Spock looked at the shower head. It was very old-fashioned, antique really, and made from some obsolete plastic material yellowed with age, and with a metal housing. He carefully unscrewed the housing, removed the shower head and peered into the hole. He could see nothing through the dark space. He inserted his index finger as far as it could go and realized he would either have to have longer fingers or a rod of some kind to determine how far the metal tubing went. He felt a sudden draught of cool air around his ankles and looked down. He saw a large, old-fashioned drain with a slightly rusted metal cover. Surrounding the drain was a tile floor, old, with the tile squares chipped in many places. He bent and put his hand over the drain and again felt cool air. With delicate precision he carefully worked the cover loose and pulled it off and rested his palm over the hole. He could hear a faint whistle as the air rushed through. The shower water must drain directly into the bay, he thought with disapproval. It would not be filtered and would most certainly pollute the Bay. He felt faintly horrified that the drain had been left like this for so many years. He reasoned that the room must be very old indeed and probably had not been used for showering in a great many years. However, ecology not with standing, perhaps this was a fortuitous thing. This might be a way to get a signal out if Peter was allowed to go outside and the shields were lowered. He would have to consider the feasibility of such a plan carefully, find a way to use the comm unit as a beacon. He screwed the drain cover and the shower head back on and went back to Amanda and Peter.
They were deep in a game of gin rummy and Peter was telling Amanda about his grandmother, Winona, and the farm. "My Grandma is a Xenobiologist, but she has her office at the farm in Iowa because she likes it there. I like the farm a lot, my daddy and my Uncle Jim grew up there. I sleep in my daddy's old room in the same bed he used. All his things from when he was a boy are still there. Uncle Jim's too. Grandma and I have a horse and a donkey and chickens. We get fresh eggs every day. Grandma has a vegetable garden that we take care of together; we decided what each of us wanted to plant 'cause we like different kinds of vegetables. My school is 6 kilometers away from the farm and the school shuttle picks me up and brings me home. At first I was scared to go to a new school, because my mom always taught me at home in Deneva, but I like it now." There was no sadness there as he spoke about his mother, Peter's eyes shone with contentment. "My Grandma talked to the school and my teacher let me come to San Francisco to stay with Uncle Jim if I promised to do all my assignments. But now," he added with a worried frown, "I'm going to fall behind."
"Peter," Amanda said, "I am a teacher. I can help you with your school work if you'd like me to. You just tell me what subjects you were studying and I'll make up some lessons for you. We can work in the mornings and for a little while in the afternoon. Would you like to do that?"
Peter nodded his head eagerly. He didn't want to get behind in his school work. Third grade was a lot harder than second grade, and he planned to enter Starfleet Academy as a cadet when he was fourteen, just like his Uncle Jim. He knew how important his school work and good grades were to get into Starfleet. "I'd like to", Lady Amanda. "I can tell you what all my assignments are."
"Peter," Spock said, "we must also continue with your instruction in chess. There is a chess set in the box over there. Why don't you set it up and see if you remember the way the pieces are placed on the board and you can practice the opening moves that I showed you."
Peter obeyed quickly. He was looking forward to playing chess with his Uncle Jim and he had to learn everything about chess fast or he would never beat him.
Spock, keeping a wary eye on the comm unit, told his mother about the shower drain. "I will go in there periodically, mother. If the Orions ask for me, tell them I am taking the twice daily shower that is customary in our culture. For now though, it's almost time for lunch and I am sure that our food will be appearing shortly. Also, if I am not mistaken, the response to my request for Peter's exercise," Spock added.
As if on cue, he heard the faint click of the comm unit. The Orion spoke. It was the soft cultured voice again. "Mr. Spock?"
"The food will be appearing shortly. I wish to tell you that we have conferred about your request for outdoor exercise for the boy. He will be permitted outdoors for half an hour every afternoon. No more, no less. It's the best I could do. He will be allowed to run and play in an enclosed and sheltered part of this compound. Someone will be with him, possibly my self, at all times. You may rest assured that he will be taken care of and not harmed in any way."
Spock nodded to the screen. "That will be satisfactory. The exercise will be most beneficial for the child. Perhaps some running games or calisthenics could be arranged," he suggested pleasantly.
