DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2022 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

It's in the Spaces Between That We Fall in Love

by Djinn



Part 7: How We Were One


Spock pats down his hair as he walks with Christine to the apartment: it will not do to look as if he has just had sex with his woman—multiple times—in the classroom. He feels tied to her by more than physical proximity—the bond between them is open and finally free. They walk slowly because it is distracting, this happiness bouncing between them, taking what is both of theirs and making it one.


Finally, the unity between them coalesces and he finds he can walk without having to actively think about putting his feet down. He hears her sigh in what he can feel is relief.


"I was afraid it was always going to be so..." She frowns. "All the words sound pejorative: overwhelming, intrusive, distracting. But it's not—it feels so good. Just—"


"Overwhelming, intrusive and distracting." He allows himself a small smile. "I think because we were not able to allow it to grow and develop naturally—we were always so careful to keep it at a distance—it is now making up for lost time."


"I can't say I mind. It was pretty amazing during sex." She grins and pulls out her communicator. "You sure about me moving in?"


"I am."


"Then what's the address? I left my stuff at the transporter hub's temporary storage."


He gives it to her and listens with satisfaction as she instructs them where to send her things.


She will be with him—with them. Saavik is not expecting this and he thinks it will be the best surprise she has ever had.


It is certainly the best that he has had.


"Did you really not know Jim and I were breaking up?"


"I pulled so far away, Christine. Distance and this new role helped. But...were you sincerely upset? I would think I would have felt it if you had been deeply grieving."


"I think I grieved those first few times. After that I was just so focused, like a doctor trying to resuscitate a patient. And...I think I shut down around him. He didn't hurt me because he also didn't make me very happy. The only thing that did was running with Saavik and hanging out with La'an. You were never there when I picked Saavik up at the embassy."


"No. I made sure to be gone. She understood why, I believe. She is wise beyond her years after watching the things she did as a child."


"Yeah. Pragmatic as fuck."


"Not how I would have put it but accurate."


She laughs. "You know I'm not going to quit swearing around her."


"When have you ever...?" He stops for a moment so he can look at her—really appreciate that she is here and she is his. "My father will be so self satisfied."


"That's okay. I like him."


"And he likes you. As does my mother. Although she was not as sure of our future success."


"She's human. She understands me better."




"Is there a reason we're standing in the middle of the path with you staring at me like some lovesick sap?"


"Yes. I want to."


She laughs again and moves a little closer. "I'll ruin your reputation."


"I do not care." But he starts them moving again because he wants to share this with Saavik.


The woman they love is coming home to them.


They get to his apartment and he puts her on the external and internal door systems. The concierge is not at his post so Spock takes her upstairs—he will check on her things later.


He opens the door and they have barely walked in when Saavik launches herself at Christine with a squeal he has no idea she could make.


She is spinning them around and Spock realizes it is the same thing La'an and Christine do. "The concierge called. Your stuff is downstairs. You stuff is downstairs!" She stops them and stares into Christine's face. "Tell me you're moving in."


"I'm moving in."


"Tell me it's not temporary."


"It's not—unless I get sent out again."


"Tell me you two are together."


"We are." Christine is grinning. "Tell me you're going to run out of things I have to tell you."


"I'm sorry it didn't work out with Kirk." She almost sounds sincere and Spock is proud of her.


"No you're not. But I appreciate you lying about it." She glances back at him. "I guess Romulans can lie, huh?"


"That was never in doubt. You would be surprised how many times she goes out for a girl's meal with my mother and neglects to tell me that means they are eating meat."


"The horror." Christine lays the back of her hand over her forehead like she's about to faint from the shock but winks at Saavik. "Can I come or is that prime bonding time with Amanda?"


"Yes but also yes."


"Well, we can go out carnivoring just the two of us. If your grandma doesn't want to share."


"Two times is twice as good."


"Nothing wrong with her math skills." Christine puts her arm around her and leads her to the couch.


Spock can tell Saavik is trying to not smile too widely, to not show her joy, to be the Vulcan she has learned to be from her tutors and him and his parents, and he finally says, "Saavikaam, when it is just us, comport yourself as you wish."


Christine strokes her face. "You can be Vulcan. You can be Romulan. You can be whatever the fu—hell you want to be. Your choice. Got it?"


She smiles and it's a beautiful thing, so full of happiness, and it mirrors what Spock is feeling also but will not show, not in that open of a way.


They each have their paths.


Christine pulls her in for a hug. "I know I should be sad—losing Jim wasn't easy—but...but I'm just so happy to be here."


And she is. He can feel it. He does not have to guess from her facial expression or her words or her body language. He can feel it.


It is all he ever wanted.


She glances back at him, her smile sweet and loving. Then she turns back to Saavik. "And I'm going to be way less easy on you than your father is when it comes to school."


Saavik just smiles. "So I've narrowed it down to physics or chem."


He realizes Saavik is continuing a conversation they must have had on one of their runs or over comms. She does not talk to him about her preferences the way she does to Christine.


"So you're still sure about science?"


"I still am." She leans back, her head on Christine's shoulder. "With you two as my parents, how was I going to be anything else but a scientist?"


He walks around so he can see Christine's face. She is smiling and her eyes are bright as she says, "You thought of me as your mother even though I was never there?"


"You were always there. If I needed you, I just called. And when you were here, you took me so many interesting places. I count on you."


"That's sort of like I was your cool aunt, though." She leans her head on Saavik's. "Not that I don't want to be your mom, or didn't think of you as my daughter, because I do. I just didn't know that you did too."


"No one else would have caught me on Hellguard. They'd have had to stun me."


He nods. "I believe that." He suddenly feels the need to get Christine's things up to the apartment and calls down to the concierge.


He wants her comfortable and settled.


And theirs. Finally theirs.




Spock sits in his parents' private dining room at the embassy, Christine on one side and his mother on the other. Saavik sits next to his father, who keeps looking at Christine, next to him, then at Spock as if to say, "See how this came to be just as I said?"


If Spock were not so happy, he would be annoyed.


Christine puts her hand on his knee and he can tell she is trying not to laugh.


So apparently can his father. "You find something amusing, Daughter?"


"You aren't subtle, Sarek."


"And yet he persists in thinking he is," his mother says with a wry smile.


"I am trying to be. I have not yet asked Saavik her plans, as I so often do at the start of the meal and hear from both you and Spock that I should not push."


"You're doing a great job of not pushing." Now it is Saavik who is trying not to laugh.


It never seems to bother Sarek, her lack of control at times like these. Perhaps because his own eyes are twinkling.


"She has qualified for early admission to Starfleet Academy," Spock says, not without some satisfaction at her success.


"About that..." She is looking at Christine.


Christine turns to him. "We were just bumming around campus the other day and a friend of mine came to lunch with us. She was the one who made that database you once helped with?" She wiggled her nails at him and he nodded, remember the man who would have hurt her. "She's a dean now, of an intensive four-year program. Combination bachelors and masters."


"At Stanford?"






"I would enter through ROTC." Saavik says. "Stanford's program is well regarded. Well, everything at Stanford is."


He can hear Christine in her words, in the way she wants suddenly to upend all she has done and go this new route. "The Academy adds a luster to one's Starfleet resume that ROTC cannot duplicate."


Christine's eyebrow goes up. "And Stanford adds a luster to a scientific resume that the Academy cannot duplicate. Who knows if she'll even want to go active duty when she finishes. Maybe the reserves will be more in line with her career path."


He realizes his father is watching him closely.


"You have an opinion, Father."


"Only that I remember you telling me you had no obligation to follow in my footsteps. I wonder now if you will pressure Saavik to do what you would not?"


Christine has withdrawn her hand and he turns to study her. Her expression is calm, not at all as if she has planned this to happen in front of his parents. Where he cannot possibly argue his case without seeming a hypocrite.


She smiles gently at him. "She'll enter Starfleet—if she decides to join and so far I believe she wants to"—she looks over at Saavik who nods with as innocent a look as she is capable of—"as a lieutenant. My friend has had multiple people do that from ROTC with her masters degree. She can choose science or command track once she's in and if it's the latter, she'll spend some time at the Academy." Her smile is wary and just the slightest bit sheepish. "She wanted to see the campus and one thing led to another."


"She wants to be like you."


"I hardly think that is a bad thing, darling." His mother sips her wine, her smile a knowing one. "Although I imagine you will have some interesting conversations tonight. Saavik, do you want to go out to the beach house with us and let your parents work out their differences alone?"


