Saavik answered the rapid fire of questions in faultless Vulcan, her cool mask of calm belying the turmoil within. She processed the words in her head; from Romulan to English, and then finally to Vulcan. To her ear, her responses came like a read-out on a faulty computer screen, sluggish and slightly blurred around the edges. She forced her thoughts into the precisely logical patterns that the Vulcan language demanded, fancying she could read disapproval in Captain Spock's face.
Spock, satisfied that Saavik had mastered her assignment, nodded and turned to the Terran who sat behind her. "Cadet Moore, recite the preamble to the charter of the United Federation of Planets."
Moore stumbled over the familiar paragraph in an unpronounceable language. Terran students were never judged harshly on pronunciation as Vulcan did not lend itself readily to the Human tongue, but Spock was a taskmaster, and what Moore was reciting sounded more like pidgin than Vulcan.
"You obviously have not given this assignment your complete attention, Cadet Moore," Spock interrupted coolly. "And I have no desire to hear you mangle a worthy language any further."
As Spock moved to the next cadet, Moore flushed with embarrassment. She was failing Vulcan linguistics and Command Decisions. Both classes were taught by Captain Spock. Why couldn't he give her the nods of approval that he gave Saavik?
Spock continued with the linguistics lesson, and Moore studied him. He was without a doubt the most handsome man she had ever known. She knew that a good majority of his female cadets fantasized about him and she was certainly no exception, but the general consensus was that he was completely impervious to feminine charm. Moore couldn't quite bring herself to believe that. After all, he was half Human.
She sighed, ignoring the content of the linguistics lecture, focusing only on the voice and body which she found so tantalizing. In her daydreams, that velvet voice spoke to her, whispering endearments in a compelling mixture of Vulcan and English...
"...Pre-reform usage of high Vulcan which has no correlation in modern translations. An ideal example of this phenomenon is..." Captain Spock droned on, but Moore was not listening.
In her imagination, she heard him asking her to remain after class. As the other cadets filed out, Moore pictured his piercing dark eyes raking over her boldly as she approached the lectern.
"You wanted something, sir?" she queried, unable to contain a smile when she saw the desire in his usually guarded expression.
"Yes," he stepped from behind the lectern, exposing his lean form to her gaze. He moved with the silent grace of a lithe, powerful cat, catching her by the shoulders and pulling her roughly against him. "I believe you know precisely what I want."
He lowered his head to kiss her, molding her intimately against his body. Moore tried to pull back, but his grip was sure, his possession of her mouth both demanding and passionate, leaving no question of his intent. When he finally lifted his head away, she pushed at his chest, maintaining a playful pretense of outraged innocence.
She pictured the naked yearning etched upon his saturnine features, heard his moan of frustration as she struggled in his embrace.
"Please!" the image of Spock begged in her fantasy. "I know it is improper, I know it is madness, but it is a madness I can no longer control. There is no logic..." The voice broke, quavering with emotion. "I have tried to resist you, but I cannot."
Moore savored the image, those dark eyes clouded with desire. She experienced a thrill of excitement as his hands slipped to her buttocks and pulled her against his hardness. She sighed, relaxing in capitulation as he nuzzled the hollow of her neck.
"Someone could walk in on us," she reminded as he began unfastening her uniform jacket. "Don't you think we should go somewhere--"
His lips silenced her as he slipped the jacket from her shoulders. "Later," he growled. "Once my thirst for you is quenched, then I will take you again...take you at my leisure."
His hands slipped beneath her shirt, pulling it up and over her head. He cupped her breasts, his fingers hot against her tender flesh. She reached playfully into his mouth, creating a sensuous, teasing rhythm. He tremored, pinching her hardened nipples. Moore slid down his length to kneel before him, her hands working impatiently at the fastening to his trousers.
"Please..." The hoarse voice of her fantasy lover merged with reality as the urgent tone became cool and impatient. "...please have your attention, Cadet Moore?"
A ripple of laughter brought Moore abruptly out of her erotic reverie. Captain Spock was looking at her in a mixture of annoyance and disgust. "Have you heard even one word I have been saying?"
Moore shook her head, blushing furiously. "No, sir."
Captain Spock's jaw tightened. "Since you obviously devote so little time to study outside this class, Cadet Moore, I highly recommend that you remain attentive during my lecture. As I was saying, pre-reform dialects were prone to stagnation due to the interclan schisms which occurred during..."
Moore battled to appear attentive, but her mind continued to wander. His voice was impatient, but her desire to hear it whispering her name kept her from absorbing the content of his words.
Captain Spock finally dismissed the class, and Moore sighed. Discounting the opportunity to be in the same room with him, this whole afternoon had been a waste of time.
As the cadets filed out, a few gathered around the lectern to discuss the lecture and pose a final question. As Captain Spock spoke with them, Moore moved toward the door reluctantly. She looked up and noted Saavik standing off to one side of the others, waiting her turn to speak to Spock. The sight of her filled Moore with jealousy.
Moore stepped into the corridor, the others passing her as they filed out. She lingered, waiting for Saavik to appear, and when she did not, Moore sidled up against the doorway, out of sight, yet close enough to hear the conversation.
"...your accent is improving," Spock was saying. Moore felt her stomach muscles tighten with rage. It was common knowledge that Saavik's mother had been a Romulan, so letting Saavik take the Vulcan section of advanced linguistics was like allowing a Terran to take English. She could imagine the approval in Spock's eyes as he addressed the cadet, and it made her hate Saavik all the more.
"Thank you," Saavik responded in that quiet, emotionless voice of hers. Moore rolled her eyes. She had never liked Saavik. Why Starfleet would even allow a Rommie into the Academy, much less into Command Training, was beyond her.
"I received a new set of linguistic tapes from Amanda yesterday," Spock replied. "I believe that you would find them most useful. I have made copies for you, however, I left them at home this morning."
"That is no problem, sir," Saavik said. "I shall get them tonight. Thank you."
"One does not thank logic, Saavik-kam. I am pleased to do it for you. I have an appointment this evening with Admiral Kirk at nineteen hundred hours. It may run late."
"Perhaps I should not come, then."
"No, if I am not there when you arrive, you may wait for me. It shouldn't take long. Do you mind?"
"I'll bring my study disks."
"Excellent. The tapes will be on my desk if you care to get started on them while you wait. You know how to work the sound system."
Moore's jaw dropped in outraged disbelief. The familiarity Spock was affording Saavik was incredible! Bad enough that she was going to his apartment, but for her to lounge around waiting for him? And it sounded like a routine! Just what were they doing at that hour of the night? As Saavik emerged from the classroom, Moore spun and strode down the hall, determined to find out.
