carefully. They looked ready; alert and at ease about climbing down the wall. Every member of Jim’s crew who was on rotation for away missions, including the Med bay staff, was fully trained in climbing and rappelling. It was necessary to have the skill since some of the planets they visited were often primitive, their terrains hilly, mountainous, rocky and unstable. Also, with the young, intrepid crew that Jim led, one never knew if a Med Bay medic would be needed to reach an injured crew member who’d fallen off a cliff or mountain ledge. Therefore, climbing walls were standard obstacle equipment in the large Enterprise gym. Lieutenant Commander Hendorff and his security team routinely gave rappelling lessons to new crew members, and as Chief of Security, it was Hendorff who made sure everyone kept their climbing and rappelling skills current.

Jim checked the scanner for the location of each kidnapper one last time. None of them had moved. “All right, people, put on your masks and anchor your ropes. We’re going down.”

They each put on their harness and personal anchor system. The anchor was attached to their harness by a hitch and then tied through the tie-in points. They threaded the thick rope through a special device attached to the harness, pulled the rope down between their legs, around the back of their thighs, and diagonally across their chest. Then the rope went over one shoulder, and was anchored and held behind their backs. With one hand they grasped the rope tightly behind them, and with the other hand they grasped the front rope. This was the safest way for them to rappel without additional climbing equipment.

The climbed over the edge of the roof, one after the other, aligning themselves in twos along the masonry walls separating the eight windows. The Wast side of the building was very dark with no ambient or street lights anywhere close by, and the night was eerily silent as they slowly, very slowly, descended the wall. Their boots had synthetic heels, which cut down the noise even more, the only sounds in the night were their heavy breathing and the soft clink now and then from one of the anchors. Jim kept a close eye on Bones, but saw that he was doing fine sliding down the rope.

There was enough friction created by their thick clothes and gloves to give them a controlled, slow descent down the wall. It was imperative that that there was no noise to warn the kidnappers. They planted their booted feet against the wall as softly as possible and leaned back at a 45 degree angle for the ropes to support them against the wall. They reached the areas of the double windows and everyone aligned themselves on each side of the windows. They turned to look at Jim, dangling, waiting, as he raised his hand, the signal to stay still. They hung there suspended in mid-air against the wall, all eyes on Jim, waiting for him to give the Go signal. The Captain raised his hand high, then held up his fingers: Three, two, one. “Go!” He yelled and they simultaneously crashed through the windows, their booted feet breaking the fragile fake glass!

The shards of clear window material flew everywhere. Jim and Spock, along with the others landed inside the room, hastily unclipped their rope and drew their phasers. The two men at the table stood startled and their chairs fell over. One of them lunged at Jim, grabbing him, pressing his fingers hard around his neck, the surge of adrenalin from his fright giving him added strength. Jim, hampered by the hold on his phaser tried to push him away, but the man just tightened his grip harder against his trachea. Jim was now fighting for breath, his vision fading to black, until desperately he brought his phaser up against the man’s body and pulled the trigger. The kidnapper fell like a srone. The other man had grappled with Spock, but was quickly subdued with a nerve pinch. He, too, dropped to the floor with a loud thump. Jim bent forward, hands on his knees fighting to catch his breath.

“Captain, are you alright?”

”Fine, Spock,” Jim wheezed. He flapped his hand at Spock to check on the kidnappers.

Spock quickly turned his attention to the two prone men, flipped them over and cuffed them. The other four, woken by the noise, saw themselves surrounded by Scotty, Chekov, Hannity, and Hendorff who all had phasers pointing straight at them. There was no resistance, the men had been sound asleep, and were too surprised and groggy to put up any kind of a fight.

“Cuff them, Tom,” Jim ordered Hendorff, finally regaining his breath. The four men still sat on their cots, shocked and completely disoriented by events as the stasis cuffs were put on them.

Once all six were cuffed, they were ushered together to the middle of the floor. Hendorff pushed them down until they were all sitting in a circle. Spock shoved and pulled at the two unconscious men to lie with them.

Jim finally holstered his phaser and rushed over to Sam. Leonard had untied him and was kneeling in front of him, massaging his wrists and legs trying to get the blood in his hands and feet circulating again.

