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Fic: All Through the Snowglobe... Part Two

Link to Part One

PART TWO

Starbase Yorktown, December 24, 2263

If there was anything more miserable than last-minute Christmas shopping, it had to be watching other people’s break-ups. Or near break-ups, whatever. Well and obviously the break-ups themselves but Leonard liked to think that he had learned from his divorce and grown as a person because of it. His first marriage had been a toxic mess and really they were both well out of it, and plus, he’d met Jim. Sometimes things worked out, even when it seemed like the world was going to hell in a hand-basket at the time. All the same, Leonard had zero intentions of communicating these thoughts to either Jo or Spock, because while he may be a blunt bastard, he wasn’t a sadistic one.

(Well, mostly.)

This was how Christmas Eve found Leonard, Jo, and Spock on the Yorktown’s promenade while Jim ran madly around trying to get Gaila out of the brig and Nyota to talk. Thankfully Hikaru and Ben had taken Chekov in hand, the latter still being distraught about his inadvertent role in the ongoing drama, and Scotty was…. Where was Scotty, anyway? Leonard decided, given the disastrous party, maybe laying low was the wisest course after all. However, with Spock and Jo in hand, he acknowledged to himself, that was the one thing he himself could not do.

The thing was, with an eighteen year old and a Vulcan, both chocolate ice cream and booze—the two things that would work on anyone else—were both bad ideas.

“So,” he said with a voice verging on desperation far more than he would have liked, “who wants to go see Santa?” He nodded at an elaborate holiday set-up in the middle of the civilian promenade, complete with overly perky people Jo’s age dressed as improbable elves, an animatronic snowman waving cheerfully among animatronic deer, and a number of booths selling candy and other treats. He squelched the urge to suggest they get fudge because, entertaining as hungover Spock was (and he wasn’t), Leonard could nonetheless wait a five-year mission or three before subjecting them all to that again.

“Meh,” said Joanna.

“What, no wishes to make?” Leonard asked, and could have kicked himself.

“If sitting in the lap of an overweight and elderly Terran mythological figure would in some way help any situation,” Spock said with surprising bitterness, “I would do it in a Human heartbeat. However, given that the control of our mutual situations is outside that of said fictional character, I would not recommend it as a viable course of action.”

“You could’ve just said ‘no,’ Leonard grumbled, even as Jo said to the Vulcan with genuine respect, “Dang! That was cold.” “Alright then,” Leonard continued with gritted teeth, “What do you two want to do?”

“Chocolate fudge?” Jo looked hopeful.

“I agree,” Spock said decisively, and the two of them proceeded to the nearby booth.

Leonard stared after them. “Well this will all end terribly,” he muttered, but he followed, nonetheless. Jim was, he hoped, having better luck than he was.

~

Jim was not, in fact, having better luck. Despite his best efforts, Gaila was to remain in the brig for a full twenty-four hours at a minimum, and it would appear on her official record for the next three years. However, so long as there were no similar incidents, it would then be removed. “It was the best I could do,” he told her through the brig’s force field. “I’m sorry, kid.”

“Not your fault.” Gaila waved it away with false cheer; Jim knew her well enough to recognize that. She gave him a rueful grin. “You know us redheads.”

He gave her a half-smile of his own. “Do I ever. Look at this.” He pointed at his hair. “You’re making me go grey. I swear to God, this one is you, and this one is Scotty, and these are for Sulu and Ben and Demora—”

“Ha! Liar!” Gaila snorted. “The only grey hairs you have are in your beard, which is why you don’t grow one.”

“Huh.” Jim thought. “Maybe I should grow one at that. Start my silver fox years early.”
Gaila chuckled, and their conversation petered out. “Has Nyota commed you?”

“Before I was locked up? Yeah. She is….not happy. As you can imagine.” She shrugged. “And no personal comms here, as you can see.”

Jim winced. “Yeah. I’ve tried comming her with no luck.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to ease the nascent headache from tiredness. “Oh, this is so bad,” he said to himself.

“Hey, you’ll figure it out. You always do.” Gaila smiled at him with such pure affection and trust that it almost physically hurt. “Go out there and do what you’re best at. I’ll…” She looked around the empty room, shrugged, and lay back on her bunk. “I’ll catch up on my beauty sleep.”

“Not like you need much.” Jim gave her another rueful smile. “Take care, Gaila. I’ll see you soon.”

Outside of Security, he took a deep breath, and pulled out his comm. “Hey, Scotty. I need you and Chekov to do a favor for me, okay?”

