ONE

Time Period: some months after ST:VI The Undiscovered Country.

In the Kerjen universe: after The Race of Cain, What Good Came From It, and One More Thing Before You Go

Spock lay in his bed in what used to be his parents' home and now was just Sarek's. He slept no more than he had any night since Amanda died, perhaps only reaching a few total hours when his numbed mind and body finally dropped into restless slumber.

At least the funerals were behind him. The first one had been on Earth with the Graysons and their extended family, where the urn of his mother's ashes sat on a pedestal at the end of a long aisle. Then came the ceremony here on Vulcan, more difficult because he had to face that this was the end. How the long moments had dragged on while he stood next to his rigid father who was speechless except for the formal words. And who had once actually leaned on his son's shoulder, ever so lightly, so much so that Spock didn't realize its meaning until after it was all over.

He stared into the darkness.

All that remained was the memorial service for his mother's "strays", her word for the people she took in who needed her help or just her instruction in Vulcan's ways. He had once teased her that they were her acolytes, to which she replied, "That is fortunate. I deserve them."

He closed his eyes again, but from pain, not for calm.

He and his father would only briefly welcome these -- friends, then leave them alone to honor their unique bond with Amanda.

He found he wished the family funerals were still ahead of him. It gave him something to do, even if it was to give the same repeated answers to the same repeated questions. Crowds of people came to honor his mother, peers and friends from the Academy and the countless diplomatic missions where Amanda had carved a place now left painfully empty. No one knew what to say, least of all him, but at least it was something instead of these long days with nothing more to do than bear the emptiness in the house. And himself.

He tried again for peace, calm... sleep.

Spock was thankful Jim and Leonard were here, and that they had stayed after the funeral. Except it was difficult to still see what retirement was doing to Kirk. He shouldn't have taken it; he had so much to give outside of being captain of the Enterprise, but no one knew better than Spock and McCoy that Jim only wanted his ship.

But he had been a great help, and at least he and McCoy attempted talking to Sarek. Although, what to say to someone who had lost his wife of decades? His son didn't know. His son didn't know what to say to himself. He only wanted to leave Vulcan, immerse himself in some project, and forget.

Except it wouldn't work, and he had given Sarek an argument when his father suggested doing the same thing.

He sat up and swung his legs to the floor. Outside, the first trace of morning lightened the night to the slightest bit less black. Illogical trying to sleep now.

But once on his feet, where to go?

He slipped into a light robe over his gray pajama bottoms and a pair of equally lightweight shoes. It would protect him against the parts of the garden kept cooler for the Earth plants.

He walked out into the dark hallway, his eyes adjusting quickly, pausing at the door and instantly wished he hadn't. He didn't want to see the room across from his.

Of course his mother reserved this room for Saavik. Especially as he knew Amanda didn't think of her as a mere guest. In fact, he had seen his mother's attitude with Saavik early on and called into question the teasing, the talk on personal topics, and the manner in which it was all done.

He had listed these to Sarek quite firmly: "Father, such attitude and behavior towards a guest is illogical and inhospitable."

Sarek replied calmly, "Advice you may give your mother yourself. She has just returned to the house."

Spock had started thinking twice about it, but Amanda must have heard their voices and came through. "Mother, it is illogical and inhospitable to treat a guest in this manner."

Amanda had stopped. "We have a guest? Why wasn't I told?"

"I speak of Saavik."

Amanda had brightened. "Oh, Saavik! Saavik's not a guest." She had cheerily walked away and Sarek had lifted his eyebrows at his son.

Of course, Spock should have seen that; he should have also remembered that Saavik could take care of herself. If she didn't like Amanda's behavior, she would have ended it. And seeing the two women together was -- he wouldn't say fascinating. He used it for so much else; he didn't want to 'lump' his mother in with all the rest, even though she and Saavik defined the word.

So this room was Saavik's, not a room for a guest. His parents kept it solely for her even after she had a house built.

His own contact with her had just been restored as they bridged the chasm Valeris had deliberately put between them so she may have Saavik's place with Spock and the Enterprise. And despite the time when they didn't speak, Saavik's room remained across from his. Amanda's unsubtle reminder that she expected them to fix the problem between them.

And now as he and Saavik started anew, he recalled more memories from Genesis that showed him he had much to be sorry for. She had not spoken of it for some reason, although she had started to say something:

"The violent maturation did end the later other cycles. The cycles themselves were so rapid, if the Genesis destruction hadn't ended them, you would have died. Your features aged in seconds before my eyes and I could do nothing to help you. At one point, you--"

Could that have been the violence he remembered now? And she refused to tell him for some reason? Whether that was true or not, he could not let such a thing be. He owed it to her.

But it made seeing the door to that room difficult all over again.

McCoy's room was on the left of Saavik's, and Kirk's was to the left of his. He padded quietly past their doors not wanting to disturb them. He did not want to be alone, but he knew they needed their sleep. Better to seek solace, perhaps even meditation, in the garden and work on these matters alone, then have the companionship later.

Oh, the scents of the garden... The magnolia tree, which Amanda deliberately choose because its variety was called Vulcan, and the roses blending with the plants native to this world: the reedy smell of the chakh' plants, the flowering yelas and the slight hint of fruit in the air from the savas and kasa... The freshness from the rich soils, the abundance of plants, and the fountain in the center filled him with some better spirit. He had been in here alone before, so he did not automatically miss Amanda. Not at first. Not to a great extent.

Terribly.

The fountain was inactive for the night, and he thought about turning it on so he could hear the gentle splash. Hearing and seeing that abundance of water on the outskirts of the desert was always a secret delight since he was a small boy. He remembered tumbling through the plants to dig in the dirt and running through the sprinklers until he was a damp, muddy mess. Then throwing himself into I-Chaya's large bulk, crawling all over his big pet, poking at his ears and scrunching his face until the sehlat slapped a large paw down on him, keeping him in place until his parents supposedly rescued him. Except that I-Chaya was always praised for his behavior.

How immortal his parents had seemed then.

From thoughts of himself as a boy rose the bitter, poignant reality that if he married and had children -- something he might, like many Vulcans, do -- his mother would never see them. Never know her new daughter or her grandchildren. Imagining how very much these events would have meant to Amanda caused his footsteps to quicken as if he tried escaping the loss.

He took the main path towards the fountain, planning to sit on the benches and -- no, just to sit would be enough. Sit and let the living abundance seep into him.

With Sarek and him being away for such long periods of time, they'd need the gardener Amanda used to hire whenever missions kept her away. But even with the man's familiarity on how she and her family preferred it kept, the garden was going to lack her touches.

He picked up spots of color through the small breaks in the plant leaves: red and then lower, harder to see in the barely breaking night, black. Higher up, above the red, a white band. He stopped and peered harder through the plants. Clearly a Starfleet uniform, but who was in it? He stopped still as he got his first good look.

The dark head was bowed, her hair longer on the sides in the way she wore it years ago, and only tucked back behind delicate, tapered ears. Like the shell of a veren. The tall body was trim with a woman's curves, and her face turned just slightly so he caught the round angle of one cheek and the dark lashes lowered on it. Spock knew her the first instant he set eyes on her, and couldn't understand why it never occurred to him that she'd come.

The times they had most recently spoken as they battled against the killer attacking Hellguard's survivors -- those times were warm, filled with the two of them putting the pain of the past behind, and restarting their friendship.

"Spock," Amanda had said in the beginning of her illness. "I want to know what was in your letter Valeris forged from Saavik."

Her reasoning had made so much sense, so in the end, Spock told her. About the mission on the Enterprise, where he caught himself watching Saavik: framed by a desert, across a dining table from him, and standing ready to save her friend Rrelthiz. She was remarkable. Then he had touched her shoulder in a show of support and became embraced by sudden physical, emotional, and mental intimacy. The power of it ran through him and showed Spock how easily he could establish a mindlink with her; more importantly, a bonding. It had shaken him in the best way possible, changing his view of Saavik to seeing her for what she was: an intelligent, strong, beautiful woman. He had promised himself he would wait for the day she would think of taking a bondmate, and then tell her his thoughts.

