Though not expressed in the same manner as most of the crew, Lieutenant Commander Saavik shared in the concern everyone held for Captain Sulus daughter Demora, who had very suddenly taken ill. But Saavik was on bridge duty, occupying the center seat while Captain Chekov and Commander Uhura tended to a young woman they had known since before she could talk, in fact Chekovs own godchild. So her concerns logically had to look beyond the doubly unfortunate, recently demoted crewman. She had to focus on not letting the crew be demoralized by what was rapidly looking to be a real tragedy. She had not expected her own focus to be challenged in all this.
"Ill bet shes already up and around, chewing the captains ear off."
Science Officer Roberta Vasquez had spoken out of turn, to be sure. But even if she did not allow for Human customs in these things, Saavik knew well enough of concern and how it drove such talk. "If she is conscious, Lieutenant, then the probability that she is talking approaches one hundred percent."
The humor was mild enough that all but the most prim Vulcans would allow it, and it did seem to serve as a form of relief to the mounting pressure. For Sickbay had been silent all these hours. All knew that was not a good sign. This was confirmed by what happened next.
The turbolift doors opened, and a young man walked onto the bridge of his third Enterprise. Only much later would Saavik learn that each initial passage onto these bridges was marked by a terrible loss, as though it were a portal opened only by the spilling of dearest blood. This time was no different. Saavik noted that Vasquez looked away for now, though why, of course, the Vulcan-Romulan could not say.
The young man reported to Saavik. "Lieutenant Kirk, reporting as ordered, Commander. I am to relieve Lieutenant Vasquez, so that she and Ensign Buchanan may undergo medical tests, related to the incident aboard the shuttlecraft, this morning, involving Crewman Sulu."
Saavik had not yet looked directly at him, pondering for a moment why neither Chekov or Uhura had told her of this in advance. The answer was with her quickly. "Demora Sulu?"
It was then she turned and looked directly at him, and it was like seeing not one but two very distinct ghosts. His face, so like Davids. His stance and bearing, so like his uncles. The voice was too similar to one shed heard in her head for over a decade.
"Im sorry, Commander. Shes dead. Permission to address Mister Vasquez?"
His formality and coherence were not quite what she had expected from a Human grieving the loss of a young person hed reportedly held dear.
"Granted, Lieutenant. Am I to assume that Captain Chekov and Commander Uhura are at this time attempting to inform Captain Sulu?"
He nodded. "Aye, Commander. But Ive a feeling Christine will want to do that herself."
She raised an eyebrow, but said nothing of his overly familiar reference to the ships chief medical officer, making note of it for later. Yet this proved largely unnecessary, as Kirk caught himself on a second such reference to a thunderstruck Robbie Vasquez.
As Vasquez logged off her station, Saavik asked Kirk back over. "Lieutenant Kirk, are you in fact able to perform your duty at this time? I can make other temporary arrangements for your station, should you instead wish to honor Crewman Sulus memory."
Peter Kirk looked sad indeed, and perhaps badly worn. His reddened eyes gave best evidence of his recent tears. But Saaviks offer was flatly refused. "I am able to perform my duty, Commander. That is how I will best honor Demoras memory. Our service here was important to her. As it is to me. I appreciate your concern, though."
Sounding for her comfort a little too much like an imitation Spock, Saavik responded, "My concern, Lieutenant, is solely for the ship and its crew."
Kirk nodded again. "I know. Thats why I appreciate it. Those things come before any one or small set of officers. Commander Uhura had indicated you had this level of professionalism. Having served in places where these were somehow not a priority, Im glad to hear those concerns voiced outright."
"Dismissed, Lieutenant." With that, he turned and began logging on to his station. Saavik had an odd sensation, feeling as though his words had been lifted from her own mouth.
Lieutenant Kirk, far from seeming to be put off by what some Humans saw as her curtness, simply logged in to his station, allowing the extra time for this being his initial logging. Oddly, Saavik found she was almost used to putting people off by her relative lack of niceties. Yet since it seemed to reinforce precious efficiency, she saw no cause to alter this pattern. "Anything of note, Lieutenant Kirk?"
To put him to the test so soon might seem cruel to some, or raise a protest of his having just logged in. "A moment, Commander. I think I have something."
When that moment had passed, he turned in his chair and looked over at her. "Theres a few fields just right ahead of us that may contain traces of germanium. It tends to hit forward deflectors like rock salt against a glass window. Suggest raising deflector power twenty percent to compensate."
Saavik recalled that she had not heard the exact phrase rock salt since she had lived at Spocks aunts residence in what was the state of Washington as a child. "Very well, Lieutenant. Helm, raise deflector power in...how long, Mister Kirk?"
"Id estimate thirty-two minutes, Commander."
Saavik moved to check if is his readiness was truly as he claimed. "Do you have confidence in your initial estimate of twenty percent, Lieutenant?"
