NOBODY’S CHILD: A Saga of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Family-Chapter One

NOBODY’S CHILD
by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER ONE – The Lost One

It had been awhile since Doctor Leonard Horatio McCoy had become semi-retired. His age had caught up with him to the point that he was no longer able to keep up with the younger crew members in Star Fleet. His attempt at a desk job bored him and the bureaucracy frustrated him. He would consult, from time to time, whenever someone wanted to pick his brain for his knowledge and experience. At other times, he would be invited to give lectures regarding his medical experiences while serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise with Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Captain, now Ambassador, S’chn T’gai Spock. Once in a while, he would be invited to an awards ceremony where he would be given yet another honor…that usually ended up gathering dust on a shelf. He felt like those objects…set aside on a shelf, gathering dust…useless.

He had lost touch with his daughter, his only child, Joanna, long ago. The last time he saw her, when he attempted to rebuild his relationship with her and get to know her son…his grandson, George Dudley William McCoy, Junior…she made it clear she wanted nothing more to do with him. Then she moved, leaving no forwarding address. He blamed himself for creating that situation. He felt remorse for not being there, when she needed him, while she was growing up. Daughters need their fathers. He knows that now. He berated himself for not paying attention to that, then, instead of running away to Star Fleet in the wake of the divorce. Now, in his old age, he was left without a family to speak of…not blood-related relatives, anyway.

Once in a great while, he would hear from his former crew mates…Captain Sulu, Captain Uhura…even Ambassador Spock, in spite of the hard time he had given that stubborn old Green-blooded Vulcan S.O.B. in the past. But they all had lives of their own and there was no way he could fit in. He sighed as he got up out of his recliner and made his way to the kitchen to fix himself a snack and a cup of tea. He wondered to himself if this was the way he would spend the remainder of his days…puttering around…alone, with no one to care for or who cared a whit about him. Modern medicine made it possible for him to be active and live productively for several more decades for … what? He was old, outdated, irrelevant…useless. He felt the cloud of depression crush down on him harder when he heard a gentle tap at his door. “Probably another autograph seeker…”, he mumbled irritably. He put on his “public face” and went to greet whoever was standing on his porch…and found, to his pleasant surprise, his old friend, Spock, patiently waiting.

Leonard opened the screen door, that he had installed for nostalgia’s sake, even though such antiques were not really needed. “Come in! Come in! Take a load off your ancient feet, you old hobgoblin!” Spock quirks an eyebrow at him, then enters Doctor McCoy’s home. The old doctor clears off a nearby easy chair and invites the Ambassador to make himself comfortable. The old Vulcan takes a seat. “I was in the process of fixing myself something to eat. I’ll fix you something too as it would be rude of me to eat in front of you.” Spock shakes his head. “Thank you, Doctor, but no. This is not exactly a social visit.” Leonard McCoy stops, on his way to the kitchen, and gives his old friend a puzzled look. “Spock! What’s wrong? Did we lose one of our old friends recently? Who died?” Spock again shakes his head. “Not lose someone, Doctor. Someone new has been found.” Doctor McCoy comes back into the room and sits down in his recliner, facing his old friend. “Well?! Spit it out instead of being an Aldebaran Shell-mouth! What does this new-found person have to do with me? Otherwise, you would not have made this special trip to see me about it!”

Spock gives his old friend a somber look. “Do you recall George Dudley William McCoy, Junior and Kalinda Yuri?” The expression on Doctor McCoy’s face darkens. “I remember the death of my only grandson! Then that woman disappeared with my great-grandchildren! All I have left is a stack of certificates…birth certificates, marriage certificate, death certificate that the authorities gave me after they completed their investigation and handed his personal effects to me! What’s happened now?” Spock continues. “A child has been found…a little girl. Federation Child Protective Services has custody of her at the moment. The authorities believe she might be your missing great-granddaughter but they need DNA tests to verify that possibility.”

Doctor McCoy looks stunned. “After all this time? What about her brother? They should have been found together.” Spock shakes his head. “Under the circumstances she was found in, he was not among the children who were rescued from the slave trade.” Doctor McCoy felt sickened. “The slave trade?!” He had heard about Orion slave girls, as well as the Remans. The thought of young children being used, traded, and/or sold like chattel horrified him. “Well, what are we waiting for?!” Spock raises his hand. “I cannot accompany you at this time, as I have another diplomatic matter I need to attend to which is urgent and I am not at liberty to discuss it. The staff at Federation Child Protective Services await your arrival. They will explain everything.” Spock gets to his feet and heads to the door. “I will be on standby as I am certain you will need my assistance in the near future.” He lets himself out the door, leaving the doctor in shock and fumbling for words.

Doctor Leonard McCoy arrives at the door of the Federation Child Protective Services and is greeted by one of the staff members. There was something about this place that always increased his anxiety. In years past, he had been called on to treat the injuries of innocent children who had been subjected to abuse…and it had never become easier. It was one thing to treat the battle wounds of Star Fleet personnel…including Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. It was a completely different ballgame to look in the battered face of an innocent child and wonder how in all of the Universe could someone, anyone, do such a thing. What could the child have done to deserve such brutality? It never made sense. Now there was a new child, here, who might be related to him. That possibility made it all the more difficult to remain objective. The Executive Director comes out to greet him. “Doctor McCoy! How kind of you to come so quickly! This may be a false alarm, regarding the family connection, but we didn’t want to take any chances. I’m hoping you can assist us this time.”

Doctor McCoy shakes hands with her. “Doctor Wagner, I’m happy to assist any way I can! These kids didn’t ask for what has happened to them. What can you tell me about this latest child?” Doctor Wagner motions for him to come into her office and make himself comfortable. After she shuts the door, she sits down at her desk and picks up a PADD, punching several buttons on its screen. “According to the reports that have been submitted to me, this child had been enslaved since she was barely a toddler, about two years old. It’s possible she could have been younger when she was sold into slavery.” Doctor McCoy is horrified. “What?! She was just a baby! How could ANYONE do that?! WHY?!” Doctor Wagner nods. “I know and I agree. This case has challenged my ability to be objective, especially given what she endured.” Doctor McCoy leans forward in his chair. “How bad?” Doctor Wagner hands the PADD over to him. “I think it would be better for you to read this as it is difficult for me to…say this aloud.” Doctor McCoy accepts the PADD and starts to read the report about this recently-rescued child. The more he read, the more he felt the bile rise in the back of his throat. He finally lowers the PADD, with a sigh, and rubs his eyes. “Good God! It’s a miracle this child has survived!”

Doctor Wagner nods sympathetically. “To make matters worse, her trauma has rendered her mute and combative. As much as we hated to do it, we had to lock her in a room with padded walls so she won’t hurt herself or others. We didn’t know what else to do. According to our tests, she’s only about six years old even though she is small for her age, but she fights everyone like a tiger! I think she’s convinced that everyone is out to hurt her…and I can understand why. She’s known nothing else.”

Doctor McCoy felt like he wanted to weep. Even if this child was not related to him, he grieved for her and her lost childhood. Doctor Wagner continues her narrative. “The authorities were able to obtain DNA from her so they could attempt to locate her next of kin. Given her combativeness, it wasn’t easy. Petting a badger would have been a cake-walk!” Doctor McCoy looks at her, confused. “If you’re not certain about her next of kin, what makes you think she’s related to me?” Doctor Wagner looks at him sadly. “That was one of the schemes the slave owners used to make her more…attractive…to their ‘clientele’. She was ‘advertised’ as your Great-Granddaughter.” Doctor McCoy slumps back in his chair. “Oh my Lord!” Doctor Wagner nods sympathetically. “I’m hoping, between the two of us, we will be able to help her. Are you willing to try?” Doctor McCoy nods. “It’s the best I can do.” Doctor Wagner gets up from behind her desk. “Would you like to take a look at her? We can observe her from behind a two-way mirror to minimize her agitation.” Doctor McCoy gets up. “Of course.” He follows her out the door and down a hallway.

The two doctors enter a room and sit down before a large window. Before them, in the next room which is devoid of any furniture, a young girl is curled up in a fetal position in the middle of the room. Doctor McCoy is stunned at how filthy, malnourished, and ragged the child is. As if sensing his thoughts, Doctor Wagner explains. “She wouldn’t allow anyone to attempt to remove her rags or bathe her. She bit and scratched anyone who came anywhere near her. Ironically, that is how we learned that she has minimal use of her legs due to the abuse she suffered. Her back is badly scarred, as you will see, from the frequent beatings she received. I can only speculate on the extent of the damage that was done to her spine. When I was able to get close enough to her, I could see the terror in her eyes. Now do you understand my dilemma?”

Doctor McCoy looks back at her. “Has anyone been able to feed her?” Doctor Wagner nods. “We attempted to feed her, like a normal child, when she first arrived and she stabbed the staff with the utensils within reach. She doesn’t know how to drink from a cup like any other child her age nor does she know how to eat with a spoon, let alone know how to properly use a knife and a fork. As I’ve mentioned, she uses eating utensils as weapons to fight off anyone who comes near her. It appears her captors fed her as if she were a dog. I’ve known dogs that were treated better than she was! We’ve supplied her with sippy cups and baby bottles to try and encourage her to keep up her fluid intake. I’m not sure how successful that has been. I don’t want to resort to using a dog bowl full of water! We’ve had to resort to unbreakable plates and finger foods. As I’ve mentioned before, she’s like a wild little tiger! Doctor McCoy looks thoughtful. “I remember, from medical school, reading studies about wild or feral children. I never expected to ever meet one…and thinking that this child might be related to me leaves me speechless! Is there any hope for her?” Doctor Wagner shrugs helplessly. “I wish I could say that but I really don’t know. Doctor, are you willing to try and get through to her?” Doctor McCoy looks back at the waif lying on the floor in the next room. “I’ve got to try!”

He looks at Doctor Wagner and indicates the next room. “Let me in there! No one else!” Doctor Wagner looks back with concern. “Are you sure that is wise, going in there alone? She could seriously injure you or worse!” Doctor McCoy stubbornly sets his jaw. “I’m willing to take that chance! If it’s my time to go, I rather go trying to help someone else! Now let me in there!” Doctor Wagner nods and gets up. They go back out into the hallway and walk over to the next door. She quietly opens the door and Doctor McCoy silently slips in and eases himself down to the floor in a far corner…close enough for the child to notice him but still be out of reach. He sees that she is sleeping and decides to wait, patiently, until she awakens. Noticing the bruising and other injuries, on her battered face and body, make his heart ache. “Poor child”, he murmurs.