"Their differences or my future? Because I get to choose." She sounds like the girl from Hellguard, who wasn't sure she wanted anything to do with him.


"Your future is your own, Saavikaam. But Christine and I may need to discuss the need for pre-briefing prior to family dinners."


"This is not Christine's fault. I asked as I do every dinner," Sarek says.


"Technically you did not ask, Grandfather."


"I am trying to help you, Granddaughter."


"Oh. Right. Sorry."


"Christine, did you know before you brought it up that I ask this question of Saavik at these dinners?"


"Ummm, yes." She glares at Spock. "I hate that I hate lying."


He does not mind it; it is one of her best qualities.


"Oh, then yes, you will need to discuss pre-briefing with Spock." His father looks amused. "I must say, my son, usually it is your mother telling me I must do that with her. It would appear you and she will have much in common."


Christine laughs. "I just want her to know what her choices are. The decision is hers."


Spock thinks that is easy for her to say after not being here the entire time Saavik was enrolled in a school specifically designed for those who desire early entry into the Academy. Saavik showed no sign of that not being her desired path until Christine moved in.


He sighs, Christine takes his hand and says, "I'm sorry I screwed up your plans," and Saavik tells his mother she would very much like to go out to the beach house.


"Are you coming, darling?" she asks his father.


"Someone must supervise you two." He lifts an eyebrow, making Christine and his mother laugh.


Must his woman be so charmed by his father? Spock knows he is being ridiculous. If Christine did not like Sarek, that would be very uncomfortable for him and Saavik too. It is better this way.


Even if he feels slightly ganged up on.


When dinner winds down, he and Christine leave Saavik with his parents—they all keep sets of clothes and toiletries at the beach house so they do not need to bring suitcases back and forth. He will need to tell Christine to pack some things to leave there when they eventually go.


As they walk back to his apartment, she says, "How angry are you?"


"Can you not tell from the bond?"


"You're shielding."


Is he? He assesses his mental state. "I am not, actually."


"Then you're barely mad."


"I believe any aggravation I might feel is so much less than the contentment being with you is bringing me."


"Awww, Spock. That's so sweet."


"But please do not do that again. You put me in no-win situation."


"I know. But Saavik told me you seemed very invested in her going to the Academy and doing well once she was there. Have you talked about her being first in her class?"


"Only because she is so free at times. Her Romulan half allows her to access emotions in a way a Vulcan simply cannot after the years of training we are subjected to. It is that discipline that is often perceived as coldness—that prevents us from excelling in group activities as is necessary to get top honors."


"Still sore you graduated number three, huh?"


He does not answer her, but he knows she can feel the amused annoyance as she laughs.


"What are we going to do with the apartment all to ourselves for the first time since I moved in?"


"I am going to pleasure you on the dining room table. To remind you that family dinners are best prepared for together."


"Are you going to make me come?"


"Yes. Eventually."


"Then I imagine this is a lecture I will enjoy." She takes his hand for a moment. "I really enjoyed dinner. I really love your family."


"As they do you."


She lets go of his hand once they are at the entrance to their building, palming them in and he calls the lift. Once they are in the apartment, he backs her up and pushes her onto the dining room table, which is conveniently cleaned off from a project Saavik was working on the night before.


He pushes her skirt up and pulls her panties off. "Repeat after me: I will discuss important things with Spock before bringing them up in front of the family."


She shakes her head, her eyes sparkling.


He begins to touch her; she is so ready for him it is difficult not to crawl on top of her, but he controls himself. He gets her close and then says it again.


"I'll run it by you—Spock finish me off."


"I am not sure you are fully aware of what you are agreeing to. Perhaps I should stop." He pulls his fingers away and she grabs them, saying, "I promise, I promise, I promise. Just do it."


Leaning down to kiss her, then to whisper in her ear, "You promised, you promised, you promised" he takes her over the edge.


She is not quiet. He does not mind at all.


She lies still for a moment, breathing fast, but then lets him pull her up as she urges him into the kitchen, pushes up his robe and pulls down his underwear, and has him hop up onto the counter. "I think about this every time we're in here."


And then she stops talking because she has captured him with her mouth and is making him moan. She is not playing games and he is quickly gone, stroking her hair, then pulling her up to kiss him.


"And now I too will think about this."


They kiss for a long time until she murmurs, "Where else?" and he leads her into his office, hikes her up on the desk, and takes her that way.


"It's going to be a really long night, isn't it." She kisses him and he can feel her pleasure through the bond, through her skin, and through the meld he initiates as they hold each other. "Oh yeah, that's the way to do it."


"I love you, Christine."


"Even when I annoy you?"


"Even then."




They are all at the beach house, enjoying the last days with Saavik who has opted for Stanford, and will be living on campus. If she is going to choose this path, Spock wants her to experience it fully even though she could easily commute.


She plops down next to him where he sits on the sand and says, "I need to tell you something."


"You have decided to run away to join the circus?" He enjoys her laugher.


"That's a good one."


"It is an old one. Your grandmother used to say it to me when I would say I had something to tell her."


"Mine is less exotic. I just...I'm thinking of trying out for the cross-country team."


He closes his eyes and nods. He has been expecting this; Christine also ran cross country for Stanford. "Are you lying, Saavik? Perhaps you have already tried out and have made the team?"


"Why do you think I'd lie to you?"


"That is not an answer."


"Okay, maybe I've done one tryout already and made the first cut. But there's three more to get through. It is in no way assured." She takes a deep breath. "I want your honest opinion. Do you think it is too much? This and ROTC and the intensive studies? I managed it at the preparatory but I think this will be way harder."


"Yes. But you are the one living it." He studies her. "Are you doing this because you want to? Or are you doing this because you think Christine will approve? She will approve of you no matter what you do."


She nods.


"Also, I want you to consider this. Running is something that I believe gives you joy. That is something to be cherished. If it becomes an obligation, will it still give you joy?"


"I do not know." She lifts sand and then lets it fall. "It's a lot to take on."


"She will not care one way or the other, Saavikaam, so long as you are happy."


She touches his hand very gently. "Have I told you recently that I love you."


"No, you have been telling the woman I brought home that."


She laughs. "Oops. Well, I love you, Spock."


"As I do you." He wants to muss her hair as he did when she was a child, but she is a young woman now. Not a child.


He sees one of the servants come out, leading a slight figure in a hooded cloak. "Sir, you have a visitor."


"Shouldn't they have waited in the parlor?" Saavik whispers.




He sees his father gesture for him to bring the person up to the patio he and his mother and Christine are relaxing on. "Come with me, Saavik."


They make their way to the figure. It is a female, but Spock cannot tell the age from the way the cloak shields her face. "Please join us on the patio."


He glances at the servant and realizes he is new and probably does not understand his faux pas. No doubt his mother will set him straight. The ambassador is not always available, and certainly not during private time.


"Bring our guest water." It is a neutral form of hospitality. No promises implied, no aggression either.


"Sit," his father says, gesturing to a chair that is set off from the rest of them. "We are on private family time."


The woman—no, she is a girl—pushes the cloak off. "I believe, grandfather, that I have the right to be here then."


Spock shares a look with Christine. The resemblance to Angel is remarkable. He does not need to ask who this girl's father is but he does anyway, "Your parents?"


She turns to him and there are tears in her eyes. "I have three. My biological mother, T'Vashti; my spiritual mother and genetic donor, Angel; and my father..."


"Xaverius," Spock and Christine say together.


His father looks sharply at him. "You knew?"


"Knew what?" his mother and Saavik ask as one.


"Xaverius, yes. He had many names. I think Sybok is the most important." The girl does not look away from Spock, ignoring his father and the look of dismay he has allowed to cross his face—or the look of confusion on his mother's face.


"He is alive?" Spock asks gently.


"If you can call it that. We were in contested space after his escape from Ankeshtan K'Til."


Spock looks over at his father—he was never told of this escape. His father does not meet his eyes.


"The Klingons attacked our ship. My mothers were killed. Not instantly. I was with them. Father...Father felt nothing but pain. And I reminded him of them." She looks down. "He wanted so much from me, smothered me with emotion. But I—I did not want that path. The teachings of the V'tosh Ka'tur are counter to my nature. I wish to learn the way of logic. From you, uncle. He said he would let me go but only to you."


"What's your name?" Christine asks gently.


"Valeris. I have papers, they link me to T'Vashti and another Vulcan in our group. There is no way to trace me back to Father."


