I MISS MY FRIEND

PART 1

Lucas Kirk, son of Captain James Kirk, was a week into deep space finishing up his first medical delivery. He had one more to go, and then he could return to Earth. His wife, Joanna was waiting for his safe return. He knew it was hard on her when he was in deep space and only infrequently could he send her a message. They had both served on the Enterprise and were aware of the dangers. There was no sense sugar coating it for her while she was dirt side running a medical clinic; she knew what life was like out in space.

Lucas approached with his second delivery to the Deneva colony where his uncle and aunt had been killed years ago. Lucas quickly dropped off the last of their medical supplies from his shuttle craft the, St. Jude. The colony was recovering from the almost total obliteration of everyone who lived on the planet. Once again scientists arrived to study and work at the modern laboratories. The colleges were swarming with new students and Lucas was glad to see the recovery exploding with a new population of many species.

As he signed off the medical supplies at the main hospital, Dr. James Petrov the CMO of the hospital approached him from behind.

Dr. Petrov had a similar accent that Commander Chekhov had and Lucas smiled to himself.

"Captain, may I have a word with you?"

Lucas turned and said, "Of course, Doctor."

They walked together into a small meeting room.

"I met your father, Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy many years ago. I just found out you are his son."

"Yes, sir," Lucas smiled, "and Dr. McCoy's daughter, Joanna and I are married.

"I didn't realized that either. I have a sensitive medical delivery that needs to get to Altair 11 within the week. Would you have time in your schedule to take it there for me? I have a normal shipment running there once a month, but we have developed an important serum for Altair 11 and the next scheduled shipment can't go out for three more weeks. Of course, proper credits for your trouble will be given to you."

Lucas looked at the older doctor who reminded him of anyone's grandfather and he couldn't turn him down.

"Doctor, I would be happy to deliver your serum. When will it be ready?"

"I can have it packed up within the hour. Please be our guest for a meal or whatever you may need while you wait."

"I will take you up on that. Would it be possible to send a sub-space message to my wife?"

"Of course, Captain. Stop at the nurses desk and I will make the arrangements with you."

Directions to the cafeteria were given to Lucas, plus the nurse took him to a room where he could put through his call.

"Thank you, Nurse."

"You're welcome, sir. If you need more assistance, just let me know."

"Yes, ma'am."

Lucas put in the proper codes for his wife's clinic. The message would not reach Joanna at her present time, but she would soon know that he was delayed by several days and not to worry about him.

As the doctor said, he was packed up within the hour. The serum was placed in a medical case and was stowed away in a secure closet within his shuttle. He began his pre-flight check and sent his flight plan to the planets coordinator.

"This is Captain Lucas Kirk of the EAC St. Jude requesting permission to leave planet."

"One moment sir," came the answer.

Kirk sipped his coffee waiting for the response.

"St. Jude, you are cleared for take off. Safe journeys."

"Thank you, air command, Kirk out."

Lucas pushed his craft into warp speed and felt the gentle g-force as she fought to leave orbit. The stars of the area slipped by him quickly. He put in his coordinates for Altair 11 and relaxed at the helm. The trip would take two days. He would pass by the planet Anatar. He had read that the Federation was working on having them join the allegiance, if they could clear up some lasting disagreements with the Federation of Planets. Many planets were afraid they would lose their identity if they joined the Federation, or that they would eventually be taken over by the Federation. It took delicate diplomacy to convince them that it was to their advantage to join and that there should be no fear of being conquered. Trust could only be shown by example and it took years for many planets to succumb to the idea of membership to the large organization.

Lucas spent the day coming closer to Anatar. He put his ship on auto pilot and slept a solid six hours. His alarm awoke him and he got his bearings before he cleaned up and had a meal. Anatar would come within view by the end of this day.

Lucas refreshed himself and put in an order for a meal from the food service replicator. His scrambled eggs and toast with coffee were devoured from his chair.

After eating he brought out his violin and practiced for an hour. He took his instrument along with him on long voyages to fight the boredom. Most trips were quick and involved no dangerous incidents, but there had been a few when he had to remain more alert.

After practicing he checked the radar. Anatar was a small blip on his screen. He brought up information on his computer on the planet and studied the screen for awhile. He then finished some maintenance scans from the computer.

He flipped on the radio scanner and picked up a scattering of communications. He adjusted the scanner and realized he was listening to a conversation from the USS Enterprise. Lucas sensed tension in the voice of the Communications Officer. Most of the conversation was silent but he picked a few sentences on another frequency that wasn't coded.

Lucas sat up abruptly when he heard Captain Spock's voice, "I assure you sir, that I am serious when I say, Captain Kirk has not returned our communications in the last two days. He and his security guard have not responded to our requests. I am insisting that you arrange communication, or I will have to come down with a substantial crew to begin an investigation."

Lucas couldn't pick up the response, but Mr. Spock's reply was, "Indeed."

Lucas put his craft into warp 2.2, the fastest speed he could reach. He came within several kilometers in an hours time.

"Enterprise, this is Captain Lucas Kirk of the St. Jude."

"Captain Kirk, this is Captain Spock."

"Request permission to come aboard with my shuttle, sir?"

"Permission granted. Wait for instructions."

"Aye, sir."

