The Logic of Joy

By Distracted

Rating: PG

Genres: challenge drama

Keywords:

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Disclaimer:  Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount.  No revenue was generated from this endeavor.

Summary: Kov and his wife deal with their son's unique condition with a little help from their friends.

A/N: This is a response to Linda's request for a story about how Vulcans would deal with the birth of a mentally and/or physically challenged child. I tried to make it enjoyable but you may find it bittersweet. This story is dedicated to my nephew Matthew, the most joyful human being I have ever met.

 


 

"You'd better get down from there, Stev-boy," Trip called in southern-accented Vulcan. "Your Aunt T'Pol will skin me if you get hurt!" Seated on a rock at the foot of the slope, he took a slug from one of his canteens and mopped his red and perspiring face with a bandana. Then he pulled the hypospray with his evening dose of triox from his fanny pack and pressed it to the side of his neck. His young charge looked back once, grinned a mischievous grin that contrasted oddly with his pointed ears and made his tilted eyes disappear in his face, then turned and kept climbing up the rocky hill. He reached the top and turned to taunt his pursuer, his chubby figure silhouetted against the orange-streaked sky. Trip squinted despite his sunglasses. In the glare of the twin setting suns the child was the spitting image of his father, although Kov had slimmed down considerably in recent years.

"I beatcha, Unc Twip. I beatcha!"

Stev's verbal skills were slow for his age of seven years, his vocabulary limited and his pronunciation thick and clumsy, but he could make himself understood if those around him were willing to take the time to listen.

"You sure did! But if I'm your Kas-wan buddy you can't leave me behind, Stev. We've got to take care of each other," replied Trip with gentle reproof. Stev's face fell.

"Sowwy, Unc Twip." His contrition lasted about two seconds, and then he was smiling again. Their one day Kas-wan practice was almost over. Trip was drenched in sweat and ready to call it quits. Stev, on the other hand, looked like he could have kept going for weeks. He bounced more than climbed back down the hill. Trip grinned back at him, remembering vicariously what it was like to be seven years old instead of seventy.

"I bet Aunt T'Pol has dinner ready. Can you show me where the camp is from here?" Trip asked the boy. Stev very seriously pulled a small compass from his pocket, studied it for several seconds, and then pointed in the general vicinity of the camp. Trip nodded approvingly.

"Lead the way. Show me," he said. They headed back in a not-so-direct path. A half hour later, in twilight, they completed the trip back to the campsite they'd been circling all day. T'Pol was stirring something over the small camp stove. Two meters or so behind her their tent was set up beneath a rocky overhang, shaded from the sun by day, sheltered from the desert wind by night.

T'Pol was dressed for the occasion in lightweight desert robes. While she was otherwise occupied Trip took a moment to admire her. She had a dusting of grey at her temples but was otherwise the same beauty who'd accepted his proposal the very day he'd retired from Section 31 and gotten rid of those ears. He came to the conclusion, not for the first time, that she looked pretty damned good for a woman just past her 103rd birthday.

"An' T'Pow!" exclaimed Stev exuberantly. "I beat Unc Twip! Went uppa hill!" His enthusiasm was contagious. Trip could sense T'Pol's mood lightening. The knot of worry in the back of his head present since Kov had told them about Stev's upcoming Kas-wan, loosened. It was impossible to be worried or sad in Stev's presence, even for good reason.

"Excellent. An admirable achievement," T'Pol told the boy. Then she took a bowl, already filled with stew and cooling, and handed it to Stev with a spoon. Kov's firstborn promptly sat down in the sand right where he was and messily began to eat.

Trip stepped up behind T'Pol as she served a second bowl and wrapped his arms around her waist. Her hair smelled like the jasmine shampoo he'd bought for her on their last trip to Earth.

"Careful. The stew is hot," she murmured in English. He smiled, burying his nose in the back of her neck, and answered in the same language.

"Then put it down and let it cool. I can wait to eat if I get to do this some more."

