by Jariel Camen and February Grace
-=Aboard a small Vulcan ship=-
-=Aboard a small Vulcan ship=-
“I apologize for the nature of the accommodations. As you know we are a survey vessel and have limited space for passengers. I could arrange for the replicators to provide more pillows and thicker mattresses, if you and your crewmates require further pampering.”
“We are most grateful, that will not be necessary,” Jariel said to the Vulcan Captain, a female by the name of Sullera. If she had only known the conditions Jariel was used to sleeping in as a child, she would not have made such a backhanded comment. He couldn’t speak to Sullera’s living arrangements as a child, but he was willing to be she spent her nights far warmer, and far less hungry than Jariel had.
He stood at the entrance to the cargo bay, which had been graciously cleared and converted into a temporary shelter for the Serendipity’s children and their caregivers. There simply was not enough room aboard the tiny ship to provide quarters for everyone, so a pseudo tent city had been erected here in the cargo bay to at least allow each individual family a little privacy behind the cold gray composite panels. All were assembled here, except for February Grace, whom everyone agreed should be sent directly to Sickbay, especially since she had been reporting that her hands and face felt like they may be swelling a bit.
Jariel had asked Kellyn before she left if she wished to leave Talbot behind with the group so she wouldn’t need to concern herself with him. In no uncertain terms Kellyn made it clear that the only place she trusted Talbot was behind a force field. If she left him behind he would do anything and everything to try and contact Lassiter or Zanh to inform them Lair was on her way back. So on the Alchemy Talbot stayed, locked up, while the rest were transferred here.
In the center of the bay, the children played under the watchful gaze of the adults, as Fleur, off in the corner, poked in a frustrated manner at the single replicator the Vulcan’s had been able to spare.
“What did you say this ship was called, Captain? In case it should come up?” Camen asked.
“Yeht-urgam,” Sullera replied.
“Sounds like a dignified name. What does it means?”
“Efficiency,” she answered simply. “If you need anything, please contact my operations officer.” She spun on her heel and prepared to leave.
“Excuse me!” Fleur interjected, stopping the Captain before she could leave. “Pardon me Captain,” she began, as politely as possible, “but do you have any replicators that produce non-Vulcan foods?”
“No. This is an entirely Vulcan crew. We have no need of other nutrients.”
“Surely you must have a few files of foods for others? I mean, I found seventy-three different variants of root stew. Tell me you programmed a turkey sandwich in zere somewhere? The children will not eat root stew.”
“I am sorry to hear that, but I cannot offer you anything else. If the children are hungry, they will eat,” Sellera replied evenly.
“I should have brought files from Alchemy,” Fleur said to Camen. “I think emergency rations are better than what is in replicator here.”
“The emergency rations are strictly for emergencies,” Sellera warned. Fleur’s sarcasm was completely lost on her.
“Try looking for breakfast dishes, perhaps there is some sort of whole-grain cereal they would eat. I’m sure through a little trial and error we can find something palatable,” Camen turned back to the Captain and bowed slightly. “Again, thank you for your hospitality. I assure you we will all be fine here.”
Sellera nodded, and stepped out of the bay.
“I need to make sure February is settled. Are you all right for a bit?”
“Yes, just fine Camen. A room full of hungry children and a replicator that produces bland and uninspiring food. It is every woman’s dream. I will try a little of everything like you suggested and hopefully maybe convince them some bizarre Vulcan dish is really macaroni and cheese.”
“Well, when you find said macaroni and cheese, save me a bowl, because I doubt root stew is going to be a substitute for you soup, Fleur.”
"Pffffft." She scoffed.
Camen kissed her on the cheek, and tried his best to recall the proper route from the cargo bay to Sickbay.
He’d been told by the Vulcans in no uncertain terms that if anyone wandered outside the path between the two places, that security would be notified immediately. He had expected to find February resting comfortably when he made it, but chaos was all that greeted him as he walked in on a brewing argument between the LMH and the Vulcan Doctor on board.
