Jim Kirk could not get a clear line of fire. He yelled again as he circled the two Orion warriors. He didn't want to fire and hit Tarz if he could avoid it. He could see the agonized face of Tarz with his one good arm around the neck of the Orion leader and it was clear that Tarz could not last much longer. Jim looked at his useless phaser, gave a mental shrug, drew back his arm and with a hard blow of the butt of the phaser, felled the other warrior.
Tarz stood shakily on his feet and looked down at Retz, and then at the face of his rescuer. "Captain Kirk, I presume?" He gasped out the words, pale as death.
"Yes. Here, let me help you, you're bleeding all over yourself. Bones!" he shouted. "We have an injured man here."
"I'm all right, Captain." But Tarz sat down on the floor and let McCoy look him over. He truly had not believed he would still be alive after the fight with Retz and still could not believe it.
"Captain Kirk," he said tiredly. "I am most grateful for your help. I was afraid something would go wrong, that the hostages would be killed in a few more minutes and there would be nothing I could do. Ambassador Sarek was almost finished with his speech."
But James Kirk was not listening. He was looking over to the doorway and had seen….Spock!
"Spock!" Slightly dazed and unbelieving, he walked to the doorway. "Spock, you're really here?" He grasped Spock's arms; he was real, he was solid. He closed his eyes in an agony of relief and joy!
"Yes, Jim. It is I." Spock's eyes smiled into his Captain's. "And I can see that the five of you had no real need of my help."
"Spock, you pointed eared hobgoblin!" This from McCoy, who was still on the floor ministering to Tarz, and grinning with delight up at the Vulcan. "I never thought I'd live to see the day when I would say this, but I'm very glad to see you!"
"And I, Doctor, will confess that I too, am 'glad' to see you; all of you." His gaze took in the rest of the crew who looked back at him beaming.
Jim's grasp on Spock's arm had not slackened. His relief was profound; but he still felt as if Spock might disappear again if he let go. His mind was full of unasked questions and confused thoughts.
"Spock, where is Peter; and Amanda?"
"Jim, Peter is fine, my mother too is well. They are on board ship and Dr. M'Benga and Nurse Chapel are giving them a complete physical exam in sick bay.
Jim sighed thankfully and finally reassured on all counts, released his hold on Spock's arm.
The captain looked around the room littered with unconscious Orions. It was over. Six days of living hell were finally over. He looked over at Tarz. "I suppose this one is Retz," he nudged the unconscious warrior with the toe of his boot.
"Yes Captain. He was trying to kill me, and I'm sure he would have succeeded if you had not intervened. I thank you."
Jim shook his head. "I'll never understand people like him and why they do the things they do." His eyes were weary with exhaustion as they questioned Spock. "Why, Spock? Why did he do it?"
Spock's hand touched him lightly. "It is not really possible for some one like you to understand some one like him. Leave it, Jim. He really has nothing to do with us. He is truly an alien, someone we can never really know."
Jim knew that it was true. He couldn't really get into the mind of someone like Retz, a mind totally distorted by hatred and rage, yet not insane in the true sense of the word. He nodded his understanding to his friend, and then said. "Sulu, notify Star Fleet to get some security here and take these men into custody. We want to go home."
They waited silently for the security team and when the last of the Orion had been taken away, Jim flipped open his communicator.
"Kirk to Enterprise."
"Enterprise here. "
"Nine to beam up, Mr. Kyle. We're ready to come home."
"Aye sir. Beaming up now, Captain."
At the transporter cargo bay a small figure waited impatiently by Kyle. As the crew materialized in front of him, he detached his hand from Kyle's and ran forward eagerly."
"Uncle Jim, Uncle Jim!" I'm here!" He hurled himself at his uncle and wrapped tight arms around his waist. James Kirk, unashamed of the tears that were running down his face, and oblivious of the watching sympathetic faces around him, picked up his nephew, hugged and kissed him hard, and carried him out of the room. There was a very important call they had to make.