"Captain Kirk, shuttle bay door 2 if opening. Permission to board."

"Yes, sir."

Lucas brought his shuttle in and landed softly. He began shut-down procedures. Once finished he opened his cockpit side door and was greeted by a young Ensign.

Lucas thought, "Was I ever this young looking?"

"Ensign John Young, sir. Welcome aboard, Captain."

Lucas shook his hand and said, "Please call me, Lucas, Ensign."

"Yes, sir. Follow me, Lucas. Captain Spock asked that I escort you to the Bridge."

Lucas looked around at the refitted ship that he had served on for four years. He felt a yearning to be on her again, but he loved being the captain of his own ship and coming home to his wife.

They took the lift and when the door swished open, he eyed the many touch screens that ran the different operations of the ship. Captain Spock turned to face him and Lucas greeted him with the Ta'al, the Vulcan hand greeting, "Live long and prosper, Captain Spock."

"Peace and long life, Captain Kirk." Mr. Spock stood and announced to the bridge crew.

"I would like to introduce Captain James Kirk's son, Captain Lucas Kirk of the Emergency Air-Car, the St. Jude. He served with us on the Enterprise for several years as one of our main helmsmen. Welcome aboard, Mr. Kirk."

Lucas nodded his head towards the many cadets on the ship and said, "Thank you, sir. Captain Spock, I have been monitoring communications and I wondered if you could fill me in on my father?"

"Follow me, Mr. Kirk," Spock said as he made his way to the "dress-down" room as the crew referred to the meeting room off of the Bridge.

The door slid shut and Captain Spock asked, "A refreshment, young Kirk?"

"No, Captain, I'm concerned about my father."

"We have the situation under control. We are currently at a stand still while the Anatar ruling committee make up their minds to allow contact. I do not feel he is in any danger. This has continued to be a cat and mouse game, I believe is the correct term."

"Captain, why don't we just go down now. You must know the general area where he is located. You've been running your scanners I assume?"

Mr. Spock's eyebrows rose slightly and Lucas recognized that he may have over stepped his bounds.

"I'm sorry, Captain. Can I assist in any way."

Spock took two steps closer to Lucas and said, "Lucas, there are diplomatic steps that we are involved in as we speak. If I were to send you down there, it would not accomplish anything and it may anger the ruling committee and force a hand that I would not like to happen. At this time I'd like to ask for your patience in this matter."

Lucas replied, "Yes, sir," as he felt the glare of Captain Spock.

Spock raised one eye brow and asked, "What brings you this far out in the galaxy?"

Lucas smiled and answered, "As you know sir, I have traveled farther than this, but I am delivering medical supplies to Altair 11 and I heard you on the comm."

"And you thought you'd come and...help?"

"Let's just say I was curious what trouble my father had gotten himself into."

"Indeed. You are welcome to stay aboard for the duration, but I must ask that you refrain from any emotional response on the Bridge as we are in a training phase."

"Aye, sir."

The time dragged on for Lucas as they waited for a response form Anatar. After waiting several hours he stepped down into the command pit next to Mr. Spock.

"Captain, are you sure that we, er you shouldn't go down there now?"

Mr. Spock leaned towards him and answered, "I know that this is difficult for you to wait, but I assure you, we are attempting to bring your father back as quickly as diplomacy will allow."

"Diplomacy, Captain?" Lucas said a little too loudly, "I fail to see the reason to wait much longer when apparently my father and his security guard have been kidnapped, sir."

Lucas did not notice several of the cadets looking at each other and Mr. Spock leaned closer to Lucas and replied, "Captain, if you can not accept my answer, I suggest you leave the Bridge."

Lucas controlled his anger and knew he would get no further with the Captain.

"I apologize, sir, and I request permission to disembark. I have a medical shipment that I have to get delivered."

"Permission granted, and I will inform you of the Captain's return."

"Thank you, sir."

Lucas left the Bridge and returned to the flight deck.

"Captain Kirk requesting permission to disembark."

"Granted, Captain. Safe flight," responded the Commander on the deck.

Lucas lifted the shuttle gently from her spot and increased her speed. Lucas went into warp speed and went around the planet examining the geography. He assumed his father was being held in the capital city where the Enterprise was in stationery orbit. He could not wait any longer and went into warp 2 leaving the crisis behind, but his mind went on to consider the possible options that he had.

His radar showed there was a large ship ahead of him. It took twenty minutes to come upon her. Lucas scanned her serial number and smiled to himself. He laughed at the large odd shaped ship and put in a hailing call.

"This is Captain Kirk of the St. Jude to the Mary Rose, come in."

A young man on the Mary Rose abruptly sat up at the name. He mumbled to himself, "Captain Kirk, out here?" He checked his scanner and saw a small shuttle craft.

He answered in a strong Irish brogue, "Uh, yes Captain, this is Donal O'Mallery of the Mary Rose. How can I assist you?"

Lucas smiled to himself, "I'm looking for an ole bloke by the name of Mick Cooley. Would he be about?"

"Aye, sir, it'll take a minute."

"I'll wait," Lucas answered.

On the Mary Rose, Donal commed the back of the ship, "Hey, Mick. Captain Kirk wants to speak to you."

Mick rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and slowly got out of bed. He was quiet as his wife, Mary was sleeping. "Say, what?" he said to himself.