"Without closer scans, sir, twenty percent is simply the safest number I can provide without rendering us vulnerable or taxing our deflectors beyond their capabilities. Twenty percent provides the proper initial safety margin . We may find that we need to use the field itself as the final gauge."
His voice was far from unexpressive, yet it had emoted not a hint of challenge to her question. This was a positive sign, to Saaviks mind. "Very good, Lieutenant. Helm, make all such adjustments."
His recommendations had not saved the ship. They had not saved perhaps even a single life. But they had provided one of an officers best goals aboard a starship, a ride that was uneventful.
When Uhura came to relieve her, Saavik asked the first officer a question at a remove from Lieutenant Kirk. It was odd, to be sure, but this had been an odd situation from the start. "Permission to relieve Mister Kirk on his station, Commander?"
Uhura shook her head. "Saavik, I dont understand. Has his performance been below standard?"
"No, sir. It has been acceptable. Yet he has already been on duty for seven hours, and Sickbay estimates another six again before either of his reliefs can be certified ready. In addition, he endured a difficult transit after which his close friend died in front of him. Any sentient would be hard pressed to continue in this circumstance. Someone of Mister Kirks past may be even more vulnerable. I have the training necessary to handle that station."
Uhura nodded. "No ones questioning that, Mister Saavik. Yet if he is performing his duty competently, I see no reason to relieve him. In fact, I can only think of three individuals who would resist such relief more than him. They are his late uncle, Ambassador Spock, and, of course, yourself."
Saavik almost felt herself swallow. "I wish to help. A difficult initial session can color the opinion one holds of ones assignment, perhaps indefinitely. My concern is for this crew, this ship, and a burdened crew member obviously valued by the captain and yourself."
Uhura sighed. "Ill ask him. I just already know what the answer is."
The graceful older woman walked over to a man whose face was slowly morphing into that of her lost heroa hero, indeed, to them alland Saavik saw her ask a question. Slowly but surely, Kirk looked up and gently shook his head, muttering words that likely spoke of waiting for Vasquez or Buchanan. When the very private first officer reached down and squeezed the young mans hand before heading back, it was a moment Saavik swore she would never forget.
"You stand relieved, Mister Saavik. But Ill keep you in mind in case of the unexpected. Though I dare say that weve used up our quota for that this day. Oh, and Saavik? Hold off on any condolences to Captain Sulu. He needs time, and probably some sessions with Doctor Helen Noel, his ships psychologist."
Saavik had forgotten about the grieving father and legend in all of this, she realized. "Doctor Noel is a capable individual?"
Uhura looked over at Peter Kirk, and finally managed a light smile. "Saavik, you just spent seven hours with some of her very best work."
The comm relay sounded, interrupting Saavik from a fitful sleep.
The captains voice was crisp. "Saavik, Im on my way to relieve Uhura. But I thought I should speak with you. Five minutes all right?"
Wondering what matter had come up in less than eight hours, Saavik quickly showered and dressed to receive her captain. Within five minutes, he was at the door.
"Come in, sir. Is anything the matter?"
Chekov read from a report. "During that difficult initial period aboard the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Saavik twice questioned my fitness to be on duty..."
Kirk. Saavik had been afraid of something like this. "Sir, I can explain."
But Chekov kept right on talking. "...and since too many senior officers in my career have operated under the warm body theory of staffing, I feel it should at least be noted that Mister Saavik is a cut above. She should be commended, for whatever my opinion is worth."
Saavik stood there for a moment, a little put off. "He was impressed by my inquiries?"
Chekov nodded. "Da. During his orientation, he told Robbie Vasquez about this, and I decided to tell you. Im afraid his commanding officer on Prothos Colony was less than helpful during Peters efforts to contact his uncle during the Genesis affair. He once related to me rather bitterly that he missed speaking to David Marcus by ten minutes, just before the two of you left to board the Grissom. Good work, Saavik. The right kind of command support is crucial in odd and difficult situations."
Saavik could not remember having done anything different than she usually did, when addressing such matters. She thanked her captain, and decided to sleep another hour, less out of need than desire. Before falling back asleep, she did indeed recall twelve years before. She remembered David awaiting a call from a cousin that never came. Until now, she wearily thought.May 20th 2295
Saavik had heard it said that had the captain not directly asked him to speak at Demora Sulus memorial service, Lieutenant Kirk would not have. Indeed, she recalled, he had not spoken at his uncles funeral, either at Starfleet HQ or aboard the Enterprise-A. Unlike the young person whose memory they honored that day, he seemed not to be a publicly verbose individual. Then again, she recalled almost fondly, few beings were as verbose as Demora.
