Touching once and always touched. From two to one... the most intimate contact demands the ultimate trust. We are one and the other...

-- From "Touching Once", a poem by Segalt of Vulcan


It had been a long week, even for the Vulcans.

Around the clock meetings before and during their trip to the Federation deep space station. Reams of data researched on the Verdennics, the Comdistrens, and their current conflict that threatened bloodshed. Agendas and meetings scheduled for the negotiations, as well as special events such as the opening reception for Ambassador Spock's arrival.

That gathering alone warranted a separate staff focused on it for the entire week.

And this night -- correction, last night into the current early morning -- had only been the first salvo in Spock's carefully orchestrated diplomatic strike.

But at last, the reception hall was empty. The beautiful sound of silence and the subdued lighting made a peaceful break before they started today’s schedule.

Saavik's gaze traveled over the room making sure everything was set right again. A small nearby table was set intimately for two in the hope that she and Spock could be alone for a light meal now that the social gathering was over. Their guests had been able to take advantage of the final repast served as the last touch on the evening. She and Spock never had that chance. Wave after wave of diplomatic and military leaders needed their personal attention. Not to mention Kenneth Fitzson, the diplomatic research aide, who always managed to interrupt them. At this point, they might as well wait until the morning meal was served in two and a half hours.

Spock stood behind her. He had just finished going over the reception's important details with an aide. She had done the same.

She moved around him and gazed for one moment out the viewport that filled the one entire wall. The serene starscape gave no hint of the two bitterly arguing systems that tried pulling the Federation into their conflict.

Spock suddenly spoke. "Construction of a consulate where none existed."

He still stood at the same spot and watched the stars as she had. His idle words seemed to be addressed to space itself, but she knew that wasn't true.

"Gathering trained personnel to staff the new consulate."

She didn't know why he listed the tasks they had completed so far, but he obviously had a reason or he wouldn't do it. So she said nothing as she went about her final inspection of the room. He would tell her when he was ready.

"Assignment of the data gathering for all guests’ needs as a sole task to one member of the staff, with the additional order of twice daily reports."

Interesting. He listed what she had done, not what they had done. His next words confirmed it.

"Taking personal leave for the duration of this mission."

He waited for her reply. This became more fascinating, since he already knew the answer.

She stopped reading over the day's schedule and the reports from the consulate and diplomatic staff. "Starfleet Command issued the order that no officer could be attached to this mission’s senior staff. The Comdistren have stated that such a military presence would be taken as a symbol of the Federation proposing war on behalf of the Verdennic."

He still faced the view outside so she only saw his right profile, but she just knew that his left eyebrow was raised. "The decision, however, to have another starship and not the Contact transport our party here was yours."

The USS Contact was the ship put at her disposal as head of the Starfleet forces on Vulcan.

Maybe she should wonder why he talked about all this. "Bearing a captain's rank as well as Commander of Vulcan forces risked jeopardizing Starfleet's intentions. That risk would not be lessened by giving the Contact to my first officer. Nor would the fact that Vulcan's command is considered of minor importance within Starfleet."

Dealing with the Comdistren system always took finesse and skill. The three inhabited Comdistren worlds held a very uneasy alliance and never united on anything until the three avian races decided they all hated another planet: the Verdennic.

Alarms had went off in the Federation. The snakelike Verdennic were up for membership; the Comdistren worlds held strong treaties and trade agreements. The Federation was getting dragged into the middle.

Spock had received the ambassador’s task of settling the situation.

"Under this scenario, no one addresses me as other than your consort." Saavik smoothed the gown she wore that already lay in impeccable lines. She had no uniforms in her belongings and carried no Starfleet equipment.

She elevated her eyebrows and her tone took on an edge of... chiding? teasing? "It is much like your decision to transform sections of this station into a consulate."

Since the station’s temporary conversion was Spock’s idea, it followed the Vulcan practice of calling it a consulate instead of an embassy. Although the truth was that the Federation didn’t have one, by any name, in this area. No member planet existed here and trade agreements didn’t warrant such a place. Typically, they would have stayed as one of the systems’ guests.

