Please imagine Joanna McCoy becoming a pen pal to a Federation officer operating in deep space.
When her 8th-grade teacher announces the program she jumps at the opportunity to join. She knows almost nothing about her Father, but she knows he works for the Federation and he works in deep space. She’s sure there can’t be that many people working there. She might get paired with him. She might be able to find out something about him–some tidbit that would explain why her mother has never allowed them to see each other.
(She doesn’t tell her mother she’s getting a pen pal. It just never comes up.)
She has to write the first letter and it will be sent to a random officer. She keeps it simple: a bit about her studies, the weather on Earth, how she hopes the officer is doing well and is getting plenty to eat. She signs it “J.M.” just in case.
After sending it out, it takes a week for her to get a response. She’s disappointed to see that the letter is from some science commander named “Spock.” It’s not her Father. She’s so upset that she almost doesn’t read the letter. But then, she does.
Spock writes succinctly and formally. He gives little away, but there’s still something about his letter that leaves her feeling…lonely. She decides to write back. She asks him if he likes his job.
They begin to send a series of letters, one or two a week, for months. She learns a lot about this strange Commander Spock. He really does love his job. He often writes pages and pages about the latest phenomena the Enterprise has encountered. He tells her of his favorite music he’s been listening to, and of some of the stories of the Vulcan people.
She tells him it’s hot today in Georgia, and that she wishes she could study whatever she wanted. She tells him about the garden in her backyard and about riding horses. She tells him about the songs she’s been listening to and how sometimes laying in her backyard at night she’s pretty sure she can see which star the Enterprise is traveling by. She tells him a girl in her class has been bullying her again and that sometimes she isn’t sure if her Mom is actually listening to her or not
There’s a long delay after that letter.
When Spock writes back again, he apologizes and explains he needed advice to respond to her last letter. He has been told that pen pals often share intimate details of their lives and so he will respond accordingly.
He says he learned this from Doctor McCoy.
The rest of the letter is a blur of Spock commiserating over his own difficulties in talking to his father. But she’s still repeating the words Doctor McCoy over and over again in her head.
Her Father knows Spock. Spock knows her Father. Even goes to him for advice when little girls like “J.M.” have troubles.
Now she just has to decide what to do with this information.
Spock never asks for her name, partly due to the fact he is unsure of what is expected in this strange human practice and partly because he assumed by her signature that she preferred anonymity. It stays that way, too, until she starts high school and there are things that she absolutely can’t tell her dad about. When he gets a tearfully worded message from his young pen pal, he suggests a more direct from of correspondence–a video message. He gets a call almost immediately. It takes him about thirty seconds to figure out that the accented, flustered, irate girl in front of him is Doctor McCoy’s daughter.
oh look I found followup. I NEED MORE OF THIS.
Spock takes time after that call. Time to decide whether or not to tell doctor McCoy that his pen pal is in fact his daughter. A daughter who he rarely speaks of, A daughter to who he was denied visits many years ago. It’s a topic that has been brought up once or twice before, a slip of the tongue on Jim’s part, and every time Spock can see the guilt in the doctors eyes, the hurt he feels for the daughter he unwillingly lost. So Spock decides it would be best to seek the council of someone who knows the situation better then he.
“Bones’ daughter!?” Jim shouted as he paced the room.
“That is correct jim,” Spock nodded from his place on the couch, eyes following his oval path, “I agreed to participate in this program to give potential applicants into the academy insight into the life of a member of starfleet, though I never suspected I would acquire a partner such as this.”
He stopped pacing then, and turned to Spock, “this is crazy, Spock! Bones hasn’t seen or heard from his daughter in years, and now you have contact with her! We… we should tell bones!”
“That is why I am here, jim,” Jim shot him a quizzical look, “I do not know if that is the best course of action.”
“What do you mean?”
Spock sighed and stood, moving towards jim, “I am not sure that the doctor or his daughter would be comfortable with this. I once added the doctors name into one of my letters, so surely she knows that I work on the same ship as her father, and has yet to mention anything about them being related, and doctor McCoy completely avoids the topic.”
Jim’s expression softened, now understanding Spock’s struggle. He neither wanted to upset his best friend or his daughter. He walked past Spock and took a seat on the couch that Spock had occupied before, Spock joining him. “So,” he turned to Spock, “what now then?”
Joanna had just gotten home from school, one of the harder days. The whole way home she held back tears that wanted so badly to fall, walked straight past her mother in the kitchen who always failed to see when something was wrong, and straight to her room slamming the door shut behind her.
Once she was locked in her room, surrounded by the familiar walls of her only safe place, did she finally let the tears fall. She cried into her knees, thinking back on why they were falling in the first place. Kids could be so mean, especially teenagers.
Once the sobs has subsided and turned into soft breaths she stood from the floor and walked across the room to her computer. She booted it up instantly opening a video chat window. Commander Spock had sent her a message the other day asking if she would be available for a video chat today after school, and to be honest speaking with Spock was the only thing that kept her going recently.
Once everything was set she turned her status to online and waited. As she did she looked at the space around her computer, the walls covered in articles and pictures, not a speck of the baby blue paint visible anymore, books stacked on both side of the screen, research papers, groundbreaking medical data, and all of it belonged to one person. Doctor Leonard McCoy of the U.S.S Enterprise. It was a good thing her mother never stepped foot in her room, she thought.
The ringing that indicated commander Spock was calling shook her from her thoughts as she moved to accept the call. Once she clicked accept she took a second to make sure the tears were wiped clear of her eyes and cheeks, then looked back to the screen.
The words did not come from the familiar voice of commander spock, and the owner of the voice was met with wide eyes and one whispered word.
THIS IS A GOOD ADDITION!