Spock found the boy sitting on a raised bench, legs dangling off and swinging above the stars that passed by.
This was a new feature of the rebuilt Enterprise and something Spock had yet to make use of. To his knowledge no one he personally knew had before this.
To get to the raised bench, which was high above the glass that looked over the stars, one had to climb up a set of stairs and then slide across the bench, at least to where the boy sat swinging his legs. Fortunately the action didn’t make the bench swing, but Spock did wonder how much it would hurt should the boy dislodge himself onto the glass belong.
When he was in place beside the boy, Spock waited for his attention before speaking.
Eventually the boy, approximate age eight, flicked an unreadable glance at Spock before returning to the view of the stars.
“I like to watch the stars.”
It was voice was much higher and softer than the adult voice Spock knew so well.
“Did you watch them a lot in Riverside?”
The boy nodded.
“Do you know who I am?” Spock asked.
“Yes. And what is your name?”
Spock nodded. “You left the Christmas party in the rec room.”
“You don’t like Christmas, Jim?”
Jim shrugged. “Sometimes. When Mom is home, it’s nice. But…I have this stepfather.” He eyed Spock. “Frank.”
“You’ve met him?”
“Not directly,” Spock hedged. “Your…older self made me aware of his existence.”
Doctor McCoy was fairly certain Jim’s de-aged child self was a temporary condition. As Jim’s husband, Spock, of course, hoped so.
“Well, he doesn’t like celebrations,” Jim explained. “One year, Sam, that’s my brother, and I dragged up the artificial tree from the basement and Frank made us put it back. He was always doing stuff like that.” Jim shook his head. “I don’t like him.”
“Would it make you feel better to know that now in this time, Frank is deceased?”
Jim’s eyes widened. “What happened to him?”
“He was…” Spock paused. The details didn’t need to be shared with this young Jim. His adult mate knew well enough. “He passed away unexpectedly.”
“Was Mom upset?”
“No, she was not. Your mother and you enjoy a close relationship now.”
Jim looked doubtful but nodded.
“Are you hungry, Jim?”
“A bit, yeah.”
“Then you should come back to the party, there are many good things to eat. And there are people there who wish to welcome you and make this holiday special.”
“Will you be there?”
“Of course I will.”
Jim nodded. “Ok.”
Spock was relieved. This sad little Jim tugged at his heart strings. “You need assistance getting down?”
Eight-year-old Jim snorted. “Do you old man?”
A short while later, they entered the party, and Spock was not surprised when the crew gravitated toward little Jim. The crew loved adult Jim too. But Jim kept an eye om Spock the whole time, so Spock never could leave.
It was a couple of days later when Jim, his Jim, finally emerged. Spock had never known such relieved contentment.
“Hey, we need to do a holiday party,” Jim told him.
“We already did it.”
Jim laughed. “Right. But I don’t remember it and since I’m the captain, I say we have another one.”
Spock, simply grateful to have his husband back, agreed, though pretending it was reluctantly.
In some ways Spock wished he had been around when Jim was a child so he could slay Jim’s dragons, but at least he’d gotten the chance when Jim was older. And though it didn’t make up for Jim’s childhood, Spock was glad.