The Orion ignored the comment and went on as if Spock had not spoken. "Mr. Spock, the boy must understand that he must do exactly as he is told, and stay only in the designated area where he is taken. I will not be responsible if he disobeys. The consequences could be severe."
Amanda interrupted. "I will make sure that he understands and obeys your instructions exactly, or we will not allow him to go out."
The Orion looked at her for a minute, seemed satisfied with what he saw in her face, nodded and closed the transmission.
Spock turned to Peter who was thoroughly involved in the chess board. "Peter, come here."
The child looked up and came to Spock's side.
"Peter," Spock hesitated, looking down at the small face, then put his arm around the child as he had seen Jim do; was it only yesterday? He could feel the trust and affection the boy had for him as they touched, and he felt the full weight of his responsibility for the little boy.
"Peter, this afternoon you will be beamed outside for thirty minutes. There will be an Orion guard with you at all times. You must stay exactly where he tells you and you must obey his instructions implicitly." Spock looked sternly into the hazel eyes so much like Jim's. "It would be very dangerous and foolish to do otherwise. Do you understand?"
Peter nodded. "I understand, Mr. Spock, he said. Then he grinned, a small replica of the rakish grin Jim Kirk always gave when he was in a tight spot. "You want me to use my eyes and ears and report everything I see and hear, right? Check everything out there and memorize the layout."
Spock was so surprised at the quickness of Peter's understanding of Spock's wishes that he almost hugged the little boy. Peter had understood immediately without any explanation everything that he had to do.
Amanda looked at them and had a sudden flash back to Spock at that age. When had Spock ever smiled like that, spontaneously, like a sudden flash of sunlight? When had he ever stood relaxed and content in the circle of Sarek's or her arm? Try as she might, she couldn't recall a single instance. She could only remember the always solemn little face, the somber black eyes, and the mouth always tight and stiff when something went wrong at school or he was reprimanded at home. Her heart hurt for that long ago child of hers. Things had not gotten better for Spock as he grew older; they had only gotten worse until he had finally left home for Starfleet. She wished she could go back in time somehow and do things differently for that small Spock. Now she didn't hesitate; she reached over to Peter and gave him a quick hug. "You're so smart, Peter! Your Uncle Jim will be so proud of you," she told him softly.
Peter blushed, he was embarrassed, but he felt good too. He was determined that he would take note of every single thing he saw outside and report it to Mr. Spock.
The transporter materialized their lunch and Spock picked up the trays and set them on the table. He would not eat, he thought. He would go in the shower and work there for a short time while Peter and his mother ate. An idea was beginning to take form in his mind, but it would need to be implemented very carefully and very close to the voting deadline to avoid alerting the Orions. The timing was absolutely crucial; there could be no margin for error.
In the shower he took off his IDIC pin. It would serve as a pick…it was made of an almost indestructible alloy, and it would be much easier on this fingers. As he worked, Spock thought of his captain. He knew with certainty that by now Jim would have begun implementing a plan, and if Spock knew his captain, and he did, it would be unorthodox and probably dangerous. He hoped that Sarek would provide that balance of judgment and logic which often merged Kirk's and Spock's tactical minds. Jim was prone to tread where even Organians would not dare, and the Vulcan had always gone with him. Would Sarek do the same? Spock shook his head to clear his mind of the rising anxiety which even Vulcan logic could not discipline. I have, Spock thought bitterly, no other choice but to trust Sarek to set aside his Vulcan logic when necessary and follow Jim's lead. Can he do it? Or more to the point, will he do it? Spock was not sure that Sarek could or would subjugate that great Vulcan mind and will to the orders of a human, even if the human was Jim Kirk, the man who had saved his reputation and career.
Spock reflected grimly on the characters of the two men that he respected and admired above all others. He remembered an old Earth adage he had once heard, something about an irresistible object meeting and immovable force. He feared it was a remarkably apt description of Sarek's and James Kirk's characters. Who would yield to the other if it became necessary? There was no chain of command to cushion and ease what transpired between these two men. Sarek could be as unyielding as a Vulcan mountain, and Jim's will of iron was renowned across the galaxy. For once in his life, Spock could not calculate the odds.