NOBODY’S CHILD: The Saga of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Family-Chapter Seven

by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER SEVEN – The Needs of the Many…

One member of the Vulcan authorities comes out to meet them. As he approaches, Patricia is suddenly stunned by his good looks. He is strikingly handsome with a physique that just won’t quit. She firmly reminds herself not to permit her thoughts to go there as she considers herself too old, too ugly, and has too many issues and baggage to be considered dating material for anyone. She thinks back on that one bad experience, when someone she thought she could trust tried to kill her and also remembers Quon, her lover, who had gotten killed during a mission. And yet, she finds herself looking at this Vulcan officer, noticing the faint tinges of gray at his temples, gauging his age as close to her own, given that she is starting to show some gray hair herself. Patricia thinks to herself, “Oh my God, is he GORGEOUS! Good Lord, the closer he gets, the more GORGEOUS he looks! Down, girl! You have nothing to offer that is worth anything! You have too much dysfunctional baggage! Don’t get stupid ideas in your head as he won’t be interested in anything like you. By now, he’s already married, given his calculated age! There is NO reason for him to be even REMOTELY interested in the likes of YOU! It would be illogical for a Vulcan to notice anything like you, especially a messed up human! Vulcans don’t fall in love at first sight! That is illogical! I hope he doesn’t notice that I can’t take my eyes off of him! Don’t stim! Don’t stim! Don’t blush!” She realizes, much to her dismay, that she is blushing. She resists the urge to fan herself as the heat she is feeling is definitely NOT caused by the planet’s climate!

The Investigator gives the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper, Doctors McCoy, Captain Sulu.” Patricia barely manages to mask her emotions, if not the blush, and returns the Vulcan salute. “Peace and long life to you!” The Investigator glances from one to the other humans. “I understand one of you also engages in forensic evidence analysis.” Patricia raises her hand. “That… would be me. In addition to practicing medicine, I also attempt to solve puzzles and mysteries by scientific analysis of crime scene evidence.” “She’s the only person I know that ENJOYS jury duty because it gives her the opportunity to analyze evidence!”, the old doctor chimes in. The Investigator lifts one eyebrow. “Indeed!” Leonard McCoy nods and continues, “If anything, she is thorough! She’s like a dog with a bone until she can analyze something from every possible angle!” Patricia is unable to stop blushing from her increasing embarrassment as she attempts to give her Great-Grandfather a subtle poke with her elbow. She manages to find her voice as she turns her attention to the handsome Vulcan. “I find that kind of scientific research FASCINATING! I’ve always enjoyed solving puzzles and mysteries.” The Investigator nods. “I would find that immensely helpful in this investigation. There are pieces of evidence that were found that are unknown to the Vulcan people. Perhaps you could identify them for us.”

Patricia gestures. “Lead the way! I’ll be happy to help in that regard!” Leonard McCoy pipes up as he indicates the luggage that was brought out of the shuttle, “Sulu and I will take our things to our lodgings and get us all settled. Come on, Sulu!” They head back to retrieve the luggage. Patricia clears her throat. “Uh-h-h-h, Gramps, I have NO idea WHERE we are supposed to be staying! Clearly, we can’t stay at Uncle Spock’s because it’s a crime scene that is still being investigated.” The Investigator nods. “That is quite logical. May I direct you to these lodgings instead?” He hands them information regarding other lodgings that are nearby. She looks over the information. “It looks acceptable to me!” The old doctor looks at his Great-granddaughter. “Then it’s settled! We’ll stay there for the time being. Come on, Sulu, let’s start lugging the luggage!” The old man and Sulu take the luggage and depart for their assigned lodgings.

Patricia makes a vain attempt to mask her feelings of awkwardness. “Thank you, Investigator. That was most helpful and most kind.” The Investigator turns to her. “One does not thank logic.” Patricia gives him a small smile. “As Uncle Spock often reminds me, and yet, it is the polite thing to do when someone performs a kind deed for another.” The Investigator raises an eyebrow. “Indeed.” Patricia tries again to hide her embarrassment by rummaging in her duffel bag and pulls out images of the crime scene she had received earlier. She shows them to the Investigator. “I presume the crime scene still looks like this?” The Investigator looks them over. “Precisely. We thought it best to wait until your arrival so you could analyze the newly found evidence and give us your perspective.” Patricia nods. “I can tell you, right off the bat, that I do recognize certain items that were left at the scene. It’s a long story that I prefer not to discuss out here where I could be overheard.”

The Investigator gives her a quizzical look. “I see, Doctor…” Patricia hesitates then boldly asks, “Is it permissible to suggest that we refer to each other by our given names rather than by title, as we will be working together?” The Investigator considers this then looks back at her. “Of course, Doctor. How would you prefer to be called?” “You may call me Pat.”, she responds, “And which name would you prefer I use?” Now it’s the Investigator’s turn to hesitate. “I’m not certain if you would be able to pronounce my formal name. My other name is Samok.” Pat thinks this over. “May I have your permission to shorten it to ‘Sam’? That would make it easier for me.” Samok considers this suggestion. “That would be acceptable. ‘Sam’ it is.” Pat smiles. “Thank you … Sam.”

Sam and Pat get down to work analyzing the evidence found at the crime scene at Spock’s home. After several minutes of working silently, with frequent glances from him, Sam makes an observation. “I find it intriguing that a human could focus so completely on a task without constantly talking.” Pat attempts to cover her blushing by putting down a piece of evidence and picking up another for analysis. She comments, “Personally, I find conversing can be distracting from an important task. Unlike other humans, I am unable to multi-task. Experience has taught me that multi-tasking leads to serious errors. By the way, could you please look at my analysis to verify its accuracy?” She holds out her tricorder to Sam and realizes too late that her hand is shaking. Sam takes the tricorder and cross-references it with his own analysis. “Yes, this is accurate. I am pleased that you are willing to double-check your findings.” Pat clears her throat as she takes back her tricorder. “Part of my researching habits … check, double-check, triple-check, verify and repeat to see if the results remain constant. I want to make sure there are no confounding variables.” Sam gives her a slight smile. “Indeed!” Seeing his slight smile, Pat realizes that her own temperature is steadily rising and resists the urge to fan herself. She silently acknowledges to herself, “He’s CUTE … and SEXY!”, but is too afraid to speak.

There is an awkward silence for a few seconds, then she decides to be brave. “When I was a child, growing up, Uncle Spock often permitted me to ask stupid questions. I hope I don’t accidentally insult you if I say anything that could be construed as inappropriate.” Sam gives her a puzzled look. “Why would that occur?” Pat hesitates, “I have … what is known on Earth, as Asperger’s Syndrome. My brain is differently-wired from the average Terran brain.” Sam looks intrigued. “I am not familiar with human physiology or psychology. I am not certain what I can say regarding that aspect of human functioning.” He pauses. “By the way, you have not explained how you are familiar with these pieces of Terran evidence that were left behind by whoever abducted Ambassador Spock.” Pat pauses. “I think the most efficient way to explain would be through a mind-meld.” Sam raises his eyebrows in a startled expression. “It is unusual for a human to request a mind-meld from a Vulcan! Not many humans understand what that entails.”

Pat blushes again and looks down. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t intend to insult or trivialize what is deeply personal to the Vulcan people …” Sam gently shakes his head. “You have not insulted me … Pat. I found the request … unexpected. You have experienced a mind-meld before?” Pat nods. “Yes. I first experienced it many years ago, when I was a child. Uncle Spock performed a mind-meld with me because I was unable to speak. I think it would be the most efficient way to answer all of your questions in the shortest amount of time. Given that Uncle Spock’s life is in danger, time is of the essence!” Sam nods back. “I see. Let us proceed.” They both put down their equipment and Pat sits quietly as Sam places his hand on her face, positioning his fingers on her Psi-points. After what feels like several minutes, he removes his hand and Pat opens her eyes. She sees that the color has drained from his face.

It takes him several seconds before he can speak. “You have experienced … great pain. I understand, now, why you did not wish to discuss this earlier and why you consider Ambassador Spock to be your Uncle even though you are not biologically related. I grieve for the child that you once were. You have persevered through much.” Pat quietly responds, “Thank you, Sam. I appreciate that more than I can verbalize.” She observes that he is physically drained from the mind-meld. “As a doctor, I would advise that we take a break and have some sustenance. How long has it been since your last meal?” Sam sighs and rubs his eyes. “I would agree. It has been several hours since I’ve eaten. Vulcans can work for long periods of time without needing to stop and take sustenance.” Pat shakes her head. “That is one of MY bad habits and I end up paying the price with my health. Is there a Replimat nearby?” Sam considers her words. “Better yet. I’ve been working on this crime scene for quite a while before you arrived. You are also probably tired from your trip. I think it would be best for us to to return tomorrow after getting some rest. I can take you to a restaurant and we can have dinner there.”

Pat nods. “I would concur. It is refreshing to meet someone who does not hesitate to acknowledge their limitations.” Sam comments, “When it comes to solving a crime and prosecuting the criminal, it is imperative to have one’s priorities straight. Otherwise, when it comes time to go to trial, if the case is compromised then everyone’s efforts would have been wasted because of one ego.” Pat looks at him, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” Sam looks back at her, surprised that she knows this saying. “Precisely. I need to consider how my actions or lack of action could impact others … especially with this case.” Pat continues, “And if a mistake occurs because an investigator becomes overtired and misses a vital clue …” Sam interjects, “Then the entire case could collapse in court.” Pat nods, “Even though Vulcans have more stamina, and strength, than humans, I would strongly suggest that we both should take a break so we can analyze these pieces of evidence with a refreshed mind … I mean… minds …” Sam gives her a slight smile with a hint of amusement in his eyes. “I appreciate the mind-meld joke. You understand Vulcan humor.”

Pat grins. “Thanks, Sam. I don’t know about you but I AM getting hungry.” They pack up their equipment and check with the officers that have been posted about the property to preserve the crime scene. They head to the Investigator’s vehicle and proceed to a restaurant. Sam comments as he parks his vehicle and assists her in getting to her feet. “I would hope that you find this restaurant satisfactory.” Pat looks about as she enters the restaurant. “I’m looking forward to it!” Sam helps her to her seat then takes the menus from the waiter. “I believe you might need some help deciphering what they have to offer.” Pat opens her menu and sees that it is written only in Vulcan script and sigils. “I would say, yes”, as she nods, “I need help. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to read and write Vulcan so I’ve forgotten a lot of it. I’m guessing that I can start with Plomeek soup?” Sam glances up from his menu. “I presume that Ambassador Spock taught you?” Pat nods, smiling at the memories. “Yes. As a child, I often pestered him with questions about the language, custom, culture, traditional dress, you name it! He patiently answered everything. Given that I had been mute before then, I think he enjoyed the barrage of questions. He knew that he had helped the healing process to begin. I don’t know where I would be if he hadn’t been there to help me.”

Sam indicates that a waiter is approaching them for their order. He turns to the waiter, speaking in his native tongue, “We will begin with Plomeek Soup, then have entrees of T’Mirak Sash-Savas, and hot Theris-masu.” Pat is pleased with his assistance. “Thanks, Sam!” Sam hands the menus to the waiter and turns his attention back to Pat. “It is only logical that I assist under these circumstances.” Pat finds herself blushing again. “It is still very much appreciated!” Sam pauses. “We have not heard back from your Great-grandfather or Captain Sulu.” Pat chuckles. “That is usually a good sign. It means he has nothing to complain about. He’s visited Vulcan before, with Uncle Spock, so he’s very familiar with everything. I, on the other hand, have only had limited experiences here, as you have seen through our mind-meld. My being socially awkward has made things … difficult.” Sam gives her a curious look. “You do not appear socially awkward with me.” Pat feels her blush deepen and she shyly looks down. “I presume that is because you have seen my thoughts, have witnessed me at my worst and didn’t run away screaming in terror.” She looks up to see Sam giving her another slight smile and isn’t sure if the heat she is feeling is from herself or his close proximity. “You underestimate me.”, he comments. Pat pauses. “Sam, this may sound stupid … I wonder if this is what humans refer to as flirting? I have NO idea what that is or how to actually do it! I think teasing is different. Guessing at it doesn’t help! It’s another social construct that completely baffles me. I’m never sure if I’m saying anything appropriate or accidentally insulting someone. Unwritten social rules and cues are like a minefield to me.” Sam nods with understanding. “Human mating rituals ARE confusing to Vulcans. I think the only Vulcan who successfully navigated that was Sarek, Spock’s father.” Pat nods back. “Amanda, Spock’s mother seemed to have successfully navigated Vulcan customs and culture.” Sam responds, “Agreed. Normally, Vulcans are betrothed at the age of seven with a ceremony known as the Koon-ut-La.”

That comment causes Pat to hesitate. “Which raises the question … wouldn’t having dinner with me cause problems with your spouse?” Sam hesitates as well. “I am no longer married.”, he quietly says, “My wife died several years ago.” Pat blushes a deep red and feels mortified. “I am so sorry. I-I-I didn’t realize…” Sam gently shakes his head. “That is quite all right, Pat. When I performed the mind-meld, I kept those thoughts shielded from you. There was no way you could have known.” Pat looks at him. “Is it permissible to ask what happened?” Sam pauses as he considers her question. “It is permissible. Humans may not realize this … Vulcans do experience grieving. We just don’t show it publicly.” Pat responds, “Or rather, not show it to the same extent as humans do. It is still painful in the beginning. As time passes, the pain lessens but there is still a place that is painfully empty where this person used to be.” Sam nods slowly as he gazes at her. “Precisely.”, he says quietly, “It’s been many years since I’ve spoken of my wife, T’Ling. We had so many plans together. We … were expecting our first child … a son. We were going to name him after my late father.”

Pat hesitates. “I may be presumptuous in expressing my human opinion … expecting a child must have been exciting and joyous for both of you.” Sam considers this. “Vulcans would not describe the event as exciting or joyous as they are emotional terms … and yet … no other words could describe it adequately. We looked forward to becoming parents.” Pat pauses for several seconds. “I sense something went very wrong …” Sam nods. “It did, unfortunately. T’Ling developed complications late in the pregnancy. The healers did everything possible. When our son was delivered … he did not survive. My wife was holding him in her arms, first looking at him … then at me … then … suddenly … she was gone too. All I could do was close her eyes.” Pat starts weeping. “I grieve for all of you …” Sam quietly responds. “I accept …” then his voice trails off. Pat starts wiping at her eyes. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to make dinner so sad. My emotions tend to get the better of me!” Sam gently shakes his head at her comment. “That is quite all right, Pat. When we had our mind-meld, I saw that you had lost a loved one too … your Doctor Quon.” Pat feels awkward about the way the dinner conversation is turning out and fights to get her emotions under control. “I’m not sure where to go from here.”, she says in a hoarse whisper.

Sam indicates the approaching waiter. “The logical thing to do is to eat the dinner that is being brought to our table.” Pat nods in agreement as she wipes her eyes again. “True that.” The waiter arrives with their order. Pat takes in the aroma of the food as well as its presentation. “This looks good and it smells DELICIOUS!” Sam gives her a slight smile. “I would concur.” Pat looks back at Sam, hoping he would give that slight smile again that she finds endearing then realizes she is staring. She quickly looks down at her plate. “Pardon me while I focus on eating. I find it awkward to try to talk and eat at the same time.” Sam arranges his dinner napkin and takes up his eating utensils. “I have no objection. It would be more efficient to eat first, then resume our conversation.” Pat gives him a smile. “Thanks, Sam!” She takes a mouthful of food and savors the taste, then they eat their dinner in silence.

When Pat takes a last bite, she dabs her mouth with her napkin then looks at Sam. She blurts without thinking. “Is there a dessert menu?” Sam looks startled. “You are still hungry?” Pat blushes again. “I’m craving something sweet, or crunchy, or chocolaty or something like ice cream. Given that it’s been several years since I’ve been to a Vulcan restaurant, instead of a Replimat, I don’t know what is available or what I’m permitted to ask for.” Sam considers this. “Vulcans normally do not eat sweets. It is illogical to indulge in such foods.” Pat can’t seem to stop blushing. “Oh dear! I didn’t mean to be rude.” Sam shakes his head. “It was not intentional, Pat. Let me see if I can find a satisfactory substitute.” He calls the waiter over and speaks in Vulcan. He turns back to Pat. “Do you like Vulcan carrot loaf?” Pat pauses for a few seconds. “I’ll try it and see what it tastes like. It can’t hurt.” Sam resumes speaking to the waiter in Vulcan and the waiter heads to the kitchen. After several minutes, he returns with a slice of Vulcan carrot loaf on a small plate. It resembles Terran Carrot Cake except that the icing is yellow instead of white. Pat tastes it and analyzes the flavor. “It’s … different … and it’s not bad at all. It’s sweet but not too sweet. It has just the right balance.” Sam gives her another slight smile. “I am pleased that you have found the dessert acceptable.”