"There's this thing called genetics." Christine pulls out a scanner and asks, "May I?"


Valeris nods. "They did something to me, when they added Angel's DNA after the egg was extracted and before I was implanted back into T'Vashti."


Christine is frowning. "She's not wrong. She's reading as a distant cousin at best. This is...is almost..."


He can tell she does not want to say what it is. "Is she an augment?"


"No. But whoever did this was really skilled. She reads as pure Vulcan but not your niece. As I said, maybe a second cousin twice removed."


"You're Chapel, aren't you?"


"Christine, yes. Did Angel tell you about me?"


Valeris nods. "They laughed when they heard what happened with T'Pring. They hated her." She looks down. "But T'Pring lives and Angel does not." She suddenly looks up at Spock. "I wish to not feel that pain so strongly. I wish to understand how to think my way out of it. How to reach for logic before sentiment. I do not want to hate T'Pring or the Klingons or anyone. I just want to be a Vulcan."


Christine meets his eyes. He can feel the question in them.


Saavik is studying Valeris, then also looks at him, "It is not as if you will not have the room. And I would not want you to be lonely with me gone."


"Spock," Sarek says. "A word."


They go to the edge of the deck, and his father says, "You must, of course, meld with her. Verify this. Your brother has reason to wish to hurt us—well, me in particular. She may be the way."


"She's a traumatized child."


"So was Saavik, but we did it to her as well. It is prudent."


Spock nods and leads his father back to the group. He pulls a chair over to Valeris. "Did your father or T'Vashti ever meld with you?"


She nods.


"I must meld with you. I must verify what you have said. I will not hurt you."


"And once you verify, will you teach me the ways of logic?"


"I may not have time to dedicate myself to that fully. But the tutor who worked with Saavik will be pleased to have a new student."


Valeris looks over at Saavik. "I know your history. Angel was fascinated with anything to do with Spock. You are not truly family."


"She's more family than you are, kid." Christine is at her most protective but Saavik gets up and walks over.


She tips Valeris's chin up and makes her look at her. "There are families of blood and families of choice. Sometimes the latter are the stronger. Also, I'm half Romulan—do not make me angry."


"You allow this?" Valeris says, glancing at Spock.


"He encourages this." Saavik lets go and walks back to Christine.


Spock leans in. "She may be exaggerating. I am going to initiate the meld. Do not be afraid."


"I have lived my entire life afraid—on the run and never sure what any day would bring. This—this is nothing." And she pulls his fingers to her face, and he can sense how she truly does not fear him.


He witnesses the deaths, tries to ease some of that pain since she has asked for it and hears her murmur, "Thank you." Then he sees his brother. So focused on his own pain he can only see that, holding onto this child as if she too will die and leave him. Suffocating her.


He checks to make sure she is not a sleeper agent, that there are no obvious triggers set to awaken her and put her on some kind of path of retribution. He finds none.


She is what she says, a girl in pain who wishes to find peace in logic. He looks at his father and nods as he says, "She will live with us."


He feels Christine's annoyance slam at him through the bond. He turns to look at her. "She will live with us, will she not?"


She is very still for a moment, then she nods. He is grateful Valeris came looking for logic and not emotion—he is not sure she will get much from Christine.


But then she surprises him by getting up and saying, "Come on Saavik, let's get her set up in something a little less formal. Do you swim, Valeris?"


"I can swim. If I must."


"Oh, you mean you are not skilled." Saavik's expression is taunting without being cruel. "Guess we will not race, then."


"I can race." Her tone is defiant—clearly she has a competitive nature.


"Do you run for enjoyment?" Spock asks, dreading the answer.


"Who would do such a thing?" She smiles and then bites it back. "I enjoy three-dimensional chess."


"As does your uncle. So come with us and get changed and then maybe you can play a game with him." Christine meets his eyes and smiles.


He catches up with her at the doorway, the two girls going on ahead. "I realize I should have asked."


"It's family. What else can we do? But if Michael wants to send us a kid from the future to take in, could it be a boy? We're getting a little estrogen heavy."


He touches her face, amused despite himself. "She will not be as easy for you to manage as Saavik."


"Which is why you're going to do the managing. I'll just provide emotional support." She leans up and kisses him then goes into the house.


"My son, your family expands with no effort on your part."


"Sarek, do not ask them if they are going to have a baby."


"I was not. But since you bring it up..."


He ignores his father and goes in to retrieve the chess board. His brother was quite skilled at the game; he looks forward to seeing what he taught his daughter.




He watches Valeris and Christine interact over the rest of the weekend. They are wary around each other, and Saavik seems to be constantly hovering whenever the two of them are together too long.


"You do not like me," Valeris says to Saavik after her latest pass by the table where Christine is working and Valeris is reading the first of the lessons he has chosen for her.


"I do not trust you. There is a difference."


"We both lost our mothers and our fathers abandoned us."


Christine's head shoots up. "How do you know that? About her? And your story yesterday was not that he abandoned you but rather overwhelmed you."


"Yes, by wanting me to be Angel. He abandoned any path where I could simply be me."


"But how do you know about me?" Saavik asks, her voice taking on a dangerous tone.


"As I said, Angel was fascinated—almost obsessed—with Spock." She looks over at him. "I think they wanted to bring you into our side of the family. They were sexually open."


"How old are you?" Christine asks.


"Old enough to understand sex. And twelve."


"Your family didn't make you...?" Christine's voice is gentle now, her eyes no longer hard.


"No. They loved me as a child. It was nothing inappropriate."




"You are fascinating. I am a burden to you, arriving now so soon after you have—potentially interfering with your private time with Spock. And yet I hear worry in your voice...concern."


He gets up and walks over to the table. "How long have you been watching us, Valeris, that you know Christine is newly arrived."


"For a while. It is hard to enter an established group. To find a place. But Christine is new and Saavik is transitioning. I thought there would be room for me now."


"Valeris, how long?" He sits and takes her hand, reading her for any sign of a lie.


"Five months."


He finds it highly disconcerting that this girl has been watching them for that long and none of them were the wiser. "I see."


"My father set me up financially. I could afford to wait for the right time. Before Christine arrived, you and Saavik were insular. I did not think I would be welcome." She looks over at Christine. "But I am aware that I might not be welcome now when you are about to have him all to yourself."


"Will your father come looking for you?" Christine asks. "Will he want you back?"


"No. I have rejected his ways and that hurt him. But he has lived his life espousing freedom of choice. How can he deny me mine. His only requirement was that I learn at his brother's knee. Because Spock would understand my struggles to transition from a life inundated with emotion to one of logic."


"Do you need me to love you?" When Spock is about to protest, Christine quickly shakes her head, in their old way, the way that says she has a purpose in her questioning. "If logic is all you seek?"


Valeris goes very still. "I had two mothers. I know what it is to be loved sincerely. If you do not feel that you can care for me, then we will coexist without emotion." She is not meeting Christine's eyes.


"That sounds like a pretty grim way to live. Maybe we can learn to care for each other. If you don't plan to give up everything for logic?"


"I do not want to excise every emotion. There are positive aspects to affection—to caring. But I do not want to feel this pain. This rage—at the Klingons for killing my mothers, at my father for taking us out there in the first place." She looks down. "Although it was Angel who made the decisions on where to go and when. It is their fault they and T'Vashti are dead." She exhales as if that is a truth she has been carrying for some time. "I could not say that to my father. He wanted to blame himself—made them saints."


"I know what it's like to watch people disappear when they're sitting right in front of you." Christine reaches over and strokes Valeris's hair. "Angel was a force of nature. They would not have wanted you to be struggling. They would trust Spock to help you."


"I believe so too." She reaches for Christine's hand, and Spock thinks she wants to feel what Christine is feeling. "I think they would trust you to help me too."


For a moment, Christine lets her hold on, sitting quietly with a gentle smile. Then she eases away. "Valeris, I'm going to let you study. Saavik, do you want to do the beach or the cliff trail?"


"Can we run through town? I have a desire for things not available here."


Valeris looks up at him. "She means meat."


"Snitches never prosper, child." Christine rolls her eyes at him. "And he already knows. You can't hide meat breath from a Vulcan." They leave discussing which burger place they want to go to.


"Why do they run?" Valeris asks, confusion evident.


"That is something only runners understand." He sits next to her. "You will see and hear many things in our apartment, in the embassy, and in this house. You are not to repeat them. You will not win points with me by sharing. In fact, you will lose them. If I cannot trust you to keep silent about what happens around you, I cannot have you here."