Heads still turned when he entered a room, and sometimes when he left. Saavik felt she knew the reason. On a ship beset by misfortune from its very start, the return of a Kirk to its overall complement meant that the luck-hole, made with his mentors passing, had been sealed. This was highly illogical, and Saavik felt certain that he himself would be the first to say so. He did not carry himself as though he were impressed with his own presence. Yet was there a truth in the feeling of restored good fortune? Demora Sulu might not agree, she realized.
"The Christmas before last, a dear friend of mine led the singing of a song, part of which implored that, through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow. That friends name was Teresa, and when the next Christmas came around, I found that the Fates did not allow. I wont repeat the list of the fallen. I will not compare my grief to that of Ambassador Spock and Doctor McCoy. And I will not grieve a second longer for Demora. She was not a part of that dark December. She was not the target of an obsessive lunatic sitting safely in a guarded fortress. She was not the victim of unreadiness and haste, indeed, she was a hero of that moment. Fortune had her here, doing her job when Scotty left us. So I will not allow myself the luxury of seeing this as a follow-through of Deaths scythe.
"What will I see? In my mind, I will see this Christmas upcoming, and a beaming Crewman Sulu having proven herself, receiving back her commission from an even prouder Godfather, while her unworthy hero urges her to keep her words brief, knowing full well she wont, and still loving her forever. We all will be together, one day. Until then, well have to muddle through somehow. For we are the living."
The last speaker, Kirk stepped down, and next to her, Saavik saw Spock begin and then restrict a motion to wipe his eye. She also saw nurses guide out a badly shaken Willis OBrien.
Chekov walked up to her. "Go up and relieve Mrs. Brooks. Ill be by in about an hour. I have to find out vwhat to do vwith Mister OBrien. I had hoped that this service vwould cauterize his vwounds, so to speak. But Demoras death has hit him like a torpedo."
Saavik noted Vasquez and Kirk talking with Commander Uhura. "Perhaps he should learn from Lieutenant Kirks example. Some would say that his many losses should have wholly enervated him. Instead, he seems almost immunized by it all." Saavik wondered even then, as she would later, why she was saying this. But her captain seized upon another facet of her words.
"Da! Saavik, you are correct. Peter may just be the one to guide our resident reporter. Well talk more later, Commander."
As he walked off, a confused Saavik nodded. "Very well, sir. Perhaps at some point, you may tell me what it is we discussed."May 27th 2295
Saavik traced the odd noise, a humming that sounded distinctly like that of an idle sentient being. Going to a section of Deck Fifteen that most of the crew avoided, she found Peter Kirk seated in a lotus position. She was roundly astounded that he, of all people, should seek such an odd remove. "Lieutenant Kirk, why are you here? This place saw your uncles death. Even the Vulcans aboard this ship report an odd sensation while here."
The fact that Spock avoided Deck Fifteen nearly altogether was good proof of that, she thought, as Kirk opened his eyes.
"My apologies, Commander. But I wanted to meditate, and this is the last place that Willis OBrien would ever think to look for me."
Saavik shook her head. While she had deeply questioned the wisdom of Captain Chekovs plan to have Kirk serve as a surrogate grief counselor to the reporter, she would never do so openly. Also, this retreat ran counter to her developing opinion of the new officer.
"You should not avoid Captain Chekovs assignment for you, no matter how distasteful you may find it, Mister Kirk. It speaks poorly of you that you should even attempt..."
A third party then entered, interrupting Saaviks chastening. It was Willis OBrien, who like a character in a parody or satire, had instantly found his quarry despite best efforts.
"Hey, Pete. Ive been looking all over for you. I meant to ask your opinion. Just how unethical was your cousin David Marcus use of protomatter, and what kind of sentence would he have faced, had he lived? Think about it, then get back to me."
He left, and Saavik raised an eyebrowalmost to the roof. Had this interloper actually disparaged her Davids motivations, knowing nothing of the other circumstances? If this was an example of his behavior, it was remarkable that Kirk hadnt stolen a shuttle by this point. She could not resume her activities until she was again calm.
"May I join you? I, too, feel the sudden need to catch up on my own meditation."
Kirk looked nervous for a bare moment. But this passed, and he moved over, never leaving his so-called lotus position. Finding her own position, it was five minutes before another word was spoken. To both their surprise, it was she who spoke them.
"What do you plan to tell him about Doctor Marcus?"
"The shocking truth. That he was my first cousin, born out of wedlock."
Kirk opened his eyes. "I can not and will not comment on the use of protomatter. My scientific background just barely allows me to explain the bio-mechanical theories behind Genesis, let alone comment on the work of a natural genius like either Doctor Marcus. For all we know, protomatter might have been the key, even if Genesis had worked as planned. I might have used it in only the trigger mechanism, for example, not the main matrix. But to the best of my knowledge, David Marcus offered no public theories on the possible origins of the Denevan Blastoneuron Parasites, and I wish to return the favor to my late cousin. I wont speak on what I dont know. Thats what I told the Genesis emergency team that contacted me, among others, during the Kelvan War. Thats what Ill tell OBrien."