It was two days later. Winona Kirk had arrived at the apartment the day before to be greeted rapturously by her grandson and no less rapturously by her son. The joy, happiness and relief in the apartment was palpable. After lunch, McCoy had taken Peter to the library for a long talk. The library door remained closed for almost two hours, and the four adults waiting in the living room made no real attempts at conversation while they waited. The two hours seemed interminable. When the library door opened, McCoy came out by himself, put his fingers to his lips and closed the door quietly.
"He's asleep, he's still tired, and the nap will do him good. I tucked him in on the sofa and he'll sleep for a while. Nothin' like an afternoon nap to help things along."
"Bones?" Jim looked anxiously at the doctor.
"Relax, Jim, you too, Winona. He's doing fine. He's a real Kirk, that one. He told me all about it in great detail with no hesitation or trying to hide anything. Spock and Amanda did a great job. His stress levels are lower than I expected and physically he's just fine. Didn't even lose any weight. That little kid is tough. We'll have a couple of more sessions while he's here, but I don't anticipate any problems. You're doing a fine job raising him, Winona. He's a delightful kid. Of course you've had practice, right?
Winona Kirk smiled radiantly at the doctor. "Thank you, Dr. McCoy. Yes, I've had a little practice with boys, but I hope this one isn't going to be as reckless and daring as Jim was when he was Peter's age. I don't know if I can live through it all again."
"Ma! I wasn't that bad!" Jim protested, his face shocked. "Was I really?"
His mother smiled at him. "Yes you were, dear. But I wouldn't have you any other way."
Now that the Federation Council business was finished. Sarek and Amanda decided they would leave for Vulcan in two days. Uhura was also leaving for Kenya to visit her friends and family. Because of the impending departures, Winona, Amanda, and Uhura decided that a celebration dinner would be a great idea for the next evening. There was a hurried consultation on ways and means and after the dinner menu was planned, a frenzy of grocery shopping that afternoon. It would be a Thanksgiving Dinner, they decided, because what could be more appropriate then that? There would be a big roasted turkey, two kinds of stuffing, the traditional cornbread with giblets and dried cranberries (the recipe handed down from Winona's grandmother) and the regular bread based stuffing with onions, celery and sage. There would also be mashed potatoes with gravy on the side, a Southern corn pudding, (McCoy's mom's recipe) the traditional green bean casserole, fresh cranberry sauce, a pecan marshmallow sweet potato casserole, two kinds of pie, pumpkin and pecan, wine and coffee. Amanda, Winona, and Uhura took over the kitchen and cooked all day. McCoy, Jim and Spock chopped, squeezed, cleaned and tasted. Peter had been underfoot most of the time, but no one had the heart to say a word, until Spock sat him down at the table and methodically peeled an apple for him without breaking the peel. Peter watched in fascination and then he too, had to try it with another apple.
That evening they all sat at the table set with fine china and crystal. Jim stood up and looked at his family and dearest friends with love and thanksgiving in his eyes. His heart was full.
"There are no words to really say how I feel, how thankful I am to have you here beside me, to know you are safe and at home. To Amanda, Spock and Peter, welcome home! Let's eat!"
Later that evening, replete with good food, everyone sat around the fireplace, hesitant to end the evening knowing that it was goodbye the next day. As they drank their coffee, Peter drifted silently around the room from person to person, first sitting closely at his grandmother's side. Next he sat down on the floor by McCoy and leaned back on the doctor's knees. McCoy patted the sandy head affectionately. Peter got up after a while and went and sat next to Uhura and she let him pluck the stings of the lyre softly so he could hear the sounds. He rose and went to sit by Amanda, and held her hand for a while. He left Amanda and carefully by passed Sarek, and then stood behind his Uncle Jim, put his arms around his neck and rested his chin on his head. Jim reached up and covered the small hands with his own. Finally, he went to Spock, who was sitting on a kitchen chair. He put his arm around Spock's neck, just as he had done in the hostage room, and leaned in to rest his head on Spock's shoulder. Spock put his arm around the little boy, and Peter stayed there content.
Jim looked at Spock and hazel eyes met gentle dark ones. Jim's eyes were full of gratitude. Spock nodded slightly in acknowledgement of the trust he had been given and the trust that he had kept.