The bright sunlight struck his eyes, making him squint hard and throw a hand in front of his face. The corridor might have been shadowy, but not compared to his and Saavik’s room behind the blank white door at his back. Inside there, it was soothing darkness with only warm light from the firepot and recessed illumination. His eyes hadn’t seen sunlight in days.
He was so aware of Saavik next to him, not noticing her straining to see in the glare or the exhaustion written on her face. Seeing instead the body lines hidden from view, the sable hair cascading past her shoulders, a silken lock tucked behind an ear reminding him of the graceful curve of a verren's shell, just as it had decades ago when her effect on him first made itself felt.
That was before he made himself stop thinking such things, believing the feelings they represented would never be returned or returned out of a sense of debt, possibly even endangering the friendship he made all efforts to keep with her. So odd to remember that lonely decision with her here, preparing to make the journey with him into marriage, her traditional silver gown shimmering in the sun until she appeared a mirage caused by the heat. So tempting to take her back to that dark room behind its bare white door and prove she was most solidly there with him, and not something that might disappear.
McCoy’s voice breaking into this delicious thought was a blast of cold ice down his spine. “Spock, my friend, don’t even think of trying to get your room deposit back!”
The suggestion meant nothing until his fevered brain brought back what McCoy had seen. Ah, yes, the damage. The smashed and overturned furniture… linens and bedding strewn about… no one ever said the early days of pon farr were a genteel thing, especially a pon farr as long denied as this one.
Saavik glanced at him now in a mixture of chiding and wickedness. He ignored that it was a reminder she had argued against letting McCoy into the room, claiming its state would make the man uncomfortable. All Spock saw in the playful eyes was a reminder that pon farr was not gone, only temporarily sated, leaving them enough sanity to attempt the wedding ceremony.
Enough sanity to calculate again such important things as how many steps it would take to snatch his mate back to their room -- even as they continued moving away from it, across the Medical Center’s grounds with its courtyard and carefully raked sand garden, reaching the open bronzed gates…
McCoy clapped his hands loudly together, and rubbed them briskly with his eagerness. “Now then, time’s awastin’! And we got a long and -- I point out – hot journey ahead of us.”
… enough to calculate how swiftly he could render McCoy unconscious before snatching his mate away…
But then, that was why betrothed couples were always escorted to Koon-ut-kal-if-fee. Escorts made sure couples showed up for the ceremony, and didn’t run off to dark rooms and firepots and…
He needed to focus. Now that he could focus again.
That thought, strictly speaking, was inaccurate. Both Saavik and he had clear moments – brief though they were – in the past few days. One such moment led to the only time he saw her enraged over his decisions in Ki Baratan and their bed being overturned and…
I must focus. Especially as McCoy looked at them oddly and suddenly cleared his throat.
“Uh, look you two, I just wanted to say that I’m really happy for you both. I know what this day means, even if you’ve never said it, and I just—uh… I just – oh hell.”
“Why, Doctor,” Saavik drawled, “are you becoming sentimental?”
And McCoy, being McCoy, suddenly snapped, good humor gone. “You know what? Screw you both! I don’t need this, standing here in this hotter than hell cooking pot you call a homeworld! But I’ll just have you know one thing, Miss, before I leave! Do you know why I was on my way to this blazing planet to begin with? For your funeral! That’s right! They thought you were a goner, and I headed out here on the first ship, or I never would have made it on time to see the Bride of Satan and her mate get hitched!”
Saavik spoke in honest surprise. “You would come to my funeral, Doctor?”
“Well of course I would come! I’m here, aren’t I? How many goddamned years of me hanging around is going to take before you finally get it that—You know what? Forget it. I’m going. Good luck to you both, happy wedding, you deserve each other. Bon voyage to me.”
Spock sprang after the retreating figure. He moved rapidly when he wanted to and Saavik was even faster. He clasped his old friend’s right hand in his as he had once clasped Jim Kirk’s after returning from melding with V’Ger. Saavik did the same on the opposite side, except she threaded her fingers into McCoy’s. They stood there, the three of them, Spock pleased to see his bondmate so intensely respecting the doctor’s friendship as he did.
McCoy gave something suspiciously close to a sniffle as he – reluctantly? – pulled his hands away. “All right, all right. It’s hotter standing between the two of you than it must be on the sun. Besides, we have places to be.” He coughed, attempting a laugh. “Anyway, Spock, getting in the way between you and the wife – or wife-to-be, whatever you prefer – probably isn’t the best idea, is it?”
Saavik locked eyes again with her betrothed, and Spock saw that impish glimmer again. He rejoiced in how she shared such things with him and how quickly he read her silent signals.
She laid her hand on McCoy’s shoulder and took a step closer, speaking in deep tones to Spock, “He is in between us, my husband.”
McCoy’s eyes grew wide, startled, and he slapped her hand away. “Dammit, Saavik, get off! Do you want him to kill me?”
Spock appropriately narrowed his eyes. “Are you challenging me, Doctor?”
“What? Wait a minute… All right, moment’s over. Ha ha, you had your fun.” He moved a few paces away before turning back, smiling quietly. “I love you both, you know.”
They knew, and the deep regard was very much mutual.
Spock found when he concentrated, he was able to do more than just leave that room behind…
… and think of Saavik and the gleam in her eye, a gleam she had given him when she found he had been jealous of Dralath and the voice she had used with him. Of Dralath, Spock? Of Dralath! She had drawn closer, whispering in his ear so her breath stroked him. I think we have learned something necessary to our marriage. If we want something, simply ask for it. If you want me to use that same voice on you…
The point was, he sternly reminded himself, he found he now clearly saw his surroundings and was aware of the impact of McCoy’s words. “In that same vein, Doctor, take this next gesture in the way it is meant.” He indicated the vehicle pulling up. “Use the groundcar.”
“Did you think I would argue? Hardly!” The elderly doctor started slipping into the cooled interior and just as rapidly popped back out, the speed with which he did it belying his usual complaints about his aging knees. “Hold it a minute, you two are following, right? People are waiting for you, Spock, and my job is to get you there. Don’t make me hose you two down--”
“We are following, Doctor.” He pointed towards Sarek and the others in the wedding party who were en route to them. “Someone else is now taking over your job.”