But then: Valeris' betrayal. And his reuniting with Saavik. The only thing he had not done that his mother begged him to do was tell Saavik. "Spock, please. Stop thinking you'll get hurt again. She won't do that to you. Don't lose this chance."

He should have lied and said he would do it. He should have given his mother that peace. A lie was a small price for that. Because he could never tell Saavik now.

At least Amanda never knew about his crime. He was thankful for that. She had known about his violence towards Valeris and the pain in Amanda's eyes was something he could not have borne again. Especially against the one standing now in the garden who had meant so much to her.

Saavik's head tilted ever so slightly and he realized she knew he was there, chiding himself that he never stood a chance of remaining undetected. Not with her. Perhaps he had made some sound or she caught the scent of his soap with her keener sense of smell; maybe she just felt the presence of someone nearby.

Spock was sure he was stiff and anything but normal as he tried to walk around the corner as if the moment were typical. "Saavik."

She dipped her head slightly in acknowledgment and he noted she acted naturally. "Spock."

No, she was not so tranquil at all, not in the lowering of those eyes and the carefully controlled way she turned again to the fountain.

"I apologize for arriving at such a late hour." She eyed the coming dawn. "Or early hour, I should say. I planned to only stay a moment and then pay my respects later."

He stood there, commanding himself to speak. He wanted to tell her she was welcome at any hour; that Amanda wouldn't have cared because she'd just be happy Saavik was here. But his awkwardness clogged the words in his throat.

She gazed around the garden, the strain beginning to show around her eyes. "You scattered her ashes here, did you not?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Yes. How did you know?"

"She told me she was requesting it." She looked at the lovingly tended plants with the carefully placed rocks and beddings where Amanda's last physical presence would lie forever. "It is perfect."

But the lashes dropped again and her voice caught. "Spock. I grieve with thee."

"And I with thee," he answered formally and immediately wished he had said something more personal.

She drew in a deep breath that shook a little as she exhaled slowly. She turned towards him. "I am disturbing you. I ask forgiveness again. Please tell Sarek I will return at a more proper hour."

She reached the bend of the outer circle, where the main path radiated out into spokes away from the center courtyard.

"She loved you," he blurted.

Saavik caught up short. He had certainly said something more personal, he thought wryly, but he admonished himself for the abruptness.

He folded his hands behind his back and tried again to do this well. "Very much."

She spoke hesitantly. "She may be the best person I have ever known."

That said a great deal, putting Amanda first before such important people in her life like T'Pren who had cared for her on Hellguard and would have adopted her. But then, Amanda's loss was the most recent and the pain more bright in her mind.

A small, amused glimmer unexpectedly trickled into her darkness. "Perhaps for the exception of her temper. And that look of hers that brooked no disobedience."

He remembered it well, better than her. "And her stubbornness. She always said I inherited mine from my father. I told her she was trying to shift the blame."

The glimmer died as the woman they remembered had. Saavik touched the branch of a small tree just above her head, her fingers mingling with the leaves. She suddenly clenched them. "It is unfair. Humans have shorter lifespans than we do, but they live longer than this. She was cheated. We all were."

He moved into an alcove on his right where rose bushes cozily surrounded a pair of benches. Once when he was little, he had tracked his parents' voices here, and had tried to plow through the roses instead of going around them. Sarek and Amanda had sat in another part of the garden while their toddler son got over his lesson about thorns.

The alcove felt very empty. He spoke past the tightness in his throat. "I keep hearing how difficult it was for my mother to lose me and how children must expect their parents to die first."

"Just as Vulcans have the early loss with humans," Saavik added as a continuation of his thought. "And none of those soothsayers mention how painful it is to live with those expectations."

She said his thoughts so easily while he struggled to express them. Spock gestured to the bench across from him. "Will you sit?"

She hesitated, but she'd never insult him with a refusal. Without quite meeting his eyes, she hesitantly took the opposite seat. Her presence filled the emptiness, but she sat on the end of the bench with her hands wrapped around its edge as if staying ready to launch herself away.

Their conversation stalled again. He thought of nothing to say. That is, he thought of all the things he should say about everything that had happened and what he had done wrong.

"I wanted to make Amanda's ceremony," Saavik said abruptly. "I was on the far end of our patrol when you reached me," she said in way of an apology, but he saw she chastised herself. "My ship could not divert to Vulcan, but Captain Hunter gave me leave. I've taken every transport and shuttle I could, but nothing was direct. I even contacted Jdehn to see if she could get me here in time, but she was too far away."

Jdehn being another one of the Hellguard survivors and an independent spacer.

He stopped her. "You came, that is the important thing."

"I appreciate you contacting me, Spock." She was able to look at him for the first time. "The ship was already under communication silence for our mission, but then we took on damage and communications were severed further. When they were restored, I had already missed the chance to reach here while she was ill. Then ship communications played the official notices of -- her death before personal notes. To have your call though... it made the difference."

There it was again. All her warmth when Spock had done -- what he had done. "Damage?"

She made a gesture setting it aside, and he knew no lives were lost. She'd never casually dismiss harm to the crew.

She once more looked around the garden. "I would not have interrupted you if I knew you would be in the garden. You understand, I thought it important to come here quickly."

"I understand completely. And you are not interrupting."

She abruptly rose to her feet. "It is late and I have intruded long enough. Please accept my regards and give them to Sarek as well. I will return later to speak with him myself."

"You are not staying here? Your room is still kept for you."

Saavik's face was unreadable as she turned over his words. "I appreciate that, Spock, but I will be at my home during my leave. It, unfortunately, only extends to two days."

"Wait," he said. If she walked away again, he lost his last chance to settle this between them. She already had the strap for her duffel bag around her hand, but she straightened up and left the bag on the ground.

He started hesitantly. "We have matters to discuss, private matters that are best left without an audience." Like Sarek or Jim or Leonard. Spock refused to picture their reactions when they found out.

"Can these matters not wait?" she asked.

"They have waited too long already." When she didn't say anything, Spock struggled on. "I understand your hesitation. I would prefer not to rush this myself, but I have been reticent for so long, my dishonor grows every day."

Saavik frowned, even more confused.

"We discussed this once before -- when I discovered the letter Valeris forged in my name and sent to you."

"You refer to Genesis?"

"I do."

"Then you are correct. We have discussed this."

"Not all. More needs to be said."

"Has something changed?" she asked over her shoulder as she picked up her bag.

"No," he answered. And then committed himself. "I need to speak now, so I may make restitution for my crime."

Her duffel slipped off her shoulder and fell unheeded to the soft soil. "Crime?"

"Yes."

The weariness Saavik kept at bay showed faintly, and its lines framed her confusion, making it stand out more. "Spock, I thought you spoke of... what is this crime?"

He made himself say the very difficult words, and inwardly flinched at the sound of them. "My raping you."

Her Vulcan control was blasted away. "What!"

Her deliberate misconception made this harder and he didn't understand why she did it. "On Genesis... I have recalled more memories of what happened. When we spoke before, I had only remembered how -- gently it had been. Now I recall how violent I became. I have no excuse other than pon farr and the lack of control it causes."

She still looked bewildered. "Spock, you did not rape me."

"Saavik--" He wasn't going to argue with her, but he was finally going to admit to his actions. "I said I have the memories--"

"So do I!" Frustration seeped into her voice. "Why would I lie?"

"I do not know!" Her refusal caused his own frustration to escape. He took a deep breath. "I never understood why you kept silent on this issue. Perhaps you forgive me because of the pon farr. Vulcan law makes some allowance for it, but I still need and want to make retribution. Perhaps you simply want to leave this in the past once we agreed to start anew after Valeris' interferences. Perhaps you still believe you owe me some debt, or perhaps you did not want my parents to know and kept silent for their sakes, something I appreciate but can no longer allow."