~

Meanwhile, Leonard sat at a small cafe table parceling out overstuffed sandwiches to Jo and Spock. “You need something that’s not sugar,” he said to his daughter, and to his friend, “And you need a solid foundation to….not drinking.” Spock had the bleary, decadent look of someone who had spent thirty-six hours on Risa partaking of every physical and ingestible pleasure that could be partaken of legally, or mostly legally.

“I wish I could not drink like he does,” Jo said wistfully, eying the bulging bag of sweets they had purchased. But she at least unwrapped the sandwich and began to eat obediently.

“I’m...not….not hungry,” Spock said with the exaggerated care of the totally toasted.

“Uh huh. I’m doin’ my best to save you a second massive hangover, Mr. Spock.” Leonard took a hearty bite of his own sandwich. “Now do me a favor and help me help you.”

Spock groaned, but did as he was bid, or tried to. His hands shook as he unwrapped the slick paper that wrapped his food, and he looked pained as he picked it up and took a dainty bite. He chewed and swallowed.

“Very good. Now another,” Leonard said encouragingly, feeling for all the world like a mother hen with two ornery chicks. He turned to Joanna, inspecting her progress as well. Jo, however, as a teenager, was already wiping the last crumbs from her mouth. Leonard sighed in envy. “I miss my old metabolism.”

A short while later they ventured back into the shopping district. “Once more into the breach, dear friends?”

“The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit,” quoted Spock, proving that whether at death’s door or facing holiday shopping, he would quote Shakespeare.

“Upon this charge,” Jo piped up companionably, “Cry ‘God for Harry! England! and Saint George!’” This last was said loudly enough to garner them some amused looks.

Leonard caught her in a one-armed hug. “That’s my girl.” And onwards they went.

A saner man might have suggested they split up and cover more ground that way, but Leonard didn’t quite trust either of his companions that much just yet. Jo had decided to put on a better humored front, but it was clearly a front; Spock appeared all but ready to just give up on life and embrace his inner chocolate lush. Thus it was that the awkward trio made their way through the crowds and past booths and shops carrying a variety of merchandise meant to appeal to denizens of hundreds of worlds. The Terran booths alone included Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Shab-e Yalda, among others. Every culture, Human and otherwise, seemingly had some sort of holiday that took place around the Winter Solstice, commemorating the longest and darkest night and the forthcoming eventual return of light and spring. Which was all well and good for xenocultural students, but in practice…

“Hey, what’s that?” Jo asked, pointing at something from a Risan booth.

Leonard knew quite well what it was, but said, “I don’t know, hon. Hey, look—”

“It’s a dildo for two,” Spock said with laconic disinterest.

Oh my God! Leonard mouthed silently to the heavens, mortified, even as Jo said, “Huh. Cool. Looks uncomfortable though.”

“No, you see, the dorsal ridges are meant to stimulate—”

“Hey, who wants more chocolate?” Leonard asked in desperation, but both Jo and Spock ignored him.

“Really?” Jo said when Spock explained something Leonard really wished he hadn’t. “That’s fascinating!”

“Indeed!” Spock looked gratified, as if he had finally found a Human he could actually talk to who wasn’t his (hopefully not former) mate.

Leonard would have felt insulted, but he was too busy being frustratedly outraged that one of his best friends was talking about sex toys with his daughter. “This must be what going mad feels like,” he said to himself.

“Oh, look over there!” Something else had caught Jo’s attention, and now she and Spock were going to examine whatever it was, boon companions in heartbreak and shopping.

“Angels and ministers of grace defend us,” Leonard muttered, and followed.

~

“Are you sure this will work?” Jim asked Scotty and Chekov dubiously as they took various bits of comms and...put them back together.

“Nae reason it shouldna,” Scotty said. Today he wore another appalling Christmas sweater, though when Jim looked more closely, it appeared that one blockey knit reindeer was mounting another in a repeating pattern of festive fornication. He had also put his Santa cap on Chekov, who was bent over an array of comm chips with single-minded determination. “Easy enough to hack intae the intra-base comm array and rearrange the receptors for the lady’s quarters.”

“Like pie,” Chekov agreed, snapping pieces together and handing them to Scotty without looking up as he went to the next set.

“Well put, Mr. Chekov, well put!” Scotty nodded and turned to Jim. “Nothing like a nice pairsonal Christmas miracle for Mr. Spock and Ms. Nyota now, eh?” Chekov handed him the last set of bits, he popped them into place, and then handed the whole to Jim. “Happy Christmas, sir!”