“All right then.” McCoy clapped Spock on the arm and quickly kissed Saavik’s cheek. The sudden gesture made her flush a pale bronze green. “Ha! Got you to blush. Took me thirty years since the last time. I am having a good day.” He winked, managing to make it fit his serious parting words. “And I am happy for you two.”
The car whisked him away just as Sarek and the others whisked them quite firmly towards their waiting guests. Spock noticed someone always kept between he and Saavik. To his amazement, he no longer resented it. The impatience of the Fires eased into the delight of anticipation. They would be alone together soon enough, this time with the chance to savor and explore each other instead of simply surrendering to their keenly hurried mating drives. They had just started to enjoy each other since the last break of sanity -- when their wedding date was set.
He tried to remember today’s date, but his time sense, so long disrupted, failed to provide what day it was. He should have asked McCoy.
He also discovered he anticipated the ceremony before them. It was the last step towards making Saavik his. His. Their bonding pulsed with life like an individual heartbeat, thriving so heartily from their days of being joined mind, heart, and body. He found another thought even more heady. He would be hers; this amazing woman chose him. Would choose him when the moment came in the ceremony where she either accepted him or named a challenger. He resented the jealousy the Time of Mating brought. It robbed him of his usual confidence of his place in her life. She felt no such uncertainty; save for the one question she had asked him, that one argument that led to their bed being flipped over and…
Focus! he reprimanded himself. They were in public after all.
T’Selis was instructing Saavik on what was expected of her, and a problem arose over the order of ‘properly keeping your eyes downcast’. The fiercely independent Saavik gave the directive and its giver a scathing glance, and Spock thought the whole wedding would be delayed indefinitely until she told him mockingly, “It is for ceremony only, Spock. Do not grow used to it.”
“I would never wish to do so,” he replied, one eyebrow raised.
A divan chair approached carrying a shrouded figure. Not McCoy to be sure, even though the doctor must have traveled the last part of the journey in this manner, tradition forbidding modern vehicles on the ancient lands. No, T’Lar was arriving and to confirm it, the official attendants shook their systra, the banners made up of rows of tiny bells, announcing to the waiting guests that the wedding party was about to make its entrance.
Saavik unexpectedly glanced at him at the thought of being parted—
Parted and never parted.
--even for such a short period as this when they were one being – heart, body, mind, he echoed -- during their pon farr. The attendants stepped between them, indicating it was time to go, and Sarek stared at him significantly. He walked backwards hesitantly, eyes fixed to hers…
...Saavik… He thought he heard her mind whisper his name back through the bond.
…Avrách’laba… he called her self-name, her áhtia name.
She mouthed his in return, and he watched in fascination as her lips parted to form the syllables.
He drew his shoulders back. Only one way to keep the time apart as short as possible. He continued backing up until he reached the perimeter of the first semi-circle of dark, weathered rock, then swung around purposefully, striding across the plateau gazing at no one as he passed into the second semi-circle. He went straight for the center pillar and powerfully struck the ritual, jadeite gong. Its deep resonance spread like a wave, the vibrations passing through him and out across his ancestral lands… The ancestral lands held by his family for millennia.
All of a sudden, the gong, the primeval stone circles, and the ritual became more than a way to summon Saavik back to his side as swiftly as possible. Suddenly, he sensed all the people in his family who had stood in this same spot on this same land, striking a gong just like this one for the same reason.
This is the Vulcan heart, this is the Vulcan soul.
T’Pau’s past words to James Kirk. The moment put aside the modern cut to his deep-red robes, his logic, and the centuries of civilization, and instead the jewels marked his ancient House, the primordial instinct rising in his soul and heart passed to him from all the ones who had come before. Sarek once stood here and waited for Amanda. His grandfather, Skon, had stood where Spock’s feet were now, the gong’s reverberations passing through him and out on the land just as his father, Solkar, had stood and waited for his wife. Spock’s mind went rapidly through the names, his clarity recalling each one to the very first who won this land in PreReform times. He was tied to them, those who had signaled to their heart’s mate Come to me…
As it was in the beginning…
The words T’Lar would say and he finally understood their significance. From across the millennia to him, the men of his family called through the bloodline. How fortunate he had these past days to satiate the pon farr so this moment was not lost to its fever, so he may feel the moment for what it was.
The systra signaled that the bridal party approached. First T’Lar, then his father, and Spock looked at Sarek in a new light and thought something in the return gaze showed his father realized the same moment. Or perhaps he just remembered when he had stood in Spock’s place and Amanda was the heart’s mate the gong sounded for.
Then T’Selis followed by Frances Stewart of the Enterprise-C, women to whom he owed Saavik’s life and therefore his own. But now he was impatient, caught in his moment, having given his call and waited for its response. Atavistic, yes. This was a day that acknowledged and celebrated the atavistic, the recurrence and reversion to the ancient ways.
At last, Saavik entered, remembering to keep her eyes down, but only briefly as she cast them up unerringly into his again and never broke away. He saw her part in this as she took her place in the long line of people who answered the gong’s call and dedicated their lives to the continuance of his House.
Someday, my Saavik, it will be our child standing here, in this same exact spot. One who will wait for their mate, or who will come, like you, to their choice.
The bells sounded once more before being stilled, but the shrill cry of a hunting shavokh sounded far above their heads, another resonance heard from past to present. It pleased him.
The moment came when Saavik might demand a challenge, and his heightened senses imagined hearing McCoy’s anxious intake of breath. He almost smiled because Saavik’s eyes only beckoned as the deep timbre of the gong had: Come to me. Finally he was allowed to, meeting her in front of T’Lar. Peripherally, he saw McCoy relax, and tied to images of the past as he was, Spock almost glimpsed a man in an old style Starfleet tunic of command gold and captain’s braids standing next to the doctor. For that matter, he almost glimpsed a petite woman with bright, sapphire eyes next to his father. Illogical thoughts. He didn’t care. He was as intensely thankful for the idea of the other images as he was for the ritual that froze he and Saavik in a moment as T’Lar began.
Saavik… Avrách’laba… lover… friend... t'hyla…
He waited, keeping the last word for later, when he was able to call her it fully.
