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Eternal Youth

Chapter Text

Spock was perfectly capable of taking care of the ship in the captain's stead. He was the first officer and commanding science officer of this vessel and he would not be 'put down', as the CMO had once said. It was taxing work and Spock could only keep at it, and have hope that no one called upon them for anything other than their current mission, at least until the captain's return to duty. A monotonous routine for the next few weeks was scheduled since their arrival to Elown, but they had extended it without the federation's permission. Spock, and the crew members involved, were all aware of the reasoning. That reasoning being; that their captain had been turned into a newborn infant while planet side. Such an occurrence happening was beyond comprehension, except that the culprit was a sentient plant and it's chemical make-up could scientifically prove to be, in fact, comprehensible. Eventually.

"Eventually," Spock repeated to himself as he reviewed the research and reports. For that was what the Elownians told him when they'd asked for a solution.

"He'll return to normal eventually. It's a blessing to be given youth again. Perhaps a little too much in this case, but youth all the same," one had said pleasantly. None of the Elownians were concerned by this in the least, but they were far from human beings, and they were much more likely to be immune to any of its negative effects. They had to send a team down to confirm that the child the crew had found, was indeed James T. Kirk, then send a shuttle down to get the infant too small and too frail to beam up. Of course, McCoy was the first to retrieve the child. Spock did not deny him that. Spock, who had been aboard the ship since their arrival, went down to the docking bay to receive them in turn. Despite all the reports he'd been given, he was still shocked when McCoy stepped out of the shuttle craft with a crying bundle of blankets. The doctor looked deeply concerned, and with good reason, in Spock's opinion. What he held in his arms was still a deep pink newborn child, and neither of them could understand it. If they agreed on anything, it was that this situation was terrifying.

Spock worked at his computer, reviewing the latest reports and requesting further investigation on some details. Thus far, their findings did not solve reversing the effects and to Spock, this was key. They were 5 days and 3 hours into this mission and they had yet to give a full report in to the federation. A briefing had concurred that the crew's finding were too supernatural to report in. And if the federation took it seriously enough, their finding 'eternal youth' with living proof of its effects, was too good to keep the federation from taking over to turn in a profit. The federation may have a high ethical code of conduct, but if something of this calibre of interest was being placed in the palm of their hand, Spock could not see why they wouldn't. To make matters worse, should they take action, they would likely take their captain away and use him, whether humanly or not, as an experiment. The crew was taking care of their young captain, but understandably, he was still being used to experiment on. The infant was not… happy.

The door chimed and the good doctor let himself in with the child in his arms. Things were settling into a routine with the babe now, and that included the doctor visiting him in his quarters, but this was the first time he'd brought the infant.

"Good evening Captain Spock," he sang, bouncing in with the disgruntled gurgling babe.

"Doctor," Spock greeted, dismissing the man's disregard for etiquette. He glanced at Jim and saw he was aggressively biting on a rubber toy. Spock came to the conclusion before the doctor said.

"He's teething. Yeah." he said sympathetically. "Poor kid's just miserable." McCoy rocked the child who continued to drool and bite, then make gurgling noises.

"I understand that an infant's teething phase can be discomforting, doctor, but more importantly, this shows a great deal of aging that, as the research team has calculated and noted, is fluctuating. This poses somewhat of unknown on their research, especially when comparing it to the Elownians' data banks."

"Yeah I know. It's gonna take a lot longer than a few days to see how and when lil Jimmy is gonna be himself again." He looked down at 'lil Jimmy'. McCoy's face softened, frowning as he spoke in a whisper. "If he does anyway…"

"Doctor?"

"Well, yeah know, what if the stuff has a rebuff on him and it makes him age twice as fast and it just doesn't stop?" The doctor seemed to coddle the infant closer now. Spock refrained from mentioning, that factually, Jim was growing approximately a month per day within a margin of error for the fluctuating statistics. Truthfully, Spock disliked the doctor's very possible theory just as much as he did.

"I assure you that no one wishes ill of the captain and his safety is our first priority," Spock said, readying himself for the man's emotional response, but no argument came. Instead, Leonard displayed what Spock could understand as a paternal instinct. The doctor leaned in close and nuzzled the golden lock of hair on the infants forehead. Jim's eye closed, then opened wide to fix the doctor with, what the crew was referring to as, 'his big baby blues'. Spock was fascinated to be sure. The aesthetic appeal of those eyes on an infant were very powerful. The babe squirmed and giggled as McCoy continued to coo and nuzzle his face. Jim continued to laugh and the sound was stimulating. Spock was affected. A small smile creeped to the corner of his lips before he could repress it.

McCoy withdrew and reintroduced the teething ring. Jim took to it right away, continuing to rub his gums on the toy. It had been only 32 hours ago when Jim had been brought onto the bridge in a blanket, finally released from quarantine and looking at everything with large blue eyes while sucking on a pacifier. The bridge crew had their first look at the child then since he'd been brought aboard. Spock was relieved to have Mr. Scott take the child in his arms with joy. The engineer lifted the crew's spirits by accepting Jim's 'condition' and making light of it. They all knew it was far from a minor problem, but Spock knew that Jim would value keeping up the crew's moral.

"Well, let's make him happy and comfortable," McCoy sighed, breaking Spock's train of thought. The doctor went over to Spock's bed and set Jim down in the middle, but on the horizontal. Without regard to Spock's wishes, he took apart the bedding to create a barrier for the child, should he move too much and roll off the low bed.

"Doctor?" Spock began, as a mean to understand his current actions.

"Mama's going out for a drink tonight, Jimmy," he said to the child. "Spock'll keep you until morning. Nice, safe, logical vulcan. Your favourite," he grinned. Jim kicked his feet in the air, fidgeting. "Oh! Is it too warm in here?"

"Doctor, you do not understand. I am much too busy to care for him at the moment."

"Ah keep your pants on! He's gonna fall right to sleep. And knowing you, you'll just meditate for a few hours tonight rather than sleep." he turned away, adjusting the thermostat to normal ship's temperature. Spock felt the change and frowned.

"You leave me little choice," Spock muttered as McCoy put the baby's blanket around the child in a bundle.

"He won't be any trouble. Besides, I thought you'd want a little practice considering you were going to raise your own a few months ago." Spock's jaw tightened.

"That is out of context. Jim is not my child and this is not a matter I wish to discuss," he said, meeting McCoy's gaze as he approached.

"Listen I'd love to talk more about it, but I've got a date with two shots and a blonde. Have a good night. Comm. me if you're worried-" he said as he left, his voice being cut off by the door closing. Spock wished to say that he does not worry, but one glance at the child dozing off on his covers made him uncertain.