Saavik scrolled to the end of the chapter and flicked her viewer off, rising from her desk with a feline stretch. Her dorm room was neat and uncluttered, the only signs of occupancy a collection of computer disks, her cadet jacket which hung on a hook by the door, and a red desert landscape that dominated the blank wall over her bunk. Saavik found the order restful, and she appreciated the luxury of having a double room to herself.
Command Training was tough, and only half of those admitted ever made it to graduation. Saavik's roommate, Threse, had flunked out nearly a month ago. Saavik recalled Threse returning from Commandant Barstow's office, tearfully tossing her things into a case. Saavik had never felt especially close to the Andorian, but she had to admit a sensation of empathy at her failure. When the case was packed, Threse turned, her lip quivering.
"You'll have it to yourself now," she lisped, looking around the room. Her gaze settled on Saavik, and she smiled. "Enjoy it while it lasts. Who knows what you'll end up bunking with when you get assigned to a starship."
Saavik had enjoyed the solitude, the freedom of living alone. She turned, gazing at the landscape, beautifully matted and framed, so unlike the clutter of posters that had dominated the wall over Threse's bed. It had been a gift from Spock, a vivid representation of her father's homeworld, a world she had only seen through the eyes of artists, experienced only through the descriptions of her mentor. It was a world she longed to see.
Saavik crossed to the open window and leaned out. It was a beautiful spring evening and wisps of fog misted in from the bay like creeping vines. Saavik inhaled deeply of the moist, cool air. Saavik's homeworld, Hellguard, had been a miserable, inhospitable planet, the inhabitants even more inhospitable than the climate. She bit her lip thoughtfully. In contrast, Earth was so green and warm, so lush. San Francisco was lovely, but lovelier still were the forests of Washington. She had been amazed at the azure skies, the pine-scented mountains and the trickling streams. Earth was truly a paradise. Vulcan would be a harsher world, but a world of great beauty. She wished that, like her mentor, she could claim either world as home, to have a heritage and family to call her own.
Tomorrow after her last test, spring break would commence. As usual, the dorm would close for a week, and she would go to Mountain View. She smiled, forgetting her Vulcan training. There would be hikes in the forest, and evenings drinking tea before a fire as Roberta Grayson entertained her with stories of her youth. Grayson had been a botanist, retiring to the wilds of Washington after the death of her husband. Saavik had never been able to tell Grayson how much she appreciated her acceptance. Indeed, her initial interactions with the old woman had been a struggle. But, almost against her will, Saavik learned to care for the elderly Human. Certainly she envied Captain Spock for having legitimate claim to being her great nephew. At times, even he seemed a little in awe of the crusty old matriarch who had outlived all her peers and most of her loved ones.
Initially, Saavik had been angry with Spock's suggestion that she spend her semester breaks at the secluded cabin with his elderly relative. She took it as an insinuation that she could not care for herself, an insult considering that she had spent the better part of her young life doing just that. As usual, Spock had read her expression before she could utter a protest.
"I know that you virtually lived alone on Hellguard," he said. "But your method of existence was not one that you can re-create now. I do not wish to have you picking pockets outside the Admiralty Building, or--"
"I haven't lifted anything for years!" she cried indignantly, forgetting that proper Vulcans did not interrupt their elders.
"That was humor," he explained. "It is a Human trait which took me years to recognize and even longer to master. You will be working with Humans in Starfleet. They will employ humor at what usually seems to be the most inopportune of moments. It is their way."
Saavik frowned. The Romulans of Hellguard she understood; they were violent, brutal and elemental. Vulcans she respected; they controlled all their emotions, and she certainly could see the value of that. But Humans were something altogether different, an enigma. She feared she would never come to understand them completely. "Another difficult concept," she admitted slowly.
"The Human equation is one best studied directly, Saavik-kam. That is why I wish for you to stay with Roberta during your vacation. Do not think for one moment that I do this to protect you." Dark eyes glittered with suppressed amusement. "In fact, I believe that you should look upon it as something of a challenge. Roberta is not known for her congeniality."
And so Saavik had gone to Mountain View. To please her mentor. Spock had been right; Grayson was certainly prickly. Saavik avoided her as much as possible at first, taking to the woods or meditating in her room. She found a newly awakened inner peace in the seclusion of the retreat, and gradually it became a place to contemplate the complexities of her life.
Sometimes, when duty permitted, Spock accompanied her to the mountain haven, falling into the slower pace as naturally as a stream diverts around a rock. On those occasions, he joined Saavik for hikes in the woods, lecturing her on the native flora and fauna effortlessly as he quizzed her on upcoming exams in the various courses she took. He did odd repairs on the cabin, running errands for his aunt, and cutting piles of wood for her fireplace. In the evening, he returned Grayson's sharp conversation with gentle wit and equally sharp responses. At Mountain View, Saavik saw another side to her teacher. A side he allowed few individuals to see.
The old woman obviously loved her nephew, and although she would never admit it openly, longed for his visits. It was a mutual caring for Spock which had finally broken down the walls of reserve between Saavik and Grayson. The walls had been erected from need, and a new need in both women had breached them. It was a night neither of them would ever forget.
Spock had taken Grayson's hovercar to town for supplies, a task he usually did for her when he visited. He left late in the day, as he and Saavik had just beamed over from Starfleet after their Friday afternoon classes.
Grayson warned him to be careful. "The hover drive has started slipping a little, Spock," she said. "It's a far cry from your Starfleet flitters. If it shudders on ascent, just let her down and try again."
"I shall," he assured. "However, it is not safe for you to drive with it malfunctioning. While I am in town, I'll have Mister Thomas look at it."
"Worry wart," she accused with a chuckle.
"If it cannot be repaired, I shall purchase a new one for you."
"Don't tell Thomas that!" she cried after him as he left the room. "He's been trying to get me to buy a new one for years!"
Saavik excused herself to put away her luggage and then went outside. By the time she returned it was dark. Grayson was before her BellComm, one of the few modern luxuries she allowed herself at Mountain View.
"Damn it, Howard!" the old woman shouted, her voice wavering slightly as it rose. "Don't tell me he should be back by now; he isn't! That's why I'm worried!"
"Maybe he stopped off for a bite in Broughton."
"Did the Broughton cafe start serving Vulcan cuisine?" she snapped. "He never makes unscheduled stops. Besides, he knew Saavik and I were waiting dinner on him. Something's happened!"
"Tell you what," came the response. "I'll take one of my deputies and see if he had to put down somewhere. I'm sure he's fine; we'd have heard if--"
"Make one pass, a quick one, and then come get us. We know the route he takes. Hell, I taught it to him when he was a pup--" The voice broke uncharacteristically and then the gruffness returned. "Well? Hurry up!"
