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
Part 9: How We Found Each Other Again
Spock sits with Christine in a restaurant they have never eaten at before, enjoying a delicious meal. They have avoided this place primarily because it has limited options for vegetarians, but he is attempting to indulge her.
And he knows she loves steak even if she does not prepare it at home.
She is in a black dress he has never seen. Her hair is up the way it was the night she came over to his table to give him relationship advice. Her make-up is subdued but enhances her eyes.
She looks as beautiful now to him as she ever has.
"You are worthy of being stared at."
Her smile is the shy one that is so at odds with her other ones. She is expressive and outgoing but this smile—he feels as if this smile is his alone. Even if he knows that is probably not true.
"The dress is new?"
"I'm making you woo me. Figured I might want to get some new clothes to make it more interesting for you."
"Clothes of what type?"
She laughs. "You'll find out when we get there."
He is grateful he is in a robe that will hide how aroused he is. "And when will that be?"
"Were you not listening." Her grin is infectious. "When I say."
"Ah." He studies her. "I know that I said I preferred your hair blonde, but I do not think that is true."
"Good. Because white-blonde hair isn't always a great thing in my line of work. Especially if we're trying to blend."
"But...there are these things called wigs. Surprisingly realistic. I might have found one that looks uncannily like my hair used to be. Also a blue one the exact shade of my eyes—and some other clothes I bought."
"Not so much."
"Are you wearing them now?"
She laughs. "What color lingerie do I wear with a black dress? If you can't answer that, you're not ready for me yet."
"Black. But Starfleet issued undergarments are also black."
"They aren't lace."
He closes his eyes. He imagines his mouth over that lace. "Please ask me something that has nothing to do with you in undergarments. If you are going to make me wait."
"Aww, baby. Going crazy?" She gives him a patently false smile of sympathy. "So how was the shakedown cruise?"
"Disappointing. Jim is..." He shakes his head. "He had such high hopes."
"Ships can be fixed. It's not like it's a person."
"I said something similar to him. He was not consoled."
"Is that why you're going camping? To console him further?"
"As you will be away again, it seemed a good idea."
"I know. Not my choice to be gone again."
He nods. "May I ask you something?" When she nods, he leans in, keeping his voice low. "Saavik has options—even still. This child is not coming at a time that is convenient. And its origin is..." He takes a deep breath and is dismayed when it is ragged. "Why is she choosing to keep it?"
"I've asked her the same thing. I think..I think she views it as her way of expunging guilt for what she did to the other Spock."
"A child is not atonement."
"I think it will be for her. She's staying on Vulcan to have the baby. She'll bring it back here eventually but I think she wants to honor what she..." She swallows hard and shakes her head.
"What she destroyed."
He goes back to eating for a moment, and then says, "If it had been you in her place, would you have kept the secret or saved the new life?"
"Oh, Spock. That's so hard to answer. As a physician, I'm trained to first do no harm. But as your wife? Not knowing what the Genesis planet might have done to him—to his stability overall? I'd like to think I'd be noble and let new life have its way. But I wouldn't. I'd keep quiet so I could have you back." Her eyes are full of so many emotions, he has to reach out and take her hand, even if they are in public.
"Thank you, Christine. It haunts me that I live and he does not."
"Don't let it haunt you. You had no say in the matter. This was done to you. Just as much as it was to him. For all we know your katra was ready to rest." She looks away, blinking furiously. "I hate to think like that."
"It was not ready. I was not ready to leave you."
She squeezes his hand. "I'm glad you're back."
"As am I."
"Now I need to talk to you about something serious. I'm really worried about Valeris, Spock. When you died, when I was in so much pain, and even after, when I was unsure what would happen for us, she kept saying she could take me somewhere, that my pain could be relieved. She was...almost frantic. But when I told her I didn't want my pain taken away, she just retreated and that's when I called Matt and asked if he'd look in on her since she wasn't answering my calls."
"She said something similar to me. I do not know who she is talking about. There is no such discipline on Vulcan."
"Other than a mind wipe." She lifts an eyebrow at him.
"For which I have atoned."
"Only you went the other way and instead of deleting, you inserted memories. Len was in a really bad way."
"There was no time to ask permission. My mother says I can be unilateral and impulsive. And she is right."
"Well, since you're here talking to me because you did it, I'm not going to give you any more shit about it." He can feel her relief, that her annoyance over what he did to McCoy is mild. That she loves him too much to say more.
"I appreciate that you had faith in me, Christine. That you knew I would come back to you."
"I wasn't sure. Not after I brought T'Pring into our business."
"She and I spoke briefly. She seemed...different. And she is looking after Saavik in ways most unexpected."
"She told me she mourned you. That when she heard you were dead, she went out into the desert and grieved where no one could witness her emotional breach. Even after all this time, she still loved you, Spock. I don't think she'll betray you."
"I do not think so either. You did right. You protected our daughter. Even from me. It means everything."
"And our other daughter?"
"Perhaps we just need to make more of an effort when we are on Earth. Not assume she is fine at the Academy."
"A good plan. But—and you know I love her—but sometimes I wonder if we can ever love her enough to undo her childhood—and possibly her genetics."
"We must have faith."
"That's not logical."
"Logic has not helped her in the way we all—including her, I believe—hoped. She will find what makes her whole. A place, hopefully at the Academy. Perhaps with romantic love. Somehow, I believe she will be all right. All we can do is support her."
"And love her."
"Yes. And love her."
Spock sits with the memory of the "pain" Sybok lifted from him. Trying to make sense of it. McCoy seems to have genuinely had a weight lifted off him but Spock does not feel that way.
And it is not just because Jim is glaring at him.
He was a newborn at the time. His father's words would have meant nothing to him. Why would Sybok pick this as his hidden pain?
The door opens and the guards come in, then his brother. "I would like a word with Spock."
He gets up and follows him out.
Once the doors are closed, Sybok tells the guards to move out of earshot. "Spock, I had a moment so I wanted to try one more time to reach you. We used to be so close. I understand Kirk is your captain and your friend, but I am your brother."
"Did you see my birth? Were you spying on my mother's labor?"
Sybok shrugs. "I was curious. I was to have a baby brother or sister."
So this is where Valeris gets her tendency to sneak and snoop. Although Angel probably shared the trait—she is doubly damned. "With a gift such as yours, you might have taken over Vulcan. Except...that was not my pain, was it? That was yours. Because I think you cannot work your parlor trick on Vulcans."
"It is not a parlor trick."
"An evasion rather than a lie. You are, after all, full Vulcan, so lying would be impossible." He studies his brother. "And I must be sufficiently Vulcan to not allow you to heal me. Or you would know there are greater pains in my life than that my father once thought me too human."
"Once? If you could see his heart, I'm sure he still thinks so. He is a monster, Spock. When will you quit trying to please him."
Spock thinks of the lengths his father went to ensure his katra would rest on Vulcan. Of the times at the beach house—the day when Christine died. Of his care for Christine and the girls—none of whom are full Vulcan. "No, Sybok, I do please him. In his way, he cares for me. He cares for my entire family."
"In his way? What does that even mean other than you are making excuses for him?"
"And what excuse shall I make for you? You are a father, Sybok. And yet you do not ask about your daughter."
"She made her choice when she left me in pain. She ran from hard emotions like any Vulcan."
"She was a child whose father had disappeared into his grief. She did what she had to do. And with your blessing—I know you have supported her with documentation, I know she could contact you."
"No longer. You are her father now."
"No, I am her uncle pretending to be her cousin."
"Would you have me take her back? She excels, from what I have heard, at the Academy you love so much." He moves back, as if Spock has touched some part of him that is not optimistic, and his smile is far from the beatific one he has been bestowing on all those around them.
He looks...off balance. As if Spock has walked in and knocked all his precious things over simply by seeing the truth through the psychic smoke and mirrors.
He finally sees why his brother was at Ankeshtan K'til all those years. "Why lie to me? Why fake healing my pain?"
"Because I love you. I want you to walk with me, not be my enemy."
He walks to the door. "Let me back in with Jim and McCoy. They have honor you lack. Logic you have abandoned." It saddens him that even McCoy is more logical than his brother. "And I do not need your love, Sybok. I have my family's and my friends'."
Sybok looks gutted. "Spock. Remember when it was just us. Before Michael came and ruined it all."
"She did not ruin anything. You did, Sybok." He opens the door and the guards come running, surrounding Sybok, weapons drawn.
Jim is waiting at the door, but he backs up at the show of force. "You all right? Did he take away more of your pain?"
"He did not."
"Good." Jim turns away and goes back to the viewscreen.
"Spock..." Sybok says from the hall but Spock does not turn around to look at him, and then the door closes.
"Can you believe how good it feels to have this pain lifted, Spock?" McCoy is sitting with one leg on a bench, his smile easy even if they are captives.
"It is, indeed, difficult to believe, Doctor."
Spock lies in bed with Christine, their uniforms strewn across their bedroom floor in their apartment. He was fully prepared to continue wooing her, but she pulled him into the bedroom when he came to pick her up and said, "You almost died. Again. Damn it, Spock."
He ran his hand along what was clearly nu-skin on her hand. "You were injured again."
"Yeah. I was distracted when I found out they sent your ship in the shape it was in to handle a problem that far away. I zigged when I should have zagged." She pulled him into the bedroom. "Shut up and make love to me."
And he did. Over and over, finally feeling like he was home. Reading from her that she felt the same way.
He strokes her cheek, his fingers finding the meld points. "The bond?"
She slips her fingers under his. "I'm not saying no. I'm saying—can we do it right, this time? Take leave—we both have a shitload. Go somewhere, like Risa. Enjoy the moment we come together? We didn't get to last time."
"No, we did not."
"I'd just like to be with you. To have you all to myself."
"I would like that. My parents go there occasionally. Mother has told me of the view, of the house she likes and all its amenities. I can find out which type of residence they rent."
"Good. And get a pool, if they don't."
He kisses her, willing to get her anything she wants—anything at all—if it makes her happy.
She strokes his hair. "And then maybe on the way back we can stop on Vulcan. See La'an and Saavik?"
"That would be pleasant. Perhaps we should have Val—"
He knows shock is showing on his face.
"No, Spock. It's not what she needs when she feels excluded. You and I will be so obviously focused on each other. La'an and Saavik are a new couple. She'll only feel more rejected."
