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"I won't be bad anymore."
Spock turned his face away, determined not to look at that trembling lower lip or at the wide dark eyes rapidly filling with tears. But a brief glimpse had been enough to burn an indelible image of misery onto his "mind's eye."
"I'll be good." Nyota's choked vow was barely more than a broken whisper. "I promise, Spocky. I'll be a good girl now."
The juvenility of the words she used to issue her promises only served to solidify his belief that he had made the correct decision. Her behavior had long ago convinced his colleagues. A starship was no place to raise a child.
And yet his hands shook as he quickly fastened the girl's little red jacket. The quartermaster's idea of an amusing notion - commissioned before anyone had realized the apparent permanence of the situation - both the coat and her tiny uniform bore Starfleet insignia and her lieutenant's band. That she did not try to obstruct him as he secured the final button and tugged at the hem to straighten the garment was a testament to her desolation.
"Please," she pleaded again, her voice cracking. Spock met her gaze in time to see the first tear fall.
"I will retrieve you in two year's time," he told her, his steady voice betraying none of his own anguish. "Perhaps by then..." He let the sentence trail off. No cure had been found over the past two months. It was irrational to hope one might be found in the next two years.
Nyota stared him without speaking for exactly seventeen seconds before brushing her sleeve over her eyes and giving him a sharp nod. The gesture was so familiar, so akin to what he might once have expected of her, he nearly faltered. Then she turned away and reached towards the small boy who'd been sitting on the floor watching them.
"Come on, Sanek," she said with a calm he knew to be feigned. "It's time to go."
Their young son scrambled to his feet and took his mother's hand without argument for the first time since the disaster.
"It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong." - Jeremy Bentham