Time passed, and so did Jim’s continuing re-education. The child’s intense love of life, and starship life in particular, made the task less draining than one would assume, raising a child (and a genius one at that) aboard a ship which was ill-equipped for such things. While his early development had been understandably slow (he had been rather late in speaking compared to most toddlers, but to be fair he was technically only a few days old at the time), his childhood development progressed at an abnormally rapid rate. Spock discussed this at length with the Insonti via subspace communications, when their medical team voiced the concern that the boy’s memory appeared to simply be jumping to its various ages with memory and knowledge intact, rather than everything needing to be relearned. Apparently this was a natural effect of the Regenratron, for the device was meant as a teaching tool, for entirely beneficial purposes.
“It would do no being any good to be forced to re-learn one’s entire life in a matter of days, Commander Spock,” the leader of the Insonti had reassured him. “When Captain Kirk makes the age jumps, his memory and knowledge will do so with him, to make the re-integration process as painless as possible. The Regenratron is used in our culture to re-educate those in need of learning the basic lessons which come of childhood – mainly those of trust, compassion, morality, tolerance, and imagination. It is used, for example, in our medical fields for patients who suffer from imbalances which make them prone to violence or immoral activity; it reacquaints the individual with his inner self at its simplest and most innocent stage of life.”
“Then by that same logic, the adult form will have total recall over the time spent in this ‘second childhood,’” Spock had then inquired, and was assured as to the conclusion’s veracity.
While the conference had done much to relieve his mind and Dr. McCoy’s about the strange effects of Jim’s abrupt aging, it did not shed any light on what they could do to speed up the process other than the activities in which they were currently involved.
Then the sixth week of their star-charting mission came; and with it, an unexpected First Contact, and James T. Kirk’s very first diplomatic mission.
Acting Captain Spock was on the Bridge, at silent war with his conscience over even allowing the child in the room in the first place. He had protested McCoy’s dropping him off in the strictest terms, reminding the doctor that unauthorized personnel, especially underage persons, were prohibited from such areas. McCoy had only glared at him and reminded him that the child was the captain of the chair in which Spock currently sat, and he thought that gave him all the protocol approval the kid needed, and besides if Spock thought the doctor was going to haul a small child around with him in and out of outpatient surgical appointments all morning then the Vulcan had "another think coming."
Spock had yielded to the inevitable, more because a distraught Jim looked about to burst into tears at the altercation between his two friends than because the physician won the argument.
The child was currently toddling around the Bridge, hands clasped in front of him in obedience to Spock’s strict injunction to not touch anything, and since they were doing nothing more than sitting in space charting stars he was permitted to do so with no possibility of danger to anyone from his small presence.
The first five minutes had been spent in incessant questioning of Chekov (the future navigator responding to technicalities with remarkable aptitude) until Spock had quietly admonished the little one that he needed to let his people do their work without hindrance. Rather than being hurt, Jim had nodded genially enough and simply made his rounds, eyeing flying fingers over the edge of consoles and once in a while whispering covert questions to crewmen who smiled at him.
Spock was at the Science station (it felt wrong, somehow, to sit in the center chair with the captain technically on the Bridge, barely six years old though he might be) calibrating the sensors for radiation signature scans when a warm body bumped into his legs.
A small finger hesitantly poked at his arm, and he looked up from his readings. “Yes, Jim?” he asked quietly, so as to not disturb the concentration of the rest of the Bridge.
It entirely escaped his notice that they were all shamelessly eavesdropping on him, hiding smiles behind their consoles.
Two cherubic golden eyes peered over the edge of the console at him, the rest of the little one’s face hidden by the lip of the counter. “Whatchoo doin', Spock?” the child asked in a loud stage whisper.
“I am calibrating sensors to detect radiation readings in the stars which the cartography department is charting, pi’khart-lan,” he replied in equally quiet tones.
“Oh.” The child was silent, eyes blinking at him over the edge of the console. “Issit fascinatin’?”
Spock’s keener hearing detected Uhura’s small noise of amusement, both at his name for the child and Jim’s picking up of the word he heard most often from the Vulcan’s lips.
“Not precisely,” he responded, looking down at the child with fondness. “But it is necessary to the mission purpose.”
“What’s that mean?” A finger pointed to the blinking ready light on his board.
“It indicates that the sensors are calibrated and ready to transmit data.”
“Can I see?” The child strained on tiptoe for a moment before rocking back to his heels, looking mournfully at the console above his head. “Please, Spock? I promise I won’ touch anything, pleeeease?”
Spock was faced with a Kobayashi Maru of his own; deny the child, and acquire the indignation of his shipmates and a look which could melt stone from a disappointed human child – or sacrifice his dignity, and please Jim and his loyal crew.
He placed the child on his lap with an inaudible sigh, mentally bidding farewell to his command image.
Oddly enough, when the incident was spoken of later, it only seemed to have enhanced it.