Pat gives him a puzzled look. “The existence of this dessert raises a question …” Sam finishes her sentence for her, “Why is a dessert available here that defies logic?” Pat nods. “My question precisely!”, she says. Sam folds his hands on the table and turns to look at her. “There is a story behind its creation. The owner of this restaurant, who is a former schoolmate of mine, found himself faced with a dilemma when his wife was expecting their child. She developed a strange craving for something sweet during her pregnancy. Being an accomplished baker, he tried everything until he designed this recipe. It met her need. Then he thought he would test it on his customers to see how they would accept it. This carrot loaf is quite popular at this restaurant. However, I fail to see the logic or the connection of his wife’s pregnancy and her cravings for sweets. I found that quite puzzling. T’Ling did not experience such things.” Pat smiles at this. “Having dealt with patients, I can tell you from my medical experiences that the effects from hormones, involved with sustaining a pregnancy, are not always logical. They just exist.” Sam nods at this. “Being unfamiliar with medicine, I am grateful that I can benefit from your knowledge as a physician.” Pat grins. “Likewise, I am grateful that I can benefit from your knowledge as an Investigator.” Sam hesitates for a few seconds. “This has been a most pleasant evening and it has been a long day for you. You must be tired by now. I’ll take you back to your lodgings with your Great-Grandfather.” Pat suddenly feels shy again. “It has been a most pleasant evening and I hate for it to end so soon. I agree with you and I must yield to the logic of the situation.” They leave the restaurant, enter his vehicle, and they arrive at Leonard McCoy’s lodgings. Sam walks her to the door. “Rest well, Pat. I will see you in the morning.” Pat nods at him. “You too, Sam. Good night.” She enters the lodgings as Sam leaves in his vehicle.

Leonard sees his Great-granddaughter come in the door. “Well, child, how did your day go?” Pat smiles. “Very well, Gramps! Sam and I got quite a bit of work done analyzing evidence.” The old doctor gives her a puzzled look. “Sam? Who’s Sam?” Pat grins at her Great-grandfather. “The Vulcan Investigator … Samok, the Investigator who met us at the shuttlecraft when we landed.” He looks at her askance. “You call him Sam? And he permits that? I’ve never known a Vulcan that permitted anyone to give them a nickname.” Pat nods. “Yep!” She yawns. “I have an early day tomorrow so I’m going to go wash up and head to bed. Good night, Gramps!” She gives him a kiss on the cheek, heads to her room and shuts the door without elaborating any further. The old man shakes his head. “Let me check on this character!” He gets out his communications device and begins a background check. Everything checks out on the Investigator … “Several years with the Investigative Force, widower, multiple decorations and awards …” McCoy gives a low whistle. “Impressive!” Before Pat gets up the next morning, Sam arrives at the door. Leonard greets him and invites him inside. “Good morning, Investigator!” Sam responds back. “Good morning, Doctor. Is Pat ready to get to work?” The old doctor shakes his head. “She hasn’t informed me yet. By the way, I understand that you have permitted her to call you ‘Sam’ and I see that you are calling her by her nickname. As her closest relative, I am required to ask you what your intentions are towards her. Are they honorable?” At that moment, Pat enters the room and is astonished as well as embarrassed about what she is hearing. “GRAMPS!” She gives herself a face-palm as her face reddens in embarrassment.

Sam holds up his hand. “That is quite all right. If I had a daughter, I would interrogate potential suitors the same way!” Pat groans in humiliation. “Hoooo-boy!” Sam gives her a slight smile. “Your Great-Grandfather loves you and wishes to protect you from further hurt. I understand and I am not offended.” Pat is speechless as she rolls her eyes at her Great-Grandfather, feeling her face turning several more shades of red. Leonard nods in agreement with Sam. “Good! Anyone who hurts my Baby Girl will have ME to answer to!” Pat shakes her head and gives herself another face-palm. “Gotta love you, Gramps, even though I’m old enough to be a grandmother, myself, now! I’m finding more gray hair every day!”

Sam gives her another slight smile and his eyes are dancing. “Your … ‘Gramps’… and I think alike. I think we can be friends. Don’t you agree, Pat?” She looks sternly at her Great-grandfather. “I would agree …” She pauses. “…and behave yourself, Gramps!” The old doctor gives her an innocent look. “Since when have I ever misbehaved?” Sam barely suppresses a laugh. He is CLEARLY enjoying this exchange between the two McCoy’s. Leonard gives himself a face-palm. “WHERE are my manners?! Have you had breakfast yet … Sam?”

Pat starts to shake her head. “Gramps, we’re running late …” Her Great-grandfather gives her a stern look. “That’s NO excuse to skip breakfast! As a doctor, YOU know better than THAT, child!” Pat looks helplessly at Sam. “Would you mind being late for work? Will that cause problems with your supervisor?” Sam indicates Leonard. “Your Great-Grandfather has a valid point. I can stay for breakfast as my hours are flexible while I investigate a case.” Pat sighs with relief. “Thanks, for understanding, Sam. Gramps can be difficult sometimes.” McCoy is insulted. “ME?! DIFFICULT?!” Pat shakes her head as she walks over to the food replicator. “What would you like for breakfast … anyone?” Sam considers this. “What do you normally have for breakfast?” Pat gestures. “I don’t always eat vegetarian or vegan. Today, I’m in the mood for grilled salmon topped with basil, balsamic vinegar, sliced tomatoes, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and a biscuit with grape jelly and butter.” Leonard nods at this. “Ditto, with coffee … black!”

Pat punches the order into the food replicator then turns to Sam. “What would you like, Sam?” Sam thinks carefully. “Given that you were willing to try several Vulcan dishes last night at dinner, I’ll try your Terran breakfast to see what it tastes like.” Pat nods her head. “Fair enough!” She punches the order into the food replicator and three breakfast dishes materialize along with a cup of black coffee for her Great-Grandfather while Leonard gives Sam an odd look. She continues, “Sam, would you like coffee or tea?” Sam responds, “I’ll have tea, please. You may choose the tea.” Pat grins at this. “Living dangerously this morning, eh?” She punches in Japanese green tea into the replicator and Pumpkin flavored coffee with cream for herself. Sam gives her a slight smile. “Precisely!” Leonard is observing this exchange between his Great-granddaughter and the Vulcan visitor but wisely chooses to keep his own counsel even though he is sorely tempted to comment on Sam’s choice of breakfast.

Leonard and Sam sit down at the breakfast table. Pat sets the cup of tea in front of Sam, places her cup of coffee beside her plate, then sits down. She pauses briefly as she says a silent prayer. She picks up her napkin, places it in her lap, then looks at both her Great-grandfather and Sam. “I hope breakfast is satisfactory for everyone.” The three begin to eat breakfast. Sam chews thoughtfully. Pat looks over at him. “Sam, how does everything taste? Is it all right?” Sam nods as he swallows. “It is … delicious!” Pat responds. “It’s even better with fresh ingredients instead of replicated. Maybe, someday, you can visit Earth and we can treat you to REAL, fresh-from-the-farm, food along with taking you fishing and catching a salmon!” Sam looks at both McCoy’s. “That sounds intriguing!” Gramps is unable to suppress the question that has been bothering him and he turns toward Sam. “I thought that all Vulcans were vegans.” “Yes”, Sam acknowledges, “It is a philosophical choice. At times, due to my line of work, I have had to deviate from that philosophy when, for example, I had to go undercover as a Romulan while investigating a case. If I stayed strictly with the vegan diet, it would have blown my cover with fatal results.” Pat is fascinated. “You need to tell me about that, sometime.” Sam looks over at her with a slight shake of his head. “Even though my role in the case is over, it is still an active investigation so I cannot discuss its details any further without jeopardizing it.” “I understand.”, she replies.

Pat finishes her breakfast. “We shouldn’t dawdle too long. There’s work to be done!” Leonard drinks the last of his coffee then looks at his Great-granddaughter. “I’m already done! What’s taking you two so long?” Pat gives him an exasperated look. “Gramps, you started eating first before I finished getting the rest of breakfast set up. Guess I should give you a break because of your advanced age!” She winks at Sam. Leonard starts growling. “Now wait a minute!” Pat starts to giggle while Sam observes this exchange with a slight smile. The old doctor realizes that his Great-granddaughter is teasing him. He turns to Sam. “All right! All right! Believe me, Sam, I’m always a good sport … especially with HER!” He jerks a thumb in Pat’s direction.

Pat chuckles. “Okay, Gramps. Sam and I have got to get going! What are you and Sulu going to do today?” She gets up and puts the dirty dishes in the reclamator. The dishes disappear at the push of a button. Leonard growls at her. “Don’t you worry about us, child! Sulu and I will always find a way to stay out of trouble!” Pat looks at him. “But Gramps, Captain Kirk isn’t around to bail you two out!” Sam interjects. “Pat, I am certain that your Great-grandfather and your friend, Captain Sulu, can take care of themselves without you worrying.” Pat sighs. “You’re right, Sam! I forget that they survived a lot, together, on the Enterprise … even BEFORE I was born!”

Leonard gestures at both of them. “Now you two just get going! Quit being a shuttlecraft hovering around me! I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself!” Pat holds her hands up in surrender. “Okay! Okay! Love you, Gramps!” She gives him a kiss on the cheek. “Have a good day! Bye! Come on, Sam!” She picks up her equipment and heads for the door. Sam follows her out.

As they walk to his vehicle, Sam makes an observation. “Your family bond with your Great-Grandfather is strong!” Pat quietly responds. “As you have seen in my thoughts, during our mind-meld, he and Uncle Spock saved my life! They are the only family I have left!” Sam looks at her and she can see empathy in his eyes. “And I understand why you are so protective of him.” Pat nods. “I know it is an illogical emotion but I’m also worried about Uncle Spock. I have no idea what my brother has done to him.” Sam pauses by his vehicle and looks at Pat. “Ambassador Spock is strong … stronger than any human I know. You must have faith in his abilities.” Pat nods. “Part of me has faith in his Vulcan strength and abilities … and yet, another part of me is cognizant that he is NOT as young as he used to be. His age could work against him.” Sam quietly responds. “Pat, that is a factor over which we have no control. It would be illogical to worry about such things.” She sighs. “I know. Uncle Spock has often said the same thing to me many times. If my brother has hurt him, my wrath will know NO bounds!” Sam gives her a concerned look. “Uncontrolled wrath can lead to very bad decisions. That is why Surak taught us logic.” Pat sighs again. “You’re right, Sam! I just get outraged when I see elder abuse and child abuse! You’ve never seen me REALLY lose it as I have in the past … especially after I have had to treat an abuse victim…or pronounce a child dead!” Sam responds, “You also have a very strong sense of justice!” Pat nods emphatically. “That I do! Very much so! I don’t want anyone else to experience what I went through! NO ONE DESERVES THAT!”

Sam opens the door to his vehicle. “Let us go over to Ambassador Spock’s home and focus on what needs to be done. The sooner we complete our task, the sooner we can solve this case and find your Uncle!” Pat gets in and fastens the safety harness in place. “You’re right, again. I’m wasting time jawing away about the past while Uncle Spock needs our help NOW!” They arrive at Spock’s home and carry their equipment inside. Sam checks with the officers on duty outside while Pat unpacks, sets up, and calibrates the equipment. She pokes her head out the door. “Sam? I’ve finished setting up and calibrating. I’m ready to start analyzing whenever you are!” Sam enters the room. “I am grateful at your efficiency! Let us begin!” They begin analyzing the remainder of the evidence within the room. After several hours, the analyses are completed, the evidence is tagged, cataloged, sorted, and placed in containers to be transported back to the Investigators’ Office for storage within the evidence unit until it is needed for court. Sam taps a communicator. “Samok to Investigator Central.” An off-screen voice responds, “Investigator Central here!” Sam continues. “The evidence has been prepared for transport. Energize!” The packaged pieces of evidence sparkle then disappear. “Please confirm that the evidence has arrived intact!” The off-screen voice replies, “The following evidence has arrived …” He begins to itemize each piece while Sam checks it off his list. “Does that verify completion?” Sam replies, “Completion verified. I will sign off on the necessary documentation when I return to the office. Samok out.” He puts his communicator away. Pat looks over at him. “Anything left to do now?” Sam shakes his head. “Not at the moment. There are certain procedures that I must take care of upon my return to the office. From there, we can discuss what needs to be done next. I will take you home. You can wait there until then.” Pat sighs. “And figure out what to do to keep myself busy until then. Gramps and Sulu will be out somewhere and I have no idea what’s around to keep my mind occupied in the meantime. Do you have any suggestions?” Sam looks thoughtful. I might have some puzzles I can loan you. Whenever I have any free time, I like to work on them. These puzzles can be quite challenging. There is also the gymnasium, at Investigator Central, where I often exercise. You could try that as well.” Pat gives him a smile. “I’d like that.”

Sam parks his vehicle outside the McCoy lodgings. “I will walk you inside. One can never be too safe as long as this misguided person is roaming freely!” Pat nods in agreement. “Thanks, Sam! I appreciate it!” As soon as they enter the McCoy lodgings, Pat instantly senses that something is VERY wrong! “Sam, I know that Vulcans value logic over instinct, but my instincts are telling me something has happened here! I don’t know how to explain it. I just … know!” Sam pulls out his tricorder and begins scanning the area. “You are correct! We have another crime scene on our hands!” Pat is worried. “Gramps?! Are you in here?!” She starts to step further into the room and Sam instantly grabs her. “Pat! STOP! Do not move! There is a booby-trap set in here! If it goes off, it will kill you! Let us go outside and call in the explosives specialists!”

They both go outside. Sam contacts Investigator Central and the specialists beam to the area within seconds. Pat is shaking in fury. “How DARE he do THIS?! HOW DARE HE?!” Sam nods to the specialists as they set up to detonate the explosive harmlessly. “Pat, we will bring him to justice. You can depend on that!” He sees that she is still shaking uncontrollably. He walks over to her and begins to touch her face but she violently pulls away. “Pat, we are doing everything we can! Once the specialists dispose of the explosive, then we can analyze the crime scene. You may wish to stay out here in case …” Pat rounds on him. “If he’s killed Gramps, then I demand to do the Klingon Death Howl over his body then claim the Right of Vengeance!” Sam calmly replies, “And I will give you that right IF his body is in there! In the meantime, you need to conserve your energy!” Pat is pacing to and fro furiously, clenching and unclenching her fists. “I can’t until I KNOW if Gramps is in there or not!” The specialists remove and detonate the booby-trap, then give the all-clear for Sam to re-enter the scene. Pat is close on his heels and she begins scanning each room. “Gramps!? Gramps?! Where are you?!” Sam completes his scans. “Your Great-Grandfather is not here.” He spots a portable communication device and activates it. The image of Pat’s estranged brother, James Yuri, appears on screen, spewing hate and venomous threats, showing that he has Leonard McCoy as his prisoner. The camera pans over to also show Sulu and Spock! More threats and curses are spewed then the image vanishes. Pat completely loses control of her emotions and begins cursing in Klingon, she starts to grab at anything to throw.

Sam calls out to her. “Pat! NO!” She continues in a blind rage until Sam grabs her from behind in a bear-hug, pinning her arms at her sides. “STOP IT! YOU ARE NOT HELPING THEM OR YOURSELF! STOP!” Pat thrashes and screams. “LET ME GO!” Sam continues to hold onto her. “Let you go to do WHAT?! THINK!” As Pat continues to struggle violently, the bomb specialists look on in astonishment. Sam looks back at the specialists. “I know her history. I can handle this! Please give us some privacy!” The specialists nod to him then beam out, leaving him alone with Pat. Pat continues her attempts to lash out. “That P’TAKH!”, she screams. Sam is still holding her arms down. “I understand! I know what he did to you years ago! You’re afraid he will do the same to them! Can you hear me?!” Pat finally sags down, exhausted. “I … hear … you … Sam!” Sam gently sits down, still holding her, and guides her to the floor. They sit silently for several minutes while he continues to hold her arms at her sides, uncertain if she will erupt again.