Jim shook his head. “Have I mentioned lately how glad I am you two use your powers only for good and not for evil?”

“Not lately, Keptin,” Chekov said with a grin, “but ve appreciate the sentiment.”

Jim slapped the younger man on the back and nodded. He took a deep breath and flipped the new and improved comm. “Kirk to Uhura. Look, we—we really need to talk.”

~

Leonard shook his head as Jo and Spock continued to make observations and remarks about the various merchandise on display. An awful part of him wondered what it would be like if he could get his friend to indulge in chocolate a little more often, while the rest of him severely judged himself for that same thought. Mostly, he enjoyed what it was like to have an actual break, with people he loved (even if they were green-blooded hobgoblins), and not having to run around explosions while Jim performed acts of daring heroics. But this relief was temporary; they’d be back in action soon enough, and in the meantime, there were the dual walking heartbreaks that were his daughter and his best friend.

“Hey.” He turned around at the light mittened touch on his shoulder, and stared at Rea. The girl looked worn, purple smudges under her dark eyes, her black curls flirting with total disarray. She wore the same clothes as yesterday, and a heavy-looking backpack. “I’m sorry about—everything, I guess.” She looked incredibly young, and her nose was red, maybe from cold, probably from crying. “Can you tell Joanna that? Please?”

“Can you tell her yourself?” Leonard croaked back out. He could feel his paternal side blooming with fury, but the girl looked like she’d been to hell and back, and that tempered his rage. “There’s this thing called ‘closure’ you should look into. It’s...healthy,” he concluded lamely.

“I—” she started, but that was when Jo turned around and spotted them.

“Rea?!”

“I have to go! I’m sorry!” And then she was gone, melting into the crowd like a ghost. It was damn eerie in a way.

“Rea! Stop!” Jo was about to bolt after her, but she couldn’t see her either. She looked at Leonard, with tears in her eyes; in that moment, she looked like the ten year old she’d been during his divorce, asking why he had to leave. His heart hurt all over again. “Why did she do that, Daddy?”

He pulled her into his arms for a firm hug, letting her sniffle into the woolen folds of his sweater. “I don’t know, sweetheart.” Jo was just of a size that she could still tuck her head under his chin; he patted her back and made soothing noises. Feeling woefully inadequate but trying anyway, he said, “Things don’t always make sense.”

Spock had been standing at a distance throughout this by-play, but now he approached carefully. Then came the familiar chirp of a comm; he paused where he was and pulled it from inside his coat, flipping it open. “Spock here. I—Nyota! Yes, I—yes. Yes, I will see you soon, ashaya.” He put his comm away, his cheeks blushing a faint green. “I beg your pardon, Leonard, but I must take my leave. I—it’s Nyota.”

Leonard nodded. “Go get ‘er, tiger,” he said with a small smile.

Jo detached herself, rubbing at her red eyes before looking at the Vulcan. “Good luck, Mr. Spock.”

“Thank you, Joanna. I—may need it.” Spock gave them a polite half bow of farewell and then walked quickly in the direction of the starbase’s living quarters.

“What next, kiddo?” Leonard asked Jo, putting his arm around her again. “Did you get your shopping done? Want to go see a holo-drama or somethin’?

“I’m not quite done, but—I wouldn’t mind heading home for a bit,” Jo admitted. “But first, let me go back to that fudge place real quick.”

When they got back to their quarters, they found Jim stretched out on the couch looking exhausted but pleased. “Scotty and Chekov worked a little magic.”

“Yeah, we saw.” Leonard leaned down to kiss Jim on the top of his head and then plopped down on a nearby chair, putting his feet up.

“Glad some people can have minor miracles,” Jo said softly to herself, and Leonard and Jim exchanged an eloquently parental look that communicated in seconds.

How is she? Jim wanted to know, and Leonard replied, Not great.

“How was shopping?” Jim asked, bravely avoiding the subject. “You guys look like you’re both still in one piece.”

“Mostly,” Leonard said.

“Yeah, I nearly got cut by an Antosian though. Worth it!” Jo grinned smugly at one of her shopping bags. “Hey, I’m going to go wrap these. Then what’s the plan?”

“Party at Ben and Hikaru’s? I think?” Leonard looked over at Jim, who nodded. “Less booze, better food.”

“Earlier closing time too.” Jim closed his eyes and crossed his arms, burrowing slightly into the couch. “Wake me when it’s time to go.”

