In some ways, calling his mother was harder than calling the man who would be now listed as his biological father on his medical records. He cared about what she thought of him. He didn't think she would disapprove of his choice to take custody but he was worried she would think he was being taken advantage of by Montoya.
He fidgeted while waiting for the transmission to connect, tapping nervously at his desk. When the screen flashed to reveal his mother, he was momentarily struck by how similar she looked to Cassandra Reardon. Even in her sixties, May Kincaid was still beautiful, her hair still a honey blonde and her blue eyes as bright as ever. Apparently, Montoya has a type,
Kincaid thought sourly to himself.
"Jesse?" May immediately inquired in surprise. She was in her office, the wall behind her showing off the latest plans for the colony's farming operations. As the lead agricultural engineer for Solosos III, she oversaw farming for the whole colony. "What's wrong?" she asked sharply.
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to be taking some leave and coming home."
"Why?" she interrupted, before he had a chance to tell her. "I'd love to have you home but I've been trying to convince you for two years you need a vacation. What's happened?"
"If you'll let me finish, Mom," Kincaid continued, but with a smile. He briefly explained the situation, but finished with, "So I'm taking custody. I thought that I could spend a few weeks at home with him and you, getting him used to our family, while Starfleet works out where I will be assigned."
May was looking at the picture he had sent over of Jacob. "He looks just like you when you were a little boy."
"Yeah, I know. It's how I realized we had to be related."
"Of course." May straightened and gave her son a smile. "So, when are you sending him to live with me?"
Kincaid blinked in shock. "What do you mean? We'll visit, of course, but I'm going to get a posting where I can raise him myself."
"Jesse, don't be ridiculous. I'm not going to allow you to drag that child hither and yon while you serve on this ship or that starbase. That's no way to raise a child. Children need air, and sunshine, and dirt. You'll send him to me and he can be raised properly, here."
"Mom," Kincaid tried to interrupt. "I..."
"I told you before when you thought you were going to marry that Cynthia girl. Over my dead body are you going to raise your children on some tin can in space. It's one thing if you were going to be posted to Earth, but you're not, so give him to me."
"Mom, are you sure about this? I mean, he's not related to you."
May waved her hand. "He's your brother. That makes him related to me."
"You're going to retire next year. Are you sure you want a little kid around the house?"
"Can you think of a better way to stay active? I tried to take up painting, like Cheryl suggested, but it's not for me, Jesse." May turned to think over an idea. "I'll give him that room I set up as a studio. It's a waste to leave it and he can pick out the color for the walls and how he'd like it arranged. It'll be good for him to mark something as his space."
"You could keep the studio and give him my room."
"That's your room. He can have his own." May paused, then added thoughtfully, "I should go to Starbase 310 and pick him up myself. It's better if he gets to know me right away, rather than be with strangers on his way here. The poor thing."
"If... you think that's best, Mom."
"I do. You know, Jacob was on my list of names for you. But then the Berhardts named their son Jacob and I didn't want you to share the name with a boy who would be in your class." May took out a PADD from her desk and began to make a list. "Make sure you get the starbase to send his medical and school records. I need to know what size he is too, to make sure he has the proper jackets and boots. Oh, and I need to know if he has any aptitude or interest in any sports. I'll want to get his name on the lists right away to make sure he has a spot to play next season."
"Of course." Kincaid gave his mother a grin. "Thank you."
"No thank yous are necessary for family, Jesse. You know that. Now go, make the arrangements. I'm going to have to make some of my own to take some time off. Give me a call later with the details I need to know and I'll arrange for transport."
"I could do that, Mom."
"You have enough to do. You're the executive officer of the Farragut
but I'm the captain of this child now. It's my responsibility. I'll speak to you soon."
"Of course, Mom," Kincaid conceded.
"Yes, 'Captain?'" he said with a smirk.
She chuckled softly, but drew a hand to her lips to kiss them with her eyes closed. She reached out with the same hand toward him on the screen. In a soft tone, she told him, "I'm really proud of you."
Kincaid was more nervous standing outside the observation room in sickbay than he had been as a midshipman on his first day of classes at the Academy. Paxton seemed to be able to see this because the man clapped a hand on his shoulder and told him, "You'll be fine." Kincaid nodded in reply once then made the decision to go into the room himself.
Jacob was in there, sitting at the little table while still playing the game on the PADD he had earlier. When the door opened to let in the two men, he merely looked up at them but didn't say a word.
"Jacob," Paxton began, walking over to the little boy and crouching down so he could be on the same level. "This is Jesse Kincaid, the man we found who is your big brother. He's a commander in Starfleet and the executive officer of this ship. Remember I told you about him earlier?" The child nodded but did not say anything as he looked at the officer with a blank expression.