"Perhaps my parents could bring her."
"And add another couple? No, we'll carve out some days at the end—take her somewhere she's never been. It'll be just the three of us."
"That is a good idea. She has mentioned Buenos Aires."
"Perfect. And so much better than exposing her to the woman who kept her father prisoner, you know?"
"Why would T'Pring be there?"
"Because La'an likes her as much as Saavik does and they've asked her to be godmother to the child."
"There is no such thing on Vulcan. Our house is our guardian if something happens to our parents."
"Tell that to La'an."
He imagines La'an's face as he tries to inform her that she has gone against Vulcan custom. "I will not."
Christine starts to laugh. "Oh come on. It's kinda hilarious. Your former fiancée is going to be godmother to your child." She cuddles in against him. "You're going to have to bury the hatchet."
"Perhaps I will bury it in her. One less godmother, one less witness to the secret."
"Nyah, she's a good mother from what Amanda says."
He feels out-maneuvered by this network the women in—and out—of his life seem to have.
"Awww, did I throw you with the whole T'Pring thing?"
"I wish I could read you the way you can me. Does it hurt to talk about the child? Your child but not."
"Right now the child is an abstract. It is easy to impose emotion on it. But once it is born, I will be in its life. As a grandfather instead of a father but this is not like David was for Jim. I will not be banished from the child's life."
"Good outlook. I just—I didn't want to be laughing at your pain."
"Indeed, most cruel. You must make it up to me. Perhaps you could model some of your new purchases?"
"You just want to see me in the wigs. Save it for Risa, buster. And there might be a few more than just blonde and blue. They were all so cute." She eases on top of him, but up high, teasing him with how near she is to him. "And so is the matching lingerie. I know how you like lace."
He lifts her, and she laughs as he moves her down and lowers her onto him.
She begins to move the way he craves. "You really, really love pretty lingerie."
"On you, yes."
She leans down to kiss him, then whispers in his ear. "One of the garments has all these veils. They become less and less opaque the more you remove."
"Christine, please." He thrusts hard.
"Please, what? Please pack an extra suitcase just with goodies for Spock?"
"Yes. Yes that." He holds her hips, gets the angle the way they have always loved it, and lets go.
She is moaning in moments, clawing at his chest—fortunately she keeps her nails short—and then calling out loudly.
He follows her, albeit more quietly, into bliss.
Spock hears the door open and goes out to see Valeris coming in. He stands in his office doorway and waits for her to see him. She fails to constrain a smile when she notices him and runs to him, hugging him tightly.
"Are you living here again?"
"When Christine told me to come for dinner because you both had something to tell me, I'd hoped it was that you were back together."
Christine comes out from their bedroom and smiles at him. "Don't I get a hug?"
Valeris hurries to her and hugs her so tightly Christine groans. "Sorry. I'm just happy for you."
"I know, honey." She puts her arm around her shoulders and leads her to the table. "I ordered from LaVagna."
"Ravioli with butternut?"
"And veggie lasagna. Lots of parm to put on top. And they have stuffed shells they swear are heaven so I got some of those too."
"I love that place. I never go anymore."
"You are a bit busy."
"Being first is hard work." She grins as Christine sits next to her and Spock brings the food over. "You could have pretended you do not remember how to help in the kitchen. Make her do all the work." Her eyes are dancing the way they do now when she wants to laugh but will not let herself.
"I would have retrained him."
"Of that I have no doubt." He touches Valeris's cheek gently. "I have missed you." He knows she will feel the truth of it—she is extraordinarily sensitive.
"We both have. So we have a proposition. We're going to be offworld for a while."
"Oh." Valeris seems surprised. Then her look changes. "Are you going to renew the bond?"
Christine nods, happiness evident in her face. "Does that sound like a good idea."
"That sounds like an excellent idea."
"We thought, when we got back from leave, that the three of us could go to Buenos Aires together on the weekend. You've been wanting to go, right?"
"We leave for Risa in two days. We'll be back the weekend after next."
"I can't. Admiral Cartwright is hosting the top students at his beach house that Saturday. He does it every year. Invites a bunch of brass and others he wants us to meet. We can go to BA some other time."
"Honey, your father is on the ship. And I'm on and off world. This is the best time to do it."
"Well maybe you should have checked my schedule before you booked all your travel—if you really wanted to shoehorn time with me in at the end of your trip." She puts her fork down. "I bet you checked with Saavik to see if they'd be on Vulcan before you booked the middle part of your vacation."
He is unsure how she knows about Vulcan. Has she hacked into their private comms? His concern must show because she says, "I was talking to La'an. She asked me if I was coming. That was not awkward in any way." She pushes her plate back and gets up. "Why do I never come first?"
"Valeris, sit down." Christine's voice is one he is not used to—the voice of the ops professional, who is used to managing people and crises.
Valeris does not argue and sits.
"You're grieving your father. You're getting over grieving Spock and trying to help me—and I know I've been a mess at times. We'll be with Saavik a few days but we have to stop at Vulcan to register the bonding."
He nods. This is something they've decided to do this time. So there is no question if anything happens to one of them. They will also register it with the appropriate Terran authorities. "When the baby is born, we will all go to Vulcan."
Christine looks surprised for a moment, but then nods. "Yes, we will."
"Our schedules will undoubtedly not allow it." But Valeris sounds mollified despite the pragmatism. "But I would like to see the baby when it arrives." She pulls her plate back and resumes eating. "The shells are delicious."
"Yes, they are." He looks at Christine who smiles at him. "Perhaps we could go to Buenos Aires after your event is over and spend the night. Explore it on Sunday."
"There's a sleepover on the beach for the cadets." She meets his eyes. "It is important for bonding."
"And you are one of them?" He never was. He was always apart.
"I am. I have worked hard to be sufficiently open but also quintessentially Vulcan." She meets his eyes. "I know Christine comes first right now. I am sorry I reacted so strongly." She looks at Christine. "I want you to be happy."
Christine pulls her to her, lays her lips on her forehead, and whispers, "You know I love you, right?" She too is giving Valeris the access he did—to feel how much they care.
"I love you, too."
Spock lounges with Christine on the bed in the private compartment he has rented on the shuttle. Pampering her this way pleases her and allows him to touch her whenever he feels the need.
And he feels the need often. He spent their first time together yearning for the bond but knowing she did not want it, and much of the duration of their first bond not being able to fully enjoy it. Now, when they both want it equally, when they have taken time to allow them to enjoy it fully, he finds he is as eager as a young man, seeking a first kiss from T'Pring.
She cuddles into him, snaking her arm around him, making happy noises as he kisses her forehead.
He can feel she is tired—beyond tired even. "Sleep, you have time before we get there."
Her eyes are already closing. "But you got us this gorgeous room."
"So we could do as we please. I would rather you were rested when we arrived on Risa than exhausted because you felt obligated to stay awake."
"Logical." She leans up to give him a lingering kiss. "I, too, wish to be well rested when we do this."
Her smile is so sweet he has to pull her back and kiss her again. Then he covers them with a throw and she is out in moments.
As she sleeps for hours, he finds himself playing back the moments with her that most stand out. That first meeting in sickbay, her help with the body switch, their kiss.
He knows they missed out because of circumstances, but he also wonders if things would be as good now if they had not been apart so many times, if they had not lost each other. Their relationship is very precious to him now, and he knows it is for her too. It is she who wanted this vacation to truly enjoy the bonding, not just endure it and go immediately back to a mission.
He realizes he is tired too and closes his eyes and lets go.
The sound of a communicator goes off, waking him. "Who is calling?" he asks their devices on the nightstand, and his communicator says, "Admiral Cartwright."
He realizes Christine is awake and frowning. "Why is he calling you?"
Spock grabs the communicator from the nightstand and puts it on video. "Sir?"
"First, I'm sorry to interrupt your long overdue leave. And this is not about ops, which is why I'm calling you, Spock. I know Christine would tell me to go to hell."
"I'd tell you worse than that."
He grins. "Like I said. Anyway, Spock, do you remember the marine mini boot camp the Academy offered?"
"I do. An interesting opportunity for upperclassmen." Tactics for escape and evasion, marksmanship, emergency survival, clandestine comms and other such things.
"Yeah, about that. They had someone drop out because of injury. The camp starts tomorrow. Major West asked me for a replacement and I'd like to send Valeris."
"She's too young," Christine says.
"No, she's not. Moreover, she's exceptional. And she wants to do this. Probably to be more like her idol La'an."
He nearly sighs. It is completely in character for Valeris to decide on career paths without discussing it with them.
"You're taking an awful lot of interest in her, Matt."
"Maybe because I know what it's like to have an absent father."
Spock can feel himself bristling.
"I don't mean you, Spock. Your cousin adores you. But her real father. She told me about him. All about him—and what happened to her mothers."
Spock can feel Christine freeze against him. He does not want to say anything on an open comm about Sybok, and he knows Cartwright is being cautious as well.
"I identify with her, Spock. Let her have this opportunity. It will look great on her resume. To do this at all, let alone so early in her Academy career, is an outstanding achievement."
Spock looks at Christine and she nods. "All right. If it is what she wants."
"Excellent. Enjoy your vacation, you two. Sorry to bother you." And he cuts the connection.
He turns to Christine. "I know that Valeris had an inappropriate crush on Jim. Do you think she also has one on the Admiral?"
"If she does, it won't go anywhere. He's into guys."
He feels a rush of relief. "So this is just a professional mentorship?"
"Seems that way. I mean he sort of did the same for me. No reason to think I'd be so high up in ops based on how I came in but he took me under his wing. Did the same for Jan. And so many others."
He relaxes against her. "Valeris does not discuss anything with us."
"I know. But we're off without her on vacation. Why would she?" She looks down. "Are we failing her, Spock?"
"We are not. She has classes. And your reservations about taking her to Vulcan with us were logical. Moreover, I think she has proven that no matter how upset she might be in the moment, she will find a way to not just survive the disappointment but thrive."
"Academically, sure. But what's going on in her heart?"
"It is pumping blood." He kisses her. "What is going on in her mind, however..." He lets his lips tick up. "But I take your point. Despite her mastery of logic, she is, at her core, an emotional creature. And keeps so much to herself."