His defense was passionate, and that she could tell, sincere. But this moved to open an ugly wound in Saavik. "You are loyal to a cousin you never met. So why did you cooperate with members of the species that caused his death at Dianas?"
They both knew she was speaking of Klingons. He looked directly at her. "He was your friend."
"Yes. But that he was does not answer my question."
Peter Kirk did not break eye contact. But he did recoil, just a bit. "I have no answer of any value, Commander. I was lost in a miasma of blind hate. Hate for myself, and everything, and everyone. In fact, Koloths presence was one of two things that finally made me realize I had committed crimes, that my lame excuses no longer mattered. That they never did."
"What was the second thing?"
"An innocent woman named Laurel McCutcheon. When I fully realized I had put her life in mortal peril over some stupid scam, I stopped running and found her. Thats the simple version. But its also the truth."
Saavik noted that he had not mentioned his accomplice and likely mastermind of the crimes, a man named Tom Cooper, nor possible and likely intimidation by the Klingons. While truncated, his answer was unsparing towards himself. "I meant no offense, Lieutenant Kirk. But I was confused by the dichotomy inherent in your words and actions."
He smiled, and began to chuckle. "No more than me, Commander. No matter what drove me there, I have no excuses and few explanations for it. But there I was. I did it, and I actually deserved worse than what I had coming. One sorry life ended for me, and another began."
Saavik took this in. The old wound began to close. This man was not who he had been, she now knew for sure. "Did Laurel McCutcheon eventually forgive you?"
Kirk nodded. "For Dianas, yes. But not for stepping on her toes as we danced at her wedding, last June. That shes got me back for."
Saavik puzzled at this. "You were a guest at her wedding?"
"Well, her guest and her husbands. Jaions a great guy."
Saavik was no less thrown off. "You...kidnapped this woman and yet she and her husband asked you to be there as they began their lives together?"
"Well, not to mitigate what happened, but Laurel fell into ourer, clutchesbecause she was following me out of concern. Before I alienated her, she was sort of interested in me. She helped me then, and later on, to get straightened out. Shes a real friend."
Saavik went back to her now-extended meditation. On her mind was a man she could not figure, perhaps at all.May 30th 2295
Saavik entered Spocks quarters ten minutes after her call. She looked annoyed. He looked distracted, though she took only marginal note of this at first. "I was flipped."
Saavik saw Spock put aside his bowl of oatmeal, and she nodded. "He flipped me."
Spock covered his bowl, so as not to have to immediately reheat it. He perhaps sensed a long chat. "He being?"
Saavik sat down, and folded her arms. "Peter Kirk. Chterr was demonstrating principles of leverage, and I acted as the one to be flipped, if the crewmembers could. I had cleared the room, but for him. My strength is easily five times his, and I have lived under far harsher conditions. Logic dictates that I should have overcome him as well."
Spock seemed to eye his bowl, once in a while, but if this was a hint, it was one Saavik never picked up. "Logic suggests, Saavik-kam, that you in fact did not use logic at all. Did you proceed under the assumption that no one short of myself or perhaps Lieutenant Chterr had the means to upend you?"
Saavik appeared to hesitate before answering. "If I did, it isa forgivable assumption. If I did. If."
Spock inaudibly sighed, and temp-sealed the bowl entirely. "If so, then therein lies the cause of your defeat. With the proper training and skills, even a physical specimen such as Mister Escri could..."
Saaviks light glare spoke a world of rebuttals.
"...well, it is in the realm of possibility. I suppose. The point being, you perhaps sorely underestimated Peter Kirk, and about that you now seem perhaps...sore."
"I am not sore!" She paused and gathered her disciplines. "That is to say, I am not at all sore. I am confused. How do you propose that my underestimation occurred?"
Spock wiped off his eating utensil with a cloth. "There are several factors, from my vantage point. One is the incorrect assumption many have, including the captain and first officer, that Mister Kirk is at his best in a crisis. That was true once, as it was of his uncle for much of his life. But after the successful evacuation of the royal household on Serenidad two years ago, he stopped attempting to directly prove himself against the crimes he had previously committed. You may have been told of this, and assumed that since this was not a crisis, he would not be at his best."
Saavik nodded. "I had been informed of this, when he was first recruited to serve aboard this Enterprise. Do you see other reasons?"