Spock knew better than to do that. He represented the Federation’s position of being a nonpartisan negotiator, and he was going to stay just that. The two systems must come to his neutral ground.

He turned from the viewport to her. His voice remained light and idle, and he looked quite pleased. "I do not question your decision. It was sound. I merely refer to a few of your actions with the consulate personnel."

She nodded, as offhand as he sounded. "One of my functions as an ambassador’s consort is to administrate the consulate staff."

"So it is. Including discipline within the Security ranks."

She always was... diligent in regards to the family's security. Especially his.

Spock had been killed once. Not just died, but killed. She had lived through that horrible time. Not again.

So when one of the security detail had strayed from his post because he flirted with someone on the consulate staff -- Her husband and his civilian party, surrounded by warring factions, abandoned for an attack of hormones. Oh yes, she had plenty to say to such an officer.

Her eyebrows drew hard together at the thought, but Spock apparently held her reaction with some amusement. "It would have been far better for the officer in question if he had been under your ship's command, my wife." His eyebrow flicked up when she didn't get his meaning right away. "Instead, he not only has had to answer to you for his breach of duty, but to his captain as well."

His eyebrow came down. "Why were Vulcan orchids served as a garnish for the Verdennic meals?"

"Their ambassador has a fondness for the orchids. She stated that she looked forward to our having them here. The Comdistren ambassador, however, is allergic to their scent. I discovered the flower is not only preferred by our one guest for its fragrance, but for ingestion as well. Sautéing the plant nullifies the problem of its pollen. Consequently, our party found favor with the Verdennic for serving it, and with the Comdistren for not causing them discomfort."

"Another of your functions," he murmured.

A light filled his eyes even as the rest of his expression remained as placid as before.

"I am hostess to your part as host."

He nodded, showing he knew this as fact, and looked out again at the stars. Satisfied everything was in order for the new day, Saavik told the computer to shut off the lighting except around their table and the main doors. She started walking towards that side of the room, but stopped at the darkness’ edge when she got a look at her husband.

Spock’s robes of slate blues and grays brought out his quiet bearing and calm dignity. They also brought out his eyes which she had always thought were one of his best traits. His eyes reflected who he was even more than his robes: his warmth, his peace, his great intelligence and experience. They did not give him these things, anymore than they could give him his strength of character and his presence. They reflected what was in him; they did not create it.

Yes, his eyes... and the way he stood there taking simple pleasure from the view and this moment; not to mention his hands in the way they moved, folding together and resting in the small of his back, and his features handsome in the remaining light’s soft glow. Certainly not the appeal of a youth’s smooth, unlined good looks. So much more than that. So very much more.

And he was hers.

Watching him gave her a wife’s radiance and that awareness that came to anyone’s body when they gazed on that one special person.

Even the sudden frown over some thought that piqued him was hers to take pleasure from, especially since it was probably caused by something she had done. It had all the markings of husbandly vexation.

Her eyes brightened. 

Spock turned his head towards her. With the frown and his hands folded behind him, she was obviously in for a lecture. “Command of Vulcan’s forces is not of minor importance.”

So his pique was because of her. Her gaze grew warmer in response over him not allowing anyone to insult her, not even herself.

“Your support is much appreciated, Husband, but it cannot change facts. Vulcan is considered by most as too quiet to be anything more than light duty. Historically, the position is given to those nearing retirement who wish to end their service sedately. Or those out of favor with Command as I am.”

His scowl grew darker. “You are not out of favor. You are a victim of sacrifice to the service.”

She stepped fully into the light. “The real victim was a civilian who died in an attack. I was in temporary command of the Armstrong when it occurred. Its defense of that station was to prevent such deaths. I failed to do so.”

“Now it is you who lists another’s attempt to change the facts. I was on that station, as you well know.”

He and their son, Setik, who was one year old at the time. She remembered how phaser fire had struck the section where they were quartered, and how she held on to their bond to tell her they had survived.