Saavik noticed for the first time the tremor in the blue-veined hands as the old woman cut the connection and when Grayson turned, unaware of the cadet's presence, Saavik also noted the glitter of tears in the watery blue eyes.
They found the wreckage on the third pass, Grayson spotting the glint of metal reflected by the spotlight. Saavik bounded from the flitter while it was still several meters from the ground, pulling the unconscious form from the twisted remains of Grayson's hovercraft with strength none of her Human companions could muster.
The beep of her BellComm returned Saavik to the present, and she withdrew from the cool night air, closing the window behind her. It was Captain Spock, still immaculate in his 'fleet uniform. She glanced at the digital chrono at the bottom corner of the screen. It was 2245! With a guilty start, Saavik realized that she had lost track of time. She should have been at his apartment at 2200 for her thought control lesson!
"I apologize," he said without greeting as she realized he was still at his office. "I attempted to reach you at my apartment and, when you did not respond, assumed you must lave left. I have been unavoidably delayed--" Saavik watched a flicker of some emotion cross the elegant countenance, and then it was gone. He exhaled a deep breath and met her gaze steadily. "Saavik-kam, Roberta is in the hospital at Broughton. She is not expected to survive the night."
Saavik stared at Spock as he continued with the details, reciting them as emotionlessly as one of his Academy lectures. Her mind was reeling with the images of a year ago, of antiseptic-smelling corridors, men and women in white tunics rushing by. She pictured Spock on the antigrav gurney and watched it blur and focus so Grayson's face was against the white sheets. Saavik clenched her fists until her knuckles turned white.
"Doctor McCoy and I just beamed back from Broughton. She is resting quietly for now, but I am returning to spend the night."
"May I come too?" Saavik did not know that she had spoken until she heard the words come from her mouth, and even then it was like the voice of a stranger.
Spock studied her expression for a moment before responding, recognizing the mask carved in his own image. "Certainly."
"It's getting late," Moore muttered. "Maybe he called her and told her not to come."
"Maybe you imagined the whole thing," he companion suggested. "Captain Spock isn't the type to mess around with one of his cadets. At any rate, if she doesn't come out in ten minutes, I'm leaving. I have two tests tomorrow, and I'm not spending my spring break worrying about flunking out!"
Moore's eyes flashed with anger, knowing full well that she should be studying also. "I'm telling you, I heard him tell her to meet him at his apartment! I'm staying out here all night if I have to. She's not getting away with it!"
"You talk about it like she's committing a crime, Moore," came the exasperated response. "Hell, what if they are doing what you think they're doing? What's the big deal?"
"Come on, you know the regulations! Cadets and faculty are forbidden to--"
"But he's a Vulcan! From what I've heard, they're not capable of that kind of relationship."
"He's half-Human," Moore reminded. "And I'm willing to bet a semester's tuition Saavik knows which half."
"So is getting an A because you're sleeping with the teacher."
"Saavik's getting an A is not the issue here. It's her relationship with Captain Spock that's--"
"Shhh! She's coming!"
Moore and the other cadet observed from the cover of hedges outside the dorm as Saavik appeared, shrugging into a heavy jacket as she ran away from the building. Before the two could make a move to follow, a flitter whirred overhead, landing in the street. As the top slid back, Moore clutched her companion's arm.
The two cadets watched in awe as Saavik climbed into Captain Spock's flitter. A moment later, it rose and sped off into the mist.
The ride to the old city transporter station was a silent one. Saavik became lost again in the past.
"He's lost a lot of blood!" Grayson announced from the back of the sheriff's flitter where she cradled her unconscious nephew in her arms. Saavik, wedged between the two men in front, closed her eyes, uttering a silent prayer to any God who might listening. Don't let him die!
"Broughton General's Emergency room says that they don't have anyone who can treat a Vulcan, and they don't have any Vulcan blood in stock," the sheriff said, listening to the dispatcher through an earcomm. "They've notified the Med Evac shuttle from Starfleet that they have an emergency case, and they're on their way."
"He won't survive the trip!" Grayson predicted harshly. "He's going to need transfusions right away...Damn! I've been trying to recall Spock's doctor friend, the one at Starfleet. If we could get a hold of him--"
"McCoy," Saavik supplied, a spark of hope lighting the creeping cold that she had felt inside since she pulled Spock from the wreckage. "Doctor McCoy!"
"That's the one!" Grayson shouted. "Patch your radio into the comm channels, Howard! Put Saavik on, and let her track him down!"
Saavik started the search, grateful for the opportunity to do something other than worry,
"Keep trying until you get him, child," Grayson encouraged. "Even if you have to wake up every McCoy in San Francisco to do it!"
It hadn't come to that. McCoy's emergency comm number was listed in the fleet directory, and he picked up on the second beep. The doctor materialized with the rare Vulcan blood in Broughton's E.R. a full five minutes before Spock was brought in on the antigrav gurney, waving away protests of protocol and talk of pending staff privileges as he began the transfusions.
"God damn it! Sue me when he's out of danger!" he shouted, brows knitting together with worry for his friend.
Saavik, only slightly reassured by McCoy's arrival, found herself relegated to the waiting room with an anxious Roberta Grayson.
"I told him to be careful!" Grayson kept repeating, pacing the room restlessly.
Saavik, lost in her own roiling emotions, and fighting to present a calm facade which would have done her teacher proud, did not focus her attention on Grayson until her self-recrimination penetrated Saavik's shock.
"It's my fault!" The litany of the old woman continued, as did her rapid pacing. "All my fault!"
"It is no one's fault," Saavik said, reaching out to stop Grayson mid-pace. "The sheriff believes the antigrav unit shorted out and the back-up system failed. It was an unfortunate happenstance, but not one which could have been foreseen or prevented. For you to suggest that--"
"Well, there's no doubt of your Vulcan heritage!" Grayson snapped, her whole body trembling with anger. "Spock's in there dying, and you're talking about it as emotionally as..." Her voice trailed off as Saavik's mask of reserve slipped, and Grayson perceived her own frustration and worry reflected in the young woman's face. "...as he would," she finished, all the anger draining from her tone. "Oh, Saavik!"
Saavik caught the Human as her legs crumpled momentarily, supporting the frail form with her own strength. "He's all I have left in the world," the old woman cried softly, leaning against Saavik and shaking her head. "I've seen everyone I've ever cared about die, but I never thought I'd lose Spock, too! I just can't bear to think about what it would be like without him!"
Saavik pulled Grayson against her, hugging the old woman awkwardly. She had never before attempted to comfort another being. On Hellguard, grief was a solitary experience. "He will not die!" Saavik whispered through gritted teeth. "He cannot die!" The unvoiced addition to that thought pounded in her head. Because I need him also.