"I apologize. I...she frightens me a little. I wanted to take her down a little."


"As she intends you to feel. She is half Romulan and that part is never far."


"But you love her?"


"She is my daughter. Do not ever tell her she is not. That too will not be tolerated."


She looks down. "It is possible there were...games played in our family. Emotions can make people mean."


"Understood." He touches her shoulder, then gestures to the padd. "How are you finding the lesson?"


"It is interesting. May we discuss it when I finish?"


"I would welcome that."




Spock is playing chess with Valeris when his comm sounds. He pulls up the video on a nearby padd and sees it is Jim.


Accepting the call, he says, "Jim, it is a pleasure."


"So formal, Spock? I know Chris isn't there. Cartwright's got her out working with his emergency ops people. He'll have her over there in no time if you aren't careful."


Spock believes this is true. He can tell Valeris is listening in avidly but has also moved so there is no chance she will be caught in the video. What else has she learned in her childhood of piracy and running?


"Well, listen, Antonia and I just finished our house in the mountains. It's gorgeous and your girl will love the trails."


"Saavik is at Stanford, Jim."


"Oh, wow. They grow up so fast." Then Jim gives him a knowing look. "So much for the Academy, huh? Chris comes in and takes over. How long did you wait, by the way, before you went for her?"


"I did not go for her, Jim." Although he no doubt would have once he knew she was free. "She came to me."


Jim laughs. "That I believe. She does tend to get what she wants. And what she's wanted for a long time is you."


Spock is not sure if Jim is trying to turn him off his rather abstract invitation to his new house or if he is just in the mood Christine told him about. Stuck on land and coming out of his skin.


He knows he should mention Valeris, that he has another girl he could bring to the mountains, but Jim reacted so strongly to him having one daughter when he could not see his son. How will he feel about him having two?


She is legally his ward and a cousin, not his niece. But it has taken no time for him to think of her as more than any of those things. Especially when she makes it so easy for him, clearly wanting to be like him.


It is flattering. He now understands how Christine feels about Saavik wanting to be like her.


He glances at Valeris and sees no sign of distress that he has not mentioned her. She meets his eyes, her own in a slight frown as if trying to figure out the relationship he now has with Jim. What has become of their legendary friendship?


He would like to know that too.


Although he knows what has come between them. A woman Valeris is growing to love despite herself, he thinks.


Jim look contrite. "So, I'm going to be at Starfleet Command in a few weeks. Guest speaker thing. They have a dinner planned but maybe afterwards—can we squeeze in time for chess?"


"We can."


Jim is tapping—Spock cannot see what it is but he can hear it. He does not think his friend is even aware he is doing it. Clearly Antonia is not keeping him sane the way he used to say Christine did.


"I'll send you the dates." He is looking over his shoulder. "I have to go." The connection goes dead.


"Someone was coming he did not want to hear your conversation." Valeris watches him carefully. "I know I am not supposed to comment on things I hear, but you look troubled."


"How much do you know of my and Christine's history?"


"You were with T'Pring but fell in love with Christine. But T'Pring would not let you go. So Christine left you and the ship. You were reunited on the ship and when T'Pring challenged and you were free, you two were together." She frowns. "But it is confusing after that. Because you sought Kolinahr and then left it—where was she in all this?"


"With Jim. But it is, as you say, confusing. Suffice it to say that he and I are now trying to work around her."


"Angel told me once that Christine was kind but would always find a way to get what she wanted. Your friend just said essentially the same thing."


He considers that. "Probably apt. But the kindness is important. She does not set out to harm others."


"She has been kind to me. Kinder than I expected." She looks down. "Why did you not mention me to him just now?"


So she did care. "What I am about to say is just between us. Do you understand?"


She nods.


"He has a son. He is not allowed to see him."


"By the courts because he is a bad father?"


"No, by the boy's mother, because she is very controlling and Jim did not do as she willed."


"So another T'Pring?"


He almost smiles. "Perhaps, yes." He leans in. "When I took in Saavik, he was happy, on the ship. And yet it hurt him. That I could have a daughter given to me by fate when his own son..."


"Was kept from him."


He nods.


"He is not on the ship now. And that was not the voice of a happy man. You have another daughter gifted by fate."


He is always amazed at how quick she is. How Vulcan intelligence combined with unfettered emotional access gives her almost immediate insight into motivations. "Precisely."


"You did not wish to hurt him when he is clearly already unhappy." She sounds relieved.


"Under different circumstances, I would introduce you. I am proud of you, Valeris. So proud. And honored that you trust me, that you wish to follow my path and not that of your father. I hope you are content here—I know it is different than what you grew up with."


"I feel safe here, Spock. I have felt loved all my life but I have never felt safe. Not until now."


"You are safe, Valeris. You are always safe with me."




He is sitting on the couch with Christine and they are kissing but not too seriously, knowing Valeris will be home soon from her tutoring session but loathe to waste time now that they have it. Especially now that Christine is going to be taking on a new role—Jim was right: Cartwright did steal her away from Starfleet Medical for Emergency Operations, as a medical consultant for at least part of her week. The rest of the time she will be a simple doctor as McCoy used to call it.


He hears the door open, then Valeris calls out, "Help."


They both get up and run to the foyer, where Valeris is trying to hold up La'an, who appears to be highly intoxicated.


"I found her in the lobby."


"Found would imply I was trying to hide. And I was not. You would not have found me if I was hiding." She studies Valeris. "Do I know you?"




"Well, I like you because you're really strong and did not let me fall."


Christine eases her off Valeris, who says with a look full of sympathy, "She's in a lot of pain." But when Christine pulls her scanner out, she shakes her head. "Emotional pain, not physical."


"The young one speaks truth." La'an allows Christine to ease her to the living room and onto the couch.


He can tell she's been crying, and he can only imagine one thing—one person—who could make her show weakness this way. He sits next to her. "La'an, is she...?"


She touches his face and he feels the vestiges of the meld they shared during the Gorn fight—and through it, he sees her: Una. The way he remembers her from decades ago. "She's gone."


"Antitox, Christine. Now."


But it is Valeris who runs to their bedroom and gets it, who hands it to Christine and says, "I did not think you would want to leave her. Even for a moment."


"You thought right, sweetheart. Although we're going to discuss how you knew where this was." She turns La'an to face her. "Baby, open your mouth."


"I'm not your baby. I wish I was." But she opens her mouth and Christine slips in the antitox. A moment later she begins to cry, and Christine holds her tightly.


He gets up and brings the silk throw Saavik always told him was soothing when she was hurting and wraps it around La'an. Then he moves back and pulls Valeris against him, his arm around her shoulders.


"Who's gone?" she whispers so low only another Vulcan could hear.


"Our mentor," he murmurs back just as softly.


La'an turns to look at them. "Who are you really, young one?"


"My name is Valeris. I am sorry for your loss. But I don't know who it was who died."


"She was so good they called her Number One. She was the best officer I've ever worked with. So what if she lied? She did it to protect people. And they couldn't see—they pretend to do things to protect us but putting her in prison was not protecting us." She is talking fast, but Valeris seems to be following the thread.


"Who pretends?"


"Starfleet brass. The Federation. They make rules but they don't protect the people who need protecting. Someone like Styles is in line for captain when she should already have been one. Not rotting in prison." She sobs and turns back to Christine. "You tried to help. You tried so hard."


"I did. They didn't want her free. We made the case. They just wouldn't listen."


"I should have done it. I should have broken her out." She jerks away from Christine and is up and at him. Pushing him back with a hard shove and then back again. "Why didn't you help me do that? She loved us both? We were hers. You helped Pike. Why not her?"


He pulls her in, primarily so she will stop pushing him but also to comfort. "I would have. But she did not want me to."


She looks up at him. "You managed to talk to her?"


"I did not. I went through a rather circuitous route to get a message to her. Right after the verdict came in." They were the most unsavory people he has ever dealt with, in fact. But he would have done worse if she had wanted to be set free. "She forbid me from helping. Moreover, she told me to stop you if you tried. There was nothing you could do."


"There was everything I could have done. If I'd just done it. But I thought, in time, Starfleet would let her go. Maybe not reinstate her but let her go. Instead she died..." She hugs him. "Another inmate killed her, but I think she just finally gave up, you know? She was a fighter."


"Yes, yes she was."


"I need a drink."


"I will make you one," Valeris says. "It is one my father used to make. It is not alcoholic."


"We have the ingredients?" Christine asks.