She didn’t want to discuss this subject, it had happened and was done, but Spock insisted. “Everyone quartered in that area was ordered to evacuate. The person in question died because he refused the evacuation order out of his own arrogance. His death was unfortunate, but through no fault of yours.”

“His wife disagreed.” And with her influence, she threatened Command that they had better punish someone or she would take her story public. If she told the Federation’s citizens that Starfleet was not protecting them... some would listen.

“Admiral Towlson should have insisted on the truth instead of proposing you accept the blame for crimes you did not commit.”

Towlson gave her the argument: For the good of the service. Be the scapegoat. Take the position as second-in-command on Vulcan and stay lost in obscurity.

Or--

“Captain Howes would have been blamed in my place,” Saavik murmured, “if I had not agreed.”

Since, as Towlson put it, they weren’t sure who had commanded Armstrong in that moment. Both she and Howes were injured in a blast on the bridge. And in that gray area of her rising to take official command as Howes was taken to Sickbay, the man in the space station had been killed.

She could not let her captain be blamed.

She had never told Howes, but he had most likely found out afterwards. It would explain his temper, especially around Starfleet Command. Just like McCoy, Chekov...

...and Spock.

Who still scowled. “Eradication of the black market’s attempt to establish operations on Vulcan is not of minor importance. Neither is the 32.3% improved strength within the sector due to your --”

If she didn’t agree soon, he was going to list her entire career.

“I concede to your logic,” she said when he drew breath for his next argument.

He didn’t believe her.

Of course, she had done those things he had listed. With it, her command position grew in recognition. It was no longer considered light duty.

Meanwhile, she seized the opportunity to steep herself in Vulcan, something she hadn’t been able to do since Spock’s fal tor pan. As it healed her, she found her eyes had been so locked on deep space, she had almost forgotten the beauty of that one word: home.

Amazing, though, how it didn’t give her as much time with her husband as they wanted. The universe needed him in too many remote places and her as well. Which made it even more of a shame that this moment they had together had just been spoiled.

So she attempted to bring it back. “I need to brief you on the changes in the schedule.”

Spock looked like he suspected she was merely trying to distract him. Or shut him up. “These are changes you made during the course of the evening?”

“Yes.” Perhaps the wordplay of their original topic would help. “It is another role I perform, that of an additional personal assistant for you. A local official in the Velset province on Comidestra requested a meeting with you today to present information we do not presently have.”

“And we are certain that it is new information?”

“Yes, since I must also function as a diplomatic aide and therefore stay current on all mission details to better advise you. I was able to judge the situation and then scheduled this person myself.” She raised arched eyebrows. “A 89.23% improvement in efficiency by one person performing both roles, my husband.”

It worked. The last vestige of his scowl smoothed away and he arched an eyebrow back at her.

“Is there more to your briefing?” asked Spock. “I believe I noticed a pair of Alim’gee visitors.”

She nodded. “Emissaries from their system. Their planet is a colony seeking separation from their parent.”

“I had heard.” The line of his shoulders slumped, but in such an infinitesimal amount that only someone who knew him extremely well would notice. Someone like her. “Another world requests we side with them in a war.”

“It is a violent conflict,” she agreed. She stepped closer to bring her presence to the edge of his senses. Spock was not the tortured youth he used to be, but even the most accomplished and confident Vulcans needed their consorts’ support. “However, they merely request that the Federation change its trade contracts to deal directly with their planet. Currently, trade is through their Motherworld and is blocked.”

She felt the small way he leaned towards her. “Can we do so without it being taken as a symbol of a war alliance?”

“I am investigating it now. I have explained they need to present their case to me, and, if it is a possibility, I will forge the details with them.”

Some bit of his earlier good humor came back. “You do so because...” He deliberately left it for her to finish.

“Because the last of my functions is to act as an ambassador myself. To negotiate the smaller contracts stemming from the main situation you negotiate. Or those with a separate issue like the Alim’gee who take advantage of your being at a closer distance.”