T’Lar’s words bathed them. He paid them enough heed to know what was expected of him, to enjoy his new awareness of why they were said and how they had been said through the years. The rest of his attention belonged to the woman before him who never once took her eyes off of him.
He admired her. The strong intellect that always challenged him, ruthlessly logical as he had first thought of it and had always meant as a compliment. The boundless energy harnessed to her determination to see what she wanted herself to be and then striding forward until she reached her goals. The complex levels of personality kept behind walls of privacy that surpassed his own, but kept open for him. One foot planted in the stars and the other willingly rooted to Vulcan. And so very beautiful.
This vibrant woman was committing herself to him.
T’Lar’s words called him back. Time to kneel before the Vulcan elder as she touched their temples and waited as they raised their hands and touched each other as well.
At that exact moment, lightning and thunder flashed from Mount Seleya, giving his fanciful mind the idea that it mimicked the power of his bond to Saavik. He was thoroughly satisfied with the day.
At this point came the cup ritual, only T’Lar was signaling wait to T’Selis and speaking to him instead. “We always had a plan for thee. Thee shall fulfill it.”
Later he would be surprised. Now, it felt right, linked as it was to his feeling his place in time. Ktotra, he thought. The Vulcan word for destiny.
T’Lar spoke to Saavik, proclaiming her guardian and Spock suddenly quailed, losing the tie to antiquity, for Saavik was more than capable of sacrificing herself for him. He did not want her taking on the danger of his battles.
Then Spock saw T'Lar meant more than Saavik's destiny with him. She would be the shield for him and all of Vulcan. Refuse! he pleaded. He would bleed and die for Vulcan, but please not her. He could not lose her. But Saavik was lost inside herself, even as she still looked back into his eyes.
T’Lar passed him the plain, earthenware cup, and the sense of ritual returned even as he kept the feeling of the present and what Saavik gave as she vowed to bind her life to his. She chose him. He offered her the cup with its water, the greatest symbol of life to a desert people. She took it, sipped, eyes sparkling as the water did. They shared the stimulation of minds already joined, the anticipation of more to come, of being each others as they made this commitment.
A memory struck of something he once heard: he rotated the cup until he drank from the same spot as her, his lips were hers had been, the only physical joining they had for the moment, and the banked, inner spark threatened to leap to life.
T’Lar’s words brushed over them like a cool breeze across the Forge. “Thee will need that deep a bond.”
That deep a bond? He had no doubt they did.
“Now recite thy vows.”
“Parted and never parted,” he spoke, his voice deep and low. Nothing kept him from Saavik, not anymore. Not the lightyears of space, not the people who caused rifts, tearing at their relationship no matter what it may be at the time; not the fear of rejection or losing what precious bit they had to go further. They fought all that, slowly, at times given a wake-up call to do so, until they were ready to be here.
“Never and always touching and touched,” Saavik said, husky. Their bond pulsed, alive and thriving. Amazing how it was so much more than it had been, when it had been so much already.
T’Lar gestured for them to rise. “Thee are wed, Spock, son of Sarek, son of Skon, son of Solkar, and Saavik, Vulcan’s Daughter.”
Excellent. The elder emphasized not Saavik’s krenath status, but what she achieved with her place here, her link to all of Vulcan, the best of what it was and meant.
The ceremony’s end also ended his mood and he found he had been surreally, and uniquely, barely sane. He did not care. The long observance done meant he was fully sound and Saavik with him. And at last he called her that last word: wife, wholly joined by words and deeds.
He was thoroughly pleased with the day.
He watched as she turned away from the sight of Ruanek and T’Selis, and calmly returned her teasing about the obvious chemistry between the exiled Romulan and the Vulcan healer. Suddenly all sanity, the one he just enjoyed and the one that carried him inimitably through the wedding fled. The Fires claimed them both.
Sarek made their escape, stopping only for that one simple message before setting them free. And then, they were alone, walking hand in hand like all lovers, gazing at the beauty of a sunset over a desert, marking this moment as other sunsets over deserts marked other moments in their lives.
He held her and they spoke their vows again. Then she settled against his chest, her head finding the spot she discovered she enjoyed most, the one particular curve under his chin along the side of his neck. She sighed and it teased his collarbone, her open mind spilling her utter contentment into his senses.
They savored the delicious thrill of anticipation, of the Fires slowly building but not so high they couldn’t just be here, together. His arms settled around her waist and she laid hers on top. No words, just thought and feeling and the wonderful expectation of more.
His hand brushed down from the curve of her jaw, around the side of her breast making her inhale with pleasure and settled on her abdomen for a moment, before dancing down hip, thigh, and knee, the farthest he could reach. The weight and warmth of her made him feel complete as she stretched languidly full length against him.
“We should go,” he finally murmured. Not breaking the moment, but continuing it with the anticipation intensifying.
She turned in his arms, and brushed the psi-points along his temple and jaw with her own, abruptly dropping her mental shields so her desire for him coursed through the sensitive nerve junctions as she did the same with their hands, stroking them, making them jolt with pleasurable shocks.
“Saavik,” he growled, but she ignored him as she continued her game until he couldn’t speak, barely could think, snatching what measure of thought he had to send to her, My wife, unless you want to indulge in public displays…
Her throaty chuckle helped not at all. The heat grew and his hands were only still because she wouldn’t release them from her sensual torture. He persistently tried to get her to stop for the moment or grab her so he may return the rapturous torment she inflicted. It wasn’t until she caught the image in his mind of how soft a cushion the sand would be and that no one was in sight that she answered him.
Sand gets into everything.
He was too far gone for banalities. I prefer we not return to the hospital.
They shared their mutual displeasure at the thought of another room with medical sensors silently monitoring them to make sure they lived, when their pon farr ebbed low enough to be told they were being wed today, and so on.
Ruanek is at the estate, Sarek at the townhouse, he continued. Where else?
I know. She fully embraced him, ending her teasing, her fingers slipping into his hair and pulling him ardently against her. ”Come with me,” she purred against his mouth. Not in the voice used on Dralath, that provincial, placating tone Evaste spoke in. This was Saavik’s voice, pitched for him, husband and lover.
He went with her.
She watched McCoy come in, waiting for his reaction. Letting the man inside the door gave him entrance to more than just the room she had shared with Spock for the past few days. Their quarters reflected the two of them at their most primeval, their most private, their most… non-human.