He stepped into the hallway and commed forward, "Donal, did you say Captain Kirk?"

"Aye. He seemed to know you. He's aboard a shuttle craft off of our port side."

Mick laughed and said, "I'll be a pink pony in a St. Paddy's Day parade, I'll be right up."

He quickly threw on some clothes and combed his hair. He ran forward to their command deck and took the seat next to Donal.

He said into the comm, "Ya know, they'll let all kinds roam the universe these days," Mick said in his thick accent.

Lucas laughed out loud, "And I wonder all the time what the likes of you are still doing out here after two years. How are ya, Mick and how's Mary?"

"Lucas, me man, we couldn't be better. But truly what are you doin' way out here, lad?"

"I have a delivery to make to Altair 11. I can't believe that ship of yours is still in one piece."

"Well, it's amazing what a little glue and duct tape will do, even out here."

"Mick, how big is your cargo area?"

"Big enough to land that hunk of metal you're in. Spin her around and come aboard. I'm opening the bay door now."

Mick met his friend and waited for the dock area to pressurize. He glanced through the glass on the door and lifted the lock when Lucas stepped out of his shuttle craft.

"Lucas, what a sight for sore eyes," Mick said walking up to him.

They hugged each other and slapped each other's back.

"Where's Mary, she's so much prettier to look at than your face?"

Mick laughed and said, "Aye, she's sleeping. We've been experiencing long shifts. I'll wake her later. Come on, let's sit and chat."

They both quickly did a shortened version of what they were up to the past two years, since they had seen each other.

"So, you're on a medical delivery?"

"I was leaving the Deneva colony and the medical team asked me to take some of their medical serum to Altair 11, but as I went by Anatar I spotted the Enterprise in orbit. Captain Spock was on the Bridge and gave me permission to come aboard. I then found out that my father and a security officer were kidnapped while negotiating a treaty. Captain Spock was waiting before he sent down a landing party to hear from the ruling commission on Anatar."

"Is your Da back yet?"

"Uh, no, after several hours of waiting, I asked Captain Spock if now wasn't the time to go down and get him? He wasn't too agreeable."

Mick slapped his knee and said, "What is to come of this universe?"

Surprised, Lucas asked, "What?"

"There is something fishy when a civilian can not go aboard the most famous ship of Starfleet and suggest to it's captain what should be done. Why it's a holy show," he responded in his Irish brogue.

Lucas smiled.

"I suppose that's when he set you off the Enterprise?"

"Not really, but I have this delivery, and then I came across you," he said with a twinkle in his eye.

Mick waited and then he said, "Oh, I know that look."

"What look," Lucas asked.

"That look. The one that says you've got some wild plan concocting in yer mind and it will undoubtedly involve me."

"Are you in a hurry?"

Mick shook his head and said, "Oh, I should lie to you and bunk off out of here and leave you to your own demise."

Lucas leaned forward and squeezed his shoulders and said, "I knew I could count on you."

Mick moaned and said, "What have ye got on yer mind, lad?"

"It's simple. We go to the far side of the planet so Captain Spock doesn't notice us, and then we take the shuttle craft down to the planet. I know he's in the capital city. We're already dressed in civvies and just do some looking around. No harm, right?"

"Lad, it always looks good on paper, but in reality...I dunno, are ye sure you want to try this?"

"What could go wrong? It'll be fun, we'll act like merchants trying to drum up some business."

"I'm not sure I have licenses to purchase and sell on Anatar," Mick said.

"We'll investigate that when we get there."

"All right, I'll make sure Donal is awake enough and I'll not wake Mary or I'll be in deep trouble before I leave."

The two went to the bridge and put in their new co-ordinates. They warped over to the far side of the planet and then entered the shuttle craft.

"Nice digs, here, Lucas."

"She'll do in a pinch. Now let's figure our best entry ."

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

On the Enterprise the ensign at the navigators position said, "Captain Spock, there is a small vessel approaching our stern. She is at the farthest reach of the scanner."

"Can you identify her?"

"Sir, I believe it is the St. Jude."

Spock turned to the communications officer and said, "Ensign Draper, hail the ship."

"Aye, sir," he paused and said, "Sir, she is not responding."

"Navigator what is their suggested route?"

"Captain, they are in direct orbit and descending, sir."

Captain Spock looked towards his engineer and said, "Can you lock on the ship with the tractor beam?"

"Yes, Captain."

"Then do so, Ensign."

"Aye, sir. Locked on."

"Ensign Draper, try to hail the ship, again."

There was a pause and then, "Captain, they are on audio."

"This is Captain Spock of the Enterprise, is this Captain Lucas Kirk?"

After a short pause, Lucas responded, "Yes, sir."

"You will cease and desist. We will bring you aboard. Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"Shut down your engines."

The St. Jude was brought aboard the ship and Captain Spock met them at the deck door.

Lucas and Mick disembarked and slowly walked to the door way.

Two security guards stood on either side of Mr. Spock.

"You are now under arrest for interfering in a diplomatic assignment under Starfleet Command. Your ship will be placed under guard. Officers, take them to the brig."

"Aye, sir."

They were placed together behind one containment field in one cell.

Lucas looked at Mick who sat on a bench, "I'm sorry, Mick."