After several minutes, Sam breaks the silence. “Pat?” Pat leans her head back against Sam’s chest with her eyes closed. “I’m back in my right mind, Sam. My rage is spent. Now you see what I mean when I LOSE IT!” Sam replies, “I will strive to avoid making you angry at me!” Pat drops her head forward in exhaustion. “I trust that you would NEVER hurt me in that fashion, Sam, so I cannot envision raging that way toward you!” “I am relieved to hear you say that.”, Sam replies. Pat and Sam sit on the floor, silently, for several more minutes, as he continues to hold her arms at her sides. “Sam?”, asks Pat. Sam replies, “Hmmmm?” Pat continues, “This is a nice way to meditate.” “How so?”, Sam asks. Pat quietly responds, “You hugging me. Not many Vulcans do that.” Sam is suddenly awkward. “I-I-I …” He drops his arms to his sides. Pat turns to look at him. “It’s okay, Sam. You’re not the first Vulcan to hug me as you have seen in the mind meld. Uncle Spock hugged me when I was still a child, even though I hugged him first. I was only six years old and had no idea that I wasn’t supposed to hug any Vulcans. He was awkward at first but he realized that it also helped me too. He helped me learn that not everyone is out to hurt me.”

Sam gives her a quizzical look. “But you are no longer a child …” Pat gives him a sad smile. “No one is ever too old for a hug … not even you!” Sam tilts his head and looks at her closely. “You are giving me MUCH to think about!” Pat raises her head to look back at him. “In the meantime, how are we going to save my family?” Sam looks thoughtful. “I will need to analyze the message your brother left to see if I can determine where he recorded it.” “Is there any way I can assist with that?”, she asks. “Only if you give me your word that you won’t fly into another blind rage.”, Sam replies, “Behaving like a mad Klingon will not produce the results you desire.” Pat nods in agreement. “True that!” They get up from the floor and he picks up the device holding the hostage message. Pat gestures toward the device. “Are we taking that back to Investigator Central?” Sam nods. “Yes, we can analyze it in the lab there.” They go out to his vehicle and head back to his office. Pat hesitates before speaking again. “Sam, I need to apologize for my rage and that outburst. I should not have behaved so illogically.” Sam shakes his head. “There is no need to apologize. Your reaction to the abduction of your family, and the death threats toward them, is completely logical for you, based on what you’ve been through.” He hesitates. “I have a confession to make, Pat. This is a memory that I kept shielded from you during our mind-meld. When I lost my wife and son, I reacted the same way. After they died, I went home from the medical center and smashed everything in the house. I was alone so there was no one there to reason with me. Emotional pain … grief … affects people in unexpected ways.” Pat reaches out and touches his hand. “I’m glad that I’m not alone in this.” Sam turns his hand over and holds hers. “Yes.”

They arrive at the Central Office Building and take the communications device to the lab for analysis. Sam is viewing the message frame by frame. “The background does look familiar to me.”, he comments. Pat looks at the images. “Is there a way to run a computer analysis on those images and match it to a database?” Sam nods. “In theory, that should be possible.” He activates the lab’s computer to scan the images and searches its database for a match. The computer brings up Vulcans Forge at the base of Mount Seleya. Pat nods at this information. “Well, that means there’s good news and there’s bad news.” Sam quirks an eyebrow at her. “Explain, please.” Pat gestures toward the image and continues her thoughts. “The good news is that they are not off-planet. They are still here on Vulcan. The bad news is that I understand that area is just riddled with caverns. They could be in any one of them!” Sam turns and looks at her. “How do you know about the caverns in Vulcans Forge, Pat?” She replies, “I remember Uncle Spock describing the area to me when he told me about his Kahs-Wan.” Sam nods. “Not many humans would remember that kind of detail regarding an alien planet that they have not frequently visited.” Pat smiles at him. “I tend to retain unusual information … especially visual information. The more he described it, the more I could visualize it. That memory stayed with me through the years. Who knew that it would become useful now?”

Sam nods towards her. “Fascinating!” Pat gestures toward the images being analyzed. “How can we pinpoint which cavern they are in?” “We have the capability of scanning for various bio-signatures, once we are within the caverns.”, Sam replies, “Given that your brother, Great-Grandfather and Mr. Sulu are human, we should be able to detect them without difficulty. We can also scan for any weapons that your brother has and neutralize them.” Pat considers this. “And then beam all of them out of there, keeping my brother in custody?” Sam nods again. “If we can get a transporter lock on them, it should not be complicated. If your brother is using any technology that interferes with that … then we have a problem.” Pat gives an exasperated sigh. “Murphy’s Law!” Sam looks at her quizzically. “Murphy’s Law? What is Murphy’s Law?” Pat gives a sardonic smile. “It’s an ancient Earth saying. It means that if anything can go wrong … it will!” Sam considers this new information. “I will keep that in mind.” Pat pauses for a few seconds. “Another thought has occurred to me. If he could afford to obtain a communications device such as this, to leave for whoever found it, then he might be able to afford a device that would stop you from getting a transporter lock on his hostages.” Sam nods at this possibility. “That is a logical.” Pat continues, “Which leads me to suspect we might have a barricade situation on our hands once the authorities descend on the caverns at Vulcans Forge.”

Sam folds his hands, steepling his fingers, while resting his arms on the desk. “We do have one advantage on our side …” Pat gives him a curious look. “What is it?” Sam gestures toward the images. “I am very familiar with those caverns. As soon as I was old enough, I explored them so thoroughly that I could find my way through them, even with my eyes closed.” Pat folds her arms, peering at Sam. “Okay, Sam … I’m going to give you a hard time. If you are so familiar with these caverns, why couldn’t you recognize them from the images on the message my brother left behind?” Sam reaches toward the communications device. “Let me replay the message, without the audio, and watch how your brother handles the imager.” He plays the message through. “As we observe, his handling of the imager is jumpy enough that it makes it difficult to readily identify where he is. I am unable to determine if this is accidental or intentional.” Pat nods at this information. “Knowing my brother’s imbalances, it might be a combination of both.” Sam nods in agreement. “That is a distinct possibility!” Pat looks up from the device on the desk. “So now what? You can’t go in there alone! If he booby-trapped my lodgings, he could just as easily booby-trap those caverns!”

Sam gets to his feet. “Which is why I won’t be going in there alone! I’ve sent this data to my comrades and my team is designing a strategy even as we speak.” Pat straightens up from leaning over the desk. “Where would I fit into this strategy?” Sam shakes his head. “In this situation, you don’t! This is an investigative matter where I, and my team, have the required training in addressing situations such as this. You have not had this particular kind of training!” Pat is incredulous at hearing this. “NOW who is underestimating WHO?! I’ve designed battle strategies and training for KLINGONS!” Sam is adamant. “I will not debate my decision. It is FINAL!” Pat steps close to him, nose to nose. “Because you are afraid that I might get hurt … or worse.” Sam has several expressions cross his face, then he quickly masks them. Pat notices them all.

Pat quietly comments, “Sam, I may not be a touch-telepath but I do sense strong emotions in you … regarding me and my personal well-being. It is not logical … but it is often true.” Sam sighs heavily. “It is true. I did not want to admit it … even to myself … I find myself struggling with emotions that I never knew I had.” Pat tilts her head and looks at him. “Is this a result of our mind-meld?” Sam pauses and looks away. “Yes and no. I’ve been burying myself in work, for years, rather than admit to myself that I am lonely because I miss my wife. When I mind-melded with you, I saw the same loneliness in you when your mate, Quon, died, and how you buried yourself in work as well. Seeing the truth about myself … recognizing my own reflection in a sort of mirror … was … is … painful. I finally had to admit that truth to myself and also struggle with other new emotions … wanting to bond with you …” His voice trails off.

Pat nods at this. “In a sense, we are bonded … because of that mind-meld we had so I could explain my story.” Sam shakes his head. “You may be thinking of the bond of friendship, like Ambassador Spock and your Great-Grandfather have as a result of their mind-meld … when your Great-Grandfather possessed Spock’s Katra until the Fal-Tor-Pan could be performed. This bond … that I am contemplating … is much stronger … more … intimate … than that.” Pat considers this. “Like the family bonding that I have with Uncle Spock?” Sam hesitates. “I am reluctant to suggest something more intimate and stronger than that for I fear you will reject the possibility.” The light of understanding is slowly starting to dawn on Pat. “Sam, you are inferring that this bonding is more like the Koon-ut-La.”

Sam is blushing a deep green. “I believe you are understanding my meaning …” His voice trails off again. Pat gently responds. “Sam, there’s nothing wrong with falling in love. Look at Sarek and Amanda! They succeeded and their union lasted until her death. Then he remarried, to another human woman, and that union lasted until he died from Bendii Syndrome. From what I learned from Uncle Spock, his father was Vulcan’s Vulcan!” Sam gazes at Pat. “Then you would not reject the idea …” Pat chews her lip for a few moments. “Sam, I have an embarrassing confession to make. When I first saw you, approaching us at the shuttlecraft, I was struggling with strong emotions of my own! Love at first sight! That’s illogical, I know as we had only just met! We had no way to know each other so quickly. I couldn’t stop what I was feeling …” She looks down at her hands and starts to fidget.

Sam gives her a slight smile. “That was the reason why you were blushing and trying not to stare at me as I approached your group at the shuttle port?” Pat is blushing a deep crimson. “You noticed!” Sam nods, his eyes showing a hint of humor. “Yes. As an Investigator, it’s part of my job to notice details. I also saw your thoughts during our meld as you have not learned how to shield them. There is no shame in feeling what you feel. You are, after all, human.” Pat continues to fidget. “I was trying to avoid a diplomatic incident! I’m aware there are strict rules …” Sam tilts his head as he looks at her. “Did those rules stop Sarek and Amanda?” Pat looks up. “No, they didn’t. I’m thinking that for now, I would like for you to experience dating me. We’ve only known each other for a few days and I think it might be a good way to give ourselves time to explore this relationship. If your goal is a lifetime union, then we need to give ourselves the opportunity to learn each others’ quirks so we don’t end up driving each other crazy.”

Sam gives her a slight smile, his eyes dancing. “That is logical!” Pat grins. “And to demonstrate one of my many strange quirks …” She leans over and kisses his cheek and is satisfied to see him blush green again. “I think that is the safest thing to do at the moment … given there is a lack of privacy at your office. I don’t want to accidentally embarrass you in front of your peers …” She smiles at him. Sam smiles broadly for the first time, given that they are alone. “Maybe being embarrassed won’t be too bad.” Pat’s smile broadens into a grin as she enjoys his smile. “So are you going to include me as part of your strike team?” Sam sighs as he looks at her. “I am beginning to realize that you are one stubborn human!” “With Klingon training!”, Pat adds. Sam repeats, with a shake of his head, “With Klingon training! All right! You are part of the strike team!” Pat pumps her fist. “YES!” Sam holds up his hand. “Now don’t get ahead of yourself. You will need to meet with the rest of my team so they can bring you up to date on how we will plan to proceed into these caverns.” Pat gestures. “And do you have a schematic on how these caverns traverse Mount Seleya? In other words, is there both a front door and a back door?” Sam considers this question. “That is a fair question. Come, I’ll introduce you to the rest of my team and we can discuss your questions!” He leads the way out of his office to the conference room where other Investigators are meeting and planning a strategy.

As Pat and Sam enter the conference room, the other Investigators turn to look at them. Sam gestures toward the team. “Pat, this is my Investigative team. Everyone, this is Doctor Pat McCoy, Great-granddaughter to Doctor Leonard McCoy, adopted niece of Ambassador Spock, friend of Captain Sulu …”, he pauses, “And sister to our suspect, James Yuri.” Pat nods solemnly toward the team. “Hello, everyone.” Investigator Stark speaks up. “How may we assist you?” Pat turns toward Stark. “Investigator Sam …” she stutters, “Samok, has suggested that I meet with his team designing the strategy to rescue the hostages and take my brother into custody.” Stark shakes his head. “You are human and emotionally involved due to the fact that your family members are hostages. You will put our mission at risk.” Pat responds back. “I’ve already vented my rage at the moment I knew that my Great-Grandfather had been abducted. I can now direct that emotion into the goal of rescuing my family … which includes my Uncle Spock and Captain Sulu. There is a saying among the Klingons that I think would be appropo here … ‘Revenge is a dish best served COLD!’ My brother is illogical in taking out his rage on those close to me for no other reason than to continue to act on the lie that was fed to him by she who gave birth to us. If anything, HE is the one mentally unbalanced for him to do what he has done.” Stark presses his case. “You are human and, therefore, still emotional. How could you possibly achieve the goal of this mission?” Pat responds back. “Captain Kirk, of the U.S.S. Enterprise was human. How did he achieve his missions in spite of being emotional? And some of those missions benefited Vulcan to a great deal, did they not?”

Stark opens and closes his mouth several times but is unable to speak. He looks at Sam for assistance. Sam thinks silently to himself, “What is that human phrase I’ve learned from the meld with Pat? Touche’!” When Pat sees there is no further debate, she turns to the task at hand. “Now, please bring me up to date as to the plan of attack inside the caverns of Mount Seleya.” The team begins discussing how they will deploy at both the front and rear entrances to the Vulcans Forge caverns, the possible booby-traps they will encounter, and how to rescue the hostages without any injuries or loss of life. Pat provides insight into her brother’s psychological profile.

She continues, “I think I understand the overall strategy. I would strongly suggest that deployment should be in teams of two. My brother may be human but his disordered mind may also give him unexpected strength. If one member finds herself or himself cornered by him, that officer needs to have a partner to provide back up to subdue him. Ideally, one would keep my brother occupied face-to-face while the back-up provides … I’m not quite sure of the Vulcan name … the neck pinch that would render my brother incapacitated.” She gestures, toward Sam, indicating the pinch. Sam responds. “You mean to’tsu’k’hy. In Federation standard, it translates into ‘Nerve Pinch’.” Pat nods emphatically. “Yes, that is what I am trying to describe! Thanks! I could see the image in my mind but wasn’t certain what the right word for it was.” Sam explains to team, “Doctor McCoy thinks in pictures rather than words.” Pat hesitates. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, folks … I wish humans could communicate via mind-meld. It would save a lot of time and, hopefully, avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications! I find it very efficient.” The Investigator Team nods in approval. Stark comments, “It IS an efficient form of communication.” Pat nods. “Even though Uncle Spock has often told me that one does not thank logic … thank you for understanding.”

Sam announces to the team. “It is time! Let us get our equipment loaded up into our vehicles and depart for our destination.” Everyone begins donning their protective gear, packing equipment into their vehicles, and transporting personnel to Vulcans Forge. Pat is riding shotgun with Sam. She is ready for bear in full armor. “Sam, this may be an illogical question … are you nervous about facing my brother?” Sam is focusing on piloting his vehicle. “Normally, I would respond that Vulcans do not experience nervousness as that is an illogical emotion.” He glances quickly at her. “You, however, would confront me with the reality of the situation … so, yes, I am apprehensive about meeting your brother given his violent propensities and unpredictability.” Pat sighs. “I’m glad I’m not alone. Too bad we can’t cloak like the Jem’Ha Dar. That would give us an advantage!” Sam glances again at Pat. “That gives me an idea! With our equipment, we can give ourselves the appearance of being cloaked even though we are not! I will share your idea with the rest of the team.” Pat completes the thought. “In other words, fake out my brother!” Sam nods. “Precisely!” Pat gives him an apprehensive look. “I can only hope we can subdue my brother without harming him.”

The Investigative Team arrives at Mount Seleya and begin deploying in teams of two throughout the area. Pat and Sam enter the caverns together. Pat pulls the visor down over her face to enhance her night vision. She whispers to test the communication system embedded in her helmet. “Sam, can you hear me?” Sam whispers back. “I can hear you clearly. The communication system is functioning within normal parameters. Is your visor enhancing your vision within these caverns?” Pat whispers her response. “Yes, the night vision system is operating within normal parameters. I can see you as well as the cavern walls and passageways without difficulty even though there is no other source of light here.” Sam whispers back. “I am pleased for your sake. Stay close to me as I am more familiar with these caverns than you.” Pat whispers again. “You’ll get no argument from me!”

Sam scans the area for potential booby-traps, takes a few steps, then scans again. Pat stays close behind him, turning her head from side to side, watching for any possible ambush from the rear. Pat whispers to Sam. “So far, I’m not seeing any movement from the side caverns. Any word from the rest of the Investigative Team?” Sam whispers back. “Give them time. They will signal me shortly. You won’t be able to hear them as the signals will be at a frequency that only Vulcans can hear.” Pat whispers, “Logical given that the closer they are to where my brother is holed up, they don’t want to tip their hand and give away their position.” Sam whispers, “Precisely!” “And what about the cloaking fake-out?”, Pat continues, “When do we start playing Jem’Ha Dar?” Sam whispers back, “Patience!”

