The Enterprise was a hive of activity and it took some time for them to make their way from the transporter to sickbay. Doctor McCoy shook his head when he saw them.
“I should have known no one would follow my instructions,” he grumbled as he directed them to the biobeds. “Take it easy, I said! Don’t leave the ship, I said! One of these days there’s going to come a time when I can’t put you back together!” He began to clean the gash on Spock’s head but Spock waved him away.
“Please check Saavik first, Doctor,” he said. “She has suffered a bad fall.”
Spock’s voice was naturally calm but his eyes clearly showed worry. McCoy put down the sterilant and helped Saavik to the adjacent bed. She didn’t protest but she looked at Spock with a raised eyebrow.
“I am not injured, husband,” she assured him.
He got off the bed and stood beside her, his voice gentle but firm. “The doctor will check your health and that of our child,” he said. “Do as he directs.”
She reached out to touch his hand before laying back on the bed. Spock stood nearby as McCoy gave her a complete physical exam, first with his instruments and then with direct palpation.
“They’re both fine,” he assured Spock when he had finished, noting the flash of relief in the dark eyes. “Would you like to see the baby?”
Spock’s eyebrow rose. “Is it not too soon?” he asked.
McCoy smiled. “This is not the dark ages,” he said. “And the Enterprise has state of the art equipment. I bet I could even see the moment of conception!”
Both of Spock’s eyebrows rose simultaneously as he gave the doctor a long-suffering look.
“Ok, maybe not that early,” McCoy laughed. “But certainly now.” He laid his scanner against Saavik’s belly and directed Spock’s attention to the viewer nearby. “Vulcans have a slightly longer gestation, so it’s smaller than a human would be about now,” he explained and winked. “But I think it has your ears.”
Spock was studying the image with scientific and paternal curiosity, but he turned to the doctor in confusion. “It would be natural for our child to have pointed ears, Doctor,” he said, “since Vulcans and Romulans share this characteristic.”
“Don’t forget those human genes,” McCoy grinned. “You could theoretically father a child with decidedly human characteristics. What would the neighbors say?!”
Spock stared at him as if a lifetime of verbal sparring had never happened between them. “Vulcan neighbors would never be so impolite as to point out a detriment in another’s offspring,” he said. “Even an obvious malformation of the ears.”
The doctor laughed as he put the scanner down and helped Saavik sit up. “Come on, Spock,” he said, ’back on the bed before you drip green blood all over my sickbay.”
Spock raised an eyebrow but did as he was told as McCoy resumed repairing the laceration on his head. When he was satisfied that Spock was otherwise uninjured, he gave Jasai his attention.
“You seem to have fared the best,” he said as he tended to some minor cuts.
“I was furthest from the explosion,” the man said, “and facing away at the time.”
“I know a couple of Vulcans who could learn a thing or two about staying away from danger,” the doctor grumbled. “So what were you doing down there anyway?”
“We were testing a theory concerning the collapse of the Great Hall,” Spock answered. “There is currently a search for the perpetrators of that attack.”
“So that’s what’s been going on,” McCoy said, but his eyes narrowed in confusion. “But I thought the patients at the prison facility were the likely suspects...”
“Indeed,” Saavik answered. “However, only five were recaptured there. There are ten more at large in the population.”
“How are we going to find them among all the other Derilians?” the doctor wanted to know.
“If they still carry the elements of our experiment, they should not be difficult to locate,” Spock answered. “It is possible some have been detained already.” He stood up and offered his hand to assist Saavik off the bed.
“Doctor,” he said, “may we have use of the computer in rehab? I wish to consult with my father on the search.”
“Of course,” McCoy answered. “But when you find out something, don’t keep me in the dark.”
Spock looked at him a moment but refrained from commenting on the figure of speech. As the three hurried to rehab, McCoy shook his head with a grin. He had no doubt that when this crisis was over, they would resume their familiar word-play, and maybe in a couple of years another little Vulcan would take up the challenge. McCoy laughed to himself and shook his head again. In his wildest dreams he never imagined he’d be playing uncle to Spock’s future child, nor choosing to spend his time on that cauldron Vulcans called a planet. He wondered if some shadow of Spock’s katra had been left in his mind to make these decisions seem logical.
“Just as long as you don’t start talking to yourself,” he said aloud, “people won’t think you’ve lost all your marbles!”