She sighs and cuddles against him tightly.
"May I suggest we forget about her for now. She is off to a prestigious opportunity where she will learn interesting things, make friends and impress officers, all of which will please her."
"True." She nuzzles his neck. "Do you know this Major West?"
"Barely. He reported to the Academy right before that last training cruise. He seems a fine officer—has an excellent record."
"Another father figure for her?"
"Would it be such a shame if he were? I'd rather father figures than lovers."
She laughs. "Yeah, when you put it that way." She shakes her head. "Okay, I'm forgetting about her and her eternally changeable career aspirations until we get home."
"Most logical," he says as he pushes her to her back and begins to let his hands roam. "Do you need more sleep? I will desist."
"Don't desist on my account." She laughs as he begins to kiss down his body. "These rooms are soundproof?"
She begins to unbutton her shirt. "Then maybe it's time to show you some of the new lingerie. You like purple, right?"
Purple lace. He is lost.
As he is sure she knew he would be when she put it on.
He hopes the rooms are as soundproof as the information sheet said.
Spock has to admit that Risa is outstandingly beautiful. Not just their very private house on the cliffs but everything about it.
He does not want to rush Christine into the bond, so he goes out to the patio, bending down to feel the temperature of the pool—perfect, as everything is here. Then he takes in the view—the sea, the boats out on the water. So lovely.
He hears her footsteps behind him and asks, "What would you like to do first?"
"You," she says, and she is laughing so he turns around.
She has put the blonde wig on and it is so close to how her hair used to be it takes him back immediately. She is wearing a white jumpsuit similar to the one she used to wear only this has zippers in very interesting places.
He walks to her and unzips the zipper over her left breast, careful lest he catch skin but there is not skin underneath. There is a piece of lace between the zipper and her.
She is clearly not wearing undergarments.
He unzips the other zippers, taking his time, kissing and licking and sucking as he goes. Easing her down onto the daybed, not giving her any quarter until she is writhing under his mouth. And then coming, loudly, but he does not stop, he wants to take her deeper, as deep as he can get her.
The first time they bonded, they rushed. They had to.
This time they will take their time.
He avoids any area too sensitive and works on the parts of her that still crave his touch, until she begins the next climb, her fingers in his hair as she bucks against his mouth.
She is even louder this time but he knows the privacy screens around the patio will keep sound in and protect them from prying eyes.
He pulls his robe and undergarments off then grabs the piece of lace over her crotch and rips it from the garment, careful not to hurt her but intent on finding a way to take her, to feel himself inside her.
She moans as he enters her, and he pulls off the wig gently.
"You don't like it?"
"I do. Very much. But that version of you is not who I am about to bond with." He eases her hair from the bun she put it in and fluffs it around her face. "Do not discard it though. I envision it providing entertainment in the future."
"I love you so much."
He melds with her, letting her feel his love rather than rely on words. Letting her feel how it is to be inside her, as he moves harder, as he takes the meld slowly deeper and deeper, stopping for a moment to allow himself to climax and he can feel her also coming—as much in reaction to her experiencing his orgasm as from her own excitement.
He stays inside her but rolls to his side, pulling her leg over his hip as he takes them deeper and deeper and deeper and...there.
They are together once more. Parted and never parted. Never and always touching and touched.
"Oh, my God." She is flushed and her eyes are half closed, her lips full and red from kisses he did not try to make gentle. He rips off the lace over her breasts and takes one in his mouth, sucking harder than he normally would but wanting to feel it from both their perspectives. He wants to feel everything this way, while the bond is still this profound.
She is trembling underneath him and he murmurs, "Are you all right."
"It's so much more than I knew."
"For me as well."
She rolls him to his back and begins to move, leaning down so he can suck on her breasts and then pulling back away, teasing him, laughing as she feels his frustration, and he laughs too as he feels how deep she is taking him, how good it feels to her for him to be inside her.
"I will never love anyone, Christine, the way I love you."
"I know. Me too." And then she is riding him almost viciously, but he can feel only her love, only a terrible need to make him hers and her his, and he lets go and holds her hips still and thrusts up over and over until she can barely speak.
Until he cannot either.
She collapses on his chest, and he holds her close with his arms and his legs around her, not wanting to be anywhere but inside her.
He realizes she is crying and wipes her tears away.
"You didn't hurt me. It's just...so much."
"Yes. Yes it is." He kisses her tenderly, wanting to show her he does not just wish for passion but also the love that permeates everything.
"What we missed the first time..." She sounds so wistful he takes her hair in his hand and says, "Perhaps we were not ready for this then. Perhaps we can only have it now."
"I like that idea." She smiles, a mischievous smile and begins to play with herself, reaching between them, and he moans as she brings herself to pleasure again, comes inside her as she cries out.
"Fucking A, Spock. Is normal sex going to be enough after this?"
"When we are not able to walk later—or possibly form words—normal sex will probably seem a very wise option."
"I brought a regenerator."
"Most wise." He nips her lip and smiles at how it feels from her perspective. "You mentioned garments with more lace than this one."
"Hey this one had plenty until you ripped it off."
"It seemed the most efficient way to free areas of interest." He eases his grip with his legs. "You mentioned things of blue. A wig too."
"Oh, so that wig's okay."
"As you have never worn such a thing, then yes. The blonde—that seemed too much like holding to the past when all I want with you is now and the future."
"You say the sweetest things sometimes." She slips off him and he feels bereft without the feel of her around him. "I also brought some other things besides kooky wigs and things of lace. Toys and such." She suddenly seems hesitant—as if anything she wants would be repugnant to him. "Restraints..."
"And such." He feels a rush of lust at the idea of her being restrained, of being able to control her.
He feels an answering rush of lust as she says, "Sometimes it's nice not to be the one in charge."
"Is that your subtle way of saying you wish to be dominated?"
"Yes, please." Her arousal grows and he pulls her back to him, back onto him, telling her how to ride him, when to move, how fast to go. "Imagine this with restraints," he says just as she comes.
Her excitement sends him over the edge.
"And with a blue wig," she says with a laugh, falling back on the daybed.
"Yes. And a blue wig." He strokes damp hair off her forehead. "I do not need toys or restraints to be happy, though."
"I know. I just thought it would be fun."
"It will be. But you are enough, Christine."
"And you are for me too." She urges him off the daybed and into the house, then shows him the things she's brought. "Interesting?"
"Exceedingly." Even if he is not entirely sure how all the restraints work.
She holds up the wig near her face. It matches her eyes perfectly and is long and wavy. She puts her hair back in the bun and pulls it on, then slides out of the jumpsuit. Slowly she slips on lingerie of the same hue as the wig. Only the panties have no crotch and the cups of the bra only cover half her breasts.
Most efficient for playing with restraints.
She smiles and says, "I trust you."
"And I trust you, if later you wish to use restraints on me."
"Is that your subtle way of saying you also want to be dominated?"
"Perhaps." He truly is not sure. But it sounds...intriguing. "I trust you."
What more is there to say? They are whole, bonded, mates—and they trust each other.
He slowly bends her over a table and takes her from behind—he heartily approves of this lingerie's construction, or lack thereof. "Now, how shall I have you address me?"
Spock watches as Christine eats what she says may be the best steak she's ever had. He's relieved he is not experiencing it but somewhat sad the bond is fading, as it must, into the background.
They have made the most of the days when it was pulsing between them. There is not a toy they have not tried, an outfit he has not eventually taken off her.
They have swum naked in the pool and lazed on floating chairs as they talked of old times. She asked with a laugh if they should have taken pictures to add to the pile he still had in a box. Pictures that now include their children. Probably not the place for adding creative nudes.
He sees her eying his lasagna and sighs in a longsuffering way that makes her laugh. "You wish to try it?"
"I do but I have nothing to trade for it."
"I would not say that." He stares at her chest until she opens her robe so he can see her breasts. He slides his fork down the lasagna and holds the piece out to her.
She makes the happy sounds she always does when food pleases her, but then she ties her robe back up. "One bite? You get a peep, not the entire show."
"I will take it off you later." He reaches for his wine and drinks. "Very slowly."
She is smiling widely, but her pupils are dilating and he can feel her arousal as she goes back to eating.
"I will use the sash to tie you in some creative manner that displays you for as long as I desire."
"Big talk." She winks at him.
He allows himself a smile. "I appreciate you suggesting we do this. Come here. Experience this to the fullest."
"Do things we can't do in the apartment when Valeris might show up at any moment and probably listen at the bedroom door?"
"That too." He reaches for her hand. "I need to say this—if you do not wish me to stay on the ship..."
"That's your place, Spock. Jim needs you. Hell, the universe needs you. We just have to get creative in finding ways to see each other."
"And don't fucking die this time."
"I will do my best to avoid that experience." He lets her eat for a few moments and then asks, "Do you ever think about coming back?"
"To the ship?"
"I do. But..." She sighs. "I never thought I was ambitious. I thought I was project oriented, you know? But I really, really like how many people at Command know me. I like the access. I like that I'm super good at my job—and not because I think so but because they do."
He nods. "I admire how respected you are. How proficient at handling hard situations and difficult people."
"I think we're both where we belong, you know?"
He nods. "I will, however, miss you intensely."
"Awww. I'd come around and kiss you but I know you don't want steak breath in your face."
"You are correct."
She laughs and he can feel the bond pinging between them gently, the way it used to. This is how things were and he appreciates having the opportunity to have it all back.
He knows how easily it might not have gone that way.
"Do you wish to wander the town tonight?"
"Do you?" She sounds surprised.
"No, but I do not want you to feel like you did not fully experience Risa."
"Risa's just the place I wanted to come to fully experience you."
He feels a surge of pleasure at her words. He knows how much she likes to explore. How eager she is to try new things.
That she wants only to be with him at this moment—it means everything.
Spock sits in the small living area of the house Saavik and La'an are living in. It is a property owned by his family, one that is often rented out to offworlders. Comfortable but not luxurious.
His mother has hired a chef to cook for Saavik and La'an, so they have meals to eat throughout the week, and he is in the kitchen now, but tonight he only prepares a welcome dinner. It smells wonderful.
Christine and T'Pring are outside in the small garden talking—about Saavik, no doubt. He was not invited and thinks it best to let Christine handle T'Pring. She is, after all, the one who brought her into all of this.