Spock's velvet tones roused her from her reverie, his softly spoken words sounding loud after the silence. "We are at the transporter station, Saavik-kam."
Saavik walked into Grayson's hospital room twenty minutes later feeling strangely numb. The closet-like room was very warm after the cool night air. She slipped out of her jacket, and Spock took it, hanging it on a hook near the door as she approached the bed.
The auditory cardiac monitor overhead pulsed with a slow, rhythmic beat. To Saavik, it sounded like the ticking of one of the old-fashioned clocks in Admiral Kirk's office. Grayson's color was gray, her breathing quick and shallow. Saavik recognized the pall of death. It was something that she had seen firsthand on Hellguard many times. She slipped into the empty chair by the bed and took one withered hand. The old woman's eyelids fluttered.
"Roberta?" Spock said, moving to stand behind Saavik. "Saavik and I have come to stay with you."
"Spock," Grayson breathed, the effort it took to speak apparent as the name passed through cracked lips. She opened her eyes, looking up at her nephew. A ghost of a smile flitted across her lips. "This is the way it should be. You sending me off, not the other way around. You gave Saavik and me quite a scare that night you crashed the hovercar."
"You must save your strength," Spock said.
"What the hell would I save it for?" came the snappish response that was so like her. For a moment, Saavik thought the old woman would sit up, throw back the covers and tell Spock she was going home. "I'm dying, Spock! Even if I couldn't feel it, I could damn sure read it in your eyes!"
"Roberta!" Saavik admonished softly. It was the first time Saavik had ever called her by name. Grayson looked down at her, squeezing her hand weakly.
"Ah, Saavik," she said. "This is hard for you, isn't it, child? You've seen so much death in your short life."
Saavik felt Spock's hands close over her shoulders, the warmth of his touch suffusing through her sweater. In spite of the mental shields they were both maintaining against the emotionalism that filled them all, there was an empathic surge, a sensation of grief and comfort that wrapped around her soul. To her surprise, he did not release his grip, but maintained the contact. Gradually, the sensation dimmed, but it did not fade completely.
"My desk at Mountain View," Grayson said, wincing as she repositioned herself slightly. "In the top drawer is my will. My lawyer has a copy, but he's an incompetent bastard."
"Roberta," Spock began.
"Damn it! The least you could do is give me the courtesy of listening to my big farewell speech! I've been practicing it for eighty years! I've left Mountain View to you. You're the only one who ever appreciated it as much as I did...except for Saavik here. Tell you what, when you kick off, you can will it to her."
"I shall, if that is your desire," Spock reassured.
"Yes," Grayson nodded. "That's a good idea. Hell, you ought to adopt her proper. She'd take good care of you in your old age."
"I have never considered that possibility," Spock replied in a thoughtful tone, his grip on Saavik's shoulders tightening slightly. "However, I must admit the idea is not without merit."
Grayson's eyes narrowed, and she looked from her nephew to Saavik and then back, smiling. "I always thought she looked a little like you anyway, but I think it's just the ears."
Spock sighed audibly, and Saavik suppressed a smile.
Roberta arched slightly against the pillow and grimaced. "Spock, go and fetch that damned nurse; tell her the pain is getting bad. Saavik can stay with me for a moment."
As soon as Spock left the room, Grayson's grimace faded. "You take care of him, Saavik. He's not as indestructible as he'd like to think. Make sure he gets his rest. Nag him a little, just like I do. You can learn to do it, and you're one of the few people he'd take it from."
"Don't interrupt, child. I haven't got much time." The blue eyes settled on Saavik. "He's a fine boy, Spock is. With me gone, he's going to have only you and Amanda to look after him. You never met what's-his-name, did you?"
"I have never met Ambassador Sarek," Saavik qualified, her smile not quite making it to her lips, but glowing in her dark eyes. It was no secret that Roberta did not care for her niece's husband. Amanda Grayson usually stayed at Mountain View whenever she came to Earth, which is how Saavik had made her acquaintance. Sarek never accompanied her to the mountain retreat; Saavik suspected it was because he was not welcome in Roberta's home.
"He's a cold one," Grayson confided. "Even for a Vulcan. What Amanda ever saw in him, I'll never fathom. Spock is a child any parent could take pride in; he's got a heart of gold, but his father has never appreciated him. Hell, Spock takes more fatherly pride in you than..." She grimaced again; this time it was not a pretense. "I had hoped to live to see Spock settled down with a wife and children, but that's not in the cards, Saavik. I meant what I said about him adopting you. He needs you. Everyone needs someone, and Spock is no exception." She paused, studying Saavik's features for a moment before continuing. "Come to think of it, neither are you."
"You and Captain Spock have been my family," Saavik said softly. "I do not require legalities to make it so."
"Poor Saavik," Grayson whispered, closing her eyes. "What a sad substitute Spock and I have been for the real thing. They say you can't pick your relatives..."
Spock returned with the nurse, and the injection nudged Grayson into the sleep that she had been fighting. Saavik and Spock took turns sitting by her side, neither of them questioning the logic of staying with her while she slept. Spock was taking his turn when she roused again.
"You been here all night?" she questioned hoarsely, sharp eyes not missing the pale pre-dawn light which filtered into her room.
"Where's the child?"
"Obtaining a cup of tea."
Grayson sighed. "Did she ever tell you I yelled at her the night you crashed the hovercar?"
Spock shook his head slightly.
"I accused her of not caring about you. Couldn't have been further from the mark. That child idolizes you, Spock. I think she was more scared of losing you that night than I was, and I was plenty scared."
"Haven't you head that Vulcans are indestructible?"
"Myth, my boy," she chuckled weakly. "One you've come close to disproving on more than one occasion. For Saavik's sake, be careful."
"That is always my intention, Roberta."
Grayson grimaced, squeezing her eyes shut. "It hurts to laugh! Of all the times for you to evoke your Vulcan sense of..." Her voice faded as she caught her breath sharply. Spock heard the flutter of the monitor and pushed the call light for the nurse.
Roberta Grayson took her final breath just as dawn broke. Saavik released the lifeless hand and turned to look at her mentor as the nurse turned off the monitor.
"I shall truly miss her," Spock said simply.
Saavik's last class of the day was linguistics. She took the written test automatically, numbly. Several times she looked up at Spock, studying him closely. They had arrived back at the Academy this morning just minutes before their first classes, neither of them having the opportunity to shower and change. Spock looked as he always did, immaculate and reserved, but Saavik recognized fatigue in the set of his jaw, or perhaps it was more than fatigue. She remembered the empathic sensation which had surged between them last night and frowned. Yes, it was more than fatigue.
When Saavik took her test to the lectern, Spock accepted it, his gaze meeting hers in an assessing way.