"Well, lad, I must say, this is one space on the dear old gal where I've never been."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hours later, Captain Kirk beamed aboard the Enterprise and met his fellow Captain.

Spock stepped forward and said, "Welcome aboard, Captain."

"It's good to be back, Spock," he turned to his security officer and said, "Job well done Lieutenant, take the rest of the day off after you put in your report."

"Yes sir, thank you, Captain."

The two captain's went to Kirk's quarters. Jim rubbed his face with his hands and said, "I'm beat, Spock."

"Did they harm you, Captain?" he said concerned.

"No, no, Spock, it's a term for being tired."

The two sat down and Kirk went over the details of the agreement with Spock. It had been a long three days.

"How did things go on board, Spock?"

Spock steepled his fingers and said, "We have one more detail to discuss."

"Oh, what is that?"

Captain Spock went on to explain the incident with Lucas and Mick and the shuttle craft.

"So, the two are in the brig?"

"Yes, sir."

"I can't believe he did this!" Kirk walked in circles in his office getting angrier by the minute.

"You told him you weren't going down and you were waiting to hear from me or the commission?"

"Yes, sir, I am afraid he let his fear for your safety cloud his judgement."

"That's not all he did, he broke inter-planetary laws, and he has pissed me off."

Spock's eyebrows flew to his hair line and he replied, "Perhaps you should rest before you deal with this, Jim."

He shook his head and went to his comm unit and call security, "This is Captain Kirk."

"Yes, Captain?"

"Bring the two civilians to my office, please."

"Right away, sir."

A few minutes later Lucas and Mick walked in with the security guard. The guard was dismissed by the Captain as the two stood in front of him.

Lucas could tell his father was angry by his reddened face and he thought it was best that he remain silent.

Captain Kirk stood in front of his son and said sternly, "Lucas, what were you thinking? You had no business going to Anatar. Mr. Spock was very clear that we were under a diplomatic assignment and he was being patient waiting to hear from me. He gave them a little push to speed things along by threatening to come down to search for me, but that gave you no right to ignore his and my orders and take things into your own hands. I was completely safe the entire time."

Captain Kirk's voice became louder and Mick felt himself cringe inside.

"You have broken several inter-planetary laws. By all rights I could confiscate both of your ships and take away your pilot's licenses."

Kirk paced back and forth with his anger blossoming beyond his own control.

He paused in front of his son and said, "You dragged Mick into this and put he and his ship in danger as well. You have no knowledge of what the Anatar people are like, do you?"

Lucas remained silent and looked over his father's shoulders at the wall. He felt himself drift away as memories of being sixteen and his father trying to correct his behavior came flooding back.

"You could have been arrested and tried without representation. They have had many skirmishes throughout their history, and they do not trust outsiders. The peace agreement with us was hanging by a thread and I don't appreciate your attempted involvement. You are not a member of Starfleet and you have now forced me to explain why we had to use the tractor beam to haul you in. There will be no more actions like this in the future, Lucas. I am ashamed of my own son, right now."

Kirk turned away trying to maintain control of himself. He slowly turned around to face the two and said, "Do you both understand me?"

Mick answered, "Yes, sir."

Lucas remained quiet.

"Lucas?"

"I have nothing to add, sir. You have all of the facts and have made your decision. I promise I will never interfere in your life again, sir."

Captain Kirk felt a warning in his gut. He stared a long minute at his son and said, "You are free to go."

Lucas left with Mick close behind him. They took the lift to the flight deck.

Mick said, "I have never seen the Captain that angry in my life," he looked at his friend and knew he was feeling the sharpness of his father's words.

As they entered the shuttle and began to do pre-flight checks, Lucas buckled himself into the seat and said to Mick, "I apologize for getting you involved in this, Mick. I guess it's true, 'no good deed goes unpunished'."

"Well, lad, I believe we escaped without too much ado. Let's just forget it. Onward to brighter times."

Lucas softly answered, "It will be."

Part 2

After Lucas returned Mick to his ship, he turned down the offer to stay aboard and left quickly for Altair 11. He had two days ride and he found himself reviewing his father's words over and over. He felt a coldness envelope his heart and chest. He remained busy performing a few maintenance jobs from inside his ship. He slept very little and pushed his shuttle to the maximum speed for the duration.

He landed on Altair 11 and he was given a meal and a place to sleep for four hours. The darkness of the bedroom enveloped him and he could feel the familiar feelings of despondency. He had not experienced it since his first landing party excursion where he discovered the bodies of twelve scientists. The following months with many stressful skirmishes with alien ships left his nerves taught and he succumbed to PTSD. Treatment was given and he fared well the rest of the year.

The words of his father left him crushed. His alarm went off after only two hours of fitful sleep. Sometimes you have to pull away from a situation to get better perspective. He spent fifteen minutes in deep prayer asking his heavenly Father for guidance.

Before he left Altair 11 he was able to reach Joanna.

"Hi, Jo. I'm checking in before I leave Altair 11. It will probably be at least ten days before I come back."

Joanna was looking back at him on the vid screen and said, "I didn't think it would take you this long."

"I had to make this extra stop first. I'll return as fast as I can."

"Lucas?"

"Yes?"

"Something's wrong, I can feel it?"

