"Do you have any children, Doctor McCoy?" Amanda asked.
McCoy cleared his throat and took a sip of his water. Amanda had invited him to dinner with Sarek, Spock, and herself once the two Vulcans had recovered from surgery. She said she knew Sarek and Spock would never be able to thank him properly, so she would do the best she could. He'd been thrilled by the chance, and the dinner had been going well so far, even though Spock had somehow managed to arrive slightly late.
"Well..." he said, slowly. "Yes. I have a daughter. Joanna."
He could see Spock's eyebrow shoot up from his peripheral vision, but of course Spock said nothing.
"A daughter!" Amanda said brightly. "Does she live on Earth?"
"For the time being. She's going to Starfleet Academy now." He grinned wryly. "Whether I like it or not."
Now, Spock had turned his head and was looking directly at him.
"Is she going into medical science, like you?"
"Oh, no, she's got no interest in that kind of thing. She's on the command path. Always telling me she going to beat out our Captain Kirk as the youngest person to become a starship captain, and as soon as she outranks me, she's going to start ordering me around." McCoy shook his head. "I told her she can try, but I don't listen to Jim half the time either."
Sarek glanced at Amanda, then at McCoy. "She sounds like a most... high-spirited young woman."
"Can't imagine where she got it from," McCoy said.
He saw Spock silently turn back toward his food and gingerly take a bite.
McCoy was in his quarters, sitting with a small wooden box on his desk, a long time after he'd returned from dinner with Spock and his folks. It had been an odd and intriguing dinner, seeing the way the three of them were together. He felt like he had a better idea of how Spock got to be the way he was, even though Spock himself had barely spoken a work throughout the meal.
But he couldn't quite shake the conversation he and Amanda had about Joanna. The last letter he'd gotten from her was a few months ago. There were fewer now that she was older and she had so much to do at the Academy. He couldn't imagine letters would get any more frequent once she was out in the black, chasing a starship to command...
He took a deep breath and looked at the box. There was no point in putting it off. He was already feeling this way; might as well wallow in it a while. He unlatched the box and opened it.
It was full of little miss-matched trinkets that'd look like nothing to anyone else. He picked out one, a little dog made out of clay with the paint chipping off, and closed the box. He'd been looking down at it cupped in his hands for a while when his door chimed. He was so startled, he almost dropped the clay dog. He blew out a relieved breath and set it carefully next to the box on his desk as he got up to answer the door.
"Doctor," Spock said, as soon as the doors slid open.
McCoy blinked at him for a moment. "Didn't expect to see you again this evening," he said as he let Spock into his quarters. "Thought you'd want to spend more time with your parents."
"Between recovering in medbay and tonight's dinner, I have spent an adequate amount of time with them for the moment."
McCoy found himself smiling. This side of Spock that his parents brought out of him was... well, fascinating, as Spock himself might say as an outside observer. The change was subtle, but McCoy certainly noticed it.
"They're pretty remarkable people..." McCoy said. He was curious, but he didn't want to push too hard.
He noticed, though, that Spock wasn't looking at him. He was looking past him, at the things on his desk.
"You going to say what you're thinking?" McCoy asked.
Spock blinked, then turned his attention to McCoy. "Prying about someone's personal life is a Human preoccupation."
McCoy shrugged and went back to sit at his desk. He leaned back against the chair, looking up at Spock. "So, what'd you talk about with your parents after I left?" he asked. "Didn't happen to tell them about the two of us, did you?"
Spock was clasping his hands behind his back, his jaw clearly clenched tight.
"You did say Humans pry all the time, so I might as well pry."
"I did not think it would be appropriate to speak of our personal relationship with my parents at this time."
McCoy nodded, "Ah, yes, very logical."
"Have you informed anyone about us?"
McCoy couldn't help but laugh. "Look, just tell me you're upset I didn't tell you about Joanna before. It's all right. You didn't tell us the ambassador was your father until you didn't have any way around it, but..."
"Surely you were aware that I have a father before you met him."
"That's true." McCoy picked up the little clay dog again and turned it in his hands.
Spock was quiet for a moment, then said, "Perhaps I should give you time alone."
McCoy pressed his lips together. These little things he'd kept, these things that meant so much to him... He couldn't remember the last time he'd let anyone else see them, much less put into words what they were to him. "Joanna made this for me when she was ten years old." He glanced up at Spock. Spock's expression had immediately softened from that defensive, detached look he so often had to one of quiet interest. "It's something like a tradition. When she was four, she found out my father and I made handmade presents for each other on our birthdays, so she took one of her little dolls and drew on it for me. As she got older, she got a little more creative with it." He lifted up the dog to show Spock. "She modeled this one after a pet I had as a kid. She saw him in some old pictures, and she got so upset when she found out that old dog was gone. Her mother had gotten her a puppy that year, and I don't think it had occured to her she'd outlive that dog until she found out I outlived mine. She told me that I should have something to remember him by that wasn't just an image."
Spock carefully moved closer to look at the clay dog more closely. "It would seem the two of you are close."
"As close as you can be when you're lightyears apart." McCoy took a deep breath. He opened the box and set the dog inside. Then, he closed it again. "She says she still makes things for me every birthday, and she'll give them all to me when I see her again. It'll be a few years worth now."
"I... didn't intend to cause you distress."
McCoy smiled softly. "You didn't, Spock. It's just not easy to talk about."
"I understand," Spock said, and for once, McCoy was sure that he did to some extent.
McCoy got to his feet and reached around to Spock's back, where his hands were tightly clasped. He rested his hands over Spock's and looked him in the eye. "I'm glad you know about Joanna now. And I'm glad I met your parents."
Spock turned his hands and took hold of McCoy's squeezing them lightly. "If there ever is a time you would like to speak more about her, I would be honored to listen."
"Maybe sometime," McCoy said. "Maybe next time I see her, I'll introduce you. She says she thinks she'll like you."
Spock raised his eyebrows. "You have... told her about me."
"Oh, I mentioned you in a few letters." McCoy leaned in and gave him a brief kiss. "I never said I hadn't told anybody about us."
"Ah," Spock said softly. There was a glint in his eye that McCoy had come to recognize as the beginnings of a warm expression.
"If I didn't now better, Mister Spock, I'd say you're having a feeling or two right now."
Spock tilted his head slightly. "There is no reason to insult me, Doctor."
McCoy chuckled and leaned in for another kiss.