"I do. I smuggled some out with me."


La'an starts to laugh. "Who are you really?"


"She is my ward. A distant cousin. Her parents were killed."


"Another foundling." She leans in to Valeris. "He's the last person I'd expect to take in one much less two orphans. But people can surprise you."


Valeris nods and takes La'an's hand, without correcting her terminology—neither she nor Saavik are technically orphans so long as their fathers still live. "I can make the drink better if I can feel you."




"Her parents were V'tosh ka'tur."


Valeris nods. "But I am learning the way of logic from Spock—well, and my tutor." She digs around in the kitchen, in the back of a cabinet neither he nor Christine use very often and pulls out a small bag.


Christine nudges him. "We're going to be hiding presents at the embassy. There's no way she won't find them here." She leans into him and they watch as she mixes herbs that look very familiar into the glass.


He lets out a puff of air, the kind Christine knows is a laugh. "It is my mother's recipe for a cough syrup for a certain type of Vulcan virus. In addition to bringing on sleep, it makes one very relaxed—almost pushes problems away."


"What about the part where she needs to feel La'an to make it right?"


"It is possible Sybok has modified it somewhat. More likely it is nothing more than stagecraft. To make it appear to be tailored."


Christine laughs. "And make the user more open to it working." She moves closer. "Can I scan it when you're done, Valeris?"


"Of course. I would like to order more and it would help to know what it is—I didn't take very much when I left. Father would have noticed. He was using this a lot...to forget." She shares a look with both of them. "When he wasn't trying to convince me how much he loved me. The more he said it, the less I believed it. I worshipped him when I was young—I never doubted him. But then he lost them and he changed."


Spock coughs lightly and she seems to realize she has come dangerously close to telling La'an her true origins. "It's possible the fumes..."


"Understood." He gives her a gentle nod of encouragement.


La'an leans down and says, "We all have our secrets. And yours are safe with me. Whoever you are—you brought me up here where I'm safe."


"And loved," Christine says.


"Yes. And loved. So thank you, Valeris. For taking care of me. And in case it's not clear, my name is La'an."


"I know. Saavik has pictures of you in our room."


"I'm very fond of Saavik." She ruffles Valeris's hair. "I think I'm going to be equally fond of you. You're a very kind young lady."


"I just wanted to help." She gestures for Christine to scan the drink, then she presents it to La'an with great solemnity. "This will help."


La'an sips it and makes a face.


"I did not say it would taste good while it helped."


Christine laughs as she comes back to Spock, showing him the ingredient list and he nods. This is indeed his mother's recipe.


"Drink it down," Valeris says, and Spock can see his brother and Angel in her through the care she is showing—but also the manipulation. Then again his mate, his mother, his father, his sister, and his best friend are all masters of manipulation, so should he mind? No one would say they are not good people.


"This is good stuff, little one." La'an puts her arm around Valeris. "But I need to get home now."


"No, you can sleep in Saavik's bed. She will not mind." Valeris looks at him and Christine, as if to make sure of that, and they both nod. "If you do not mind sharing a room with me, I mean. I know what it's like to lose people."


"You do find the sweetest girls, Spock." Her eyes are drooping and she is smiling slightly. "I'm so tired."


"Let's get you settled." Christine urges Valeris to take her into the room she shares with Saavik on the rare nights Saavik is home.


The door closes and he sits down heavily, remembering the woman who was so kind to him, who took him under her wing and made him the officer he is today. He thinks of Chris, on Talos IV, how would he feel knowing Una was gone? He never gave up on appeals, even when there were no more legal avenues. Right up to the accident. Until he could no longer fight for her.


Christine comes out and pulls him into a tight hug. "She's in bed and Valeris is reading to her from her logic homework. It's really sweet." Then she strokes his hair and opens the bond up fully so he can feel her concern—and her love. "I can feel how much you're hurting. Share it if you wish."


He buries his face in her head and drops every shield. She staggers for a second but then tightens her hold on him. "Oh, Spock, I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry."


He is holding on too tightly. He can feel that, but he can't let go. If he lets go, he might break.


"It's okay. I'm okay. Just let me be your strength right now."


"I should have broken her out. What sense was it for her to die in there?"


"It was what she wanted. Not that she wanted to die—I don't mean that. Although maybe she did give up. But don't you see, Spock? You and La'an were her legacy. What she gave to Starfleet over and above her own service. And you two are amazing officers. If you had broken her out—been lost to Starfleet—her legacy would truly have been nothing."


He has never considered it that way. It is one reason he loves her so—how her mind works, how quickly she can think of counter arguments, how insightful and caring she is.


"I love you, Christine."


"I love you, too, Spock."




The next morning, he and Christine sit down with Valeris in the living room. La'an is still sleeping.


"I am in trouble," Valeris says before they can even begin.


"Not technically." Christine sounds as if she has a plan for this, so he lets her take the lead. Even though he remembers her telling him he would be the one to manage Valeris. "We never told you not to go through our things."


"Or hide your things in our cabinets," he adds.


"But still, if you had, I would be in trouble."


"If we had but you did it anyway, yes. But again, we never said not to. We just want to talk to you about this behavior." Before Valeris can launch into what is no doubt another logical "But what if" tangent, she says, "I think information was currency in your childhood. Getting it, keeping it, then using it if you had to. Am I wrong?"


Valeris visibly swallows. "You are not."


"Something about what I said frightened you."


"How do you know that?" She looks at Spock. "I have a tell? Did you see it too?"


"I did."


"Would a true Vulcan display this tell?"


He thinks of his father over the years. He has never seen him do it. But he has seen T'Pring do it. "Yes."


She seems to relax. "Will you tell me what it is?"


"That would be very stupid of me, wouldn't it?" Christine smiles in a way he is not sure he entirely approves of. "I have information you now want."


"I will replay the conversation in my mind while standing in front of a mirror. I will see in time what I have done. I will correct it."


She shakes her head. "Knock yourself out but it won't work. Emotional responses don't work that way."


"But when I learn the ways of logic..."


"Perhaps then you will no longer show fear."


"I showed fear?" She takes an unevenly deep breath and then looks down. "That too was a tell—the way I just breathed."


Christine nods.


"There was a member of Angel's crew. They had so many different crew. They left them whenever they needed a quick escape and then formed a new crew once back in the fold. Angel's loyalty was..."




"Christine." He looks at Valeris and shakes his head. "Do not swear as she and Saavik do."


"I will not."


Christine rolls her eyes at him. "Anyway, this crew...?"


"One of the men made me uncomfortable. I tried to tell Angel but they told me it was time to learn to assert control. They knew I was stronger physically than this man but still, he was..."


"You don't have to explain. I know exactly what kind of man he was."


"I went through his belongings. I found things that were...strange. I did not understand at the time how strange but I took them. He wanted them back. I said I would give them back to him in front of the crew and Angel. He never bothered me again. Or mentioned the things."


"Do you still have them?"


"No. I burned them when he died on one of Angel's stupid missions."


Spock feels a pang for her—what kind of childhood must she have had? "Do you think you need to collect information on us, Valeris? You told me you felt safe here."


"I do. But I want to know you—both of you." She includes Christine in her look.


"That will take time."


"She wants to know the real us, Spock. Not what we tell her. Is that it?"


"There are things people say. Things they state they are. And then there is what is inside their secret places. And they are often not the same thing. Why do you, who espouse logic, have antitox in your medicine cabinet?"


"It's mine, sweetie, not his. When were you in our medicine cabinet?"


"I checked. Over half of humans surveyed snoop into the medicine cabinets of homes they are visiting. Even if it means going into rooms they were not specifically invited into."


"You are barely human." Spock can see them cycling over this forever. The girl has an answer for everything.


"Do you believe Vulcans do not look?"


"I do believe that." He looks to Christine for help.


She smiles gently. "If I tell you it's wrong to look through people's things without their permission, will you believe me? If I tell you it goes to an individual's integrity to be able to resist, will you try not to do it?"


"And yet you cannot resist overindulging in intoxicants or you would not need antitox. You are a doctor."


"Antitox works in ninety seconds."


"And a human can bleed out in less than two minutes if appropriately cut. Could you save them?"


"I would not be intoxicated on duty."


"So you have never had a drink while on duty?"


Christine swallows the same way Valeris did.


Valeris laughs and then immediately bites it back. "You also have a tell, Christine. I wonder if it is the same one?" She gets up and starts to pace. "I hear you saying these things so seriously about my small infractions. And yet did you not say, Spock, that you would have helped Number One escape if she had wanted that?"