~

It was time to go two hours later, by which time everyone had had a nap of varying lengths. Nonetheless, the collective mood was lighter when they set off—this time with Leonard wearing the jingling cap.

“Okay, checklist,” Jim said as they paused at the door. “Wine? Presents?”

“Check and check.” Jo held up both of the relevant bags.

“Awesome! Good job team!” Jim gave Jo a high-five and out they went.

“Is it still a team when I’m the one doing all the work?” Jo asked. “Just sayin’.”

“Welcome to command track, baby girl.” Leonard took one of the bags for her. “Ours not to ask or reason why—”

“Come on, peanut gallery.” Jim huffed, and they obligingly cut out the snark… or at least lowered the volume.

Hikaru and Ben lived nearby in actual family quarters; Demora as a rambunctious four year-old definitely needed the extra room. Hikaru answered the door with her in his arms, looking just a bit harried. “Hey! Welcome! Come in! Ben’s got the food under control and Demora and I are about to set the table, aren’t we?”

“Yup!” Demora agreed with an emphatic nod of her head.

“That’s an important job! I bet you’ll do it perfectly,” Jim said very seriously to the little girl. “Need any help from us?” he asked Hikaru as they walked in.

“Can I put the good doctor in charge of drinks?”

“Absolutely,” Leonard answered, and was directed to the small area by the kitchen that served as a bar. “Hey, Ben,” he greeted Sulu’s husband who was monitoring four pots and pulling a roasted fowl of some sort out of an oven. “That smells amazing.”

“Thanks!” Ben set it on a counter well out of reach of small girls. He took his kitchen mitts off to shake hands with Leonard, then Jim and Jo. “Welcome! So glad you all could join us this year.”

“Scotty and Chekov commed that they’ll be here soon,” Sulu said from where he was helping Demora with setting out the cutlery and napkins. “And get this.” He grinned widely. “Nyota and Spock too.”

This raised an appreciative range of whistles and cheers, and then the door chimed again, followed shortly by Scotty and Chekov. The former still wore his dubious sweater from earlier, earning a raised eyebrow from Hikaru and a muffled snort from Ben. Demora was oblivious, instead commandeering Pavel to go color with her. He good-naturedly allowed himself to be led off, leaving the rest of the adults to themselves. “I brought ye all a wee bit o’ holiday cheer,” Scotty said, presenting both of the couples with a bottle of scotch, and Joanna a bottle of sparkling cider.

Jim passed the bottle to Leonard for his appraisal, and he whistled appreciatively. “Lordy, Scotty! And God bless us everyone!” Scotty went red with pleasure.

After that talk turned to Starfleet discussion, and Joanna excused herself to relieve Chekov from coloring duty, that being preferable to a room full of adults talking shop. Another chime at the door, and Nyota and Spock arrived.

“Hey, everyone,” Nyota greeted; Leonard noticed she and Spock were holding hands in what was, for them, a highly unusual public display of affection. “Happy Holidays!”

“Welcome!” Hikaru said, and brought them into the fold. “Glad you came.”

“We are both glad to be here,” Spock said fervently.

After that it was what a holiday party was supposed to be: food, fellowship, and good cheer. Even Jo relaxed, talking to Nyota about the various school programs she was applying to. Uhura was warm as ever, but there was a fond expression on her face as they spoke. Nyota was already imagining the child within her as the adult she was speaking to; she was experiencing that strange shift between present and future in which all things were at once possible that Leonard recognized from Jocelyn’s pregnancy.

“Families,” Leonard said softly as Jim joined him, topping off his glass.

“Mmhmm.” Jim understood what he meant, and they clinked their cups together as Spock came over.

“I owe both of you profound thanks. I am—‘grateful’ does not encompass what I mean, and yet, it is the closest thing that I can offer, both for your recent actions and for your friendship.”

“You old softy.” Jim punched his First Officer lightly in the arm, and the Vulcan’s lips twitched ever so slightly upwards.

“I do believe you’re getting emotional in your old age, Mister Sp—” Leonard broke off as Jo stood up, her comm in her hand.

“Hey, guys, we have a problem!” She was very pale.

“What is it?” Jim asked, just as the whole base rocked beneath their feet. In the distance, there was the sound of explosions.

The starbase’s comm system emitted a piercing shriek that made all of them clap their hands to their ears. Then static, and then a guttural voice: “This is Santay DaraQ. I represent bortaS Dib. Too long has the Federation invaded our worlds. Now we invade yours!”

