Disclaimer: T'Pren and her relationship with Saavik, including her escape and the quotes about the stars and Home, are from Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes. Saavik's first/secret/self name in this story, what I call the áhtia name =), came from the fanfic story "Something Great and Mighty" by J. Richard Laredo in the fanzine "Abode of Strife 11". The hybrid disease and the events surrounding that is from my story The Race of Cain. Star Trek is owned by Paramount, and while this disclaimer doesn't save me from being sued for copyright violation, it's really not worth their time. =)
Sarek’s call said the matter was important.
Saavik was shipping out the next day, returning to her post on Captain Hunter’s Aerfen now that she was on active duty again. For the last month, she had fought the disease designed to kill the Vulcan-Romulan half-breeds born and bred on Hellguard.
She was one of only four still alive. Twenty-nine were dead.
Surprisingly, Sarek asked her to come to his office, instead of his home. What matter could be so critical? She had seen Sarek only yesterday and he made no indication that he needed to speak with her. Her mind conjured up a number of ideas on what he wanted, but since speculation was illogical when she was soon to find out the answer anyway, she put such thoughts aside.
She made herself walk the distance from the public transportation stop at the edge of ShiKahr to the Diplomatic Academy, refusing to give into the last residual effects from the disease. A slight drain dragged at her by the time she reached the outer office of Sarek’s group. Not severely, but any amount was too much in her opinion. She was usually in prime condition, and having any small exercise tiring her was an annoyance. Not so long ago, she could have run triple this distance and felt energy pulse like a live current under her skin. Today, she breathed harder from walking.
She regulated her breathing while his aide told Sarek that she was here. When she walked into his office, he rose from the large chair behind an equally large antique desk. Amanda had told her it was a gift from Sarek’s parents when their son was made an ambassador. It was, in fact, Stron’s own desk and his father’s before him, from all the years they had served Vulcan. He had intended to give it to Spock when his son had planned on being an ambassador himself, but it's heavy weight had no place on a starship.
Saavik glimpsed a few items on its surface, but didn’t have the time to study them. Sarek, his rust colored robes fitting so well with the warm palette used in his office, was introducing a couple sitting side by side on a davenport standing perpendicular to the desk. At the sight of them, she drew herself up, taut and unyielding.
No one seemed to notice her reaction, or, at least, made no sign of it. The couple rose to greet her, the woman smaller than her husband who was slightly shy of Saavik's height.
Sarek spoke. "Saavik, may I introduce S'cyse and T'Bexa. Father and Mother to T'Pren."
The woman who had cared for her on Hellguard....
.... who would have claimed her as a daughter....
.... who had died by Romulan hands, but not before she got word of what was happening on the abandoned colony to Spock on the Enterprise.
Saavik’s composed reply to their equally calm greeting gave no hint to her thoughts or the tension that wanted to spring free. It would only harm her if she let it loose by fogging her mind. So she kept it away, and waited, poised and ready.
But ready for what? What was Sarek doing?
She darted a glance at him from the corners of her eyes. No duplicity or anything else showed in his face or dark eyes besides his usual matter of fact expression. And yet, he knew that when she had contacted T’Pren’s family a few years ago, they had rejected her. Why put her through this again?
Explaining the other Vulcans wished to discuss their being here, Sarek turned over this meeting to them and sat back down. S’cyse gestured Saavik to the chair across from him. As she took a seat, so did T’Bexa. The unintentional matching gestures made them both stop and stare at each other. Saavik straightened again, perhaps more stiffly than before, and waited for the older woman to sit before she did.
The orange, gold, and black drape covering the chair’s back stood out against Saavik’s uniform. Her eyes darted to it, the bright contrast grabbing her attention. She wasn’t familiar with Sarek’s office. Quite honestly, they had, until very recently, related only through Amanda. She was the one to make her husband and Saavik connect in the years following Spock’s fal tor pan.
This same embroidery pattern matched a tapestry on the wall given to Sarek by an Andorian ambassador. More importantly at the moment, this same pattern was used in the decorative touches in Amanda’s office as well. It made a comforting familiarity now when she found herself snared in this situation. Sarek caught her fingers lingering on it and merely nodded.
S’cyse started speaking. His voice was dry with a rasp on certain words, making him sound a century older than his real years. Sunlight streamed in from the windows on the left and struck him from the side, exposing harsh planes and lines created by stress. They turned his skin into an ashen color only slightly more ruddy than his tunic and pants. He and his wife were from Vulcan’s E'oDq province, and so they wore short locks of hair bound with a tie behind each ear. The gathered hair had silver running through most of it, too much for being only middle-aged, and it was even more emphasized by S’cyse wearing gray beads in his hair tie instead of gold rings like his wife.