“Right! Patience!”, Pat echoes quietly. She continues to scan from side to side. She notices a strange looking creature skittering along the cavern floor. It appears to be a combination of a rat and a tarantula. She nudges Sam and whispers, while indicating the creature. “Now THAT is so ugly it’s CUTE!” Sam quickly glances at the creature and responds with amusement in his voice. “The females on my planet find it … disgusting. They shy away from it. I remember, when I was about the age of 5 or 6, bringing one home to my mother and asking if I could keep it as a pet. She was NOT amused!” Pat stifles a giggle and whispers. “Now THAT is FUNNY!” Sam whispers again. “It was the only time I saw my father chuckle. Turns out, he did the same thing to HIS mother! I believe humans have a saying … ‘like father, like son’. Don’t you agree?” Pat snickers and whispers, “I concur!”

Pat stoops down to scoop the creature up and move it out of harm’s way. Before she can react, a large figure lunges out of a hiding place, striking her across the face, knocking her down! Sam whirls around and shouts into his communicator, “Officer down!” The large figure turns and attacks him. Pat struggles to her feet and attempts to aim her phaser with the intent to stun. She realizes that she is unable to get a clear shot. If she hits Sam, she would be alone with this crazed attacker before the other Investigators could converge on their location.

“JAMES! STOP IT!”, she shouts at the shadowy figure. The attacker shoves Sam’s unconscious form to the ground and turns on her, snarling. “So it IS you, you piece of worthless garbage!” Pat shakes her head in disbelief. “Why do you hate me so much? What have I ever done to you?” Her estranged brother spits on the ground. “You EXIST, you pile of DIRT! Mother always told me that she should have erased her mistake by killing you. She is a GODDESS! You know that?! A GODDESS! I intend to make a sacrifice on the altar I have built for her … with YOUR BLOOD! Then this universe will be cleansed of your filth!” Pat freezes in horror as she realizes that her brother is insane. Her momentary pause gives James the opportunity to lunge and wrestle her phaser away from her. She attempts to calmly speak to him. “James, we can talk about this. You are my brother.” He resets the phaser to heavy stun as he snarls, “WE have NOTHING to talk about and I REFUSE to be related to FILTH! I’m not going to kill you here! I need your body, intact, for MY ALTAR! I want to slowly torture you, kill your family first in front of you, then gratify myself torturing you, again, until you are finally dead! DEAD! Then vaporize your corpse to appease MY GODDESS-MOTHER! However, after I stun you, then I will kill HIM … whoever he is that came in here with you! He’s nothing to me.” He raises the phaser towards her but suddenly stiffens and goes limp, dropping the phaser.

Pat bends over and breathes a deep sigh of relief. “Sam! You’re all right!” Sam eases James’ limp form to the ground. “He only stunned me momentarily.”, Sam replies, “Are you all right, Pat? I heard what he said.” She gestures nonchalantly. “I’m fine, Sam. Only a few contusions and abrasions.” Sam applies restraints to James’ hands and feet and fastens them behind his back. “I am … pleased that you are not seriously injured. The rest of the Investigative Team are on their way to our location.” Pat suddenly feels annoyed. “If you heard everything he said, what took you so long to stop him with the nerve pinch?” Sam points to a device attached to his wrist. “Evidence. We need to prove what he said in court. This voice-activated device recorded it all.” He starts to play back the recording, which irritates Pat even further. “Sam”, she snaps, “You can turn that damn thing off! I don’t need to hear it again!” Sam nods as he turns the device off. “Understood. My apologies.” The other members of the Investigative Team arrive and they take James into custody, carrying his limp form outside. Stark reports to his commanding officer, Sam. “We have located the hostages and disarmed all booby-traps. The hostages have been taken outside the caverns and the healer is examining each of them for injuries.” Sam acknowledges the report. “I am sure that Doctor McCoy is pleased that her family has been found alive and safe.” Pat nods with relief. “Definitely pleased! I want to go to them now!” Stark notices that both Pat and Sam have been injured while fighting James. “You should have the healer check each of you as well!” Pat notices that the furry cave creature is lying injured nearby and gently picks it up. “Can something be done for this poor creature as well? It was only minding its own business when it got caught in the crossfire of the fight. It is innocent.”

Stark is startled at this. “It’s appearance does not distress you?” Pat shakes her head. “Not at all. Illogical as it may sound, wildlife should not be harmed simply because it is wildlife. Others may consider its appearance ugly but I would imagine that its own kind does not consider themselves ugly. However, these creatures may think that WE are ugly. They are part of the planet’s Eco-system and have a right to live in peace without being … harassed.” Stark nods with approval. “Logical. Flawlessly logical! Come, let us go outside and have the healer take a look at ALL of you.” “I hope we have the right equipment to help this poor creature!”, Pat replies as they head out of the caverns, cradling the injured creature in her arms, as if it is an infant.

When the group reaches the area where other Investigators are standing, along with the Healer, Spock, Sulu, and Leonard McCoy, the female members of the Investigative teams instinctively shy away as soon as they spot the injured creature in Pat’s arms. Pat looks around to everyone standing there. “Can this creature be helped? It’s not its fault that it got hurt.” “I am trained to treat sentient beings.”, one of the Healers hesitantly replies, “I have no knowledge on how to treat creatures such as this!” Pat feels tears well up in her eyes. “It shouldn’t die because we don’t know how to treat its wounds!” Her Great-grandfather steps forward. “Here, child. Let me take a look at it. If I could successfully treat a Horta, I should be able to do SOMETHING!” She looks at him with relief. “Thanks, Gramps!”

Both McCoy’s bring the injured creature to a nearby treatment table and Pat gently lays it down. “There you go, sweetie. We’re going to do everything we can to help you.” The creature appears to relax and wait patiently as both McCoy’s examine its injuries with a medical tricorder. “It seems to understand that we are trying to help it, not hurt it.”, Leonard comments. Pat looks worried. “I hope we CAN help it, Gramps.” The old doctor continues scanning with his tricorder. “It appears to only have a broken appendage … no internal injuries. It’s mostly frightened.” She starts to soothe it by gently stroking it with her fingers. “It’s going to be okay, sweetie. Don’t worry.” Leonard observes this while treating the broken appendage. “Keep doing what you’re doing, child. It’s definitely helping. I believe it’s a touch-telepath and it senses our intentions to help.” Pat continues to soothe it then grins with delight. “Gramps, I think it’s starting to purr!” The old man also grins. “I can’t believe it! It IS purring! It likes us!” He completes treatment of the creatures injuries and puts his Medikit away. “There! That should do the trick!” Pat continues to soothe it with her fingers. “Okay, baby, want to try and flex that appendage to see how it feels?” The creature responds by stretching out the formerly injured appendage, places it weight on it and stands. “Fantastic!”, she grins, “You’re going to be okay, sweetie!” The creature climbs onto Pat and appears to be hugging her. She turns to her Great-grandfather with a look of awe and delight. “Gramps, it’s so CUTE! Can I keep it?” She looks over at Sam, who is barely suppressing a grin. He ducks his head in an attempt to hide his growing amusement.

Leonard scowls. “Absolutely not!” Spock’s eyes are dancing. “Your Great-grandfather does not want competition in the looks department!” McCoy gives Spock a dirty look while Pat and Sulu howl with laughter. She looks over at the group of Investigators and sees that several members of the team, especially Sam, are highly amused and trying not to show it. She looks down at the creature. “I have a feeling that you would prefer to go home and be with your family. I understand.” She looks over at Sam. “Can you guide me through the caverns so I can take this creature back to its home?” Sam nods at his team. “I will return shortly.” He gestures for Pat follow him as they return to the caverns. She glances down at the creature, then at her Great-grandfather, Sulu and Spock. As she walks toward Sam, she stops beside McCoy. “You know, Gramps … it’s not that ugly when you see it up close. Do you want it to hug you before we go?” The old man shakes his head. “Thank you but NO! Looking at its fur makes me itch! I don’t mind treating it but it should not become anyone’s pet!”

Pat silently nods and follows Sam back to the caverns with the creature. As they walk back into the caverns, Stark approaches Leonard. “If I may make an observation, Doctor. This appears illogical but I believe that Samok and your Great-granddaughter are bonding. Are you prepared to have the Koon-ut-La and the Koon-ut-Kalifee ceremonies performed?” Leonard looks back at the Vulcan Investigator, startled. “Excuse me?!” “My good doctor”, Spock interjects, “I would concur with the Investigator’s observations. Patricia-kam and Samok have, indeed, fallen in love, even though they may not be aware of that fact themselves. Given the example of my parents, there should be no obstacle before them.” McCoy nods at his old friend. “I have to agree, Spock, that every time I see these two together, they seem to be glowing. It has been YEARS since I’ve seen her happy. When her mate, Quon, died during a mission, I didn’t think she would allow anyone to get that close again.” “Then you will give your blessing for them to explore this relationship … even if it leads to a marriage?”, Spock asks. The old doctor quirks an eyebrow. “Well, she adopted YOU as her uncle, didn’t she? So I don’t see any reason to object to gaining a great-grandson-in-law!”

Pat is looking thoughtful as she walks through the caverns cradling the creature to her chest. “I’m kind of sad that I have to say good-bye to this creature.”, she comments, “I would like to learn more about it. I sense an intelligence from it even though we do not speak the same language.” “Your curiosity is endearing to me.”, Sam quietly responds. She stops abruptly, startled. “I … uh …” She looks around. Sam follows her gaze. “We are alone. All of my team members are outside at Incident Command. It is just you and I …”, he gestures toward the creature, “… and our friend. I think it can keep a secret while we talk openly about our emotions.” Pat smiles at him. “I’d like to think that this creature is the same one that made your acquaintance when you were 5 or 6 years old. If not, then it is a descendant who heard about what a wonderful person you are.”

Sam shows delight in his eyes. “That is a wonderful thought. It may be illogical, but I would like to think you may be right.” Pat looks around again and back at Sam. “Sam, why do you want this conversation to be a secret?” “Because”, he responds, “I would like to have an honest conversation between the two of us without the constraints from my friends or your family. I need to know where I stand … with you. If you do not wish to accept me as your bond-mate, then this conversation will go no further.” Pat chews on her lip. “I was going to ask you the same question. I have many challenges that many beings do NOT understand and I have been rejected because of those challenges. The attitude and treatment I received from my brother, James, is an example of that kind of rejection. As you can see, I am not good enough.” Sam shakes his head. “Your brother is also blinded by insanity. Hopefully, with treatment, he will come to understand what a loving and wonderful person you are. With our furry friend as witness, I would like to formally ask you to bond with me.”

Pat’s eyes widen. “Sam, to be honest, I am frightened that I would not be able to measure up to your expectations. If I understand the concept of bonding correctly, it is more than a betrothal but less than a marriage. But in order to dissolve that bond, it would have to be through a divorce of the Koon-ut-Kalifee and you would die! We’ve only had one dinner, alone, and one breakfast, with Gramps. Given that we’ve only just met within a few days is not enough time to REALLY know someone before making a lifetime commitment.” Sam nods thoughtfully. “What you say is logical and yet, if you left, I would feel lost without you in my life.”

“And you must know that I have to return to my post within Star Fleet Medical.”, she replies, “How would you reconcile my duties to Star Fleet with your desire to remain with me?” “Before your arrival, I have been looking into the possibility of taking a leave of absence from the Investigative Unit, coming to Earth, and enrolling in courses at Star Fleet Academy to enhance my investigative skills.”, Sam says. “I learned, a few hours ago, that my application has been accepted even though I am older than their average cadet. If you will permit it, I can accompany you when you return to duty while I travel on to San Francisco. We can take our relationship, one day at a time, from there.”

Pat looks down at the creature she is still holding. “You hear that? Would you agree?” She looks up at Sam. “I think the creature concurs … and I also think we are close enough to its home that I can now release it.” She bends down and places the creature on the cavern floor. It pauses as it looks from Pat to Sam then scurries off into the darkness of the cavern. “Good bye my furry friend. Be safe and live long and prosper.” She stands up, wiping her eyes. Sam steps close to her, wraps her in an embrace and kisses her without hesitation. He pauses when he comes up for air. “What is your answer, Pat?” Pat hesitates then returns the kiss. When she comes up for air, she replies, “In my culture, we have a concept called ‘going steady’. Sometimes it is accompanied with an object called a ‘promise ring’. It’s not formalized like a betrothal. It just gives the dating couple time to get to really know each other well before they take their relationship to the next level and becoming engaged to be married. Would you agree that could be a satisfactory solution for us?” Sam smiles tenderly as he leans his forehead against hers. “It sounds perfectly logical to me!” He kisses her again and she returns his kiss.

When they both come up for air, Pat asks, “What would you tell your comrades at Investigative Central?” Sam does not seem troubled at this. “I would inform them that, after all these years of being alone, I have found someone who can fill that empty place in my life. If anyone wants to argue the logic of it, I can point to the example of Ambassador Sarek, the father of Ambassador Spock!” Pat looks worried. “I remember that Spock was the object of prejudice and ridicule because he is half-human and that some people called Amanda some vile names because she married Sarek. I recently encountered a racist who looks down on my Uncle Spock because of who he is.” Sam shakes his head. “Anyone who is still fixated on racial prejudice is unenlightened. By now, I would hope that individuals on both sides would understand and accept us.” She gets a determined look on her face. “And if they don’t, then that is THEIR loss and NOT my problem!” She kisses Sam again. “Have I ever told you that I’ve fallen in love with you?” Sam grins broadly. “I have been all ears waiting for you to say that!” They both laugh and embrace.

Back at Incident Command, Leonard is pacing restlessly. “They are taking too long. Maybe they got lost in there!” One of the healers speaks up. “Doctor McCoy, you need to take it easy. You have been through a difficult experience!” He scowls at him. “Dammit! Don’t tell me what to do! I can’t relax until my Great-granddaughter is back where I can see her and I know she’s safe! Besides, she still has those injuries that need to be seen to!” Spock approaches his agitated friend. “Leonard, Samok is well-versed with those caverns. She is safe with him. You are being an over-protective father!” The old man pauses in his pacing. “Maybe I am! I just don’t like the idea of those two being alone without a chaperone!” He realizes too late that the other Investigators are following everything he is saying. “Oops! I think I’ve said too much!” Stark responds, “We are … pleased that Samok has found someone. Since his wife, T’Ling died, he has remained alone too long. His parents are both gone and there was no one left in his family to arrange a betrothal for him. Based on my objective observations, your Great-granddaughter would be a good match for him … as he is a good match for her.” “As you can see, Leonard,”, Spock adds, “This couple has received the Vulcan ‘Stamp of Approval’. What are your objections?” The old man sighs. “I guess I don’t want to admit to myself that she’s all grown up. I still see her a child who needs to be protected from being hurt again.”

“And that is perfectly acceptable, Leonard.”, Spock replies gently, “I, too, struggle with the same issues that you have voiced. I also see that she no longer needs the same type of protection that she required as a child. We rescued her and now she has assisted in rescuing us. She no longer owes us a debt. I believe it is time to give her our blessing to explore this new relationship. If it turns out well, she will be happy. If fate intervenes and she becomes unhappy again, one or both of us can be there providing moral support until she is ready to try her wings again.”

“Spock”, the old doctor growls, “We are both getting old. Someday, we will no longer be available to help her when she needs us. That is a painful fact to accept.” Spock gives his friend a slight smile. “It may be possible that the roles will be reversed and we will be child-like and she will be acting as mother to us in our old age.” McCoy shakes his head. “I should hope NOT! I want to remain active and independent all the way to the end … and you would too!”

The group spots Pat and Sam approaching them from a distance. As they approach, the Investigative Team members are astonished to see they have an arm around each other as they walk side by side. Pat looks up at Sam. “Are you sure your peers won’t be offended by this open display of emotion?” “It is about time that they realize that you will be a part of my life and accept it.”, Sam replies, “To do otherwise would be illogical.” Pat nods with satisfaction. “Works for me!” The couple approaches the group at Incident Command. Sam addresses the crowd. “Everyone, I have an announcement to make … or, more accurately, more than one announcement. Today, I received word from Star Fleet Security that they have accepted my application to enroll in their courses in order to add to my skills as an Investigator. Effective, immediately, I will be taking a leave of absence so that I may travel to Earth to take up these studies. That, however, is a small announcement compared to what I will say next…”

Stark starts to respond, “Samok, we have been friends for many years …” Pat scowls at the interruption. “Stark, are you daring to steal Sam’s thunder as he is about to make his BIG announcement?!” Stark bows his head. “I beg forgiveness.” “Apology accepted!”, Pat replies and she turns back to Sam. “Go on, Sam.” Sam gives her a slight smile then looks at his comrade. “Stark, you are correct. You have been my friend for many years and I am pleased to disclose to you that I have found my mate. I have proposed to bond with her …” His comrades murmur their approval. He waits until the murmuring subsides before continuing. “She has given me a counter-proposal that we ‘go steady’ for a period of time before formalizing our relationship. I have accepted her counter-proposal. She suggested that I give her a ‘promise ring’. Now I must locate this object as soon as possible.”