“He’s all right, Jim. A little dehydrated and stiff from the ropes. His circulation is slowly coming back, but he’s all right. I gave him a little triox compound to help things along.”

Sam looked up at Jim. “I’m okay, Jim; really, I’m fine.” He smiled wanly, obviously exhausted. “I knew if anyone could find me, it’d be you.”

Leonard got out of the way, as Jim knelt in front of Sam. “Sam, Sam, thank God you’re alright! I was scared shitless! Are you really okay?” He scanned his brother’s face, seeing the last signs of stress and worry on his face fading away, seeing the dawning happiness and relief evident in Sam’s sky blue eyes. His fingers curled around Sam’s black shirted biceps and Sam leaned in to hug Jim tightly, relishing the feel of him. Jim was warm, and there was both home and comfort in his strong arms.

“Jim! I’m so damned glad to see you,” Sam whispered. “I’m all right, really, Jim. They didn’t mistreat me; not a scratch or dent on me,” he added, as Jim ran anxious hands all over him. “Aurelan? The boys? Mom? I’ve been worried sick about them.”

“Everyone’s fine, Sam,” Jim said, not letting go. “Bones put Aurelan to bed, all the stress of your kidnapping was hard on her and she started having contractions, but Bones stopped them,” he added seeing Sam’s alarm. “He’s the best, Sam. She’s doing okay. We told the boys your job was keeping you away, and we’ve all been giving them lots of extra attention. They’ve been missing you, especially Peter, but they’re fine. Mom is okay too, worried sick, but okay.” He looked down at the blue eyes exactly like his own. “Do you think you can stand up now?”

“I think so, sitting for so long is hard on the human body, they only let me get up to use the bathroom,” he said ruefully, trying to lever himself up on the chair arms. Jim standing very close, provided a steadying hand as he got to his feet. He stayed close just in case Sam needed help.

Leonard ran the medical tricorder over him again once he was standing up, looking carefully at the read out. “He’s good, darlin’. I’ll have him walk around the room a little while you all finish up. Sam’s right, sittin’ so long, isn’t good for a body, especially tied up like he was,” he added, leading Sam gently forward, his hand secure around his bicep in case he got dizzy.

“Good, that’s good,” Jim breathed a sigh of relief, giving Sam one more tight hug before letting him go. “We’re going to get you home in a few minutes, Sammy, just hold on. I’m going to comm mom.” He pulled out his comm and it was answered immediately.

“Jim....” his mothers’s choked voice answered.

“Mom! Mom! We’ve got him!. Sam’s right here by me, he’s fine, he’s just fine. Go wake up Aurelan and tell her we’ll be home in a little while and you’ll both be able to talk to him. We just have to take care of a few things here. Shouldn’t take too long. Don’t you worry anymore about Sam, mom, Bones checked him over and he’s fine. He’s a little worn out and worried about Aurelan, you, and the boys, but he’s fine. They didn’t hurt him.”

“Oh, Jim sweetheart, that’s wonderful news! Thank God! I’ll go tell Aurelan right now.”

“Mom, could you let me speak with the Commodore, please.”

“Castro here....”

“We’ve got them, Sir! We got them all, the six of them. We completely surprised them, subdued and cuffed them before they knew what hit them. They’ll need to be put in the brig right away. I can hold them in the Enterprise brig temporarily until the formal arrest and arraignment tomorrow, if you’re agreeable with that, Commodore.”

“Absolutely! We can take care of everything else tomorrow, or should I say later today. Let them cool their heels for a while in your brig. They deserve it! Excellent work, Captain! You and your team deserve the highest commendations for this mission. It will be my pleasure to tell Admiral Jameson so.”

“Thank you, Sir. It’s a huge relief to have Sam safe and sound. Could I ask you to comm Admiral Jameson and update him? I have my hands full at the moment, Commodore.” Jim looked ruefully around. That was a vast understatement.

“I’ll take care of it right away, Captain. Please tell Sam that Mrs. Castro and I are very happy and relieved that he’s fine. We hope to see him later. Castro out.”

Jim toggled his comm again. “Kirk to De Salle.”

