Saavik forced herself to take a deep calming breath. “Father. . . .”
Vulcan’s most legendary ambassador innocently arched a silvered eyebrow. “Daughter.”
The completely unrepentant glint in his dark eyes almost made the corner of her mouth twitch in spite of everything and she sighed, conceding defeat. She crossed her arms and leaned back against the bulkhead, giving him a narrow-eyed study. “You are being deliberately. . . .”
This time, her lips did grant him the shadow of a curve at the memories the word stirred. “I was difficult. You,” her eyebrow lifted, “however, are impossible.”
The glint in his eyes only brightened and he settled back in his chair, folding his long fingered hands. “Indeed?”
He gave all the appearance of considering the concept deeply. “An observation.”
“I believe, Sarek, I have acquired sufficient amounts of qualifying data to more than determine it a scientific law.”
His other eyebrow lifted and though not a muscle moved in his face, she could tell that he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
It was both disturbing and pleasing at the same time. Her brows drew together as her eyes narrowed further. “And I will not be distracted.”
The light in his eyes sobered. “Diplomacy, by its very nature, is often hazardous.”
Displeasure again tipped the scales and she uncoiled from the bulkhead. “You took a disproportionate risk for the potential success.” She caught the lines of her body growing taut and forced them to relax again.
“Spock agreed with my decision.”
That did not help his argument, and she gave her voice an edge so that he knew it. “I have already discussed that decision with him.”
Sarek tilted his head. “Is my presence required in Sickbay?”
Saavik’s dry sense of humor rose. “Perhaps.” She gave him a long look. “Although as a visitor or as a patient is yet to be determined.”
“It is illogical to attempt to dissuade a decision which holds potential physiological peril by invoking a threat.”
“I did not invoke a threat.”
He gazed back evenly for a long beat, drawing out the moment to emphasize his dry answer. “Indeed?”
“It was a projected possibility should the current lines of events continue unaltered.”
He dismissed the point with a wave of a hand. “My son will not allow harm to befall me.”
“Intention and outcome are rarely one, Sarek.”
“I will be accompanied by my aides.”
“Who are unarmed. Perhaps you can explain why you refused a Starfleet escort?”
“Saavik, one cannot successfully inspire confidence in a peaceful solution if one comes ready for conflict.”
“One cannot successfully experience a peaceful solution if one dies before it can be implemented.”
“The facility is secure.”
“No facility is secure.”
“And their word of honor holds nothing for you?”
“I have waited decades to acquire a father. No.”
Sarek blinked. So did she. She hadn’t expected to make that comment; after all, it was only a short time ago that she had finally agreed to becoming puk'ai'la ko-fu-maat to his House. An honor she was still growing used to. It was almost a dream. A House allied daughter. Approved and blessed by T'Pau, herself. Saavik found herself grow warm at the memory and nearly shook her head in disbelief. She was still absorbing it, and the way it brought things to the surface – such as what she just said to Sarek.
Perhaps he sensed that, because he merely nodded and redirected the conversation. “Should you not also be concerned about Spock? He will be in attendance with me.”
Saavik looked away and then back. “He does not heed me.”
Sarek’s brow darkened. “Illogical.”
Saavik’s eyebrow lifted dryly. “So you will concede now?”
“I am duty-bound, I must attend.”
“This means you will not heed me either.”
“Saavik,” Sarek said with an air of barely held patience, “I must remind you it was your request that I take this mission.”
“To aid in the situation withoutsacrificing your safety! As we have reached that point, I request you stand down from the mission.”
“I cannot, my daughter, or it will defeat the reason of my risk.”
Saavik shook her head almost bitterly. “Peace.”
“You of all,” he chided gently, “ought to long for peace.”
She turned away and stared out the porthole at the stars. “What peace will I have alone?” She turned back and her eyes burned. “I am not as you or Spock. I find no comfort in duty that holds only the promise of loss for those that fulfill it.” She looked away again. “A character flaw you may attribute to my formative years.” Again a bitter line moved along her mouth. “Or to my association with Valeris.”
Sarek rose, gathering his robes about him, and moved to stand behind her: a solid, comforting presence. “And yet, though you would deny us our risk, you think nothing of the times you stand in similar state.”
Saavik blinked again, taken off guard for the second time, and cocked her head to study him intently out of the corner of her eye. “I--”
Sarek’s face became dark and immovable. “I have finally received a full accounting of your last mission.”
Saavik hesitated. “Human captains have a tendency to--”
“My daughter. . . .”
At that tone, she braced herself. “Yes, Sarek?”
“I am most displeased.”
Saavik stared back, refusing to back down until she remembered she had agreed to puk'ai'la ko-fu-maat status and must show respect to a head of the allied House. She lowered her gaze.
Sarek reached out and turned her, catching her chin lightly and bringing it back to the level she had used this whole time. “I have waited decades to acquire a daughter.”
This caught the breath in her throat more than her own earlier statement, and she looked up into his face.
“We both are duty-bound to our futures.” His eyes glinted again. “And we are well-matched in our. . . degrees of difficulty.” He sobered, studying her eyes. “Yet, I would find some way to ease the risk.”