Spock nodded. "Remember that, unlike most Humans, Peter was forced to relearn many basic limb functions at an age near that of reason. He, therefore, knows how to utilize much more of his strength, although in truth he is merely as strong as a Human male of his height, weight and build would suggest. This self-knowledge is expanded, complemented on and in fact multiplied by his chosen martial disciplines, many taught to him recently by a deceased Xartheb chief of security, a woman of power and determination. There are four dead Klingon assassins who precede you in wrongly underestimating Mister Kirk. His left shoulder bears the mark of one of their dktagh daggers"
Spock saw her face narrow at that word, and took the edges of her fingers in his hand. "Apologies, Saavik-kam. It is easy to forget."
Not in disdain, she pulled her fingers back. "You of all owe me no apologies. But was my lack of foresight in this matter caused by anything else, in your opinion?"
Spock now seemed the one to hesitate. "I have nothing else for now, Saavik-kam. Except to say that he enjoys your company. He has told me this. He prefers an officer not intimidated by his surname or recent reputation. That you know of his past and respect his privacy counts also in your favor. Now, I fear I must resume my meal."
Saavik looked a bit lost as Spock started eating again. "He has said this of me?"
Spock swallowed, then answered. "He has. Saavik, I delayed my meal the entire night while corresponding with Sarek on his next meeting with the Legaran envoy. I am, as a result, quite famished. May we continue this later?"
She lightly smiled, and nodded. "Of course. Oh. Are those raisins in your oatmeal?"
Spock looked down at the lumps, then continued eating. "One would tend to hope so."June 13th 2295
In the galley, Saavik inwardly rejoiced that the overlong shift was over. She would continue reading over the report on Freuds influence. But hopefully, this was the end of her awkwardness around Peter Kirk. He was not David, and he was not the captain. Though she would always love David and hold James Kirk dear to her heart, this one was different. Still all too Human. But also somehow more accepting of her as she was. Spock had said that he enjoyed the fact that she was not intimidated by him. She in turn appreciated the reciprocal response. The others were thrown off by either of her dual heritages, or by her association with the legends of Enterprise, or by her not-unearned reputation of temper and distance. He was not.
"So, Lisa? Didja really climb in with him?"
The chatter of what poor Demora had called the she-wolf-pack interrupted Saaviks thoughts only briefly. In Kirks body language, he conveyed an ease apparent to those who could see it. Those who should have most hated him nearly counted him as kin, it seemed. The man who might one day put more bars on his uniform had once slapped manacles on him, and was his greatest booster. If the generation after the legends had a harder path, she realized, then she was now dealing with the one who had blazed that harsh trail. Had Pavel and Uhura been more certain she could be redeemed, having previously acted as guides to Peter Kirk?
"Well, sure. Ya know, Willis was drunk as the proverbial, and Ive had my eye on the lieuey since he taught class at the Academy. It was just soooo easy to mistakenly climb in. Luckily, he sleeps in the all-together-now."
There was something familiar about their hormonal banter, but Saavik continued to ignore it. She would rest soon. The captains amused laughter would fade, and she would learn to deal with Kirk, and the possibilities he presented, whatever course they took. Her unintended phallic verbal faux pas was merely what it seemed. Nothing more.
"So? Lisa Gatchmeinz, dont you hold back on us!"
"Mmmm. I reached down, and I quickly had my hands full. He freaked, pushed me out, and stood above me with his palm arched above my nose. I forgot that hes a martial arts bad ass. Well, Willis turns the light on, starts laughing his ass off, and I saw what I came to see. Pete told me to go take a cold shower. I made the obvious offer, but he just went back to bed. But guess what? Before he woke up, he said Sita? I think he was totally dreaming about the Princess. I mean, everyone knows she was a big"
Her peaceful thoughts ruined, Saavik called a halt to the inane proceedings. "Ensign Gatchmeinz! Are you aware that you are about to defame a planetary sovereign, the late wife of the Starfleet Surgeon General, not to mention your direct superior, a lieutenant whose privacy you have just indicated you intentionally violated?"
Gatchmeinz gulped. "Sorry, Commander. It wont happen again."
"I intend to direct this matter to the attention of the ships executive officer in four hours. I suggest you prepare a statement of your actions and submit yourself voluntarily for disciplinary action before I do so."
Saavik left, her thoughts now intermixed with the narrative shed had no choice but to overhear.
After she was gone, Gatchmeinzs friend grinned. "She soooo wants him!"
Gatchmeinz almost giggled. "Well, you know what they always say about his uncle and the Ambassador..."
Sipping tea three tables away, Spock now took notice of this conversation.June 19th 2295
In the gym, Saavik took to a fighting stance. "I must be fair, Lieutenant Kirk. This time, I will not be a stationary target, allowing you to seek leverage for an infinite period of time."
Kirk stood ready, his palms opened but curved inward just slightly. "Known and understood, Commander."
Her first, right-handed blow was a feint, and seemed certain to drive him into the full range of her left hand. But he did not move aside as her right hand came weakly at him, her force having been behind the left hand, which he blocked with the back of his right hand. While her unblocked right met him fully, it had not been properly tensed, and did little to effect his stance. Quickly gripping it in a contrary position, Kirk forced Saavik to spin to release the hand.