The doctor spun around suddenly, feeling her gaze, and for a second she saw a frantic expression on his face, as if he searched for her and was worried he wouldn’t find her. Then the state of the room seeped into him and in spite of his multitude of past comments that started with ‘green-blooded, pointed eared--’, he was shaken by the alieness of what he saw.
The sheep’s clothing has been pulled off Spock and I, and McCoy has found not wolves, but le-matyas.
She did not want him shaken, not for the world would she upset him. He was too good to her, and he meant so much to Spock.
She cast her eyes over, prepared to point out silently how right she had been, but stopped. Everything her mate felt for her spoke from his eyes, and she felt her own response surge out through their bond. She caught his subtle shift in balance and muscle and knew he was coming for her, ready to push the intruder out and gather her to him. Her hands already planned how to take the deep red robes off of him, her mind already opened and seeking his in the minimal space between them, her body already feeling the touch of his skin against hers.
“I guess we can forget about the bride and groom not seeing each other before the wedding,” McCoy said.
Interrupted, the flame banked into embers, and she gazed at him with some humor. Much better: McCoy was… McCoy again, and although he ruined what would have been a wonderful time for Spock and her, the intrusion was necessary. Unwelcome, but necessary.
Spock gave in to the inevitable, and she walked with him out of the room into the too bright day. The sunshine reminded her of how long it had been since she last saw it: the day she arrived on Vulcan, already in the throes of seizures and unconscious. Although… was it daytime when she arrived? Through the haze she remembered one female healer each taking her arm, a third at her legs, lifting her off the shuttle’s gurney like a martyred figure.
At least, she thought she remembered it. Her controls were not equal to Spock’s, not even to other Vulcans who had started their training at the normal age. She had fallen to the Time of Mating faster than her consort had.
McCoy came up behind them, the bare white door closing, and she felt a tinge of regret for the lost moment he had interrupted. But she let it go, settling for teasing Spock silently over McCoy’s earlier reaction. He was staring at her again, more in control this time, but with the hunger close to the surface. It distracted her for long moments until the doctor stumbled over something he tried to tell them. She was still half-distracted when she gave her response, and so when he informed her he had thought she had been dying -- which was true -- and had rushed here to at least say his final goodbye, she was stunned. She always thought McCoy saw her as some extension of Spock. That she meant enough to him personally--
She and Spock moved in tandem, their union in pon farr extending to these first moments of separation. They each took one of Leonard’s hands -- the hands since they were so important to Vulcans, being the instruments through which they poured their mental ability and themselves.
The impact of this moment did not mean she enjoyed any less the teasing she gave the doctor with Spock’s help. After all, that Bride of Satan comment deserved some retaliation; McCoy must have been saving that particular colorful reference for years, just waiting for the right moment. Nothing the man did surprised her anymore -- or at least hadn’t until today. His freely speaking of his love for them and his happiness for this day were things she already knew, but the small kiss on her cheek caught her off-guard.
If Spock did not continually stare at me so ardently, I might not be off-guard. Really, his faith in her self-control was touching but misplaced. She felt her pulse leap with each of her mate’s looks; so much so, she truly repented coming out into public.
Reason returned with the presence of her wedding party, especially in light of her renewed lessons in what was expected of her today. She noted almost sadly that Sarek hesitated to remind Spock of the male’s duties, not wanting to recall how wrongly his first wedding ended. Wrongly, she thought darkly, because of the improper Challenge, not because he was meant to be with T’Pring. She felt no jealousy over Spock’s first betrothed or anyone else previously in his life. How could she? She was the one standing here today, about to enter his family’s ancestral site for Koon-ut-kal-if-fee.
And yet… something inside mocked her brave, proper thoughts… She had come close to being jealous a day or so ago, when pon farr ebbed for a few moments. How ironic to think that she grew covetous not over someone, but something – something she herself dedicated her life to.
They had lain together, limbs entwined, discussing the sudden passionate present and a future that death had come close to removing. She had at last given voice to the thoughts that had built from the moment she had first learned he had crossed the Neutral Zone days ago. She had meant to do so reasonably, but reason had fled into righteous anger as she had told him he never should have gone into such danger. Her throat had tightened as she had explained how it had bothered her that Uhura, not Spock, was the one to tell her what he had done. How she had thought:
…I will not stand watch, Spock, while you sacrifice yourself again… I will not be left holding a burial robe as the one thing I have left of you…
And he had replied only that she understood duty as well as he did.
Her temper had flared at this casual dismissal, recalling again how Surak died violently for his cause. That fact edged her words as she had argued. She did understand duty for she went to Narendra III without him, even though the odds were she would die from pon farr. When he had irritably replied, “I told you I had allies I could not abandon. Charvanek--”, Saavik had scrambled out of the tangle of limbs and bedding. Without the benefits of her emotional controls, she had succumbed too easily to an enraged storm.
“Please tell me I did not just hear you say you could not abandon CHARVANEK! When you could obviously abandon me to most likely die at Narendra III!”
He never finished his blithe reply, “The needs of the many--”
Sheer fury and pon farr had given her the strength to flip their massive bed on its side, dumping her clueless mate to the floor. She had vaulted over the overturned frame before the utter shock and anxiety on Spock’s face reigned in her temper. Sickened that she caused him to be so distressed, she had lowered herself to her knees next to him.
“I thought you understood,” he had said hoarsely at last. “Dralath had to be stopped. I had to find a way to ensure that happened.”
“I do understand,” she answered, swallowing hard. “I know that between the Cause and me, my fate was less important than Charvanek’s war.”
A look of horror had risen in his eyes and he had grabbed her arms. “How can you say that to me? I came to you as soon as I was able.”
“I know. I am as sworn to my responsibility to protect the Federation and uphold its ideals as you. If a situation like Narendra III happens again, I will take the same actions to protect it. My question is, is this all our lives can encompass?”
His voice was very soft. “When I went behind the Neutral Zone, I was thankful I did not risk anyone but myself, that is why I did not contact you. I did not want you endangered.”