He is unsure how to answer.


"I looked up her case. Augmentation." She turns to Christine. "You checked me for that, did you not?"


"I did. You're not, if you were worried."


"I was not. You would have displayed more agitation if my readings had indicated such a thing. But Number One was augmented and she lied about it for years. She masqueraded as a human."


"She was so close the sensors did not pick up the difference. I scanned her numerous times when I was a nurse."


"Perhaps you are incompetent?" She lifts an eyebrow. "Or perhaps she was so well changed because there was more to her than you think. Malicious intent, perhaps? Did you meld with her the way you did with me, Spock?"


He shakes his head. "There was no cause."


"And yet you were willing to break all rules to help her? And Pike. I looked him up last night too. La'an said you helped him. How? His record just ends. I could find no trace of him after a certain date. As if he...vanished."


"We are not here to discuss these people, Valeris."


"Of course not. Because adults make rules for me and then break them for themselves." True anger is on her face. And then tears he thinks she is not aware of. "I do not understand. She was guilty, let her rot in prison."


"There are gradations of guilt," La'an says from the hallway. "And yes, grownups lie." She walks in. "Sorry to crash the family meeting."


"Coffee's made."


"Bless you, my angel."


Before she can go into the kitchen, Valeris turns on her. "You are in security. And yet you wanted to help her escape."


La'an studies her. "Here's what these two will never say. Some things supersede integrity or right and wrong. You think you won't ever do the wrong thing but then it happens—someone you love gets hurt. Or hurts you. And you betray them. You betray them so badly that..."


Spock goes very still and he hears Christine say, "La'an, no."


"And you did it because she taught you not to lie when you were a child. She told you it was wrong. And then you found out she did it. And you think you're okay with it until the Gorn attack and you're back to being that child. But then you win—you beat the Gorn. With the help of someone else this woman mentored." She looks at him, her eyes pleading. "And you think maybe it's okay that she lied. Until you have to face them close up again. And someone you care about dies. And you see another child, just like you. The last of the prey." She is shaking as she brushes tears off her eyes. "And you call Starfleet Command and tell the head of security what you know. And then she's locked up and she never gets out and she dies. And she never knows it was you who did it."


She is weeping now, sinking to the ground, and he and Christine are both frozen but Valeris goes to her. Valeris hugs her and says, "Grown-ups hurt us the most when they love us. It is better not to love." She is holding onto La'an as if she can become one with her.


"I've tried that. It doesn't work. People break through. Like these two. I shouldn't have come. I shouldn't have ever come." She meets his eyes. "Forgive me?"


He wants to tell her it is not for him to forgive her. He wants to tell her Number One would have understood.


But all he feels is rage.


And then it is as if something cool splashes over the fire inside him. Christine gets up and moves between them and says, "It wasn't just you."


She holds her hand out as he starts to get up. "Una chose first. We had written up the report for the encounter very specifically to not reveal her secret and she made us change it so we were not lying. She did not want us going down for her crimes. Starfleet knew long before you told them, La'an. Both Joseph and I were grilled after the reports were submitted, as I assume was the captain. You didn't tell them anything they didn't already know."


"I didn't get her killed?"


"No." She lets up on the calmness she is pressing all over him. "But you still betrayed her."


He stands but is afraid to move. "Get out."


"I'm sorry, Spock." She looks at Christine. "Are we still friends?"


"We are. I just don't know what that means at this moment."


Valeris turns to glare at her. "That's not fair. She did what was right. She acted with integrity." She looks at Spock. "I can feel your rage from here. You want to hurt her—you want to kill her."


She is right: he does.


"How does any of this make sense?" Valeris says as she urges La'an up. "You need to go."


"I had two friends when I came here."


"You still do. Christine and me." She is pushing her out the door as Spock trails behind them, wanting to move, forcing himself not to.


He is no longer the man who dented a ship's panel. Who smashed his computer. Who...


He turns and breaks a vase that is something Christine has indicated she does not like. It shatters and some sharp pieces bounce back and lodge in his skin.


"Is this logic?" Valeris asks. "It feels like being back with them." Then she runs to her room.


"Spock?" Christine is torn—not afraid but unsure what to do.


"Go to her. Before we lose her. I will clean up."


"You're bleeding."


He turns to her and writes "Why?" on his arm in his own blood. "You never told me you were questioned."


"We signed things. I wasn't even fleet then. My contract depended on my discretion."


"And then you left."


"And then I left." She turns and hurries into Valeris's room. He hears the sound of Valeris sobbing, then it is cut off by the closing of the door.


He is the only one who did not betray Una. Even the captain did, in his way. Allowing the report to go forward the way she wanted instead of sending it the way it was originally written.


To protect her.


To lie.


He closes his eyes and seeks some sort of peace. Valeris is correct—how can any of them teach her the things she wishes to know?


He attends to his wounds, then cleans up the remnants of the vase before knocking on the door to Valeris's room. Christine opens it.


She is not afraid, but she is wary.


"You did what you had to do. You did what the truth called on you to do."


She nods.


"I am sorry that I questioned that." He touches her cheek. "Deeply sorry."


"Okay." She nods and leaves him with Valeris.


"I must apologize to you. I do not know if I am the right person to be your teacher in logic."


"You think your father would be a better choice?"


"Or anyone possibly." He sits next to her and does not fight when she reaches for the meld points. "Go ahead."


She curls into him as her fingers press in, as she joins with him—but not without effort. She is not used to doing this, so he puts his fingers over hers and helps her find her focus.


She shows him how chaotic her homelife was, how T'Vashti would try to bring order but could not overrule his brother or Angel. The number of times she was happy but then had to run. The people lost to Klingons and Orions and even once the Gorn—Angel had jettisoned a lifeboat of loyal crew to allow the rest of them to escape.


She was pragmatic. The needs of the many.


"Yes," he murmurs, remembering how pragmatic, willing to kill his brother rather than consign him back to Ankeshtan K'til.


Then Valeris shows him something else, everything she has done since she arrived here, all the places she has explored, what she has hidden where. How over the time she has been here she would go and check and see everything in its same place and feel grounded.


Even now, with everything, seeing what just happened from her viewpoint, she feels safe.


Confused. Irritated. Hurting for the pain she felt in La'an. Unsure of how truth and logic and love all fit together.


But safe.


"I have not ruined this?" he whispers.


She lets the meld go. "No." She lays her head in his lap and weeps.


He feels his own eyes fill as he strokes her hair and murmurs passages from The Teachings of Surak to her until she finally stops.


She sits up and wipes her cheeks, then his own. "You must forgive La'an."


"Why?" He does not say it to be belligerent. He truly wants to know her reasoning.


"I felt who she was. And she is like me. And like you. And even like Saavik. And we are broken. And broken things can be discarded like the vase you just undoubtedly threw out or they can be mended."


"The vase could not be mended."


"Perhaps not. And if you cannot forgive her because she is good at her essence but just did a bad thing, then let me be as pragmatic as Angel. La'an will be loyal to you until she dies if you forgive her this. And she will be important—is already important—in Starfleet. I looked her up too."


"Where are you looking everyone up?"


She smiles in a way that is more Vulcan than her old manner. "T'Vashti was a skilled hacker."


"You must not—"


"I know. I know. I must not use my power for anything bad—unless, of course, it is for a good cause."


"That is not a lesson I wished you to learn."


"Will you forgive her? I like her. I want her here. And Saavik likes her too. And Christine loves her. It will help bond us all to have her here."


"More pragmatism." He allows himself a small smile. "But also logic, which I applaud. I will forgive her." He gives her a stern look, so she will not push as she seems about to. That is his brother in her—he remembers the same look on his face when Spock was not doing something fast enough. "But in my own time."




Spock sees Valeris packing a bag and feels a moment of distress. He thought she was settled again after that terrible night with La'an. "Are you going somewhere?"


She smiles the same way Christine does when she wishes to soothe him. "Your friend Kirk is coming over. I assumed you wished privacy. Amanda is taking me to Paris."


He cocks his head and almost smiles. Valeris has wanted to go to Paris for weeks. This is hardly self sacrificing. "Most kind of you to look out for me in such a beneficial way for yourself."


"Win win. Is that not the preferred outcome?" She slings the pack over her shoulder. "Do you feel the same closeness with him now?"


"No. He is not at his best when on land."


"Angel always said you must prosper where you fall."


