Such tiny lungs should not be physically capable of producing such a volume of noise; it was entirely illogical and, more alarmingly, highly improbable. And yet, even at one year of age, James T. Kirk was not just beating the odds but leaving them far behind his energetic personality.
Granted, said personality was manifesting itself at the moment in a trait more becoming the infant he was than the starship captain he would be; namely, the action which Dr. McCoy called ‘pitchin’ a fit’ and which Spock termed a ‘tantrum.’
“Are you certain he is in no pain, Doctor?” Spock inquired, wincing as the decibel level in the Sickbay cubicle went to a level which even humans found intolerable.
“Very,” the physician retorted, glaring down at the shrieking bundle of flailing arms and legs which currently was the tiny captain of the Enterprise. “He’s doing what Jim does best – tryin’ to get his own way from force of personality when his charm fails to move people.”
Spock hesitated, looking down at the reddened, tear-streaked face. “I can hardly take him with me onto the Bridge for alpha shift, Doctor, especially when navigating the turbulence of an asteroid belt.”
“No one’s telling you to, Spock, you’re exactly right,” McCoy replied, nodding. “The kid’s unnaturally attached to you, anyway; he has to start getting used to other people. You’re an acting captain now, not his nursemaid. Go on, before he damages your eardrums.”
The infant let out another dismal wail as the Vulcan began to walk away, sobbing in what seemed to his inferior experience to be genuine anguish. To cause harm or distress of any sort, even emotional, to the helpless was a crime of the first order in his culture…he glanced back up at the physician, who appeared to be watching him with something resembling fond amusement.
“Guarantee he’ll stop the minute you leave, Commander,” McCoy said reassuringly. “He’s not in pain, I promise; I checked. He’s working you as only Jim Kirk can, trying to get his own way. Go on, now, get.”
Spock glanced back at the sobbing child, still hesitating. Jim chose that moment to voice his displeasure at an all-new level of glass-shattering screech, which made his decision for him.
McCoy’s laughter followed his hasty exit.
Whatever Spock thought of his parenting skills, McCoy still had more experience in the field than most aboard, and he calmly went about his duties within eyesight and with sound-muffling devices on his ears for the next couple of minutes, letting the (by now, slightly-spoiled) child scream his heart out. When the noise subsided into a pitiful sobbing, he removed the earplugs and settled next to the small bassinet which currently housed Starfleet’s most renowned captain.
“You ‘bout done, then?” he inquired with unusual gentleness, running a hand over the unruly blonde curls.
An angry sniffle was his only answer.
“You know, nothing changes, does it?” he mused, setting about with a scanner and old-fashioned hands-on, habit more than anything else to check the infant's well-being after his tantrum. “You’re all but attached at the hip to that walking database, at any age. Leaves the rest of us a little outside the loop, Jim, you know?”
A hiccup, followed by a small sniffle.
“I wonder, sometimes,” he continued, musing to himself in the safety that no one who could understand the words would hear him, “if you just don’t trust the rest of us as much, or if you even know you’re doing it. I get it, Spock’s absolute loyalty isn’t given lightly, we know that – but you’re not alone here, kiddo. Why can’t you see that?”
The physician caught the small fist which waved too close to his nose and held it, and in a moment a tiny hand curled tightly around his index finger.
“Mm? ‘Bout finished?” Swollen hazel eyes blinked tearfully at him, and he smiled. “That’s more like it. Now then, looka what I’ve got here for you, Jimmy.” He flipped the white awning of the bed up to mostly cover the infant’s head and upper body, and then turned the small switch Scotty had rigged up on the side of the bassinet.
Dark bluish light projected immediately onto the white awning, the glint and glitter of star fields dancing among the odd scattered nebulaic cloud or planet.
He nearly laughed, but found himself almost wanting to cry at the same time, when the child’s eyes lit up as bright as the stars themselves, wider and wider and wider, watching the flickering pinpoints dance slowly around and across the makeshift screen, changing once in a while to a new constellation set or different starscape. Mesmerized, the tiny future captain watched in awed silence the skies which he would one day travel, with a single-minded fascination which made the doctor grin and remind himself that he owed Scotty anything the engineer wanted, for rigging this up. Spock wasn’t the only one that this scrap of lovable brat had wrapped around his finger.
A small hand reached up to point excitedly at a slowly-passing ‘nebula,’ and the physician smiled. He tucked a blanket around the little head which now rested peacefully, smiling in perfect contentment up at the stars, and lowered the lights in the cubicle.
For sure, he later thought ruefully as Spock comm-ed him for the fifth time in ten minutes to ‘ascertain the captain’s status,’ some things really didn’t change with age.