“But I was endangered! If something happened to you… put aside what our bond suddenly ending would have done to me. If you had died…” She had held his face in her hands, that face so dear to her, marked by lines of experience and years, the years that so incredibly formed the mind that always drew her. The face containing warm eyes that gripped her heart, and the mouth she had, even at that important moment, thought of stroking with her fingers until the sensual power of it would undo her. Her voice had shaken. “I could not even write you a letter to say goodbye when I wrote the others with my Will. Can you not imagine what your death would do to me?”
“Yes.” The word had torn from his throat, raw and distraught. “When I saw you there, amongst Dralath’s vermin -- when I heard about the Klingon colony and thought you---” He struggled for control.
“Don’t, Spock. Even if you could, I do not want you to check whatever it is you think or feel. Not between us.”
His eyes warmed. “You have always given me your acceptance.”
“Always. As you have given me yours. It is why you must tell me what you are thinking.”
He took a deep breath, not for control, but to find a place to start. “I know I take on more than my assigned missions, and those demands unfairly take more of me. Another husband could give you more of himself, while I can only swear to you, and I do swear, that I will never let my work take all of me away from you.”
“Are you certain you can make that promise?”
“That is unfair. Your work keeps us apart as much as mine.”
“It is not your work that concerns me. It is your idealism.”
“Saavik,” his voice showed the strain, “would you say all this if I was not seeking reunification with the Romulans?”
“Honestly…” She had searched herself and the motivations stirring somewhere in her abdomen. “Yes, I would.” She had stroked his cheek and smiled fondly. “If it was not the Romulans, it would be something else.”
“Do you ask me to choose?” There was a fear in his voice that she had never heard before. And it warmed her heart.
“Never. You would not be you without it. I ask if there can be a place for me along with it.”
“If I believed anything else, I would not have bonded with you. Does my coming home to you not prove that?”
“No, because you are bonded to me, Spock, and pon farr drew you home. It is not a conscious choice. Our lives depended on the Fires being satisfied, but it is not a reason to marry. Not for me, nor for you. I will not have you out of obligation or for a decision you made when you thought you could not have the path you wanted.”
“I do not understand why you suddenly think this way.” He had stared into her uneasily. “Or have you thought this all along?”
She had looked away while she searched herself again. “…No. I did, after all, leave you behind when you insisted, but what that cost me… leaving you there, and most likely never see you again. I learned how… intensely emotional I am about you.” She stopped, and her features softened with a warm glow as she said for the first time just how she felt. “Ashau nash-veh tu.”
“Ashau nash-veh tu,” he echoed. The words that said all that was contained in a true bond, in a Vulcan's heart.
“I always will, Spock, no matter what path our lives take. We spoke of our plans for a future, and I want them – I surprise myself with how deeply I want them. However, our plans centered on your being an Ambassador and my career in Starfleet. But is that true anymore? Do you need to serve something more than duty? Charvanek’s campaign, for example--”
“You have mentioned her more than once. Is this about Charvanek? Saavik, if it is--?”
But she had already shaken her head and even managed a wry smile. “No, or I would not have so easily left you behind with her. Although I can imagine how quickly she made you an offer to help you through the Fires.”
“I would never dishonor you that way.”
“Meaning she did suggest it. Oh yes, I am sure it was out of friendship.” She smiled. “I know of the old attraction between you. I know a little of it will always remain. However, I know even more that she is not a rival. I know because she knows and I saw it written in her expression. More importantly, I see it in yours and in everything you have just said. But I am discussing another matter and doing it poorly.” She had stopped to gather her thoughts, and when she had looked at him again, her eyes had shone. “You end my loneliness. Bonded to you has been the only time in my life when I have been… never parted.” She had touched his lips to keep him from speaking and it sizzled up her arms. “I know my duty to Starfleet and the Federation. And I know yours. Do what you must do and I will help you any way I can. If you need to be no one’s, tell me so and as soon as it can be safely done, I will free you from our bonding. Only, tell me now. Do not let me find out years from now I married a crusade, not a man.”
His grip had eased on her arms, but he had lost none of his ardor. “Do you honestly believe I want anything else? I am looking for a wife, not someone to soldier my conflicts.“
“You know I will always stand by you, even if we are not married.”
“I will even come to you for pon farr if you do not choose someone else. But we cannot go any further. It is not fair to either of us.”
“You would leave me?” he rasped.
“If you need to take your path alone, if our marriage would stop you from walking it, yes. It is all I meant to say.”
And then she had suddenly trembled. Without a word, Spock had gathered her closer, warming her with his body, and then wrapped them both in the spilled linens from the bed, sealing them intimately together. “I made a choice for a greater good on Romulus, and you understood and shared in it. I wish I could say you did not have to share me at all, or that it would at least be in equal proportion to how I will share you with your work.” And it had been his turn to press staying fingers to lips. “I told you when we discussed our betrothal of the time, years ago on Enterprise, when I was first struck by the woman you had become. I silently vowed to wait for you, no matter how many years it took, so you would have time for establishing your career. I allowed too many other things to stop my hopes that you would ever see me in the same light: my memory loss from Genesis, such tearings as Valeris, and then I built a new life and needed time myself. You cannot believe how amazed I was to discover you were not only finally ready, as I was, for a bondmate, but that you thought of me.”
His forehead had then nestled against hers, and she had whispered hoarsely, “I still find it hard to believe you thought any of this. Why did you never say anything? Later when we were ready? On Tomed, I told you that you need only ask, and I would come to you in the pon farr. You told me the same. So many other times, one word, one look or touch would have brought me to you. You must have seen it.”
“I saw pon farr was something anyone can satisfy, and I will not be bonded to someone unless it was because she chose me. And I am afraid I was oblivious to any other signs you gave me. To be fair, you were oblivious to the signs I gave you. Anything I did see, I put down to you feeling obligated to our past. I told you that I will not be bonded out of duty for my rescuing you from Thieurrull or for the guidance I gave you in those first years. No more than you ever let me feel a debt for Genesis or the numerous other times you saved my life. If you were ever to come to me or I to you, it would be because we freely chose it. I say all this because I made my choice to be with you, fully knowing everything both of us may be called to do.”
“Saavik, I will share you with whatever and whomever I must if, as you say, I am sharing you, not abandoned to your duty. We both know we face other days such as Narendra III, but do not leave me alone to face them. I want my loneliness to end just as much as you.” His hands had risen to cup her face. “My choice did not change in Ki Baratan. It will never change.”