"Amanda knew. So does Sarek." Saavik said it without thinking, and with his obvious pain, she hurriedly explained, "She deduced it for herself and Sarek discovered it by accident. Do not be ashamed. She wasn't and Sarek is not, not for either of us. Spock, you yourself talked of how your memories were far from violent."

When he had gone to her hospital room:

He spoke as softly as she had. "It was a cave."

"Yes." He had no word for the light now in her eyes.

"And a storm?"

"Yes."

"My world became chaotic and painful. You came to me, soothed all of that way, and then..."

"Yes. And then."

From buried memory came the phantom touch of her hands on Genesis as she removed his robe. Soothing.... warm.... both easing away the turmoil and igniting fire.

But, after that gentleness came violence.

"Believe me, Spock, you are misinterpreting these latest memories."

He tightened his jaw. He valued her attempts to save him -- remarkable after all he had done - but he knew what he knew. "I have not."

She folded her hands and placed them to her lips, bringing her disciplines. When she had them, she dropped her arms to her sides and spoke evenly. "I assure you, I am not lying or keeping silent for anyone's sake. You must see how your memories are affected by your katra displacement, followed by the Refusion. Perhaps even confusing them with--"

She wouldn't go further and looked like she should not have begun it. She referred to his forcing a meld on Valeris and her screams.

Spock shook his head. "No, I have not. You yourself spoke of my violent maturing and stopped from going further. I have wondered if this was the point I now remember."

Saavik's eyes didn't dart around, but he could see her mind did until she recalled what he remembered earlier. I could do nothing to help you. At one point, you--

"Spock, I did not refer to you attacking me! Far from it." She took a breath. "If perhaps someone else viewed the memories with you, you would see where they were distorted."

Someone once did view them, in fact Valeris herself, and helped bring the first ones to his conscious mind. Now these resurfaced; he did not know why they took longer. The thought, however, of going to anyone else and revealing all this made it so much more difficult. "When I account for my actions, a healer or one of the Kolinahru will access the memories as evidence."

That statement apparently sent her back into frustration. "I meant someone personal. You will see my memories are correct."

"You would do this?"

When her eyebrows shot up, he saw he had made the wrong assumption, but it was too late to take back the words. How could he presume such a thing, that she as the victim revisit her abuse at his hands?

"My apologies," he faltered. "I would not ask it of you."

Her head was cocked to the side as she often did when thinking aloud. "You would allow me to do this?"

He thought of what it meant, the intimacy of a meld and what they would see, and then remembered his mother died knowing her son's guilt -- having figured it out as Saavik said -- and that he had done nothing about it. "You make the greater allowance."

She was stunned. "Are you asking me?"

He almost shied away - it was all too painful, and hiding behind her plea that he was innocent was so easy. Another man, less honest with himself, would never force the issue. But that thought of Amanda hurt much worse, not to mention his father knowing, and he was who he was. "...Yes. If it is the only way for us to agree on what transpired."

She folded her arms across her chest - an inadvertent gesture of protecting herself, perhaps? - and stood lost in thought, barely looking at him, for long moments. "Spock, you know what we will relive."

His voice deepened on its own. "Yes."

So did hers. "Agreed then. For the same reason as you stated. Your torment cannot continue and we keep losing the forward steps we make. It must end."

He turned back to the benches with no word. He sat, still mute, and she kneeled before him. She reached up for his temple and her hand hovered, almost touched him, and drew back again. With a deep breath, she made contact.

It was nothing like when a younger Saavik first melded with him or even when she was in the Academy. Her survival instinct then riled at the loss of privacy and the loss of self in linking with another. Her presence would keep a distance away, wary, and still unsure if this was the right thing to do. But now, he was welcomed immediately.

Yes, you are, came an unconscious thought that he breathed in more than heard.

Her mind was such a new taste, disciplined with the underlying current of all she was, ripe with experiences and flavored with maturity, that it was almost completely different from their times before the last one. He lost his own guarded caution in touching it.

The last time he and Saavik's minds melded, when he helped her battle the Romulan hybrids disease, he had lived his life from infancy to his age now in her mind, as a visual record of what attacked her. Including when he had shared his pon farr with her, when he thought it all so good and they both felt the deep impact of their being together. Saavik had amazingly told him her ahtía name. It was what non-Vulcans refer to as the first name. It was the private name for self.

From this delight came a memory rising through layers of haze of when she had touched him like this on Genesis and his pon farr. He saw in his mind's eye her face, composed and calming, as she stroked his hand and encouraged him to do the same to her, how with a nod and the openness of her mind she had told him she was willing to accept whatever he needed to give. He had collapsed in her arms then, given a moment's relief from the pressure of the wildness within as if it lay, coiled like a predator, quiet and still in the instant before it sprang.

A cave, a storm, the light in her eyes, the touch of her hands, soothing, warm, easing away the turmoil and igniting fire.

And then the unleashed hunger leapt for her, his fingers tearing at her uniform, the ripping sound and her cries mixing with the thunder.

His whole body shuddered in repugnance at the memory and shrank back, but he couldn't stop it from replaying. But the Saavik linked to him mind to mind no longer stayed at bay, and instead reached forward, enveloping his horror and the frightening memory in soothing darkness as he quivered with self-disgust.

He waited for her damnation.

Spock, heed me. This is not what happened.

The memory quaked for release, and like someone wanting to turn away from a painful sight but unable to, he reached for it.

No! Spock, you must listen! Something has convinced you of a lie, that you are something you are not.

Some thought, some insight, bolted from her mind and with it, her anger. But she grasped it so fast and controlled it, it came and went through his mind like a comet with her temper a fiery tail behind it. Physically, her fingers at once both tightened and broke ever so slightly away from his temple and jaw as if she wanted instinctively to form a fist but regained control.

It took a second, not long enough for him to question her, before she was back and composed. The memory was thrumming in his ears as if it happened now and he clutched her idea to him that he only viewed it wrongly. But he felt the overpowering urge to conquer and possess her. He brutally pushed her down again, bruising her violently as she fought in dust and sweat, but he was stronger and--

Illogical, Spock.

Logic? Her offer of clear reason and sharp common sense rescued him.

You overpower me? You are physically stronger, even more so with the plak tow. But I could have rendered you unconscious with a simple nerve pinch, and I have fought off rapists since the time other children learned to run. If I had to fight you off, I would have. No question.

She paused and he only waited, not knowing what to believe.

Her next words were soft, barely a whisper of thought. Do you realize what I have admitted, Spock?

He didn't.

I did all this willingly. I was not fighting you and I was not crying out in pain. You must believe me.

But the buried mental suggestion chained and bound him to believing differently.

Again the memory began. He was bent over double, consumed by a hunger he didn't understand that flamed him, screaming with want until he flung his head back and cried out with it. And then she came in and spoke with words that had been his lifeline.

Will you trust me?

He suddenly realized it wasn't only the memory speaking, but Saavik herself.

Spock, will you trust me?

He silently agreed as his memory image nodded coarsely to her. He felt a tendril of her presence reach deep, following the memory and its damning conviction back to a place he couldn't see. The tendril reached in, finding that mental suggestion in his subconscious where, like a demon entrenched in its den, it swiped out with talons against its removal, forcing him to fight against her.

As he screamed within his own mind, she surprised him with an expertise he didn't think her capable of as she deflected his attack, deftly striking at the buried suggestion and plucking it free of his subconscious. His scream died.

And now, tenderly, the memory played again. This time, he saw how her hands on his helped, not fought, over her uniform and her cries were first words of crooning, then encouragement, and finally of passion. Only the first few minutes of it played out before Saavik broke away.