A little too symbolically for Leonard’s taste, the lights went out as explosions shook the base again.

“Battlestations!” Jim said automatically. “Civilians to the escape pods. Let’s go.”

Demora was crying but Ben was murmuring soothing things to her. “Don’t worry, baby.” Hikaru kissed her forehead, and then his husband. “Everything will be fine. I’ll see you soon.”

Leonard squeezed Jo’s arm. “Go with them, kiddo. We got this.”

“The hell with that, I’m going with you,” Jo argued, already following the officers out the door.

“The hell you say!” Leonard’s parental panic was at war with his parental anger, and right now the anger was winning. “You go with Ben and Demora and you go now!”

“I can help!” Jo yelled back. “Rea commed me. She knows what’s going on!”

“She’s right, Bones; we need her,” Jim said, and for the first time in a very long time Leonard wanted to punch him. Jim could sense this; Leonard could watch that which was Jim dissolve itself into Captain, the subtle shifts of body language and repression of expression that took place when his partner took on command. “Jo, tell me everything.”

Jo did, or what there was to tell anyway, hurriedly and tripping over the debris-filled streets. Rea had known about the attack, and sent Jo a comm to leave as soon as she could.

“What I wanna know is how she knew,” Leonard grumbled darkly through his teeth.

“Good question. We’ll find out,” Jim promised as they arrived in the Starfleet quarter of the base. There all was organized chaos as uniformed personnel ran hurriedly to their stations: the blues to Medical, the reds and golds to the armory.

This was where Leonard had to part with them, and he kissed Jo quickly as he ran to join his colleagues. “Be safe,” he told both of them.

“You got it,” answered Jim, and Jo said “I love you, Daddy!” Leonard nodded and went to go do what he was best at: saving people.

~

Joanna was nervous, but did as Uncle Jim told her, answering questions as he, Sulu, and Uhura collected weapons from the armory. Jim was issuing orders, completely in his element: creating a perimeter, stationing people here and there to where they would be most useful. Mr. Spock, Scotty, and Chekov were sent to work on getting the starbase’s power up again, not just the lights (and who thought blinking red lights were a great thing to have around during emergencies, Jo didn’t know, but she judged them for it) but its defensive shields and life support systems as well.

“He said bortaS Dib,” Jim was saying to Nyota. “What does that mean?”

“It translates as ‘right of vengeance,’ Captain. Some sort of terrorist group, maybe?” Nyota’s demeanor had shifted to that of Starfleet officer as quickly and seamlessly as his had; it was almost disorienting to Jo, who knew them as extended family members more than the heroes she knew them to be. No wonder Rea was so weird when she met them, she thought ruefully, her heart hurting all over again. She couldn’t help but follow that thought up with, No wonder yesterday was weird altogether if she was a part of this…

Nyota held a phaser before Jo, shaking her out of her reverie. “Do you know how to use this?”

“Grandma used to take me hunting,” Jo said. “Does that count?”

Nyota nodded and showed her the buttons. “Safety, stun, kill,” she explained and handed it to Jo. “Use it only if you have to.”

“No heroics,” Jim agreed. “Leave that to us or your dad will kill me.”

“No heroics.” Jo took a breath and took the phaser. “Got it. Can do. Or not do, I mean.”

Sulu raised an eyebrow at Jim. “She doesn’t have to be here.”

“I want to be. I think I need to be.” Jo took a deep breath, and tried comming Rea again, but it only emitted static.

“Communications just went down.” Nyota frowned. “This DaraQ knows exactly what he’s doing. But how?”

“Because I told him.” Rea emerged from a cloud of debris, coughing; she held her hands up, and tossed the weapon she was carrying at Jim’s feet, holding her hands up in the near-universal sign for surrender. “I mean you no harm” She looked much the worse for wear since Jo had last seen her, soot and blood on her face and clothing. Jo’s heart hurt to look at her.

“Uh huh.” Jim held his phaser on the girl. “You wanna tell me what’s up with that?” he nodded at the weapon on the ground, which Jo recognized vaguely from pop holos as a Klingon disruptor.

“I am, or was, Agent Qes of the bortaS Dib. I had to help them start this operation. I want to help you end it.” Rea, or Qes, looked at Jo with a rueful smile. “Consider it a change of heart.”

“We want to believe you,” said Nyota, who also held her phaser at the ready, “but if you really want to help us, you need to tell us what is going on and why you’re with the Klingons.”