"Nothing is wrong, don't worry about me. I haven't had a lot of sleep. I promise I will try to contact you as I get closer. How are things at the clinic?"

"It hasn't been as busy and I've had time to get more things done around the house."

"Is Daniel removing the snow from the porch and around your aircar for you?"

"Yes, don't worry about Daniel. He's been looking in on everyone in the whole area. You should have seen the lake the other night. That north-east wind was blowing up a storm and the waves were crashing on the shore. It was so loud, if you would have been here, we probably couldn't hear each other speak."

Lucas smiled and said, "I can hardly wait to get home."

She said, "Lucas, are you sure you're alright?"

"I promise. Later, Jo." he clicked off the vid screen and went up to his chair.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

On Earth, Joanna knew there was something wrong. Lucas always said, 'keep me in your heart' when he signed off or said good bye. She would wait a long ten days before she heard from him again.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxx

As Lucas enter the galaxy he commed his wife at the clinic, but she was unable to come and speak with him. He left the message he'd be home that evening.

When he returned to their home on Lake Huron in Michigan he landed the shuttle in the hangar and began to shut it down. He made a list of mechanical problems he noticed on his way back and locked up the hangar for the night.

There was a couple of lights on in the house. The winter sun set early and snow was deep as he crossed the short field between the hangar and his large home. He could hear Digit their adopted dog barking a friendly bark. He went over to his dog house and patted the friendly dog on his head.

"How ya been, Digit? Good boy, are you warm enough? Good to see you boy. Have a good sleep, my friend."

The dog flipped his hand to the top of his head, asking for more scratches and Lucas laughed.

"I'll see you in the morning, boy."

Lucas stretched as he walked to the house. The snow squeaked under his boots and the hair in his nose froze from breathing in and out. He stomped the snow from his boots before he entered the house.

Jo heard the commotion and came running from the kitchen.

"Lucas," she called, "you're back."

She jumped into his arms and he felt the familiar tug at his heart. He kissed his wife with an urgency that almost knocked her to the floor. He pulled off his coat and kicked off his boots, all while pulling her closer to him. He felt a strong desire just holding her in his arms.

"Jo, it's been a long trip."

"Dinner?" she managed to say between kisses.

"Later."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Joanna left Lucas sleeping the next morning as she left for the clinic. He awoke mid-morning. After showering he went to his office to go through the many messages that were left for him. He replied to as many as he could.

He left his computer to get a small meal and took his coffee back to his office. He still had ten messages left to answer, when he looked through the list. The last one was a message from his father. He deleted it before playing it and continued making calls and taking care of his other business.

The front door flew open and Lucas got up to meet his wife holding several bags from the local grocer. He looked at his chronometer and was shocked to see the whole day had passed him by.

"Jo, why didn't you just have this delivered?"

"I wanted to pick out everything for our first meal together in almost three weeks. Come on, you can help."

First he grabbed her and kissed her. "I missed you, Jo."

"It's more fun coming home when you're here," she said smiling.

"I won't be traveling too far for the rest of the winter. I have a lot of local jobs within Earth and I expect it to remain fairly quiet."

"Don't say that, you'll jinx it."

Lucas took her packages and they went to the kitchen. They prepared their dinner together. Each time their hands touched each other, they paused and looked at each other. Lucas knew he was lucky to have won the heart of Dr. McCoy's daughter, and he wondered if she felt the same about him.

They lit two candles on their table and enjoyed a quiet meal. Lucas could feel his desire grow as they finished their meal. He carried all of the dishes to the kitchen and slowly turned Joanna to face him.

"Jo, I hope you know how much you mean to me. I hated being gone so long. All I think about is you and being here. Our home and the gal of my dreams waiting for me," he kissed her and pulled her close.

"Lucas, I love you, more than you know. Even my staff noticed I was quiet this past week. Hold me."

He held her tighter and he touched his forehead to hers.

"Computer, play selection #2."

A series of slow music he had programmed into the computer began to play.

He slow danced with her for several songs. The lights from the candles flickered from behind him as he led her through the kitchen into the dining area.

The evening ended early for them.

At breakfast the next morning, Joanna was eating her oatmeal and Lucas was sipping coffee. She looked at her handsome husband and she felt in her heart that something was not right with him

"Lucas, you never told me about your trip."

He looked up from his cup and said, "It was long. When I got to the Deneva Colonies, the CMO asked me to deliver some serum and it took longer than I thought. I ran into Mick, though."

"You did, where?"

"I came up on him on the way to Altair 11. I went aboard and we talked for awhile," he looked down.

"How's Mary doing?"

"She was sleeping after coming off of a long shift. He has a co-pilot and they try to split up the shifts. You better get going, you'll be late for clinic."

"Yes, I have to run. See you at dinner."

"I'll have something ready when you get home. I'm still catching up on correspondences. I don't have any flights until tomorrow."

"Where will that take you?"

"South to Alabama, I have a family member to bring up to New York. Back out west and down to Florida. I'll be in just before dinner."

Joanna got up and kissed him good bye. "You're still tired."

"No, I'm good. Why?"

"Nothing, see you tonight," she grabbed her winter coat and went to her aircar.