Stark is puzzled. “What is the significance of a ‘Promise Ring’? What does ‘Go Steady’ mean precisely?” Spock approaches and takes Stark aside. “Permit me to explain …” Pat looks at Sam with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes as she is feeling positively giddy. “Is it permissible to indulge in a little PDA?” Sam gives her a confused look. “PDA?” She grins. “Public Display of Affection … like this!” She kisses him full on the lips in front of the crowd. Sam blushes a DEEP GREEN! Leonard and Sulu chuckle good-naturedly. From where he is standing, Spock raises an eyebrow but his eyes show a hint of amusement. “Sam, welcome to one of her MANY quirks”, Leonard announces, “… and welcome to the family!” “Wait until I get you into a Holodeck!”, Pat whispers loud enough for everyone to hear, “We are going to have a LOT of FUN!” She looks pointedly at her Great-grandfather. “WITHOUT a chaperone!” Sam blushes green again, uncertain whether to be stoic or not. “Holodeck?”, as he gives her another confused look. Spock rejoins the group and answers his question. “A Holodeck is a room, on a ship, that has the capability of constructing matter from energy, forming any scenario you may wish. It could be going to a 20th Century baseball game, taking art lessons from Leonardo di Vinci …” “Teaching you how to fish for salmon”, Leonard chimes in, “Before you try the real thing …” “Learning how to do the hand-jive …”, Pat adds. Sam’s eyebrow climbs nearly to his hairline. “It sounds … overwhelming…”

Pat shakes her head. “Not really, Sam. Each program is individual. My favorite program is calling up a scenario where I can dance to music from the 1960’s. Wait until I introduce you to The Beatles!” Sam becomes even more confused. “The Who?” Pat chuckles. “The Who is from a later time period, a few years later. The group I was discussing is The Beatles.” Sam looks astonished. “Clearly, I have much to learn!” She smiles. “It will be painless! Believe me!” Suddenly, she becomes somber and looks at the rest of the Investigators. “Where have you taken my brother?”

“He has been taken to the nearest medical center.”, Sam replies. “He will be kept under sedation while he is being treated. He is in good hands.” “Thank you.”, as Pat turns to the rest of the team, “All of you. I’m grateful that you are helping my brother. He never deserved to get what our …”, she hesitates as she fights for emotional control, “I can’t even call her a mother … he never deserved what she did to him … to both of us. She’s dead but he is still suffering from her twisted legacy.” One of the healers solemnly replies, “We grieve for the suffering you both endured. We will do what we can to alleviate his delusions.” Pat feels tears start to well up in her eyes. “Thank you, again.” She looks around. “Where do we go from here?” Another healer steps forward. “We will need to transport your Great-grandfather, Ambassador Spock, and Captain Sulu to the medical center for observation for a few days to make certain there are no complications ensuing from their ordeal. In addition, you and Samok must be treated for your injuries as well, even though they are minor.” Leonard starts to complain. “I REFUSE to have my molecules scrambled while sending me to any medical facility!” Spock walks over to him. “Leonard”, as he places a hand on his old friend’s shoulder. “As you once said to me long ago … yield to the logic of the situation. The healers need to observe us for only a short period of time to ensure that we have not suffered permanent damage. It would not be advisable to attempt to treat yourself. Furthermore, it would be unfair to demand that Patricia-kam be placed in that position of treating us given what she has endured from this incident.” The old man sighs. “Much as I hate to admit it, Spock … you are right. But I still will NOT have my molecules scrambled by the transporter if I don’t have to!”

Sam indicates his vehicle that is parked nearby. “Doctor McCoy, I have room in my vehicle. You could ride back with me and Pat. I can take you to the medical center.” Spock nods in agreement. “Sulu and I can transport directly with the Healer. We will meet you there.” They prepare to transport out. McCoy grins. “Works for me!” “Before we can transport anywhere,” Sam comments, “we have to load up our equipment before we head out.” Pat and Sam proceed to pack up their gear and equipment. All three get inside the vehicle and start to head back to the capital city. “Sam”, Pat says as she reaches out to him, “I apologize for embarrassing you with my impulsiveness. As you have seen, I tend to get silly and act out foolishly when I feel extremely happy. As Gramps can attest to, I get absolutely goofy. It’s stems from my Asperger’s even though that is not an excuse. I know better. I’m sorry.” Sam gives her a somber look. “All of this is a lot to process. I know you warned me. When we had our mind-meld, I saw that you have a very active imagination combined with countless memories. You are very creative and I see where you often strive to change a negative into a positive. It never occurred to me that you would also strive to live out some of your fantasies in real life. That will take getting used to given I am more accustomed to logic.”

Leonard leans forward from the back seat. “Imagine what Spock went through, with her, while she was still a child!” Pat gives herself a face-palm. “And I’m not proud of that! I was bouncing off the walls … LITERALLY … thinking I still needed to escape!” Sam nods as he focuses on piloting his vehicle back toward the city. “Sam”, Pat continues, “Given what you have seen thus far, do you still want to date me? I won’t blame you if you run!” “Sam”, her Great-grandfather interjects, “I don’t know if this will help or hurt this situation. In my day, when couples formalized their union into a lifetime commitment, the vows they recited included the following words … ‘in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer’ … which meant that no matter what life may throw at you, the couple does not throw in the towel and bail out of the partnership. If that makes sense …” Sam looks thoughtful. “I think I understand what you are trying to tell me, Great-Grandfather … and, as you stated to me earlier, Pat, you did warn me. I concede that it is … disquieting … and I made promises to you that I will work through all of this with you … together.” Pat gives his hand a squeeze. “That is all I can ask for.” Sam glances over at her, a slight smile on his face. “And more. You forgot that I still love you. That should count for something, should it not?” Pat smiles. “And I love you too … even though this situation is new and scary for both of us.”

Leonard leans forward, again, from the back seat and places his hands on their shoulders. “I have faith in both of you. Sam, I’m confident that you will do the right thing by my Great-granddaughter and, child, I would hope that I raised you right to know your own mind and to believe in yourself in spite of all the challenges you have been living with since birth!” Pat reaches up and touches her Great-grandfather’s hand. “Thanks, Gramps!” She swallows hard. “Sam, there’s one other thing that I’ve been struggling with and you may know this from our mind-meld. As you are aware, I am old enough to be a grandmother. Due to my multiple disabilities, plus the abuse injuries that I endured in childhood, I can never have children. I know that, years ago, you were looking forward to being a father to your son before he and T’Ling were lost in death. I regret that I will be unable to fulfill that desire for you. I fear, that because I will never be able to give you a child, you will come to resent me. I understand how Vulcans value family.”

Sam considers this. “I presume this is part of exploring our relationship during dating. I have come to accept that, at my own advanced age, becoming a father to an infant would not be logical. When I was younger, and more energetic, I would have been able to provide the time and attention that any young child needs. Now, in Vulcan years, I am also old enough to be a grandfather. That makes me much older in human years. Our aging process would not be fair to a young child who needs energetic parents to keep up.” Pat wipes at her eyes. “I can now let go of that fear.” She pauses for a few seconds. “By the way, Sam, are you prepared to take dance lessons?” Sam gives her a puzzled glance. “Dance lessons? Why should I learn how to dance? I do not understand the logic in dancing.” She grins at him. “For an illogical reason … it’s FUN! By the way, that is how I was taught mathematical concepts …” She pauses again. “… through learning dances such as the Waltz. Dance was also a form of physical therapy for me to improve my coordination and ability to walk.”

Leonard chuckles at the memory. “Watching Spock learn how to Waltz was more enjoyable than I could describe! Watching him help her to re-learn how to walk, using the Waltz as a guide … that was priceless!” Pat shakes her head. “I can only imagine that it was NOT easy for Uncle Spock!” Sam is even more puzzled. “Why couldn’t a physical therapist achieve the same goal? The mind-meld gave me much information. That is one of the pieces of the puzzle that I do not understand.” “I couldn’t trust any physical therapist to come anywhere NEAR me at the time!”, she replies, “Gramps had just brought me home and was having a nearly impossible time attempting to communicate with me. I couldn’t walk very well, I was so traumatized that I didn’t talk, and I would react to anything unfamiliar by barricading myself behind furniture. I remember overhearing some well-meaning people urging Gramps to have me institutionalized. He refused given that he just got me out of an ‘institution’. The first time I saw Uncle Spock, I had NO idea WHAT he was and I openly stared at him! It was the first time I actually made eye contact with anyone. I guess I could say that Gramps and Uncle Spock tag-teamed in order to break through the barriers I had erected because those barriers, that helped me survive, were now dysfunctional. They became my therapists at a time I needed them the most.”

Sam glances at the rear-view mirror at Leonard. “Great-grandfather, were you able to ‘Waltz’ with Pat frequently?” The old man shakes his head. “Unfortunately, no. My arthritis has advanced to the point that attempting to do anything like that is excruciatingly painful. And for Pete’s sake, call me Len, Leonard or Gramps! Calling me Great-grandfather sounds formal and OLD!” Sam nods. “Yes, Great … I mean … Gramps!” Pat snickers. “Gramps knows that he’s GREAT! Don’t let him fool you!” She turns around and grins at Leonard.

They pull up in front of the city’s medical center, park the vehicle, and assist her Great-grandfather into the Emergency Room. He fusses about not being helpless. The Healers persuade him to permit them to give him a check-up for any possible injuries stemming from his hostage ordeal. Other Healers treat Pat and Sam for their minor injuries. They advise Pat that they are keeping all three … Spock, Sulu, and Gramps … overnight for observation. Her Great-grandfather is NOT a happy camper about THAT!

By this point, everything is finally starting to catch up to Pat and she tries to be patient, even though she is clearly exhausted. “Gramps”, she struggles to say through clenched teeth, “I KNOW you don’t like being on the other end of medical treatment. PLEASE understand that the Healers have to do THEIR jobs too! After they get you settled in, then the Investigators need to question you about what happened when you first encountered my brother. Why not relax and let the Healers take care of you? If everything goes well, they will release you in the morning. If something goes wrong, you are in the best place to address the issues. You would say the same thing to one of YOUR own patients! True?!” “Yeah, but I still don’t have to LIKE it!” “Remember that the next time a patient objects when YOU tell THEM the same thing about needing to stay overnight for observation.”, she retorts. She rubs her eyes. “You’re tired!”, her Great-grandfather barks, “Go home!” Pat lets her irritability show. “You bet I’m tired!”, she snaps, “I’M DAMN TIRED! My nerves get all strung out when I realized that you and Sulu had been abducted, just like Uncle Spock! My nerves get stretched even thinner when I had to battle my own brother who turns out to be a homicidal maniac! Now my LAST nerve is being plucked because you object to being treated for possible injuries that my brother inflicted on you as well as dealing with Sam’s and my injuries from fighting with him! I have been running on PURE ADRENALIN the ENTIRE DAMN DAY! And NOW you notice I’m TIRED?! DAMMIT!”

Leonard is stunned silent. Pat gestures angrily. “And I still have to deal with the LEGAL AFTERMATH of ALL of THIS!” “Pat”, Sam gently interjects, “You need to rest. Based on what you have previously shared with me, you are approaching ‘meltdown’. Let me take you back to your lodgings.” Pat calms down a little. “You’re right, Sam.” She glares at her Great-grandfather. “You behave yourself! I’ll see you in the morning.” She leaves with Sam and goes out to his vehicle. He takes her back to her lodgings which has now been cleared for her return. “I will accompany you.”, he states unequivocally. Pat rubs her eyes again. “You don’t have to do that …” Sam states more firmly, “Let’s go inside. We need to talk …” Pat sighs, gets out of the vehicle and enters her lodgings with Sam following. Once inside, she turns to face him, placing her hand on his chest. “Thanks, Sam. You really don’t have to stay. I’ll be all right.” He shakes his head. “Pat, you have been struggling to hold in your emotions that have been bubbling under the surface. They started to come out sideways as you raised your voice to your Great-grandfather. I know you are not angry with him. You have been under extreme stress all day and it’s time to get it out of your system … safely. You are not a Vulcan … you are human. Yield to the logic of this situation.”

Pat pauses for several seconds, shaking, then she takes a deep breath and SCREAMS at the top of her lungs. When she is no longer able to continue screaming, she breaks into sobs and she curls into a ball on the floor. Sam sits down beside her and wraps his arms around her. He continues sitting quietly, resting his chin on the top of her head, while she sobs. “I … just … don’t … understand … why … she … had … to … d-damage … my … brother … the … way … she … did!” Sam kisses the side of her face. “Words are not adequate …”, he replies. Pat sniffles. “No, words are not adequate. Right now, all I can do is feel raw emotions. I just can’t make sense out of something so insane.” Sam gives her a gentle look. “It is illogical to search for logic … in a situation such as this. There is no explanation.” He suddenly realizes that she has just fallen asleep from pure exhaustion. He quietly eases himself to his feet and lifts her in his arms, cradling her gently. He carries her to her room, lays her across the bed, removes her boots, then tucks her in. After making sure that she is safe and secure, he turns out the lights and goes into the other room. Upon discovering that the sofa, in the other room is actually a sofa-bed, he opens it up, lays down on it, and closes his eyes, yielding to his own exhaustion.

Pat bolts upright in bed as soon as the morning light hits her face. “Where?! How did I get here?!”, as she becomes aware of where she is. “How in the hell can Sam tolerate an emotional mess like me?! This defies all Vulcan logic!”, she wonders to herself. The door opens and Sam enters, carrying a breakfast tray. “Good morning, Pat!”, he greets her, “I am pleased that you are awake. I have brought you breakfast.” He sets the tray on the bed across Pat’s lap. She looks at it uncertainly. “I’m not sure if I’m ready to eat anything …”, she hesitates. Sam takes charge. “You are a doctor, you understand the importance of regular nutrition. Given yesterday’s emergency, you neglected yourself and neither ate nor drank. By the time we arrived here, last night, you finally collapsed from exhaustion. I would surmise that you are dehydrated as well as malnourished. I would suggest that you listen to your own advice as you would give to another patient. Eat!”

She looks, in amazement, at the tray set across her lap. “I don’t recall ever having breakfast in bed before, outside of being a patient in the hospital. Come to think of it, Quon never thought to do anything like that while he was alive.” Sam gives her a slight smile as he gestures toward the tray. “Less talk! Eat!” She gives him a silly salute. “Yes, sir!” She begins eating and discovers that she is hungrier than she realized. Sam watches silently so as to not distract her with talking. When she is finished, Sam picks up the tray. “I’ll take care of these dishes while you wash up.” He leaves the room while Pat gets up. She searches through her luggage for fresh clothes then goes into the sonic shower. After cleaning off the grit and grime from the day before, she dons a clean uniform and rejoins Sam in the other room.

“Sam”, she says with a blush, “I feel embarrassed about my emotional displays yesterday.” Sam gives her another slight smile. “Which ones? The goofy elation and kissing or the screaming and crying?” Pat gestures. “All of it! I’m sure your friends are wondering what you are getting yourself into by dating me! I’m an illogical mess!” Sam guides her to the sofa and sits down with her. “I believe”, he responds, “they see that you are both a challenge and an asset. Besides, it is not their choice … it is mine … and I choose to stay.” “I’ll probably have more meltdowns to come before this whole mess is legally resolved in the courts.”, she warns. Sam nods. “And I expect nothing less. You have lived with more pain, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, than I’ve known anyone else. You have developed coping strategies that are unique to you, either because of, or in spite of, the Asperger’s Syndrome. If any Vulcan had been subjected to the same trauma, I am uncertain if they could endure, with or without logic.”