“You will heed me?”
He clasped his hands behind his back.
Saavik’s eyes instantly narrowed. “You plot something.”
His arching eyebrow became innocent again. “Romulans plot, Vulcans calculate.”
Saavik nearly grimaced. “I am uncertain which disturbs me more.”
The spark returned to his dark eyes. “Your mind is,” his tone took on a dryness, “more than sufficient to the task.”
“This begins to sound only more ominous.”
“Consider it an exercise in logic.”
She drew in a long breath.
“How would I be able to heed both my duty and my daughter for tomorrow’s peace conference?”
He is more insufferable than– She had almost thought Spock, but she wasn’t sure. “I begin to see the ancestral connecting roots of the Vulcan and Romulan peoples.” As well as you and your son.
He gazed down at her fondly and then returned to his chair. “Have you a solution?”
“Excluding the ones requiring physical segregation, annihilation or sedation of all hostile parties.”
Saavik’s eyes narrowed further. “Quite deliberately difficult.”
He steepled his fingers and regarded her expectantly. “Your solution, my daughter?”
Saavik frowned. Then very slowly, very deliberately smiled in a Vulcan’s way.
He went absolutely still.
She bowed. “I will present it tomorrow in time for the opening session, my father.”
He could see the calculation— no, the plotting— in her eyes. It made her even more beautiful— and far more dangerous than a display of anger or temper.
He found it singularly disturbing.
“Rest well, Sarek.”
Sarek inclined his head, watching her leave as carefully now as he would a predator in the desert.
It would take deep meditation before restwould have anything to do with his night.
Spock studied his father with a growing sense of unsettlement. Propriety required stillness and composure, so Sarek did not pace but inspected the room – repeatedly -- and ignored all in the room, his heavy diplomatic robes swirling about him. It was agitating the Starfleet Security officers who were already sweating at the thought of letting two premier ambassadors out of their sight and into enemy territory, and it caused their Vulcan aides to shift in subtle motions. Spock frowned.
And then did a double take.
“Father? Where is Aide T’Ven?”
The chime sounded that indicated it was time for the talks to begin.
Sarek abruptly whirled, his dark eyes focusing for the first time since they had arrived at the corridor and paled at the sight of his single aide beside Spock’s two.
“Father, are you. . . unwell?”
An unexpected voice answered. “Some do not take concession well.”
They all turned to find Saavik suddenly standing there. The Starfleet Security officers from her ship almost yelped in surprise at her silent appearance, and then grinned at each other in open delight.
Crisply dressed in the rich browns of a Vulcan diplomatic aide, complete with House jewels shined to Starfleet uniform specifications, and with an accompanying data padd held at the ready, the glint in Saavik’s eyes was unmistakable. She inclined her head at the security officers and turned her attention back to Spock and his father. She arched an eyebrow calmly.
“Sirs, I believe the diplomatic party has been summoned.”
Sarek was shaking his head firmly. “No.”
Spock studied Saavik’s appearance a long moment, absently wondering how he had never noticed how. . . pleasing. . . the diplomatic attire was.
“No,” said Sarek.
Saavik arched an innocent eyebrow. “Sir, Aide T’Ven regrettably is unable to fulfill her staff duties.”
Spock’s eyes narrowed. “What did you--”
“You are an officer in Starfleet,” said Sarek firmly, “not a diplomat.”
“With all due respect, sir, as a commander in Starfleet, I have exhibited both Federation Diplomatic Corps and Vulcan Diplomatic Services requirements for an aide. And, to avoid a possible conflict with my duties as Starfleet officer, Admiral Hiro has granted a temporary leave of absence for the duration of the talks.”
Both Spock and Sarek looked at each other and then back at Saavik.
“Are you. . . armed?” asked Sarek carefully.
Saavik’s eyes glittered in a way Spock knew better than his own habits. “That would be against diplomatic protocols, sir.”
Spock closed his eyes, missing how the Security officers covered grins.
Sarek moved close, his normally controlled face lined. “I cannot guarantee your safety, my daughter.”
That last word made Spock’s eyes snap open; he knew of the allied status, of course, and it wasn’t the first time he had seen this for himself.
But it was always a fascinating thing to see.
When did those lines form in my father’s face? When had his father begun growing... old?
Saavik, on the other hand, looked almost amused. She reached over, gently straightening Sarek’s ambassadorial sash, and sending Spock’s eyebrows into his bangs. “But I will be able to guarantee yours, my father.” She slid a sly look at Spock. “And your son’s.”
Spock stiffened. “I am more than capable of attending to my own security.”
“Indeed?” Saavik’s eyebrow lifted coolly. “Is that your manner of describing your actions on--”
Sarek’s suddenly sharp gaze swung on Spock like a sighting laser.
Spock cleared his throat. “Father, I believe it would be unwise to delay the session any further.”
Sarek studied his son narrowly. Very slowly, he turned that same gaze on his daughter.