"I shall be ready to leave at eighteen hundred hours, Saavik-kam," he said very quietly so as not to disturb the other cadets who were still taking their tests.
"Shall I meet you at the transporter station?" Saavik offered.
"Yes, unless you would like for me to pick you up at the dorm."
"I think I would prefer to walk," Saavik said.
"If you change your mind, have me paged," Spock suggested, frowning slightly. "You are fatigued."
Saavik did not even consider arguing with him. As usual, he was quite correct. "Yes, I am."
Saavik left the room, exhaustion sagging her usually erect posture, unaware of the glare which Cadet Moore sent her from her seat.
Moore was seething. She could not make out the conversation at the lectern, but she was willing to bet it wasn't about linguistics. "More like biology," she muttered to herself.
Captain Spock looked up sharply from his reader, meeting her startled gaze with a frown. Blushing, Moore hunched over her unfinished test, determined to find out just what was going on. If she was right, and she was certain that she was, Saavik had some explaining to do.
Saavik opened the cabin's French doors and stepped out onto the wooden deck. The moonlit panorama before her was as breathtaking as ever, but tonight there was little comfort in it for her. Mountain View was not the same without Roberta, and Saavik felt strangely hollow and empty. Looking up at the stars, she inhaled the pine-scented air, which was laced with an underlying seasonal aroma that Saavik associated with spring. Roberta had laughed when she spoke of it.
"Takes an offworlder to appreciate Earth, doesn't it, child? Yes, each season has a different smell to it. I can even smell rain coming; so could you with a little practice. You've got a leg up on me with your genes. Vulcans can smell things Humans overlook. But most Humans don't take the time to develop their sense of smell. They just let it all pass them by. It's a pity, a damn shame. Life's just too short to pass up any opportunity. You'll remember that when you're older, Saavik, and realize that I'm right. We have a saying: 'Take the time to stop and smell the roses.' Most people don't, not roses, not spring air, not any of the wonders that the creator threw in as a bonus when he put all this together."
Unbidden, tears welled up in Saavik's eyes, threatening to overflow from her lashes as she heard Roberta's voice in her mind. Now that she was gone, there were so many questions she wished to ask her. So many things she wanted to tell her. Like the Humans who did not take time to appreciate their world, she had never fully appreciated Roberta until too late.
She wondered dully if it was worth it to develop emotional ties. Until Spock rescued her from Hellguard, she had allowed herself to care about S'rael, and perhaps one or two children of their warren, but never with any great attachment. Toward the end of her stay there, she had distanced herself from all of them. It had been the rule of survival. Now the rules had changed, her life had changed, and both Spock and Starfleet told her that she must learn to care for others, to depend upon others and to trust. She had done that with Roberta, and the pain of losing her stabbed at her heart like a ceremonial dagger. Even the death of S'rael had not affected her in this way.
Caring for others made one vulnerable. That was why her survival instincts had told her not to give in to the warm feelings which came to her in odd moments. Spock had told her that to turn away from friendship was to turn away from the best part of life. Certainly, he valued his friends and held them dear, and they returned that caring. She recalled McCoy at Broughton hospital saving Spock's life. Saavik sighed. It was a riddle with no solution.
Feeling Spock's presence behind her on the balcony, she dashed the tears from her eyes impatiently.
"Saavik-kam, dinner is prepared."
"I am not hungry," she whispered.
"Have you eaten today?"
"It is not wise to go without food."
"I cannot..." Her voice trailed off as she fought to keep it level. "...I cannot eat right now." She started to slip away from him, intending to bound over the rail and into the woods. All she wanted right now was to be alone in her grief, to sort out the tangled emotions that filled her. A steely grip clutched at her wrist, closing like a vise and holding her in place. A Human male could not have held her, but Spock was not Human.
"Saavik-kam," his voice was so full of concern, and it promised understanding that she yearned for, yet she could not reveal herself to him. To her great shame, tears brimmed over her lashes and spilled onto her cold cheeks, leaving trails of warmth that quickly chilled. She refused to turn about, to allow him to see her tears, the evidence of her weakness.
"Release me," she choked.
"So you may run away?" her mentor questioned sharply. "I thought you had done with running." The voice dropped and softened, "Saavik-kam, you are not alone in missing her."
Her tears were streaming unchecked now, tears she had been unable to shed when he lay dying, tears she had held in check when McCoy had announced that he would survive. All the tears she had withheld for all the years of her youth, tears which would have been a sign of weakness, now welled up in her and overflowed.
In desperation she tried to wrench away from him, only to be pulled around into a tighter grip. Instinctively, she struggled against him for a moment, and then the sensation of empathy surged through her as it had in Roberta's hospital room. "I grieve with thee," Spock whispered, and Saavik finally sagged against him, sobbing with rage and grief.
For several minutes Spock held her close, comforting her with the same awkwardness she had experienced with Roberta. "You are not alone." he repeated, gently stroking her back. When her sobs subsided, he led her inside the cabin, closing the door behind them.
Moore stood in the shadows beneath a pine tree, looking up at the tableau acted out on the balcony. She had followed Saavik to the transporter station on foot. Then it had taken her nearly an hour to bribe the coordinates from the transporter operator, a wet-behind-the-ears ensign who was little more than a walking hormone. Moore took little comfort in the fact the ensign had appreciated what Captain Spock would never consider taking from her, even if she offered it. What she had just seen convinced her of that, and with that conviction came a hardening of her heart toward the Vulcan. At this moment she hated Spock nearly as much as she hated Saavik.
As the cadet turned and began walking slowly toward the lights of Broughton, a plan began to form in her mind. She smiled, and then broke into a cheery whistle. Saavik would pay for what she had done, and so would Captain Spock.
Pausing just outside April Hall, Saavik turned to face the cadet who had called her name. It was Moore, a Terran whom she had never spoken with before. Saavik remembered her mostly because she was doing so poorly in her classes. Forcing herself to hide her impatience, Saavik nodded politely and waited for her speak. She had a thought control session with Captain Spock this evening and was scheduled for a self-defense class in the Academy gym in less than ten minutes. Her first day back from spring break had proved to be a hectic one.
Moore smiled. "Have a nice break?"
"You seem...relaxed," Moore observed, sweeping her with an appraising stare. Saavik recognized a dangerous lilt in the other woman's tone and frowned.
"Is there a purpose to this conversation, Cadet Moore? I have an appointment in--"
"It can't be with him," Moore interrupted thoughtfully. "He has one more class this afternoon. But then you usually see him late in the evening, don't you?"
Saavik stared at Moore, wondering what she was talking about.
"You just spent the entire week with him, alone in the mountains," Moore added, envy creeping into her voice. "Is he that good that you're wanting him again already?"