They had sat silently for some time, staggered by one of the rare periods they had managed to speak such words to one another, and the new intimacy enhancing an already strong bond.
She had kissed his one palm with her fingertips. “Then I have something I must tell you.”
T’Selis brought Saavik abruptly back. “Thakaya!”
She obeyed the healer’s whispered word and concentrated. Fortunately, no one else but the younger woman clad in the red and white robes of Mount Seleya had noticed her lapse. Her will converged on listening to the rest of the healer’s instructions, using them as a focal point as she met Spock’s look.
Everything went well until the instruction to keep her eyes downcast. After remembering that most important moment when she and Spock bonded themselves into a partnership, the gesture sounded too submissive. She must have looked worse than she thought, because even Spock eyed her with some concern. She dryly teased him and further listened to the young healer. T’Selis may never have been in this spot herself – with pon farr circling around her senses, about to marry if she could think clearly long enough – but she was well trained. She kept up her quiet talk, giving Saavik a focal point.
“Like the position you take when you walk with your consort, this gesture is traditional. In PreReform days, the female as the child bearer held a valued status… the male walked ahead as protection… however, as she is as much a part of their House, the female did not just walk behind, but to the side so she may see any danger and guard her husband …or the children walking between them. Diverging theories exist on why you enter Koon-ut-kal-if-fee with your eyes down such as…”
The words swam in and out of her hearing; she did not need the history lesson, but it was a link to reality.
T’Lar arrived, shrouded in her divan chair, and the systra shook, signaling the beginning of the ceremony. Saavik suddenly found it difficult to have Spock walk away—
Never and always touching and touched.
--after being so closely together for every second since she struggled back from near death to find him with her. She was not, nor had ever been, sentimental despite her passionate nature and deep loyalties. If she was born sentimental, Hellguard had burned it out of her at an early age as it had burned away so many other things. So she was ill prepared for the fierce tenderness and love she felt for Spock. She knew the emotions she had carried for him for so long now, but she did not know the depths they would become in the so recent past.
He walked backwards away from her so their eyes, at least, were not parted until the last possible moment. In a minute, she heard the gong sound, its deep timbres a substitute for Spock’s own.
T’Lar passed by, and Saavik was even more grateful for the way T’Selis had anchored her so she may meet the awe-inspiring presence of the Vulcan Elder calmly. After all, she was marrying into a respected, noble House. She would show she was worthy of it.
It made for the perfect moment for Sarek to be suddenly revealed as T’Lar’s passage no longer blocked their view of each other. She saw some indefinable, undeniable light in his regard.
She did not trust herself to speak at first, and he almost left before she found her voice. “My father.”
How odd and how utterly wonderful to feel those words on her tongue.
“How did I get here?”
Not her words but Amanda’s, the memory suddenly rising of when the older woman talked about her wedding day to Sarek. Saavik could hear the clear, sparkling tenor of Amanda’s laughter as she happily told the story.
“That’s what I kept thinking. How did I ever get here? Who would have thought it? Not me. I did not look at Sarek the first day I met him and think here’s the man I’ll marry. And then when I finally did think it, I didn’t dare hope that he felt the same way, or that his family might accept me. But there I stood, in my silver gown – from Sarek’s family, handed down for generations. The cloth is always preserved so it can be styled for the woman who wears it.” She smiled. “I was so – well, let’s say petite – the extra cloth was folded into a drape at my shoulder.”
Saavik smoothed the same cloth now adapted carefully to fit her taller, willowy form. Amanda’s dress…
She was more pragmatic than Spock, firmly anchored into the present with her eyes to the future. She rarely looked far into the past, so while she gave thought to the other women who wore this same gown, she only felt Amanda’s presence.
“I stood there,” Amanda said, “waiting for the sound of that gong as people are whispering to me all the things I had to do. I couldn’t believe I was about to walk to Sarek. And even though we were in the Time of Mating, I was startled at how much he returned my feelings.” Her grin grew wicked. “You know, you’re a lot better at hearing this than Spock is. Just mention anything like this to him, and he practically slaps his hands over his ears so he doesn’t hear it. But then, we’re his parents.” Her chuckle trailed off to a happy sigh. “Someday it will be your turn, Saavik. Someone’s going to stop your solitary headlong dash and make you understand why people make this commitment. As Sarek did for me.”
The echoes of the gong and systra tinged the memory with something more. Ancient instinct whispered to Saavik and she felt it course in her veins.
“Are you all right?” someone asked: a human woman in Starfleet uniform who looked vaguely familiar. When she nodded, the woman asked another question, her expression almost fearing to hope. “Do you remember me?”
On the other side of a wall formed by a haze of seizures and coma, Saavik dimly recalled this woman with the healers who took her from her transport. And before that, this same woman was by her side the whole trip to Vulcan, sharing the battle with her as she fought to stay alive. And even further back, the same face explaining to her captain…
Garrett. Garrett was unforgettable and so was this woman from now on.
Francis Stewart nodded, tears brimming but held back. Saavik closed her eyes, feeling the old, heavy burden of all commanders when their orders and duty sent people to their deaths.
“Enterprise,” she said, hushed, and the other woman nodded again. She remembered the expression on Garrett’s face as she talked Stewart into making the trip with Saavik instead of the battle of Narendra III. The expression that Saavik had seen on other commanders: At least I know this one will live.
Dannan Stuart. Her former captain and friend from their days first on the Aerfen, then the Venture followed by the full cruiser Rider. Someone with the same spirit as this Stewart… and Garrett, and one of the few to get past Saavik’s walls. Saavik felt the keen disadvantage of being a survivor like Francis Stewart, as well as the burden of having a longer life span that meant too many of those important to her lived their shorter lives and were gone.
Saavik could never find a way to repay the debt to the Enterprise officers, but she would do something for Stewart who lost too much because of her. And Sarek was kind to bring the woman here.
T’Selis signaled the doctor. It was time they entered and Saavik passed a look of gratitude to them both.
Not much longer now.
And a good thing. She was tired of waiting.
At last, it was her turn. She started forward, remembering to drop her eyes at the last moment, and keeping them down for only the minimum amount of time.
