When the transporter malfunctioned, the result left Lieutenant-Commander Scott gaping. In place of Captain Kirk on the transporter pad, a small boy stood lost and confused.
Six-year-old Jimmy didn’t know where he was or how he’d gotten there. This was like the time he’d lost sight of Sam at the grocery store, with the long aisles that towered above his head and strangers all around. Having been in his room with Sam only moments ago, he searched for his brother.
"Where’s Sam?" Jimmy asked the gaping man.
"This cannae be good," Scott said to himself. "Scott to bridge."
Jimmy looked down at himself. His clothes were huge. Too big even for Sam. The man in red still hadn’t told him where Sam was.
"Ye’d better get down here, Commander," Scott said. "There’s been a wee problem transporting the cap’n."
"I am on my way. Spock out."
Jimmy didn’t move. He realized he was on a ship. The Starfleet insignia was a household emblem. It flashed on the computer screen every time his mom called. He could only assume that he was there because of his mom.
The transporter room doors hissed open. Spock’s broad figure appeared. His dark eyes swept the room and settled on the towheaded boy buried in the captain’s uniform.
"Fascinating," Spock said with a quirk of his brow. He turned to Scott. "Am I to understand that this boy appeared in the captain’s stead?"
"Aye, I’ve turned the cap’n into a tyke."
"Please inform Dr. McCoy of the situation and request his presence." While the engineer called sickbay, Spock approached the transporter pad. He stopped midway when the boy flinched back. "I am Commander Spock. You are aboard a Federation starship. There is no cause for alarm."
"Where’s Sam?" Jimmy asked again. He gave the tall Vulcan a beseeching look. Then he turned to the man in red. "Where’s my brother?"
Standing by the console as he waited for a response from Dr. McCoy, Scott asked, "How old are ye, laddie?"
"Six and a half," Jimmy said. He looked back to the Vulcan. "Is my brother here? I’m not supposed to go anywhere without him."
"He is not aboard this vessel," Spock said. Hands clasped behind his back, he tried to appear as unimposing as possible. "May I approach?"
It took Jimmy a moment to decide. He nodded and tried to remember what Sam had told him about Vulcans. They didn’t lie or ever hurt people, and they were really strong. Vulcans were like superheroes without costumes.
"Dr. McCoy’s in surgery," Scott reported. "Dr. M’Benga is coming instead."
"It is no matter. I will escort the captain to sickbay myself."
"Are ye sure, Commander?"
"Quite." Spock knelt to one knee. "James, will you allow me to carry you?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Sure." When strong hands lifted him, his pants and shoes fell away. "My clothes are too big," he said, not quite a question.
"Is my mom here?"
"No, James. You are quite out of place. I will endeavor to ease whatever concerns you have, but must ask for your continued cooperation as we attempt to understand the reason for your being here."
"Am I in trouble?"
Jimmy leaned back, braced on the Vulcan’s arm. "How’d I get here?"
"You were transported via particle disassembly and reassembly."
"Can I call Sam?"
A twinge of regret rose in Spock. He had not realized the captain was so close to his brother. George Samuel Kirk died approximately four months ago on Deneva. "No, it is impossible to reach your brother at this time."
Large blue eyes were pleading. Confusion and fear emanated from the boy as readily as his human heat. Compelled to relieve these fears, Spock said, "If you are amenable, you may consider me your brother, as I consider you such in many respects."
Jimmy thought this was a funny thing to suggest. They couldn’t be brothers, but the offer was appealing. "Can I tell everyone you’re my brother?"
"I see no need for secrecy."
Jimmy gave a shy smile. "Wait ‘til the guys at school hear. Vulcans are so cool!"
Endeared to the boy, Spock smiled with a bare twitch of his lips. He did not regret the unbecoming display of emotion.
"He’s a cute one, isn’t he?" Scott said, grinning like a loon. "And probably a rascal. I’d keep a close eye on him, Commander."
Spock inclined his head. "Such was my intention."
"I’ll get to figuring out how to set things to right, Sir."
With a parting nod, Spock carried the captain to sickbay. He was hard pressed to turn him over to anyone else. The captain was charming at twenty-six, but at six the boy was positively enchanting. Spock began to wonder if it were necessary to reverse the condition. His argument with Dr. McCoy over whose quarters James would sleep in seemed to indicate that he was not the only one fond of keeping the captain young.
"I get him tomorrow, you selfish bastard," McCoy said.
"We shall see."
Hidden beneath a biobed, Jimmy laughed. Mr. Bones and Mr. Spock still hadn’t found him. A starship was the greatest place for hide-and-seek.