Or those who stalked off, angry at Spock for whatever reason, and refused to talk any further with him. Her job became going after that person and cajole, soothe, browbeat, or through sheer stubbornness get the negotiations back on the table.

In short, she was his ambassador as he was Vulcan's and the Federation’s.

“If these situations are favorable, I negotiate the details and present them to you to formalize once your main focus is complete.”

The enigmatic glow in his eyes hid secrets. Secrets such as why he had started this conversation in the first place. “Not your last function as my consort, certainly. There is the function of being my wife to our House. It is a great deal of responsibility. The diplomatic corps, our family duties, our marriage.”

“Correction, husband. These functions are part of what we do.” Her voice became throaty. “Our marriage is part of who we are.”

His own voice grew deeper as his eyes looked right into her. “It remains a good number of duties. Especially when you consider the additional demands of your own work.”

"It is, but they are necessary. I represent you. I fulfill the responsibilities you cannot lest you be distracted from the work only you, as the ambassador, can perform."

And she did not always have to be there on the spot. Only such large talks as these meant she could not work remotely and he asked her to join him.

"I might wonder why you would do them when you have your own work to fulfill."

“Because the ambassador is you.”

That same bit of fire showed through him like before, and now she recognized the same flush she had from watching him. His whole reason for this conversation was so he could lean over and whisper, “I observed you during the night and saw for myself all that you do. It is rarely noticed save by me.” He drew closer until his lips were right next to her ear. “I am most fortunate to be your choice for husband.”

Her gown bared her shoulders and his breath brushed against her skin. His body nearly grazed hers sending a charge of anticipation through them both.

Her voice was husky, her eyes smoky. “Our duties are completed for the evening. Now is a good time to leave here.”

“You do not have to convince me, my wife.”

His fingers sought out hers.

A door flung open on the other side of the room.

“Lights!” a voice called out. “Why is it so dark in here? Oh, Ambassador, there you are!”

Kenneth Fitzson, the research aide. Again.

Spock and Saavik quickly regained their composure. After all, they had a life time of responding to red alerts. Not to mention being parents and all the early years when their children did not know the meanings of privacy and knock first.

“Ambassador, I wanted to go over the research again, especially anything that we think might come up today.”

Did Fitzson never sleep?

“I know we’ve gone over all this before--”

Numerous times. Kenneth Fitzson started his endless interruptions the second he stepped off the transporter pad. He disregarded anything other than his research, including the fact that Saavik and Spock had not seen each other for five months. During the past week, whenever they might have had a private moment, Fitzson appeared with his research.

Apparently, he suffered from the misconception that a Vulcan couple would not want to be alone together.

“--and I know you haven’t forgotten anything we went over, Ambassador--”

Spock? Forget vital research?

She spoke. “Mr. Fitzson, you have the lowest capacity for requiring sleep in any human that I have previously met.”

Her words came out harsher than she had meant them. He flushed a painful red.

“I --- uh, I asked the station’s Sickbay for a stimulant shot. I know Vulcans can go for three weeks with no sleep, and I wanted to be available if you needed me.”

That guilty drop to the eyes, the way they couldn’t look up at her husband: she knew that sign. Fitzson had a strong case of hero worship. Astonishing to see it in someone middle-aged, but still true. He was trying to impress Spock.

And she had just embarrassed him. Sorely.

She exchanged a pointed look with her husband; he had seen it too. She had offended a member of their team. What made it worse was the fact that, as she had just said, she represented him. Her actions reflected on him. Fitzson had earned the chastisement, but if he told others she was difficult to work with, Spock would suffer.

If she wanted a different life, she should have chosen someone besides an ambassador for her consort.

And she remembered when she hadn’t understood the difference between dedication to duty and ‘slave driver’. She gazed at that face that avoided her and fell once more into her role.

Hostess: “Your efforts are commendable.”

“Very,” Spock echoed.

Fitzson’s head came up.

“You have clearly earned your position in the diplomatic corps. It is why the ambassador requested you for this mission.”