"Not in front of Stev. He has enough trouble with social decorum without learning inappropriate behavior from us." Her voice was reproving. She was right, he supposed. On Earth the boy's tendency to hug everyone in sight would probably have been considered cute. On Vulcan it was a public embarrassment to his parents every time he did it. Trip stepped back and looked down. Stev was still eating, oblivious.

"How was the day?" T'Pol asked with a hopeful note. Trip grimaced and shrugged.

"We had fun, and he's getting pretty good at reading that compass, but he doesn't have the concept of teamwork down yet. He's just as likely to go wandering off on his own as he is to follow his partner's lead."

The knot of worry in the back of his mind returned. T'Pol looked down at the boy wistfully. "Since a Kas-wan partner has not yet been found for him, acquiring that skill is not a pressing need as yet."

Trip reached out and rubbed her shoulder soothingly. The injustice of the child's situation bothered both of them. The genetic syndrome affecting Stev had once been very common on Vulcan. Before the time of Surak Vulcans had understood the value of children and adults like Stev, the benefit society derived from uncompromising joy and unconditional acceptance. Then Surak's followers remade Vulcan culture. Allowing such children to be born became an illogical waste of resources. Kov and his young wife, both members of the V'Tosh Katur, had fought prevailing medical opinion for their son to be born. For them, the prospect of a child incapable of the discipline of logic was not the tragedy that the followers of Surak made it out to be. But pre-Surak tradition required that such children be paired with an intellectually unimpaired partner for their Kas-wan, for safety's sake.

Thus far, no parents had stepped forward to allow their child to pair with Stev. Without successful completion of the Kas-wan, Stev would not be eligible to enroll in school. He would be relegated to an institution for the rest of his life and treated as sub-sentient, incapable of meaningful learning. He didn't deserve that.

"I've never done the Kas-wan. Maybe I could be his partner." Trip's suggestion met with the Brow of Eternal Skepticism from T'Pol.

"Perhaps when you were thirty-five, ashayam. Not now. I have no desire to lose you sooner than absolutely necessary." Trip grimaced and stuck his tongue out at her, prompting a throaty chuckle from Stev, who'd stopped chewing with his mouth full to watch them. T'Pol sighed and shook her head. Trip grinned down at Stev and winked.

 


 

The return of the camping expedition was a ceremonial occasion. Both Kov and his wife T'Ren were waiting in the courtyard to meet them. T'Ren was just beginning to show with their second child. To the couple's great relief, their daughter was already confirmed to be genetically normal. They looked very happy to see the car pull up. Trip still did a double take every time he saw them smile. Within Kov's household the philosophy of the V'tosh Katur held sway.

As soon as Trip pulled the ground car to a stop Stev was scrambling for the door locks. The boy popped the door open with surprising dexterity, jumped out, and went charging full tilt toward his mother with both arms extended. Kov intercepted him and swept him up in the air. Easily diverted, Stev gripped his father around the neck, grinning broadly.

"Slowly, my son," Kov said with a subdued smile. "We are pleased to see you, but your mother would prefer not to be knocked to the ground by your greeting." Stev immediately became calmer. Kov put him down to face his mother. Then T'Ren spoiled the lesson in proper social behavior by dropping to her knees and wrapping her arms around the boy. He giggled and returned her embrace.

As he exited the car Trip saw an unfamiliar couple standing in the doorway of the house beyond the courtyard. Both of them looked vaguely scandalized.

"We have a surprise for you, Stev. There is someone here we would like you to meet. Her name is V'Lin," said T'Ren softly.

It was only then that Trip saw a third person by the house. A tiny girl sat in the seat of a miniature dune-buggy looking contraption parked just to the side of the entrance. It took a few seconds for him to recognize it as an off-road motorized wheelchair of some sort. Despite her size and her obvious youth, her facial expression was composed and reserved.

Stev craned his neck in the direction his mother had indicated, but before he could run off Kov grasped his sleeve. "You must be gentle with V'Lin, Stev. She is much smaller than you, even though she is the same age, and she cannot walk. She must ride. And you must take care of her so that she doesn't get hurt. Do you understand?"