Her eyes instantly snap open and she looks back at him in terror. She desperately crawls to the opposite corner and huddles into it, looking back over her shoulder at him. He makes no move to approach her. All he could do, in response to her terror, is weep. Seeing his tears, she tilts her head as she gazes at him with curiosity and puzzlement. He still makes no move to come near her. As he continues to weep, he starts searching his pockets for a handkerchief to wipe his eyes and realizes he has none. “Of all the days to forget my handkerchief, and now I need one!” He attempts to wipe at his eyes with his sleeve while the mute child continues to watch him with curiosity. She looks down at the rags she is wearing, rips off one of the dirty tatters, and cautiously crawls out of her corner, pushing the tatter towards him. At the halfway point across the room, she flicks the tatter towards him, points to it, then crawls back to her corner…watching intently without looking at his eyes. Doctor McCoy is uncertain whether to laugh or cry. He cautiously crawls toward the tatter, picks it up, and crawls back to his own corner. He holds it up. “Thank you, child.” Bringing the tatter close to his face, he quickly realizes how badly this child needs a bath! He manages to conceal his revulsion as he dabs at his face with the tatter. The child mutely nods at him then resumes her fetal position. Several long, silent, minutes ensue when he hears her stomach give the telltale rumble of hunger. He speaks barely above a whisper. “Child, are you hungry? Would you like to eat something?” She raises her head and looks back in his direction without making eye contact. “What would you like to do, child?” She gives a listless shrug and lays her head back down. “Good Lord!” He thinks to himself, “She’s given up on life too!”

He cautiously gets to his feet and eases himself out of the room. He finds Doctor Wagner nearby. “How frequently IS she eating, Doctor?” Doctor Wagner sadly shakes her head. “She’s recently stopped eating or taking in fluids. It’s as if she has given up and is waiting to die. She has just enough strength to fight us off when we attempt to help her. Even if we manage to get nourishment into her and build up her strength, then the cycle repeats itself. We are simply at a loss as to how to break that cycle. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?”

Doctor McCoy thinks for a few minutes. “For now, you can answer a few questions for me. Why is there no furniture in the room? She clearly doesn’t have the strength, nor the ability, to throw that!” Doctor Wagner pauses. “Because of barricades.” Doctor McCoy does a double-take. “Run that by me again?!” Doctor Wagner sighs. “She takes whatever furniture is available, builds a barricade, and then hides behind it. We’re trying to convince her that barricades are unacceptable.” Doctor McCoy starts fuming. “Dammit, Doctor! Look at this from her perspective! If you were in her situation, what would YOU have done?!” Doctor Wagner pauses, then nods. “You’re right, Doctor. She’s using whatever coping mechanisms she has available, to her, in an attempt to feel safe! God knows, she wasn’t safe anywhere else! What do you suggest we do to try and get past that shell she is in?”

Doctor McCoy thinks for a bit. “For starters, let her begin feeling that she is in a safe place and not treat her as if she’s a zoo specimen or a psychology experiment! If she resumes building barricades, then let her! We have to start where SHE is at for the present! I plan to see her, every day, until she is able to feel safe around me! In the meantime, I’ll submit my DNA so the comparison can be done! Now do it!” Doctor Wagner nods. “Yes, Doctor! Right away!” Several days go by as Doctor McCoy visits the silent child, spending hours on end just sitting in opposite corners of the room. Furniture has been replaced in the room and she had quickly built a barricade to hide behind. He quietly talks to her about whatever he thinks might interest her, only to see her nod off to sleep. He quietly chuckles. “Bored you, didn’t I, child?” She opens one eye and looks blankly in his direction. “Okay, how about I tell you about my travels to other worlds practicing medicine?” He is surprised to see her head pop up, her body language showing interest. “That grabs your attention? Good! Let me tell you about when I went to Omicron Ceti III…”

When the DNA tests came in, and the subsequent report has been handed to Doctor McCoy, the results leave no doubt that the silent child hiding behind barricades in the other room is, indeed, his long-lost Great-Granddaughter. He taps the PADD on his chin as he thinks to himself. “Okay, now what? What do I do? She still is unable to trust anyone.” He puts down the PADD and goes back to the room where the child continues to hide. He eases himself back down to the floor and attempts to sit closer to the barricade than previously. He sees her shrink back further. “It’s okay, child. I understand. It’s scary for anyone to come near you for any reason. I’ve got some news that you might find interesting. Turns out…you and me…we are related. You have a family that you belong to. Now what do you think of that?” She gives him a blank stare without making any eye contact. He continues to quietly speak about their family connections when Doctor Wagner eases herself into the room.

Doctor Wagner nods toward the child. “Any progress?” Doctor McCoy scratches his head. “I’m not really certain. It almost feels like we are waltzing…one step forward, two steps back, then we go in circles.” Doctor Wagner looks sad. “Maybe the best thing we can do is simply find an institution that could deal with her. It would be the kindest thing. She can’t stay here forever.” Doctor McCoy struggles to contain his temper in front of the child and hisses. “I am NOT giving up on her! She’s MY flesh and blood! MY family! She grew up in a disreputable quote ‘institution’ unquote after she was abandoned. She DESERVES better than THAT! If I have to fight for HER…I WILL! SHE DESERVES TO BE LOVED!” Doctor Wagner is taken aback. “What can you do…at your age? I’m sure that, by now, your home is not geared for children, especially children her age, children like … her.”

Doctor McCoy sets his jaw. “For starters, I’m going to child-proof my home so she can’t hurt herself! Then she is coming home with ME!” Doctor Wagner starts to shake her head. “I don’t think that will be wise, Doctor. If her mother is still alive, she could turn up, at any time, and take her back if the courts are unable to find evidence that she is an unfit parent. You will need to formally adopt her, if her mother relinquishes her parental rights and if the courts will permit you to take custody, given your age. Besides, at your age, you will need to name god-parents in case you are no longer able to care for her and that is a BIG IF the courts will permit you to obtain any form of custody. They may accept my recommendation to place her in an institution for damaged sentient beings. They might be able to help her. If not, she can be comfortable there.” Doctor McCoy is emphatic as well as angry. “My Great-Grandbaby is NOT going to be sent to an institution and THAT is FINAL! She deserves to be with her family…not be warehoused with strangers! I’ll make arrangements to name a couple of friends of mine as god-parents! One of them can live as long as 200 years! THAT should meet someone’s criteria!” He continues to glare angrily. Doctor Wagner looks at him silently as there is no point in continuing her arguments.

Doctor McCoy files a petition, in the Federation Family Court, to have himself named Legal Guardian/Adoptive Parent and to have Ambassador Spock, along with Captain Uhura, named as god-parents if he becomes too incapacitated to care for the child. Much to his relief, the child’s mother, and he used that term loosely to describe her, never turned up so the court granted his petition to have her parental rights terminated permanently. After the old doctor has prepared his home to receive his new family member, he barely manages to tolerate the transporter effect when he and the silent child arrive at his residence. He had asked his old friend, Captain Sulu, for the use of a runabout’s transporter as he was uncertain how the child would react to crowds at the public transporter facility or any other form of public transportation for that matter. As it turned out, as soon as the child spotted Sulu, she reacted with terror. It took everything that McCoy could think of to try and calm her down until they could get home. Sulu was empathetic and told McCoy that whenever he needed anything, he would be more than happy to help. The minute the two McCoy’s arrived inside the house she immediately headed for a corner, crawling as quickly as she possibly could, and began building her barricade once more.

The old doctor sighs. “It’s okay, child. Do what you need to do. We’ll work on this one step at a time.” He begins to prepare a snack for her, making sure the plate is unbreakable, and fills a sippy cup with cranberry juice. He had managed to get her to cooperate, days earlier, while he scanned her with a medical tricorder and discovered she was suffering from a severe urinary tract infection which was bordering on potential kidney failure. She seemed fascinated with the scanner and attempted to take it out of his hands to explore it during the scan. He noticed that her body temperature was unusually high and presumed it must stem from the infection. When the scan was complete, he permitted her to hold the device and look it over. But then he made the mistake of giving her a hypo-spray of antibiotic and got bitten for his efforts.

He knew, from his own experiences, that the hypo-spray is painless. At first he thought that she had been startled by the noise and reacted accordingly. Then he bitterly realized that she was reacting to the memory of being drugged to force her compliance with the abuse and torture she endured as a slave. He had been informed, by law enforcement, that they had found evidence, where she had been forcibly drugged then imaged for child pornography purposes, and that the ring of perpetrators were in the process of being tracked down, arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. That was small comfort, knowing those images were still being circulated somewhere in any quadrant. How he wished he could get his hands on those monsters and mete out his own form of justice! Then he could guarantee that they would NEVER hurt another innocent child! Rather than risk another bite, or fight, regarding the antibiotic, he knew that the next best thing he could do for her UTI was give her cranberry juice via the sippy cup and hope it works. He wasn’t certain if it would be as effective as the antibiotic. The least he could do was try. Either way, it was encouraging to see her taking in nourishment, even if it was not age-appropriate yet. “Yes siree, baby steps, one step at a time”, he commented to himself within her hearing.

He often kept up a running commentary about whatever he was doing, attempting to include her with whatever was going on around the house. He didn’t go far from her line of sight, to reassure her that she was safe no matter what. When he had to go behind a closed door, to take care of his own needs, he reassured her, before and after, regarding her safety. Unfortunately, she still remained behind the barricade, wearing the same clothes, or more accurately, rags, on her back that she had been found in. He hadn’t been able to persuade her that it was safe to come out from her hiding place for long, let alone take a bath or change clothes. The continuing silence was also unnerving. Healthy children, once they are old enough to start speaking, are usually chatty and playful. This one remained behind a wall of silence, focusing on some far away place in her mind…stimming by twirling her hands, the same way as he had observed other troubled young children.

He also recognized the symptoms of possible Autism Spectrum Disorder and attempted to consult with other professionals about his observations, requesting that she be tested, only to be summarily dismissed because he was too emotionally involved. She was labeled with: developmental delay, traumatized child disorder, cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, selective mutism, emotionally disturbed, among other diagnoses…a variety of labels EXCEPT the possibility of Autism Spectrum Disorder based on the reports from the Federation Child Protective Services. One so-called professional, a non-human who came to perform a home observation of the child, callously commented that she was mentally retarded and should be better off in a kennel if the child was on his own home-world…ignoring the fact that the child could HEAR him! Doctor McCoy threw him out on his non-humanoid butt! After several weeks of trying to break through her self-imposed isolation, without success, he was stymied.