She wanted him and she found him.
She silently called his other name, the private words she had for him, and then he was pulled towards her not by ceremony, but by something far stronger. She felt his mood through the bond, a sense of them as a part of something far greater. She rejoiced with him that he had found it, but she only needed this moment.
And for her, that was all she saw or felt through the whole ceremony until the time of the cup ritual. It wasn’t the insanity of pon farr, only that she had all she wanted. She gave passing note to the guests, but they along with all the words and marital rites filtered into her memory to be sorted through later. Even the thunder and lightening from Mount Seleya that caused Sarek and others to start only surrounded her and her husband as a part of their aura. She absorbed all of it, was the center of it, but registered only him.
The outside intruded when T’Lar said to Spock, “We always had a plan for thee. Thee shall fulfill it.”
Saavik felt Spock’s satisfaction, but she wondered if T’Lar meant Unification or something else entirely. She had no time to think on it when T’Lar’s next words were aimed at her.
“Thee shall be guardian.”
The word drifted through her mind, its implications spreading through her concentration. She still gazed at Spock, saw his own reaction, but pieces and half-realized thoughts eddied like drifting waves around her plans, almost out of grasp.
She always knew what was expected of her as Spock’s wife: the unique paradox of being both in his shadow and completely conspicuous. But this… guardian…
The male walks ahead… the female to the side so she may see any danger and guard her husband…
She was not just to be a part of his life, accepting that he had a plan for a greater good – she was to embrace that she played a part in it.
…I will not stand watch, Spock, while you sacrifice yourself again…
…Surak died violently…
One part of her mind saw her innocent days of being Armstrong’s science officer were numbered. So were their simple days of being just a married couple, Ambassador and Starfleet officer. When Spock moved forward to rejoin Vulcan and the Sundered, she could not count on anyone else to be in a position to help them. She must be in the position.
…I came to know I did not want to be the consort of a legend…
It was what T’Pring had said to Spock, and she had not known then how much more he was to become. The irony that she, Saavik, and Spock had just spoken on this same subject – what being his consort meant. She would be sharing him with something larger than either of them imagined.
But Saavik willingly took the mantle. And was honored by the future T’Lar set before her.
Before she returned to thinking of nothing more than the ceremony, a last, stray whisper wondered: had T'Lar meant guardian of Spock's future or Vulcan itself?
Both. She embraced being that shield.
Just like that: she had a Cause.
Spock handed her the cup, and she sipped the water, never breaking her gaze from his, taking the symbolic water as he would, the representation of the life they now shared. Then he pressed his lips to the spot where hers had touched, and she suddenly decided the future could take care of itself. She was much too involved with the here and now.
Then their vows:
“Parted and never parted… never and always touching and touched.”
How true. The day was perfect, and she felt an illogical amount of self-satisfaction, especially with herself for having stayed controlled this long.
And then that failed by her simply saying to Spock, “On Romulus, I could not take my eyes off you.” So much for control.
She almost pushed Spock past Sarek who only tried to speak with his son. Clearly no one remembered but her that she was the one with the lesser disciplines. Her fingers against his trembled.
But at last, they were alone, and Spock held her against him, her back to his chest. They sat, his robe spread under them, enjoying the sweet tug of expectancy. She stretched idly, but when she felt the thrill it shot through him, she turned it into a full, languid motion, drawing it out until his mouth parted with the pleasurable agony.
“We should go,” he murmured, but she was just finding her power over him and reveled in it.
She turned in his arms, stroking him from temple to jaw and from fingertip down the palm, both physically and mentally, the one enhancing the other.
“Saavik,” he growled, but she was only encouraged further by the roughness in his voice. She brought her body in close contact, but never touched and didn’t allow him to do so either.
She was thoroughly enjoying herself.
He caught that and thought, And yet, you still have no idea how very beautiful you are to me. If you did, you would know how securely you have my heart.
She was learning. Rapidly.
But her game was played with a double-edged sword. The Fires fed on his response as it swept through their bond into her veins, and her heart pounded heat through her body as she felt not only her own sensations, but his. She almost pushed them past their limits by the time she realized what was happening. Just in time as Spock had images of staying right where they were if she didn’t stop long enough for them to reach somewhere else.
Ruanek is at the estate, Sarek at the townhouse. Where else?
I know, she responded. She embraced him, giving in to what they both wanted, taking pleasure in the thought that it would be soon… soon…
Her home, the house she had built decades ago, the all-important marker that she had made a place on Vulcan for herself. To have Spock there now not as the guest and friend he had been on all his visits before, but as the lover and husband he had become… the thought intoxicated her and she pulled him towards her.
“Come with me,” she whispered. After all, it was now his home too as his became hers, and she so wanted to escape there with him.
He went with her.
The wedding was hardly the first one where T’Lar had officiated. Indeed, it was the three hundred and thirty seventh. She performed the majority of them in her first years as a priestess of Mount Seleya, both before and after her mastery of Kolinahr. Bonding ceremonies and weddings certainly did not need one of the Kolinahru presiding over them, otherwise even one so revered as the late T’Pau, who was most talented but not of Gol, could not perform them. It only took one of sufficient mental ability to not be drawn down by the couple’s mind touch so clouded by pon farr, to keep oneself and the couple clear of its grip until the ceremony was completed.
However, this wedding held a special import. It was held in unspoken agreement on Mount Seleya and Gol that following T’Pau’s death, T’Lar herself would preside over Spock and Saavik’s wedding on whatever day it may be. Indeed, most people, not having been a part of the long discussions between T’Pau and T’Lar, knew nothing of the distinctive nature to this marriage and the people in it. The couple themselves might even be unaware.
In fact, the wedding went very much like any other. Or at least until the moment she touched their minds, and waited as they touched each other’s. As always, her strong presence, bolstered by the peace of Kolinahr, helped calm them, strengthening their own controls that held pon farr at bay. Her presence never did more than that, never affected the wordless thoughts or the emotions bubbling below the surface. She pointedly ignored these, her disregard giving them the only privacy she could.
Some couples, once having been bonded at the age of seven or later, never made an effort to contact each other before Koon-ut-kal-if-fee. They faced each other as strangers to either find themselves well-matched or continued strangers who might find a way to build a life together.