Saavik finally realized who Moore was alluding to, flushing in a mixture of anger and embarrassment.
"You are seriously misinformed," Saavik said coolly.
"I don't think so," Moore replied easily. "I saw you two out on the balcony of your little hideaway on the first night of spring break. I also know that you've been seeing him every night, even staying over at his apartment."
"You followed me to Mountain View?" Saavik queried incredulously. "Why would..." Her eyes narrowed in sudden understanding. "I see."
"I'm surprised that no one else has caught on," Moore said with a shrug. "You really should be more careful. Even a Vulcan is not immune to idle gossip."
Saavik clenched her fists, Spock's control mantras echoing in her head in counter rhythm to the throbbing rage that rose up within her. She fought a valiant battle to deep from lunging at Moore to rip the smug expression from her face.
"Captain Spock is--"
"Going to see that I pass my courses," Moore interrupted, cutting off Saavik's heated denial sharply. "Because if he doesn't, I'm going straight to the commandant about you two."
"You could not be more mistaken about our relationship." Saavik said with amazing calm, considering that a part of her mind was visualizing Moore gutted and hung from a tree. "Captain Spock and I have never--"
"Spare me your denials, Saavik!" Moore hissed, keeping her voice low as several cadets passed. "I know what I saw! I should have gone to the commandant last week, but it occurred to me that there was a more beneficial way of handling the matter. All I am asking you to do is use your...influence."
"I have no influence!" Saavik retorted hotly. "And even if I did, I would not use it for what you are suggesting. It is nothing less than extortion!"
"You're right," Moore said. "And either I pass Captain Spock's classes, or there's going to be a scandal so hot that even T'Pau won't be able to cover it up. There are regulations against what you're doing, not to mention the moral issue."
"Your evidence is purely circumstantial. You are speculating wildly about something about which you know nothing," Saavik countered. "I suggest that you withdraw your slanderous accusation before Captain Spock hears of it."
"Oh, he'll hear it, all right," Moore sneered. "Along with everyone else in Starfleet. That's not to mention the Trans Galactic News Service, and the civilian sector. They'll have a heyday with it. I can see the headlines now: Starfleet Instructor Brought Up on Charges of Sexual Fraternization with Romulan Cadet! He'll lose his teaching certificate, his commission,the respect of his colleagues, all because of you, Saavik. I'm willing to bet you weren't worth the risk. You have until tomorrow to give me your decision. I suggest that you consider the possibilities."
Moore turned on heel and stalked back into April Hall, leaving Saavik frozen like a statue, a pale figure with clenched fists.
Saavik's self-defense instructor, a muscular, hulking Terran, was astonished at the vigor with which she defeated the android he had programmed with new holds intended to stump her. He had always found Saavik's physical ability to be outstanding, but today he watched her pummel the work-out droid with such force that he feared she might destroy it. Even in the adjusted gravity, she was fighting like a hellcat!
Realizing that the cadet needed the release, he made no comment as her defense posture gradually slipped into offense. He saw no point in criticizing her rough technique as she reverted instinctively into the street fighting which had saved her life more than once on Hellguard. He had seen her records and had always been a little curious about her Vulcan reserve in his class. He smiled. Honest rage he understood; he had come from a rough colony world too. Xartheb had been bad, but if rumor could be believed, Hellguard was worse. He could empathize with Saavik (much more than his Vulcan cadets who never admitted to emotion), and it gratified him to see Saavik letting hers out in an acceptable manner.
"Hit the sonics, kiddo," he slapped her roughly on the shoulder as she felled the droid to the mat on the final program. She was soaked with perspiration, a sharp gleam in her dark eyes, cheeks flushed with color. "If you're gonna be this rough with poor old Zippy next week, I'm gonna need a new droid soon."
Saavik nodded, breasts heaving as she bent over, hands on knees to catch her breath. "I believe that I was unnecessarily rough, Commander. I apologize."
"Hell no, kid!" he chuckled. "Back home I'd have paid to see a show like that! Nothin' fancy, just some get-down-and-dirty-fightin'." His expression sobered. "They don't want me teachin' it, but after twenty years in Security, I can tell you it's the best kind to have on planetfall. Some of those first contacts can turn ugly."
Saavik nodded again; there was one that came to mind right away. Muscles aching and physically drained, she showered and changed, heading across the campus for her dorm. Even her exhaustion could not keep Moore's threats from reverberating in her mind.
By the time Saavik entered her room, she had analyzed the situation from every angle, and although Moore's accusations had no basis in fact, she was quite correct about the damage they could do to Spock. Roberta's words came back to her, "Take care of him, Saavik. He's not as indestructible as he'd like to think." Moore could possibly be stalled, but with her performance, there was no way she could be passing in the two classes Spock taught. Midterm grades were due out in a week and a failing notice would be forthcoming then. A direct refusal would only hasten the inevitable.
Saavik did not even consider going to Spock to ask his advice. She could not bring herself to tell him of the disgusting things Moore had suggested; even the thought of those insinuations filled her with embarrassment. There was only one alternative that gave Spock even a slight chance of coming out of this unscathed.
She crossed to the BellComm unit and punched in the familiar code. When the message computer kicked in after the second beep, she hesitated. No, she would not leave a message yet. She would pack first and be ready to leave before she said her farewell to him. Breaking the connection, she leaned over and pulled her suitcase from beneath her bunk. In twenty-four hours she would be far from here, and she could only hope that with her gone, Moore would give up her idea of revenge.
Captain Spock arrived home after his final class and replayed his messages. Admiral Kirk appeared on the screen. He was calling from his office.
"Damn it, Spock! Sulu's not certain the Cooper'll return in time, Clark Terrell won't let me borrow Chekov now that he's his first officer, and I've spent the better part of the day scanning the list of available officers looking for someone with a little experience. Do you have any idea who we're going to get to take the helm for this training cruise? The only positive response I'm getting so far is from Bones,and just between us, he can't even navigate his hover car in rush hour traffic. Now, don't take this as an insult to your cadets, but in simulation, we can turn off the program when the going gets tough." He grinned, leaning forward, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. "I bet Bones fifty credits we'll nick the spacedock doors on the way out!"
Commander Uhura's lovely image replaced that of the admiral. She was dressed in a flowing caftan, calling from her cabin aboard the Sadat, which had recently been assigned to the Sol system during Uhura's last few months as its captain. At the admiral's request, Spock had sent a message four days ago asking if she would be willing to forego three weeks of her accumulated leave to join them on their training cruise.