He was sitting in his recliner, that he had positioned near her barricade, wracking his brain on what he could do to help this child when he heard a gentle tap at his screen door. He looked up to see his old friend, Spock, and motioned for him to come on in. “Hi, Spock, welcome to our humble abode! Don’t say anything about the chaos that you see. We’re still working on that!” Spock quietly approaches his old friend, noting the silent child hiding behind the barricade. “Any progress, Leonard?”, he inquired. Doctor McCoy looks over at his Great-Granddaughter and sighs. “We are both stuck at an impasse. She trusts me just enough to feed her and I’ve managed to persuade her to come out long enough to use the facilities in the other room to relieve herself, given that she’s still battling an infection, then she goes straight back into hiding! I don’t know how to communicate that she is safe…here…and that I will never hurt her! I’ve tried everything and I’ve run out of ideas.”

Spock nods then looks at his old friend. “May I be permitted to approach her?” Doctor McCoy looks up at him and gestures helplessly. “You’re welcome to try, Spock. I should give you fair warning that she may lash out at you if she perceives you as a threat. She’s already bitten me, once, when I had to give her an antibiotic for her infections.” Spock nods again. “I understand and I consider myself warned.” He approaches the barricade, in the corner, and eases himself to the floor. The silent six-year-old glances up then does a double-take, looking at him wide-eyed. Spock sees both fear and curiosity in her face as she gazes back at him. He hears Doctor McCoy’s voice catch. “That’s the first time she’s made eye-contact, with anyone, since she was found! How did you manage to do that, Spock?” Spock looks back at the child and they gaze silently at each other for a few minutes.

He breaks the silence. “I presume that you have never seen the likes of me before, have you not?” To the amazement of both Spock and McCoy, she shakes her head “No” as she continues gazing at this strange looking individual seated before her. He turns his head, from side to side, so she can see his ears and watches her face as she reacts with amazement on top of her curiosity and fear. “I come from a planet where all of my people have ears just like mine.” She starts to reach up towards him, then quickly snatches her hand back, the fear strong in her face. Spock nods. “You wish to reach out but you’re still afraid.” She nods in response. “That is acceptable under these circumstances. You are curious.” She nods again. Spock continues. “On my world, we have another way we communicate with each other. It is called a mind-meld. You can meld with me by touching my face.” The child stares at him with fear. “I will not harm you. I promise and Vulcans never lie! You can remain where you are. I will bring my face within your reach and you can stop whenever you wish. Just say ‘when’ and I will retreat.” Spock shifts to his knees and leans his face towards the child so she can touch. Clumsily, she touches his face, then his ears. Without warning, she grabs one ear…HARD! Doctor McCoy winces for his friend. “Ouch, Spock! That has GOT to HURT!” Spock quietly permits the child to continue. “Leonard, my pain is nothing compared to what she has endured. I can take it. After all, she is only six years old.”

The child continues her exploration of his face and ears until she finally rests her hand on his cheek, touching some of his Psi Points. He briefly touches her thoughts with scenes from his home-world and his parents, Sarek and Amanda. She gasps and jumps back. “That startled you. I beg forgiveness.” She tilts her head, gazing back with curiosity, then reaches out, once more, for his Psi Points. “May I be permitted to assist?” She nods and Spock reaches up and positions her fingertips to the proper positions for a meld. He observes her face as she experiences a gamut of emotions, reacting to what she sees in her mind from the meld. He reaches back to an old memory of playing with his childhood pet and, much to everyone’s amazement, she giggles. Spock explains, “My pet is known as a Sehlat…he was called I-Chaya.” She nods in understanding as the awe shows on her face.

Spock sends her a thought, asking for permission to touch her face and she momentarily freezes in fear. “If you prefer that I not touch you, I will understand. I will not force you to accept unwanted touching and I will never hurt you. I promise and Vulcans never lie!” She stares back at Spock for several long minutes, contemplating this new possibility, then hesitantly nods. Spock nods in return. “You can stop any time you wish. I will not be offended.” She nods again and he reaches for the Psi Points on her face. Doctor McCoy continues to watch, fascinated, as this plays out. Then he sees Spock’s face suddenly turn ashen. “Spock! Are you all right?!” Spock shushes him as they both see that the child is starting to show fear again. “I am fine. It is just my old age catching up with me. It is not the child’s fault.” They both see the child starting to relax a little. Finally, the meld ceases and they remove their hands from each other’s faces. Spock maintains eye-contact with her. “You are still safe…with both of us.”

As Spock sits back, both he and McCoy are surprised as the child silently starts to dismantle her barricade. Once it’s down, she points at Doctor McCoy with an inquisitive expression on her face. Spock explains, “That is your Great-Grandfather, Doctor Leonard McCoy.” She then points to him. “I am called…Spock. I am his friend and will always be his friend.” She attempts to work her lips and tongue, struggling for a word. Finally, she whispers hoarsely: “Gramps”. She looks at her Great-Grandfather, in the eye, for the first time and repeats, while pointing to him: “Gramps”. She then looks over at her new friend, who is still seated on the floor and points to him: “Spock…friend.” Doctor McCoy starts to openly cry and he looks over at his old friend, and sees a single tear trickle down his face. The child looks at both of them with curiosity and starts to rip more tatters from her rags to hold out to them.

At that point, both Spock and Doctor McCoy realize they have another dilemma on their hands. This child desperately needs a bath but neither one feels qualified to assist, given her traumatic history. They know this requires a maternal touch. Spock leans forward and invites the child to touch his face once more. He lets her know that there is another friend, who she can trust, to come and help if she wishes. He asks if this new friend can be invited over and she nods. Doctor McCoy immediately goes over to his comm-system. Within the hour, Captain Uhura arrives and is slowly introduced to Doctor McCoy’s Great-Granddaughter. Once the child is assured that this new person will not hurt her, Uhura proceeds to assist her in getting cleaned up.

Uhura had been forewarned about the extent of damage and neglect that had been done to this child so she was halfway prepared to see the worst. Seeing the scars from abuse, covering the child’s body, was heartbreaking for Uhura but she managed to keep a smile on her face while assisting and reassuring the child. Cleaning up the various infestations was difficult but not unexpected knowing the extent of neglect that had occurred. Finally, the child has been bathed, dressed in pajamas, and put to bed for the first time since she was discovered. Snuggling underneath the covers, she quickly falls asleep. What had been her rags are taken outside and quickly disposed of with the blast of a phaser. Doctor McCoy breathes a sigh of gratitude. “Thanks, both of you! I don’t know what else I could have done without your help!” Uhura demurs. “No problem at all! I’m glad to assist! Let me know if you need anything else. I’ll be on standby! I won’t be far away.” She heads out toward home.

Spock looks somberly at his old friend. “Leonard, this is only the beginning. What you have seen in the reports…the reports you have previously shared with me…is nothing compared to what she has actually lived through. What I saw…in her mind…during the meld was…horrendous. She experienced more than you and I experienced during battles. No child should have endured that, witnessed that. No child deserved THAT! She’s going to need a LOT of help and support while she recovers, mentally, physically, and emotionally! It may not be logical but it’s true.” Doctor McCoy shakes his head angrily. “I would love to get my hands on those responsible for what they did to her!” Spock nods. “I understand your emotions and I would tend to agree. For now, it’s more important to focus on your Great-granddaughter’s needs than on revenge.” He pauses. “Leonard, would you permit me to stay here and remain near her? The type of trauma she has endured has been known to cause night terrors. We know this from our own experiences while serving in Star Fleet. You have treated crew members for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She will need to see some reassuring faces should that occur, given that she is only a child. She trusts me, as well as you, but you need to catch up on your rest. I can see that you are tired. In truth, you are exhausted, my friend.” He pauses again. “Do you know that she does not know her own name?” Doctor McCoy does a double-take. “What?!” Spock nods. “She now knows you as ‘Gramps’ and she knows my name. During our meld, when I asked her what her name is, she called herself several obscenities. She has no idea what her name really is.” Doctor McCoy sits heavily in his recliner. “I think I’m going to be sick!” Spock nods. “I understand, my friend.” He pauses. “For now, should she awake, during the night, I will need to know what to call her…to help her recover her own identity. Do you have that information somewhere?”

Doctor McCoy looks around, gets up, and walks toward a stack of documents on his desk. “I should have been thinking of that, plus remembered from the Family Court case! I’ve been relying on nick-names, trying to help her understand she has nothing to fear anymore and that she has a loving family. Where are my brains?!” Spock approaches him as he searches through the stack. “Your brains were preoccupied in trying to break through that barricade your little Great-Granddaughter had built around herself for self-preservation. You had no time to think about anything else.” Doctor McCoy continues thumbing through the stack then stops. “Here it is! Her birth certificate!” He pulls it out, looks at it and falls silent. Spock looks at him curiously. “Leonard, what is it?” Doctor McCoy looks up at him. “Her given name is ‘Patricia’. You’ll never guess what her middle name is.” Spock quirks an eyebrow. “Her middle name?” Doctor McCoy holds up the birth certificate for Spock to see. “Her middle name is…Amanda. The same as your mother!”

Both of Spock’s eyebrows shoot up in astonishment. “Indeed?!” Doctor McCoy continues to look through the documents and finds one that is folded up. He opens it, reads it, and pauses again, too emotional to speak. Spock looks on, waiting patiently. Finally, the old doctor finds his voice. “This…” as he indicates the document in his hand, “Is a note written by my late grandson, addressed to his little girl. Apparently, he was the family historian at the time and wanted his daughter to know how she got her name. He chose ‘Patricia’ because his little girl was a ‘princess’ to him and he loved her very much. The name means ‘noble’ or ‘regal’. He also referred to her as ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’. The middle name of ‘Amanda’ was suggested by the woman he married because it was the name of her mother…Patricia’s maternal grandmother. The family history stops there. He was killed… more accurately … murdered shortly after this was written. These documents were found among his effects and turned over to me shortly after the death investigation was completed. I couldn’t really look at them until now. My grandson…” He starts to choke up again.