“And we still have a long haul ahead.”, Pat adds, “By the way, what time is it? If Gramps is going to be released from the Medical Center, I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to get out of there now!” Sam takes her chin and turns her head to face him. “Gramps can wait for a few minutes. May I make an observation? Whenever you are faced with a difficult emotion, you attempt to either mask it or stuff it down until it eventually bursts out, like it did after we arrived back here. I understand why you do it as it has become an ingrained habit. Do you realize the price you pay each time this occurs?” A tear silently slides down her cheek. “Experience has taught me the hard way”, she chokes out, “that whenever anyone detects weakness … they aim for the jugular!” “If that should happen again”, Sam states, “They now have me to contend with … as your partner and your mate. I only ask that you permit me the privilege to protect your back as you demonstrated yesterday that you protected mine. We work well together. Agreed?” Pat nods. “Agreed!” Sam leans over and kisses her. “Now let’s go and pick up your Great-Grandfather, Spock, and Captain Sulu!” He gets up and helps Pat to her feet. They walk out to his vehicle with their arms wrapped around each other.

Their vehicle pulls up in front of the medical center. Sam parks the vehicle and they walk inside to find Spock and Sulu patiently waiting and conversing. Leonard is not so patient and is scowling. “Morning, Gramps”, she says as she kisses his cheek then turns to the others. “Uncle Spock, Sulu. I presume that everything checked out okay and the Healers have signed off on releasing you?” “Your Great-Grandfather was only slightly injured but he insisted on being released this morning.”, Spock replies, “Sulu and I are none the worse for wear.” Pat breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank God! I was terrified about what my brother could have done to all three of you!” “We were also concerned about the possibility of what he would have done to you, Patricia-kam!”, Spock replies. Pat looks back at her Great-grandfather. “I’ve been informed that the Healers are still keeping him under sedation as they begin to treat him. I’m not sure what I can realistically hope for.” “That would depend on how much neurological damage they find.”, Spock says. Pat nods. “If I didn’t know better, I would be diagnosing him with Paranoid Schizophrenia. I have no idea what kind of damage was done to him while he was growing up. Between the neurological and biological chemical imbalances combined with brain damage, I don’t see much hope in helping him become sane and rational. As of now, there is no way he could stand trial. Physically and legally, he is Non Compos Mentis.”

Her Great-grandfather gives her a not-so-subtle poke. “Child, I hear what you are saying! Can we get the HELL OUT OF HERE?! I’ve had ENOUGH of being a patient! We can discuss this back at the lodgings!” Pat rolls her eyes. “Yes, Gramps!”, she sighs, “We’ve cleared the equipment and other gear out of the vehicle so there should be enough room for everyone this time around. Right, Sam?” Sam nods. “That is correct. Using the transporter to return to your lodgings will be unnecessary.” “And Gramps …”, Pat interjects, “we need to talk when we get back!” Everyone gets into Sam’s vehicle and they return to the McCoy’s lodgings. The old doctor insists he can walk without assistance. Pat looks at both Spock and Sulu. All three shrug and follow McCoy into the lodging while Sam secures his vehicle, who then follows them inside as well.

“Gramps, Uncle Spock, Sulu, are you hungry?”, Pat inquires, “Traditionally, hospital food has NEVER tasted palatable … at least not to my taste buds!” All three concur that they would like something to eat and Pat prepares the meal from the food replicator while Sam sees to their comfort. She fixes a snack for herself and Sam then they all sit down at the table. Pat looks around at everyone. “Now that we are all here, I have some serious issues that I need to discuss.” The Elders wait for her to continue. “Now that my brother is in custody and in treatment, I have to look ahead as to what still needs to be done. As it stands right now, under Federation Law, my brother cannot stand trial due to his insanity. He is currently unable to understand the charges against him and why is actions were wrong. There is no guarantee that the Healers are going to be able to help him achieve sanity so he may be spending the rest of his life institutionalized and under sedation. If the Healers do manage to restore him to sanity, then he will need to stand trial, we would need to testify against him, and … whatever the outcome of the trial … I would have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life. It was painful dealing with being rejected, abused, and then abandoned growing up. What he did … to all of us … was an outgrowth, a continuation of that … and it still hurts beyond belief. I have a responsibility, to all of you … and to my brother … and, in the near future, I will have to make some very difficult, painful, decisions.”

“How can we help?”, Sulu asks. Pat thinks for a few moments. “At this juncture, the only thing you can do is be understanding and supportive.” She looks at Sam. “Sam has already witnessed one of my meltdowns … and it was a DOOZY! I expect there will be more to come in response to the stressors that I will be experiencing in the days, weeks, months, or possibly years ahead.” At that moment, Sam’s communicator chimes and he gets up, walking into another room, to answer it. He returns looking even more somber than usual.

Pat looks at him, sensing something bad has just happened. “Sam, what is it? What’s wrong?” Sam sits down beside her and gently places a hand on her shoulder. “That was the Chief Healer on the communicator. Pat, I’m sorry to have to tell you this … James has died.” She is stunned and horrified. “What?!” “They are just as stunned as you are.”, Sam continues, “They don’t know the cause of death. You will have to return to the medical center and sign a consent form giving them permission to perform an autopsy.” Pat leans her head on the table and starts shaking. “My brother?! DEAD?!” Spock gets up and walks over to where Pat and Sam are sitting, placing his hands on her shoulders. “I grieve with you.”, Spock quietly responds, “My brother, Sybok, was also difficult to get along with. I felt devastated when he died because, in spite of everything, he was still my brother.” Pat lifts her head off the table as tears stream down her face. “There was so much I wanted to do to try and help him!” She starts sobbing. Leonard gets up and walks over to his Great-granddaughter. Sam and Spock step aside to make room. He bends down and hugs her. “In spite of everything, he was also my Great-grandson. Right now, it’s hard to know what to do or say.”

Pat cries for several minutes and then calms down. “I need to go.”, she sniffles as she gets up, “I have a consent form I need to sign.” Sam gets up with her. “I will go with you.” Pat wipes her eyes and shakes her head. “No, Sam. I need to be alone with this. I need to see my brother’s body and say goodbye. Please.” “I understand.”, Sam replies, ” But … I do not agree.” She gives him a half smile. “Then we must agree to disagree.” She kisses his cheek. “Besides, you need to make sure Gramps behaves himself as I’m sure he is not eager to return to the medical center for any reason at this time.” The old doctor sighs. “Normally, I would have to say something to that but … go on, child. Do what you have to do. I would like for Sam to keep us company until you return.” Pat gives him a sad smile. “Thanks, Gramps.” She leaves the lodgings for the nearest transporter and transports back to the medical center where she is met by the Chief Healer.

“Live Long and Prosper, Doctor McCoy. We grieve with thee on the death of thy brother.” Pat nods. “Thank you. Where have you taken his body? May I see him?” “Please follow me.” the Chief Healer responds, “the morgue is this way.” They enter the morgue and Pat sees that the walls are lined with closed drawers. The Chief Healer motions to a worker, speaks briefly with him, and the worker nods. The worker walks over to a nearby closed drawer, presses in a code and the drawer slides open … revealing the body of James Yuri. Pat approaches the body then looks up at the staff members. “Does anyone know what happened? Can anyone tell me anything?” “We were keeping him under sedation”, the Chief Healer replies, “and one of the Healers was monitoring his vital signs while I was examining him. He seemed to regain consciousness, in spite of the sedation, moved his jaw slightly, then appeared to bite down on something. Within seconds, his vital signs shut down. We attempted everything to resuscitate him without success. We beg forgiveness for our failure.”

Pat shakes her head. “I do not blame you. Once you perform the autopsy, and get the toxicology results, we should know more. Thank you for everything you have done to help. Where are the forms I must sign?” The Chief Healer receives a PADD from a worker. “They are here.” The PADD is given to Pat, who reads it thoroughly, then signs it. She hands it back to the Chief Healer. “May I have a few moments alone with my brother’s remains?”, she asks. The Chief Healer nods slightly. “Of course.” The medical staff withdraw to a discreet distance, permitting Pat some privacy. She places her hand on her brother’s chest. “James, I am so sorry for the Hell that she put both of us through! You deserved to have a loving mother and so did I. The cards that life dealt both of us denied us the mother that we truly needed, as well as deserved, and she made both of us suffer for her own self-gratification. I don’t know if you ever believed in a Higher Power or the Afterlife. I pray, that wherever your spirit has gone, you will find the peace that eluded you in this life. I love you, brother.” She leans over and kisses his cold cheek then straightens up. She nods to the Chief Healer and the workers. They nod in return and one of them walks over, punches in another code, and the drawer slides closed. Pat leaves without saying another word and returns to her lodgings.

She enters the door and goes straight to her room without speaking. Sam decides to follow her and finds her sitting on the bed, staring blindly at the blank wall before her. “Is there anything I can do?”, he asks gently. Pat numbly shakes her head “no” and continues staring blindly at the wall. “I will be here for you, Pat. Let me see to the needs of our Elders in the next room and then I will return.” She nods mutely and continues staring at the wall. Sam re-enters the other room where Leonard, Spock, and Sulu are seated. He speaks to no one in particular. “Pat has gone quiet … very quiet … TOO quiet! I am … concerned.” Spock nods. “I have seen her do this before, when she was struggling with emotional trauma.” The elder Vulcan gets up and heads toward her room. “I will see what I can do.”

Spock enters Pat’s room and sits down beside her. She is still staring blindly at the wall. Carefully, he places his hand on her face, his fingertips finding the connection points. Immediately, he sees all the images racing through her mind, past and present, including her battle with her brother in the caverns, then sees his body lying in the morgue. He senses her emotional distress as she struggles to process everything. He projects one word to her: “Calm.” Pat slowly turns her head towards him, maintaining the mind-meld, and makes eye contact with her favorite Uncle. Her tears start to flow down her face once more. “It is permissible to cry, Patricia-kam. Your brother has lost his future. There is no shame in grieving what could have been.” Pat starts to sob, silently, her shoulders heaving. Spock cradles her like a child as she continues to sob. Eventually, the weeping subsides and she makes eye contact once more. “Stay here and rest, Patricia-kam. I will send Sam back in. Permit him to help and support you.” She nods silently as Spock gets up and goes into the other room. “Samok”, he gestures toward the younger Vulcan, “Go to her. She needs you.” Sam gives the elder Vulcan a questioning look. “Are you certain?” Spock nods. “Yes.”

Sam re-enters Pat’s room and sits down beside her once more. She reaches out and embraces Sam. “I-I-I…” Her voice trails off. Sam presses a finger to her lips. “Shh-h-h-h! You don’t have to speak if it’s too much of a struggle. I will simply follow your lead.” Pat nods wordlessly then places her hand on Sam’s face, clumsily attending to meld. Sam gently repositions her fingers to the correct placement. He sees the jumble of images rushing through her mind. There are no words … just images and emotions flowing like tumultuous waves in a roiling, violent ocean. “I see why you are unable to speak. All of this is overwhelming for you, is it not?” She nods, again, without speaking. Another tear silently rolls down her cheek. Sam gently wipes the tear away. “I’m here … for you.” She looks at him and nods as she whispers hoarsely, “It … will take me some … time … to work through this.”

Sam responds softly. “I know. Knowing what I have learned from our mind-meld, you have persevered through much and you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You have a loving family sitting in the other room and I am honored to be a part of that family. We can work through this … together.” Pat rubs her eyes. “Let me go wash my face. We all have some more talking to do. With my brother’s death, that changes everything.” She gets up and goes into the bathroom. She emerges with a freshly washed face and heads toward the other room with Sam following. Sitting in a nearby chair, she looks from one person to another, then sighs. “A few hours ago”, she begins, “I was talking about what was ahead for us, with my brother’s treatment and subsequent court trial. His sudden death has tossed everything onto its head. Now I’m faced with having to plan his funeral …” Her voice trails off.

“Any idea if he left anything behind?”, the old doctor asks, “Anything in writing that might help us understand why this happened?” “Investigator Central is analyzing everything they recovered from the caverns.”, Sam answers, “They’ve also contacted Star Fleet and the Federation to see if they have any leads. It has been less than a day since this evidence was gathered. We will need more time to analyze this for answers.” Pat sighs. “At this point, with his body being held in the morgue, there should be no rush now.” “And we also have to arrange our return to our respective stations.”, the old doctor adds. “And you must continue your own recovery, Leonard.”, Spock interjects. Pat looks at Sam. “Plus you need to get to Star Fleet Academy for your training.” Sam nods. “I would suggest coordinating everything. At this juncture, we are forced to wait until the autopsy is completed and the body released for funeral arrangements. While I am on Earth, attending training in San Francisco, I will be maintaining contact with Investigator Central regarding any leads they turn up. Captain Sulu, what are your plans? I don’t believe anyone intended to leave you out.”

“Whatever my former shipmates need, I can see to it.”, Sulu replies, “For the moment, I can look into what form of transportation is available to us at any given point in time so that we can leave when ready.” “I would concur.”, Spock adds, “For now, as Patricia-kam would say … ‘first things first’. The rest will fall into place.” Pat looks at all of them. “I better give everyone fair warning … I’ll probably be bouncing off the walls, at least emotionally, for the foreseeable future. I anticipate rough sailing.” Within a week or so, Pat receives the official autopsy report on her late brother. She is sitting in the living room of her lodgings while reading through it. She sighs, puts the PADD down on the coffee table in front of her, and rubs her eyes. “In a way, I’m surprised, and yet, at the same time, I should not be surprised at all.” The old doctor enters the room and gestures toward the PADD. “Are the toxicology results included?”

She nods. “Yes … cyanide. He had a cyanide capsule surgically embedded inside his cheek. There was no way we could have known it was there.” She picks up another PADD. “According to Investigator Central, they found my brother’s possessions hidden away in one of the other caverns. Among them was a journal which included a suicide note. He fully intended to kill me and anyone else associated with me, then kill himself to avoid capture and prosecution. According to what he wrote, he fully expected everyone of his intended victims to passively submit to being slaughtered. He wasn’t counting on meeting the resistance he got. I’m guessing that once he realized that he was in custody, he bit down on the cyanide capsule and …” Her Great-grandfather shakes his head in bewilderment. “I don’t understand how he could find someone willing and able to embed that into his cheek …” “It’s possible he knew someone with the surgical skills, Gramps”, she replies, “Access to poison, and without scruples. It could just as easily be someone who lost their license to practice medicine anywhere in this quadrant.”

The old man continues shaking his head in bewilderment. “It’s just hard to imagine anyone, with medical training, doing anything like that!” She sighs. “Me too! God only knows what kind of life he was leading until we crossed paths inside that cavern! Now I will never know!” Leonard gazes around the lodgings. “Where’s the rest of the gang that usually hangs around here?” Pat gestures, “Sulu wanted to go sight-seeing and Uncle Spock is being his tour-guide. Sam is over at Investigator Central, tying up loose ends, before he leaves for Earth for his training. He stopped by and dropped these reports off before going to his office. He knew I would need privacy while reading through them.” “And how are you feeling about these results now that they are officially on record?”, her Great-grandfather asks gently. She sighs. “Right now … numb. Logically, I expected what they found. It’s going to take a while for the emotions to catch up.” “We’ve both taken psychology courses, child.”, the old man responds, “You remember studying about the Stages of Grief?”

Pat suddenly feels irritable. “Gramps, I’ve LIVED through those Stages numerous times BEFORE I knew there was a NAME for it! Knowing them and remembering them doesn’t make it easier to experience them! It still hurts like HELL!” The old man places a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Yes, child, it does HURT LIKE HELL! You have the right to feel what you feel.” He pauses. “Have you made any decisions regarding the funeral arrangements?” She nods. “I’ve already given the go-ahead to have his body cremated. I’m looking into being able to bring his cremains back to our home system and sending them into our sun. I don’t know if he had any spiritual beliefs … outside of worshiping … her … or not. “And you feel uncomfortable about asking any priest, priestess, minister, or shaman to speak the right words over your brother’s cremains before sending them off on their final journey.”, Gramps comments. Pat nods, “Yes … uncomfortable … awkward …”, she sighs irritably, “This is a big mess!” “I see …”, the old man responds as he gets up and pats her shoulder as he walks past. “I know you’ll do the right thing given whatever resources will be available to you when the time comes.” He walks into the other room. Pat sighs. “I hope so.” She gets up and walks over to the window and stares out toward the far landscape of Vulcan, folding her hands behind her back.

Sam is meeting with his team at Investigator Central, going over what will need to be done to wrap up their investigation of the multiple abductions and murder attempts before he departs for Earth. “Doctor Pat McCoy has been informed of what we have found up to this point?”, Stark asks his commanding officer. Sam nods. “Yes, I gave her copies of our report, as well as the coroner’s report, before I came here. I expect that she will have questions once she analyzes this information.” Stark raises a quizzical eyebrow. “Wouldn’t it have been more efficient for her to read the reports here? Then we could discuss the results of our investigation.” Sam looks over at him as he responds. “Efficient? Yes. That would be the logical thing to do. Emotionally, possibly not. We must not lose sight of the fact that the decedent was her brother, her only sibling. Both of her parents are dead as well. She is in the difficult position of doing her duty and working through her grief regarding his sudden death. Keep in mind, she is human not Vulcan.” Stark looks somber. “Understood, Samok. For a human, she has handled this difficult situation very well. I grieve with her.” Sam’s eyes are unreadable. “I will be sure to tell her that.”