Rea nodded, and took a deep breath. “When I was a child, the Klingons annexed my planet, which had been a Betazoid colony. They took children like me, telepaths, and trained us to be spies for the Empire. The Federation did nothing.” She scowled, glaring beyond them where, Jo saw, a United Federation of Planets banner was hung from one of the Fleeter buildings; it was suitably tattered now.

“I was adopted by the House of Mo’Kai,” she continued, pulling her shirt to the side, displaying a series of criss-crossing scars that Jo knew well and that made her heart hurt all over again. “We are the house of watchers and spies, and my skills were honed and used—for a price. As you can see. I can’t say that they tortured us, because they do the same to their own people. But they hurt us, and molded us into what they wanted.” She pulled her shirt back down again, covering the scars again. “Not all of my brothers and sisters survived. I was fortunate.”

The ground rocked under their feet again, and she spoke faster. “When the war criminal Nero decimated the Imperial fleet eight years ago, Santay DaraQ freed those of us who remained from our bondage, on the condition that we champion the cause of the bortaS Dib. The Right of Vengeance is ours, by the old ways. Our—his goal,” she corrected herself, “is to stop the Starfleet imperialists in their tracks, and so that is what brought me here. To you.”

“I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Jim said, but didn’t move his phaser a millimeter. “I’m really sorry. But you can survive bad shit and not become a terrorist.”

“Perhaps you are right,” Rea conceded, “Perhaps you are stronger than me.” She shrugged. “But I will say this, Captain Kirk, hero of the Federation—I did not see a way out of this life until I met you. If you will help me take down Santay DaraQ, I will submit to what punishment you see fit.”

“What about me?” Jo burst out. “What about us, Rea? Or Qes, or whatever the hell your name is?”

Rea flinched. “I was Reannon for this mission, but I was Rea only for you. You were… an accident. I’m sorry for it. I will make it up to you one day: This, I swear, Joanna McCoy.”

More than anything Jo wanted to shoot the phaser, over and over. More than anything, she wanted everything to be different.

But what she did was drop it and run to Rea, taking the girl in a tight embrace, and cry into the sweat of her neck. “I hate you,” she said, shuddering in Rea’s arms. “I hate you.”

“And I love you, as well,” Rea said into her ear. I am sorry, Joanna McCoy. Rea was speaking to her telepathically now, communicating a mix of regret, pain, and pure affection that brought tears to Jo’s eyes all over again. I am so sorry for so many things, but most of all for not having the courage to speak the truth to you sooner. If I live, I will spend every day making it up to you. Out loud, she said to Jim and the others, “Time is limited. Shall we go?”

~

The civilian promenade was eerily deserted as Starfleet and Yorktown security extended their perimeter further and further, winning ground back from the Klingons foot by precious foot. Here and there they passed bodies, sometimes Federation, sometimes Klingon. Jo had never seen bodies in person before, and tried not to stare, or think about it too much.

“How are you holding up, kiddo?” Jim asked when he noticed.

“Hanging in there,” she answered, and Rea touched her arm, using her empathy to send a soothing feeling of calm and comfort through her.

Jim nodded, just as there was a loud sound of machinery and the regular lighting returned. Jo knew the daylight was fake, but couldn’t help but feel comforted. Something was wrong with the weather controls though, as there was a sharp dip in temperature, and snow flurries of fat, icy flakes blew through the air. The Captain flipped his comm open. “Good job, Scotty, but can you work on the temps a bit? It feels like Delta Vega all over again.”

“On it, sir!” Scotty’s voice was tinny through the comm.

They were walking through the formerly cheerful holiday set-up, where the booths selling treats were closed and the animatronic deer were still. There was a popping sound of weapons fire. “Get down!” Jim cried, and they all ducked into various spots for cover. Jo found herself in a booth of decorative trinkets, all in disarray. The sound of shooting was louder and closer, and she knew they were pinned down.

“A little holiday miracle would be nice right about now,” Jim muttered to himself. There was a secondary series of pops and then…. Silence.

“Hi, guys!” came a cheerful feminine voice. “It’s okay, I got ‘em.”

“Gaila!? Is that you?” Jim yelled in disbelief, cautiously rising. Whatever he saw was reassuring, and he gave Jo a hand up. An Orion woman with dark red hair pulled back carried a pair of disruptors and joined their little party.

“Hi, Captain. You know me and party-crashing!” she said with a grin.

“What happened?” Nyota greeted the woman with a hug, which Gaila returned. “How did you get out of the brig?”