Odd. Two of Saavik's fellow hybrids had lived in E’oDq province: A'kornora and Sinon. Both had been killed by the hybrid disease. In all the years following their rescue from Hellguard, she had never wanted contact with the other half- Romulans. Now, however, this reminder of their Vulcan home region gave her a sense of.... loss.
Just as remembering how T’Pren had died explained the early old age in her parents.
“Sarek brought us here today to discuss your relationship with our late child.”
Saavik resisted glancing at him again, but her confusion grew. So did a small level of distrust for him bringing her here, despite how much she tried preventing the reaction.
Was this meant as an exercise in control?
“You will remember,” S’cyse continued, “how you contacted us previously for this same reason. At that time, we requested you make no further statements concerning this relationship or to ever contact us again.”
Saying they had asked her to do these things extremely softened the harsh demands they had actually made. However, she kept quiet. She would not give them ammunition for their poor view of her.
“We were wrong.”
Saavik stayed silent now for a different reason. She could not have heard that correctly.
The lines around S’cyse’s eyes and mouth sagged, also like an old man’s. “Most grievously wrong. We allowed the pain of T’Pren’s death and treatment by the Romulans to hinder our logic.”
For a Vulcan to say that…
“In doing so, we dishonored our daughter and, most likely, caused further stress to you. We ask pardon for this, even as we realize those words are minor compared to our former actions.”
Saavik kept her head high and her eyes steady on his. Never would she allow them to know how much pain they had caused.
“When Sarek contacted us yesterday, he instructed us on two points we had neglected to see, although it’s true the first was unknown to us. He told us you saved our daughter’s life the day she escaped the colony. If you had not done so, it is likely no one would ever have known about the planet or its secrets. Not only would families such as ours never know about their lost ones, but also an extremely dangerous weapon would have been unleashed on the Federation with perhaps no chance to stop it in time. He also explained how your action to save T’Pren from her attackers earned you a severe… punishment at their hands.”
Punishment was a euphemism for the nearly fatal beating that had rained down on her body, breaking bones, puncturing a lung, and causing such internal scarring that Saavik once watched a med tech pale when he saw them on a scan.
It also made her block out the whole incident for years, including her memories of T’Pren. Only two things remained in her consciousness: a subliminal demand that she must never allow a Vulcan to enter that Hellguard mountain, and a fear of a nightmarish figure she thought of as It.
S’cyse, T’Bexa, even Sarek watched her; apparently she was expected to speak. She wondered what they thought she could say. What she wanted to say, to ask really, was why were they putting her through something they admitted was painful?
She settled for stating, “You said you have discussed two points.”
T'Bexa, for some reason, was allowed to keep silent. An ordinary box lay on her lap and her hands kept neatly folded on top of it. But Saavik felt the woman’s eyes stare at her, thinking… what? Whether she was worth T’Pren’s attention years ago, despite the selfless act of almost getting killed so her daughter could escape?
“The second point,” S’cyse said, “is the one our illogic kept us from seeing.”
He took a breath as if he needed one more moment. “You are the good to come out of our daughter’s final years and death. Equal to her giving the Thieurrull information, you give meaning to what she endured. Because of her association with you, something beneficial survives.”
Saavik finally dropped her eyes and wished for some private place where she could be alone with the thoughts brought on by the words he had just said.
You are the good to come out of our daughter’s final years and death.
T’Pau had said nearly the same words a mere few weeks ago when one Vulcan family had asked she approach Saavik on their behalf. Saavik who was one of the four hybrids to never take the genetic scan and in doing so, made a number of families wonder if she was a part of them.
And when Saavik demanded why the older woman could possibly want to shame her by taking the scan, T’Pau had answered, “Perhaps it is not shame. Perhaps following a time for mourning, they wish to see you as a possible good. A life to survive a death.”
She raised her eyes to Sarek. Had he heard T’Pau? She hadn’t thought anyone was in the room except the other hybrids and the Vulcan leader.
Why did he go through all this trouble? For her? No, it could not be; most likely, Amanda had asked him to do it.
He merely held Saavik’s gaze -- quiet, strong, unshakable -- before returning to S’cyse who was speaking again.
“As T’Pren’s parents, we prefer to think you are the woman you are because of our daughter’s influence. After what we did to you the last time we spoke--”
They hadn’t spoken. He had sent a message. A sterile, callous message that had cut like a Romulan blade.