The Investigators conclude their meeting and Sam goes to his office to finish up before beginning his leave of absence. Stark follows him. “You are prepared for your trip to Earth, my friend?” Sam looks about his office. “Yes. Everything should operate efficiently during my absence. The only thing left to do is go home and finish packing.” Stark quirks an eyebrow. “My inquiry also included traveling with both Doctors McCoy. The trip to Earth will not be a short one.” Sam turns to look at his friend. “You are concerned about my traveling with two illogical, emotional humans.” Stark nods. “One of them being more emotional, given the difficult circumstances of recent events.” “If you are inquiring how I would be able to tolerate them during this journey”, Sam continues, “I believe the better question would be how they will tolerate me.” Stark gives his friend a slight smile. “I believe it would also involve the question of who chose whom? I am pleased that you two have found each other and she is wise to insist on taking things slow. You have much to learn from each other.” He pauses. “T’Ling was special in her own way. Your Doctor McCoy has MANY unknown variables. Each variable, that becomes known, is surprising.”

Sam continues to prepare for his leaving. “Eventually, I hope that she will formalize that union with me and become my wife. If that day comes, I would like for you to stand with me during the Koon-ut-Kalifee.” Stark looks at his friend with a glint of humor in his eyes. “And if she prefers a more human ceremony?” Sam pauses. “I had not considered that possibility!” Stark has a slight smirk on his face. “Ah! Another unknown variable!” Sam nods. “I will need to keep that in mind. Do you know, she wants me to take dance lessons?” Both of Stark’s eyebrows go up. “Dance lessons? Intriguing!” “What is your opinion?”, Sam asks his friend. Stark thinks for a few moments. “I am not too familiar with music produced by humans, nor their dance customs. I will have to look into that and so should you. If she agrees to marry you and has a human wedding ceremony, then dancing is customary under those circumstances.”

Sam gives his friend a quizzical look. “Indeed? If you are unfamiliar, how would you know that?” “My parents were friends with Ambassador Sarek”, Stark replies, “and were invited to his wedding, on Earth, to the Lady Amanda, even when others on our world disapproved. That is where they first learned how to do the Waltz. They also attended his second wedding to Perrin, another human wife. Did you know that form of dance involves mathematics? My parents continued to practice that dance for the rest of their lives. I found it fascinating to watch!” “Intriguing!”, Sam replies, “I am grateful, to you, for bringing this to my attention.” Sam completes his task and bids Stark good-bye. He leaves Investigator Central to return to his home and finish packing for his journey. In the meantime, Spock and Sulu are wandering about the city.

“Spock”, Sulu asks, “Since you were taken prisoner and held hostage longer than Len and I, what were your thoughts during all that time?” Spock contemplates the question. “That Pat’s brother was a deeply disturbed man. It was unfortunate what happened to him. Even though she has us to look to as her family, he was still her brother. In one sense, she blames herself for being unable to save him from self-destruction, and yet, she knows that saving him was beyond her power.” Sulu nods somberly. “I was thinking the same thing. What can we do to help her?” “Under these conditions”, Spock replies, “We must permit Patricia-kam to choose the best path and support her through this difficult journey.” “I wish there was more that could be done.”, Sulu adds. “That, my friend, is beyond our power.” Spock comments. “They continue walking for a few more blocks then decide to return to the McCoy lodgings.

Sam returns to the McCoy lodgings with his bags packed and ready to go. He finds Pat standing quietly beside the window, staring out onto the scenery beyond. He walks up behind her, making sure she hears him and will not be startled into a defensive stance. He gently embraces her from behind and she leans back into him. “Hi, Sam. How was your day?” “Everything went well.”, he replies, “The Investigative Team is prepared to continue working on this case during my absence as there are still loose ends to track down. By the way, Investigator Stark complimented you.” She turns around to look at Sam. “He did, did he? What did he say?” “That you are handling this situation very well.” She shakes her head. “If he only knew what was really going on between these two round ears of mine!” Sam turns her and kisses the tip of one round ear. “If he knew, I believe he would admire you even more and I would have a rival at the Koon-ut-Kalifee!” Pat turns to give him a slight smile. “A rival to fight in the Koon-ut-Kalifee?” Sam nods. “Only if you choose him as your champion!” Pat shakes her head. “I wouldn’t go that far. I’ve had enough of hand-to-hand combat for awhile.” Sam looks at her. “But it would not be you involved with the combat!” Pat gives him a smirk. “With my Klingon training, it’s very possible he WOULD be fighting me!” Sam looks abashed. “I neglected to include that variable in my equation!”

Pat giggles softly. “I’m glad you are here.”, she whispers, “You can make me laugh with your Vulcan sense of humor!” Sam tightens his embrace, nibbling her ear, while Pat smiles and caresses him in return. Their private moment is short-lived as Spock and Sulu enter the lodgings and Leonard comes into the room to check out the source of the noise. The old man spots the lovebirds necking by the window and growls. “You two need a chaperone! I go into the other room, leaving you two alone, and you start making out!” Spock’s eyes dance with amusement. Pat growls back. “I bet you did worse at my age, and probably tried to compete with Captain Kirk!” Spock and Sam look at each other, trying hard not to let on that THIS conversation between the two McCoy’s is amusing! Sulu cracks up laughing! Pat looks from Sam to Spock. “Well?!” “I believe, in this case, silence is the better part of valor.”, Sam replies, “No matter who I agree with, I’m going to get into trouble with the other!” “A wise choice!”, Spock answers.

“Hmph!”, is the only response that the old doctor can think of to say. Pat looks at Sam while still in his embrace. “At times like these, I wish I could be in two places at once … staying here, with you, and needing to meet with the coroner to finish up what I need to do regarding my brother.” “Let me come with you, Pat … please. You do not have to do this alone.” Pat pauses, then nods. “All right.” She looks at the others. “We’ll be back shortly.” She and Sam go out to his vehicle and head to the coroner’s office. During the trip, he reaches over and holds her hand. She squeezes his hand, in response and neither find it necessary to speak. Their vehicle pulls up and parks in front of an officious looking building. They enter the coroner’s office. On the desk is a nondescript urn with a tag identifying it with the name of “James Yuri”. Sam silently observes Pat as she reacts to the sight of the urn. She takes a deep breath then exhales forcefully. “I thought I had prepared myself for this moment and I find it’s still hard.”, she comments. “I understand.”, the Coroner replies, “Times like these are always difficult.” She picks up the urn and hands it to Pat. “Thank you.”, she murmurs, then looks at Sam, struggling with the urge to cry. “Let’s go … now … before I lose it in front of too many people.” Sam and the Coroner nod to each other as Pat escapes out the door. “She is attempting to be a Vulcan.”, the Coroner observes, “Most illogical. I do not understand why she is not accepting her own humanness.” Sam can only nod silently at the coroner’s observation. He heads for the door after Pat and finds her sitting in the vehicle, weeping silently as she holds the urn in her lap.

Pat wipes her eyes. “Sorry.” Sam looks at her quizzically. “Why are you apologizing? For crying? You are human and, as a human, you have every right to grieve the death of your brother.” “I’m just afraid that I’ll embarrass you … again … with my emotional outbursts.”, she answers. Sam gives her a slight smile. “My friends have accepted you as my mate, formalized or not. If anyone else has a problem regarding my choosing a human mate, that is their problem.” He takes her hand. “You are with me and you are safe. I love you just as you are. Always remember that.” Pat wipes her eyes again. “Please keep reminding me. I tend to forget when my emotions get in the way.” Sam gives her hand a squeeze. “You can depend on me for that!” He starts up the vehicle and they return to the McCoy lodgings where they begin packing for their return trip.

As Pat continues her packing, she turns to her Great-grandfather and Sulu. “Which freighter is going to take us home?”, she asks. Sulu gives her an innocent look. “Well … I thought a star-ship might do this time around.” Pat starts getting suspicious and looks from her Great-grandfather, to Sulu, then back again. “Now what have you two been up to while I was gone?” The old doctor gives her a look that is just as innocent as Sulu’s. “Oh … nothing. Just making the usual travel arrangements.” Pat turns toward Spock. “Uncle Spock? Do you know anything about this?” “I have not noticed anything unusual regarding the travel arrangements to your home.”, Spock replies nonchalantly. Pat looks at all three of the elders. “Why do I get the sense there is something you are not telling me?” All three give her an innocent shrug as they look at each other.

Pat shakes her head, resumes packing and organizing her luggage. It suddenly hits her that she will be saying good-bye to Spock at this time. “Uncle Spock”, she says with a shaky voice, “I wish you were coming with us.” “I am gratified that you wish that I accompany you home.”, Spock replies gently, “However, I must resume the task, here, that was interrupted by your brother’s arrival.” “But we have the holidays coming up. If my calculations are correct, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, on Earth, for a segment of the human population. Traditionally, it is a family holiday.” “And so it shall be, Patricia-kam. Would it be permissible to celebrate it early, at my home, before you leave?” Pat is stunned. “I- I- I… Gramps?!”

Her Great-grandfather nods with a grin. “I think it would be a perfect reason to have Thanksgiving here!” Pat looks at Sam. “Sam? Any thoughts?” Sam gives her a confused look. “I do not know what Thanksgiving is.” Pat scratches her head. “What’s the best way to explain it without boring everyone? Well … for one, it is a very ancient Earth holiday based on when the Pilgrims, who were colonizing America, survived a harsh winter with the assistance of the Native Americans who lived there. When the Pilgrims brought in their harvest, they held a feast, invited the Native Americans to their party, and gave thanks to their Higher Power for the fact they survived harsh conditions. At least, that’s what I can remember off the top of my head. At the same time, what I just said might not be historically accurate. I hope I got the gist of it.” Leonard nods. “Sounds close enough to me! Anyway, every year, families gather together to feast on turkey, fall vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie!”

“I’ve also had a vegetarian form of a Thanksgiving feast so meat is not necessarily required.”, she comments to Sam. “Intriguing!”, he replies. She turns to Spock. “But Uncle Spock, how could you make all of these arrangements on such short notice?” Spock gives her a slight smile. “My original plan was to host your Thanksgiving Day holiday at my home given that in previous years, I had been your guest. I thought it was time for me to reciprocate. That is the original reason why I returned to Vulcan … to make these preparations and issue an invitation to you. Your brother’s unexpected appearance created a delay. While you were out, I was able to complete these preparations with the assistance of your Great-Grandfather and Captain Sulu.” “Uncle Spock”, Pat replies, “Suppose I was unable to accept your invitation due to my schedule with Star Fleet Medical?” “I doubt, very seriously, that Star Fleet Medical would say ‘No’ to Ambassador Spock and/or T’Pau!”, Leonard chimes in with glee, “That’s why he scheduled a meeting with T’Pau this time. To ensure you would be able to accept if the invitation to return to Vulcan was issued by her.” Pat is astonished. “Even T’Pau knew?!” Spock nods. “She still remembers your first meeting with her when you were only six years old. She has never forgotten that you called her … ‘Pretty’. She found that … intriguing.” Sam is astonished as he looks at Pat with both eyebrows raised. She shrugs her shoulders. “It’s a long story, Sam. I’ll tell you later when we have some private time.” She looks at the three Elders. “What have you been able to prepare?”

The elder McCoy rubs his hands in anticipation. “We have two types of turkey … vegetarian and meat, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, different types of stuffing such as cornbread stuffing, oyster dressing, and so forth, cranberry sauce, corn, rolls, and … of course, pumpkin pie for dessert!” Pat grins. “Sounds good to me!” Spock indicates her baggage. “You may leave your luggage here as my home is not that far off.” “I’m thinking that once our stomachs are full”, Pat comments, “We are going to be too sleepy to do anything else for the rest of the day! And I don’t want to eat and run home!” Sam is astonished at the menu. “That IS a lot of food to consume! Are Thanksgiving Day feasts always like this?” Pat nods her head toward her Great-grandfather. “Gramps has been known to prepare more food than THAT and invited ALL of his former crew mates from the U.S.S. Enterprise! It was quite a party! I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t remember everyone’s names!” She turns toward Sulu. “That’s why I didn’t recognize you, Sulu! Sorry!”

“Astonishing!”, Sam comments. Pat nods. “That it WAS! And this was all taking place while I was still growing up. Meeting his former crew mates and hearing about their experiences is what led me to apply to Star Fleet Medical Academy.” Her mood changes to sad. “But this year … my brother …” “There was nothing that any of us could do to help your brother.”, Spock replies gently, “It is illogical to punish yourself because he refused to accept what was offered.” Pat nods at this. “Yes, Uncle, the logical part of my brain knows this …” She taps the area of her heart. “But here … it feels differently. My logic and my emotions are at war with each other and both are right! I could have done more, if I had known more earlier …”

Spock shakes his head. “It was not within your power to know more any earlier. Patricia-kam, visualize, in your mind, stepping back and looking at all the facts, what do you see?” Pat closes her eyes and just breathes for several seconds. She opens her eyes and looks at Spock. “I did everything I could possibly do. I left no stone unturned.” Spock nods at her answer. “And what is your conclusion?” “That I must work through all the stages of grief and learn to let go of what I cannot control.”, she answers. Spock nods again. “Patricia-kam, I recall something you often quoted. I believe it is called the Serenity Prayer?” Pat’s eyes well up. “Exactly, Uncle Spock, and the words to that prayer are appropriate for this!” Sam is curious. “What are the words to this … Serenity Prayer?”

Pat takes a deep breath. “It goes like this … ‘God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!’ I can see now how that would apply to this situation. ” Sam contemplates this. “Wise words …” “Yes.”, she replies, “The logical part of my brain recognizes the difference between what I can and cannot change. It’s getting the emotions to accept and follow is a challenge … trying to bring these two parts into alignment.” “I would suggest less of an alignment and more of Yin and Yang, analogy.”, Spock suggests. Pat closes her eyes again. “Yes, Uncle! I see that image! It makes much more sense to me now!” Leonard walks over to her and places his arm around her shoulders. “Better, child?” She nods. “Yes … for now.” Spock gestures toward the door. “It is time. May we adjourn to my home for the Thanksgiving feast?” Pat nods at that. “I agree. You know? I think I’m beginning to recognize hunger pangs.”

The group walks to Spock’s home, where a Thanksgiving Day table has been set up. Pat is amazed. “Very impressive! Place settings with names and everything! WOW!” The old doctor grins. “Goes to show that I haven’t lost my touch in my old age!” Pat quirks an eyebrow at him. “And give Uncle Spock SOME credit, Gramps!” The elder McCoy looks at her with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “Oh yeah! That too!” Pat shakes her head at him while the old man just grins at everyone. She turns toward her favorite Uncle. “Uncle Spock? Do you wish to proceed with the family tradition?” Spock nods and gestures for everyone to seat themselves at the table. Each guest finds a nameplate at each setting and sits accordingly. Pat looks from Spock to her Great-grandfather and back. “Now, which one of you has the coin for me to toss and decide who carves the turkey?” Spock holds up his hand. “First things first. Do you wish to say the traditional Grace, Patricia-kam?”

“Yes.”, she replies. She bows her head and closes her eyes. “Great Spirit that has all power in the Universe and beyond, bless everyone of our loved ones, here at this table as well as loved ones near, far, and on other planes of existence. I thank you for bringing us all together here, today, safely so that we can enjoy each others’ company and I thank you for this bounty on the table before us that You have blessed us with. May we never take anything for granted. Please watch over my brother since he has left my plane of existence and has crossed over into yours. Amen.” Everyone at the table responds with an “Amen!” Pat looks at Spock and her Great-grandfather. “Now … who has that antique coin for the traditional coin toss? I believe the last person who won kept it for this year.”

Spock walks over to a chest of drawers. “I have kept it here since a year ago, Patricia-kam.” He opens a drawer and takes out a silver dollar that is several hundred years old. “That coin has been passed down from one generation to the next of McCoy’s.”, Pat tells Sam as she gestures toward the coin. “There’s a lot of family history connected to it that dates back to the 1800’s, Earth date.” Spock hands the coin to Pat. “Are you prepared to accept this challenge, Patricia-kam?” Pat grins at him. “I haven’t had any similar object to practice with all year so I don’t know how successful I’m going to be with this coin toss again.”

