From "The Race of Cain", Chapter 2:
"The Christmas party!" Lauren pounded the arm of her chair in her enthusiasm.
"Wait a minute," McCoy interrupted. "Do you mean Saavik?"
"Yeah. Anyway, after all we did to try and drag her to it, she shows up for some teeny orphan who actually asked her if she was an elf. She was wearing her field jacket," she explained to Amanda, "it's red and she's got the ears." Warfield used the knuckles on her index fingers to put points on her eartips. Sarek looked appalled. "I thought she'd flip, but she kneels down to talk to the kid and the next thing we know, she's agreeing to come the Institution's Christmas party! She handed out gifts! Damn, if I knew that's all it took, I'd have rounded up orphans a long time ago."
She missed it, but Hunter took in the people in the room. None of them was Saavik's family, and the captain nodded to herself as if a long standing theory was just confirmed.
The noise from the shopping crowd ebbed and flowed around Saavik as she sat on a bench, waiting for her shipmates. The Aerfen had arrived yesterday and many of the crew had eagerly decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do some shopping planet side. Saavik sat, wondering exactly how she had been coerced into accompanying her small group of friend and now sat guarding a large pile of bags. Snatches of conversations broke into her musings.
“I think Mom would like that. Let’s get it.”
“How much is that sweater?”
“I need a size 34.”
“Are you an elf?”
Saavik felt something tug on the hem of her red field jacket. Looking down, she saw a small child standing near her knee.
“I am sorry. What did you say?”
“Are you an elf? I’ve seen pictures of elves in my story book and you look like one.” The child stated this with no small amount of certainty.
Saavik studied the child. She estimated her to be about 4 or 5 standard years. The child’s golden hair was a riot of curls around her solemn face. She was wearing a warm coat against the chill in the air, but it was buttoned incorrectly. Her blue eyes were staring at Saavik with an intensity rarely seen in one so young.
Saavik looked around the market square. There did not seem to be anyone searching for a wandering child. Saavik knew the child was too young to be out here alone.
“Are your parents here with you, child?” she asked.
“I don’t have any parents.”
“What is your name?” Saavik asked her as the young girl continued to stare at Saavik's elegantly pointed ears.
“Sarah, where are your attendants? You should not be here unescorted,” Saavik told her.
“I don’t have any. I saw you from the window with all these presents and I wanted to tell you what I wanted for Christmas.” Sarah explained this as she tried to peek into one of the many bags sitting at Saavik’s feet.
“Which window, Sarah?” Saavik asked, confused.
Sarah turned and pointed towards a building across the narrow shopping area. Saavik noticed several small faces pressed against the glass of a third story window. Noticing her gaze, the group started waving wildly. Sarah returned the waves while jumping in place. Saavik raised her hand and gave a brief wave in acknowledgment.
“Sarah, I do not believe it is safe for you to be out here alone. I will walk you to your home.” Saavik stood and gathered the shopping bags with one hand. With her other hand, she tried waving Sarah forward, toward the tall building.
“That’s not my home. I don’t have a home anymore. It’s an orphanage for “Poor Little Lambs”. That’s what Martha calls us when she doesn’t know I’m there,” Sarah stated matter of factly. Instead of walking ahead, Sarah reached out and grabbed Saavik’s left hand. “Come on. You can meet Martha and the kids and have some cookies. I frosted some of them myself. I only dropped a few, but I brushed them off.” Sarah pulled a bemused Saavik across the grass to the front entrance of the building.
Saavik rang the buzzer and only few moments later, an older human female opened the door wide. Upon seeing Sarah with a bewildered Vulcan, she said “Sarah, what have you done, child?”
“Martha, I found the Christmas elf. I saw her outside and wanted to tell her...”
“What?” Martha and Saavik exclaimed together. Their eyes met and then they both looked at Sarah.
“The Christmas elf that helps Santa. She must be helping him shop for toys. Look at all the bags she has. I wanted to give her our letters for Santa,” Sarah said. “It’s not too late is it? Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.”
Martha quickly sized up the situation and took pity on the confused Vulcan lieutenant.
“Sarah, why don’t you run and get your letters. I’m sure your new friend would be glad to take them. I’m sure she is very busy getting ready for Christmas and can’t stay long,” Martha told Sarah kindly. She gave the girl a gentle push toward the stairs.