“That is not the proper method for treating edema and toxemia in a joined Trill at this stage of pregnancy.”
“Son I have been this young lady’s personal physician starting right around the time there was a spotted biscuit bakin’ in that there oven. Now I’m sure the textbook you just consulted gave you some nice ideas, but there are things about her physiology you don’t know. I’m tellin’ you that an emergency c-section is indicated for the good of baby, mama, and symbiont to boot. So step back, and let me do this,” McKay was nose to nose with the Vulcan, who did not so much as flinch.
“The textbook was written for a reason. The reason being that trusting one’s health to a hologram or computer alone is too dangerous.”
“Now them’s fightin’ words.”
February had her hands clamped over her ears and Jariel could tell she was in pain. This argument needed to stop.
“Gentlemen. Is there a problem?”
“Yeah there is, this boy means to tell me how to treat my patient and I don’t particularly appreciate it.”
“I am fifty-five years of age,” The Vulcan corrected, unhelpfully.
Jariel stepped past the both of them and up to February, raising his voice loud enough for everyone to hear. “Would you like me to inform the Vulcans that Doctor McKay has been in charge of caring for you during your pregnancy, and you wish for that to continue?”
Bru nodded vigorously, keeping her hands firmly planted on either side of her head. The Vulcan doctor, having seen this, turned towards McKay.
“You will sign a waiver, absolving myself, the Captain, and the Vulcan Medical Society of all legal responsibilities…”
“Blah blah blah son, draw up any papers you like in triplicate but they’re gonna have to wait. I need to get back to my patient.”
February lowered her hands away from her face, as McKay approached the bed.
“Thank you,” She whispered, still quite sensitive to sound after the raging argument.
“Sit tight darlin’, I need to take some readings. Be back in a few minutes.”
She nodded, and Jariel could see the concern on both her face and McKay’s as well. Something wasn’t exactly right, and they both knew it.
“Do you want some privacy?” Camen asked.
“Please stay. Talk to me,” She requested, hoping the sound of a kind and familiar voice would distract her from the nervousness welling up inside her. “We’ve barely had a moment to talk about Bajor. Anything interesting to tell?”
“Well, amongst the things you don’t know yet,” Camen began, then paused, as he prepared himself for difficult words. “I discovered I had a sister.”
“What?” February snapped in surprised. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.”
“The memories came back to me after I visited my parent’s gravesite on Bajor, and discovered that she had been laid to rest there as well. Somehow I blocked it out for all these years, it was just too painful to dare remember I suppose. Vedek Timal talked me into going to the burial site finally. He knew what I’d find there, and I guess he knew somehow I was ready finally to see it.”
February was silent. She had wanted Jariel to stay and talk to her, and talk to her he had. If his goal was to distract her form her own current medical state, he was doing a great job of it. “What was her name?”
“Relanna,” He spoke her name reverently, like a prayer. “When the Cardassians came she was deemed… unuseful. We were inseparable up until that point.”
“I’m so sorry, Camen.”
Jariel looked down and saw the concern for him on her face. “No, I’m the one who is sorry February, now is not the time for this.” He shook his head and prepared to leave but she grabbed hold of his arm.
“Now is the perfect time for this.” Thoughts were already formulating in her head, and questions she and Dabin did not know the response to were finding answers as she and Jariel spoke. “What was she like?”
“She was caring, funny, and of course beautiful, just like her mother.”
“And her brother,” Bru added with a gentle smile.
“Wait, now who is supposed to making whom feel better?” Jariel said with a small laugh. “But the best part of remembering everything, even better than knowing how she sounded and what she looked like, is knowing that she isn’t really gone now. For all those years no one knew anything about her. It was like she never existed. Now she lives again, because someone remembers and loves her.”
“Who else knows?”
“Other than Vedek Timal? Just Fleur and now you.”
“Well that’s four people that love her now, Camen. Her family is growing all the time, and I know just how to make sure more people remember and love her.”
Before Camen could ask her what she meant, McKay returned her bedside. His pursed lips indicated that he did not have the best of news.