“Power outage,” Gaila said. “Force fields went down, and it didn’t seem like a great place to stay when under attack.”

“Was there no security?” Sulu frowned. “Not that I’m not glad to see you, but that’s—weird.”

“Can we focus on the part where you’re apparently a scary hitwoman?” Jim said, bewildered and gesturing at the array of unconscious Klingons—and coming incredibly close to a flail in doing so.

Gaila looked at him strangely. “Honestly, Captain, did you never look at the rankings in marksmanship?” She turned to Sulu. “And yeah, no one was around, but I was the only person there anyway. Maybe whoever did this thought there’d be more criminals?”

“DaraQ assumed that Federation prisons are like Klingonese ones,” Rea explained to them. “I did not disabuse him of this notion when I found differently.”

“Sabotaging saboteurs,” Sulu said with a nod. “Nice.”

Jim gave Rea a reluctant nod of acknowledgement. “Noted. Now do you have any idea of where DaraQ would be by now?”

“His ship would be docked to the station; it has no transporters. His men would have to enter through the airlocks on the docks,” Rea answered, thinking. “They are losing ground to your people here. He might try to return to the ship and escape.”

Nyota frowned. “I thought Klingons believe in honorable death in battle?”

“DaraQ is not altogether honorable.” Rea made a gesture of contempt. “He will retreat and fight another day.” She paused. “He would want to take me with him.”

Jim understood what she meant before Jo did. “You want to be bait?”

“Rea,” said Jo, just as Nyota said “You don’t have to do that.”

“It’s a good plan,” offered Sulu.

“No, it’s not!” argued Jo. “It’s a bad plan!” She gripped Rea’s shoulders. “Don’t do it!”

Rea gave her a small smile. “It will end this, Joanna.” She placed her hand on Jo’s own. “Trust me this once, even if never again.”

“Alright,” Jim decided, “let’s do this.”

~

Jim Kirk was famous for not obeying orders. Why he thought Joanna McCoy was going to obey his when she wasn’t even in Starfleet was beyond her.

He’d sent Uhura and Sulu to the starbase’s command unit as back-up, ordering Joanna to go with them. She did, and then quietly slipped away.

She missed the start of the fight, but she was there for the end of it, right at the same dock she had boarded the Yorktown only the day before. (The fact that it was only the day before hurt her head, given all that had happened in such a short amount of time.)

“Traitor!” The voice that screamed was guttural and furious; surely the Klingon Santay? The sound of a shot, and short cry.

Heart in her throat, Jo crept forward steadily.

“This isn’t going to work, DaraQ,” Uncle Jim was saying, but sounding strangely choked. “You’re not leaving here, one way or another. And your little ‘movement’ is going to die here.”

Another guttural howl of fury, and the sound of fists on flesh. Jo looked down from the high end of the disembarkation platform at the fight below. The Klingon Santay was over a head taller than Jim, his armored chest massive as the pair of them grappled in hand-to-hand combat. Rea was on the floor nearby, crumpled in a heap, but no pools of blood: surely that was a good sign? Taking a deep breath, she hurried down the ramp and checked Rea’s pulse: faint but steady.

Jim and DaraQ continued to fight, oblivious to her; nearby was a door that said STAFF ONLY in block letters over a dark window. She peered inside: it was the space for the operator of the bridging mechanism that supplied the lock between the starbase and the Klingon vessel. There were two big buttons and a lever on it, helpfully labeled with block letters that stated, variously, Engage airlock, Disengage airlock, and Emergency override.

Something like a plan started to form in Jo’s mind.

She grabbed Rea’s wrists, pulling her into the little compartment for safety. It was then that, with a victorious cry, DaraQ picked Jim up and bodily threw him across the room, where he landed next to Jo with a sickening thud. “Oh this is bad,” she said to herself, and reached for her phaser….which wasn’t there.

Which she had dropped less than hour ago, a half mile away, when she saw Rea again.

“Shit!” She grabbed Jim’s wrists and pulled him into the compartment as fast as she could; she locked them all inside barely in time as DaraQ came up to the window, laughing at them maliciously.

“Ha!” said the Santay. “You little Terranan, trapped like the vermin you are.” He snorted.
“Qes told me about you. You are the child of the Federation doctor. You know nothing of warcraft.” He leaned toward the window, baring his teeth with an awful grin. He slammed his forehead ridges into the glass, cracking it. “Maybe I’ll kill your Captain, and take you and your whore with me. I will break you, vermin.”