Taking advantage of this, Saavik began a jump on the last arc of her spin, joined to a full force leg sweep that would end the match without truly harming him.
But Kirk was not to be so easily undone, sinking quickly to the mat while beginning his own leg-sweep that Saavik saw in time. For a moment a back and forth began, the opened hands of the Human turning back the fists of the Vulcan/Romulan. Then it finally happened. His palm still opened but tightly crouched, Peter Kirk shoved it into her stomach, staggering Saavik as though he had struck a panoply of blows instead of a single one. Back she went, til she fell off the mat.
Gasps filled the room.
Kirk nodded, and offered a hand up to his opponent. "Excellent form, Commander. I dont often have to resort to that last method. Shall we go again?"
She stood up. "What did you do?"
He shrugged. "I channeled myself into that blow. Like water, all that I was struck with me in that one spot."
She shook her head. "I have of course, studied the path of Surak. That said, I was not cut down with any sort of philosophy, Mister Kirk."
"Actually, Mister Saavik, my sensei would likely argue that philosophy is all one needs to win a battle of any sort. Again?"
She looked at him, and spoke honestly. "I will require a moment to ready myself."
While she limbered and reflected on his words, a new voice was heard. It was Security Officer Feliytz. "I guess we all have to take a fall eventually, eh, Commander Saavik?"
Saavik did not openly sigh. The enmity between herself and Feliytz dated back to the missions chaotic opening days, and a report of negligence that perhaps cost Feliytz the position of Assistant Security Chief. "That would seem logical, Mister Feliytz."
Perhaps the tough younger man was chuckling just a little too much for Kirks taste, for he seemed to then call him out. "Ensign? While the commander is readying herself, how about a round?"
Feliytz shrugged. "Have it your way, Lieutenant. But I cant go easy on you. We dont play around in Security. No tricks, or haiku. Just the take-down."
Kirk grinned. "In other words, it wont be like my vacation on Serenidad, right?"
"Give the man a cigar!"
Saavik muttered well under her breath. "Again with the cigars."
Feliytz opened with a power move, a hard shove meant to be used by someone quite a bit larger. Kirk correctly saw it for a distraction, and dodged his sweeping feet. Feliytz kept smiling. "I wouldnt rest just yet, sir."
Like an endless phaser beam, his foot sweeps continued seemingly ad infinitum. It was a good method for a quick take down, as Feliytz had promised. But it was one meant more for drunkards or those who were otherwise in trouble. In this sort of battle, it was merely a neat trick. Though his hands kept a blow from landing, and his stance through the sweeps was a strong one, Feliytz was wide open for an even neater trick, as demonstrated when Peter landed on the mans two feet with his own. Feliytz went sprawling from the next blow to his shoulder.
Kirk offered his hand up. "We rise and we fall all on our own. We take the falls we choose to take."
Bowing a good couple of times, a chastened Feliytz withdrew.
Kirk turned back to Saavik. He mimicked the defeated former onlooker. "I guess we all have to take a fall. Why does fate always have someone like that waiting around, just when were starting to enjoy ourselves?"
Another voice interrupted. "Hey, Pete! Another round with her, then Im next."
Saavik smiled at the thought of the loud engineers upcoming fate. "Life has its moments, Mister Kirk. Yours is about to have one."
Her feints were of a better grade, this time, and he hit the mat, followed by his rapid disposal of Mister Sorensen. Still, by the time Uhura came to remind them of their upcoming shifts, Peter Kirk was still ahead by one or two matches. Not that counts were kept, by that point.June 26th 2295
Doctor Beals offered her simple opinion of Saaviks woes. "Youre attracted to him."
Saavik shook her head. "I am intrigued by him, and I enjoy his company. I do not feel as though he is judging me, as some are apt to. Our sparring matches bring me a measure of satisfaction, and some physical release."
Beals blinked twice. "Mister Saavik, to use the extremely technical psychoanalytic jargonyouve got it bad. Why is this concept so unsettling to you? Youve spoken of a relationship with Doctor David Marcus. I would think that being attracted to a first cousin who so resembles him would almost be logical."
Saavik perhaps surprised them both with her next statement. "David was not yet mature when we met. I found it distressing at times. Peter Kirk is mature. He has a sizable degree of emotional control. He is disciplined. He is focused, and methodical. He takes this life we have chosen seriously. He is as unlike his uncle and cousin as he is like them. He has those qualities I admired in them both, while possessing less of those I found confusing."
Beals made an intuitive leap. "He was not who you expected."
