Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened. - Anatole France
The Vulcan and half-breeds on Hellguard didn't have pets. Obviously. A few Romulans had them, but Saavik only saw them as tormentors that bored guards used against the children for entertainment.
She'd bring animals to Spock, but to ask questions about them, study them. A few of her foster families had pets. In fact, that was how she learned about them.
"We have them for a few reasons," one of the Rrakarran couple, looking like a Terran wolf himself, answered. His having a dog was like a human and a chimpanzee: the two divergents of an evolutionary ancestor. "Companionship, unconditional love, security-"
"Security?" She had looked around, holding back curses. They said she was safe here! Not to mention, that little dog was capable of anything that would protect them?
"Not like that. Well, that too, even if it's just to sound an alarm on the off chance someone breaks in."
Saavik thought dark thoughts about what she'd do to anyone who tried.
"But I meant a feeling of security, of calm and peace. You want to try holding her? She might help you sleep."
No, Saavik did not want to try and she had stayed contentedly that way until nearly two years ago. Then her son was born and McCoy had gotten him a sehlat as a Naming Day gift: Ko-Kan.
She accepted the animal in their lives. Point of fact, she had no choice. Her husband and father-in-law would outvote her in an instant. Pleased didn't cover their reaction, including a long stroll with the two of them, Ko-Kan, and an infant Setik whom they passed back and forth. When they finally returned, Sarek stated, "It is good to have a sehlat's presence again."
That was that.
They taught Saavik the hand gestures and verbal commands and she had no issue with the animal. She found her very helpful. But Ko-Kan was part of the men's and boy's lives, not hers.
A burning nausea now tore through Saavik's abdomen. The unborn twin girls were not only overly active, but the human in their blood came near to poisoning hers.
"You missed I'Chaya," Amanda once said. "I squealed and climbed all over him when I first saw him. I had no dignity whatsoever." The wickedness changed to something much softer. "Then when I was pregnant with Spock… the only way I could really relax was to sleep next I'Chaya. Sarek even put a blanket over the two of us sometimes."
Setik started walking out of the family's main room, gaining balance and speed. Ko-Kan's head came up and caught him in the act; she looked over her shoulder to see what Saavik thought about the whole thing, and got the hand signal to bring the toddler back. Which she did. She pulled him down against her stomach and spread her paws around him, forming a security gate so he stayed close and no one could get him without disturbing his guardian.
He looked very… content, Saavik decided.
But she felt puerile. Then one of the twins decided to kick her way through her mother's stomach and the other banged on her ribs; the nausea and poisonous feeling rose in swells.
Saavik looked around, found no one there, and then slipped off her seat to the center rug. She held her head up with one hand and stretched out along Ko-Kan's back. The sehlat's rumbling vibration made the twins push up against that part of their mother's abdomen. In a moment of Saavik and the two inside her feeling and not just hearing the rumble and the large heartbeats, warmth seeped in Saavik's entire long length and the twins suddenly settled. Their mother's own head began to droop, eyes closing, until she dropped against Ko-Kan's neck, Setik on the other side.
Spock stood in the doorway, watching his wife get the first good sleep in too long a time. He heard a sound behind him and turned to find Sarek standing there, holding a blanket.
"Are you continuing the tradition, Father?"
Spock couldn't believe his hearing.
"It is your turn," Sarek finished. He gave Spock the blanket that held the colors of a desert sunrise and, in the center, a sehlat made up of a mosaic of patterns in orange, brown, and black. "She is your wife, she carries your children who keep her awake, and that is your son on the other side of his pet. It is your time."
Spock took the blanket and looked back at his father, understanding that gaze. He bowed his head, accepting the passing of the torch, so to speak. He went to Saavik and gently laid the blanket over the three of them. Ko-Kan opened an eye and her nose flared, making sure who was approaching them, but his wife stayed asleep. She stretched her arm further around the big sehlat and snuggled further against her pet's neck.