I am Saavik... I am separate...

Automatically, he repeated the discipline as the meld dissolved.

I am Spock...

I am Saavik...

With the brief scene so fresh in his mind, he was acutely aware of how close she was to him, less than a hand's breadth away. Their mouths were parted, and they breathed heavily of each other's air, the warmth of it washing over them. He tasted her breath on his lips.

Her fingers drifted away from his face; he reached up to -- he was not sure what he intended -- but their hands brushed each other in a Vulcan's kiss. They each inhaled sharply.

Saavik swallowed and ducked her eyes, and Spock now understood the look she gave him when he approached her after his fal tor pan, because it was the same.

They lifted to his. "Your memories seem restored to, to what actually happened."

"...Yes." They washed over him and she is so close.

"Then," she said tentatively, her voice husky, "we best not go further. It is unnecessary now that you understand."

Because their controls dealt with so much already with the fervency of the memories they had just relived, and the warmth of this moment. And the kiss of her hand. To live it again in full...

She stood up and stepped back in the small alcove, looking out to the rising sun. He didn't know what to say, and saw they both needed the silence to regroup. His mind battled with the desire of seeing what had happened between them completely now, and awe for Saavik, for what she did then and for being so determined to show his innocence, including admitting to her own passion.

And she was still so close.

She half-turned to him. "Then we are -- all right. This is not an issue between us?"

He swallowed. "It is not an issue, Saavik." She began to nod when he surprised her. "It is something beautiful between us."

She swung sharply around with that surprise, but her expression softened and shone. Now he recognized that Saavik's earlier, uncomfortable behavior came not from dealing with the man who attacked her, but for the obvious reason: she held tightly to her controls to not lose them over mourning Amanda.

"Tell her," Amanda had begged. "Spock, please."

But Saavik could still say, "No," and he'd lose everything he had with her now.

All of a sudden, her head swung around the garden before she turned back to him, eyes wide again. "Spock, have you changed the timers?"

The sudden change of topic made him blink, and he answered without thinking. "No, Sarek and I left them as they are."

The import of her question sank in and his eyes grew wide like hers. In the next second, they sprang from the alcove, sprinting outside to the section for the desert plants. In their wake, dampening their heels, the automatic sprinklers showered the roses and other Terran plants as scheduled for this part of the day. Warm enough that the night air wouldn't chill the water and hurt the roots, but not before the sun fully rose and instantly evaporated the liquid.

He tightened his robe against the chill and thought he should have worn a shirt underneath it. At the same time, Saavik watched as the sprinklers soaked her duffel bag. "I was unaware my clothes needed laundering," she said dryly. She glanced at him out of the corners of her eyes. "Amanda would be laughing at us."

Spock heard that sparkling sound of his mother's laugh, and imagined he could turn right now and catch Amanda behind him, her eyes smiling as if some trick of hers had worked.

Just as pleasing was standing in the growing morning light with Saavik. He watched her quietly, feeling no need to force conversation on them this time, until she felt his regard and turned her head towards him. So like the time on Earth, in that other desert, and she sat in the setting sun with everything that makes someone female.

"Thank you," Spock said. She started to reply, but he held up a hand. He wanted nothing of the standard response, 'one does not thank logic'. "Allow me to do this. First for that night, and second for removing what has been a heavy burden."

The look written in her expression and body lines melted. "You are welcome."

A peace settled over them that was too soon disturbed.

"Spock," she said and then paused. "I hesitate to mention this--"

"Hesitation is not your usual behavioral pattern."

Some of the wickedness came back in her eyes. It sobered as she spoke. "That mental suggestion was implanted in your mind. You did not create it, not even subconsciously."

Of course. That streak of thought from her that had blazed across his mind too swiftly for him to capture. In his relief, he missed the obvious.

"Implanted..."

She watched him.

He closed his eyes at knowing the answer. "Valeris. Again. She must have intended them to surface more quickly."

Saavik accused herself, "I told Amanda that Valeris couldn't harm us anymore. And now we discover this." Self-accusations turned to cursing. "Valeris so self-righteously tells me she deserves my life, and how she saved you from people keeping you from being Vulcan. It is typical of her. Never seeing the wrong she does, only pointing it out in others."

His eyes snapped open. "Enough."

Her eyebrows drew against each other, wondering what he meant.

"Enough of her intrusion in our lives, Saavik. From now on, let it be as you said. She will not harm us again."

Saavik said nothing, but her eyes shone warmly, picking up the rays from the sunrise.

"Because the thought of hurting you has weighed on me greatly. Particularly after our separation."

The warmth grew as she answered quietly, "You did not hurt me. And the separation is in the past."

Spock moved to stand near her, their physical proximity soothing as they brought everything into the open. She leaned on one of the garden walls, watching the sun chase the shadows away.

She nearly whispered. "If it helps, I did not see any more abuses from her in the meld. Although my focus centered on... other moments."

Spock looked at her, and the shared gaze was the only answer they needed.

"However, if some other memory or thoughts surface, know that anything negative about us is false. Or ask me and I will tell you honestly. I also repeat what I said to you before when we first spoke of Genesis. I will not reject you."

He remembered the discussion with his mother about this. "You speak of the letter Valeris sent to me supposedly from you."

"I speak of anything. Do not answer so quickly, Spock. Be certain you believe me. We have seen the worst of each other."

"And the best."

It made Saavik turn around so he could see -- what? "And I have never rejected you. And never will. You need not be more Vulcan. You need not be more human. Be Spock, whoever you choose him to be."

He understood now that she had turned around so he could see her eyes. The fact she could say these things so easily: it was such growth. Of course, she always said what she thought needed saying. But to this level: such growth.

"Do you want to know what the letter said?" he asked her.

When Spock first offered this to Saavik, her tone had been sharp and pained. This time, however, she was merely firm. "Unnecessary. As I said before, I do not want to know what I could possibly have said to hurt you, especially to that degree. And now I have told you twice -- I will not reject you for whatever it said."

Even if you did know? That was the crux of it. Maybe his mother was right: maybe this held something over him by not speaking it. But Saavik had said no to hearing it. Twice.

Maybe she had guessed his thoughts. She stood up and took a step closer. "No one has the claim on me that you do. No one can."

Claim? Does she use that word deliberately? In the ancient form of it?

"It--" Interesting. He actually needed to search for the right words. She waited patiently. "The forged letters. Mine was as yours. It is not the content."

"It is the content bringing the reaction. You still do not believe me?" Saavik moved to stand in front of him. "What could it be that you doubt me still? I believe you when you say the same."

He groped for how to explain. "It is different. Genesis, your choice, it was less personal. I don't demean it."

Her eyes moved away. "I made that argument. About it being impersonal."

He frowned. "Made the argument to whom?"

"Amanda." That was why she looked somewhere else. "She told me I was lying and didn't recognize it. She was right. I only could not admit it or even see it then." She raised her eyes to his on those words. Suddenly, she blinked. "Are you saying what is in your letter is more personal than Genesis?"

Spock ignored that for right now. "My mother argued with you on this?"

"She believed hiding what happened continued my thinking I would be judged negatively for it." Something in his reaction told her, "She had a similar talk with you?"

The way she said it sounded like you didn't escape either?

"She did and I did tell her. No, she did not disapprove." Quite the opposite actually.

Saavik tilted her head to the side; she studied him. "Perhaps she is right. Do you need to tell me what this secret is so you can see I will not abandon you for it?"

His mother would have told him to not wait; that Saavik would accept it. McCoy would call him a coward and had said what Amanda had said: "I'm not yelling at you, I'm pleading with you. Don't regret that you had a chance and you didn't take it!"

But it was too soon. He, they -- he and Saavik -- needed to be careful. Their renewal was so new. Or so his fears told him.