Sam gives Pat a quizzical look. “I do not understand. Spock won the coin toss a year ago, kept the coin, but YOU toss it each year?” Pat nods, still grinning. “I’m supposed to be objective … kind of like a referee. Once the coin toss is decided, then I turn the coin over to the winner to be kept until next year.” “I see …”, Sam replies, “Fascinating!” Pat turns toward both Spock and Gramps. “Are you ready?” Both reply together, “Yes!” “Call it!” “Heads!”, the elder McCoy shouts first. Spock quirks an eyebrow at his old friend. “That leaves the alternative … Tails!”

Pat laughingly tosses the coin into the air, catches it with one hand, then slaps it onto the back of her other hand. She peeks at the coin then looks at the two competitors. She uncovers the coin for all to see. “Heads it is!”, she announces. “I WIN!”, the elder McCoy shouts gleefully. Pat hands the ancient coin to her Great-Grandfather. “Until next year! Will you do the honors of carving the turkey, please?” Her Great-grandfather receives the coin, pockets it, then rubs his hands in happy anticipation. “With pleasure!” He picks up the implements and begins to artistically carve the turkey. “Now”, he chortles, “Who wants white meat and who wants dark?” “I’ll have a slice of white meat, please!”, Pat answers. “And I’ll have a slice of each.”, Sulu chimes in. Pat turns toward Sam. “What about you, Sam?” Sam looks a little dubious. “If it all right with you, I would prefer a taste from your plate, of the genuine turkey, and have the vegetarian version as well.” Pat grins at him. “Works for me!”

Everyone receives servings of turkey, either meat or vegetarian, cranberry sauce, stuffing, vegetables, pickles, relish, and rolls. As they eat, she turns her attention back to Sam. “So, Sam, what do you think of your first Thanksgiving dinner?” Sam looks back at her. “It is … enjoyable! The food is delicious!” She leans over and kisses him on the cheek, then gets up and taps a water glass with her spoon to get everyone’s attention. “One of the other traditions, on Thanksgiving Day, is to state what each of us is thankful for. I’ll start with … I’m thankful for meeting Sam and allowing love back into my life. I’m also thankful that everyone here, at this table, are all safe and sound.” She sits down. Spock gets to his feet. “I am … thankful … to have friends here at my home.” He resumes his seat. Sulu stands up next. “I’m thankful for my crew mates and my friends, both new and old.” He sits down. Leonard slowly stands up and looks at everyone at the table. “I’m thankful for …” He pauses as he chokes up. “That my Great-Grandbaby came for me and her Uncle Spock, refusing to allow anyone or anything to stand in her way, moving the entire Universe to get to us; that for better or for worse, I have a new Great-Grandson-in-law … I know, I know, it’s NOT official, yet, but you should know me by now! And I’m thankful that two of my former crew mates are here with me today.” He sits down and dabs a finger at his eye. “Damn, something got in my eye and, NO, I’m NOT crying!”

Pat clearly sees tears, reaches out and dabs the tears off her Great-Grandfather’s face. “Love you, Gramps! Sam?” Sam hesitantly stands and looks at everyone around the table. “This is my first experience with this tradition so please bear with me if I make mistakes.” There are chuckles around the table and Pat reaches up, rubbing his arm reassuringly. “I am … thankful that I have met Pat and have come to know what a special lady she is. I am … thankful that I met her Great-Grandfather and have him accept me into his family in spite of the fact that I am a Vulcan like Spock. Both McCoy’s giggle, Sulu chuckles, and Spock’s eyes dance. “I am also … thankful that the rescue mission was a success and that we can be here together, at this table, today. I-I-I am uncertain what else I should say.” He sits down and gazes at Pat, who leans over and kisses his cheek again. “That was PERFECT!”, she tells him.

The elder McCoy winks at Pat and Sam. “Anyone have room for dessert? Who would like to taste some pumpkin pie?” Pat rolls her eyes at him and grins. “Gramps, you know that is my FAVORITE dessert! Sam, would you like to try a taste?” “I believe I will try a small slice.”, he replies. Spock pours some more cranberry juice as he comments to the younger Vulcan. “Samok, please be aware of the sugar content. Your metabolism might not tolerate it very well.” Sam gives the elder Vulcan a solemn nod. “I am … grateful for the reminder.” Pat winces. “Oops! I forgot that the Vulcan digestive system is sucrose intolerant!” Sam nods. “Which is why I will try just a small slice. If it affects me too much, I will not have to be concerned with driving home as the McCoy lodgings are only a short walk away.” Sulu is puzzled. “Sucrose intolerance affects driving?” Spock nods. “Unfortunately, yes. Jim had the opportunity to see how sugar affected me after he gave me a piece of mint candy when we were in 20th Century San Francisco, searching for the humpback whales. I had not expected how a small amount would influence my behavior. I had never been given candy as a child therefore I had no point of reference. When Leonard found out, he would not permit me to forget it for a long time … still hasn’t”. The elder McCoy gives Spock an evil grin.

Pat explains, “Uncle Spock, Gramps, Captain Sulu, and the rest of the Enterprise crew went back in time to bring some humpback whales, named George and Gracie, to our time. Long story about why. While they were on 20th Century Earth, Captain Kirk gave Uncle Spock some hard candy … just the usual friendly gesture between friends. The sugar in that small piece of candy made Uncle Spock … drunk. As a result, when he and Captain Kirk were introduced to George and Gracie, who were being held in captivity in a whale tank, Uncle Spock decided to take a little swim with them and and had a mind-meld with Gracie!”

Both of Sam’s eyebrows shoot up in astonishment. “Indeed?!” Pat nods. “When Gramps found out about that little dip in the whale tank, he couldn’t stop grinning about it! Like he’s grinning right now!”, as she gestures toward the elder McCoy, who is grinning from ear to ear! “I was still recovering from the Fal-tor-Pan”, Spock attempts to explain, “So my judgment was not at its best.” Pat gestures again toward her Great-grandfather. “Before the Fal-tor-Pan, Gramps had Spock’s Katra for awhile. Another long story that he can share with you on the way home.” Sam is nearly speechless. “I … am astonished beyond words!” Pat grins at him. “There’s quite a bit of adventures among everyone sitting here at this table! Some of those events took place before you and I were born! We could sit here for DAYS and we still wouldn’t be able to tell you all of them!” Sam nods. “I am intrigued and look forward to hearing as many of these stories as you are willing to share with me!” “And you won’t be disappointed!”, Pat replies, “Gramps, some pie, please? Thanks!” She receives a small plate with a slice of pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of whipped cream. She gives Sam a small serving as well. Sam samples a small bite of the pumpkin pie and is astonished at its sweetness. “I see what you mean. It tastes delicious and yet, there is a high amount of sugar in this small slice.”

“If it makes you too drunk”, Pat says teasingly, “I can always guide you back to the lodgings myself!” “If I get too drunk”, Sam replies, “I might do something impulsive as well.” Pat whispers to him. “Oh, I can think of a few FUN and impulsive things to do when we are alone!” Sam whispers back. “And you are stone-cold SOBER!” Pat gives him an evil grin. “Which makes it all the MORE FUN because I’ll REMEMBER it!” She waggles her eyebrows up and down flirtatiously. Spock wags a finger at both of them but his eyes are twinkling in amusement. The elder McCoy attempts to scowl at them but can’t hide the grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. Sulu is grinning broadly. “I may be old but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten to have fun now and then!”, she tells Sam.

Everyone finishes eating the Thanksgiving feast. Both McCoy’s assist Spock in cleaning up, placing the dirty dishes in the reclamator, wiping down the table and vacuuming the floor for anything that was inadvertently spilled. Sulu is regaling Sam with tales of nearly every adventure that the crew of the USS Enterprise experienced with Sam hanging onto every word. Finally, it is time to head for home. “I HATE saying good bye!”, Pat sniffles to her favorite Uncle. Spock gently wipes a tear off of Pat’s face. “You do not have to say good bye, Patricia-kam. Remember what I have taught you over the years?” He raises his hand in the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper. We will see each other again.” Pat returns the salute and replies, through her tears, “Peace and long life. Yes, we will be seeing each other once more.” She lowers her hand and hugs Spock. “And as illogical as it is, I will STILL MISS you until then!” “I know”, the elder Vulcan replies gently, “And I will miss you too, Patricia-kam. Now go, you have things you must do.” He gently pushes her toward the door.

Pat joins the old doctor, Sulu and Sam at the door. They walk back over to the McCoy’s lodgings. Sam is slightly wobbly and Pat notices. “Sam, is the sugar affecting you now?” Sam is attempting to clear his mind by shaking his head. The attempts are unsuccessful. “It appears that the sucrose is having a stronger effect than I anticipated!”, he replies shakily. Pat peers closer at him and suppresses a smile. “Sam, the sugar from that pumpkin pie has made you drunk! Here, lean on me before you fall!” Sam places his arm around Pat. “I believe it would be prudent that I accept your offer.” He stumbles and nearly falls but Pat catches him just in time.
She looks over and scowls at her Great-grandfather, who is grinning. “Gramps, don’t you DARE say a word! You and Sulu just keep walking!” The group of four arrive back at the McCoy lodgings. Leonard goes over to the sofa and opens it out to the sofa-bed. Pat aims Sam in the direction of the sofa-bed and deposits him there. Sulu nods in approval and quietly heads over to his own lodgings. The elder McCoy assists the younger McCoy with tucking Sam into bed. “Sleep tight, love!”, she whispers to him, then she walks over to where her Great-grandfather is standing. “I guess we’ll have to delay our departure until morning. How are we going to notify our transportation?” The old doctor gives her a sly grin. “Don’t worry, child. Sulu is already taking care of it. Delaying our departure until morning won’t be a problem. Now go and get some rest. You need it! I’m heading to bed!” Pat nods in agreement. “You’re right, Gramps! I AM tired! Sleep well!” She heads to her room, lays down across the bed and is quickly asleep.

The morning sun soon awakens her and she realizes that she has inadvertently slept in her clothes. “Oh well”, she thinks to herself, “I’ve been worse while camping with Martok and the gang! I guess I can change clothes once I get aboard ship heading for home.” She gets up and goes out of her room to check over her luggage once more. She sees that the urn containing her brother’s ashes is secure and ready for transport. She turns and stands up when she hears a noise behind her and sees Sam approaching. “How are you feeling this morning, love? Any headache?” Sam is rubbing his temples. “My head is pounding with pain this morning!” Pat gives him a gentle smile. “Sounds like an old-fashioned hangover to me! Here, let me get you something for that.” She locates her Medikit and finds what she’s looking for. She has him sit down as she presses a hypo-spray against his neck and administers medication. “The pain should ease up shortly.”, she says, “Please let me know if the medication upsets your stomach. Sometimes the side effects can do that.”

Sam looks around to ensure they are alone and smiles at her. “I trust you and your capable hands. If I experience an upset stomach, with a hangover, then that is my own fault!” Pat leans in and kisses him. “Is Gramps awake yet?”, she asks. “I just looked in on him a few moments ago”, Sam responds, “And he was still snoring.” Pat puts her arms around Sam’s neck and sits in his lap. “Good!” She kisses him again, passionately, and he returns the kiss. Suddenly, they both hear “Hmph!” Pat comes up for air and rolls her eyes. “Gramps! We thought you were still sleeping!” “I’m ready to head out!”, the old doctor answers, “Aren’t you?” She shakes her head in exasperation. “We’re already packed, Gramps. We were just having a little private time to ourselves.” Leonard focuses his attention on Sam. “Recovered from your hangover yet?” Pat growls a warning, “Gramps, are you going to start teasing him the same way you tease Uncle Spock?”

The old doctor thinks better of it. “No, because I know that YOU will come down hard on ME for doing that!” “Damn right!”, she retorts, “Uncle Spock is used to your teasing as it has been going on for YEARS since before I was even born! Leave MY friends ALONE!” The elder McCoy holds his hands up in surrender. “Okay! Okay!” “Hmph!”, Pat responds. Sam looks at both of them with a hint of humor in his eyes.

Sulu taps at the door. “Is everyone ready?” All answer simultaneously, “Yes!” “I’ve arranged for transport of all of our luggage to the nearest transporter platform.”, Sulu replies, “Samok, where are you going to park your vehicle while you are off-planet?” “My friend, Investigator Stark, will be taking care of my vehicle.”, Sam responds, “I will turn it over to him when we meet at the transporter facility. My luggage is already in the vehicle.” “That should work!”, Sulu nods. Pat walks over to her luggage and starts to pick it up along with the urn of her brother’s ashes. “I’ll take these outside.” She walks outside the lodgings. Sam indicates the elder McCoy’s luggage. “Shall I assist you with these?” “I’m not going to argue!, the old doctor grins at him. Sam picks up McCoy’s luggage and takes it outside the lodgings. Sulu assists Sam in placing the McCoy’s luggage in the other vehicle.

Pat looks around. “The next time I get a chance to visit Vulcan, I plan to do more sight-seeing. There’s so much I still want to explore!” Sam walks up beside her. “And I’ll see to it that you have that opportunity, Pat. There is so much I want to show you.” Pat nods and sighs. “I wish Uncle Spock would come with us to see us off.” “Child! He knows you TOO well!”, the old doctor interjects, “You’ll just start crying, again, and he will be placed in an awkward situation on his home planet!” “I know.”, she answers softly. “Come on, child.”, the elder McCoy says gently, “The sooner we start heading home, the better.”

With all the luggage securely packed in both vehicles, Pat, Sam, the elder McCoy, and Sulu head out to the transporter facility. They arrive at the building and begin unloading their luggage and checking them in. Once all the luggage is checked, it is beamed up to the waiting ship. Sulu turns in the vehicle that he has borrowed. Investigator Stark has arrived to receive Sam’s vehicle and see him off. Pat gazes about to take one last look at Vulcan before she heads inside to the transporter pads.

“Vulcan will still be here awaiting your return., Sam whispers to her. Pat sighs. “Yes. I also had the illogical hope that Uncle Spock might show up anyway to see us off.” “If he does not”, Sam replies, “Can you accept his decision?” “Yes. No!”, she gestures helplessly, “I don’t know! My emotions are all jumbled up with everything.” Sam nods. “I understand.” She sighs. “Let’s go. It’s not going to get any easier the longer I stand here.” They all head inside the building toward the transporter pads that will beam them to the waiting ship. As Pat is walking toward the pads, she hears her name called and she turns around to see…

Spock approaches them. “During yesterday’s confusion”, he tells Pat, “After the Thanksgiving feast, I forgot to give you something.” Pat forgets where she is and impulsively hugs and kisses Spock on the cheek. “I was hoping you would come!” She looks around and suddenly remembers where they are. “Oops!” Other Vulcans walk by and nod to her indulgently as they recognize her and her Great-grandfather. “That is quite all right.” Spock replies with an affectionate twinkle in his eyes. “After you went back to your lodgings to recover from … what was it you called it … a turkey coma? I remembered that I forgot to give this back to you.” Spock places an ancient coin in Pat’s hand. Pat gazes at it, confused. “Wait a minute! I gave this to Gramps and I saw him put this in his pocket!” She looks up to see Spock’s eyes dancing. “He forgot that I have a talent for sleight of hand. Another Thanksgiving tradition that we pass back and forth between us.” Pat throws her head back and laughs. “You sly old thing! You picked his pocket! I love it! I’ll be sure to hang onto this for next year! You MUST teach me that trick someday!”

“And I will, Patricia-kam. I look forward to teaching you that. Now … it is time and you must go. Your family and friends are waiting.” He raises his hand in the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper, Patricia-kam. Until we meet again.” Pat pockets the coin and raises her hand in the Vulcan salute. “Peace and long life, Uncle Spock.” She hugs him again and kisses him on the cheek. “And keep this hug with you until the next time I see you. Love you, Uncle!” Spock’s eyes are unreadable but he speaks softly. “I will. Now go.”

Pat releases the hug, wipes her eyes, waves good bye and walks toward the transporter pads where the Elder McCoy, Sam, and Sulu are waiting. They all step onto the pads and Pat blows a good-bye kiss to Spock before they beam up. “Energize!” The transporter beam takes hold and the sight of Spock and the transporter facility fade and is replaced by the transporter room aboard ship. Several officers are in the ship’s transporter room and they are greeted by the Executive Officer. “Welcome aboard the Enterprise!”, he smiles. Pat’s eyes are wide with shock and she looks at both her Great-grandfather and Sulu who grin back. “What?! You knew! YOU BOTH KNEW!” Leonard grins back. “How about that?” Pat looks at Sam. “Looks like you’ll be traveling to Earth in style!”


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