Spock nods sympathetically. “I understand your reasons to not look at these things before, my friend. I grieve with thee. I also can see that you are physically exhausted and I would recommend that you get some rest. Patricia-kam will need you in the morning.” Doctor McCoy looks up at Spock with a quizzical look. “Patricia-kam?” Spock gives him a slight smile. “Doctor, contrary to what you may think, Vulcan parents do use terms of endearment with babies and very young children. When I have the opportunity to speak with your Great-Granddaughter, would it not be logical to use a term of endearment to a six-year-old, given that she has never really experienced any form of affection before?” McCoy gives his old friend a sentimental grin. “Who knew, under all that Vulcan stubbornness, that you are actually a softie?” He looks away and adds in a gruff whisper. “Thanks, Spock, for understanding. Until today, I felt as if I was the only one fighting to save her. The Child Protection Services had been pressuring me to place her in an institution and I cannot permit that.” Spock nods. “And the continuing struggle is exhausting you. Get some rest, my friend. You have earned it.”

The day’s events finally catch up with Doctor McCoy and he acquiesces to Spock’s suggestion that he go to bed. Spock moves the recliner away from where the barricade formerly had been and closer to the door of the bedroom where little Patricia is now sleeping. In spite of attempting to be as quiet as possible, he realizes that he has accidentally awakened the child. He hears her bed being ripped apart, her muffled crying, and goes in to check on her. He finds her huddled in a corner of the room, attempting to hide under the blankets that she has pulled off the bed. He sits on the floor near her. “Patricia-kam, you are safe.” She holds her breath for a few minutes, then sniffles. He repeats his statement. “Patricia-kam, you are safe.” She pulls the blankets away from her face and looks at him, confused. Spock smiles at her. “Hearing your name confuses you, does it not, Patricia-kam?” She nods, looking more confused than ever. “Do not worry. Your Gramps and I will keep you safe. It is acceptable to be confused while you learn new things. One of those new things is sleeping on a bed instead of sleeping on the floor. Which do you find more comfortable?” She silently points to the bed that has been pulled apart in her frantic attempt to escape.

Spock nods. “I will assist you in reassembling your bed and then tuck you back in, if you will permit me.” She silently nods at him and starts to crawl toward the bed. Spock gestures for her to stay where she is. “It will be easier if I take care of the heavy lifting.” He proceeds to place the mattress and box-spring back in the bed- frame and secures them. Then he covers the mattress with the sheets and blankets. Little Patricia holds up the pillow for him to take. “Thank you, Patricia-kam, that is most helpful.” He places the pillow back on the bed. The child starts to resume crawling when Spock approaches her. “May I have your permission to assist you, Patricia-kam?” She looks back at him with a combination of fear, confusion, curiosity, and relief. Finally, she takes a deep breath and nods her permission. Spock smiles at her again. “You are very brave, Patricia-kam.” He carefully lifts her up, carries her to the bed, and tucks her in. He places his hand on her Psi Points. “Good night, Patricia-kam. Have pleasant dreams. I will remain on watch to protect you. You are safe here! I promise and Vulcans never lie!” She solemnly nods at Spock, places her thumb in her mouth, then turns on her side facing the wall. For all of his Vulcan training, nothing prepared him for anything such as this. He knew he must meditate to bring his emotions under control.

In the morning, the real work began. Both Spock and McCoy knew they both had to proceed in “baby steps” given how fragile this child was, physically and psychologically. Assisting her in recovering her own identity was a challenge. Each time she was called by her given name, she reacted either with confusion or didn’t respond at all. To avoid a PTSD reaction, each took turns sitting down in front of her, encouraging eye-contact, speaking calmly. When she did respond, it was usually by pointing at objects that she wanted … food or drink. Her legs still could not function properly due to damage from abuse so she could only crawl. Captain Uhura often stopped by to assist with needs that the men felt unqualified to do.

Doctor McCoy felt exasperated. “Spock, she’s going to need surgery…soon…if she’s going to have ANY hope of being able to walk again. Otherwise, she’s going to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, the way your former captain, Christopher Pike, was before you took him back to Talos IV. She’s terrified of strangers, which is going to make it all the more difficult to provide her with the medical treatment she desperately needs. If she is approached by anyone she does not know, she will become combative and/or scream in terror.” Spock nodded in agreement. “As you have stated, Leonard, we have needed to work in ‘baby steps’ but her medical needs now require that she must take a giant leap forward if she is going to have any hope of leading the kind of life she wants. Let me attempt to confer with her and see what she thinks. After all, given what she has endured, it’s about time she be permitted to have some input into some of the decisions regarding herself.” Doctor McCoy looks worried. “I’m afraid she may not make the decisions that are right, Spock. She’s only a six-year-old kid, not an adult. She can’t reason like an adult because she has not had enough appropriate experiences, nor the neurological development, to think and reason like an adult. Vulcan children may have that ability. Human children are developmentally different. What development she’s had has been stunted by what she’s been through. All she has known how to do is fight for survival. Based on my training, what I’ve been attempting to do, in helping her, stems from Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy of Needs.” Spock quirks an eyebrow. “I am not familiar with this theory. Could you explain, please?”

McCoy sighs. “I’ll try my best. Keep in mind that this was developed by a human for humans.” He walks over to his computer and pulls up an illustration of a pyramid. “Here’s a depiction of the theory…as you can see, the foundation is Physiological…food, water, warmth, and shelter. Once those needs are met, then the next level is Safety…security, stability, freedom from fear. She is still struggling with that level, as you have seen for yourself last night. We know she is safe. She needs to BELIEVE that she is safe! Once that goal is achieved, then the next level will probably be a challenge for you, Spock, because it involves an emotion that she desperately needs to understand … Love … being able to belong to a family, being loved and accepted by a family, having friends, being able to reciprocate that love as she grows up and, hopefully, find a mate who accepts and loves her as she is. It may be illogical, but this is a fact for humans, especially human children. The remainder will probably be a struggle … for her…Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization, understanding and knowing that she is a worthwhile human being who deserves to be loved. She’s been treated as garbage for so long that she can’t understand anything else. She probably can’t see those possibilities at this time.” Spock slowly nods with understanding then looks around the room, realizing that the area is TOO quiet for the presence of a child. “Leonard, where has she gone to? She was just here a moment ago.”

Doctor McCoy looks around the house, and all the possible hiding places where she could be. “Patricia! Where are you, child?” Both Spock and McCoy search the house without success. Finally, they go outside and discover a garbage can turned on its side, with grass clippings and other yard debris spilling out. They find the child huddled within and crying silently. For an instant, Doctor McCoy is irritated, then relieved. “Oh, child! WHAT are you doing in THERE?!” Her response was to attempt to shrink further inside the garbage can. Spock stoops down beside Doctor McCoy and peers inside. He sees how frightened and miserable she is feeling and, in spite of his Vulcan training, he empathizes. “Patricia-kam, what is wrong? Have we hurt you without meaning to?” All she can do is mutely shake her head and hide her face. Knowing that the child still has no words to express anything, Spock tries again. “Patricia-kam, can you permit me to touch your mind? Help me understand?” She raises a tear-stained face, looks silently at him, then nods. She crawls closer so that he can touch her face.

When he touches her Psi-Points, he sees multiple images of violence…various people attacking her, screaming obscenities, her being shoved, repeatedly inside a garbage can filled with filth, being forced to sleep there, having scraps of food thrown at her as if she were a dog, finding hiding places in a futile attempt to avoid these attacks. Spock gently shakes his head. “No, Patricia-kam. You do not have to live in a garbage can. The others who called you those names are wrong and always were wrong! You deserve to be safe and loved. What I am telling you is true and Vulcans never lie! Do you believe me?” She looks at him with uncertainty and Spock nods. “It will take time to learn how to trust. Do you trust your Gramps to keep you safe?” She nods. “Do you trust me and Captain Uhura to keep you safe?” She nods again. “Given that you trust us to keep you safe, and that you ARE safe, please come out of this garbage can. It is difficult for us to help keep you safe as there is not enough space in this garbage can for all of us.” She nods silently and crawls out. Spock lifts her off the ground while McCoy places the garbage can back where it belongs. The old doctor shakes his head. “Let me give Uhura a call. This child is going to need another bath!”

Uhura is sitting with Spock and McCoy after little Patricia has been bathed and put to bed to rest. She looks at both of them nearly in tears. “She’s been through HELL, hasn’t she? She still only a baby in many ways! I can’t understand how any adult could do THAT to a child!” McCoy sighs. “HELL is an understatement! Isn’t that right, Spock?” Spock nods. “That is a close description of what she lived through. She is fearful of anything and anyone unfamiliar as a result.” McCoy looks back at Uhura. “Which leaves me with a dilemma. She needs surgery, and soon, to repair the physical damage that was done to her. Otherwise, she will permanently lose the ability to walk! The window of opportunity will close shortly. At the same time, I worry about how much of a setback, psychologically, this hospitalization and surgery will trigger. I need to do what is best for her! I just don’t know if she has enough resiliency to come back from another trauma.” Spock looks over at his old friend. “Perhaps we can…how is it said in the human vernacular?… ‘tag-team’ with her.” McCoy looks at him, confused. “What are you talking about?”

Spock continues. “Leonard, in spite of what others have labeled her, she is not a stupid child. We all know that she is highly intelligent. She just tends to misinterpret situations based on her own experiences. She has no other point of reference unless we are able to teach her that there are other perspectives. You are still a doctor, so you can remain at her side before, during, and after the surgeries. I can help her prepare mentally, for the ordeal to come, with your assistance.” McCoy is both puzzled and curious. “What are you proposing?” Spock looks over at Uhura, then back at McCoy. “There is a possibility of having a three-way mind-meld, between you and your Great-Granddaughter with me as the mediator. It would be somewhat similar to the Fal-Tor-Pan that you and I experienced. Through this mind-meld she will be able to see, in your mind, what you know and what she will experience. She will also be able to see that she won’t be abandoned again. That knowledge may help soothe her fears. Having her see these images, in her mind, might be easier than trying to explain in words that she is still struggling to understand. We have to remember that while she was enslaved, no one really communicated WITH her. They only forced her, used her, abused her, to gratify themselves! She was treated as if she were less than human, more as an object. She’s had no opportunity to increase her vocabulary, in an age-appropriate way, since she was an infant. At age six, she is just now being taught her own name. Later on, once she has recovered sufficiently, we will need to focus on teaching her how to read and write as well as other age-appropriate and educational skills. Patricia-kam has a lot of work ahead of her, just to catch up to her age-group. What I propose is just a small step.”