Perhaps with reason. When she recently went through the faux pon farr from the hybrids' disease, he had thought of offering to be there for her, as she had done for him. Or if she had asked him, he would have immediately accepted as a friend, to spare her the torment of having no one. But they were not speaking yet and Saavik saw it as she wouldn't die, so she would not ask anyone.

But if he offered in the future, what would she say?

No one has the claim on me that you do. No one can.

It drove all the negative thoughts out of Spock's mind. He made the same promise to himself before on that earlier mission: wait for her to consider a bondmate and tell her -- everything. And then he would see.

Spock made the decision. "No, I believe you."

"The thoughts or events stated in the letter, you are certain they are real?"

His voice grew hoarse as it had when she had previously asked if he understood the meld would share his pon farr with her. "Yes, they are real."

Saavik looked at him for a beat and then gave him a near smile. "I told you that you had a propensity to lecture when we last spoke of this. And here I am doing the same."

He lifted an eyebrow. "Humans have an expression, 'the pot calling the kettle black'."

"Very apt for this moment." Still the near smile that stayed even as her tone grew serious. "The same question holds true from our first talk after Valeris. Do we move forward?"

"I believe I asked then, 'And do we?' My answer to you is the same. It is what I want." Spock paused before asking. "And you?"

Illogical to have this edge of waiting to see if she agreed. She already had with all she did tonight. He still waited.

Saavik gave him everything he wished. "Spock, I would not have given you my secret name if I was not committed to this. It was not the thought of a near death that made my decision. It was the thought of us. Now it is our rebuilding us again as a whole. I thought we had already started."

"We had. We still do."

She nodded. "Good."

He took the next step, to give her what she had given him. "You already know my ahtía name. Or I would give it to you now."

That near smile, very warm this time.

"Would you," Spock asked, "tell me what you stopped yourself from saying about Genesis? When you talked about my maturing and its violence. I have always wondered."

"I may have mislead you with my refusal to discuss it." She stood to her full height so she could be as close to eye to eye with him as possible. "I did not stop what I was saying then because of you. It was my own reaction to what happened, it was what I remembered about myself. I swore then and I do now that you entered into another cycle, but we were held captive by the Klingons and I was unsure what I could do."

Saavik took a second and he waited.

"You didn't understand," she whispered and still looked into his eyes, refusing not to give him this because it was difficult. "You stared at me, you begged me to help you... you did not understand."

He went through those elusive memories and came up with a split second of what she said. How Saavik knelt before him and reached out, but nothing else, not even though he strained and burned. He hadn't understood: she soothed and warmed and joined with him before, but sat there now.

Spock frowned, not at that. "A Klingon?"

"Yes. He threatened you, and I tried to protect you. I clearly knew it would mean little--"

But that wouldn't stop her.

"--and he shoved me away." Saavik said it almost as if it was as delicate as the talk of pon farr.

"And?"

"You... attacked him. You threw him across the clearing."

He protected his mate.

The memory of the emotion, more than the action, came back. He didn't know words then, but he had the basic understanding of life and, after what they had shared with her mind touching his bare one, he knew her. He hadn't needed the word Saavik, because he knew her.

So this enemy attacked her and now she was his to protect. So he had.

But Saavik skirted around that meaning. "It was clearly your anger and pain. An instinctual reaction, and it gave you an outlet."

"Saavik," Spock interrupted this -- protection of him again. "I do not require alternative meanings for my behavior. It was not my anger and pain. I am not embarrassed by this. I did it over you."

Saavik did shift her eyes away, but looking at her profile, he saw an answering instinct flash behind the... civilization. He had fought for her.

She came back, the here and now the only thing about her. Almost. "Following it, it is what I already have said. You aged years in seconds before my eyes. I could do nothing." Her voice dropped. "I had many failings that day."

Because around the pivot of what they had already talked about was the Grissom, Genesis destroying itself, the Klingons capturing them, and David Marcus dying for them.

How odd that pon farr had been the eye of the hurricane.

"Spock," Saavik said suddenly, "I never said it, but I tried finding out if you had passed on your katra. They told me you stayed isolated in engineering or I would have told them to bring you and Doctor McCoy to Mt. Seleya."

He held up a hand. "The fault is not yours. I should have prepared them for what would happen, rather than suddenly performing the transfer. The irony is, if events had not happened as they did, I may not be alive. If you had come to Mt. Seleya instead of Genesis, as one example, I would be in the Hall of Ancient Thought and not here. I would not have had these years with you, my shipmates... my mother."

Everything returned to Amanda. It was the way it had to be for her son.

Because of her, he asked, "Saavik, you said my mother deduced what happened between us. And that my -- father knows."

"Yes," she answered calmly. Something in the way he looked made her insist, "I also said neither of them disapproved. Amanda said it was quite the opposite."

A knot in his side, over his heart, that he hadn't noticed before eased. Not just lack of disapproval, Sarek and Amanda had thought quite the opposite.

If Spock hadn't been caught up in worrying about Sarek knowing about Genesis, he would have realized the import of those words: Amanda had told him that she felt quite the opposite; she had told Saavik that she and Sarek felt quite the opposite. His parents' approval for he and Saavik was right in front of him, but Spock didn't recognize it.

He did think of how he could face his father now, even if Genesis was unspoken.

"We should also," Spock said. She shook her head as if muttering to herself. He frowned. "What is it?"

"The tacking on an additional thing. You get the trait from Amanda."

Spock could hear his mother's voice all the times she had said it. Spock, one more thing, and then I'll leave you alone. He swallowed, and his voice came out in a rough whisper. "Yes, it is. I am fortunate that I inherited anything of hers."

"Spock." Saavik was there looking up into his face. "I should never had said it. It hurt you."

"No," he insisted. "It is better to remember such things, instead of only--" her loss.

"I understand," Saavik answered softly.

"It was what I wanted to say to you." She still looked up at him; he used it to catch her eyes. "I thought your earlier behavior, your discomfort around me, stemmed from what I thought I had done. I realized after the meld, it was about my mother."

She carefully turned away.

"Saavik," he said gently, "you said no one has the claim to you that I do. Then you must know you need not hide such things as mourning Amanda from me."

"Not hide." She barely turned her head to speak over her shoulder. For someone who said they weren't hiding, Saavik looked like she was. "I will not add to your burden. You already have your own mourning to carry."

Spock moved around her so they looked at each other again. "You are no burden. Never again assume you are. After all," he emphasized the next part. He hoped she heard it. "We move forward."

"We move forward," she repeated softly.

The rising sunlight painted highlights in Saavik's hair and warmed the curves of her cheek. She looked out into the increasing morning. "Spock, will you tell me about Amanda's memorial service?"

His disciplines from Gol worked against the terrible pain, but he would never not answer. It wasn't the question that hurt; he hurt all the time. "She had two. The first was on Earth with her family."

Spock told her its details, including how he, who lived a life surrounded by humans, felt conspicuous being one of two Vulcans in the crowd, even though they were his family. Saavik was Vulcan and Romulan; she understood what that was like. The feeling of estrangement grew when the Graysons argued with Sarek over keeping Amanda's ashes with them.

Saavik took on something else from the sunrise: fire. "Against her explicit instructions to scatter them here?"

He nodded. He spoke on how surprised they all were, including him, when Sarek compromised by giving the family a portion, leaving the majority to honor his wife as she wished.

Saavik stared at the garden where those ashes lay. "They are fortunate for Sarek's diplomacy. I would have refused a request showing such disregard for her."

He entertained what that confrontation would have been like.

She turned to him in the next second. "I have insulted your family. I apologize, Spock."

He told her no apology was needed and then described the ceremony here on Vulcan. Of how satisfying it was to see so many people arrive out of respect for Amanda.

"Arik came to it." Another Hellguard survivor, one who had refused the genetic scan like Saavik had. He had only started learning Vulcan's disciplines, language, and culture. He clearly attended the ceremony out of respect for Spock and Sarek, members of the Symmetry team who had rescued him from the abandoned colony. Although he had said how much Amanda impressed him the one time he did get to meet her, and a big grin was clearly behind his new controls.