“Don’t leave! I’ll be right back.” Sarah scampered up the stairs and disappeared around the corner of the hall.
Once Sarah was out of sight, Martha turned and studied the young woman standing in the foyer. With her red field jacket and pointed ears, Martha could see how the imaginative Sarah had thought her a holiday elf.
“I’m terribly sorry, Lieutenant...” Martha said expectantly.
“Lieutenant Saavik,” the young woman volunteered.
“I’m terribly sorry, Lieutenant Saavik. We have been reading the classic Christmas stories at bedtime. The children are all very excited about the holidays. I hope she didn’t offend you. She is just so ….” Martha paused, searching for the right word.
“Young,” Saavik supplied.
“Yes. If you could just play along with her for a few minutes and take the letters with you, I know it would make her very happy.” Martha’s eyes were drawn back to the empty stairs as a thunderous noise approached.
Five small children, two boys and three girls, headed down the stairs in a fearless rush. Saavik found herself holding her breath until all ten small feet were planted firmly on the foyer floor. Sarah had several pieces of folded paper clutched in her hand.
“They wanted to see you, too. This is Amy, Julia, Matt, and Jimmy. We’ve all been very good this year, except Jimmy.” Sarah paused as a small boy, apparently Jimmy, protested. “And this is Martha. She takes care of us. Can you give these to Santa Claus for us?” Sarah asked as she held out the papers.
“I would be honored to convey your correspondence.” Saavik took the letters and tucked them into one of the large shopping bags.
“What did you say?” Sarah asked, puzzled.
“She means she will give your letters to Santa,” Martha clarified for the small group. “Children, it’s time to get ready for supper and I’m sure your new friend has a lot to do before Christmas. Please go and wash your hands."
Martha herded the small group toward the rear of the house. Sarah grabbed something off the table and hurried back toward Saavik. She held out what appeared to be a green triangle decorated with small yellow dots.
“It’s a Christmas tree cookie. I frosted it all by myself. I don’t think it’s the one I dropped on the floor.” As Saavik accepted the treat, Sarah reached out and wrapped her arms around Saavik’s hips and hugged her tightly. After only a moment’s hesitation, Saavik returned the embrace, her hand smoothing the riotous curls.
“I must go. Thank you for the treat,” Saavik told Sarah before Sarah returned to the dining room.
“Thank you, Lieutenant Saavik, for being so patient with her. Since her parents died, she has been here and sometimes I don’t know if she is adjusting,” Martha explained as she walked the young woman to the front door. As she opened the door, Martha said “There is a small party for the children tomorrow evening. If your ship is still here, I know Sarah would love to see you again.”
“I do not know if that will be possible, but thank you for the invitation,” Saavik answered as she stepped outside. “Happy Holidays to you and yours,” she said formally.
“Merry Christmas, dear,” the older woman answered, her eyes twinkling. Saavik turned and crossed the shopping area.
“Saavik to Aerfen. One to beam up.” As the beam began to return her to her ship, Saavik’s eyes strayed back to the building just visible across the square.
As the transporter room formed around her, Saavik found herself bombarded by questions from the three people she had started the shopping trip with.
“Where did you disappear to?” Lynne Hoskins, the ships communications officer, demanded in a cheerful voice. “And why didn’t you answer when we called? It’s not like you to wander off.”
“And where are my shopping bags?” Lauren Warfield, weapons officer, interrupted. “I hope you didn’t lose my new shoes. I wanted to wear them tonight.” She reached out and pulled the bags from Saavik’s hand.
Dannan Stuart, the Aerfen’s first officer, stepped next to Saavik and told her “We were worried about you. You weren’t where we left you and you didn’t meet us at the beam up point on time. We were just getting ready to come look for you.”
“I was assisting a citizen to return to her home. As I am an adult, I did not feel the need to ‘stay where you left me’,” Saavik replied with as much indignation as she would allow herself to display.
“Alright, alright. Let’s put this stuff away and have a drink in the lounge,” Lynne said, laughing. She ushered them from the transporter room.
Several hours later, the warm darkness surrounded Saavik as she sat at her desk. The only light in the room came from a small lamp overhead. The letters from the children sat in a small pile. Curiosity drove her to pick up the top most letter and open it. “What do human children wish for?” she wondered aloud.