The man straightened up and his blush faded. He nodded his thanks to Spock for such recognition.

Diplomatic aide: “As I have told the ambassador, a Comdistren official has relayed new information. If true, it will have a strong affect on the negotiations. If you would, we need this information confirmed or proved invalid.”

He already looked at her newly filed report before she finished speaking. “Definitely. I may not have full details until tonight.”

“A preliminary report then.”

Spock added, “In the event it is mentioned in the first full morning session.”

Fitzson asked, “At 0800 hours then?”

Personal assistant: “Eight hundred thirty is a preferable time. The ambassador’s schedule has changed due to other matters.”

Fitzson nodded, and then opened his mouth, probably ready to suggest he discuss this new information with Spock now.

Ambassador: “I will use the next hour for briefing the ambassador on the rest of last night’s events. Following this, he will rest for an hour before the morning’s schedule begins.”

Fitzson’s eyes widened. Spock was going to rest. The ambassador wasn’t staying awake for another two weeks.

He might have saved himself the use of the stimulant.

Aloud, she continued with no pause. “Does 0830 provide you with enough time for a preliminary report, Mr. Fitzson?”

Four and a half hours was more than enough. But she was being diplomatic.

“Plenty of time. I’ll have enough to prepare you for your first talks, Ambassador.”

She gave a small nod. “Then we are agreed.”

Head of staff: “I do recommend, Mr. Fitzson, that you not attempt to match Vulcan physiology. If it was an issue, we would have chosen a different aide. This team was selected for its diversified skills. We ask no one to duplicate ours since it will nullify the collective strength of the group. Also, the mission is in its early stages. Even we are not currently extending ourselves to our limits. The negotiations may require we all reach our endurance in the future, so it is important that the team be rested for that possibility.”

Chagrined, he still smiled and agreed, which said something for him. The most important thing was: he left.

Spock watched him go and waited for the door to close. “At these times, I question having resigned my commission for diplomatic service. Contending with personnel then was largely simpler. I could tell such people as Mr. Chekov that he was expected to do his work well without such statesmanship as compliments. Do you not agree?”

“That this was your approach as a commanding officer? I most certainly agree. I was once one of those people.”

He cocked an eyebrow at that and drawled out his next question. “An hour for your briefing?”

“Merely compensating for possible interruptions. Any unused portion of the scheduled hour may be applied to your rest period.”

“Logical.” He took her report to stand by their table in order to better read it.

She ordered the computer to darken the viewport, picking out Vulcan amongst the stars. Something over by the table made her stop there to look. The candles still burned hinting at the intimacy Fitzson had interrupted.

They had returned to their original position, he behind her and their backs to one another. As Spock put the padd down on the table, Saavik got a sly glint in her eyes when his arms dropped back to his sides.

Alone once more with her husband...

She slipped her fingers between Spock’s in a slow movement, their palms cupping against each other. Sensual currents ignited and teased their way through them.

His head turned sharply to glance over his shoulder at her making so passionate a gesture here. After all, they had already been interrupted once.

Her lips only curved. He didn’t see it, but he tasted it through their touch, and he entwined his fingers more closely with hers.

For a moment, they just... were.

He turned, his chest only a breath away from her back, and held out paired fingers. She touched them, feeling how that light translated to warmth.

T'hi Myi,” he whispered in a tone that rumbled soft and deep in his chest.

The words were a caress. The endearment meant as much as t’hyla, but no one ever used it for a brother or friend. T’hi Myi was reserved for the heart’s true mate.

Ashal-veh,” she whispered back.

No, she did not want any other life. Only this one, with him.

He put his head next to hers, caressing the side of her face with his, along the jaw to the temple. The ever so sensitive psi-points pulsed from this other Vulcan kiss.

She wanted him in her mind. But just as he did with his body, he let her taste, but not drink fully. He offered and then withdrew, building their expectancy.

“Now is a good time to leave here, my wife,” he said, voice husky.

She took full hold of his hand. “You need not convince me, my husband.”