Saavik nodded. "When I read his file, I felt rage to see that he had ever cooperated with Klingons. But the captain assured me this was in the past. When he came aboard, I thought certain that someone with his history, both recent and long-term, would surely collapse in grief for his dear young friend. Yet he held his post for an overlong period, and did so quite well. I had thought that at least while he was new, he would have to be repeatedly reminded that a surname purchases nothing aboard this ship. But he speaks rarely of his uncle, and usually only when prompted to. I had thought that my approach to matters would have him complaining, as some have, to the captain or first officer. Instead, he calls this one of my strengths. I raise work issues when we speak of other matters, and he does not mind."
Beals tried for the kill. "What is it you want from Mister Kirk, Saavik?"
Saavik felt a chill as she answered. "I want him out of my head. I wish him to go away. And I am very much afraid that he will do just that."
Beals kept in a sigh, for although Saavik could not know it, she was hearing something like this for the second time that day.June 29th 2295
Command officers short of the captain were encouraged to take part in landing parties, especially those for which they had known skills. So it was that Saavik waited for a mission to be technically headed by Xenobiologist Kirk, then simply requested to replace Ensign Buchanan, still smarting in some respects from the tragedy that began on the survey mission to Brikgtor Four. While her orders could and did override his, barring an emergency, Kirk had charge over where this mission went.
"Anything on the thermal scans, Mister Saavik?"
"Negative, Mister Kirk. Only plant life, all below the order of the so-called Venus Flytraps. No animal life at all."
Kirk scanned the leaves for a square kilometer around him.
"The most potent toxin here wouldnt even cause a stomach ache. Poison ivy, oak, sumac, etcetera...all unknown on this side of paradise."
Saavik nodded. "Not even a euphoria-inducing flower."
Kirk turned and laughed. "Very good, Commander. Its good to be with someone who knows all the references."
She would talk to him today, she determined. End this nonsense. Tell him not to potentially misread her faulty signals. She did enjoy his company, that much was certain. Though she loved him still, she vowed to no longer let Davids ghost stand between her and those she wished to befriend. Hed had his say, and his final release. She now would have her life back.
"Mister Kirk? I am detecting no traditional sources of combustible fuel, save perhaps for peat moss. This raises a question."
He nodded. "Where are the life-forms that produced the carbon dioxide these plants needed to grow at this level? If this is Eden, where are the beasts of the field?"
Kirk took another scan, then noted something in his datapadd. "I may have a hypothesis. But Ill need time to let these initial scans process. Lunch, Commander?"
"A good idea, Lieutenant. What have you brought?"
It was something Humans seemed to ask, and it gave a means of release, so she had picked it up. "Tomato Rice Soup with Andorian Pogra spice. Mild, though. I frankly dont have the courage to try Pogra Pagra. Ive heard horror stories since the Academy about that stuff. Plus I have to avoid foods with possible strong psychoactive properties."
Saavik realized anew that she was one of five officers who knew of Peter Kirks criminal past aboard the Enterprise. She moved to change the subject. "Mine is cream cheese and jelly on rye bread. A favorite of my Aunt Roberta."
Kirk nodded. "She was a nice lady."
Saavik came close to choking on her first bite. "You knew her?"
Peter Kirk smiled. "Back in 75, when Enterprise returned from the Serenidad Tragedy. I think all the families headed for San Francisco, awaiting word on what had happened. Starfleet wasnt saying much. At the Commissary, Grandma Marjorie pulled me over, and introduced me to Mister Spocks great-aunt. Grandma Marjorie pulled me over, and introduced me to Mister Spocks Great-Aunt. After I said hello, Grandma got a sly look that meant trouble. She told me, Ms. Grayson has a niece about your age. Well, I coughed, excused myself, and hid for a while. She told me later that I would end up regretting that choice."
He then looked directly at her. "She was right. I wish Id met you all those years ago. Maybe then, I wouldnt be making such an obvious fool of myself around you now."
When it truly sank in that his words were not some random imagining on her part, Saavik looked back at her fellow officer. "Lieutenant?"
Kirk no longer seemed the sure-footed master of the arena mat. He no longer seemed sure of anything. "I came aboard this ship to work. And work. And work so hard, my heart would have time to heal after this past Decembers nightmare. It was going to be perfect. I would be serving under two people who would never give me needless grief, nor ever give me an unfair advantage. I would be serving with a good kid who, despite seeing me in some kind of heroic light, also wouldnt be fawning over me and didnt want more than a close friendship. I would be serving, despite losing Jim, aboard his ship, and God help me, but I would no longer be in the periphery of his limelight. I would be Peter Kirk, an officer of some means and skill, and would rise or fall at last by way of me and me alone."
He shrugged. "But the good kid was dying as I smiled at her to say hello. Captain Chekov and Commander Uhura still sometimes react to me like I was channeling Jim or something. The negative man who was once called scary is now the positive man, praised for being intense. And I was a fool to believe that his mere passage from this plane could ever let me be just Peter, not Kirk. Yet I found myself capable of adjusting to all that. You, on the other hand, Lieutenant Commander Saavik, are another story. And it makes no sense."