Amy’s letter asked for a doll and a pair of boots. The older girl, Julia, requested a kitten which she planned to name Cookie. She stated this was her favorite treat. Saavik allowed herself a small smile at that remark. Matt and Jimmy, brothers according to their shared letter, wished for a pair of new kites and a dog. In a small postscript at the bottom of the letter, one of the boys added “We will tell him not to eat Julia’s kitten, Cookie.”
The last letter in the pile was from the youngest child in the small group, Sarah.
Martha says you can not bring me a mommy and a daddy, so, I would like a new baby doll to take care of. She would need some clothes and bottles and things. I would also like a new sweater for Martha because she gets cold at night.
PS: If you have any extra mommies and daddies there, I would like one.
PSS Jimmy helped me with this so I guess he is a good boy.
Saavik sat and contemplated the small pile of letters. Abruptly, she stood and left her cabin, pausing only to make a brief call.
“What exactly are we doing back here and this late?” Dannan asked Saavik as they walked toward the center of the shopping center. Several of the shops were already closed for the day.
“I found myself in need of a few items. As you are a former child, I believe you may be of some assistance,” Saavik replied as she scanned the area for the appropriate shop.
“A former child? What does that mean?” a puzzled Dannan asked.
“There,” Saavik pointed to a store with a fanciful window display.
“You want to go in there?” Dannan turned from the store to stare at the Vulcan
A mere forty five minutes later, the pair emerged from the store, carrying several large shopping bags. The gifts were the first Saavik had ever purchased for children. The few gifts she had purchased this holiday season had been for her human friends and one for Lady Amanda. That gift, a lovely antique book of English sonnets, had been shipped weeks ago.
“Okay, what’s with all the toys? You’re a little old for those dolls, aren’t you?”
“I met a child today who lives at the orphanage over there. She is the one I was helping when I ‘ran off from where you left me.’ I am merely buying the children there a few gifts. Sarah thinks I am …” Saavik paused, flushing a very interesting shade of green.
“You’re what?” a curious Dannan asked. She had to know because very few things made the collected young woman blush.
“Santa’s elf,” Saavik choked out.
“Ohhh, you’re kidding! Wait a minute. Let me look at you. Okay, I see it. The red coat, the ears, and the bags of gifts. You do look kind of jolly right now.” Dannan had to stop walking. She was shaking with laughter.
“Please do not repeat that to anyone. I am merely going to deliver these gifts tomorrow before the party,” Saavik replied as they continued to walk. Dannan hurried to catch up.
“Oh, please! Can I tell Lynne or Lauren? You know I can’t keep it to myself. I’ll burst,” Dannan implored.
“I shall warn environmental services of your pending explosion,” Saavik told Dannan as they joined several other crewmembers for a beam out.
The next afternoon found two amused humans and one reluctant Vulcan approaching the orphanage from across the square. A light dusting of snow had fallen and the air was crisp.
“I’m sorry! Lynne asked me where we went last night and then she plied me with alcohol," Dannan said, not sounding very apologetic. “Lauren wanted to come too, but she’s on duty.”
The small group found the front door open and the main hall deserted. Following the sound of voices, they found Martha and another woman decorating a large room. A tall green tree stood in the corner of the room, decorated with dozens of handmade ornaments and twinkling with hundreds of twinkling light. Dannan walked forward and placed the gifts under the tree.
“Ah, Lieutenant Saavik, you came! And brought friends. Wonderful! Welcome all,” Martha exclaimed as she crossed the room. “The children will be here soon.”
After Saavik introduced her friends, she said “We have come to drop off the gifts for the children. I used their letters as a guide. I hope they are appropriate.”
“Please stay and enjoy the party. Sarah will be so happy to see you. My nephew is dressing up as Santa and can pass out the gifts if that is alright with you. The rest of their gifts will be under the tree in the morning, so these will be a very special treat for them. They usually just get a small gift today from me, but I will put those out in the morning too,” Martha explained as she adjusted a garland swag over the fireplace.
Dannan was carrying a tray of cookies from the kitchen and Lynne was talking quietly to Martha’s friend, Ellen. They moved a large chair closer to the decorated tree.
“Sam will sit here and give out the gifts. Then I will read “The Night Before Christmas” to the children and we will have cookies and punch. It’s a tradition around here. The children really seem to enjoy it,” Martha said.
Suddenly, a low thunder began in the distance. As the sound drew closer, Saavik became aware of a faint vibration under her feet. As seconds passed, the sound and the vibration grew until Saavik threw a concerned look at Martha.
