The Admiralty, to say the least, was unimpressed.
In all fairness, Spock amended, Archer only looked like he was trying desperately to not laugh in the face of Vulcan stoicism, and Cartwright merely rolled his eyes toward the ceiling (the standard reaction to the oddities the Enterprise encountered with fair regularity) and proceeded to sleep through the following debriefing. The rest of the Board were those who looked askance at him and the tiny being he held awkwardly before him.
“Commander, you are out of uniform.”
Spock was not amused by Archer’s muffled snort into his water glass. “Your communiqué arrived at an inopportune time for such formalities, sirs,” he replied with unruffled equanimity, as much as he could when facing an official debriefing in nothing more on his upper body than his black undershirt, holding a babbling human infant on his lap. “The captain has always had impeccable aim, apparently including the regurgitation of excess nutritional supplements.”
Archer inhaled the remainder of his drink and hastily left the room, coughing, and even Komack’s severe features relaxed into a quirk of the lips.
While he did not appreciate being made the object of amusement for a group of humans with whom neither he nor the captain enjoyed conversing on a normal day, if it would mitigate the battle he was sure would follow then Spock would endure it.
Jim blew a raspberry at the viewscreen, and he closed his eyes in mild mortification.
There was definite amusement in Komack’s voice when he spoke. “Commander Spock, we’ve received your report along with your Chief Medical Officer’s on Captain Kirk’s…unusual condition. What, in your opinion, would be the best course of action against the Insonti?”
“None,” he replied without hesitation. “The ritual was performed with the captain’s full consent; no real harm or breaking of law occurred in its performance. The Insonti are a childish people themselves, Admiral; full of innocence and goodwill and most likely incapable of causing permanent harm to a living being. The effects are, according to them, temporary only. To retaliate in any way would negate the effectiveness of the negotiations which the Captain performed with them, and would most likely be of no benefit. The effects cannot be reversed by the Insonti; they must run their course. And we did win the mining contract.”
“We can’t just let the flagship wander around the galaxy with a toddler in tow, I don’t care if he used to be the captain,” Komack said, massaging his forehead.
This was where it would get tricky. Spock was not about to dock the Enterprise at the nearest Starbase and turn the baby over to a ‘Fleet child-care organization. He would take his fifteen years’ accumulated leave and retreat to Vulcan sanctuary if he had to, but it would be more beneficial – and probably the best course of action, given that the captain was supposed to ‘learn lessons’ due to the Regenratron – to remain aboard the Enterprise.
“Sir, the Enterprise is scheduled for nothing more than stellar cartography for the next sixty days,” he responded, shifting Jim on his lap as the child grew restless, wriggling around to look at his face and reaching up one stubby hand to pat at his chin. “May I submit the solution that for that amount of time, at least, the captain be permitted to remain aboard so that we may endeavor to restore him to his adult state?” Small fingers yanked on his shirt, and he absently stood Jim on wobbly feet, leaning the child back against his chest. “According to the Insonti, that should be sufficient time, and those aboard not devoted to the task of star-mapping can turn their undivided attention to that end. If after that amount of time Captain Kirk is still not returned to his usual status before our next mission, then we could reconsider the possibilities?”
Jim had lost interest in the conversation and was currently engrossed in yanking on Spock’s pointed ear. “Desist, Jim,” he said sternly, tapping the child’s back to get his attention. “That is behavior unbecoming a Starfleet officer. It is also painful.”
Wide eyes blinked at him from under the mop of sandy curls, utterly uncomprehending.
Komack raised an eyebrow. “You really want to be a galactic nanny instead of mapping stars for the next two months, Commander?”
The child who had been his captain for almost four years yawned and leaned his head back against Spock’s shoulder, one small fist clutching a handful of black undershirt.
Spock did not sigh; that was also behavior unbecoming a Starfleet officer. He did, however, not feel as frustrated with the situation as he knew he in all probability should. That was cause for concern, but would wait until he was not distracted by a tiny human drooling on his shoulder.
“It would appear I have no choice, Admiral.”