Saavik is napping. Or so La'an said when they arrived, but her face and her words were not in agreement. T'Pring's face gave away nothing, but then she looked at Christine and off they went to the garden—some unspoken language between them he will never understand.
But he does not mind. Not if it's for the benefit of his daughter.
And not when he could feel Christine's worry start as soon as they left Risa. He asked her what was troubling her, but she evaded the question.
And he let her. Cowardly, perhaps, but this situation is 'beyond awkward' as Jim might say.
"You are acclimating to Vulcan?" he asks La'an.
"Yeah. Took a bit. But it beats a Gorn nursery so..."
"I understand. Are you...all right? You two, I mean?"
"Dinner will be ready before I could finish answering that question." It is uncharacteristically honest of her and he frowns before he can stop himself. "Speaking of which, I better go get her up."
She seems desperate to escape her sudden candor and he lets her. A few minutes later, Saavik comes out.
She looks exhausted. Her color is off; there are deep circles under her eyes. She is too early to be showing, to be weary of carrying a baby as he knows happens late in term, but morning sickness can be very difficult. Except surely T'Pring would have seen that she received medicine for that.
He stands, ready to give her a hug, but she hangs back.
"Your time in Risa was good?" she asks with very little inflection in her voice.
"And you're here now."
He is not sure what the answer is to that. She does not wait for it, just goes into the kitchen and he hears her conferring with the chef.
He looks at La'an who shrugs. "Like I said, Spock."
Christine sees Saavik and comes in, pulling her into a hug—and she goes willingly. He tries not to feel stung.
She clearly will embrace, just not him.
T'Pring is watching him from the doorway, and he thinks she can read him still, after all these years. But her look holds nothing but a gentle welcome.
And, he thinks, concern.
The chef calls them to the table, leaving some dishes on the table and others in stasis in the kitchen before he departs. It is an awkward meal, conversations starting and stopping in a way they never have with the four of them—even the addition of T'Pring should not affect the dynamic to this extent. In fact, she seems to be trying to find safe ground for them, but Saavik is sullen and La'an—La'an just seems lost.
"Saavik," Christine says from across the table. "You need to eat. For the baby and you."
He realizes Saavik has just been moving food around her plate. She pushes the plate away and stares back at Christine, her expression unreadable.
"This is delicious," he says, hoping to encourage her to eat. "Your chef is quite skilled."
"Then you can have mine. You took the rest of my life, why not this too?"
There is an instant silence at the table.
"Baby," Christine says.
"What? Baby, what? I'm not being fair to him? You think I don't know that?" She stands, but Christine gets up even faster, is around the table before Saavik can leave.
"Oh, sweetheart." She gently strokes back a tendril of hair that has come loose from the messy bun Saavik has her hair in.
All the fight seems to go out of her. "I want to come home. I don't want to be here. I don't want to do this here. I want to be with you."
He is relatively certain she does not mean with him, only with Christine.
Christine's voice is very gentle as she says, "Here, you have people, Saavik. Spock is on the ship; I'm so often travelling as are Sarek and Amanda. Valeris is in classes. And the doctors on Earth aren't skilled with Vulcans or Romulans. You're safer here."
"You mean the baby is." She practically spits it at her.
"The baby that you're choosing to have." Christine puts her hand on either side of her face. "I'm going to ask you a question and I want an honest answer. I'll know if it's not."
Saavik begins to cry but nods.
"Can you love this child you're insisting on having?"
No one says a word as Saavik stares back at her. Instead of answering, she finally says, "I really want to go running with you."
"I just got here, honey. The tri-ox has barely had a chance to work. Why don't we walk instead."
"Yes, I'm sorry. I forgot you'd need that." She is crying harder and Christine takes her out the back way, into the garden and out the back gate to a trail system that should afford them more privacy than walking on the main road in front of the house.
But as she passes T'Pring, she nods and T'Pring nods back.
La'an takes a deep breath then says, "Does anyone mind if I eat? I'm starving."
"Please." He looks at T'Pring. "You and Christine have been...plotting?"
"We have been talking about choices. Choices Saavik has but will not take."
La'an looks up, her expression hopeless. "I don't think she can love this child." Then she blinks furiously, and he knows from the years he has served with her that she is trying not to cry. "I just don't think she can. But she won't..." She shakes her head and goes back to eating.
"She will not terminate. She believes she owes the Spock that might have been this life." T'Pring looks over at Spock. "And perhaps she does. But she does not owe his child her life."
La'an looks confused and Spock knows he is probably mirroring her expression.
T'Pring meets his eyes. "There is an option that no one is considering. Give the child to a family who would care deeply for it. A family who cannot have a child on their own." She meets his eyes. "A family such as my son and his wife. Who have tried. Over and over. Who long for a child."
"But the child is part Romulan and part human...right?" La'an looks at him.
He considers her question. "The child will receive fifty percent of its DNA from each parent, but how that DNA is allocated can vary widely."
"I am not the geneticist Christine is, but I believe there is a small possibility the child could be fully Vulcan given both Saavik and Spock are half."
"It would be unlikely. But possible." He meets her eyes. "You would do this?"
"I would. My children also would—they are actively seeking a child, but it is hard on Vulcan, as you probably know, to find children in need of homes. I would be honored to be the grandmother of this child not just the 'godmother.' And they would be excellent parents."
"They're the ones we met? You've been thinking of this?" La'an smiles in a knowing way. "How far ahead do you think?"
"In this case very far. Saavik is emotionally compromised. Giving birth to this child is her choice, but raising it will be a millstone around her neck, reminding her of choices she made that were both logical and not."
Spock closes his eyes and sighs.
"Spock, none of this is your fault so do not act as if it is. You were not in the body she mated with—logically, to ensure its survival. Any of us would have done the same thing. You were also not in the body holding the personality she and T'Lania doomed to oblivion. You are blameless."
"And yet my daughter bears my child while some alternate version of myself is lost."
"Kaiidth," she murmurs so softly La'an should not be able to hear her, but she obviously does. At her questioning look, she says, "What is, is."
La'an seems to be considering the idea. "Would she have to see it once it's born? Or could she, if she wanted to?"
"I think that is something she has to decide. I would like to work with her. To help her access logic instead of just the pain that is filling her."
"I will not have her at Ankesh—"
"I do not intend to take her there, Spock. I am on Vulcan more than there these days. I will work with her here. We will find a solution that works for all involved. Except, of course, for you. Your child will almost certainly be lost to you."
"As I have been told: it is not my child." And yet he feels a pang of sorrow so deep it shocks him. He did not expect to be a father to this child but he was looking forward to being a grandfather. "Why are you doing this? Helping her so with such compassion?"
"I have never apologized for dragging Kirk into the challenge." As he starts to answer, she lifts a hand. "And I never will. But...I believe I am the best person to assist her. I believe it will help all of us. And perhaps, put right what has been so quietly bitter between you and me for so long, Spock."
"What if she wants to keep it?" La'an asks softly.
"Do you believe she will?" T'Pring's gaze is gentle. "Do you truly think you are going to be a mother to this child?"
"I did. It's why I moved here. But now? No. No, I don't. And I think I'm losing her too."
"You very well might be. And as the pregnancy progresses, the hormones will exacerbate the erratic nature of her emotions. Which is why we must act now."
Spock thinks back to how Christine suggested this visit, how vehement she was that Valeris not come. "You and Christine were in contact before now."
"Yes." She gives him the most gentle look he has seen from her since he left her so long ago. "I wanted her to see for herself. She is an excellent mother and I knew she would do whatever was best for her daughter. Just as I would for my children."
La'an looks at them. "That's why you didn't want Valeris here. Nothing to get fond of if she never sees her pregnant."
He swallows, too hard, too visibly—showing fear. Another way they will disappoint Valeris. "We told her we would come for the birth."
"That will be up to Saavik. I will see that she has all options open to her. But Valeris may have to adjust her expectations—or destroy them altogther."
"Not optimal, given her nature."
"Well, consider her father." At his look, she says simply, "Saavik told me who she really is."
"I see." He looks down. "A conversation for another time."
"Not at all. She is your cousin now. I have no issues with that."
He is shocked—the old T'Pring would most definitely have had issues. "We must protect Saavik. And if your children can give this child a loving home"—he uses the word deliberately, not willing to fall back on some less emotionally laden adjective—"then it is a good solution." He looks at La'an.
"I think so. In the future, if things work out for us, Saavik and I can have a baby free of all this pain."
"Most logical," T'Pring says, and he knows it is the greatest compliment she can give. She rises and walks first to La'an, putting her hand gently on her shoulder and squeezing, then to him, tipping his chin up so they are staring eye to eye. "Thank you for letting me help."
"Thank you for offering your help."
Through her touch on his skin, he can feel so many emotions, and imagines he is sending her back much of the same: weariness with being enemies, a desire to take care of this young woman they both love, and some small vestige of the regard they once had for each other—could it now turn into something new.
She lets her lips turn up and then eases away. "I must go find them. Christine will have already planted the seed."
"You two work most efficiently together."
"I imagine that is quite terrifying for you." She glances at La'an, a look he would classify as mischievous on her face, then walks out.
"Wow." La'an gets up and goes into the kitchen, then comes out with a bottle full of amber liquid and two glasses. "I know you don't drink whisky normally..."
"I will take a double."
She has it poured before he can finish speaking.
He and Christine lie in bed in the guest room, neither sleeping but both pretending to be.
Finally, she rolls over and says, "I can't feel your anger. Aren't you furious with me?"
"You think I am shielding from you?"
He pulls her closer as he slowly opens the bond back the way it was just before they left Risa—they dialed it down by mutual accord for this visit.
He lets her feel his deep concern for Saavik, his grief that all this was because he was not allowed to stay dead, his sadness that he will never know his child/grandchild, his confusion and possible fear at how seamlessly she and T'Pring can work together, and his abiding love and respect for her.
For doing what needed to be done when he was too emotionally compromised to do it. "You will always protect her."
"I'm protecting us, too. And La'an. Even T'Pring. We're going to lose Saavik if we don't get her to let go of this...quest for redemption."
"I agree." He touches her forehead gently. "Why are you not letting me in?"
"It's a lot." She kisses him gently. "You don't want it."
"You're not the only one emotionally compromised."
"Let me in."