“I ran my tests and the signs of toxemia are definitely apparent, and they ain’t goin’ away. The good news is the baby is more than strong enough for us to do this now.”
“Do what?” Camen asked.
“I’m ready,” Bru replied to McKay bravely, even if that’s not entirely how she felt.
“What’s going on? Does something need to be done for the baby?” Camen asked.
McKay ignored him, and motioned to one of the nurses, who began setting up a curtain over February at waist level. Jariel was no doctor, but the pieces fell together fast enough as he watched what people were doing.
“Oh… oh my goodness, February. Do you want me to step out now? Should I get Fleur to stay with you?” He asked.
“You can go if you want but,” Her eyes pleaded in a very puppy dog like fashion. “I’d really like you to stay with me, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Camen nodded, too shocked by how quickly everything was unfolding to even speak. If Bru wanted him here, here he would stay.
“Just keep your eyes up here. On my face. You won’t see anything too scary.” Bru promised, as she reached out to grasp hold of his hand with fingers that were now very obviously swollen due to the toxins building up in her system. Between the strain of nourishing the symbiont and the growing baby, Bru’s body just couldn’t take any more.
“I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about you.” Camen droned, as he watched the medical instruments being laid out on a table beside her, and the color immediately drained from his face.
He began to feel more than a little dizzy as he saw a small incubator being rolled into the room. Soon, someone would be in that incubator, and he hoped that he could stay on his feet.
Nothing about his training at the Vedek Assembly had prepared him for this.
“Don’t worry about me. I won’t be able to feel anything from the neck down after they give me that hypo that Dalton’s mixing up.” She knew the procedure well, not only from Grace’s previous host experiences but also from her prenatal visits with McKay. “Do you know that Gentry, even though he was a first responder and a trained medic passed out cold when his wife was delivering their first child? I remember what it is like to be the one on the other side of this situation. Frankly, I’d rather be on the table.”
“I think I would too.” Jariel agreed nervously.
Those rushing around them began to assemble in a circle below the curtained off area, and Camen’s eyes locked with McKay’s for a moment. The look on the LMH’s face as he surveyed the readings from the fetal monitor was clear; for the sake of both mother and child, there was no more time to waste.
“Let’s get this over with.” Dalton lifted the hypo and handed it to one of the Vulcan nurses. The nurse applied it to February’s neck, and the Trill felt all sensation leave her body.
She couldn’t even tell that she was breathing anymore as she closed her eyes, and wished for just a moment that Dabin wouldn’t have to miss this.
“Thank you for staying with me.” She whispered to Jariel. He saw tears falling from the corners of her eyes, and reached out and gently brushed them away.
“Okay folks, we’re havin’ a baby.” Dalton declared.
The procedure itself went ahead with a speed that astonished Jariel. Within mere moments, there was a sound in the room that both thrilled and utterly terrified him.
That of a newborn, crying.
“She’s a tiny little thing, that’s for sure. But this little dolly is also pink and healthy, Bru.” Dalton announced, as he handed the baby off to the nursing staff and set about the work of finishing his own task.
“My favorite color.” Bru laughed, tears again streaming down her face as both she and Jariel began to laugh and cry at the same time.
“And I do believe she’s screamin’ in the key of E.” McKay added with a chuckle.
“By the Prophets,” Jariel whispered, as he looked over at the incubator that now held Dabin and February’s little girl. “She’s beautiful.”
“Looks a lot like mama.” Dalton glanced over quickly at the baby then back to his work. “Though I do believe she’s got her daddy’s spots.”
“Her daddy is going to be very thankful that you two were here for me.” February said. “How can I ever thank you?” She began to tremble, a side effect of the anesthesia and the blood loss, and instinctively Jariel pulled the blanket tighter around her and placed a kiss upon her forehead.
“There’s no need.” He whispered tenderly.
A few more moments passed, and after the team had efficiently finished their work, more blankets were laid over February to keep her warm and the curtain shielding her was no longer needed and lowered away. She was given another hypo to counteract the effects of the anesthetic so she could finally hold her baby.