“--it is most likely wrong to ask you to allow this assumption. However, I ask if you would do so.”
She sat in the chair, saying nothing at first, only thinking the thoughts she would have if she did sit in a private place. She didn’t look up so she missed the way they waited, hanging there, for her reply. Or rejection.
Then she leaned forward, her voice was hushed. “You believe you see qualities from T’Pren in my actions?”
They clearly hadn’t expected this, not these words anyway. S’cyse nodded after a pause. “We do. From Sarek’s description, we see an equal capacity for strength and for being intrepid as T’Pren. As I said a moment ago, it is perhaps an audacious assumption on our part as her parents, but we want to believe you learned at least a portion of these traits during your association with our daughter.”
Saavik leaned back, sitting straight with her hands properly laid on her lap. Inside, a warmth flared at his words, illuminating a place once very much dark. “You honor me by saying so. Assumption or not.”
Now he seemed incapable of saying anything at all while T’Bexa continued to stare.
Sarek answered as if they asked for his opinion. “Parents often make assumptions about their children, for the better or worse. I know I have done so. When Saavik has children, she will see how this is true.”
She wasn’t going to scoff at him for those words, especially not in front of his guests, but she was not having children. She once told Spock that she wouldn’t have any because they would be ‘inconvenient’ - her way of expressing she would never condemn a child into inheriting her faults. She still had no desire for them. And if she ever did, she still would not damage an innocent by passing on her worst defects.
Sarek was saying, “As I told you yesterday, I also am aware I have neglected acknowledging Saavik’s actions.”
S’cyse nodded. “She has saved your son’s life.”
“Multiple times, as he has hers. However, I refer to her strength and determination in overcoming the difficulties of her childhood. I was previously uncertain if Saavik could control the behavior taught by those difficulties. My uncertainty caused me concern for my family, and that presumption, understandable or not--"
He said it only as part of his discussion while the forefront of her mind went over the years with T’Pren on Hellguard. Somehow, the two together -- Sarek focusing his explanation to someone else and her focusing on another place and time -- peeled away years of looking at things from only her own perspective.
Why had she never seen this before?
"--gave at least the appearance of my withholding from her what we receive through the fortunes of birth. Acceptance. A disgrace for one such as I who claims to follow Surak’s teachings of IDIC.”
She spoke into his pause. “The cause was sufficient.”
His eyes flew to hers, and all three Vulcan heads turned to stare, but the windows threw most of her expression into silhouette. Sarek, master that he was of reading reactions when he stood in the negotiator’s spot, couldn’t see her meaning when it was unexplained and hidden in shadow.
So she said it out loud. “To protect Spock, to protect Amanda,” the two people in all the galaxies most dear to both of them. “I have done the same.”
Her childhood ingrained a great capacity for violence in her. From the very first day, she had brought that dangerous risk into close proximity with Spock.
And then later, Amanda.
How could she not have seen how that would affect Sarek? She, of all people, who had the exact concern?
During the journey on the Vulcan ship Symmetry that had brought the Hellguard survivors to a new life in the Federation, she had watched diligently over Spock whenever the other feral children drew near. In fact, she had pummeled Mekhai when she had decided the way the boy eyed Spock was too close to a challenge.
And a few weeks ago, she had rushed to where Amanda met with the three hybrids who had never studied Vulcan’s disciplines, and when she had found Mekhai threatening Spock’s mother...
... Sarek’s wife...
His eyebrows went up before he settled back in his chair. He had to know about the fighting on Symmetry; he had been on board, after all. He also must have heard about the confrontation over Amanda a few weeks ago when Saavik had used her strong will, not violence, to protect his consort.
His words still seemed aimed at the two other Vulcans, but their message was meant for her. “As I said, I learned my concerns were unfounded, and I respect the strength and dedication Saavik has exhibited. I have been too long in giving it.”
As she had denied it to him.
So this is why he did this himself – without Amanda present and without anyone asking him to do it. To show what he had learned about her -- her capacity not only for a Romulan’s unleashed violence, but her hard learned ability to contain it. To be what the rest of their people were without the obstacles she had faced.
A gift: to stand up for her and get her the freedom to say what T’Pren meant to her.
Perhaps his saying so caused T’Bexa to find her voice, surprisingly deep for such a small woman. Saavik noticed with a hitch that T’Pren had her mother’s eyes and mouth. “We wish to make the same amends. You asked for a token of our daughter’s life, and we cruelly refused to give it.” Her husband turned sharply to her, but she remained unflinching. “We brought this for you. I hope you will forgive, as Sarek has so aptly spoken, our being too long in giving it.”