“Here they come,” Martha murmured under her breath.
“Saavik, Saavik!” Sarah yelled as she entered the room and caught sight of her new friend. “You’re here! I told you she would come and help Santa,” Sarah turned and told the small group behind her. The rest of the children entered behind Sarah and stood uncertainly near the tree, looking at the strangers.
“Come in, children. I think I hear someone coming. I wonder who it could be?” Martha gathered her flock together as the door opened again.
“Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! Are there any good boys and girls here?” the bearded man, Sam, Saavik assumed, said in a very jolly tone. Martha crossed the room and spoke quietly to him.
The full beard and bushy mustache hid the man’s age but did nothing to dim the twinkle in his blue eyes. His gaze paused briefly on the three strangers in the room, one by one. Finally, his gaze landed on Saavik and he nodded once at something Martha told him.
“Ah, my favorite elf. I see you made it with the gifts. Santa is so grateful to have such a beautiful elf to help him,” Santa said with a devilish grin barely visible under the facial hair. “And you brought your pretty friends along.”
Santa sat down in the chair and motioned Saavik closer. She bent near as he whispered, “Aunt Martha filled me in. It’s very nice of you to do this. I hope Sarah didn’t make you feel obligated.”
“No, I wanted to be here. My friends discovered my plans and desired to attend the party,” Saavik whispered back, her eyes on the watching children. “I think they are getting suspicious of our conversation.”
“Right. Let’s get this started,” Santa said. Then raising his voice, addressed the room in general. “All the children line up right here, in front of Santa. Youngest to oldest, please.”
“Ah, Sarah, my sweetie. Come here.” Santa settled the small girl on his knee. “Have you been a good girl this year?”
“Yes. I tried real hard and if Jimmy tells you that I hit him, he made me do it. He pushed Amy out of the way to get the last glass of juice,” Sarah informed him, her voice brimming with righteous indignation.
“Well, now. That wasn’t very nice of him but you should not have hit him. Should we see what Santa has for you?” Santa said as he looked expectantly at his “favorite elf” standing near the tree.
Saavik stood, all eyes on her, until she realized what her part apparently was to be. She bent and selected the brightly wrapped gift containing Sarah’s gift. She handed it to Santa, who held it briefly before giving it to Sarah.
“Here is the new, shiny thermo-regulator you wanted,” he said in all seriousness.
Saavik opened her mouth to correct him as to the contents of the box when she noticed the teasing gleam in Santa’s eyes.
“Thermo-what? Does that mean doll where you come from?” Sarah asked as she lightly shook the box.
“I don’t know. Open it and find out,” Santa told her.
Seconds later, the box rested several feet away, thrown there by a very excited little girl. Sarah held the doll in her arms and examined the clothes and other items in the small diaper bag. “She is so pretty and soft. The blanket is soft, too,” Sarah exclaimed as she threw her arms around Santa’s neck and strangled him in her enthusiasm.
“You’re welcome, Sarah. I am glad you like it,” Santa managed to croak out as he untangled her arms from around his neck. Sarah jumped off his knee and ran over to Martha, proudly displaying her new toy.
With a little elf intervention, Santa successfully distributed the remaining gifts to the correct children. Cries of delight filled the room. Within minutes, realistic meows and barks joined the general mayhem and the new animatronic pets were activated. The boys made plans to fly their new kites and the girls sat together on the sofa comparing new dolls.
Saavik picked up one more beautifully wrapped gift and approached Santa. The pink wrapping was covered with delicate butterflies and pale flowers. She handed it to Santa with a whispered explanation.
He looked at the lovely woman with a new appreciation. “Will you marry me, beautiful elf?” he asked. Saavik heard a choking sound behind her. As she turned, she saw Dannan standing there with her hand covering her mouth. She was trying, not very successfully, to contain her laughter.
“Oh, well. I can see you probably have your hands full with your friends, but the offer stands,” Santa said as he walked back to the center of the room with the package. “I have one last gift for the nicest girl here. Martha, come over here and sit down.”
“What a beautiful package. I didn’t expect a gift,” Martha said as she sat down on the sofa next to the girls and accepted the box. Opening the box, she withdrew a sweater of the palest pink. It was as soft as a cloud and decorated with delicate pearl buttons. Another, in pale green, remained in the box.