“De Salle here, Captain.”

“Mr. De Salle, we have six prisoners here to beam up to the ship. They’re to placed in the brig as soon as they are beamed in. Have a large Security detail ready in the transporter room to receive them. Also, I want them housed separately in the brig. I don’t want them to be able to talk to each other before we have the chance to question them. Please see to it, Lieutenant. I’m sending you their coordinates now.”

“Aye, Sir. Security will be here shortly, I’ll inform them immediately.”

The team and Sam waited silently until De Salle’s voice informed Jim. “Ready for beam up of the prisoners, Sir. The Security detail is here.”

“Energize, Mr. de Salle.” They watched as the six men, the unconscious ones now awake and looking dazed, disappeared in the transporter beam.

De Salle’s voice came back on Jim’s comm. “Got them all, Sir. Security is escorting them to the brig.”

“Excellent. We’re about finished here, Mr. de Salle, so please notify Mr. Reilly and Lt. M’Ress they are relieved. Let them know that this mission has been concluded successfully. You’ll also be relieved as soon as you beam us back to the house. Just give us a few minutes to collect their computer and any Intel, and I’ll comm you when we’re ready. After that you can get some rest, and, Mr. De Salle, the three of you did an outstanding job on this mission. Thank you.”

“Our pleasure, Sir. And may I say on behalf of your crew, that we’re very happy about the very successful outcome of this particular mission. I’ll wait for your comm. De Salle out.”

“Hannity, you and Hendorff go over this place with a fine tooth comb. Gather any personal items, padds, whatever you find. See if you can find something to put everything in. I want the two of you to take everything back to the ship, take holos of each item, and then seal them as evidence. The Commodore will need everything we find here for their trial. Mr. Chekov, you and Mr. Spock, check that computer with a fine tooth comb. Be sure you destroy the chip we sent with Sam’s research. Nobody’s getting their hands on that research, trial or no trial. The Commodore’s and Sam’s testimony will be more than enough to convict them. I’m going to take holos of this place. It will show the tribunal where Sam was held prisoner.”

He did so, all the while keeping a close and anxious eye on Sam as Bones walked him slowly around the room. Sam caught his eye and grinned. “I’m doing fine, Jim. Quit worrying about me. Just anxious to get home and see Aurelan, Mom, and the boys.”

Hannity and Hendorff beamed back to the ship with everything they’d collected in the room. Chekov and Spock sat at the kidnapper’s computer and quickly and efficiently destroyed the files with Sam’s research in it, then destroyed the chip, and deleted everything referring to it from the hard drive and history. They also made sure it was unrecoverable. Scotty and Jim picked up all the rappelling equipment and the broken windows debris. Jim looked around. There wasn’t anything else that needed to be done. Time to take Sam home.

He opened his mouth to tell everyone it was time to go, when Bones’ comm beeped.

“McCoy here.”

“Leonard.” It was Christine’s voice. “Aurelan has gone into labor. It’s going pretty fast, so Geoff decided to deliver the baby here, too risky transporting her while she’s in actual labor. Barrows already beamed down everything we need for the baby’s delivery. If you want Commander Kirk to be present for this baby’s birth, you guys better get here pretty fast. And don’t worry, Aurelan is doing great. It’s just that this is her third baby, so her labor isn’t going to take long.”

“Jim!” Sam’s anguished cry echoed across the room. “Get me home, please, Jim. I have to be there for the birth of the baby!”

Leonard cast Jim a long look. He wanted to be there too. After all, Aurelan was his patient. Jim already had his comm out and calling the ship. “Everyone stand here around me,” he told them. “We’re leaving.” Then to Sam, grinning. “Don’t you worry, daddy, you’ll be there in a minute.”

They all scrambled to get close to Jim. “Kirk here, Mr. De Salle, five to beam back to the Kirk house.”

“Aye, Sir. Beaming you there now.” And with a silvery chime, the transporter beam took them home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter Text

Ransom

Chapter 15

Epilogue

“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”
Timothy 4, 6-8

Three days later...