Stev blinked up at him, looked back at the little girl, and then looked back up at his father. "Stev ride, too?" he pleaded. Kov's lips tweaked upwards.

"Perhaps. If you ask her politely," he replied. Stev nodded very seriously.

Rather than running, he set out at a sedate pace directly toward the little girl. In the doorway Trip saw the male Vulcan raise an arm to prevent the female from leaving his side. The hush in the courtyard was palpable when the two children stood face to face. Trip couldn't hear what they said to each other, but about three seconds later Stev had mounted the frame of the wheelchair behind the little girl and she was driving in circles around the courtyard, Stev grinning broadly behind her. The little girl wasn't smiling, but she had a look on her face which reminded Trip of T'Pol when she was getting her way. T'Ren began walking toward the house, presumably to reassure V'Lin's parents. T'Pol stepped forward to join her, her intent clear in the bond-to put the child's parents, who were obviously followers of Surak, at ease. Trip stepped up to Kov.

"What's all this?" he murmured.

"V'Lin's parents cannot find a child willing to partner with her for the Kas-wan. She is intellectually normal... quite advanced, actually, according to her parents... but tradition requires that she have a partner without mobility impairment. This is a trial visit to determine if the two are compatible."

As they watched, V'Lin's wheelchair got caught in a drift of sand and loose rock just past the edge of the paved courtyard. Stev dismounted. Trip could hear the girl's calm, high pitched little voice, carried across the open space by the wind, as she gave Stev instructions. He tilted the wheelchair, lifted the rear wheels easily from the ground, and pulled it back on to the pavement. V'Lin nodded her thanks, Stev climbed back aboard, and they resumed their laps.

"Sure looks like they make a good team to me," replied Trip. The idea brought up a question he'd been wondering but had been hesitant to ask with T'Pol and T'Ren around. "She might be a good candidate for a betrothal for Stev, don't you think?"

Kov raised a brow at him. "I thought you didn't approve of childhood betrothal bonds."

Trip shrugged. "Your culture, not mine, remember? It's not my place to judge," he replied. Kov nodded. His eyes were fixed on the children as they played.

"Were his condition not inheritable, I would agree with you, my friend. But accepting the life one is given with joy is one thing. Deliberately encouraging the conception of an individual who must always remain completely dependent on others is quite another." His jaw clenched. Then in a determined voice he said, "Stev will remain in my household. He will learn what he is capable of learning, find useful work, and when the time comes I will go to Gol and choose the priestess who will serve him myself." Kov inhaled deeply as if fighting strong emotion. "I love my son, but he is a child and forever will remain so. T'Ren and I have decided that it would be morally irresponsible of us to encourage him to take a mate. I will have no grandchildren of Stev's line."

Trip nodded in understanding. There was really nothing else to say. They stood side by side watching the children do donuts in the sand of the courtyard. Stev's deep laugh rang out, and Trip saw a smile on the little girl's face.

End

 

 

 

 


Comments:

Hummingbird2

An excellent story,thank you!:D

Distracted

I see the stipulation for a "compensatory partner"... notice it's not necessarily a "normal partner", but simply one without the disadvantage of the other... to be an attempt to level the playing field for these children.  Children without physical or intellectual challenges would do kas-wan alone to prove their worthiness to be productive members of society.  It would be unjust to force children with handicaps to do the same without some compensation for their handicap.  I believe that Vulcans would realize that virtually all individuals have the capability to contribute meaningfully to society in their own way.  Requiring a certain skill set for Kas-wan, whether that skill set is present in one or two persons, would be a just way to allow these children to prove their usefulness.

panyasan

Thank you for a warmhearted and good story.

Mary

Distracted:  always delighted to see something posted with your name on it.. I love your writing.