Uhura leans forward in her chair. “Spock, do you think it will work?” Spock looks uncertain. “I do not know. I have never attempted this before. There is the possibility of encountering other psychological minefields that we do not yet know exist. There is also the other possibility, Leonard, that you would be unable to control your revulsion at the images you will see in her mind. It took every bit of my Vulcan discipline to not reveal my reaction to what I saw so that Patricia-kam would not be alarmed. We must take extreme caution not to traumatize her any more than she already is. There is a risk that this attempt may fail. At the same time, I don’t see any other alternatives besides permitting the paralysis to progress to the point of no return. As illogical and emotional as this may sound … Patricia-kam does not deserve to become paralyzed for the rest of her life. She should not be forced to pay the price for what other adults have done to her. She deserves to be a healthy child.” Uhura nods in agreement. “What you said, my dear friend, may be illogical…and it may be emotional…it is still true! That child, who is sleeping in the other room, deserves to be loved and is entitled to become healthy and whole, as any child should be.” Doctor McCoy nods with determination. “Then it’s decided. As soon as she wakes up from her nap all of us, here, need to have a family conference with her!” Spock looks at him with a raised eyebrow. “But I am not biologically related, as Patricia-kam and you are!”

McCoy grins back at him. “As of right now, I am adopting you, you old green-blooded Hobgoblin, as part of our family!” Uhura looks over at McCoy, smiling. “Does that include me as well, Len?” McCoy nods back at her. “Of course, dear! Isn’t it obvious by now? As far as my Great-Grandbaby and I are concerned, the two of you are not only her legal god-parents…Patricia needs all the family she can collect! Before she was found, she had no one! She was nobody’s child! Now, she can know that there are adults who will go to any length to protect her, love her, and do what is right! She needs to understand that she has a family who loves her and won’t abandon her, no matter what!” Uhura holds out her hand. “Then I’m there!” McCoy and Spock place their hands on top of hers. “Agreed!”

Little Patricia wakes up, with a start, from her nap and looks around. Hearing low voices murmuring in the other room, her curiosity overrides her fears and she eases herself to the floor from her bed. Spock’s sensitive ears hear motion as she crawls to the door and he turns toward her direction. “Patricia-kam, did you sleep well?” She solemnly nods then looks at the three adults, halfway fearful. Spock gets up from his chair and slowly approaches her. “It is all right, Patricia-kam. We were waiting for you to wake up so we could discuss some important questions with you. Permit me to assist you to a chair.” She tilts her head at him questioningly as he lifts her from the floor and carries her to where the others are seated. Doctor McCoy vacates his recliner and indicates that he is relinquishing it to her. The child looks at her Great-Grandfather with a confused expression on her face as Spock eases her into the chair.

Doctor McCoy smiles at her. “It’s all right, child. You are permitted to sit in any chair instead of being on the floor. This is your home, too.” Hearing her Great-Grandfather’s permission, she sighs contentedly and settles into the recliner. He approaches her. “Child, would you like to see what this chair can do?” She gives him a puzzled stare as he pushes a button and the chair starts to slowly recline. Instantly, she starts screaming in terror and Doctor McCoy stops the chair from moving any further. Spock quickly lifts her up and cradles her as she sobs in fear. Doctor McCoy face- palms. “What was I thinking? I thought she might like it! Instead I frightened her out of her wits!” Uhura pats his arm. “Leonard, you didn’t mean any harm.” Spock looks at the child’s face and sees terror in her eyes. “Leonard, Nyota, if I correctly remember the images I saw in her mind, from the meld, she has encountered a similar device when she was being tortured. If I recall your explanations about psychology, Doctor, a Post- Traumatic flashback was inadvertently triggered.” The child looks up at Spock with a puzzled expression.

Spock explains to her. “When your Gramps attempted to help you become more comfortable in his chair, he accidentally reminded you of what happened to you before. We beg forgiveness.” She looks at all three adults who gaze sadly back at her, then she sighs deeply, sticks her thumb in her mouth, and cuddles against Spock. Doctor McCoy quirks an eyebrow. “Spock, I think she likes you better than me! I might get jealous!” Spock shakes his head. “Really, Doctor. She is YOUR family.” Uhura looks at all of them, hands on her hips, and irritation on her face. “How long are you two boys going to stand there and debate this?” The two men look at each other then back at Uhura. “You have a point”, Doctor McCoy comments. The seating is rearranged and little Patricia is settled comfortably in an easy chair, facing the three adults who take their remaining seats. Doctor McCoy resumes speaking. “I am so sorry, Patricia, for frightening you. That was not my intention, child. I made a mistake. Can you forgive me?” She stares silently back at him for several seconds, uncertainty in her eyes. Uhura gets up from her chair and motions for Doctor McCoy to follow her outside to her vehicle. He follows her with a quizzical look on his face.

Uhura has several packages in the backseat and starts rummaging through them. Doctor McCoy places his fists on his hips, shaking his head. “Uhura, what are you doing?” She straightens up, smiling and holding a toy in her hands…Winnie the Pooh. She grins at McCoy. “I bet she’s never had a toy to play with! Do you think she will like this?” McCoy looks at the toy and smiles. “It’s worth a try.” Uhura hands the toy bear to McCoy. “You can give this to her as a peace offering. Later on, you can tell her that I found it for her.” They both go back in the house. Little Patricia looks from Spock, to the two adults who have just re-entered the house and spots the toy in McCoy’s hands. She’s unsure what to think. Doctor McCoy kneels down on the floor, in front of her chair, and holds the toy bear out for her to see. “This is yours, if you want him. His name is Winnie the Pooh. There are several stories about him that I can tell you, if you like.” She hesitates for a few moments, then snatches the bear out of McCoy’s hands, inspecting it more closely. Doctor McCoy nods, then looks over at Spock and Uhura. “I don’t think she knows what to do with it. Makes me think of that old saying of ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.” After solemnly inspecting the teddy bear, Patricia finally looks back at her Great-Grandfather. “Gramps,” she whispers. McCoy is uncertain whether to laugh or cry. He does a little of both. His Great-Granddaughter then surprises everyone by reaching out and wiping the tears off his face. Doctor McCoy holds out his hand and waits to see what she will do next. She takes his hand in her own. “Gramps!”, she repeats, louder than before. Doctor McCoy nods. “That’s right, Patricia”, pointing to himself, “I’m Gramps and I love you! Do you know what your name is?” She then points to herself and wrestles with a new word she is attempting to form with her lips and tongue. Finally, she partially succeeds… “Pat!” Spock is unable to suppress a grin. “That is correct! You can call yourself ‘Pat’ as that is a version of your name, Patricia-kam!” She nods thoughtfully… “Pat!” Uhura whispers to Doctor McCoy, “I think we are making progress.” Spock leans forward towards her. “Patricia-kam, we need to discuss some things with you.”

Little Patricia gazes back at him, then holds out her hand in an attempt to perform a meld on Spock’s face. He nods, “All right, Patricia-kam, this might make it easier to explain.” He places his fingertips on her Psi-Points and she closes her eyes, as if listening. When she reopens her eyes, she looks at all three of them, nodding with determination and courage in her face. “She understands and agrees”, Spock interprets. “That’s my girl!”, McCoy responds with pride, “When can we do our version of the Fal-Tor-Pan?” Little Patricia reaches out, grabs McCoy’s hand and places her other hand on his face, attempting to locate his Psi-Points. Spock gives her a slight smile. “Patricia-kam is ready now! She doesn’t quite understand that two humans are unable to mind-meld with each other.” The child frowns at Spock and sticks out her lower lip in a pout, causing him to give a rare chuckle. “That’s all right, Patricia-kam, I will assist.” Uhura also chuckles.

Two chairs are placed near each other with enough space in between for Spock to stand. Doctor McCoy is in his recliner while little Patricia is seated in the easy chair. Uhura sits nearby to monitor all three should there be any unexpected developments. Spock looks at the two McCoy’s, elder and child. “Are you prepared?” Both nod, silently, in response. “Let us proceed.” Spock places his fingertips on the Psi-Points on both of their faces and closes his eyes. Both McCoy’s close their eyes as well. Several minutes tick by as Uhura continues to observe the three of them. Finally, all three open their eyes. Doctor McCoy’s face has lost all color and he rubs his eyes, attempting to control his emotions. Little Patricia looks thoughtful in spite of her young years. Spock remains calm, waiting for one of them to respond to what has just occurred.

The child reaches out and tugs at his ambassadorial robes. Spock bends down to listen to her. She points to her Great-Grandfather. “Gramps.” Spock glances over at McCoy, looks back at the child and nods. “He needs attention, yes.” She attempts to get out of her chair and Spock assists by lifting her. “Tell me what you wish to do.” She points to her Great-Grandfather again. “Do you wish to sit in his lap?” She nods. Spock gently places the child in her Great-Grandfather’s lap and she proceeds to hug him. Doctor McCoy hugs her back. “Yes, child, you’re going to be just fine!”

The surgeries proceeded better than anyone could have hoped. When she awoke from the anesthesia, Doctor McCoy made sure that she had Winnie-the-Pooh beside her, sharing with her that it was Uhura who had found the teddy bear for her. Both Spock and Uhura visited with her, frequently, while she was in the hospital. Little Patricia saw other children in the Pediatric Ward but made no move to attempt to approach or communicate with them. A few of the hospital staff attempted to force her to socialize until Doctor McCoy sternly reminded them to let her proceed at a pace that was comfortable for her. Unfortunately, the other children didn’t know what to make of this silent, awkward newcomer and shied away from her. “That’s all right, child”, Doctor McCoy reassured the six-year-old, you’ll know when you’re ready to approach and interact with the other kids. Just give yourself time.” Little Patricia simply stared solemnly then turned her attention back to Winnie-the-Pooh, retreating inside her own silent little world.

The subsequent physical therapies proved to be more of a challenge. No matter how many times the physical therapists attempted to do their jobs, the child reacted to their presence with teeth and fingernails. Physical therapy causes pain and she just was NOT having THAT! Doctor McCoy felt as if he was at another impasse. Spock attempts to intercede on behalf of all of the medical personnel, Doctor McCoy included, and encounters something quite familiar…McCoy Stubbornness! Normally, Spock would find McCoy obstinacy as an irritant. In this case, he welcomed it as a positive sign. Until this point, she had been passive, withdrawn, depressed. Now, she was fighting back against any perceived encroachments on her physical boundaries! During one of their recent mind-melds, he inquired why she would not permit the physical therapists to assist in her recovery. In her mind, she had shouted back: “NO! STRANGERS! HURT!” Spock could understand her logic…she equated these kind strangers with those who had abused her in the past and, in her child’s understanding, could not see there was a difference. She did not trust the physical therapists…could not trust their intentions under any circumstance. “Patricia-kam”, he attempted once again, “You need to learn how to walk. I understand it is painful. How can we help you make it easier to achieve your goal?” Her response was to shrug back at him and he sighs. Spock looks around the therapy room, observing other patients being put through their paces. It did look tedious.