Saavik's mouth thinned. "Arik made it to Amanda's service while I did not."

Spock reminded her quietly. "Saavik, Arik lives on Vulcan. You serve in deep space. You must see it is the same situation as when you were recently ill, and Rrelthiz did not want to say goodbye to you."

Rrelthiz was a Carreon healer, a people who resembled Terran salamanders with black skin and Neon colored stripes. She was one of the closest people to Saavik, and had been devastated that she could not be there when her friend could die from the Romulan hybrids' disease.

Spock asked, "What did you say to her?"

Saavik repeated calmly. "I said, 'It is not what we would have wished, but it is the reality with which we must contend.' However, there is a difference, one you will understand."

"Yes?"

She took a long second to look at him. Softly then, "I was the one who was dying."

He looked back at her and saw two memories in his mind's eye. His dying on the Enterprise, calmly accepting his fate and only concerned that he could not get Jim to see, as Saavik had said, that this was the reality they must contend with. The other memory: his mother dying and he had no acceptance at all. He was the one who had to watch, who could do nothing. He could not trade places with her. He could not cure her illness. He could not stop her death. Now he was the one told he could only say goodbye.

Spock focused on Saavik. "I do understand."

The tight lines running through her body barely eased, but she nodded. "And you are right as well. I recognize the logic. With my meditations, I will eventually accept I could not be here in time. I am pleased Arik was. I did not mention earlier that Jdehn also sends her respects to you and Sarek. Did Mehkai contact you?"

The last of the only four from Hellguard still alive. And yes, he had.

"Did any of the Graysons come to the service here?" asked Saavik.

"My great-aunt Marion."

Saavik's head came up in interest.

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Of course, you're forbidden from talking to her."

The look in Saavik's eyes became dry humor. Amanda had said that. When embarrassing things about her childhood came up in a call between her Aunt Marion and Saavik, it was bad enough. Saavik innocently repeating them in front of the Enterprise's command crew -- especially Spock -- earned the ban on future conversations between the two women.

It made Spock entertain another interesting thought: what would it be like to see Marion and Saavik meet?

The latter looked to the garden and the house again, where Amanda lay and Sarek lived. "Your mother and father."

He said nothing into the pause she took.

Her voice and expression: so intense. "You are fortunate, Spock."

His peevish thoughts about Sarek wanting to leave Vulcan, about Sarek period, crept away like someone with, as McCoy had put it once, "their tail tucked between their legs". Not that Saavik meant it that way, but she would quickly take a father to battle against, to be estranged from for 18 years, all of it, rather than what she had.

He almost had to clear his throat to get past the sudden tightness in it. "Yes. I am."

They stood in the moment, just being, until a distraction from the house interrupted it. Sounds of voices and people moving about reached them.

"Doctor McCoy and Captain Kirk are with you?" Saavik asked.

He nodded and they turned to walk back through the path they had taken, the sprinklers having shut off minutes ago. "Many came such as Mr. Scott and Mr. Sulu, but the captain and the doctor remained behind. When my leave ends, they will return to Earth."

"They will be looking for you."

"And I have kept you far too long after your journey here." He watched as she picked up the sodden duffel bag with some disgust. "Plus we must solve the problem of your clothing's condition."

She glanced sideways, the disgust now amusement.

My mother would be happy if she could see no barrier remains between Saavik and I.

And then she would lecture me for not telling Saavik the secret from the forged letter.

Like all else about Amanda, the thoughts were good and painful.

Kirk's voice came down the hall followed by McCoy's, and in a second, both men burst into the garden.

"Spock," Jim said as he rounded the corner, "I thought we'd grab some breakfast and then -- Saavik!" He reached out to grab her arms, his long experience with Vulcans making him slow the gesture right before he made contact, in case she needed to shield her mind against a human's touch. "It's good to see you."

McCoy obviously agreed as he clamped a hand on her shoulder. "I've been wondering when you'd show up. You're a helluva lot better on the eyes than this one." He jerked his head at Spock, grinning.

Spock saw the subtle way she relaxed with their greeting. He was grateful for their friendliness in the way they welcomed her. But then, Kirk and McCoy had nothing but warmth for her, and Spock suddenly remembered they had not seen her since she recovered from the Hellguard survivors' disease.

"Saavik," the doctor's tone grew serious and his hand moved from her shoulder to her arm. "I was hoping to see you for another reason. I wanted to say that I'm sorry for your loss."

She kept herself carefully controlled against the emotions that still pushed to get out; Spock wondered if Jim and Leonard could see it. "It is Spock and Sarek who deserve your words. I have no right--"

McCoy interrupted. "Sure you do. It doesn't take away anything from her family."

"Amanda was important to you," Kirk agreed quietly. "You were important to her. Anyone could see that."

The doctor's mouth twitched. "She won you in a card game. How much more important can you get?"

Spock watched Saavik's need to look down as her mouth started to turn up in a tiny smile, remembering the time Amanda pretended to have Captain Hunter put her new science officer's assignment orders into a poker game pot. Instantly in the same second, Saavik clenched her teeth together at the hard truth that such moments would never happen again.

Spock's meditations, since his mother's death, worked on finding control over the same kind of thoughts.

"Saavik," Jim said gently. "We're so sorry."

She didn't answer for a half-second. "Thank you, sirs."

Kirk moved to easier topics for her, maybe for all their sakes. "Is your ship in orbit?" he asked. She shook her head and explained the problem. He nodded in understanding. "So you had to take the long way here. With all that on top of your ship being damaged, you must be exhausted."

Spock temporarily ignored these pleasantries as his ears picked up someone else entering the garden, moving at a much slower, heavier pace. Sarek. He saw his father with a new perspective, the slight droop to the shoulders and the light snuffed from his eyes.

Saavik heard him as well and excused herself from Kirk and McCoy. She approached the older Vulcan and raised her hand in greeting. She used the same formal words she gave Spock earlier, but her voice reflected his personal loss as she had with his son. "I grieve with thee, Sarek."

He didn't raise his hand in greeting, which was surprising until he spoke. "I knew you would come." Something in the tone reminded Spock of the moment his father leaned on him during the funeral.

"As quickly as I could."

Sarek nodded once, his eyes warming. His shoulders raised to their usual level. "I thought I heard your voice. I stopped at my room to bring you this." He held out a small box that had been hidden in his large hands. "Amanda wished for you to have it."

Saavik's eyes lifted to his before returning to the box. She opened it gently as Spock drew closer to watch over her shoulder. His eyebrows rose high on his forehead, while she made a small noise as she reverently took out the necklace.

She stared at Sarek with wide eyes. "I cannot take this. It is a family heirloom."

Yes, it was. Spock didn't have to be close to it to identify the worn pendant and chain. The women in Amanda's family had handed it down from one generation to another since 1835.

"Sarek, it was meant for her daughter."

Except his parents had no other children. But oh, how he remembered his mother teasing him about finding a wife to wear that necklace.

His father replied evenly, "I know for whom it is meant." He cut off her reply about returning it to the family bloodline, to one of Amanda's nieces. "Sometimes, we choose our family. The necklace is yours, Saavik. Do not dishonor Amanda's choice."

Her eyes closed as she carefully clutched the pendant to her palm. She nodded in acceptance. Spock saw McCoy elbow Kirk and the captain's return smile.

As for himself... how odd to think his wife, whomever she might be, if she might be, would never wear that necklace, or pass it on to their children. But he felt no fault with what happened. Saavik deserved it.

Wife... His mother had asked and he had told her about the contents of the letter, about his... feelings about Saavik.

She still would have inherited the necklace. Sarek was right; she was Amanda's choice. But Spock could see his mother might have another layer to this; that she might be telling her son about her hopes for his future.