Lucas felt guilty holding back the truth from his wife, but he had no energy to explain what had happened. It was best that he tried to manage this on his own. His prayers had become cold and perfunctory. He was beginning to feel that God had abandoned him. The void in his soul depleted him. He sat at the table for hours before he realized the time had passed.

He slowly ascended the steps to their bedroom and lit a small votive candle. He knelt in front of his bed and tried to close his mind to outside thoughts. He breathed in deeply and his mind fell into silence.

God knew the sorrow in his heart and the torment his father's words had left on his heart. Lucas remained in silence and the soft, but firm voice of his heavenly Father imprinted on his soul the words forgiveness and compassion.

He shook his head and he could not find the courage to forgive. Anger seeped into his soul. He pushed his guilt aside as he rationalized that making his father suffer was what he deserved.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The days of winter continued to pass. Many of Lucas's flights were less than two days long. On weekends if they weren't busy, they enjoyed hiking down the trails of their forty acres taking photos and enjoying the quiet time, but Joanna noticed Lucas pulling away and spending more time by himself. She could tell he tried to appear to be happy and contented, but she became concerned when he began to spend evenings after dinner in the hangar.

One evening she decided to bring him a cup of hot chocolate. It was a peaceful night with heavy wet snowflakes just drifting down. The outside lighting came on as she got closer to the hangar. Before she opened the door she looked through the glass window and saw Lucas just sitting. His back was to her and his computer wasn't on. No tools were sitting out, nor was he talking on the comm unit.

She felt silly spying on him and then she saw his shoulders begin to shake. He bent his head down lower to his desk and she softly opened the door. Short sobs escaped from her husband. She didn't want to intrude on his privacy, but she was worried. She stepped up to him and set the cup down.

With a trembling hand she touched his left shoulder, "My love, what is troubling you?"

He jumped at her touch and voice. He ducked his head and wiped his tears. He couldn't hide his red rimmed eyes and turned to her and pulled her to him.

"Lucas, please tell me, you've not been the same since you came back from Altair 11."

"I, I can't explain it, yet. Please trust me."

She held his face in her two hands and looked into his bright blue eyes that were inherited from his mother. "Lucas, I'm here for you, please tell me."

He pulled away from her and took out his handkerchief and blew his nose, "It's something I have to work out. I'm asking that you accept that," he said sternly.

"Have I done something to make you unhappy?"

"Never, Jo," he paused, "it's late, we should go in," he replied softer.

He walked away from her and stood by the door waiting to turn out the lights. Forgetting about the hot chocolate, she followed him.

She stopped at the door way and said to him, "Don't shut me out, Lucas, you can tell me anything."

He briefly looked at her and nodded. They walked in silence to the house.

"Coming to bed, Lucas?"

"I'm going to sit up awhile and do some work."

She put her arms around his waist and put her head on his chest breathing in the manly smell of his skin and the pleasant smell of his beard depressant. He put his arms around her, but she felt a stranger in her arms.

"Lucas, I miss my friend," she said.*

He looked down at her confused. "I'm right here."

He watched as she went up the steps and he went to the couch in front of the fireplace. He leaned forward on his knees and said out loud, "Oh, dear God, what is wrong with me? I must forgive my father, and I can't seem to find my way. Please, Father, help me to do what you ask."

During the night Joanna awoke and Lucas was not in bed. She went downstairs and found him asleep on the couch. She covered him with a blanket and went back to bed.

She sat looking out their bedroom window and asked God to show her what to do. As a doctor she did not like what she saw and as a wife she was hurt that Lucas was pushing her away. He is struggling with something and she was not sure how to approach him.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Three days later on a cold, blustery April day, Joanna was more concerned about Lucas. She approached him at breakfast. She set his coffee in front of him and stared at her bowl of oatmeal.

"Lucas, I'm worried about you."

He looked up at her through a brief yawn, "Joanna, I told you, I'm fine."

"No, you're not. In fact, if it were up to me right now, I wouldn't certify you for flying."

Joanna saw anger in his eyes.

"What makes you say that?"

"You're concentration is gone, you're moody and not sleeping. I worry about you flying all over the country and..."

Lucas interrupted, "When I am flying, that is all I think about. My passengers are completely safe with me," he said raising his voice.

He stood up from the table and left the room and went into his office.

She cleaned up the kitchen with tears threatening to spill down her face. This had gone on long enough and she knew she had to do something soon.

Grabbing her PADD she called from the doorway, "Lucas, I'll see you tonight," she waited, but there was no reply.

Once she arrived at the clinic she went to her office. Their time-zone was three hours ahead of her father-in-law, but she commed him a message to call her.

She retrieved her scanner for the day and told the secretary that she was expecting a phone call and to put it through immediately.

The day was filled with children with allergies, early spring congestion and one child broke her leg on the playground. By lunch time they were down to only a few appointments.

"Dr. Kirk, there is a call coming in from Starfleet."

"Thank you, I'll get it in my office."

Joanna ran to her computer shutting the door. She flipped on the comm unit and saw her father-in-law on the screen.

"Good morning, er afternoon to you, Jo," Jim Kirk said.

"Hi, Dads, how have you been?"

"I'm good, Joanna. Spock and I are trying to whip these cadets into shape. How's the clinic doing?"

"Very well."