Dalton excused himself a moment, and then returned. In his arms, a small bundle with strawberry blonde fluff upon its head, poking out from the top of the blanket that she was wrapped in.
“February,” Dalton began, at the moment looking as emotional as any flesh and blood family physician would at a time like this. “I’d like to introduce you to somebody. She apologizes that she’s arrived a little ahead’a schedule, but she just couldn’t wait a day longer to meet’cha.”
Jariel helped February steady herself against the pillows as she tried to sit up, and he grabbed another blanket from the bed next to them, began to roll it and propped up Bru’s still shaking arm with it. “Are you ready?”
“I think so.” Bru’s voice shook as hard as her body did, the emotion of the moment surpassing even the physical side-effects of the delivery as she realized that her life had just changed forever, in an instant. She tried in vain to control the tremors as McKay eased the baby into the crook of her arm.
February looked down and drew back the edge of the blanket from the baby’s face. The infant began to fuss, and seemed at once tired and angry as she began to wail, stopped only long enough to yawn, and then cried some more.
“Hello, little one.” February said softly, tears raining down from her face. “I'm so happy to meet you.”
Jariel watched both mother and child, and knew in an instant that the daughter of Reece and Grace was going to know nothing but love from this time forward. The two of them were just perfect together, and Dabin was going to complete the picture.
The thought of Dabin Reece brought something to Camen’s mind.
“Doctor, does your program allow you to…”
“Relax Vedek, I’m already putting together the welcome home holofilm for the Commander right up here,” McKay replied, tapping his temple with his finger. “Nothing outside of our strictest confidence of course,” He added to February to dispel any fears of exactly how much he intended to include in the holofilm.
“Thank you.” She said with a nod and a small laugh.
The baby stopped fussing and lazily opened her unfocused eyes. She started to sniff the air around her like a curious puppy, searching as she seemed to tune in to the sound of February’s voice.
“She knows her mama all right.” Dalton grinned. “Now, I reckon she must be hungry, Bru. So do you want to me to see if this boat has anything suitable to use for formula or…”
Dalton was asking an obvious question, though it was one that, as Jariel stood there staring in utter disbelief at the sight of February Grace with a baby in her arms, completely eluded him.
“I think…I can handle the situation.” February blushed, and though still shaking, she seemed more sure of herself as Grace’s memories of times past reassured her that she did know what she was doing.
“Then we should give you a little privacy.” Dalton said. He waited for Jariel to react, but he didn’t.
“Vedek!” McKay raised his voice finally.
“Hmm?” Jariel responded dreamily, still in awe of the sight before him.
“We need to leave the lady alone so she can nurse her baby.”
“Oh. Oh!” Now it was Jariel who was turning red. “Of course.”
“But first, wait,” February insisted, “Jariel, do you want to hold her?”
“Oh, no, I,”
“Please?” February nodded encouragingly and finally, Jariel stepped closer.
“I’m afraid to touch her.” He admitted, his knees growing weaker at the thought. For all he had been through in his years, he felt more disarmed at the idea of holding his dearest friend’s child for the first time then anything else he had ever been through.
“She won’t break. Just…one hand under her head, one under her bottom.” February coached gently.
McKay watched quietly as the Vedek took the baby and stared down into her small, inquisitive face.
“Well hello there.” Jariel whispered, absolutely lost for any other words to say.
“I need to tell you her name,” February said softly, “because when we get back it’d mean an awful lot to Dabin and I if you’d perform a Bajoran naming ceremony for her.”
“Of course I will.” Jariel forced the words past the lump in his throat. “What name have you chosen for your daughter?”
“Sophia Relanna Grace Reece.” Bru whispered, tears again falling down her cheeks. “But you can call her Sophie.”
Lt. February Grace
Chief Flight Controller
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
Vedek Jariel Camen
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
Lt. February Grace
Chief Flight Controller
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
Vedek Jariel Camen
USS Serendipity NCC-2012