“Now you can be warm at night. I told Santa that you got cold sometimes at night. It’s so soft. Put it on!” Sarah almost yelled in her excitement.
Martha removed her plain, old sweater and pulled on the new pink one with Sarah’s help. Martha ran her hand up and down the silky soft sleeve, agreeing with Sarah about the softness of the garment. As she drew the beaming child close, her eyes met Saavik’s and she mouthed “Thank you.”
“Thank you, Santa. This is the nicest sweater I have ever had. And thank you, children, for thinking of me,” Martha said as she hugged Sarah and the others. “I think it is time for a story. Jimmy, can you bring me the book please?”
The book, it turned out, was a large bound book with a fanciful holiday scene on the cover. Jimmy handed her the book and then settled on the floor in front of the sofa with his brother. Santa sat down in a chair near the sofa as Lynne and Dannan perched on the loveseat. Saavik remained standing near the tree, just on the edge of the group.
“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,” Martha began.
As the reading continued, Saavik let her eyes scan the room, from person to person. The children were enthralled by the unfolding story. Lynne and Dannan also seemed to be enjoying the tale. Only Santa seemed to be letting his mind wander. He sat, watching Saavik look at him. With a start, she looked back at the story telling group.
“And to all a good night,” Martha finished the story with much enthusiasm and gently closed the book. The room erupted with applause and cheering from the children and adults alike. “Let’s have some cookies before you children get ready for bed.”
Almost as one, the children stood and rushed toward the decorated table. Sarah paused only long enough to grab Saavik’s hand and pull her along. Large platters of cookies shaped like tiny trees, bells, and candy canes sat on the table. As Saavik reached for one tree shaped cookie, she felt a tug on her sleeve. Looking down, she noticed Sarah widen her eyes and shake her head. She let her hand wander over to another cookie and Sarah smiled at her choice.
“I think that’s the one I dropped. I hope Jimmy gets that one,” Sarah whispered as she selected her own cookies. She started giggling as that young man picked up the questionable cookie and took a large bite.
Several more pleasant moments passed and Saavik realized it was time to return to the ship. She caught Dannan’s eye and angled her head toward the door. Lynne also noticed the motion and quickly finished her snack. Saying good-by to the children provoked a flurry of hugs and cookies to take along for later.
“Thank you for allowing us to share your evening,” Saavik said as she and Dannan paused near Martha and Santa. Lynne and Dannan added their thanks.
“Thank you, dear, for coming and bringing your friends. It’s so nice for the children to have visitors,” Martha said as she rested her hand on Saavik’s arm. “Children, I think Santa needs to leave with his helpers. Say goodnight.”
Saavik reached out and taking Sarah’s hand, drew her a few feet away from the others. She knelt down and accepted Sarah’s tight embrace. Her hand brushed a few curls away from Sarah’s beaming face.
“I was an orphan at your age. Some wonderful people helped me, just as Martha helps you,” Saavik said quietly as she leaned back slightly to look deep into Sarah’s blue eyes. “You told me yesterday that you did not have a family. I think you have a wonderful family right here. Please remember that. Martha loves you very much.” Saavik drew Sarah close once more for a brief embrace. The child smelled of soap and sugar cookies. She closed her eyes and savored the moment.
Standing, Saavik followed Santa and her friends into the foyer, closing the door behind her. After making sure the door was firmly closed, Santa reached up and pulled the artificial facial hair off a face not much older than her own. A very handsome face, if the look on Lynne’s face was any indication.
“If you won’t marry me, at least let me walk you to the station,” the newly revealed Sam teased, offering his arm to Saavik. In the spirit of the evening, she laid her hand on his arm as they walked out the door into the dark night. The short walk to the beam up point lasted only a few moments and after calling the ship, the three young women said good-by to their handsome escort.
Waiting for the transporter to beam them up, Saavik’s gaze returned to the building across the square. The curtainless window allowed a view of the gathering inside. The group appeared to be gathered around the tree, singing. Saavik realized the scene resembled a picture from a book she has seen as a much younger girl. The twinkling lights and happy face filled her with a feeling of joy that not all orphans were unloved and unwanted as she herself had been for so long.
As the familiar tingle signaled the beam, Saavik looked hard at the scene, trying to memorize every detail. As her hand closed around the cookies Sarah had hidden in her jacket pocket, Saavik remembered the final line of the evening’ story.
“And to all a good night,” she whispered as the scene dissolved to darkness.