“Funny thing,” Jo said, and was proud of how her voice didn’t shake as she looked directly into his murderous, mad eyes. “Everyone remembers I’m a McCoy, but they all forget the one thing that always matters.”

DaraQ punched the broken glass with his fist this time, opening up a hand-sized hole. “And what’s that?”

“That I take after my Mama, you asshole.” And she hit the Disengage airlock button. The starbase’s emergency system automatically created a force-field over the broken glass, a translucent skin of energy that sealed them in safely.

DaraQ’s face was confused, but there was a split-second that Jo would never be able to erase from her mind: his expression of horror as the air around him decompressed, as he was forced out of the airlock, sliding along his unmoored vessel, and was sucked into the cold vacuum of space.

~

“I thought I said no heroics,” Jim said sometime later as he and Rea limped to Medical, Joanna awkwardly between them as their Human crutch. “Your Dad is going to kill me.”

“Don’t tell him, then,” Jo said with great practicality. “Also you need to work out a little more. You’re heavier than you used to be.”

“Well don’t sew me into a girdle just yet,” Jim said with a put-upon grunt. He looked up at the artificial snow that was falling around them. “I guess Scotty’s still working on fixing the atmospheric controls.”

Jo grinned: between the snow and the blinking—merrily, if damaged—lights around them, the Yorktown presented a familiar, fantastical picture. “It’s just like a Christmas snowglobe!”

Rea looked at her oddly. “What’s a snowglobe?”



EPILOGUE

Starbase Yorktown, December 25, 2263

Fleeters hold only two kinds of parties. The first kind is decorous, with good wine, classical music, and formality. The second kind is for friends and comrades, the relief of being alive, loud music, and...beer pong.

“Some things never change,” Leonard observed as he watched the partiers, even more enthusiastic and effervescent in light of their most recent adventure. Ben held a laughing Demora, and Hikaru brushed some of the child’s hair out of her eyes. Scotty, Keenser, and Gaila (who had been released earlier, both because the brig was temporarily….slightly exploded, and because of her acts of heroism; she was getting a commendation now!) were chatting animatedly and sketching on napkins as only engineers could do—God only knew what they were planning now. Probably something brilliant, though.

“A little change isn’t terrible.” Jim nodded at where Spock and Nyota were engrossed in each other, and under the mistletoe at that.

“Our very own Christmas miracle?” Leonard ruffled his hair affectionately, making Jim wince as he brushed too close with the healing bruise he still sported on the side of his face (dermal regenerators really could do only so much). “Sorry,” he said. “You and your big damn heroics.”

Jim opened his mouth to argue, then, unaccountably, shut it. “You have a great daughter there,” he said instead, nodding his head at Jo. As if she heard him, Jo looked up and grinned at both of them. She raised her glass to them in a cocky salute, and almost immediately became absorbed in braiding a couple of glow sticks into bracelets for Rea, the girls laughing with their heads close. You almost wouldn’t notice the small blinking security monitor on the darker girl’s ankle.

When the dust settled and everything got sorted out, Jim had interceded on Rea’s behalf. He pointed out her roles in stopping DaraQ and saving the starbase: it turned out she’d sabotaged the terrorists’ explosives ahead of time, creating lots of mayhem but no direct casualties. Even more importantly, there was now a secondary, and highly official, investigation into the “lost children” she had grown up with and what happened to them. But good intentions only went so far with the authorities; her best case scenario would be a period of rehabilitation followed by a six month re-education program where she learned about being a Federation citizen. Eight months, a year, more? That was a long time when you were young, even when you were as in love as Jo and Rea seemed to be.

“Think they’ll be okay?” Leonard asked Jim softly, his eyes still on them. Chekov had brought over drinks with a sheepish grin, and all three laughed at something with the exuberant spirits of the young.

“I’m not sure, but Jo will be,” Jim said definitively. “Your daughter’s a tough kid.”

“She’s not just mine, you know,” Leonard pointed out, and Jim smiled at him.

“I know,” he said. “Merry Christmas, Bones.”

“Merry Christmas to you, too,” Leonard said, and kissed him as the snow continued to fall—not because of control damage, but because it was the holidays.



Author’s Notes

The “House of Mo’Kai” was introduced in Star Trek: Discovery as the house of “watchers and spies” so I borrowed them here. The decimation of the Imperial Fleet by Nero is referenced in XI when Uhura intercepts the message about the destruction of forty-seven ships. Klingon words and phrases came from Mark Okrand’s The Klingon Dictionary. Any errors are my own!</i></i>

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