"A most pragmatic stance. But sadly not always possible." He walks her to the door. "If you wish to stay and meet him...?"


"What is that human saying? Two is company but three's a crowd?" She meets his eyes. "With Christine between you, will you and he always be you and he and she?"


Her insight is so often unnerving. "He is with someone. My relationship with Christine predates his."


She cocks her head the way he does when he views her answers as skirting the true issue.


Then her personal communicator sounds and she says, "Amanda is downstairs." She never calls his mother "Grandmother," has fallen so easily into the deception. Her upbringing again, making her almost a chameleon.


He waves her off. "Go. Enjoy Paris. Tell my mother that Saavik has deigned to join us this weekend at the beach house." Saavik is thriving at Stanford but he misses her and the different energy she brings than Valeris.


A more straightforward one. And her upbringing was as atypical as Valeris's although he got her perhaps before it was too late, before she had fully formed her own identity. Only two years but two crucial ones.


Although they are not saying Valeris is twelve. After talking with her for many hours both he and his father agreed she did not interact—even without formal Vulcan training—like a twelve-year-old. Her life with her parents and whatever motley assortment they pulled in had matured her.


His father had then mentioned it in passing to her that it was a shame her papers could not be altered to show her as a fourteen-year-old since he thought she would find that age group more amenable once she entered the same school Saavik had gone to.


A few days later, a courier arrived at the apartment and left a package with the concierge. New papers were inside, showing her age as fourteen. When Spock mentioned it to his father, he nodded. "I thought she might still be able to contact your brother."


"Do you want to speak to him?"


"No." His answer was immediate and emotionless. "But it is good to know if we need to, we have the means."


"She is more than just a means to me, Father."


"As she is to me, Spock. She is a charming child." Although his voice lacked the warmth it always held when he spoke of Saavik.


Then again, Christine was not as fond of her either, nor was his mother. Not that they were in any way unkind to her. They just clearly preferred Saavik.


It was good then, that Valeris had him.


"I will tell her Saavik will be there. She will be happy." Valeris's smile is a little forced; she and Saavik so far are not as close as he thinks she wishes. But it is good for her to have to try at something—not everything should come as effortlessly as it seems to.


He sets out the chess set in the living room then goes to the window and stares out over the city, feeling for Christine. She is with Emergency Ops again. He would find it unnerving that Jim seems to know her schedule well enough to set their visits for times she is off world, except that Cartwright is a close friend who no doubt wants to spare him pain.


It does bother him though that Jim will not be in the same room with her—is it because things were so raw between them when it ended that he just cannot tolerate her? She has never said.


Or is it that, for Jim, it never ended? Even though he left her for another woman?


That idea bothers him far more.


The chime rings and he says, "Come." It does not surprise him that Jim has gotten around the security protocols in his building designed to keep guests in the lobby until invited up.


"I come bearing rye." His grin is a true one. "Since Chris keeps Scotch here for me, it only seems fair to bring her something good from my area."


"Most kind." He has put out the scotch and the glasses Jim prefers and watches him fix himself a drink—a larger pour than he would have done on the ship. "How is life in the mountains?"


"Great." He looks back, this time his grin even bigger. "I got a dog. Great Dane. Butler. He's fabulous. Can't have that on a ship." His energy suddenly seems a bit off—manic perhaps?


"You have always wanted one of that breed."


"Yes. Yes I have. And a dog loves you forever—and you it. There's none of the problems you get with people. Letting you down."


Is he referring to Christine? Or to him? He must not be hiding his confusion because Jim says, "I mean I'm letting Antonia down. She wants me settled. Happy—at peace. She wants to build stables now, bring the horses over from the farm."


"You enjoy riding."


"I do. It's one of my favorite things. But..." He shakes his head and takes a sip of his drink as he walks to the chessboard. "You're happy here? Your cadets. Christine. Your girl? Settled life suits you?"


He nods, wanting to tell him he has two girls, but as always, it seems the wrong time. "Perhaps moving the horses is a bridge too far?"


"The ultimate capitulation to reality: I'm not in Starfleet, I'll never have a ship again, and I'm bor—" He takes another sip. "Let's play, for God's sake, instead of me yammering on." He makes the first move, one he has done many times before, and Spock settles in to play, knowing this game could go many ways but all of them are designed to obliterate him quickly.


He will have to work hard to prevent that. Jim loves a fight.


"I need your counsel, Jim."


"You need mine? Hopefully not about Chris?"


"No. A friend." He almost stumbles over the word. Were La'an and he ever really friends? Or were they connected only through their love of Una? "She has done—well, did, in the past, but I just learned of it—something that I consider a betrayal. Not of me, per se. But of someone I held dear." He makes his move and meet's Jim's eyes. "How did you forgive me my betrayal?"


"I didn't at first. I was mad at hell. I'll admit part of why I wanted Chris so bad was to get back at you. Which doesn't speak well of me during that time. Then it grew to be something else." He looks down. "But ultimately, what you did, you did out of love. I kept coming back to that." He makes his move. "And it's not like you're still doing it, right? Entering minds without permission?"


"Correct. I believe what this person did was out of pain."


"Pain in general or pain from love? Because pain from any kind of love is just a side effect, my friend." He grins in a way he would have on the ship and Spock finds himself finally relaxing. "If you're asking about it, it means you want to forgive. If we don't want to forgive, no power on this Earth—or any other planet—is going to make us."


"You are, as ever, wise, my friend."




The breezes are blowing gently off the beach onto the patio as Saavik tells them about her latest project.


Valeris interrupts, "Why are you doing that? Talking so... rigidly Vulcan? It's not you."


"I drop a few contractions, get rid of the slang, quit swearing—for the most part—and people take me more seriously. Like they would Spock or Grandfather."


"Grandfather? He's not your grandfather."


"Look, just because you can't say he's your grandfather doesn't make him any less so. I'm sure it's unpleasant not being able to share your lineage"—she grins as Spock gives her the look that says to stop torturing Valeris by sounding so formally Vulcan—"but think of it as a cool secret only a few of us know."


"Besides," his mother says as she pours herself some more ice tea. "Saavik is officially adopted so she's in. I know it's hard, darling, having to hide who you are, but you're still a cousin. That's not nothing in this house."


"We have a lot of cousins."


"Fine, but most do not frequent this place. Family is family. Just like Christine." She looks over at him. "Would you like more tea, darling?"


"Please." He holds out his glass and suddenly the bond between him and Christine is—gone. There is a snap of pain and then...nothing. Total emptiness where before there was connection.


"Christine," he cries out, crushing the glass in his hand, barely noticing that he is bleeding. "No!" He sinks to the ground and searches harder for her.


She is gone.


"No..." He almost wails it, reaching out again and again for her as his father lifts him off of the ground, as Valeris pries open his hand and starts to pick out the glass pieces, and Saavik joins her.


He shrugs them off and is about to run—to where he has no idea when the bond is violently brought back to life.


He staggers but Saavik catches him. "Christine. Not dead."


But then the bond goes almost dormant. He can feel her but it is as if she is behind glass. "Where is she?"


He forces himself to stand straight, to pull down his shirt, smearing blood over it, pushing glass that has not been extracted further in. "I must contact Cartwright."


"My son, you are in no shape. Moreover, in this case, I may have more reach. I work frequently with him and his people. Let me help?"


"No I must. It is not fitting that anyone else check on my mate." He is reeling, not making sense. Of course the head of his house can check on his daughter. "Father, forgive me, but I need to..."


"Let me do this for you, Spock." He motions for Saavik and Valeris to get back to work. "I will have an answer for you by the time you are free of glass."


"Thank you." He is not sure his father has ever done anything like this for him. But he is also doing it for Christine, who he loves like a daughter.


Spock waits as the girls pick glass from his palms, as his mother uses the regenerator they keep in the first aid kit to close any large cuts.


"Here," Saavik says as she hands Valeris a different type of tweezer. "This will work better."


For once Valeris does not argue. She just says, "Thank you," and gets back to work.


"She was dead. I felt it. The emptiness where everything had been." He leans into his mother, letting her stoke his hair, not caring that the girls are seeing him weak. That his daughters see he is capable of loving another enough to be leveled. They should know that. It is who he is—who Christine will be if something happens to him.


His father comes out. "She was briefly deceased but was immediately resuscitated. The mission took heavy casualties. More than the medics on the evac ships can deal with all at once so she has been placed in stasis. This is good, Spock. It means she is not in need of most care. But it also means your connections with her will be incomplete until she is revived."


