Saavik gently smoothed the light weight blanket. Under her hand, a leg kicked out, dislodging the covering once more. Patiently she repeated the action, covering her son and protecting him from the cool desert air. She sat on the stone bench on the terrace outside her bedroom The dim, artificial light softly illuminated the formal sitting area. Around them, the night air was sweetened with the scents from the nearby garden. Amanda's roses were in bloom and filled the air with a familiar delicate fragrance. . With one hand resting on the warm bundle of blankets, Saavik stared up.

The stars, her stars, beckoned. They winked and blinked and dazzled her eyes. Pointing up, she spoke, "Look, my son. That's where I will be." Her call to return to duty was sudden and temporary. The mission was ultimately suited to her unique characteristics and... genealogy. She could not find it in herself to refuse the urgent request of her commanding officer. She looked away from the stars and back to her son.

With a familiar solemnity, the infant looked into his mother's face and blinked owlishly, his dark eyes wide. One strong movement dislodged the material from his head and exposed the unruly locks of silken black. He kicked out once more and managed to expose his leg to the night air again. Scooping him up, Saavik quickly and efficiently re-swaddled the tiny form and raised him up to eye level.

"Our world can be harsh. The air is hot with the sun but cool at night once it sets. You must stay covered appropriately at all times."

Again the eyes blinked somberly as if taking to heart each word she'd spoken.

"Your father and I will always be here to tell you of these things, Seron, but it is never too early to learn." Turning him in her arms, she cradled him close and tilted his face to the wide open sky. "I will always be close to you, my son. The stars are not so far. You will see."

The babe settled easily in his mother's arms, his eyes drifting shut as his mouth bowed into a huge yawn. Saavik gazed down into his face, confident that she'd comforted him. He knew she was leaving; the parental bond they shared was strong. He was unsure what her parting meant and she'd determined that he would not be affected negatively by her return to duty.

He would be well cared for in her absence, of course. His father was very capable. After all, she'd been instructing him for days.

*****************************************************************************

 Spock stood at the gate of family estate. In his arms, their three month old son lay quietly. He looked one last time at the ground transport rapidly becoming smaller as it moved away. On a rare impulse, he lifted the child higher and pointed.

"There, she is leaving, but do not be concerned. I am here and she will return in much the same way, soon." He carefully shifted the boy again and moved into the shade of the house. Lying his burden down on the brightly colored, hand woven floor mat, Spock looked around and then continued. He had returned home only briefly in his son's short life. His duty to his beliefs was clear, yet holding this warm bundle, this duty was clear as well. His child's life and well being was now in his hands. A reconfiguration of priorities was in order.

 "She has instructed me upon every aspect of your care, at length. I know your feeding schedule, your sleeping schedule, and your scheduled intellectual stimulation activities, both alone and with others of your age. We will be fine." His tone was firm and his attitude positive.

The boy remained silent, his eyes earnestly focused on the familiar figure before him. Spock moved to the kitchen area and retrieved a prepared bottle. He was confident as he walked back to the child and offered the sustenance.

The child blinked and stared, but did not move. Considering carefully, Spock ran over in his mind all the directives he had been imparted for this task. He checked the chronometer. It was a scheduled time for feeding.

He thought back to the child's last meal this morning with his mother. He could see Saavik holding the child tenderly and realized his error. Spock lifted the child and sat in the nearest chair. As he settled against the cushions, he recognized his mother's favored piece, an old rocking chair of Earth origin. Cradling his boy, he offered the bottle again, encouraged when this time, the child opened his mouth and accepted the nipple.

"Very good, Seron. Perhaps, I am not as... comfortable... as your mother, but I am proficient in caring for you." An unconscious nudge of his foot sent the chair into movement. The old wood creaked rhythmically and soon the serious, dark eyes drifted shut and the mouth slowed it's suckling motions with the last drop of formula. Satisfied, Spock removed the bottle and set it aside. He wiped the milky dribble from the child's chin and sighed. "I knew that we could do this."

Briefly his mind reached out and brushed the silver cord that was his bond with Saavik. "We will be fine until your return, T'hyla."