"As we speak of jewelry," Sarek broke the silence. "You may make an exception to our mourning customs if you wish to wear the necklace now."

Saavik tucked her hair behind a pointed tip, her thumb touching the empty earlobe where an earring would normally be. A Vulcan female wore a single earring to denote she was unbonded. But grieving for Amanda also explained why her hair was loose about her shoulders. While on leave, she needn't worry about regulations, and could keep her hair free of pins and clips since Vulcans in mourning wore no adornments. When she returned to the ship, she would have to cut the long tresses around her ears as she had after Spock's death. He was pleased not wearing jewelry meant she wore her hair down. He preferred it that way.

Saavik went from her bare ear to the necklace still in her hand. She looked up at Sarek. "Did you see Amanda wear this before she put it aside for me?"

Sarek met her gaze and something passed between them. "Yes."

"Then I will wait to wear it."

Spock frowned. Why would she wait? She clearly wished to put it on now and Sarek said she could. Kirk caught his eye and mouthed, "Later." Which is when Jim told him that Saavik gave Sarek time before he saw it on her, when he had just seen it on his late wife. Even a Vulcan widower could use such considerations.

Sarek stood aside as if to let her pass. "You will wish to rest."

"I could use the relaxation and I need to take care of my belongings." Saavik looked down at the sodden bag lying at her feet. "I will be at my house. If you will excuse me, I will go there now, and I will return later."

He shook his head, frowning. "What is this illogic? Your room is here. I prepared it myself."

Spock's eyebrow went up in surprise.

"Your hospitality is kind--"

"And logical. You will need to return in 3.55 hours to the garden regardless, to attend the memorial service for those Amanda has aided."

McCoy spoke before even he knew it. "The strays are coming here?"

Three Vulcan heads and Jim Kirk's swung on him. He realized what he had blurted out. He cleared his throat. "Sorry. Amanda always talked about them. I was just surprised. I didn't know they got together as a group... like that."

Spock made sure McCoy saw him raise an eyebrow.

Sarek took no offense, however. "If you wish to meet them, you may help Spock and I welcome them. You will find them interesting and diverse. They represent my wife very well."

No one could say Sarek showed emotion, but his shoulders lowered an infinitesimal amount again after those words. He turned dulled eyes to Saavik. "You will attend, of course."

"Of course. I never thought of not attending."

Jim smiled warmly. "You have to be there. You're the favorite."

Saavik answered softly, "So she said."

Sarek continued, "Matthew Fzitzer has made all the arrangements. Spock and I will excuse ourselves once the service begins."

Saavik's expression turned dark. "Matthew Fzitzer is in charge of Amanda's memorial service?"

"As I have made the statement, obviously he is."

She faced him with a thunderous glare that rivaled the Vulcan Ambassador's best. "Fzitzer should not be the one representing all that Amanda has accomplished in aiding the group. He should not be on Vulcan at all, now that his intended purpose has been rendered closed."

McCoy got it. "This is the guy you hate."

Saavik reigned in her response. "I do not hate. I disapprove."

Sarek remarked, "Then you must use your meditations to resolve this. The matter is set."

"It can be changed."

"It could. It will not."

Saavik pushed back. "Fzitzer used Amanda, as if she had an algorithm to have a Vulcan choose him, regardless of the Vulcan's interest or lack thereof. How is he the one to lead the service?"

"Matthew--"

"He is Matthew now?"

Despite Saavik's rising tone, Sarek, on the other hand, was quite calm, and Spock had an inkling that his father may be enjoying himself. "His name has always been Matthew. He has organized this memorial. It is his to lead for you and the others."

"Someone else can serve. Others will be there."

"As I am well aware since I reminded you of it."

"So we agree, Sarek, on another leading the service."

"You will do so?"

Saavik stood straighter. "You know I am not suited for such a situation."

"You are. You only must recognize it. However, that holds no bearing now. The subject is no longer open for debate, Saavik."

The dismissal only annoyed her further. She gave Spock a clear look of Do something!

He raised his eyebrows. "Is the situation still fortunate?"

"Sarek," Saavik began.

"You must be quite fatigued to not see the illogic of arguing over a settled matter." Sarek lifted a hand, forestalling her next words, and she reluctantly allowed the change in subject.

"Regarding an earlier point," Sarek insisted. "You understand the reasoning in staying here to be on hand for the memorial. And more."

She instantly softened: "Like attending the memorial, it is another point I never thought of arguing."

Sarek's eyes got a trace of light back. "Good, then it is agreed. You may leave the bag. I will have someone attend to it." He eyed it with disapproval. "Surely you did not forget the settings on the timers?"

She eyed him with seemingly frustration, but not over the sprinklers. "Sarek, are you listening to anything I say?"

"Only that said out of logic. Which only includes your attending the memorial and staying here." He stole the storm out of her with his next statement. "You will find other items waiting for you in your room. In addition to the necklace, Amanda left you a letter, and, for some reason I cannot explain, quite a number of nightgowns. She said..."

Spock doubted what his eyes told him. His father's ears could not be turning green in a blush!

"...She had them made for easy removal in case of emergencies."

McCoy choked as Kirk pressed a hand to his mouth to cover the laugh that nearly burst out. Both men suddenly turned away, coughing, and then commenting on what a beautiful day it was turning out to be. Spock turned back to his father a bit uncomfortably, wishing Vulcan custom hadn't made Sarek repeat Amanda's message so loyally. What was his mother thinking with such a statement and gift?

Saavik, on the other hand, stared into the past fondly. "I understand." With a sly glance at Kirk and McCoy, she explained, "For red alerts, sirs."

They chorused grinning "Of course, what else?" and "First thing I thought of" statements.

Sarek seemed to relax in relief. "Then I will leave you to your rest, Saavik."

Spock at last picked up on something Saavik already had; Sarek wanted, needed, to hear she would be in her room, home. When had that relationship started?

That touching insight turned into, "Spock, take care of her bag."

He stared at his father with a mocking expression. Obviously Sarek's way of having 'someone attend to it' was to pass it to his son. He lifted it as Saavik said her good nights - or rather, her good mornings -- and followed her down the hall.

As they left the garden, Spock heard Kirk say to McCoy, "Maybe if you're lucky, Saavik will show you the secret stray handshake. That way you can greet them like you're one of them."

"Shove it, Jim. Like you're not curious about them too."

Saavik obviously could hear them; any Vulcan would. Spock liked how she looked at him from the corner of her eye with that light from listening to the exchange. She tried to take the duffel bag, but he held on to it firmly. They soon reached her door.

"Sleep well," Spock told her.

"I will attempt to do so."

He remembered his sleepless nights as Saavik put his mother's -- her -- necklace back in its box, holding it tightly.

"If you cannot--" He stopped, then plunged ahead. "Whether you need to talk or only the company, I am here."

He almost added so were his father, Kirk and McCoy, but when she looked up with such warm appreciation, he was pleased he hadn't.

"That means a great deal," she said softly. She paused. "But she was your mother. I should be making the offer to you."

Saavik opened the door and paused at its threshold. "And I do."


TWO

Time Period: the next day after Chapter One

In the Kerjen universe: follows the same stories in Chapter One, but now also takes place after Goodbye, Amanda

Sarek wondered where it stopped. The wealth of things his wife had left behind: items she wanted given out, the messages for people. The majority of it was for Spock and him, of course, but it amazed him how she was able to put it all together when she was so ill and had so little time.

Too little time.

He sat in her part of their home office and took notice of what she had brought home from her workplace. Not all of it, but, "The things I want here, close-by and around me. Please, Sarek."

She hadn't needed to say please. He would have brought the entire office to her if she wished.

A few things were for other people, such as the recording he had just watched, and the framed holopic sitting on her desk now. Sarek had brought it from her bedside; it was one of the things brought home from her office in the Linguistics building at the Academy.