"I'm glad you called, I can't get an answer from you two on your comm."

"What are you talking about? I didn't know you called."

"I've been trying to reach Lucas since mid January."

"Dads, he never said you called," a tight feeling in her stomach made her flinch slightly. "When was the last time you talked with him?"

"When he tried to take his shuttle down to Anatar with Mick, I'm sure he told you about it. I may have lost my temper with him."

"No, Dads, he hasn't said a thing, but he's not been himself since he came back and I can't get him to talk about it," she paused, "That's why I called you. He's pulling away from me and spending a lot of time alone."

"What is his schedule for the next few days?"

"He has a flight this afternoon, but he said he'd be home by dinner and then nothing for the next two days.

"I'm coming, but don't tell him."

"Why not?"

"I...I said a few things that I regret and I'm afraid I may have angered him."

"Dads, I don't think anything you said that would make him feel this bad."

"Nonetheless, can you keep this between you and I?"

"Yes, I will. We'll see you tomorrow?"

"I'll be there. Jim out."

Joanna's heart hammered in her chest and she finally took a deep breath. She was not sure what had been said between the two, but all she knew was she wanted the sparkle in Lucas's blue eyes to come back.

The rest of the day dragged by, and once she returned home the house was dark and Lucas wasn't home yet. She warmed up some soup and sat in front of the fireplace thinking about her husband.

Near 1900 hours she heard the shuttle coming in for a landing and saw his spot light on the hangar. She didn't realize she'd been so tense and she relaxed as the lights dimmed in the yard. She had turned on the porch light before dinner.

She waited for forty-five minutes. Her stomach was feeling nauseous and her face felt flush. She waited another ten minutes and then she began to get angry. This was not her fault. Here she was sitting blaming herself for not paying more attention to him, but yet they spent all their off work time together. They laughed at each other's jokes, but lately there had been fewer and fewer of those. She did not turn when she heard the door open. She didn't trust her reaction to Lucas at that moment.

She felt more than saw his closeness. He finally dropped down on his knees in front of her.

He took her hands in his and said, "I'm sorry we fought this morning."

She looked at him and said, "What took you so long to come in?"

"I had to run a diagnostic test, I was having a uneven outflow in the engine. I figured it out. I wish Mick were here, he'd have found the problem a lot sooner."

She almost questioned him about Mick and Mary, but she remembered her promise to her father-in-law.

"I'm sorry, I'm not feeling well, I'm going to bed," she stood up and walked away feeling sick and angry.

The next morning she left early without speaking to him and that began the start of a long day beginning with forgetting to recharge the battery on her aircar and all the readings failed two miles from the clinic. She had enough reserve power to land in the dark at the clinic. She knew she could call Lucas and he would come and take care of it, but she would call the garage down the street and deal with it later. She spilled a full cup of coffee on her uniform ten minutes after opening the clinic and found herself being impatient with a salesman who came in unannounced. By noon she had a headache and many patients to see.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

At 1200 Captain James Kirk and Dr. McCoy beamed into the front yard of their children's home. They were adults, but still their children to them.

Bones said, "I'll go check out the hangar."

"I'll go inside."

Kirk knocked on the front door and waited. He opened the unlocked door and stepped in calling for his son.

"Lucas, are you here?"

He walked throughout the rooms on the main floor and called up towards the bedrooms.

"Lucas, it's me, Dad." He walked upstairs and knocked on their bedroom door with no answer. He opened it slightly and the room was empty. His office was also empty.

"Where the devil," he said to himself.

"Jim, he's not in the hangar, any luck?" Bones called from downstairs.

Kirk came down the steps and said, "Do you think he's down on the beach?"

"We could look, but it's so blasted cold out there," Bones grumbled.

"I'm sure he has a spare heavy jacket hanging up here."

He led the way through the kitchen to the backdoor. There were hooded sweatshirts and heavy jackets that they put over their light weight coats.

There were fresh tracks in the melting snow. As Kirk followed the path through some tall snow covered weeds down to the beach he spotted Lucas standing near the waters edge down a ways.

Bones pulled back on Jim's sleeve, "I'll let you two talk this out. I'll be back at the house."

Kirk smiled at his friend and nodded his head. With hands in his pockets he shrunk deeper into the hood of the coat. He walked silently closer to his son. He watched as Lucas kept shoving small pieces of ice back towards the water with his foot. He looked out onto the lake as if looking for an answer. A bitter breeze blew his long hair from his face. His cheeks were red from the cold, but none of this seemed to bother him.

Jim walked closer to him and Lucas finally saw him. He had a brief look of surprise, but then he turned back to watching the lake.

"Lucas, I've been trying to reach you for months."

There was no answer, but Jim noticed the muscles in his jaw flexing. He took a few steps closer and he knew this was an important moment in their relationship.

"I'm here to apologize for my repugnant behavior. I offer no excuse, and I'm asking you to forgive me. I'm begging you to forgive me, I am very sorry."

Lucas put his hands in his navy pea-coat and glared at his father. He turned away and began walking away from him.

Jim watched, unsure of what to do. They were at a precarious point and he knew whatever happened, it may be permanent.

Lucas stopped and turned back to his father, taking two steps towards him, "You know, Dad, I can't imagine what you're doing here when you are so ashamed of me. It doesn't make sense, I, I..." he stumbled over his words feeling the humiliation pouring through his veins as he remembered their last contact.