And she does and he feels it—such overwhelming sorrow. He pulls her into his arms, and she weeps and whispers that she wanted to be a grandmother, that Saavik's child—that his child—would have been a wonderful addition to their lives.
"Yes, but some things are not to be. And I believe T'Pring will ensure the child thrives."
She nods, her head buried in his neck. Then she starts crying again. "What if Saavik won't do it?"
He wraps her even more tightly in his arms. "I believe she will. If she can help others with this child of the other me. She could not answer your question—she knows she can never love this child. Not the way it will need to be loved. And we have seen what halfway love looks like—how warped it can make a child."
"Valeris is going to be crushed. She was excited about the baby."
"Valeris's feelings in this are inconsequential compared to saving our other daughter."
She pulls away. "Just don't say it like that to her, okay? She's known too much pain."
"I will not. And once Saavik decides her path, we will explain it to Valeris. Until then, I think it is better that she not be aware there is a chance she will never know this child."
"I agree. We need to make sure La'an doesn't tell her."
"I think La'an understands now why you were not telling Valeris about the trip."
"Still, I don't want another snafu. I'm not sure Valeris's trust can take it." She pulls away and kisses him gently. "We owe T'Pring a lot."
"And she owes us. As Jim would no doubt say, this is 'win-win.'"
"Is it though? I feel more like it's win-no lose." At his look, she says, "You and I still lose. La'an loses if she actually wanted to be a parent. Your relationship with Saavik—it's damaged right now. Will it come back? Amanda was excited for a baby too. I'm sure your father was in his own way. And Valeris. She wants so desperately to be close to Saavik—she was talking about babysitting during school holidays." She closes her eyes. "We're not losing our daughter if all goes okay. But we're not winning, Spock."
"Do you think T'Pring is trading on our desperation?"
"Actually, no. I think she really cares for Saavik and La'an. The fact that this benefits her and her children is just icing on the cake." She turns on her side and pulls his arm over her so he is spooning her. "What does Stonn think of all this? He's never here from what I can tell."
"Stonn will do whatever T'Pring wants. It has ever been so. Which is why she chose me. I was contrary enough to be a challenge."
She laughs softly. "Do you ever wonder what your life with her might have been like?"
"Do you ever wonder what your life with Roger would have been like?"
"Actually, no, because he was a raving psycho at the end. My life would have been shit. But T'Pring has really come through for us. Aren't you even curious?"
"I was with T'Pring when I first saw you, and I was lost to her at that moment, Christine. You are all I want. You are all I will ever want."
"I won't always be here though. Someday I'll die."
"Not tonight. Not for many nights." Not for decades if he gets his wish. She will be an old woman and he will hold her and tell her he loves her and she will die peacefully in their bed, knowing she was adored until the very end.
"Baby, you're so sad." She turns and pulls him to her, kissing him so tenderly he feels as if he might break. "I'm sorry I brought that up."
"The idea of being without you—I see no future for me if you are gone. I wish to be with no one but you. What will life be without you?"
"Spock, I have faith that even if you never marry again, never seek romantic love—and I think you should because if I'm gone, I don't want you to be lonely."
"I feel the same."
"Great, we're both fucking amazing altruists." She smiles in a bittersweet way. "But I know you. You'll find a way to make a difference. You always do."
He nods but he is not sure that is true. So much of what he has done has been with those closest to him: Jim and her, Michael and Pike. Left to his own devices, who would he be?
"Close your eyes," she murmurs, slowly stroking his face in the way that always makes him relax. "I love you."
"And I you." He wonders if Saavik will ever tell him that she loves him again. Will he always represent hard decisions she chose to make?
"Quit thinking, Spock." She intensifies the way she is touching him. "It's kind of hard to remember that a day ago we were so carefree."
"You weren't though. You were carrying this."
"Yeah. But I didn't know how bad it was. T'Pring spared me the details. But if she was worried, then I was too."
"Yet you shielded that from me. You are extraordinary."
"I learned from the best." She sighs. "This has been really hard on La'an. Do you think they'll make it?"
"I do not know. I think she will make every effort to keep what they have forged alive."
"She is stubborn. And results driven." She does not sound like she believes that is entirely the best thing in this case.
"You think she won't give up on Saavik?"
"So long as there is enough of the Saavik she loves to hold on to, I think she will not." It is a sobering thought—how fragile Saavik's future is at the moment.
They do not talk more about it, but they also cannot sleep. And finally, because there is nothing else they can do here for Saavik or La'an, he melds with her, letting them float in memories of Risa, of how golden the future seemed.
And might again.
Spock is working at his station when he senses Jim behind him.
"Our new chief of security is ready to beam over. Care to come with me to welcome her aboard?"
"I will. Nyota should—" But Nyota is not at her post—gone to lunch, or whatever she and Scotty call their frequent absences during the time people normally eat said meal.
They are not a couple he would have viewed as a likely match, but he wishes them both well. They deserve happiness.
"Yeah, I think she's busy doing other things. The one good thing about your brother's adventure—our very happy engineer and comms officer."
He can still hear the bitterness in Jim's voice. But it is far less than it was before so he does not comment, just nods as if in apology.
What would Jim have done if it had been his brother—a brother he had not been allowed to see for most of his life?
As he follows Jim onto the lift, he says, "She will be an excellent addition to the crew."
"She will. Sorry this is happening on the back of your kid's relationship implosion."
"It was Saavik's choice to end things. I know La'an tried."
"Maybe she'll change her mind about that—sometimes hormones drive decisions."
"I believe this was coming." He feels sadness at how this has gone—and guilt, even though he knows Christine and T'Pring would both lecture him on the illogic of it.
"Would it...bother you if I were to...?" Jim is actually blushing. "I mean if you think there's a chance she and Saavik will get back together, I won't."
"You are interested in her? Did you and she ever...?"
"A gentleman never tells, Spock. And she may not want that kind of attention—break-ups are rough, as we both know. And I'm her boss, which used to mean something to me. But after Carol went radio silent when Starfleet cut off her access to Genesis as if it was my fault, and Gillian ran off and left the goddamn whales she ostensibly hitched a ride to the future to protect, I'm perhaps beyond caring. Oh and Chris is still with you—really with you this time. Officially logged as man and wife and everything. Congratulations on that, by the way."
"Thank you. I will not mind if you pursue La'an. If Saavik decides she has made a mistake and wants her back, she can always challenge you for her."
Jim glares at him as he leads them off the lift and to the transporter room. "Nice to see your sense of humor is back." As the door opens, the transporter techs straighten. "All right, gentlemen. Is Command Noonien-Singh ready to transport?"
"Then energize." He steps forward once she has fully materialized.
"Permission to come aboard, sir?"
"Permission granted." His grin is very big. "I told you I'd get you on my ship."
"You did. That was, however, years ago before you even had one."
"Details." He gestures toward Spock. "Our mutual friend here will get you settled. I have a meeting in Engineering, which hopefully my Chief Engineer plans to attend."
"Are these meetings optional?" she asks, glancing at Spock who shakes his head.
"Sure aren't. Long story. Has to do with that one's"—he nods toward Spock—"brother and his mental mojo. Maybe I can tell you over drinks—you still prefer Scotch?"
"The lounge then. I'll see you there."
Spock appreciates he is keeping it casual. No time specified, no pressure put on her. Not that he minds if Jim is interested, but La'an does not look like her old self. She looks...tired. And more than a little defeated despite the banter she's engaging in.
"Also, my Scotch is much nicer than it used to be. Captain's perk." And then he is gone.
"So," she says to Spock as she follows him out and onto a lift. "Is this weird for you? Me here?"
"Only in the sense that I regret how things turned out, La'an. I hoped that you and Saavik would endure."
"Yeah, you and me both. Although I sort of expected her to someday throw me over for a younger woman. But for fucking logic?" She takes a deep breath. "I don't even recognize her anymore." She looks down. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be badmouthing her to you of all people."
"La'an, she would barely look at me much less embrace me. If you do not think I fully sympathize with you, then you are wrong. I am just relieved the baby will be going to T'Pring's children to raise. I would have worried for it."
"Yeah. And it's a boy."
A boy. He has a son. That he will never, ever know. And he does not envision a late reunion as Jim had with David.
"She doesn't even want to see him when he's born. Has asked that a screen be put up so she can't see him, not even when he's nursing. For the colostrum—the doctors believe it's crucial he gets it from her given the Romulan genetics in play."
"Yes, that makes sense."
She stops him with a gentle hand on his sleeve. "None of us expected this, right? That T'Pring helping her would lead to this...obsession with logic, with purging her emotions?"
"I do not believe even T'Pring expected this." Although if it is to happen, she is probably the best mentor for someone not fully Vulcan. She allowed him to be human; she will allow Saavik to be Romulan.
If Saavik even wants to be that any longer.
"I have lost her too, La'an."
"I know. I'm so sorry. At least Christine still talks to her."
"Yes. Our last link to her. She has refused comms from my mother and father and from Valeris." He leads her off the lift and shows her to the quarters Jim assigned her. Two carryalls and one trunk sit against a wall, beamed ahead of her.
"You travel light."
"All my baggage is inside me, Spock." She sounds as if she might cry so he moves closer, to offer support if she needs it but she holds up a hand. "I'm all right. We just—we never really got a chance, you know?"
"I do." He wants to tell her that he and Christine parted after barely having a chance. That he too sought refuge in logic. That logic did not end up his final path, that he and Christine found each again. After years, true, but they are happy now.
But what if that is not what happens for her? Would it be cruel to give false hope?
"Move on to someone else," he says softly. "Move on and let her do as she must."
"What if I still think maybe...?" She dashes her eyes, the way she always does, as if she is furious at the threatening tears.
"Follow your heart."
"Really? You're saying that? Christine has really rubbed off on you."
"It is what my mother would say. She is rarely wrong."
"I miss her."
"You are still welcome to visit."
"No, Spock, no I'm not. Exes do not show up at the beach house of their ex-girlfriend's grandparents."
"La'an, Saavik may never again show up at the beach house."
"Still, there's a way things work, and me being part of your family without her isn't a good idea." She suddenly moves so her head is pushed against his chest. "But thank you."
He lightly puts his hands on her upper arms, offering support but not the hug he knows she will loathe. This is weakness and she is allowing him to see it, but she will be angry if he encourages any further show.
