Bean Me Up
The doors leading from the bedroom of Jim and Spock’s living quarters hissed open. Sitting at his desk, Spock watched as his bondmate entered the room. Jim looked as though he was feeling absolutely miserable. His eyes were bloodshot, encompassed by dark bags on a gaunt, pale looking face. Obviously the nap that he’d been trying to take had not gone well. His blond hair was mussed up from his pillow from all of the restless tossing and turning that he’d been doing in bed. His arms were folded across his chest, partially concealing the soft swelling of his abdomen.
Spock felt a moment of sympathy for his bondmate as Jim made his way across the room to the replicator. Jim was in the last month of his first trimester with their fourth child. They were already parents to Rose, aged 5 years, and twins Gabriel and Holly, aged 10 months. Like his two previous successful pregnancies, Jim was having a rough time of this one. Some people could sail through pregnancy with little or no difficulty; his bondmate was not one of those people, however.
Jim stood in front of the replicator in silence, staring at the unit’s menu selection. From his vantage point Spock couldn’t tell exactly what type of food Jim was looking at, but he could see his spouse scrolling through the entire section several times. After making his third pass through the list, Jim walked away from the unit without ordering anything, sighing a bit.
Spock turned off his computer monitor, giving his bondmate his full attention now. “You found nothing appealing, t’hy’la?” He found himself frowning ever so slightly now. Spock couldn’t say for certain that Jim had even eaten anything yet that morning. With the greater demands on his body making him tired all of the time, his bondmate was rising later in the morning now, and Spock had needed to be in the biology lab early today to finish analyzing some soil samples. Thus he wasn’t sure if Jim had bothered with breakfast after he had finally woken up. “You could always have Chef prepare you something special from the galley if nothing that the replicator has on file looks appetizing. Or I could prepare you a meal, if you would prefer.”
Jim lay down on their sofa, curling up on his left side in a half fetal position. His arms were still crossed over his stomach. “No Spock, that’s okay.”
Spock heard the catch in his bondmate’s voice as he spoke, the tightness of his vocal chords indicating that Jim was much more upset than he was letting on. Spock left his desk behind and joined his spouse on the sofa, sitting down on the end and drawing Jim’s head into his lap. He ran a calming hand through his bondmate’s messy hair and down along the side of his neck. “How can I help?”
“You can’t,” Jim replied. “There is literally nothing you can do.”
His bondmate wiped some moisture from the corners of his eyes. Tears of frustration, Spock realized. Through all the misery of each of his pregnancies – the aches, the pains, the swelling, the mood swings, the lack of energy, the morning sickness, and a multitude of more serious issues – Jim rarely, if ever, complained. He normally bore the discomforts with an almost Vulcan-like stoic acceptance. Spock knew why this was the case: in addition to his pregnancies with Rose and with Gabriel and Holly, Jim had also experienced two miscarriages. From his bondmate’s perspective, complaining about being pregnant was practically a statement of ingratitude. Better to be physically miserable and pregnant than physically normal after recovering from yet another miscarriage.
Spock passed his left hand down to his bondmate’s shoulder. He left it there, cupping the joint, lending his unspoken strength to his spouse. “Please Jim, tell me what is wrong.”
There was a long pause before Jim said anything at all.
“I’m tired, Spock,” Jim finally confessed.
“That is natural,” Spock said in reassurance, giving his bondmate’s shoulder a squeeze. “The first trimester is the most demanding time, thanks to the rapid development of the Vulcan fetal brain. But you will not be in this phase of your pregnancy for much longer. Soon your energy level should return to a more normal level.”
“No Spock,” Jim said, shaking his head a little. “I mean, I’m tired. All of the time. That’s all I can think about, the only thing I feel every moment I’m awake. It’s a constant interference in my day. It’s keeping me from being a dad to our kids. Gabe and Holly are trying to learn how to walk, and I’m not there to help them take those steps. Rose comes home from kindergarten every day, excited about all the things that she learned. She wants to share everything with me, and I can’t find it within me to give her the sort of enthusiasm that she’s looking for in response. I’m constantly stuck in bed because I’m so tired. I’m missing out on precious time with our kids that I’ll never get back, not to mention time spent with you.”
“We could always cut a few hours from your duty roster. That way you could rest more during the day while our children are in primary care. Hopefully then you would have more energy for activities with them during the afternoon and evening hours. As for myself, I hardly feel neglected due to your lack of active presence lately. As I have previously stated, I am more than aware that this phase of your pregnancy is a temporary state of affairs. It would be illogical to blame you for something which is beyond your control.”
“I’ve already cut back on my duty hours,” Jim pointed out. “It’s helped, but it isn’t enough.”
“What would you like to do to remedy the situation?” Spock asked.
“I just need a way to get through the worst of the lows – a little pick me-up to help me through the points when I want to be more awake and present when things are going on.” Jim let out a sarcastic little snort. “In other words: caffeine. But I can’t have that, so why are we even having this conversation?”
Spock gave his bondmate a quizzical uptick of his right eyebrow. “Why are you unable to consume caffeine? I know you do not care for most coffee blends, but the computer also has a wide selection of tea and other assorted caffeinated beverages on file.”
Jim rolled his eyes, annoyed, as though Spock was asking him a rhetorical question. “Well…I’m pregnant, obviously. Too much caffeine isn’t good for the baby.”
Spock nodded slightly now, understanding where his bondmate had gone wrong in his line of thinking. “Caffeine has little effect on Vulcan physiology. Black tea or herbal tea: it would make no difference to our child as she grows within you.”
“Yes, but our daughter is partly human,” Jim responded.
“True. However, I believe that you have already pointed out the key to this situation: moderation. There is obviously a point where you could consume too much – if it starts interfering with your ability to sleep, or if you become totally dependent upon it to function. As long as you monitor your intake and do not allow it to become excessive, our child’s Vulcan physiology will protect her from any deleterious effects.” Spock moved his hand from his bondmate’s shoulder down to the subtle swelling of his abdomen. “We should consult with Dr. McCoy and Dr. M’Benga to confirm that this is the case, but I believe it is safe for you to enjoy a cup of tea when you feel that it is needed.”
“Spock, why did you never tell me this before?” Jim grumbled. “It would have been nice to know this particular piece of information one or two pregnancies ago.”
“You never brought the subject up,” Spock stated simply, his fingers lightly caressing Jim’s stomach. “Sometimes your stubborn refusal to express your discomforts is quite illogical, Jim.”
Jim’s mouth opened and closed a few times as though he wanted to refute Spock’s statement, but it was hard to argue with basic Vulcan logic. He brushed Spock’s hand aside, sitting up on the sofa. “Well don’t just sit there, ashayam. Go order me some tea from the replicator already.”
The subtlest of satisfied smiles appeared on Spock’s face. Jim would never admit it to him, but Spock knew that this small concession, this simple solution, would make a world of difference to his bondmate. However reluctantly, Jim had let him help make a trying situation a little less wearing. That was thanks enough for Spock.
“Of course, t’hy’la,” he answered, rising instantly from his seated position.