"Captain Spock, sugah!" Her eyes twinkled merrily, teasing him as only she dared. "You're never home! You know what they say about all work and no play! I got your message, and I'd love to spend a few weeks back on the Enterprise. It'll be just like old times. If I can get things tied up here on schedule, I may even be able to lend a hand with the simulator runs at the end of the semester." She chuckled. "But there's a string attached. I just heard that they're going to open San Francisco's new outdoor amphitheater the week before we ship out. It's going to be a salute to Beethoven, your favorite composer. I need a tall, dark and Vulcan escort to the concert, and you need a communications officer for your training cruise. You scratch my back; I'll scratch yours." Her voice dropped, her brilliant smile making her appear even more beautiful, if that were possible. "You turn me down and I'll be broken-hearted!" Her musical laughter bubbled as she cut the connection.
Uhura's message was followed by a flicker of the screen and then a pause. Someone deciding not to leave a message, Spock thought. McCoy? Playing what Jim would call a hunch, Spock hit the key on the BellComm which would trace the call to the source and when the code appeared, he frowned. Not McCoy. Saavik.
For some reason he suddenly pictured her as he had first seen her, a skinny, foul-mouthed, little pickpocket badly in need of a bath. He recalled the dark eyes which had watched him with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. He remembered sensing her intelligence, recalling his anger that such a quick mind should be an undisciplined one.
He had rescued her from a world where her potential would be wasted, taking her to Earth to make her his legal ward. That had been simple. The difficult part had been obtaining the services of a series of governesses and tutors to prepare her for boarding school, weathering the child's fits of temper with the patience and singleness of purpose that only a Vulcan could muster, finally doing much of her tutorial himself after the Serenidad tragedy. He had found her spirit amazing, her intelligence a credit to her ancestry, and her stubbornness nearly equal to his own.
His lips twitched as he recalled an early confrontation between them, arising over his insistence that she bathe. He had threatened to do the job himself when she balked and he remembered her shriek of outrage and the string of obscenities which had erupted from her mouth when he made a move to carry out his threat. She had skittered into the bathroom like a frightened animal, locking the door with an emphatic "thunk." Spock had won that battle, at the cost of a door control and a good half hour of indignant shrieking.
Another man would have given up on the child, but Spock persisted and gradually the persistence had paid off. Saavik learned first to trust him, then to crave his approval. In a relatively short period of time, the unprincipled little savage had grown into a solemn, well-behaved child. Her academic record was nothing short of amazing, and Spock had felt a quite un-Vulcan surge of pride when he had learned of her acceptance into the Academy.
Spock recalled Roberta's words. "That child idolizes you, Spock. I think she was more scared of losing you that night than I was." The comment had taken him by surprise, as he had never visualized Saavik as being dependent upon him for anything other than material needs. He realized he had underestimated his influence on her, just as he had underestimated her devotion to Roberta. He recalled the grief which he had felt in her that night on the balcony. Even though her mental shields were firmly in place, he had sensed it quite clearly.
He had always thought of Saavik as a survivor in every sense of the word, tough and composed. But since Roberta's death, he had sensed a certain vulnerability in his ward. Spock pressed his lips into a firm line. That was not a word he would have used to describe Saavik a month ago. Roberta's passing had affected her deeply. He reached out one finger to tap the button that would place a call to her, and then paused. With a decisive flick of his forefinger he cleared the screen and left the room.
Moore, returning to the dorm, couldn't resist pausing outside Saavik's window to see what she was up to. Standing on tiptoe, she peeked into the bare little room. Her eyes widened in surprise! The little bitch was leaving! That was one course of action she had not anticipated. Moore considered a moment and then strode purposefully to the entrance. Saavik wasn't getting off the hook so easily.
Saavik emptied drawers, neatly stacking her belongings in the case. She pulled out the last drawer and retrieved a felt-trimmed dagger which she had stolen from the Palace of Wonders on Hellguard. A barbaric memento, from a barbaric place. She turned it over in her hand, admiring the craftsmanship, feeling a renewed gratitude for Spock, who had rescued her from a life of ignorance and filth. Finally, she laid it gently on top of her clothing in the open case.
Saavik, who followed the Vulcan custom of not locking her door, whirled to face Moore, who stood in the doorway of her room.
"You're a cowardly little whore," Moore continued, her voice hard with hatred.
"If I understand the term `whore' correctly, that is an inaccurate application," Saavik replied calmly, "Cowardice is a more subjective term. If you wish to use it in describing me, I shall not argue it, although I see no cowardice in my behavior."
Saavik turned back to close the case and Moore stepped between Saavik and the bunk. "Not so fast, Rommie. If you think you're just going to walk out of here, you've got another thing coming."
"What I think is no concern of yours," Saavik said icily. "Now stand aside."
Moore met Saavik's gaze steadily. Spock has completely Vulcanized her, she thought in triumph. Hell, she's no threat! "You're not going anywhere, bitch!" Moore ordered. "You leave this campus, and I go straight to Commandant Barstow."
"Your jealously is an ugly thing," Saavik said. "Beware all ye who wield the sword of revenge, for it is truly a double-edged weapon."
"A Romulan proverb?" Moore taunted.
"Vulcan," Saavik supplied, starting around the cadet. Moore reached out and shoved her back forcefully.
"What a little hypocrite you are!" Moore cried, Saavik's calm at her taunts enraging her. "Spouting Vulcan philosophy while you're bedding Captain--"
"Silence!" Saavik snapped, her dark eyes glittering dangerously.
"Well, well, so you do have some Rommie blood after all," Moore said.
More than you know, Saavik thought as she fought down her instinctive urge to attack Moore. Her muscles twitching, she clenched her fists in impotent rage. Starfleet training had only tempered the part of her which was capable of killing, not removed it. Saavik, who thought it conditioned out of her, was astonished to feel the old blood lust rising up inside her. She took a deep, steadying breath, frantically recalling the mantras Spock had taught her. I am Vulcan, Vulcans do not kill. I am Vulcan; Vulcans do not kill.
"Is that what he sees in you, Saavik?" Moore continued, completely unaware she was dangerously close to dismemberment. "I heard a rumor several years ago that he was into Rommies, but I never gave it much credence. The going theory is that--"
Saavik, shaking with the effort of not acting on her hatred for this Human, interrupted her through clenched teeth. "Your comments are so vile they deserve no response! You are not worthy even to utter his name! Remember who it is you are libeling, a Starfleet hero, a legend!"
"A half-breed!" Moore corrected in a jealous rage. "A freak who couldn't satisfy a Human female, much less a Vulcan one. You're just what he needs, Saavik! A half-breed whore who's Vulcan enough to keep her mouth shut about what he's like in bed, and Rommie enough to give him a little taste of what Vulcans crave most. So tell me, is he any good, or are you just doing it--"
"Silence!" Saavik lunged at Moore, wanting only the satisfaction of interrupting her foul accusations.