An interesting comment was made that the kas wan might have been desinged to cull the "imperfect" vulcan children. If that truely were so then a "normal" partner would not be a stipulation. They most likely would just be terminated.Perhaps the kirshara is slowly causing an acceptance of life, even if not up to vulcan standards as both Stev and T'Lin  are showing. A very thought provoking piece with a bitter sweet feel.

carsonsgirl

Beautiful story - heartwarming and hopeful. :)

Dinah

I really enjoyed this story.  Stev is a delight and his relationship with V'Lin is charming.  I could see many years of cooperation and friendship for the two of them.  It's rather sad that Stev will never be betrothed, but I can understand Kov's reasoning. 

As always, this was beautifully written.  Even though it was touched with sadness it also provided a measure of hope.  It makes one stop and think about what is really important in life.

Distracted

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Linda. 

Sorry about the Section 31 thing, Transwarp, but I generally try to stay within canon as I perceive it.  We can only work with what the writers give us.  I'm glad you like Stev.

Thanks everyone for the positive strokes. :D

Transwarp

Yes, bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.  I see Stev as something of a pioneer, coming along at the precise moment in history when Vulcan culture has (mostly) recovered from the excesses of the old High Command, and is trying to embrace the teachings of the kirshara and the true meaning of IDIC.

What better medium for such a lesson than little Stev, touching everyone he meets with his simple exuberance, his contagious joy, and his innocent disregard for all social conventions?  Who better to challenge the old order and pave the way for needed change?  Imagine the powerful impact he could have on people's perceptions.

Not bad for a child incapable of the discipline of logic.

Bravo!

[For me, the only sour note was the reference to section 31.  Please, not Secret Agent Trip.  Anything but that!  Trip is an engineer, not a spy.]

Linda

Wow, that was fast!  And upbeat within trying circumstances.  You packed a lot of information into a short story which tugs at your heart.  Well done!  And hopeful in a bittersweet way, as compassionate people struggle to find creative ways to deal with a harsh reality.  Thank you, Distracted, this is just what I wanted...just what I needed right now.  

bluetiger

That was a lovely way to handle the challenge situation.

Honeybee

Good job with the challenge. Bittersweet, as has been said. Loved the vision of future TnT, with treatment of books as canon. A pleasure to read!

Alelou

I like the way you found an ingenious solution for this, although it's sad that both children are so isolated from their peers.  Perhaps if they can make it into school that will change, but in a culture like that who knows.  And I think I also appreciate that it's not all happy happy, given Kov's pragmatic reaction to Trip's suggestion of a betrothal.

Taken to its logical extreme, it appears the Kas-wan is actually a way Vulcan culture might have evolved precisely to cull out children like these two.  It's terrifying to think of them out there alone (though I think BnB's Purgatory might be influencing me there). 

Finally... go Trip!  Seventy years old and out in the desert!  You're the man!

Asso

PERFECT! Only that.

Distracted

Thanks, guys.  This one was surprisingly easy to write.  Once I decided to make Stev a younger, pointed eared version of my nephew with Down Syndrome the story pretty much wrote itself.  It's a bittersweet subject, to be sure, but not the tragedy a lot of people think it is.  In today's achievement oriented society we need people like Stev (and Matthew) around to remind us of the most important things in life.

justTrip'n

Good job! I feel I am watching an interesting Vulcan episode of the reality series "Wife Swap": Two families with different family cultures colide but learn something from each other.  

Reanok

Distracted this a very thoughtful well written story i really like how you dealt with issues with a special needs child in Vulcan society going through kahswan and the attitude towards such a child.Nice to see Kov again.

Aikiweezie

Bittersweet & thought provolking.  I have a fasination for the V'tosh Katur and Kov and love to see them incorporated.  I think they got a bum rap all because of Tolaris. 

Aquarius

This is bittersweet indeed, but that's a testament to a story well-done.  I like the use of Kov as a solution to telling a story that may otherwise be "untellable" had this been the child of a regular Vulcan couple.  That Kov and his wife turn to Trip and T'Pol for help makes perfect sense, as they are also not your garden variety couple and are probably the most likely to understand out of anyone else they know.

Kov has always been a favorite "guest character" of mine, and I like your interpretation of him here, his commitment to do right by his son in all areas of his life.

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