She felt something stir, perhaps even in that place where David once stayed.
He raised one hand and gestured with it as he spoke. "You embody everything I hoped for when I came aboard. I dont seem to impress you by way of mere surname or heritagebecause youre also a part of that heritage. You believe in working when working, not discussing who saw whose personal business. I can be at ease around you, because the fact that youre doing your duty is not ever in question. But while I can be at ease around you, I am most certainly not."
Saavik was beginning to suppress a shudder. "Go on."
He did. "I am going to emerge from this moment as a great idiot. Because either the attraction I feel for you is a one-way thing, in which case Ive compromised our working relationship, or it is by some miracle mutual, in which case I have to say I cant follow through on it. Im not ready. Not now. Part of my soul is on that soldered piece of plating on Deck Fifteen. Another part lies where two little boys fell in a lake on Serenidad, and another on QonoS, where demons howled in hellish laughter as an angel was gutted. Scotty and Demora can lay claim to still more of that soul. There is nothing left of me, and there wont be for a time longer than I can foresee. So again, either youre about to say that Im alone in these feelings, or that Im not, and that its too bad we couldnt have met when I was stronger."
Saavik felt the words nearly flow out, much more easily than she could have imagined. "You are not alone. Either in the attraction, or in the lack of readiness. You credit me with a greater focus than I truly have, Mister Kirk. As I stood before this assignment, you might well have been a better choice for Tactical. Captain Chekov and Commander Uhura have, if anything, been more patient and trusting with me than with you. I was on my way out of Starfleet. Like you once had, I ignored a long-term mental health concern until it nearly cost me everything. Like you had, I spurned help. So if you desire time to see if our mutual attraction should endure, I say that we both have that time."
"But what will we be in the meantime?"
She thought that over. "Two people who enjoy each others company. With no other labels. I see no need of them, or use for them. We are Saavik and Peter, bound by two of the greatest men this galaxy will ever know. I say that this is enough."
He smiled, nodded, and took another few spoonfuls of his soup. "That is a great burden to have lifted, Commander. Life just always seems to jump me, and I end up stepping on toes. If we can avoid that and still work well together, theres only one thing that could make me happier, here and now."
If he was to engage in innuendo, Saavik decided, she would reciprocate, so long as it remained mild. "And that is?"
He closed his eyes. "Freshly cooked potato chips, lifted hot from a steaming kettle of vegetable oil, crunchy and so salty, your mouth sues for separate custody."
Saavik could taste them. "With vinegar?"
He looked fully alive, now. But while the subject seemed changed, Saavik recalled that Freud had some choice words about food and cooking. "Well, there has to be vinegar. And grated cheddar set aside. I know I could make them, but I dont have my grandmothers recipe. Its more than just peeling and setting up a cauldron."
She raised and shook a finger. "I have my aunts recipes. But they are in a form of shorthand, one might say. I have yet to reason them out in any meaningful way."
He bit his lower lip briefly. "Grandma always said that a recipe can be reconstructed, so long as you know the amount of the main ingredients involved. Give me a day. I could have it set up. Plus this world seems to have a fair amount of russet-like tubers, just waiting to be harvested."
She lightly sighed. "You do realize that we run the risk of succeeding in setting up their so-called blind date?"
He got up, having finished his meal. "Not if we play it smart. I once had a close friend who never recognized the value of not dwelling on the past. Well, Im in no mood to talk about things I cant alter. Maybe I will be. But for right now, lets call a line a line."
She agreed of course. There had been those who actually queried her about Hellguard, and she had never once known what to say. "I am glad to hear you say that, Peter."
He looked over. "Thank you, Saavik. But lets keep to rank in public, all right? Otherwise, people may talk."
"Err...Peter? About people talking"
Kirks face turned beet-red, but he kept his calm. "Well, maybe I am unique in that way. After all, Lisa Gatchmeinz would know about that sort of comparison, if anyone would. But she really is a talented cyberneticist."
Saavik let one go, despite herself. "I have heard that she often gets into her work."
Kirk got an evil grin. "And vice versa." He stopped. "Its so easy to make fun of poor Lisa."
"So lets keep doing it!"
A young woman paid dearly for her choice of beds that long afternoon, while two other young people found their equilibrium in lives that never seemed to allow for that simple thing. Their resolve to let events proceed without undue pressure was well thought out, and it was firm, and it was sincere.
Needless to say, by the end of the month, outside events had placed them in each others arms, discussing the very things they had sworn to avoid. And as they kissed and declared for the first time, they sometimes heard two beloved matchmakers chuckle knowingly, just the other side of eternity. And the two had only begun.
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