Demora Sulu sat heavily in a chair inside her cabin. She kept the lighting on low, too tired to care about raising it, and finding it better on her nerves right now than full lights. She thought about getting up and ordering the replicator to make her something, but she couldn't think of what she wanted and the walk over to the panel seemed like miles. Even her computer station chiming that she had a message was a hassle, because now she had to find the energy to go over there and talk.
Then it sunk in: the message was from Hikaru Sulu, once helmsman of the Enterprise (she had followed in his footsteps there) and former captain of the Excelsior. Her father. She got over there pretty fast after that.
"Hello, Demora." He smiled at her, but he looked like he was -- well, bracing himself.
She leaned over her chair, bending down to face the screen. "Hi, Dad. Is everything okay?"
The smile got less serious, more for pleasure. "Why do you always think that?"
"I don't always think it. And you have that face where you sooner or later say, 'The reason I called is...'"
"All right, I do have something to talk to you about." But the real smile was still there. Thankfully. "I just talked with Ambassador Spock. You know he and Saavik just had twin girls."
Demora kept waiting for what he really wanted to say. "I know. That's incredible."
"Yes, it is. Twins, even identical ones, are rare for Vulcans."
Demora almost wanted to yell Get on with it. The wait made her picture all the bad things he could be leading into. "Was that the only reason he called?"
"No." Now came the moment when her father prepared himself to tell her the point. Her tired muscles ached in her back from the tension. "Do you remember when I told you McCoy and Uhura had this mental link with Spock's son, Setik? So they could be his -- the Vulcans call it the mekh-rá. It's a like guardian or role model. Saavik and Spock did it so Setik could learn from them -- Len and Ny -- about his human side."
Interesting stuff, but Come on, Dad! "I remember."
"They called me because --" Then he finally came right to the point. That same strength in his deep voice that calmed so many nervous crewmen. "They asked me if I would be Sa-mekh-rá for their daughter T'Kel."
She blinked. "But -- Dad, that's -- that's great! What an honor! They have to think really highly of you to ask you. Right?"
"Yes. And I am deeply honored."
"Then what's the problem? I don't get why you're acting like this is a bad thing."
"Demora, you do know I'll have to have the mental link with T'Kel."
"Of course you will, Dad. Wait -- does that bother you? I wouldn't think--"
"No, it doesn't bother me. Demora... " When did he stop smiling? "I only hesitated because -- I didn't want to upset you."
"I know I wasn't there as much as I should have been for you. I know it hurt you. And for me to be this for someone else's daughter--"
"No! No, wait--" Demora hurriedly sat down and leaned into the screen. She pushed her dark hair out of her eyes. "No, Dad. I know I said that to you a few times, but -- Dad, I was a kid! A stupid kid. You were great, I know that. And you'll be great for this little girl! That's why they asked you. I'm not jealous or think it's bad. I think it's great. I mean that. And we've had too many good times for me to think anything else. I'm proud of you. I brag about you all the time."
At last, his smile was back, bigger and happier than before. "Thank you, Demora. I wouldn't do this if it bothered you at all. I could tell Spock and Saavik I don't want the mindlink--"
"You better not!" She grinned back at him. "Because it doesn't bother me either. In fact, you're almost giving that baby sister I always asked you for."
Her father laughed. "I'll leave that part out when I call them back."
"Call them now. And, Dad. Congratulations! It's terrific news. And don't forget," she made up a little tune. "I gotta baby sister! I gotta baby sister!"
He was still chuckling when he signed off. For the sheer fun of it after a bad day, Demora still sang as she turned from the desk. "I gotta baby sister!" She added a little shake to her hips in time to it. "I gotta baby sister!"
The comm signaled again and she answered, still doing her little song and dance. Her father must be calling back with something else, details on the whole thing that he forgot to mention, and she wanted him to see her happy little routine.
"I gotta baby sister! I gotta baby sister!" She put in a little sidekick and turned back to the screen. "I gotta--"
Ambassador Spock lifted an eyebrow. Captain Saavik, Commander of Starfleet's forces on Vulcan, had the dry look of an officer catching a junior doing something utterly ridiculous. "I believe we have interrupted you," she said.
Even with all the braid on her dress uniform, with all her rank, Demora stumbled like a cadet. Or worse. Like the kid she had been when she ran around Starfleet Academy and ran into then Lieutenant Saavik who had given her a much sterner look than this. "No! Ma'am. I'm sorry I didn't answer you more-- normally. I thought you were someone else. My father."
Spock's other eyebrow lifted to meet the first as he nodded. "May we assume he spoke with you about our request?"
"Yes, he did. And I think it's great," Demora blurted. She wished the carpet would swallow her up and end her misery.
"Are you certain?" Saavik asked. "He did not speak of it, but we know he was concerned about your reaction. We do not wish to make you uncomfortable. If you prefer, we will withdraw--"
"No! Ma'am. Please don't do that." She let a big breath and put that cadet back in time where she belonged. "I honestly have no problems with your request. In fact, I can't thank you enough. This is a wonderful thing for him and I'm very proud that he's the kind of person you would consider as a sponsor for your daughter. It's a great honor."
"He does us the honor by accepting," Spock said, earning Demora's eternal respect. She had met Spock and Saavik before, of course. Not including the time she had accidentally barreled into Saavik at the Academy. And yes, they could be intimidating. Suddenly, Demora felt warmed that they were worried about upsetting her, so much so that they called her personally.
And now, in a way, they were all going to be -- connected. Demora and her father, linked to the Vulcan family. She'd have to check out this T'Kel.
As if on cue, Saavik said, "We would also be honored if you would attend T'Kel's Naming Day ceremony. It is where your father will become her Sa-mekh-rá. You may wish time before you make your decision."
I don't need time for that one at all. "The honor's mine. I would love to be there. Thank you."
They ended the call after promising to send her the details. When the screen went dark, Demora sat inside the new world that had just opened up around her and wondered what she would find. She got up to change for bed, a whole lot lighter than before. She sang softly to herself, "I gotta baby sister... "