Moore, warned by her indignant cry, dodged at the last moment and caught up the chair in front of the desk, slamming it against Saavik's flank. Saavik, compensating quickly, wheeled on her opponent, tossing the chair aside.
Belatedly, Moore remembered the Romulan strength that lurked behind Saavik's Vulcan facade. She saw the glint in the dark eyes and backed up a step, searching for something she could use as a weapon. Her hand brushed against the open case as she stepped back and she looked down, spying the dagger. She caught it up and brandished it with skill. Starfleet trained their command students well in hand-to-hand combat.
"Come on, you little slut," Moore encouraged breathlessly. "Try it now! I promise you this carpet will be green with your half-breed blood when I'm through!"
Saavik's Vulcan training kicked back in, and she relaxed her stance. Moore was clearly insane. Jealously, vengefully insane.
"Put down the dagger," Saavik ordered calmly. "Drop it and then leave."
"So you can go to him and tell him all about this?" Moore cried. "Not on your life!"
"I shall make no mention of this incident to anyone," Saavik responded, her pity for Moore overriding her anger. "Please, put down the knife and leave the room."
Moore heard the change in Saavik's tone, and it enraged her. "Switched back to Vulcan now?" Moore taunted. "It's so easy for you, isn't it? Everything is so damn easy for you. Saavik gets everything her little heart desires, doesn't she? Plays both ends against the middle and comes out with perfect grades, a perfect record, and a Starfleet captain in her bed to top it all off. I hate you! I hate you, you pointed-eared freak! And I hate him too! All brass and polish in class and then sneaking off with you! Does he care about you, Saavik, or is it just sex? I'm betting the half-breed captain has no feelings. How about if we find out? I'll take your lifeless body and leave it on his doorstep. Will that get a reaction out of him?"
Moore's tone had risen to a hysterical shriek. Saavik made no response. It was useless to reason with her; she was no in any condition to be swayed by logical arguments.
"Answer me!" Moore screamed, springing forward.
Saavik blocked the attack, grabbing the wrist of Moore's right hand as she brought her left hand up to attempt a nerve pinch. Moore, strong for a Human, struggled, twisting to evade Saavik's grip. The sudden movement threw them off balance and they fell to the floor, the dagger sinking into Saavik's side. Moore pulled it out, intending to stab her again as Saavik finally obtained purchase enough to administer the nerve pinch. The cadet fell against her, unconscious, the knife falling harmlessly to the carpet with a muffled thud. Saavik collapsed beneath the weight of Moore's body, her head spinning dizzily, her heart hammering against her side. The open wound throbbed in time to her ragged gasps for breath, and she closed her eyes, summoning the strength to rise.
Strong hands pulled Moore aside, and Saavik opened her eyes, focusing on a familiar visage even as she felt the heat of his touch on her side. She tensed as he inspected the wound.
"Saavik-kam," the gently familiar voice was reassuring, bearing a trace of concern and...pride? "Lie still; you are hemorrhaging."
She nodded her head, grimacing. It hurt to breathe, much less to move.
Feeling light-headed and disconnected, she heard him speaking with Doctor McCoy on the BellComm. Then she heard another voice she recognized as Admiral Kirk's.
"I am truly sorry," he said when he returned to her side, carrying a thick towel. "The fault of this is partially mine. It never occurred to me that our relationship could be misconstrued. Doctor McCoy is on his way." Spock lifted her gently against him, pressing the towel to her side.
Saavik gritted her teeth, opening her eyes to note in surprise that the carpet was indeed green with her blood. The room spun for a moment, and she clutched at Spock's shoulder. Wondering how much he had overheard, she fought a flush of humiliation, picturing him standing in the doorway, no doubt calculating the odds that he would have to intervene on Moore's behalf. "Your only fault was in generosity to one unworthy," she whispered hoarsely. "I allowed myself to be taunted into violence. That is not the behavior of a Vulcan."
"You allowed your loyalty to me to cloud your judgment momentarily. Saavik-kam," he countered. "Your lapse was not one fueled by negative emotions, rather the reverse. Loyalty and friendship are two of the finest traits that any being can claim. You displayed them today. Even Vulcans admit to such traits."
"But a Vulcan would not have--"
"I have done the same thing which you did today when those I cared for were threatened. What you felt was valid. Your goal should be not to deny your emotions but to refuse to allow them to manipulate your behavior. Complete mastery of all emotions is a skill which very few full-blooded Vulcans achieve. I do not consider your lapse today as unworthy, nor should you." He paused, studying her carefully hooded expression. "What concerns me is that you were intending to sacrifice you career, your future, on my behalf."
"Without you, I would have no future," Saavik responded, meeting his gaze defiantly. "Is that not a debt worth a career?" Roberta's words came back to her, "Everyone needs someone." How true.Without Spock, she would still be on Hellguard, or dead.
Spock saw in Saavik's dark eyes a sparkle of determination which he had often seen in hazel ones. He sighed, suspecting that logic would have no more effect on Saavik in this instance, than it normally would with Jim Kirk.
"It occurs to me that there was another course of action open to you when Moore made her threat." he continued. "Did you not consider coming to me and allowing me to assist you in your dilemma?"
Saavik lowered her gaze, studying the insignia on his uniform jacket, unable to control the olive flush which rose to her cheeks. She made no response.
"You are no longer alone," Spock reminded gently. "On Hellguard, you learned not to trust. That was wise, for there were few who were worthy of it. But your life has changed, and you must leave behind your habit of depending only upon yourself. It is not a weakness to care, as you have learned today. It is even less of a weakness to trust when your judgment tells you it is indicated." Spock paused, reaching out to lift her chin to meet his gaze. "You are strong, Saavik-kam. Learn to temper your strength with wisdom. We are all vulnerable in some way; that is the nature of our mortality."
Saavik sought the truth in the depths of her mentor's eyes and found it, realizing that Roberta had tried to tell her the same thing in her own way. "Everyone needs someone," she quoted softly.
"I would accept that as an axiom," Spock responded, nodding in approval. "For now, you have me. In time, you shall learn to trust others, care for others, even as I have done. Someday you may even risk your life defending them, as you did for me today. That is the truest test of caring, Saavik-kam, what Humans call being a friend to the last extremity. I have many such friends." The Vulcan's lips twitched in his characteristic non-smile. "I predict that you shall have friends of that caliber yourself. No sane individual would desire to become your enemy."
Saavik took the gentle teasing in stride, now with a dawning understanding of the Human humor he evoked. Meeting his gaze solemnly, her lips quivered slightly in a purposeful imitation of his and she nodded. "You are wise, Captain. I shall not challenge your prediction."
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