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Chapter 1: The Tree Bears No Fruit

 

Jim sat on the very edge of the biobed, his legs and feet swinging underneath the horizontal plane of the elevated medical bed. The fingers of his right hand tapped with nervous energy in rapid succession against his thigh. His eyes were fixed firmly on the drawn privacy curtain as he waited impatiently for the two sections of cloth to part.

 

Every time he heard a set of footfalls on the other side of the curtain, he felt his breath get caught in his throat. But then his heart, racing in his chest, would remind him to begin the process of exhaling and inhaling once again as the footfalls continued on past. It sure felt like there were an awful lot of people walking around sickbay today, even though the majority of the individuals there at the moment were merely members of the Beta shift medical team going about their regular duties. Jim wiped his sweaty palms on his thighs, hoping against hope that today’s trip to sickbay would be the one that would finally yield happy news to share with Spock and their three and a half year old daughter, Rose.

 

When the privacy curtain finally admitted McCoy with the noisy sounds of clicking and swishing of the cloth material moving on the metallic hanging rail, Jim nearly jumped three feet in the air. At this exact instant he was as high strung and excitable as Pickwick, the family’s gray and white striped Scottish Fold tabby cat. His right hand jumped from his thigh to his chest as the speed of his heartbeats skyrocketed again. Apparently his heart thought that he had suddenly become a Vulcan, because Jim was sure that right now his heart would give Spock’s heart, which normally ran at 212 beats per minute, an easy run for his money on the racetrack.

 

“Well?” He asked. The single word question was filled poignantly with equal parts anticipation and dread.

 

Jim knew what the answer was going to be before McCoy even opened his mouth. His best friend’s body language told him all that he needed to know. Bones approached the biobed and outstretched a hand, which was laid firmly on his left shoulder. The touch was shortly followed by the light pressure of fingers into the joint as McCoy squeezed his shoulder consolingly.

 

“I’m sorry, Jim. The tests came back negative again.”

 

In a split second’s time, Jim’s heart went from flying in his throat to crashing into the deepest pit of his stomach as his hopes were dashed all to pieces yet again. He barely managed to nod back to his friend. “Okay, thanks.”

 

McCoy’s other hand came to rest bracingly on his opposite shoulder. “Don’t give up yet, kid. I haven’t. Nor have M’Benga or Phlox.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim wiped the back of one hand over his mouth, feeling a bit sick to his stomach. He swallowed against the hard lump that was currently in residence in his throat. “I should go tell Spock. I told him I’d let him know immediately, one way or the other.”

 

Jim’s blue eyes were fixed firmly on the floor as he slid off the biobed. His mind was already trying to find the words that he’d use to inform his spouse that they’d failed once more to get pregnant again, but it seemed a futile effort. After nearly three years of trying for another baby, there weren’t any new ways to be found of sharing the same piece of disappointing news.

 

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