No wonder this six-year-old hated physical therapy! She was the only child there. Everyone else were adults…some elderly…all strangers. How could she possibly relate to any of this? In spite of being Vulcan, he understood the concept of play for children. This wasn’t even remotely close to play. It was all work. What was that old saying he heard Doctor McCoy say? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? The issues he could see were: (1) identifying the goals of physical therapy, (2) how to accomplish those goals, AND (3) how to make it FUN for this six-year-old who had never had a childhood and didn’t know how to play? He decided that a consult with Doctor McCoy was in order.
Doctor McCoy was found in one of the rehab facility’s offices, reading over his Great-Granddaughter’s latest medical reports. He looks up when he hears Spock approach. “Any luck in convincing her to cooperate?” The elderly Vulcan shakes his head but gives his old friend a slight smile. “She has definitely inherited one of your most prominent traits, Leonard. She is as stubborn as you are!” McCoy quirks an eyebrow at him. “I’m not sure if I should take that as an insult or a compliment.” He sighs and puts down the medical report he had been reading. “Spock, I’m stumped again. I know what she needs to do. SHE knows what she needs to do. How can WE convince her to DO what she needs to do, of her own free will? All of her life, she had been forced to do what others want and I’m sure she’s had a belly- full! I don’t blame her for resisting that.” Spock pauses to think. “Leonard, this may seem like an obvious question. What is the goal of physical therapy?” Doctor McCoy turns to face him. “Well, in Patricia’s case, physical therapy is to help her improve her balance and propioception. Her leg and back muscles are weak from damage and disuse, which makes it harder for her to maintain her balance when attempting to walk.” Spock nods. “I have been observing Patricia-kam in the therapy room and have communicated with her. Based on the information gathered, along with my observations, I have come to the conclusion that, in addition to not trusting these strangers, because of the pain caused by physical therapy, she also feels out of place.” Doctor McCoy gives him a confused look. “Explain.”

Spock continues: “Leonard, have you really noticed the age ranges of the patients who are in physical therapy here? There is no one, close to her age, that she can relate to. All of the other patients are elderly and are too ill to be able to communicate with a six-year-old. The physical therapists are genuinely too busy to play with her as a child needs to enjoy play. In addition, she does not know how to play. She finds this situation painful, tedious, and boring. Why should she be motivated to continue trying, given these current conditions…especially given that whatever the physical therapists attempt to do causes more pain…reminding her of her trauma?” McCoy looks at his old friend. “Spock, what are you suggesting?” Spock looks thoughtful. “I am suggesting that we find a way to make physical therapy more age-appropriate…for her. Find a way to incorporate something she can relate to and help her learn how to play that a six-year-old understands. I am suggesting that we brainstorm ideas that would be most helpful for Patricia-kam.” Doctor McCoy scratches his chin thoughtfully. “We could make it a form of play therapy. Let me see if I can find something about that on this computer.” He turns to the machine and commences a computer search. He finds something and shows it to Spock, who nods in agreement. “Leonard, I think that might work. Do you know how to implement such a technique as I am unfamiliar with this approach?” McCoy sadly shakes his head. “I would if I could. My arthritis has progressed to the point that making such an attempt will land ME in physical therapy alongside those other elderly patients!” Spock looks thoughtful. “Then it appears there will be two of us learning this technique. It should be interesting.”

The Ambassador suggested to Patricia that he thought it might be a nice change, for the child, to see other places besides the rehab facility, the hospital, or her Great-Grandfather’s home. She agreed so he brought her to the Vulcan Embassy. The staff has been prepared for her visit and had been forewarned that she would, very likely, openly stare at them given she had only met one Vulcan…himself. He had also explained there was the risk of emotional outbursts or meltdowns because she had been a victim of child abuse. If such outbursts occurred, he explained, the staff were not to become alarmed or show disapproval towards the child. Armed with the information that Doctor McCoy had provided him, he was able to explain to his staff about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His staff indicated that they all understood.

When he pushes her wheelchair through the door, she is greeted by various staff members who welcome her. She silently stares back, wide-eyed, then turns around to look at Spock, who nods back at her. “Yes, Patricia-kam, there are others who are similar to me. They will not hurt you. You know what I say to you is true.” He turns back to his staff members. “Patricia-kam and I will be in the Embassy ballroom for awhile. I trust that our instructor awaits us?” Various staff members nod affirmatively. Spock proceeds to push little Patricia’s wheelchair down the hallway and enters the ballroom. An elegantly dressed lady awaits them within the room.

Little Patricia spots this new stranger and turns around to face Spock, fear in her eyes.” Spock places a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “She is not here to hurt you, Patricia-kam. She is our teacher. You and I are going to learn a new skill…together.” The child gives him a confused look. The elegant lady approaches them. “Ambassador Spock! I am honored to meet you!” She bends down toward the child in the wheelchair. “And I am honored to meet you as well, Patricia. I am Lady Bradshaw! Your dance instructor.” The child gives her a blank stare. Spock explains. “Patricia-kam has never encountered the concept of dance before. I am familiar, only in theory. You may find teaching us…challenging.” Lady Bradshaw nods with confidence and smiles. “I understand and I enjoy a challenge!” As they prepare to begin their first lesson, Spock hears a door open and turns to see Doctor McCoy enter the room. McCoy gives him a grin. “Couldn’t miss my Great-Grandbaby’s first dance lesson for all the tea in China!” Spock quirks an eyebrow. “Knowing you, Leonard, you also have an ulterior motive of having a little fun at my expense!” McCoy’s grin grows wider, leaving Spock without any doubt.

Spock requests that the dance instructor give him and little Patricia a few moments to communicate. She walks over to Doctor McCoy, to converse with him, giving Spock and the child some privacy. He touches the Psi-Points on her face. “Patricia-kam, I will need to lift you out of your wheelchair and help you stand. It may be uncomfortable, possibly painful, but it is necessary to help you walk. I will be mindful if it becomes too painful. You can tell me that you wish to stop at any time. Shall we begin?” She gives him a solemn nod and he eases her to her feet. She sways uncertainly and winces as muscle spasms slam through her back and legs causing her to whimper in pain. Spock nods sympathetically. “I felt those spasms in your back. I can assist you with that and make the pain stop.” He touches her Psi-Points once more and the spasms cease. She breathes a sigh of relief. Spock nods. “Good. Are you ready for your first lesson, Patricia-kam?” She solemnly nods once more. Spock beckons to the dance instructor and she walks over to join them.

Lady Bradshaw shows Spock how to hold his dance partner, in spite of her short stature, and step before any music begins. Little Patricia responds by standing on his feet. The dance instructor attempts to correct her and Spock shakes his head. “It is quite all right. The child’s weight is not heavy. I can tolerate this. May we begin?” The instructor nods her understanding. “Computer, play Strauss’ “The Blue Danube”. When she hears the first notes, the child tenses up…looking around frantically for the source of the sound. Spock brings her attention back to his face. “Patricia-kam, what you are hearing is music. We are going to learn how to waltz. You have nothing to fear. You are safe. Just listen to the music.” He starts to step in time to the tempo while the child continues standing on his feet, watching his face. She listens, wide-eyed, then glances over at her Great-Grandfather, who is grinning from ear to ear! Spock feels her relax as she starts to bob her head keeping time. He smiles down at her and nods approvingly. She rewards him with a huge grin, showing her missing baby front teeth! She continues to grin throughout the remainder of the Waltz, bobbing her head to and fro in ¾ time.

Spock realizes this is the first time she has been able to show such a positive expression, for any sustained period, since she had been rescued, and feels his own emotions start to bubble to the surface. He manages to bring his emotion under control and continue waltzing. Lady Bradshaw watches approvingly, then walks over to Doctor McCoy, who is grinning from ear to ear. “Doctor, won’t you join in?” The old doctor shakes his head and demurs, “At my age, it might not be a good idea.” Lady Bradshaw smiles and shakes a finger at him. “I’ve had dance partners way older than you, Doctor, who could barely stand. If they could do it, so can you!” McCoy blushes. “To tell you the truth, my Lady, I have two left feet and don’t want to embarrass myself!” She quirks an eyebrow at him and he realizes she is not going to accept “No” for an answer. He sighs in resignation. “Okay, I’ll give it a whirl.” She grins at him as she shows him how to hold his waltzing partner and they begin to step in time to the music. When Spock notices McCoy on the dance floor, one eyebrow nearly disappears into his hairline and McCoy scowls back at him. Then both men look down at Patricia, who is looking from one to the other, grinning. Suddenly, McCoy understands that, in spite of his embarrassment, seeing his Great-Grandbaby smiling makes it all worthwhile.

At the end of the Waltz, she steps off his feet and Spock bows to her while continuing to hold her hands, assisting her balance. “Thank you, Patricia-kam, you are a wonderful dancer!” She responds by giggling. This is music to his ears. Doctor McCoy applauds from his vantage point and she turns in his direction. “Child, THAT was WONDERFUL!” She nods to him in acknowledgment then looks back up at Spock with an inquisitive expression. He sees that she is beginning to tire. “That was very good for a first lesson, Patricia-kam. Now it is time for a rest period. I am not as young as I used to be.” She nods with understanding and he helps her back to her wheelchair. They return to Doctor McCoy’s home and she goes to bed to rest. A few minutes after her head is on the pillow, holding Winnie-the-Pooh, she is sound asleep. Spock eases himself into a nearby chair so he can watch the child as she sleeps. McCoy pats him on the shoulder approvingly. “I’m proud of both of you. I couldn’t have hoped for better! You managed to get her to giggle, twice! The first time when you shared your childhood memory of I-Chaya and a little while ago after the two of you had your first Waltz. Who knew that a Vulcan could make a little girl laugh?” Spock looks up at his old friend. “She’s a McCoy. What else do I need to know?” The old doctor shakes his head, grinning, as he heads to the kitchen to make tea for both of them.