Kincaid took that as his opening. "Hi, Jacob. I've been really looking forward to meeting you." Taking a cue from Paxton, he took got down to the child's level, though he managed to fold himself into one of the small seats at the table. Up close, he could see that Jacob's eyes were as blue as his mother's. "I wanted to show you something," he continued, putting another PADD on the table. "Do you know who that is is in that picture?"
Jacob examined the picture of the small child in front of a rock formation and a small frown came to his face. "Is it me?" he asked finally in a quiet voice.
Kincaid smiled and shook his head. "No, that's me when I was your age. But that's how I knew right away we were brothers, because we look so alike." He looked over the PADD and added, "If you look at the next picture, you'll see the house where I grew up."
Jacob carefully swiped the image to view the next one, which was of a modest but well-kept home. "That's the house where I lived with my mother. Her name is May. We come from Solosos III; that's where this house is right now. My mother is still there. She is the head agricultural engineer for the whole colony, which means she oversees all the farming."
Kincaid led him through all the pictures, showing him the inside of the house where he would get his own room, explaining the names of the mountain ranges, and showing him the nearby river and parks. He showed off the school and the ballparks, and the tree house shaped like a Constitution-class starship Jim Garrison had built for the children in the neighborhood.
"I know you haven't lived on a planet before, Jacob, but it's really a lot of fun. You can hear the wind blow, and watch the rain and snow come down. You can go fishing in the river and play in a park with real grass," Kincaid finished up.
"I bet you could even really go camping, like you and David always talk about doing," Paxton chimed in, trying the draw out the still silent child.
"Absolutely," Kincaid quickly agreed. "I used to go camping a lot when I was kid. I would look up at the stars and trying to count them too." He smiled again, ruefully. "I always lost count though."
When the boy still didn't say anything, Kincaid added, "I know it's all very strange and new for you. You just met me, and soon you'll meet my mom, May, who you're going to live with. She's a really good mom, probably almost as good as your mom. I think you're going to like her a lot and she's very excited to meet you.
"I just want you to know that you're my brother, and making sure you're okay is really important to me. That's why I thought you might like to live on Solosos III, with my mom. I had such a good time growing up there and I think you will too. And even though I might be far away sometimes, I'm always going to be there for you, because that's what brothers do. If you ever need anything, or just want to talk to me, you just have to call." Kincaid took a breath and ventured, "Does that sound okay to you?"
Jacob flipped through some of the pictures again, then looked up at his brother to ask, "Can I pick the color of my new room?"
Kincaid gave him a big smile in return. "Absolutely. Any color you want."
Paxton chimed in again at this point, asking Jacob, "Would you like if your brother came back to the station with us to have dinner? You can talk about what color your room should be."
"Okay. And I can show him my pictures," the boy added, finally giving Kincaid a shy smile in return.
"I'd really like that, Jacob," Kincaid answered happily.
Abbie was already nursing a cup of cocoa in Ten Forward, enjoying a moment's rest after her shift before Kincaid joined her for dinner. She figured he would be late, since he was saying goodbye to Jacob before the ship pushed off from the station.
Ariel Elannis and Wilson Nieves entered the lounge together, mid-conversation. Ariel spotted Abbie and she led Wilson toward her table. "Hell of a day, today," Ariel said as she put her hand on the back of one of the chairs. "Do you mind if we join you?"
The science officer consciously let her expression go neutral and she shrugged a shoulder. "I was just waiting for Commander Kincaid to join me," she noted.
Wilson hesitated. "If we're disturbing you..."
"Oh no," Abbie replied easily, lifting her cup to take a sip.
They both took an empty seat next to each other. Wilson smiled. "Thank you. I was just telling Ariel that she missed her golden opportunity to resume being our executive officer."
"And I was informing our soon-to-be-demoted security chief that I didn't want the damn job," Ariel replied through gritted teeth. In the next sentence, she spoke normally, "I think Willie is after my
He held his hands up. "No, thank you. I'm happy in security for the time being."
Ariel leveled her gaze toward Abbie. She leaned forward to rest her elbows atop the table. "Though, while I'm glad he's sticking around here, I have to say that I didn't see any of this coming."
"Well, things have a way of working out for the best," Abbie responded, glancing at the doors to see if the commander had arrived. Instead, she watched as the lead flight controller entered instead.
Wilson turned to see what captured Abbie's attention, then smiled. "Hey, Greg," he called out to him.
Greg approached the table, but his eyeline was attuned to the corner of the lounge. "Good evening, everyone. I'd stay and chat, but I have a previous engagement. Enjoy yourselves." Without waiting for a response from anyone, he darted away and into the corner where Lieutenant Victoria Waltham awaited.
Ariel tilted her head. "Wow. Who's the new girl?"
"Lieutenant Waltham. She transferred aboard a couple of days ago to work in personnel," replied Wilson.