Aurelan came in the kitchen carrying the sleeping baby wrapped in a soft white blanket with only her downy blond head showing. Jim got to his feet and pulled out a chair. “Here, sit down, Aurelan.” His long finger came up to stroke the baby’s velvety pink cheek. “She’s so beautiful,” he whispered, a reverent look on his face. They had all gathered for breakfast, and after the boys finished eating, Sam was going to take them to school.

“She is, isn’t she,” Sam said coming in with Georgie on his shoulders and Peter by his side already dressed for pre school. “All us Kirk men make fine looking babies. Isn’t that right mom?” He asked her grinning widely.

“Well,” Winona said thoughtfully. “I see an awful lot of Aurelan in this baby girl.”

“Mom!” protested Sam. “You know she looks exactly like Jim when he was a newborn. I have the holos to prove it.”

“Really?” Jim beamed, sitting down by the baby. “I don’t think I’ve seen those. You hear that Jamie Leanora Kirk? You look like your Uncle Jim.” He sighed happily. “Bones and I are thrilled by your choice of names for this sweet baby, aren’t we, Bones.”

“We sure are. It was a wonderful surprise.”

“You can thank Aurelan for that one,” Sam told them, “but I wholeheartedly agreed. Small enough thanks for what you two did for us.”

Aurelan smiled down at the baby. “She’s named after the two men I love best, besides Sam of course,” she leaned over to give them each a kiss on the cheek, then looked up at Sam standing beside her. “She really is a very pretty baby,” she agreed.

“Peety,” Georgie said from his perch on his father’s shoulders looking down at the tiny baby in his mother’s arms. “My baby,” he said decidedly.

They laughed. Everybody wanted to claim the beautiful Jamie

This morning Sam would be taking Peter and Georgie to school for the first time since the kidnapping, then coming back to say goodbye. Jim, Leonard, and Winona were leaving. The Enterprise would rendezvous with The Equinox tomorrow afternoon to drop Winona off, and then the ship would resume its mission.

Sam set Georgie down on the floor. “It’s time for school, boys. Noni, Unca Jim and Unca Bones are leaving today. They’re going back to the ship, so give them a big hug and a kiss, and say goodbye.”

The two children went around the table for their hugs and kisses. First to Leonard, then to Winona, and finally to Jim. Peter was stoic in his goodbyes, his eyes sad and solemn, but when Georgie got to Jim, he climbed up on Jim, grabbed him by the neck, put his curly head in the crook of his neck and sniffed. Jim hugged the small warm body closer. “I’ll see you soon, Georgie,” he told him patting him gently. “When we’re back on the ship, we’ll talk on the big comm again like we usually do and Wedns will be there too for you to see him. Okay?”

Georgie nodded against his shoulder. Jim’s eyes met Sam’s helplessly. Goodbyes never got easier.

“Kiss mama, boys. She has to go feed Jamie.” Sam grabbed Georgie from Jim’s lap and tickled his tummy gently. “Time to go, buddy, or you’ll be late for school.” He took them both by the hands and led them out. Georgie’s sad little face turned back to look at them.

There was silence after the children left, Winona, blinking rapidly to clear her vision. It was very hard for them to leave Deneva especially now with the new baby.

                                                       ———————~~~~~~~~——————

Jamie Leanora Kirk was born after a very short labor. Sam made it back just in time, and helped Aurelan through the end of her labor and Jamie’s actual birth which had been without incident. Leonard observed, and Christine and Geoffrey handled the actual birth.

Jamie weighed in at six pounds five ounces, and after a thorough going over by Geoffrey and Leonard both, she was declared perfect. The baby hadn’t even needed the incubator. Her lungs, heart, and reflexes were just fine. Jim, Winona, Spock, Chekov and Scotty waited in the living room. When Leonard came in with the good news, the four grinned, cheered softly, and finally relaxed. Even Spock smiled. Sam came back to the living room beaming, to receive hearty congratulations and thumps on the back. In turn, he and Jim expressed heartfelt thanks to the crew. Jim dismissed them to go back to the ship to get some rest, and after checking on Aurelan and the baby one last time, Geoffrey and Christine also returned to the ship. Winona, Spock and Jim had gone in to see the sleeping baby, congratulate the tired mama and then Leonard sent everyone to bed for a couple of hours of rest. Peter and Georgie would be up soon enough. The three of them, as Starfleet officers, had gone without sleep many times, and they would all nap in the afternoon, but some rest was needed and welcomed.