Time goes by and the physical damage from the abuse and neglect slowly heals. At every opportunity, whenever Spock visits, little Patricia follows him almost everywhere he goes. The old Vulcan doesn’t mind. The emotional damage is still an ongoing struggle and she remains mute. Both Spock and McCoy continue to “tag-team” in their efforts to help her catch up educationally by home-schooling her. Instead of pointing at objects, little Patricia now grabs a writing instrument, scribbles her thoughts, and leaves them everywhere. Uhura would also visit, from time to time, in a grandmotherly role. During one of her visits, she taught Patricia how to crochet. The result was multiple single-crochet stitch scarves, granny square shawls, and ripple-stitch afghans in a riotous combination of colors scattered all over the house, much to Doctor McCoy’s amused chagrin. Learning mathematical concepts, however, often led to frustration and meltdowns.

Given that she thought only in pictures, trying to learn mathematics was similar to trying to teach Romulan while speaking Andorian to a sentient being who spoke none of the above. No matter how patiently Spock attempted to explain the concept of mathematics, via words, mind-melds, as well as using her crocheting skills, she would give him a confused stare then start hitting herself in the face and crying, which would force him to grasp her hands to make her stop. He got the sense that, during her enslavement, being struck in the face had been one of her punishments when she was unable to understand something quickly enough. After one particularly stressful session, he told her that they were going to take a break from mathematics and do something else. Besides, it was time for another physical therapy session as her walking still needed improvement.

When they returned to the Embassy ballroom and Spock requested that the computer play another waltz, this one a Vulcan version, he turned to see Patricia performing, or more accurately, limping through the dance pattern as she listened intently, flicking her hands and bobbing her head in time to the music. He also noticed that she was staring at nothing in particular…lost in her own silent world. She often withdrew into such a shell each time she became emotionally overwhelmed or stressed out. How he wished she could find the words and tell him whenever anything upset her. There were times when she became so emotionally stressed that she would permit no one to come near her so a mind-meld would be out of the question.

Spock walks over to where Patricia is dancing and begins matching her step for step, counting aloud: “1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… 11… 12” and repeats the count. This continues for several minutes. When Spock pauses to take a breath, he hears a child-whisper: “1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… 11… 12… 1… 2…” Spock nods. “Yes, Patricia-kam, that is correct!” She pauses and looks up at him as she takes a step, then repeats: “One!” Spock nods again. “Yes, Patricia-kam!” She pauses, thinking, then takes another step. “One!” Pauses then counts as she steps again. “One and One! TWO!” Spock nods once more. “Yes, Patricia-kam, that is correct! One plus One equals Two!” She walks over to him and holds up her hands, indicating she wants to waltz with him and he takes hold of her hands, stepping in time to the music as she counts aloud in her child-whisper: “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11 – 12! One and one is TWO! Two and one is THREE! Three and one is FOUR!” Each time she speaks about numbers, Spock nods. “Yes, Patricia-kam!”

She stops waltzing and starts clapping her hands, grinning. Suddenly, she looks at her fingers and holds each one up: “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10!” She follows this by kicking off her shoes, pulling off her socks and pointing to her toes. “11-12…” then gives him a confused look. Spock nods. “What comes after 12 is 13, then 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20.” Little Patricia repeats the count, using her fingers and toes, from one to twenty. Then using her digits, starts adding and subtracting. Spock nods proudly. “You did it, Patricia-kam! You have begun to understand the mathematical concepts of adding and subtracting.” He hopes she would speak more but she withdraws back into her world of silence as she continues counting her fingers and toes. Unfortunately, shortly afterward, she becomes violently ill from a potentially deadly childhood disease.

She should have been vaccinated while she was an infant, but wasn’t due to the neglect she had been subjected to. Doctor McCoy had no idea any of these diseases still existed as he had been led to believe that such diseases had been eradicated centuries ago. That assumption nearly cost the child her life when complications and a high fever set in. All lessons had to cease while Doctor McCoy fought to keep her alive. Spock stayed by McCoy’s side, taking turns with the child so that the old doctor could get the rest he needed. In an attempt to help take McCoy’s mind away from his worries, the elderly Vulcan talked about his upcoming trip to his home-world as he was due for a meeting with T’Pau. When little Patricia recovered, it quickly became apparent that additional neurological damage had set in and she now had to contend with mini-seizures. She also had to re-learn almost everything. Fortunately, she was able to retain her reading and writing skills so she could communicate. This indicated that the language centers on the left side of her brain were intact. Other possible residual damage was still a huge question mark. A few weeks later, Spock received an official summons to return to Vulcan for a meeting with T’Pau.

Doctor McCoy had resumed his attempts to teach his Great-Granddaughter what she needed to know for her age given that she had regressed to a previous state and he was feeling overwhelmed. Spock had to make a decision that was not going to be easy for any of them. When Spock entered Doctor McCoy’s home, he noticed that the old doctor was not looking happy at all. “What is it, Leonard? What’s happened?” McCoy sighs. “It’s Patricia. She’s been having another meltdown and has locked herself in her room. This has been worse than any of her previous meltdowns. I don’t know what set her off. She had been looking around, as if she was looking for you, and I casually mentioned that you were heading back to your home-world. That’s when all hell broke loose! I don’t understand why that would upset her.” Spock looks perturbed. “Perhaps I could assist in discovering the cause of her current distress.” McCoy gets up. “I’ll go with you.” Spock taps on the door. “Patricia-kam, we need to speak. Open the door.” The only response is silence. “Patricia-kam?” He places his fingers on the door, sensing her presence within as well as a high level of distress that she is unable to verbalize. “Patricia-kam. You are experiencing emotional pain. Permit us to assist you. It is not logical to wrestle with this alone. Open the door.” The door finally slides open and Patricia hands him a PADD. Her face is streaked with tears. He looks from her face to what she has written: “NO go!”

Spock is puzzled as he looks up from the PADD. “Patricia-kam…?” Then he recalls the conversation he had with Doctor McCoy when they thought she was still unconscious from her illness…that he would have to go home to Vulcan, soon, for a scheduled meeting and possibly be assigned elsewhere for an extended period of time. Somehow, that conversation had registered with her and she was reacting to that knowledge. Spock sighs. “Patricia-kam, I beg forgiveness for not explaining what I do sooner. When you were ill, and afterward, you needed time to regain your strength. Being an ambassador sometimes require that I travel to other worlds.” She scribbles on the PADD: “Omicron Ceti III?” Spock is astonished. “How did you learn about Omicron Ceti III? I’ve never mentioned which worlds I have been to.” Doctor McCoy clears his throat. “I told her, Spock, when she and I first met at the Child Protective Services Facility. I had no idea she had retained that information all this time. I wasn’t even certain she was hearing anything I was saying back then. Now I understand that old saying of ‘Little Pitchers have BIG ears!’ I need to be more careful regarding what I say around her.” “As do I, Leonard.” Spock answered.

Patricia scribbles again, in rapid succession, on the PADD: “Where is Vulcan? What is it like? When can I visit? What is there? Is it a nice place?” McCoy looks at all of her notes then looks at his old friend. “Good questions, Spock! It’s been awhile since I’ve been invited back to visit your home-world! I recall the last time wasn’t much fun for either one of us!” Patricia gives both of her elders a puzzled look and her Great-Grandfather responds. “It’s a long story, child! You’re not old enough to hear it yet! Ask me again in about ten years!” Spock looks at the two McCoy’s then nods. “Very well, Doctor. If there are no medical impediments to traveling, then you are both invited to accompany me to my home-world. It might be helpful for Patricia-kam to visit.” Patricia starts to jump up and down in excitement. McCoy smiles at her and nods. “I agree, Spock. Besides, I would like to consult with the Vulcan Healers to see if there is anything else I could be doing to help my Great-Granddaughter.” Patricia scribbles another note on the PADD: “Healers?”

The old doctor looks at his Great-Grandchild. “You know that I am a doctor. I treat people who become sick or injured. Spock’s home-world also has doctors. They are just called by a different name. From time to time, doctors or healers meet to compare notes and help each other with new information so we can better help our patients.” Patricia looks thoughtful and then scribbles another note: “Patient or family?” Spock looks at McCoy with raised eyebrows. “Doctor?” Doctor McCoy quirks an eyebrow at his old friend. “Spock, you…” He quickly stops himself before he insults his old friend out of habit, remembering there is a child in the room. He looks at Patricia. “Since we first met, you have been both because you wouldn’t permit anyone else to come near you or treat you unless I was right there with you. Are you ready to meet these Healers on Vulcan?” She thinks some more then scribbles another question: “Hurt?” McCoy shrugs his shoulders. “I can’t be certain, child. I don’t want to make a promise that it won’t hurt and then be wrong! I’m not that familiar with Vulcan medicine as the Healers practice it.” Patricia nods, satisfied with the answers that she has been given.

Arrangements are made to travel from Earth to Vulcan aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise’s latest version. Ambassador Spock and Admiral McCoy are treated as honored guests during the voyage. At first, little Patricia is too fearful to go near anyone but, eventually, her curiosity gets the better of her and she manages to slip out of the guest quarters to go exploring. Being unable to speak limits her access to other parts of the ship that requires the spoken word to operate, such as the turbolift. Whenever she accidentally encounters a crew member, she would attempt to find a hiding place or simply press herself against the wall, staring silently. The crew members weren’t certain what to make of this behavior. Her Great-Grandfather has quite a time trying to keep up with her, let alone keep track of her wanderings. Ambassador Spock manages to steer her to Ten-Forward to see how well she could handle any interactions among those patronizing the forward deck while under his supervision. At first she attempts to hide behind the Vulcan until she sees the window, and the star-field beyond, streaking by in the warp-effect.

Fascinated, she presses against the window then looks back at Spock, wide-eyed. Spock walks up and stands beside her. She looks up at him, then points to the stars streaking past the window, then attempts to gesture given that she had not brought along a PADD to write with. Spock nods, then looks about for a PADD that could be borrowed for a short time but sees none. He looks back at Patricia. “Apologies, Patricia-kam. I neglected to bring a PADD with me and there are none available here. What do you wish to say?” Frustrated, she gestures by touching the Psi-Points on her face, then gestures toward him. “You wish to mind-meld?”, the Vulcan asks and she nods. He touches the Psi-Points on her face and can see, in her mind, that she is excited beyond words about what she is seeing among the stars. He attempts to give her the words that she is searching for. “Yes, Patricia-kam, the star-field is aesthetically pleasing.” She gives him a puzzled look, responds mentally with ‘Huh?’, and he realizes that his description has gone over her young head.