"She works quickly, doesn't she?" noted Ariel amusedly.
"I'm sure there's nothing untoward. Not all of us are driven by biology."
Abbie snorted derisively. "Certainly not. In this case, she's driven by his surname and he's driven by his grief. It won't end well."
Both Wilson and Ariel dropped their smiles. Ariel spoke first, "He's been through alot this past month."
"We've been trying not to crowd him," Wilson added. He turned his head toward the seemingly-happy couple. "It's not easy the first time you lose someone you're close to when you're on the job."
"I know exactly how hard it is to lose a friend in the line of duty. But screwing away the pain only ends up increasing it." Abbie set down her cup, adding, "Greg's been allowed to coast through everything on his own terms, it seems. If you guys really want to help him, you will crowd him a little. I know Isira would, but he basically runs every time he sees her."
Wilson traded a look with Ariel before speaking. "We tried. In the beginning, around the week after we lost Tommy. He didn't want to talk about it. And I know about the counselor trying to help him, and I wish he would let her."
"Krys knows about it. I know she's talked to uh... Isira," Ariel rested her head down on her arms. "What I really want to do is go over there and slap him around, but look at him. I know he was forcing his smiles, but he looks like he's really enjoying himself for the first time since then."
"You should try talking to him now. And trust me, this is... false happiness. When it crashes, it's going to just magnify how bad it all seems," Abbie predicted sourly.
Wilson nodded and rose out of his seat. He started toward them, but when Greg leaned in to give Victoria a decidedly friendly kiss, he quickly backpedaled. "Uh..." he managed sit back down before the pair slipped out of the lounge. "Shit," he said, turning back toward Abbie. "That escalated quickly."
"And that's what I'm talking about. Three months, tops," Abbie confirmed her prediction with a timeline.
"Three months for what?" asked Kincaid. "And hello, you two," he said to Wilson and Ariel. "I wasn't expecting you guys for dinner, tonight."
"For the implosion of Greg and the new personnel officer," Abbie replied, giving Kincaid a grin. "How'd it go with Jacob?"
"We kind of invited ourselves, sir," replied Wilson, as Ariel straightened up to sit properly in her seat. "Hope you don't mind."
Kincaid merely replied with an "ah," regarding Greg. "Of course not, Lieutenant. The more, the merrier." He settled into the remaining empty seat and smiled. "I think it went very well. I know he's going to love my mom when he finally meets her in person."
"When is she arriving?" Abbie wondered, signaling for a waiter.
"Less than a week, about five days," said Kincaid. After they placed their orders, he continued, "I'll be taking some leave in a few months to go visit and spend some time with him."
Ariel smiled. "I'm not sure my mom and dad would've reacted the way your mom did. You're really lucky."
"Oh, she's nothing short of amazing," Kincaid said proudly. "Single mom for the most part, though the colony adults kind of all take part in raising the kids. But, yes... I'm very lucky to have her."
"How come you're not taking any leave now?" Abbie wondered. "Or is it because of sending mixed signals to Jacob regarding his primary caregiver...yeah," she answered her own question with a nod.
"Are you just listening in on my conversations with Isira, or what?" Kincaid asked in return. "How do you do that?"
Abbie just shrugged. "I don't know; it's natural, like how you naturally can't bluff at poker. Oh, here's the food," she replied with a grin.
Kincaid chuckled. "Well, there goes any chance of me getting into a game on this
ship, I guess." He leaned back as his dinner was presented on the table. After the waiters left, he continued. "But I still wanted to make sure he knew that I was still there for him, so I went to the replimat and got a stuffed teddy bear with a white stomach and put my handprint on it in blue paint. That way he can put his hand on it and feel connected to me."
"Wow, that's really thoughtful. Did Isira suggest that?" Abbie inquired, only to take a large bite out of her bacon cheeseburger.
"Uh, no. I thought of it."
The science officer grinned as she chewed through the bite, then swallowed before saying, "Isira is right. You are going to be a good father someday."
Kincaid lowered his head to smile, then retrieved a holograph from his jacket's inside pocket. "I guess you can be the judge on that. We took this before the ship shoved off." He handed it to Abbie. "Pass it around."
Abbie activated the holograph and saw a picture of Kincaid and his little brother, both smiling at the camera. Jacob was clutching the bear. "He's a pretty cute kid," she pronounced before handing it off to Wilson.
Wilson grinned and leaned in to show Ariel. "That's adorable," he said.
"Strong resemblance," Ariel stared hard at the image. "It can be trying sometimes to maintain family ties or even romantic ones while you're serving. It's really cool to see you jumping in with both feet and taking charge."
"It can be hard, but it's not a choice. It's family; if you're not going to do your best for your family, then what's the point?"