"Sometimes they put the very badly wounded in stasis for the experts at Starfleet Medical to work on." Or those who may have been revived but will not survive, so they make it home alive to see their families—but he will not say that to his family. It is bad enough that he knows.


"She is not very badly wounded. I have this from Cartwright himself. Give it time and she will be returned to you."


"To all of us," Valeris says, and she has tears in her eyes. She wipes them and says, "Sorry. Logic fails me."


"As it should. You care for her, child. No crime in that." Sarek puts his hand on her shoulder then inspects their work. "Fine extraction techniques."


Spock knows he is trying to get them to a lighter place. To take the focus of everyone else off him as he finds his composure again—and he appreciates it.


And it may be the first time he has unreservedly loved his father.




He is walking to Starfleet Medical to see Christine—it turned out the actual injury was somewhere between what Spock feared and what Cartwright told his father. She has been recovering for the last few days and will return home and to duty tomorrow.


He is glad she rates a private room because when he first saw her, he called for privacy and then hurried to her, not melding because he was not sure it was medically advised. But touching her, getting from his telepathy that she was really all right.


"I was scared. It reminded me of the Peregrine only without the Gorn."


"I did not feel your fear. You have learned to shield admirably."


"Oh my God, Spock. Then you had no warning?"


"I did not. It was...well, it was a little bloody. I will let one of the girls tell you about it. Only they will probably both vie for who will tell it best."


She laughed and pulled him down for a gentle kiss. "Don't you have cadets to mentor?"


"They can wait." And he sat there, holding her hand, no doubt qualifying for any human fantasy of the sappy mate.


But she had died. And he felt it to his core. Still feels it if he dwells on it.


He believes Christine might like new energy with tonight's dinner so he cuts through the security wing. He sees La'an sitting alone inside her office, working on something he probably has no need to see so he coughs gently from well outside the room.


"Spock. Hang on." As he suspected, she closes the work down, then motions him in. "Hi." She looks down. "Shit, that was weak. Hi, Spock, come round to shoot the shit with the enormous fucking traitor?" She looks down. "Okay I realize that was not really any better."


He sits and holds up his hand and she actually stops talking. Seems resigned, as if he can only be here for unpleasant reasons.


"Christine is in Medical, recovering from a fortunately temporary death. She has not reached out to you—I believe out of loyalty to me. So, it seems, I must bring you to her. We are having pasta mama in memory of those we have lost. Please come."


"Who else is coming?" She looks down, as if she expects the small room to be filled with Christine's many friends.


Or more accurately the many people she is friendly with. She only lets a few truly in.


He recalls Valeris's words: all of the people Christine truly loves are broken.


Even Nyota, who is on leave or he would have included her in this too.


"Just the three of us. I must confess you will be doing me a favor. I was quite—overwhelmed when she died. It was jarring for the entire family since we were at the beach. We may be..."




"Yes. And she has used the word sappy but I would debate that."


La'an smiles and it is a lovely expression but behind it, he sees the loyalty Valeris spoke of. The gratitude that she will be allowed back in when she also has so few she cares about. "Never let it be said you're sappy. I will give her sufficient shit to make you seem a welcome relief."


"Much appreciated."


They talk of inconsequential things as they make their way to Medical, and when he opens the door, and the smell of the food he has had delivered wafts over him, he is once again in Chris's kitchen, sitting at the island, enjoying himself as he never had before.


"Tell me he's happy," La'an whispers. "I know you can't give details."


"I would have thought you had access?"


She smiles. "I may have. But the writer of the report left out if he's happy."


"He is. He is whole and yet not."


Christine looks up from her padd and a huge smile breaks over her face. "You brought me a present?"


"I did."


"So what's this garbage about you going and dying? Even for a moment, Chapel, that's not allowed." La'an hugs her tentatively but Christine pulls her in for a much firmer embrace.


He can hear her whisper, "I missed you."


"I know," La'an says. "Me too."




Spock is trying to get Christine to sit down and let him and Valeris do the meal prep but she is resisting. He is finally making headway when the chime rings and Valeris runs to get it.


"Hello. And who are you?" It is Jim.


Christine looks at Spock in alarm. "Was this on the calendar?"


He shakes his head as he hears Valeris say, "I'm Valeris. And you're Captain James T. Kirk, my cousin's friend."


"Cousin. Ahhh." He follows her in and gives Spock an apologetic smile. "I know this is weird. But...Matt was at the cabin the other day and he told me what happened to Chris. And it threw me. It frankly pissed off my current lady how much it threw me."


"Jim," Spock says, unsure what is happening.


"Stand down, Spock. I'm not here to challenge you for her. I'm here to say that I'm tired of avoiding someone I wish was a friend instead of—this. I care about you, Chris. I want to be here when you are and"—he looks around and sees Valeris in the kitchen finishing dinner prep—"your new girl. I assume she's living with you two? And has been for a while, right? But she goes, too, when I come?"


Valeris turns and says, "I did not mind. I've been to Paris and Kiev." Then she turns back around.


Jim smiles. "Another daughter. Of sorts."


Spock nods.


"Can't imagine why you wouldn't want to tell me about her when I've been so much fun to be around. When I gave you shit about the first one and me with David..." He shakes his head.


Valeris calls from the kitchen, "We have enough for four if you wish to get to know me."


He laughs. "Speaks for the house, huh? Forget dinner, Chris. Just tell me if we can try to be something close to friends. I miss you in my life."


She walks to him and pulls him into a hug.


He buries his face in her neck and murmurs, "I can't believe you died and I'm not the kind of friend you call to tell that to." He looks over at Spock. "Or you. You must have been going through hell."


"I was."


Christine lets him go. "Stay for dinner, Jim. Valeris of the house of Sarek has invited you and you do not wish to insult her."


Christine so effortlessly includes Valeris, tries to make her forget she can't call her own grandfather by the term. He loves her for it.


"Fine." He slips his coat off and Spock goes to hang it up. "You're sure?" he murmurs as he follows him to the closet, the way he might have on a mission.


"I am, Jim. My family is incomplete without you."


His smile is wide, his eyes gleaming. "Antonia is so pissed at me right now. I didn't give a shit. I just had to come."


"Do you need a guest room?"


"No, Matt's putting me up at his ritzy place out on the water. Wants me to buy something there so I have a place in the city, can bring her with me more. Not that she wants to come." He sighs. "No. Not about me. Or at least not me bitching, which may be all there is to me right now."


"I do not believe that is true."


"It is time to eat," Valeris says softly, and Spock wonders how much she overheard. He has learned she is always listening. No doubt a way to survive and prosper when she was growing up.


Jim sits in the chair she indicates and laughs as she pretends to be the maître d'. "I hope you don't expect a tip."


"Only about how to succeed at Starfleet Academy."


Spock and Christine both look up. This is a career path they were not aware she was going to take.


"Academy bound, huh? Wouldn't your cousin be a better mentor? He does work there."


"I believe you might provide suggestions he, as a Vulcan, would not."


"Be coached by a living legend? People might think you're a cheater like I am."


"Then we will not tell them. Just as we will not tell them you're a member of our family now or they might think it is nepotism that will make me finish first in my class."


Spock stares at her. When did she decide all this? And how astoundingly is she working his friend?


"First in your class? A Vulcan's never done that."


"Yet." She lifts an eyebrow.


He bursts out laughing. "I love her."


"That must be a secret." She puts a finger to her lips, allowing her lips to lift just the slightest bit. Spock thinks it is a masterful expression—just enough to set a human at ease, something he has not always done.


"Mum's the word, kiddo. If we ever meet in public, it's for the first time."


"Excellent." She hurries off to get whatever she pulled together to feed four instead of three.


Kirk looks at the two of them. "She's...different for a Vulcan."


"Indeed. Her parents were V'Tosh Katur. She rejected that life. She is learning the ways of logic from us and tutors."


"Interesting. I think she'll do it. Finish first, I mean."


"Now that I know she wants to, I think she will too."


"Yeah, this is kind of news to us." Christine just shakes her head. "Life is never dull with her here."


"I can see that. You're a mom twice over."


"I guess I am. Without the annoying pregnancy part." She smiles at him, a bright smile that Spock likes to see. It feels right to have Jim back like this, part of them. And open to Valeris—perhaps she can fill a void for him that Saavik never had the chance—or desire—to.


Because like the rest of Christine's band, he too had his childhood hardships.


He too is in some ways broken.


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