After Sam’s rescue came three very eventful, stressful days. The Commodore dismissed the two security details and filed his official report with the Admiralty on everything that had happened. The credits deposited in the bank by the kidnappers, were confiscated by the Fleet Advocate General’s Office for evidence at the trial. The Ensign who leaked the information was arrested, charged, and currently awaiting court martial, the 9th floor room in the building was sealed for forensic analysis, and the broken window repaired. Sam’s research on the kidnapper’s computer and on the data chip was destroyed by the worm which Chekov activated. Jim made his report to Admiral Jameson, and Spock briefed Ambassador Sarek and Nyota about the success of Sam’s rescue mission.

The next day, Spock said his goodbyes. Sarek sent the Vulcan Embassy ship to pick him up, and he would be reunited with Nyota and Amanda late today. Jim and Leonard would see them soon at Amanda’s christening.

Jim and the Commodore worked non stop after Sam’s rescue. The six prisoners were relentlessly questioned for hours, one by one. With them separated in the brig, they had no opportunity to collude with each other on their story. The results of the intense questioning had been worse than anticipated.

Every one of the kidnappers had finally been identified. All six were high level officials of six different seed and grain corporations across the Alpha quadrant. They had banded together not to obtain Sam’s research in order to have a monopoly on the seed and raise the price as Jim and the Commodore had first thought. Their plan was much more nefarious than that, their collusion on a much grander scale. Their desire to obtain Sam’s research was not to duplicate and grow the blight resistant quadrotriticale grain, but rather, after making sure the research was what it was proported to be, it was going to be completely destroyed. The six were going to get rid of all of Sam’s research so that no Federation world could benefit from it. If famine did strike, the six corporations would hold the famine stricken planet and the Federation hostage, forcing them to pay any price they specified for additional grain and replacement seeds purchases. Once Sam’s research was destroyed, it would have taken him many years to replicate his work.

The six men knew all too well that there were still many single crop planets like Tarsus at risk for famine. Try as the Federation agronomists would to change things, there were still farming cultures who, for religious or cultural reasons, resisted changing their monoculture farming. They absolutely refused to change their single crop agricultural focus to diversify their crops. This meant that famine was still a real possibility on these planets, especially in the far flung Federation colony worlds where help would be slow to reach them.

After they concluded their final interrogations of the six kidnappers and pieced together the whole horrific plan, the Commodore and Jim came together in a quiet corner of the dining room for a stiff drink. They both felt angry and sick at heart at the greedy immorality and sheer evil of the six men.

“I take comfort in knowing the six of them will spend the rest of their miserable lives on Rura Penthe, Captain. I understand meals for the prisoners there are quite meager. I hope they’ll find out what it’s like to really be hungry, to never get enough to eat,” the Commodore said wearily.

Jim shuddered, taking a big gulp of his drink. He was completely unable to express how he felt about what they’d discovered, shying carefully away from his memories of Tarsus. Rura Penthe, the penal colony in the Beta quadrant, was the place where only the worst of the worst prisoners were sent. In the eyes of the Federation tribunal, plans for extorting credits from a starving, famine stricken planet was the worst, so there was little doubt that’s where the six men would go, sentenced to life imprisonment. There they would work in the dilithium mines under the watchful eyes of the Klingons who oversaw the mines. Rura Penthe was the coldest habitable asteroid in the quadrant, and Klingons one and all hated the cold, so being stationed there made them even meaner and more rapacious. The Federation and Starfleet seldom interfered in the running of the prison; they left it to the Klingons to run it as they saw fit.

So that was that. The six prisoners were out of their hands, already far from Deneva on their way to judgement by the Starfleet Military tribunal in San Francisco.

“Sam’s research will be presented at the next Sector Agronomy meeting, Captain. He and I spoke briefly about it on the comm. It will be a huge surprise to those attending, and I for one, am really looking forward to seeing everyone’s reaction. If at all possible I know it would mean the world to Sam if you could attend.”