He took a moment to gather himself. Everything -- sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings -- was Amanda during this time, the way it should be. But let him have a minute to engage in his disciplines.

He thought he sensed movement at the open doorway, but when he turned, no one was there. Odd. In the next second, he heard a noise in the hall and then Saavik entered the office. He wondered: had she arrived, seen him at his introspection and left, making some noise this time so he'd know she was there?

Saavik did move silently, a trait learned in childhood, and Amanda had told Sarek of a time when she, upset with something that happened, had snapped at the younger woman to stop walking around like a ghost. Saavik had gone out and came back in, making sounds with household items to signal she was coming.

"You asked for me, Sarek?"

He motioned for her to sit down. She pulled his chair from his desk and turned it to face him. He needed to give her the last two items Amanda wanted her to have.

He led into it by asking, "Did the memorial service go well?" She had been concerned.

Saavik's eyes hardened and she crossed her arms tight across her chest. "Matthew Fzitzer felt it necessary to point out I missed Amanda's funeral."

Sarek's back straightened, that the advanced linguistics student should do such a thing. "He dishonored you and Amanda's memory this way? I should have heeded you. This cannot be allowed."

She nodded, but then eased the stiffness in how she sat. "I was both right and wrong. He did give his eulogy properly. I must give him credit, he showed Amanda's memory the correct respect then. The rest of the memorial service went as it should."

Sarek eased again into the chair, as much as he could be easy when his focus was Amanda. It made his voice gentle even more. "Have you watched her message to you?"

Saavik had to look away. Her controls weren't as strong. "I did."

"You left the house." Sarek had thought she would listen to it here in her room. She must have gone to her own home. He wished she could see that she didn't need to hide what she was going through, but he had to let her mourn in her way.

"Yes, I-- went to a place uniquely our own."

That did not sound like Saavik's house, but Sarek wouldn't intrude further. He did feel a little peace that she left here for that spot, wherever it might be; she hadn't felt she needed to get out of his home.

"Saavik," he said. He watched her compose herself before turning. He made sure she saw him taking in her action, so she would know he understood, not disapproved. "Amanda wished for you to have something else."

He gave her the framed holopic of Amanda and her together at the ShiKahr ceremony. Saavik laid her hand on it for an infinitesimal pause. She needed another before she could speak. "Amanda gave me a copy of this. I suppose she meant for me to have the original."

"Yes, and also because it is unique in another way."

"It is?" She began inspecting it and its frame. "I do not see how--"

She found it.

Sarek turned away to face the desk, so she had some privacy to show whatever she must when faced with the poem Amanda had copied on the back:

Not very long after we met, I found your wit, and your goodness, I found your character and your beauty. Most of all I found your loving heart.

The daughter I found in you...

He still respected Saavik's need to take in what this gift meant, but he also appreciated the need to be alone for it. He would have left the office if he didn't have one more thing to do for her.

He kept his eyes away, still giving what discretion he could. "Amanda left this message as well."

Saavik's head came up and she drew closer, which is how he saw her. "Another letter?"

"Yes. It is also for Spock and I."

She seemed to relax somewhat, no doubt thinking it wasn't so personal if it included the three of them. If that was what she thought, she would learn it was wrong with his next words:

"I will give you the office. Take the time you need." The way he had required time after viewing it. A moment or two: not enough.

Saavik watched him pass her and faced the computer with an expression that now realized the message would be both loving and heartbreaking.

Sarek heard her move from one chair to the other and begin watching. As he shut the door behind him, he deliberately kept his back to her. He could imagine how she must already look. He didn't need to see it. And he had promised privacy.

He walked down the hall, and heard again in his mind what was in that recording.

"Sarek," Amanda said intently leaning towards the camera, "I need you to memorize this." She smiled softly and gazed with utter love at the lens as if it was him. "Of course, that will mean you only have to watch it one time. But it's important to me."

As if he would have refused.

"I won't make it to the Hall of the Thought -- I can't put my katra there. You and I won't--"

They would not be reunited for the next life. That carried its own mourning.

"So I can't give this message myself. You have to take it for me. In fact, have Spock watch it too. And Saavik -- although it's going to be hard for Saavik. But I want to make sure the message gets there."

Amanda realized what she had said: that he and their son may not make it to the Hall of Thought either. "You'd better reach the Hall, Sarek. Spock too. I want you to have all that, even if I can't share it with you. I feel better knowing you'll be there."

"My message is for T'Pren, Sarek. You know who I mean."

Yes, he did. There was only one T'Pren in their lives: the Vulcan woman who had gotten word about Hellguard to Spock and therefore to her people before she died.

The woman who claimed Saavik as her daughter even though biology could not.

Amanda put another pillow behind her so she sat up straight, as if T'Pren would see her. Perhaps Sarek would be able to show this message instead of merely telling it. He hoped so, for both Amanda's and T'Pren's sake.

Making these recordings had greatly tired his wife, but no one except he would ever be able to tell.

Amanda began, "T'Pren, we have obviously never met, although you know my son, Spock. I'm going talk to you as one mother to another. It's about Saavik. I am calling you her mother, because that's who you are. The only thing you weren't able to do is have the chance to make it legal, but legalities don't change how it's true."

"Saavik has given your parents a message from her, so you'll hear that too, but I wanted to give you my impressions. I thought you might like that. You may know from Spock being your katra bearer -- or even from general knowledge -- that I'm human. So my message is colored in that way."

Amanda's eyes sparkled. "Oh, T'Pren, I hope you get to see your Saavik. She's extraordinary. Intelligent -- not just Vulcan intelligent, more than that. Charming, strong, beautiful, and vibrant. She has a good heart, T'Pren, and a fire. Unshakable loyalty, brave, and one foot on Vulcan and the other in the stars, just like you showed her. Some of this you know already, but I wanted to say it. Your parents, in fact, hope that she learned a number of these things from you. I know you would have at least encouraged those qualities while you were together."

Amanda's sparkle grew impish. "She's not perfect, of course. Saavik's also stubborn, can be absolutely clueless about herself and others, and has a temper. You don't know how many times I wanted to rattle that splendid head until she saw sense. And when she hears this, she's going to think of a hundred different retorts she'd like to make."

Amanda paused; it first looked as if she hesitated, but Sarek knew it was to emphasize what she said next. "She's been a gift, T'Pren, from you really. I can't thank you enough for her. And I wanted to say all this--" tears sprang to Amanda's eyes, "from one woman who loves her to the other. I tried to take care of her the best I could. I hope you'll think I did. Peace and long life, T'Pren. I know you will see your daughter someday, after she's lived a full, long life."

The recording had ended there.

Spock came down the hall. "Father, one of your aides said you were looking for Saavik. I am trying to find her myself. Do you know where she is?"

His son looked down to the office with its closed door. Something clicked about what was happening and Spock started moving as he spoke. "Is she well?"

Sarek held up a hand to stop him. "Your mother left another message and a gift. I have given Saavik the office for privacy."

He could see Spock slowly convincing himself not to still go to her, and he at last nodded. "Then I will wait here in case she needs me."

Sarek started reaching out, hesitated, and then clapped his hand on his son's shoulder. He walked away with other words from his wife in his ears; these had been when she held her husband's hand, not hiding her sadness, her fear, and her longing to have more time in this life. When a couple had been married as long and as well as the two of them, hiding was never given a thought:

"Sarek, could you grab Spock and Saavik by the back of their necks and shake them at some point? This dance they're doing around each other instead of to each other is infuriating. Maybe you don't see it yet, but when you do -- and you will -- and if they're still clueless about how the other feels, give them a little push. Wake them up. The two idiots. I adore them, but honestly."

Sarek filed that away too. He walked to the garden for his meditations; hopefully they would bring peace as he thought of his wife's messages she had made for him alone.