She backs away, wiping her eyes.
"You are my friend, La'an. That was true before you were with Saavik and it is even more true now. You were there for her even when things were at their most uncomfortable. I appreciate your loyalty to my daughter, to my family." And to him. To not hold this against him.
"We'll be okay."
"I hope so."
"No. We'll be okay." Her smile is defiant, but unconvincing since tears are again threatening.
"Yes," he says gently, although he is not so sure. "Yes, we will. Eventually."
Spock has been feeling off all day but there is nothing amiss on the ship or with his friends. The feeling is more a nagging tug than his own anxiety and he realizes it might be that Christine is in pain but hiding it from him.
He comms her as soon as he is off duty, fearing that she has been injured again, but she answers right away, is sitting at their table.
He only has to look at her to know she has been crying. "What is wrong?"
"Shit. I was trying so hard to keep it in."
"Is fine. Is thriving, now that she's not telling us how sick she is of Vulcans just throwing their children away." She sighs and looks down. "At least she didn't say that to Saavik. Since Saavik won't talk to us."
"To...us?" He leans in. "Christine, what has happened."
"I called her today. You know, like always. It wasn't that she didn't answer or just let it go to message. I got a notification that I was blocked."
"Perhaps a mistake. A simple slip of the finger? She may not even be aware—"
"Stop. I called T'Pring. Saavik did it on purpose. I'm...I'm out of her life." She closes her eyes as if she can stop the tears he knows will fall. "She even stopped running. Told T'Pring it was an emotional holdover from her time as a traumatized Romulan. That I...enabled the trauma to continue by encouraging her to run with me." She does start crying. "That's bullshit. She loved to run. If she'd wanted to, she could have made Stanford's cross-country team—who knows how far she could have gone?" She looks alternately heartbroken and angry.
He does not know what to say.
"T'Pring is really concerned. This isn't...this isn't what she wanted for her."
"It could just be a reaction to the stress—"
"She's applied to Gol, Spock."
He closes his eyes. "No."
"They're apparently intrigued at how a half Romulan might do. And T'Lania will support her, of course. T'Pring is trying to convince her to wait until she's given birth, until she's feeling more herself again." She laughs, the sound so bitter he wants to reach through the screen for her. "Except she didn't say 'feeling,' of course."
He closes his eyes. "I am sorry, Christine. We have lost our daughter." He now understands how his parents felt when he went to Gol—to escape. To run from pain and emotions that threatened to overwhelm him.
"There's maybe a little hope." Her voice is small, like she barely believes whatever she is going to tell him. "T'Pring says she still has her running shoes in her closet, but pushed under some things. She wasn't sure if they were hidden on purpose—like some kind of safety blanket—or just had been covered up and Saavik had forgotten about them. But either way, she didn't search for them, which if she was really giving it up, wouldn't she?"
He is unsure how to answer. He has no idea how runners feel about their shoes. For all he knows her feet have swollen and the shoes no longer fit so it is a moot point.
But then why not discard them? If she plans to never run again?
Perhaps Christine is right.
"I will take it as a good sign."
"Thank you. Even if you're lying, thank you."
"I cannot lie."
"We both know that's bullshit." She touches the screen. "I miss you."
"And I you."
"Is La'an settling in?"
"Yes. Nyota is happy to see her. The rest of the crew appears terrified of her, even Leonard."
She laughs. "Not Jim though."
"Were they involved?"
"Girl secrets. Also ex-boyfriend secrets. Or possibly nothing to tell." She smiles but it is a halfhearted expression, as if she is desperately trying to get them to an easier place then where she was when he called. "Tell her it's okay. If she likes him."
"I told her to move on when she reported in."
He nods. "She was loyal to Saavik when she needed her most. And Saavik threw her away."
"She's thrown us all away." She shakes her head. "Nope, not going to cry about this anymore. If Jim and La'an get together, more power to them. And we'll have a blast double-dating with them."
"It would be interesting. Since they are both probably still in love with you to some extent."
"Well, if we ever want a foursome..." She actually laughs. A little hysterically, but it is a welcome sound. "I'm kidding."
"I know. I found it an...entertaining notion. Hypothetically only, of course."
She nods but is touching the screen, tracing his face. "I'm lonely here, Spock."
"With Rand there? And Erica?"
"Janice is forward deployed at Starbase Thirteen. One of Matt's ideas—next best thing to the emergency ops ship he really wants but keeps getting denied funding for. And Erica is off to some super-secret location to test-fly prototypes. She's beyond excited." She looks anything but excited, for either of her friends.
"You still have Valeris."
"She's got all her free time planned. I thought we'd travel over break, but Matt has some seminar he wants her to go to. I've given up trying to figure out what her actual career track is."
"Christine, you are highly emotional right now." He lifts his hand as her expression changes to one of annoyance. "Let me finish before you berate me."
"Let this sit for a few days, become the new normal. And then, if you are still lonely, you and I will figure out how to get you on this ship."
"I don't want to be in medical again. Same old same old. Working for Len."
"I agree. You need a bigger challenge. I am sure Jim will be eager to have you here. He may surprise us both with positions that would fit but challenge you." He leans in. "I need to ask. Did something happen other than with Saavik. A mission gone wrong in Ops? Something else to make you sad?"
"No. I think losing my daughter is enough, don't you?"
"I did not mean that it was not. I just want to ensure this is not simply a pile-on of emotional trauma and exhaustion."
"No it's been the 'Q' word at work lately."
"Good." She has trained him never to say the word "quiet" in relation to the number of emergencies—a superstition but one he has learned to respect if only to ensure domestic harmony.
"I'm tired of emergencies."
"I can understand that." Most emergency operations personnel rotate in and out quickly; the burn-out rate is high.
"Would you just kind of broach it with Jim. See what he comes up with?"
"Christine, you are highly logical and generally optimistic." Which is probably why she has survived ops this long. "I believe if you give it a few days, your outlook may change."
"I'm fucking alone here, Spock! My outlook is not going to change." She starts to cry and does not try to stop it. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell."
He has never seen her so dejected—rudderless, even. She has made a career out of planning, out of finding solutions. But the woman he sees now is not the Christine he is used to.
It concerns him greatly—what if she were sent out on a mission in this state? Would her reaction time be diminished?
Would she take risks she might not otherwise?
"I will talk to him, Christine. Tonight."
"Thank you." And then she puts her face in her hands and weeps.
He can do nothing to offer solace, except bear witness. And open the bond as much as he can, send his support and love to her. And feel her pain in return.
"I'm sorry I'm not dealing better with this."
"There are no apologies needed."
She wipes her face. "I'm okay now."
"Are you certain? I will stay with you this way as long as you wish."
"No, go talk to Jim. See if it's even possible. I don't want to start planning on it if it's a no go."
"Understood." And logical. Some things do not change, even when she is under extreme stress.
"I love you, Spock."
"I love you too." He lets her be the one to cut the connection.
Then he goes to talk to Jim.
He finds him in the lounge, sitting in the section that generally means the person needs time alone. "Jim?"
"Not sitting here because I want company." He turns to look at him. "Can we do this later?"
"It is about Christine."
He studies Spock and finally rolls his eyes and gestures toward a chair. "Take a load off."
"We need to find a place for her here."
"We do, huh?" Jim takes a long sip of his drink. "I know you know the crew roster as well as I do. We're full up for anyone with her experience. Even in Medical."
"She does not wish to work in Medical. I was thinking perhaps some kind of hybrid position—in conjunction with emergency ops."
"Matt wanted to send a person here for that. I thought it was ludicrous. What are we going to do? Turn around for every emergency so his one person can get to it? He ended up putting the person on Starbase Thirteen."
"Rand. Rand is who he chose to put there."
"Oh. Good for her. Growth opportunity." He sighs. "Spock, I only got La'an on because Starfleet wanted Telithum back. I'd love to just make up a position so you can have your wife here, but I can't."
"Could you if you were the one whose bed she shared?"
Jim goes very still. "I'm going to pretend you didn't ask that." He takes a padd out of his pocket and thrusts it at Spock.
On it is an article about David, how Carol Marcus has started a fellowship in his name. How no Starfleet affiliated personnel can apply.
"Read the comments."
Spock scrolls down. Most are full of sympathy and well wishes for the fellowship. But then someone mentions that he heard David was the son of Captain Kirk. And the thread becomes very negative.
"Absent father. Thrillseeker. Lothario. Oh, and my favorite. 'Multiple murderer.'" Jim sighs. "I don't honestly know, Spock, if I'd risk losing the ship by making up a position for Chris if I was with her. But I'm not with her and it's pretty damn clear La'an is still hung up on Saavik. So if it's all right with you, I'd like to not piss off Command by making up a goddamn O-5 slot. Let me stay captain of my fucking ship since she's all I goddamn have at the moment." He downs his drink, gets up, and stalks off to the bar.
Spock bites back a sigh and hurries back to his quarters to comm Christine.
She answers immediately. "So, what big ideas did he have?" Her smile is almost her old one but then she seems to read his expression. "Or...not."
"The ship has just been commissioned. There are no slots."
"And he's not in the mood to be creative, I guess."
"He is not." He decides not to make excuses for Jim, just let the words stand.
"Then you could come back to Earth."
"We discussed this. You said my place was on the ship."
"That was before all this happened." She apparently can see he is not in favor of this idea—can perhaps feel the resistance through the bond even though he is trying to close it down as much as he can so as not to upset her further. "Do you remember what I said, so very long ago, when you needed relationship help with T'Pring?"
"You said many things, Christine."
"You're supposed to put me ahead of your duties. That's what being in a relationship is, it's mutual sacrifice." She is glaring at him now in a way he is not used to. "It's why I avoided it. Why I knew having kids would be a terrible idea. People just fucking break your heart and—"
"I have not broken your heart, Christine. I am merely saying that neither of us should adjust our career plans because you are lonely. Saavik was not going to be on Earth with you. I am sorry Rand and Ortegas are no longer there, but you are charming and outgoing—you will make more friends."
"You're not even going to consider coming back here, are you? I would have come to you." Her voice is very small and her glare is gone.
In fact, he cannot read her expression—or feel her through the bond.
She closes her eyes for a moment, and when she opens them, her expression is calm—but it is almost as if she is looking through him. "You're right. I can't expect you to fix my problems."