He tries again to find a way to give her the words she needs, that are age-appropriate for her. “You think the stars are…pretty?” She nods emphatically, jumping up and down. “She’s quite excited, isn’t she?”, a voice behind them asks. Patricia immediately hides behind Spock as the Ambassador turns toward the source of the voice, a young crew member. “Yes, this is her first trip aboard the Enterprise. She’s been told quite a bit about previous versions on which her Great-Grandfather and I served together.” The crew member looks at the child who attempts to avoid his gaze. “She’s also quite shy. I notice she has not spoken. Is there anything wrong?” Spock pauses as he places a reassuring hand on Patricia’s shoulder. “I am not at liberty to discuss anything at this time, Ensign. Any questions will need to be referred to Admiral McCoy, per his orders.” “I understand”, the crew member replies and he leaves. Patricia peeks out from behind Spock to make sure the crew member is gone. “It is all right, Patricia-kam”, the old Vulcan tells her, “It is safe to resume star-gazing until it is time for your rest period.” She looks up at him, solemnly, then turns back to the window with fascination.

Upon arriving on Vulcan, Doctor McCoy quickly realizes that his young Great-Granddaughter has an additional medical issue…asthma. The thin atmosphere triggers an attack, requiring an immediate emergency beam-out. As a result, the first stop is to an Emergency Medical Center within minutes of disembarking from their shuttlecraft. Fortunately, the Healers were able to provide treatment with a nebulizer and bring the asthma under control. A nebulizer mask is provided, to carry with them, in the event of any future asthmatic events. The Healers note that their young patient does not speak and inquire about it. Patricia listens intently to the conversation between the Healers and her Great-Grandfather, as he explains the reasons for her being mute, then she points to a writing instrument. When the PADD is handed to her, she scribbles: “Medical specimen?” then points to herself. Doctor McCoy explains, apologetically, “She has a mind like a mousetrap. Some concepts she grasps immediately, when I don’t want her to, while she struggles to learn other things. Please don’t take offense if she’s inadvertently rude.” The Healer nods. “No offense taken, Doctor McCoy. We can learn much from each other.” She nods at the child. “You are not a medical specimen, but a teacher. There are some things that I do not know…yet. Today, I learned something new, with your assistance.” Patricia stares back at her for a few moments, then scribbles on the PADD: “Waltz teacher?” The Healer gives Doctor McCoy a quizzical look and he explains her physical therapy. The Healer nods appreciatively. “Understood, Doctor.” After a final medical exam, the child, Patricia, is released from the Emergency Medical Center to accompany her Great-Grandfather to their lodgings.

After they unpack, the old doctor encourages the child to lay down and rest for awhile. She picks up the PADD and writes another note. “Mutant?” as she points to herself again. The doctor looks at her, astonished. “Child, what makes you think THAT?!” She writes back: “Because…strange.”, as she points to herself again. Doctor McCoy shakes his head in response. “You are not strange. There just happens to be challenges that you are wrestling with, that’s all.” She writes back: “But mute. Mutant.” Doctor McCoy chuckles sadly, while shaking his head, and kisses her forehead. “Give yourself time, child. Eventually, you will feel safe enough to speak aloud anytime you want to. Now get some rest. Doctor’s orders!” She grabs her Winnie-the-Pooh bear, lays down and attempts to relax, looking about the room. There are so many different and strange art objects that she has never seen before. The old doctor realizes it’s going to be a long while before she will be able to take a nap.

Ambassador Spock has met with T’Pau, bringing her up to date on the latest diplomatic developments, explaining the visit of the McCoy family, who have accompanied him, and is now meeting with junior Ambassadors regarding their first assignments. There is a question-answer period where he shares his knowledge from his own experiences as well as that of his late father, Sarek. The meeting then adjourns and he travels to the lodging where the McCoy’s are staying. “Is Patricia-kam recovered from her pulmonary difficulties?” Doctor McCoy nods, “As best as can be expected. I’ve been trying to get her to rest and she’s been trying to take in all these new sights. She looks as if she’s ready to burst with questions! She seems to swing between withdrawing totally into a shell, out of terror, and exploring every new object she sees. One minute, she’s screaming in fear, the next she’s absorbed in something new! I don’t know what to make of that!” Spock nods. “And you have been frustrated in trying to locate a professional who is willing to listen to you regarding your observations.”

McCoy scowls. “You’ve got that right! I’ve been consulting with the Healers but they are not familiar with what they have been observing in Patricia. They are more accustomed to classic textbook cases of severe Autism in young Vulcan children. They are not familiar with human children. I’ve tried to explain that my Great-Grandchild is not a textbook and there are other complicating factors, from her past history of abuse, to add to the mix!” He pauses. “I also recently received new information regarding what might have actually happened to my late Grandson and the persons who were involved in his death, but I’m in no position to pursue that, much as I would love to hunt down whoever was responsible!” Spock sits down and faces his old friend. “It begs the question…which family member has the higher priority at this time?” Doctor McCoy promptly responds, “My Great-Grandbaby, of course! What kind of question is that, Spock!?” Spock silently peruses his friend. “I understand the reasons behind your emotions, Leonard. Let us not lose sight of who is most in need of help at the present.” The old doctor calms down. “You’re right. My Grandson is dead and gone. My Great-Granddaughter is very much alive and needs all the help she can get to rebuild her life.” They hear a small voice from the other room, “Spock?” McCoy and Spock look at each other in astonishment, then get up and walk to the source of the voice. Little Patricia is sitting on the side of the bed. As soon as she sees her Great-Grandfather and Spock, she struggles to stand up and repeats with a stronger voice: “Spock! Gramps!” Doctor McCoy walks over to her. “What is it, child?” She points out the window and looks back at both of them, grinning. “Vulcan!”, she shouts excitedly. Spock nods as he walks over to her. “You wish to see more of my home-world?” She makes eye-contact with him and nods, “Yes! Vulcan!”, as she starts to jump enthusiastically and nearly falls. Spock quickly catches her. Her Great-Grandfather is hesitant. “Spock, she has difficulties regarding human etiquette. What are we going to do if something unforeseen occurs, she has a meltdown, or she accidentally insults or offends someone of your planet given that Vulcan custom and culture is quite strict?” Spock looks up at McCoy. “Then we will cross that bridge when we come to it!”

As they walk about the city, Patricia swivels her head from side to side, attempting to take in every sight that she can. Each time she spots something new…or different…she would eagerly point to it and ask: “What’s that?!” If she was permitted to approach and touch, she would explore every centimeter of the object’s surface with her fingers as well as her eyes. Occasionally, she would rub her face against it, experiencing its texture. Passersby would raise their eyebrows at this “unseemly” display, then walk on. A few would look questioningly at Doctor McCoy, who would simply smile back. He mutters an aside to Spock, “If they only knew what she was like a short time ago! Then they would understand and appreciate her progress!” Spock responds with a low voice, “Very few of my people have encountered situations such as what Patricia-kam has lived through. Child abuse and neglect, such as that, is unheard of on Vulcan.” “Hmph!”, growls McCoy, “You were also the victim of bullying when you were a kid. If that’s not a form of child abuse, I don’t know what is!” Spock calmly nods. “Your point is well taken, Doctor. I had a support system I could rely on…my mother and father. Who did Patricia-kam have before you entered her life and began advocating for her?” Doctor McCoy nods back, “Point well taken, Spock.”

They turn their attention back to Patricia who is openly staring at an elderly, elegant lady being carried on a litter in a regal procession. Before they can stop her, she limps over to the procession to take a closer look. Doctor McCoy instantly recognizes the regal person seated in the litter and apprehensively grabs Spock’s arm. “Uh-oh, Spock! If I’m not mistaken, that is T’Pau and we are about to have our first diplomatic incident!” The procession stops as T’Pau and the child stare at each other. Then the child looks up at her, smiles, and exclaims, “PRETTY!” One of T’Pau’s eyebrows goes up. Spock and McCoy approach the scene. “I beg forgiveness, T’Pau,” says Spock, “All of this is new to this child. She is still learning.” T’Pau sternly looks at the child, who now looks confused. “Is this the child you spoke of, Spock? The one of Doctor McCoy’s family?” Spock bows his head in respect as does McCoy. “Yes, she is. I beg forgiveness on her behalf,” the elderly Ambassador beseeches. T’Pau’s face softens. “It is understood. Continue teaching her what she needs to know. I take no offense.” She motions to her entourage and the procession moves on. The child looks up at Spock, then at Doctor McCoy, still confused. Doctor McCoy puts his arm around her shoulders. “It’s all right, child! T’Pau is a very busy lady. She is in charge of the Vulcan government here. She has a lot of responsibilities. She doesn’t have time to play.” Patricia looks back, sadly, toward the procession receding into the distance. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” McCoy and Spock look astonished at each other. How often had they said that quote, not realizing she was listening? McCoy kisses the top of his Great-Grandbaby’s head. “That’s right, child!” Spock nods approvingly. “Come, Patricia-kam, it is time for our rest period. Your Gramps and I are starting to feel tired.” Patricia nods back at them, “Okay!”

Back at the lodging, Patricia is peppering Spock with question after question regarding Vulcan art, Vulcan architecture, Vulcan custom, Vulcan culture, Vulcan dress, Vulcan music, Vulcan language…Vulcan anything! McCoy looks at Spock and grins. “I don’t know about you, Spock, but hearing her now is music to MY ears!” Spock permits himself to smile to the child, who responds with a grin as she limps around the room, examining the artwork that is displayed. “Yes, Leonard, I have to agree.” Patricia suddenly stops speaking, looks sad, and hesitantly approaches Spock where he is seated. She gently reaches out and touches one of his ears, then looks at him somberly. “Sorry.” Spock looks at her, puzzled. “Sorry for what, Patricia-kam?” She points to his ear. “I hurt you. Sorry.” Spock realizes that she is remembering their first meeting when she grabbed his ear without understanding. He takes her hand and gently pats it. “It is all right, Patricia-kam. I am not damaged. It wasn’t deliberate. We all make mistakes. You are still learning.” Before he can react, the child wraps him in a bear hug and kisses his cheek while exclaiming: “Love you!” Doctor McCoy grins at his old friend while Spock awkwardly returns the hug. “It appears she is teaching me as I am teaching her, Doctor.”

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