Dedication III: The Search for Bones
For the next few weeks, Jim delved into his research. He found out as much as he could about space-time anomalies, but the research didn't seem to fit what was happening. Wormholes rarely seemed to affect a specific person. And how was it that Bones always appeared wherever Jim was, no matter where he happened to be? Could a man have a personal wormhole to his husband?
Spock reached an impasse with his searching as well. "There is a system-wide block on this event, Jim," he'd reported after their second week of research. "I can gather nothing more than anecdotal data, such as the debris radius, and the time the attack took place. However, it is interesting to note that the ship's final records were jettisoned a full twenty minutes before the ship was destroyed."
"What?" Jim asked sharply. "How did you-"
"A study of the spread of debris from the origin point provided the answer. However, it is noteworthy that this information is missing from the official report. I extrapolated the time difference myself."
Jim frowned. "Why would they omit something like that? A hell of a lot can happen in twenty minutes."
"It doesn't make sense. The Osler would have sent another probe after that."
"I agree with you, sir," Spock said. "But there is no record of any such signal. This signifies that either Captain Smith and his crew completely disregarded protocol, or-"
"Or it's being hidden intentionally."
"Precisely," Spock said again.
"Unknown, Admiral. I will continue my research."
"Be careful, Spock," Jim said. "Now that we know for a fact information is being hidden, I'm pretty sure you digging around won't exactly be welcome. I don't want you to end up with a reprimand on your record."
"Sir," Spock said, almost disapprovingly. "My Starfleet record is of far less a concern to me than the whereabouts of my close friend."
Jim smiled. "All right, Spock. Let me know if you find anything."
After that, Jim focused his attention on getting at the true final records of the Osler. It was a delicate process, and once he discovered how many security shields were slammed over the information, he knew that it would take time to crack into the system, even for an Admiral of his stature.
In the meantime, Jim found help from an unexpected source - their weekly house guest. For the most part, Leonard was lucid, cheerful, and simply glad to be near his family for his fifteen minutes (exactly) each week. But there were moments when he seemed preoccupied with something - almost worried. One week, he shocked Jim by telling him not to call the children in yet.
"I… I need to tell you something. There's… I want..." But he hadn't been able to get out the words. After about thirty seconds of trying, he'd shaken his head, smiled and asked where the kids were, since it was time for their snack.
The real breakthrough came on Joanna's birthday. She turned eighteen on a Wednesday, and Leonard came at his usual time. He was in casual clothes that day, instead of his uniform, and wished her happy birthday and clapped when she blew out the candles. (Naturally, they'd waited for Papa to come home before breaking out the cake.) "Look at my daughter - you're a woman, Jo."
Joanna smiled, and hugged him tight. She looked at him with a tender expression, and said, "You know, Papa… if… if you want to go to the Light, you can. We've been so grateful to have you with us, but you... you can go home if you want to."
T'Paola looked almost panic stricken at the idea, but apparently, she needn't have worried. Leonard only laughed. "Silly girl, you're talkin' like I'm dead! I am home. I'm with my family. I'm where I belong. I belong..." He frowned then, and turned to Jim. "I'm not where I belong," he whispered, suddenly panicked.
Jim had drawn nearer, and asked the question he now asked every week. "Where are you, Leonard?"
"I… h-he wants to hurt you, Jim."
Jim's eyes widened and he'd waved a hand to shoo the children out. Joanna had caught the change in her father's demeanor, and quickly ushered the confused children out of the room. "Where are you, Leonard," Jim asked again.
"I need to remember," Leonard whispered. "I need to remember. Remember. Remember." He closed his eyes, concentrating hard. Finally, he looked at Jim. "Delta," he said. "Delta Delta Zeta. Delta Delta Zeta point Beta." He smiled brightly, as if he'd said something that made perfect sense. "That's it, Jim! That's it! And..." He frowned again, but looked up a moment later, eyes bright. "Ennea. Ennea is important, too. Iota. Important." He looked at Jim with an earnest, almost pleading expression. "Do you understand?"
"I will, Bones," Jim said. "I will understand. Don't worry."
"He wants to hurt you," he said nervously. "Don't let him hurt you, Jim. Don't let him hurt our children."
"I won't, I promise you." Jim put on his most reassuring smile and touched Len's face lightly. "Listen, baby. It's Jo's birthday. Go be with her, okay?"
Bones' tense, anguished face cleared, and he smiled again. "You're right, Jim. This is a special day."
Bones went off in search of Joanna, and Jim limped as quickly as he could to the nearest data pad and recorded everything Bones had said. He had no idea why Bones had gone into a stream of Greek letters, but he was damn well going to find out. Now, he was more certain than ever before that Bones was alive. There was someone, or something out there that wanted to hurt Jim and his family, and they might already have Bones. Damn it!
He was on edge again, but now, at least, he had something to go with. A puzzle, to be sure, but it was better than nothing.