“I’ll do my best, Sir, I’ll put in for leave as soon as I know the dates.”

The Commodore looked pleased. “After you leave, Sam’s coming to the office to visit with the staff and reassure them that he’s fine.” He smiled. “Sam’s staff is planning a welcome back party for him, but please don’t tell him. After that, he’ll be on official paternity leave.”

Jim grinned. “My lips are sealed, Commodore. Sam will enjoy it, I’m sure.” He stood. “I’ll take my leave of you, Sir. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to resume our mission. Thank you for everything, Admiral. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude for all you did. Sam is very lucky to have a Commanding Officer like you.” He shook hands with the Admiral.

“On the contrary, Captain. I’m lucky to have an officer like Sam under my command. He’s a remarkable man.” He smiled gently. “It seems all the Kirks are. Goodbye, Jim. It’s been a privilege.”

Jim watched him stride away. Sam was right, Commodore Castro was a great guy. He sighed. Time to go home and enjoy the last few hours with his family and put memories of Tarsus away, in the distant past where they belonged.

That night they’d had their last dinner together. Winona and Leonard cooked southern style fried chicken and gravy, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, corn bread and pecan pie. Leonard ignored his conscience telling him that all that fatty food was bad for everyone, and enjoyed the hell out of eating it all.                                                        

                                                                ——————~~~~~~~~~~——————

Sam got back from leaving the boys at school to find that Jim, Sam and Winona had already packed their belongings in their duffles. Winona was in her room remaking her bed with clean sheets. “Mom, you don’t have to do that,” protested Sam, as he came into the bedroom.

“I want to dear. You and Aurelan have your hands full with Jamie and the boys. I baked some oatmeal cookies for the boys’ snacks and put them in the freezer. I also put together a lasagna and a beef casserole. They’re in the freezer too. All you have to do is thaw them and bake them.”

“Thanks, Mom. That’ll be a big help. Mrs. Castro commed Aurelan that she and the Commodore were bringing dinner tonight. She says it’s an excuse to see Jamie.” He shook his head. “They’ll probably be just as crazy about Jamie as they are about the boys. Spoil her just as much,” he added ruefully. He grabbed her duffel to carry it to the living room.

“Well, you just let them, Sam. Those two don’t have and will never have grandchildren of their own, so it’s a joy for them to spoil our three.”

They walked out of the bedroom to find Jim and Leonard waiting, their duffels on the floor.

Aurelan with the baby in her arms, her face stoic, stood beside them. Winona turned to the her and hugged Aurelan fiercely, then dropped a tender kiss on Jamie’s tiny forehead. "I'll miss you and the children so much, Aurelan.”

"I’ll miss you too, Winona." Aurelan said. “Thank you for all your care of me and the boys, thank you for everything." She swallowed the lump in her throat, blinking rapidly, and could not say more.

Winona turned to Sam, whose arms went around her warm and tight. He could feel the faint tremors in her slight body. He patted her gently, consolingly. “Bye, Mom. I love you. Come back soon.”

Sam turned to Leonard and hugged him. “Take care of Jim, for me,” he whispered in Leonard’s ear. “I thank you in advance for that.”

Leonard nodded. “I will for sure, Sam.”

Aurelan hugged Len and Jim. Jim kissed Aurelan’s cheek then leaned in to kiss Jamie.

“Take care of each other,” she told them. “Len, thank you for taking such good care of me and the baby.”

“My pleasure, sweetheart.” He place a tender hand on Jamie’s tiny blond head for just a second.

Sam and Jim hugged each other tightly. “You take care of yourself, Jim Kirk. Jamie needs her Unca Jim in one piece. Thank you for bringing me home to them, little brother,” he whispered.

Jim nodded frantically, words beyond him at this moment.

“It’s time to go, darlin’,” Leonard reminded him gently. “Scotty is waiting for us to beam up.”

Jim reluctantly let go of Sam, and opened his communicator. He cleared his clogged throat. “Three to beam up, Scotty.”

And then they were gone in the brilliant silver whirl of the transporter beam, back to the Enterprise, and to whatever mission awaited them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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