Others came here with some knowledge of each other, knowing they matched intellectually, but not yet knowing each other well enough to know if they matched each other heart and soul.
And then there were those like these two.
The whirl of their thoughts spoke of each other, the depth of their commitment made without words. Spock sensed some part they both played in the scope of time and their place in the universe. Saavik realized how much they were a part of each other and their place in each other’s lives.
Satisfactory. And then T’Lar sensed something that turned everything different.
Saavik was pregnant.
T’Lar knew from T’Pau that the couple had sought medical advice from the Science Academy’s geneticists when they were first bonded. Being hybrids might mean trouble having children, conceiving or carrying them.
And of course, pon farr increased fertility. The fact that a child had been conceived was not a surprise, but it did change things.
T’Lar wondered if they knew about the infant Saavik carried. She paid more attention to the thoughts streaming past her, doing her best to maintain some sense of privacy. They knew. In fact, knowing she was pregnant made Saavik question Spock for the first time on whether his goals meant he had time for a family. She swore she’d stand by him no matter what, but she needed to know a family didn’t interfere with his ktotra, his destiny.
That question took courage and strength to ask. T’Lar was satisfied to see they had both. They were going to need both as well as the resilient bond clearly visible between them. She questioned how many more simple days they had for career, marriage, and children before a greater future overtook them. She gave them a warning that such days were numbered.
“We always had a plan for thee. Thee shall fulfill it.” And to Saavik: “Thee shall be guardian.”
She listened as these thoughts settled on them. Spock’s satisfaction was composed of the plan he had for himself and the part he sensed he played in the line of time. Her message was no surprise to him in that way, but T’Lar sensed he recoiled at the knowledge his wife was quite capable of risking herself.
The Elder knew the children would not be sacrificed. However, it was quite probable that Saavik or Spock would be. No one could predict the future; it defied calculations. Surak had known what he had risked when he had sought peace for warrior Vulcans; Spock knew what he risked if he sought peace between his people and their Romulan brethren. But he quailed at drawing in his wife.
For Saavik, however, T’Lar’s message was part surprise, part not. She always hazarded much for Spock whenever she thought it necessary, and he for her. Now the strength and determination she had used to build a life from the ten-year-old savage to the respected Vulcan and Starfleet officer needed to focus on a far larger path.
Not to mention Spock's actual physical safety would have to be insured if he was to survive his life’s mission, as Surak did not.
T’Pau once told T’Lar of how Spock’s first betrothed gave this reason to reject him besides wanting another: I did not want to be the consort of a legend…
T’Lar waited, seeing the almost overwhelming scope of their future filtrate through Saavik’s consciousness until the woman’s strength shouldered the responsibility for the new life she must build, the one quite different from what she had planned. She would need to change more than her life. She and Spock’s disagreement over reunification would have to be settled, although how to settle her biggest disagreement when it was a wife’s right to fear for her husband’s life? And in addition, the hatred she carried for those cruelties done to her by the Romulans.
But T’Lar did not doubt Saavik. She had, after all, gotten this far.
Saavik’s name may never be known in history for the part she played in it. Historians rarely noted such people, but then T’Lar saw no desire within the young woman to be a legend herself.
Spock was going to change things for Vulcan, for the entire Federation. Saavik was to be his -- and Vulcan's -- shield.
T’Lar looked at them from her perspective measuring three hundred years. So young, both of them.
She released them to enjoy the time they had before the future caught up to them.
Spock drew his fingers across Saavik’s belly in idle, swirling patterns. Neither of them knew it, but he would make this same touch the rest of their lives, whether she was pregnant or not.
He looked up into her devilish expression from where he pillowed himself on her. “Very.”
He re-settled himself comfortably and went back to his leisurely play. “Does it bother you?”
“Quite the contrary.”
A long, pleasurable silence passed where he played with her abdomen and the child behind it, and she played with his hair, disarraying it even further from its usual straight lines.
“You never should have overturned the bed,” he suddenly commented.
“I know.” Her fingers cupped him along his head and ear. “I never meant to distress you.”
“Or I you. However, I meant that you need to be careful with what you do, physically. I do not want you risking your health or the child’s.”
“I thought the same thing immediately afterwards. I will be more careful.” She went back to lazily fanning out his hair along her skin. “However, the cause was sufficient.”
“To throw your husband violently to the floor?” he mocked.
“To throw my infuriating husband to the floor.”
“Is this an example of your logic?”
“Oh, yes. I thought it a thoroughly logical idea.”
“Then I am forewarned about any future attempts.” He wrapped his arm around her stomach and hip protectively. His voice grew serious. “Saavik… you should have told me you were pregnant as soon as you knew.”
“I could not." Her arms drew him closer and her body curled around him more. “I needed to know if the child and I interfered with your future. If you knew I was pregnant when I asked that question, your decision would have been influenced.”
“My wife…” his hand tightened on her hip. “Do not listen to T’Lar. You need not risk yourself--”
She laid her hand on his lips. He noticed it was her paired fingers, the gesture between bondmates, between consorts. He kissed them and felt her relax underneath him.
He glanced about her – their bedroom loft and a small part of the livingroom, seeing the familiar furnishings and decorations. So much like her, this place. The mixture of ancestral and modern, and made to be everything it was by her alone.
“It was a good decision to come here.” He received a lazy, pleased “Hmmm” in reply.
Sarek obviously speculated they’d end up exactly where they were; someone had opened the house, airing out the stale space from the last time Saavik was here.
Spock glanced up and saw she stared through the skylight that made up the majority of the bedroom’s ceiling. She watched the stars, of course. Was that a wistful note in her eyes, he wondered?
“You will return to the Armstrong soon,” he said. To the Armstrong, Starfleet, unknown worlds – worlds that would need him to negotiate, make treaties – Earth and the Federation waiting to question them about Ki Baratan and Narendra III. He felt the intrusion, but he would not force it on her wish to go back.
She sighed. “Too soon.” She looked down into his eyes with a soft light. “I believe I will tell Captain Howes I need more time here.”
He reached up, stroked her cheek, and then straddled her hips, grabbing them to slide her down underneath of him until her tenderly smiling face was directly beneath his. She touched his chin with gentle fingers, and then pulled him down to her.