Jim took one step forward and reached towards him, "Lucas, I know what I said, and the moment I said it, I wanted to take it back."

Lucas walked up to his father and yelled, "It's done, Dad. I told you I wouldn't interfere in your life again, and I'd appreciate it, if you'd stay out of mine."

Jim touched his sleeve and he pulled away from him and tried to walk away.

His father grabbed his arm and said, "Lucas, wait, I know I hurt you with those words..."

"No, Dad, it didn't hurt. How could it hurt when I don't care. You made it very clear that Starfleet and the Enterprise were the most important things in your life. It doesn't matter that I thought you...never mind. I disappointed you. It's done. Good bye, Dad."

Lucas walked back up the path to his house. He slammed the back door when he came in and threw his coat onto a hook. When he walked into the kitchen he saw his father-in-law and wife standing in the kitchen.

"Oh, Dr. McCoy, I didn't know you were here too," he looked at Joanna who obviously had been crying. "Excuse, me."

They watched him leave the kitchen and Joanna turned to her father and said, "See, Dad."

He rubbed his daughters arms and pulled her to his chest, "I know, baby. I'm hoping they'll work it out."

The back door opened and Jim walked in the room.

"I'm sorry, Joanna, I'm afraid I made a mess of things. He won't talk to me and he wants me to leave."

Joanna said firmly, "Well, this is my house too and you're not leaving. Not until this is ironed out, whatever happened between you two, is tearing me apart, and I..." she stopped talking as her voice caught.

"Come on darlin', let's go sit in front of the fireplace. I'll get a fire going and make some soup," her father said.

Jim leaned against the kitchen counter with a headache developing. He was use to fixing things and commanding others, but fixing relationships was not his best trait.

"Joanna, where is he?"

"I think he's in his office, Dads."

Kirk walked down the hall and knocked on the door. There was no answer. He knocked again and said, "Lucas, can I come in?"

"No."

He opened it anyway and held up his hand as Lucas started to speak. "I'm sorry to intrude, but I can't stand seeing Joanna so upset. We have to work this out, son," he said as he closed the door.

"Is she still crying?"

"Yes, Bones is trying to calm her down. Lucas we have to talk, don't you think?"

"You've said all you needed to say to me, Dad. It's just like when I was younger and on the ship, I could never please you."

"That's not true."

His eyes turned dark and angry, "I won't even answer that, Dad. I think you better leave before I say anything more."

Jim pulled up an extra chair next to him, "Before I go, would you consider these words first?"

Lucas looked down at his desk and didn't answer.

"I made a lot of mistakes with you, Lucas. Most of those mistakes I can't fix, and I feel bad that I have left you with the impression that you could never please me. If that is true and it must be because you feel it, from the bottom of my heart I apologize. I love you, Lucas. You're the most important thing to me in the universe."

Jim knew that being his son's commanding officer put Lucas in a position of constantly proving himself to his fellow officers. Being a captain, he also set himself above his crew and in doing so, he kept Lucas at arms length. They had worked through a lot of this on board the Enterprise, but he didn't switch off being a commanding officer as quickly as he should have when Lucas was young and living with his mother. The effects were coming back to haunt the both of them. Previous hurts surfaced and misunderstanding from both of them created a barren void between them.

Lucas was so tired of the pain and the hurt. He felt weak and he fought to control his emotions. He had prayed and prayed for peace for months. He knew he was wrong for not telling Joanna about this distress, but he felt he should protect her and instead, he had caused her greater pain.

"Did, Jo call you to come here?"

"Yes, and that's when she found out that none of my messages were getting through. You never told her about what happened did you?"

"No, sir," he pushed himself away from his desk and leaned against a cabinet.

Jim remained silent, dread in his heart if Lucas wouldn't listen to him. His headache pounded at the base of his neck.

Without thinking, Jim stood up and put his hand on his son's neck and pulled him to his chest. He could feel his own tears wanting to spill down his face. He swallowed hard and said, "We have to mend this between us, it's making us both sick and your wife is so sad."

Lucas stood rigid with his arms at his side. This had gone on long enough. A sense of peace spread through his body. He slowly put his arms around his father.

"Dad, I'm so sorry," he choked out.

Jim put his hands on his sons shoulders and looked him in the eyes, "My list for the many things I am sorry for, is too long to go over right now. Lucas, lean on me, I was wrong, so wrong."

Jim pulled him tighter to his chest and said, "Dear God in heaven, heal our hearts. Allow my son to forgive me my many faults and show me how to be a better father."

A load was lifted from his shoulders. Lucas shook his head and said, "Dear God, help me to show my Dad that I do forgive him and teach me to be a better son. P.S. I may have been wrong in the past, too, although I wouldn't want him to know that."

Jim chuckled and gently slapped his son's face. He gave him a full hug and said, "We better get out there, you have a lot of explaining to do with a certain young lady, and there is a touchy father-in-law ready to clobber his son-in-law."

"Dad, I hope you'll protect me from him?"

"That's a Dad's job, Lucas, to protect his children."

Author's Note:

*The song, "I Miss MY Friend" by Darryl Worley, inspired the idea for this story.