"Saavik is our problem."
"Is she? You just gave up on her."
"She did not wish to engage with me. What would you have had me do? Force her to interact with me and risk you pulling more of Vulcan into our personal business?"
She laughs and it is both a slightly hysterical and an ugly sound. "So it did piss you off."
"I know why you did it. But it was extreme. And it is because of you that T'Pring now controls Saavik."
"She doesn't control her. No one does. Not even Saavik." She shakes her head. "I don't think I want to continue this conversation tonight. I'm really upset and I'm going to say something I'll regret."
And he already has—he feels a pit in his stomach for bringing up the intervention, for blaming her for the path Saavik is on. "Christine, this is a hard time. But we will get through it."
"Sure we will, Spock. Together—oh wait... I guess this is that 'Parted from me' bit?" She shakes her head. "I'm going to go now."
Before he can say anything else, she cuts the connection.
Spock comms Christine the next day and is surprised when his mother picks up.
"Oh, hello, darling." She puts the communicator on a shelf the way she always does when she wants to talk to him but keep working. She appears to be packing. "Getting ready for a little trip."
"Not so little. That is your biggest satchel."
"You used to get so upset when you saw me pull this one out." She smiles up at him then goes back to folding.
"Mother, why are you answering Christine's communicator?"
"Because she's in with your father and I don't want to disturb them. I'm so glad she's joining us."
He is very confused. "On your trip?"
"Oh, heavens no. This is vacation. On his team."
He is not sure he has heard her correctly. "On his...what?"
"His team, darling. Sular left on emergency leave, and is due for reassignment anyway, so it just makes sense. She'll bring a new energy to the group."
"Mother, what are you talking about?"
"Spock, do you and she never talk? She's burned out and this thing with Saavik—well, let's just say I remember how it feels to have a child reject you that way."
"I did not reject you. I rejected emotions."
"Tomato, tomahto, my dearest." She walks away for a moment and comes back with her toiletries bag.
"I just spoke with her last night. When did she and Father arrive at this arrangement?"
"Arrangement? You make it sound like an affair." She laughs but then her expression goes hard. "When she came to us last night clearly upset but also not wanting to involve us when she heard we were about to leave on vacation. When we spent hours prying out of her what was wrong. When your father decided—and I fully support him on this—that losing one daughter was quite enough and we absolutely must get her into a better situation. One where she would not constantly be shot at or hit by natural disasters or in danger of catching something deadly."
"She cannot just resign and join Father's team."
"She doesn't have to resign. It's an—oh, what do you call it when people move around without resigning?"
"Yes, that. Sarek worked something out with Cartwright and whoever his boss is and then I think his boss too." She gives him an innocent look that he knows is far from. "Technically, this is a bit like the other side of a coin for what she's been doing. Emergency ops being helping people with lots of guns backing you up and diplomacy being the actual talking to affect real change."
"That is vastly oversimplifying."
"Perhaps. But Starfleet agreed it would be a benefit to her resume and also a win for the Federation if she enjoys diplomacy and wishes to spend more time in it. They never have enough diplomats. She starts when we get back in two weeks."
"I see." He is reeling a bit from the idea that Christine and his father engineered all this in the time since he last spoke to her.
"You have that look you used to get when Michael first came to live with us. When she fit in so easily with your father." And "he did not" is her unspoken meaning. "You could join her, you know? Your father would be a willing mentor to you too."
"All of us involved in diplomacy—we could make it a family business." He can hear the sarcasm in his voice and does not attempt to stop it.
"Yes, a family business. I quite like the sound of that. But it only works if you'd just leave that damn ship. I mean really—how many times do you have to be first officer on the same ship? I could understand if they made you captain but the homesteading as second-in-command is getting a bit old, don't you think?" Her look is hard.
"You think I should be with her?"
"You could have at least taken leave."
"We just returned from leave."
"Spock, sometimes you are such an idiot." She glances away and says, "Here's Christine now."
Suddenly the picture on his terminal is moving and he hears the stomp of feet, then he is outside with Christine in the garden—he can tell by the sound of the fountain.
"She told you?" she asks, but he cannot read her inflection and she has not held the communicator up to her face.
"She did. Why didn't you?"
"It was clear I needed to solve my own problems. So I went to family."
"And finagled a spot with my father on his team?"
"That was his idea. I just wanted any ideas he had. He actually had to convince me to take it because I knew you—and maybe others—would think it was just nepotism." She finally holds the phone up so he can see her face and not just the gravel on the ground. "Or pity. For the poor sad human who can't deal."
"I never..." He takes a deep breath. "Have you thought this through?"
"Yes. And I want to be with people who love me. Who I love."
He reaches for the bond, for anything between them but finds only empty space. "Do I not fit in that category any longer?"
"You were there for me but only so far. I'll remember that."
"That is not fair. I tried to get Jim—"
"Look, I have no intention of rehashing all the things that didn't work. This worked. And for two weeks I don't have to travel with ops—I can just finish shit up and then leave. I don't have to worry that I might walk into a bullet just because." Slowly the bond is opening as she talks and he feels so many things from her: pain and relief, a sensation of going under but also her realization of this and her strong resolve to make herself safe.
She looks around then says softly, "I thought about it once before. After I lost the baby and Roger disappeared. I thought about ending it. But I didn't. It scared me so much that I was thinking about it that I got help."
"I did not know." Not even in their deepest melds has he felt anything like that from her.
"Some things you bury deep. I'm going to see that therapist again. I think I'm—I don't even know what the word is when you're this far past burned out." She swallows hard. "So, you see, this really wasn't your problem to fix. I had to. Because—because I'm broken."
"You are not. You are justifiably sad and understandably exhausted."
"Spock, I'm weak. I'm running."
He can feel panic from her, fear that he will think less of her. "But you are running to our family, not away from it. I am sorry I was not able to do more—that I chose not to do more." He takes a deep breath. "Mother says I should join the team too."
"No. This is mine. You're going to have to figure out your own way to emotional balance." Her smile is far gentler than her words.
"And to you? Is there still a way to you?" He does not try to hide his fear from her—near panic that he is losing her.
"Spock, hey, it's okay. I love you. I'll always love you. But I don't know if I like you very much right now. But I don't know if I like anyone very much right now. Except your mom and dad.
"I'm just mad at everyone for leaving me. I know it's not rational. And it started, if I'm honest, when you died. I've never dealt with that, Spock. Everything we went through—I just did what I always do. I pushed through. Carried on."
"And cared for others."
She nods. "Now I have to care for me. But...this isn't the end. Unless you want it to be?"
"I do not." He says it immediately and as firmly as he can and relief from her floods through him.
"May I still call you?" They generally speak every few days; they send text comms more frequently than that.
She nods but he can see she does not want to be overwhelmed by him.
"I love you, Christine."
"I love you too." She cuts the connection quickly, but he knows it is because she is about to cry and would not wish to do that at the Vulcan embassy.
Spock hears the comm signal for Valeris go off and reaches for the terminal in his quarters. "A break from classes?"
She nods. "So the baby's been born."
"I know that but how do you?"
"I counted back to Genesis and then I called T'Pring and asked. She seems sort of nice."
"She is sort of nice." He studies her. "How do you feel about the baby and the circumstances?"
"Shouldn't you be asking what I think about that? Logic and all?"
"My question stands."
"I guess I'm relieved it's over for Saavik. I guess I'm glad this kid is going to a new family from a really early age—they'll be his family and he will not be warped by inadequate parents. But..."
"But I've never really been around a baby. I was looking forward to it. I was anticipating how happy Christine would be with a grandchild."
He nods. "I regret that we will not know him." He meets her eyes. "Does Christine prosper working with Sarek?"
"Yeah, she's doing great. I like that she's in the new job. She's home so much more if I want to drop in. And when she's not, I don't have to worry that she'll be killed like my moms. We've been going a lot of places because Sarek never calls her in on the weekends unless he has to. Really fun places, just for dinner sometimes."
"You like having her all to yourself?"
"I do." She gives him the restrained smile she has perfected. "I think of her as my mom. I mean I never call her that, but I do consider her one."
"As she considers you a daughter. As do I."
"Good." She studies him. "I wanted to ask you something not related to the baby. Admiral Cartwright has very strong dislike of Klingons. What do you think of them?"
"I do not generally. Think of them, I mean. Any more than any other species."
"It seems like everyone I meet has a horrible story about them. A story like mine—loss of people, of settlements. So brutal."
"Their ways are not ours so it is illogical to judge them for actions we do not understand."
"Hacking someone to death is pretty clear from culture to culture." She gives him a look that says she's not in agreement with his stance.
"It is natural to resent them for the death of your mothers. But you must move past it. I worked quite effectively with them when your father stole the ship."
"Are you saying you liked them?"
"I am saying do not view things as black or white. There are many shades of gray." He makes his look as gentle as he can.
"I'll consider that." Her mood suddenly shifts. "Speaking of colors, Christine loved the flowers. She was smiling so much when she told me what they all were. And they smelled really good."
"I am gratified they pleased her." He sent an arrangement of tropical flowers, primarily plumeria but mixed with many others. His first attempt at a message had ended up being two paragraphs long and lacked focus. The second was much simpler: I love you.
"What are your favorite flowers, Valeris?"
"I don't know." She cocks her head as she thinks. "And no one has sent me any."
She is beautiful, highly intelligent, and charming—he knows it is just a matter of time before someone does.
As a father, he finds he is not looking forward to that moment.
He stands in the transporter room and watches as his father and his team—including Christine—beam over. He wants to be respectful to his father but his gaze goes immediately to her.
She smiles—the shy smile he loves—and he turns quickly back to his father. "Welcome aboard, Ambassador."
"Thank you, my son." He turns to his team. "We will reconvene for strategy preparation after a short period of meditation to clear our minds of the travails of our journey. Let us say two hours." He looks at Spock with an expression that can only be considered mischievous. "Perhaps you could show us to our quarters, my son?"
"Of course." He leads them all to the guest deck, dropping team members off at their rooms until only his father and Christine remain.
"Daughter, have you seen how your husband has decorated his quarters?"
She laughs. "Jesus, Sarek. Come up and see his etchings? Really?"