She held out a collection of bound records, the dark binding worn with age and the touch of so many hands holding it. Saavik’s fingers hesitated as she reached for it, guessing at the contents, and T’Bexa’s lingered as she let go, knowing what she gave. Saavik’s breath caught as she opened the cover.
A Vulcan Life Album.
T'Pren’s Life Album.
Where she stared up, page after page, starting from birth with images and the statistics of an infant baby to a gangling girl facing her Kahs-wan and t'oloth -- survival tests, Saavik thought, a note of bitter grief filling the thought.
After these was T’Pren with her fingers pressed to the hand of a young Vulcan male who, for some reason Saavik didn’t know, looked familiar to her.
“Is this boy her bondmate?” she asked. Had he been on Hellguard, was that why she knew him? She couldn’t picture him, although he would have been an adult then and not this lanky boy.
T’Bexa knew what page she referred to just by glancing from where she sat. “Yes. He also chose a career in the Science and Exploration division. And he also died in service, shortly before T’Pren’s capture.”
The woman who would have been his mother by marriage gave Saavik a sudden hard look as if seeing a ghost there, but she was too interested in the records in front of her. They went on through to adulthood including an image of a serious, intent young woman in a VSE uniform staring out from an ID image. After that, personal images of friends and family, and her bondmate, each image showing him a little older until Saavik reached an empty space where a holopic was removed.
Perhaps one of her betrothed as an adult. And T’Pren had taken it with her when she shipped out on Diversity. The boy still looked familiar and she still had no idea why. Unless he had died on Hellguard.... something about his eyes....
The final page, following the notes T'Pren wrote on her discoveries, was the last letter her parents had received, mere days before Diversity was captured.
It was all too much to take in now, but such a treasure. Saavik closed it carefully and folded it into her arms.
T’Bexa still watched her but with something different now there. Recognition. She had seen the shared reverence in Saavik over the one person who had touched both their lives. It wasn’t the connection she had just shared with Sarek, but it was still… something.
“One act I never understood,” T’Bexa said. “Why did you say nothing until so many years after you left with the Symmetry rescue team?"
The lost years when their daughter was buried unseen in Saavik’s memory… and even so, she had never known T’Pren’s name. How to explain that paradox? Why it had been so important that T'Pren knew hers so she'd be remembered if she died? That name she had so carefully memorized from the Vulcans and older children who could read her ID tag before it was lost. Why she had made equally sure she didn't know T'Pren’s in case the Romulans captured her, so they never could tear it from her, never steal that gift of T’Pren’s life or T’Pren’s name?
T’Pren had once started to tell her only to be bewildered by Saavik fiercely shaking her head. She had almost said it anyway and the young girl had dashed up, using filthy fingers to still the woman’s mouth.
It was the first time Saavik had ever touched T'Pren. It had tingled in her mind, like a quick current, but lovely even if it was disconcerting.
Impossible to explain all that, so she settled for paraphrasing something else T’Pau had told her. “I waited until I thought I was ready.”
T’Bexa looked up at her husband. “I apologize again that we were not.”
Silence dragged on for a long minute. Did they wait, hoping she’d forgive their behavior? Sarek spoke into the quiet instead. “Is there anything else, Saavik?”
She didn't know what he was thinking, but she remembered something. “Yes. In your family's shrine, will you take a message from me to be left for her?" She knew it would be read aloud before burned with the incense in T'Pren's memory, and her deep sense of privacy rebelled against that violation. But Saavik could not guarantee she’d have a chance for her katra to make it home if she was killed in deep space. By S'cyse and T'Bexa hearing her message, their katras would carry her words to their daughter in the Hall of Thought. In short, ensuring her message reached T’Pren outweighed her sense of privacy.
S’cyse and T’Bexa both agreed, quietly, and she wondered what they thought of her request. No matter. Sarek handed her a scroll of bleached, tightly woven fabric with a companion stone pen, once the only means of writing on Vulcan. It was still used for such traditional purposes, so perhaps Sarek had always known her intentions.
She quickly wrote, the words flowing easily from her through the pen.
"T'Pren, you gave me my life through your sacrifices, my focus through your teachings, and my strength through your example. All I can give in return is to tell you I fulfilled the wishes of your words."
She thought of the countless times spent looking out through portholes when she was on a ship and atmospheres when she was on a planet.
"You told me I must always watch the stars. No matter how dark and terrible the night, I must always look up into their light. I must do so for they watch over me. And so I tell you, I am Saavik of Starfleet. I live and serve amongst the things of beauty as you once did and as you pointed out to me. Your words to look up to them once literally saved my life, and have always figuratively renewed my strength. I make sure, each day, to watch the stars."