Saavik widened her eyes with an attempt at innocence that Spock didn’t believe at all. “The solution does fit within your required perimeters, Sarek.”
The Security officers were nearly purple from smothering themselves, while the Vulcan aides wisely decided to study the architecture around them, even if it was nothing more than bare walls, ceiling, and decking.
Sarek scowled. “Children.” And when his dark eyes met Saavik’s, a glint began to grow. He drew himself up straight, and suddenly he was the legendary ambassador whose very name made even the Klingon High Council take notice.
Saavik and Spock gave each other a wary look.
“Very well, Aide Saavik, I have just the assignment for one so. . . clever.” His eyes narrowed. “I believe the Andorian contingent has a rather. . . intense new officer. One of high standing and a. . . temperament. . . which should provide a suitable challenge.”
Saavik eyed him suspiciously. “Would this Andorian happen to be the one I confined to quarters two nights ago?”
Sarek turned smoothly to Spock. “And I believe there is a certain Halleon diplomat interested in discussing certain. . . relations with you.”
Spock felt an illogical clench in his stomach. “Ambassador E’fu?”
Saavik slid him a suspicious look. “Certain relations?”
Spock actually felt himself draw up defensively. “It is her interest, not my own.”
"Saavik," Sarek asked, at once both wry and still commanding, "is there a reason why you find Ambassador E’fu's interest in Spock disturbing?"
Saavik was stopped from answering, although she didn’t appear to have an answer, because a second chime sounded, warning that they were in danger of being late.
Sarek turned in a whirl of robes and strode down the corridor, his face carefully controlled. “Attend me.”
The part of Spock that could only be labeled as rebellious son balked at the command, which he knew was illogical, if not ludicrous. Saavik, of course, had no such strain in her, and somehow swept him along with her. They started down the corridor after Sarek.
She gave him the dark look of a commander. “In the future, heed me and allow the proper Security!”
Spock gave back the glower of an ambassador. “In the future, confirm all solutions with me prior to implementation.”
Sarek reached the main doors and glanced back.
In their argument, they had drawn closer — almost touching shoulders and Sarek shook his head.
They will do well together.
He nearly sighed, and wondered how long it would take them to realize it. He had an uncomfortable presentiment that it would be too long. Spock was too bound to duty. Saavik held back by her own self. McCoy was entirely accurate. It was time to intervene.
Sarek frowned ever so slightly, calculating.
Spock strode towards him, tall and sternly dignified in his robes, the lines in his face already showing the weight of a destiny too heavy to bear alone. Yet, in spite of the silver beginning to brush the ebony hair, and the disapproval of Saavik’s interference and its consequences in his voice, his lean frame bent towards her whenever their paces began to separate them even the slightest bit, and his eyes followed every movement she made, no matter how slight.
Just as a flush of well restrained temper only made Saavik’s eyes more intensely powerful and her beauty more drawing. And though she argued with Spock now, Sarek knew well the way she watched him, and how her expression gentled into something for him alone.
How well they understood each other. Innately and from experience. How deeply important they were to each other.
Sarek's brow furrowed. He had promised Amanda, after T'Pring, not to interfere again in his son's seeking a consort, but surely she would have found no ill in intervention. After all, it was what his son wanted. And his new daughter.
When the peace talks were over, he would begin. And the concluding interview with that human journalist--Perrin. Sarek nodded to himself.
It was more than fortunate that Saavik had conceded at last to her place as allied daughter. It would keep her near and allow him to follow of fostering a bondmate within one’s own House.
He nodded once to himself. Amanda would have approved. She had called Saavik daughter long before his heart had softened to the child.
Sarek’s face warmed.
It was time the child became his daughter by more than heart.
He studied his son, the shadows under the eyes, the lines. When did Spock begin to carry such weariness?
Loneliness, decades of loneliness, that eased when Saavik was with him.
Sarek’s gaze settled on her.
All fire, that one, the Romulan Ambassador had murmured admiringly when she had taken down the young Akhilend’r in his excess of drink.
Sarek, though, knew there was immovable earth in her as well. Not even Spock, with all his hold over her, could alter her when she was determined.
A brush of humor filled him. But then, nor can Spock’s enemies.
She would anchor his son, give him comfort and support in the worst moments, even as she protected and stirred him to greater strength.
They will balance each other well. As Amanda had balanced him.
He felt her loss again and grieved as if it was yesterday. If only they had succeeded in taking her katra, if only humans were capable of the ritual, then Amanda would be alive and thriving in the Hall of Ancient Thought and he would have that future to anticipate instead of ---
He found Saavik’s face near his, her intense eyes searching his worriedly, and his son’s light touch against his arm.
He smoothed his face immediately. “There is much to be done.”
Both nodded, their argument forgotten in their mutual concern for him. Saavik looked to Spock and Spock moved instinctively closer to her, his hand brushing the small of her back.
He touches her.
And she leaned into it.
And just like that, the first stirrings of a logical calculation began to form.
A brush of dry humor came with it.
Or would that be considered a plot? Sarek wondered.
He was almost certain he could hear Amanda’s delighted laughter.