His father palms open the door to his room. "Etchings can be highly underrated. Two hours. Do not be late."
One his door has closed, Spock takes her carryall from her and indicates the door next to Sarek's. "I have a room for you here. I was not sure if—"
"Shut up and take me to your etchings."
He takes her hand, not caring that they are in public, and they double-time it to the lift, then to his quarters.
She is waiting for him to palm them in but he says, "You do it."
"Really? You put me on this door?"
"I did. But perhaps rather than discussing entry protocols, we should go inside to see...my etchings."
She slaps her hand on the door, grabs him by the collar and pulls him in, and then pushes him up against the wall once the door closes and kisses him.
He eases her satchel to the floor and pulls her in tightly, enjoying that they are doing this when he was not sure she would want to—would want him.
He lifts her up and carries her to the bed, relieving her of the dark blue jumpsuit that reminds him of the white one she used to wear when they first served together. It is the color of his house, and it amuses him that she is not wearing robes the way many Vulcan women would.
And that his father clearly indulges her in her fashion choices.
But then she is pulling off his uniform and he forgets about everything except being with her again. The bond open and pulsing—neither of them holding back.
"You are happy," he says when they lie cuddled togther, spent for the moment.
"I really like working with your dad. I really like having time for Valeris's 'I've got two hours free, want to do something?' schedule. I really, really like not being in ops anymore."
He touches her face gently. "I am relieved that you have found contentment."
"Me too." She nuzzles his neck. "I've missed you, though."
"And I you. I was so pleased to see you would be here."
"Hitching a ride. You know there was another ship much closer. Sarek wanted us to ride on your ship though. Your father can bullshit with the best of them when he wants to accelerate a reconciliation."
"I must remember to thank him."
"He's just doing the best he can for his kids. I love that about him—that I'm both your wife and his daughter. Not just one or the other, but special both ways." She looks at this chrono. "Shit, time is flying."
"Will you sleep here tonight? Or do you wish to use your quarters. Either answer is fine. I do not wish to overreach."
"Here, you big dope." She pushes him to his back and climbs on top of him. "What will he do to me if I'm late?"
"I am unsure. I was never late when he told me a deadline."
"He is indulging us so I should be on time. Want to see how fast we can do this and still get into the shower?"
They do it very, very fast and it is exceedingly enjoyable. He is so in the moment of loving her that he neglects to time the sex more accurately.
A few hours later, his communicator pings with a text from his father. "Join us for dinner?"
He is not sure if us is the entire team or just his father and Christine, but he says, "Yes. I will meet you in the mess."
It is just Christine and his father. As they wait in line to get food, he can see the other Vulcans spread around the mess.
"They need solitary time," Sarek says as he slides into one side of a booth, letting the two of them have the other. "Christine is rather...energetic in soliciting input in our sessions. And rather impatient."
"They're so fucking reticent, Sarek."
"They are young and learning. None have the experience you do."
"Well, then let me teach them a thing or two."
"I am doing just that. But please, none of your Emergency Operations drinking games. They do not need to be corrupted." His tone is fond; he is clearly teasing her.
Spock sees only a little of what Michael had with his father in this. Sarek treats Christine as an equal. It makes him feel...proud of his wife.
"I trust you two meditated effectively during the time I allotted?"
"Sarek, please find a new topic." She is blushing furiously.
"Very well." But he looks very pleased with himself.
The evening passes pleasantly and Spock finds himself relaxing more and more as his father and Christine joke with each other in a fashion all their own—and utterly true to their own nature.
Once dinner is over, Sarek retires to his room to prepare for the opening of negotiations the next day and Christine goes with Spock to his quarters.
They make love leisurely and then lie cuddled together, talking softly about easy things, about how she is finding her job, how she likes working with Vulcans. Until she begins to yawn and he tells her to go to sleep.
"I'm glad your father is such a busybody." She curls into him, holding him a way that makes him feel safe and hers.
"As am I, my wife. As am I."
Spock follows Jim off the landing padd. The mission was long but not taxing and he had much time to think. "May I speak with you in private?" he asks as they enter the corridor.
"I need a shower, Spock. Can it wait?"
"Fine. Come on." Once in his quarters, Jim says, "Let me guess. It's Christine."
"It is not. I need to go to Vulcan."
"No, Jim, not for that. That would be about Christine."
"Oh, well, that's good." He does sound relieved; he is a good friend. "So what's on Vulcan that's so urgent?"
"My daughter. Who I have left alone. And I believe that was a mistake. I had V'ger to knock me from my path when I was at Gol but she does not. I will be V'ger—or will try. I must ascertain that this is truly what she wants. That she is not just running the way I did."
Jim touches his arm gently. "Sometimes I wonder how different life would have been if I wasn't so accommodating to Carol's all or nothing policy. What would life have been like knowing my boy? Go. Sulu loves being first officer."
"Thank you, Jim."
"You never need to thank me for something like this. Now git. I stink."
"You have smelled better."
"So have you, my friend. So have you."
He stares up at the walkway he crossed so many times. T'Pring stands with him. They wait for Saavik to make her way to them.
"Thank you for arranging this."
"I want her out of here as well. I do not believe this is her path."
"What do you see as her path?"
"Something that honors both sides of her heritage. She is a unique individual. Here she will lose all her distinctiveness."
"But she will gain logic."
"Perhaps I have changed with age, Spock. But some things transcend logic."
"Like a baby? Does he prosper?"
"He does. He is a beautiful child. And my children finally are whole. Thank you for trusting me." She glances up and he follows her gaze to see Saavik beginning the descent. "I will wait in my flitter."
She walks to where it is parked next to his, her movements still so graceful, her hair shining in the afternoon sun. He thinks he sees movement in the flitter, but it is probably just the reflection of a bird on the windscreen.
He turns to assess his daughter. He remembers how he felt at this stage, how he was just beginning to detach. How...superior he felt as he abandoned all that mattered with each step along the initiate's route.
To his relief, Saavik does not look like that. He sees something in her eyes, something that perhaps he would not have noticed when he was younger, before he loved so many different people and had learned to read all of their myriad expressions.
There is the slightest jerk at the endearment. And she looks down immediately.
"I have been remiss. I should have escorted you here myself."
She still does not look at him.
"I wish to say that if this is what you want, if this is your truest destiny, then I fully support you. I will work to earn your trust again once you have finished. I will be there when you exit, transformed from logic, from the cleaving of emotional attachments, from—"
"I hate it here." She does look up and it is his daughter, finally, who is staring at him with tears in her eyes. "I want to come home."
He opens his arms and she rushes into them, sobbing as she murmurs that she is sorry for running again, for disappointing him by not finishing studies here, by wanting to get as far away from Gol as she can.
"I too left this place, Saavikaam. There is no forgiveness to ask or to be given. You tried, but it is not for you. And you have family waiting for you at home."
"But I blocked Christine. I told T'Pring to tell her about not wanting to run anymore. I did that to hurt her." She is collapsing and he eases her over to sit on a nearby bench. "She'll never forgive me."
"She will always forgive you. Always." He pulls her into him, kissing her hair, murmuring things in Vulcan he should have said specifically to her when she was younger, not just implied through actions. How important she is to him, how proud he is of her, how much she means to Christine and to her sister and his parents. How much he loves her—how bereft he has been without her.
How crucial she is to so many.
"Not everyone. I lost La'an."
"I would not be too sure of that."
She meets his eyes and he wipes the tears from her face. "She's not with someone?"
"She turned down Kirk? He's very pretty."
He almost laughs. "Yes, well, apparently her emotions are otherwise engaged. But I do not suggest taking that fact for granted. Wooing will be in order. I have an excellent florist."
She laughs and the sound is like the sweetest music he has heard in a very long time.
A flitter door opens and he looks to see T'Pring walking toward them. She sits next to Saavik and asks gently, "Shall I tell them you have left?"
"There is no need to say goodbye to this place. I till take care of everything."
T'Pring shocks him when she strokes Saavik's cheek and leans in, kissing her gently on the forehead. She is whispering but he can hear every word. "There is, however, a need for you to say goodbye to your son. And for Spock to meet him, just this once."
She motions and a woman and man walk out of the flitter, the man is holding a baby.
His baby. Her baby. The baby neither of them probably has true closure on.
"His name is Solem," T'Pring's son Storr says when he stands before them. "It was T'Savia's father's name." He gently holds the baby out to Saavik. "We thank you most humbly for this great gift you have bestowed on us."
Saavik does not take the baby, but she stands and holds out her finger to him. The baby takes it, holding on tightly for a moment, then letting go as he kicks and mutters the way babies seem to. "I know you will be exemplary parents for him." Then she backs away, but something about her seems different.
He thinks she is finally at peace.
Storr turns to Spock. "Would you like to...?"
"Only if you approve. There is no obligation for you to give me any such grace."
Storr looks at T'Savia, and she nods, and then he is placing the child tenderly in Spock's arms.
He holds the child gingerly, afraid he will hurt him, but also moved to be holding his son.
But moved in an abstract way. He realizes he has let go of this child already. And that is the gift T'Pring is giving him. That he has been free of this since the beginning: he just did not know it.
"He will be a fine member of your house." He hands the baby back and watches as the couple return to the flitter.
"Thank you," Saavik says to T'Pring, then she turns and walks to the flitter, never looking back at Gol.
He turns to T'Pring. "You have a beautiful grandchild, T'Pring."
She is luminous, the way she was when they were young, when she was everything he wanted. "It is not the way I thought I would raise your child, Spock. But it seems right."
"Yes. It does."
She pulls off a thin satchel from over her shoulder and hands it to him. "Take Saavik back to Christine. And make sure she takes these with her."
He looks inside.
It is her running shoes.
"I approve of your wife, Spock. I know she works with Sarek now, and I hear things from the families of the Vulcans who are on that team. They...they respect her. They also fear her somewhat. It is a duality I have striven for over the years." She is teasing him, her eyes bright.
"T'Pring, if I was in any way cruel or casual with you—with your regard—I beg forgiveness."
"That was so long ago, Spock. All is forgiven. And I am sorry I almost got your friend killed. Or at least I will apologize for it so we are even." Again the brightness, the gentle teasing. "Live long and prosper, Spock." And she walks back to her flitter and takes off.
He watches it until it is out of sight. "Live long and prosper, T'Pring."