In her mind’s eye grew an image of her house so recently finished with its foundation going deep into Vulcan’s ground.
"You always pointed to a particular star first and said, 'Home is that one, there! With all the others shining around it in the night.' You spoke of it as the place where we belonged, Quiet Ones like you and Little Ones like me. Where there are no guards or people dying in the night, where food is free and children sleep in safety and no one is afraid. The day you escaped, when you had to leave without me, you said you would come back if you could, that we were going home, that you were bringing me here. And so I tell you, I am Saavik of Vulcan. I am Home."
She almost signed it with her áhtia name, her secret name, the one Terrans referred to as a Vulcan’s first name. She wanted T’Pren to know she had chosen one and what it was, but to give this most private thing to S’cyse and T’Bexa...
She remembered again that this was for T’Pren, and her own katra may never make it to the Ancient Hall of Thought.
Next to Saavik, her bold handwriting gave AvrÁch’laba as her self name.
She rolled the cloth again, and Sarek handed her a chord to tie it. She met his eyes and tried to put into her own what it meant that he did this for her. She gave the scroll to T'Pren's parents, saying nothing, and they accepted it with the same quiet. She picked up the album again and remained standing. They had nothing more to say to each other.
S'cyse thought differently. “Consensus has it that T'Pren wanted a legal relationship with you. In addition, you saved her life and allowed her escape. As her parents, we cannot ignore these facts. What claim do you wish to make?”
They watched each other across Sarek’s office with a sudden, new vision of each other. If T’Pren had lived, Saavik, S’cyse, and T’Bexa would be family. She was looking at the people T’Pren would have given her as grandparents. Instead, the three of them were strangers, linked together for love of a dead woman.
Making a claim to their daughter was empty without T’Pren here. Saavik searched through the bound records as she thought how to answer, and saw that image, the one of T'Pren in uniform, the stubborn lift to the chin and her eyes sparking in defiance of… what? Or did she look out, seeking the stars and the one bright light, Home?
"I ask for nothing except this...” She held up the Life Album. "...and that you place my message in the incense. Of all that I want, these are the only things you can give me. I am gratified by your generosity."
They seemed to search for something to say, and failed. Even with their controls it showed. At last, S'cyse nodded and they turned to go, dismissed. They reached the door when Sarek spoke.
“Having settled Saavik’s needs, perhaps you have a question on your behalf?”
She started to say she had nothing she could possibly give them, but he lifted a hand, gesturing for her to wait. He didn’t do it with any sort of censure, but she got an inkling of why it usually rankled Spock.
At the same time, T'Bexa suddenly touched her husband lightly on the shoulder, stopping him. She returned to Saavik, her words actually hesitant as they came out. "I wish something of you. I have no right to ask, but if my daughter was important to you, perhaps you will grant my request. Will you tell me about the times you shared with her? I wish to know my child's last days."
Saavik balked at the request.
Relive it all? Even the best moments bore a shroud of Hellguard’s darkest elements. Why should she bring that out in the open? For these people who had previously and so painfully rejected her?
Without knowing it, her chin came up and her eyes sparked defiance. It made T’Bexa draw in a breath of recognition and S’cyse took a step forward, even though Saavik’s head tilted to the side, something T’Pren never did.
Husband and wife found each other’s hand and brushed them quickly together, their eyes still on Saavik in that particular stance.
She didn’t get a chance to refuse them because Sarek stood up from behind his desk. “Of course. An understandable request, one I am certain Saavik will fulfill. You will want your privacy, so allow me to offer my office for as long as you require. Inform me if there is a further way I may assist you. I will be with my aides." He left, catching Saavik's eyes as he did.
So that was why he had brought them here. Not just to champion her, but to bring a truce between them on the neutral ground of his office. With him as their negotiator since he was an outside party that understood them both.
He reminded her that a truce did not mean she got her way and gave nothing in return. T'Pren's parents had pushed past their pain to come here today. She must not hide behind her own hurt in denying them what they asked about their daughter.
If she was still that undisciplined, wild girl from Hellguard, she would have given a long suffering sigh. Diplomacy was not her path.
The three of them sat across from each other, uncomfortable, and in halting tones, Saavik spoke of Hellguard and T'Pren.
When she was through, T'Bexa moved across the room and sat next to her. She laid a hand on the bound records, and told Saavik she had earned something not in the records.
She gave T'Pren's áhtia name.