Spock awakened suddenly at the sound of someone loudly clearing his throat. He lay on the ground at the back of a chill cave and was instantly aware that he was not alone. Lieutenant Saavik lay under his left arm, her body turned on her right side with her arm and left leg carelessly thrown across his body. He also recalled the circumstances that led to this reality but was keenly aware that the throat clearer would have other ideas. He shifted Saavik off himself and stood with as much dignity as he could muster. Saavik awoke with the disturbance and after a quick look around, also rose to stand beside Spock. They weren’t quite at attention, but nearly so.
“Good...morning, Mr. Spock, Saavik,” Captain Kirk began, clearing his throat again. “I trust you...slept....well?”
“Indeed,” was all Spock offered while Saavik made a concerted effort to look elsewhere. “It was a cold night,” Spock added, lest the captain’s imagination run away with him.
“Right...” Kirk hedged, glancing from one to the other. Then, disappointed that no more explanation was forthcoming, he turned toward the mouth of the cave. “ The storm has cleared and Scotty is ready to beam you up.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Spock said, though he still hadn’t moved, “but it was not necessary to personally come for us.”
“Well,” Kirk began, studying the two officers again, “when we couldn’t reach you on your communicators, I had Scotty locate you with the ship’s sensors as soon as the storm was passed. And since I was in the neighborhood...” He looked at his old friend and his young protege and couldn’t help smiling mischievously. “Bad time?” he asked innocently.
Spock’s eyebrows rose with a look of innocent indignation. “Of course not, Captain,” was all he said.
Kirk shook his head slightly and turned to go again, nearly colliding into Doctor McCoy.
“There you are,” McCoy observed, glancing from one to the other. “Is everyone all right?”
“It would seem so,” Kirk said with a smile as he continued toward the mouth of the cave.
Spock bent to retrieve his tricorder just as Saavik turned for her possessions. Their hands brushed one another briefly, sending a sudden flash of thoughts and emotions to the two touch telepaths. Vulcans emotions were a real and powerful reality, though they would never admit that to an outworlder. Their eyes met briefly, both forming an unspoken question.
Kirk was already outside but the doctor was still observing them with a raised eyebrow. “I see,” he said knowingly before following after his Captain.
The mission had been a simple one. The planet Derilia was a promising candidate for Federation membership, but her leaders were not ready to commit. The Enterprise had been sent to court them, as it were, and demonstrate the benefits of joining the Federation. The landing party had beamed down for the usual VIP treatment, and afterwards was invited to explore the lush world at their leisure. Kirk and McCoy had stayed in the capital city, while Spock and Saavik had gone to explore the countryside.
Late in the afternoon a strong storm had arisen with enough electronic disturbances to make communications and transport impossible. The captain and doctor were given accommodations for the night by their hosts, and were assured that there was no danger for the others, wherever they were. Confident of his officers’ survival skills, he simply had to wait out the storm.
The following morning dawned crisp and bright and Kirk briefly wished he was out ‘camping’ instead of the Vulcans. He had a passing thought that he would enjoy the opportunity more. He opened his communicator and was greeted with the familiar chirp.
“Kirk to Spock,” he said. He waited a few beats but there was no response. “Kirk to Saavik. Come in.”
Strangely there was no response to either hail. McCoy sat up on the bed where he had been sleeping and rubbed at his eyes. “Did our Vulcan friends go native or something?” he asked.
Kirk looked at him with the smallest hint of worry beginning to crease his brow. “Kirk to Enterprise,” he tried.
“Enterprise, here,” came the speedy reply by his chief engineer, who was minding the ship in his absence. “We’re reading clear skies down there. Are ye ready to come home?”
“Not quite, Scotty,” Kirk answered. “Spock and Saavik aren’t answering my hails. Can you pinpoint their location with the sensors?”
Scotty, to his credit, didn’t ask any questions but came back with an answer after a moment. “ Aye, Captain,” he said. “They are six point two kilometers northwest from the city center. Do you want me to beam them up?”
“No,” the captain answered, “we have plenty of time before the reception tonight. I’ll give you a call when we’ve located them. Kirk out.”
He turned to McCoy who was still rubbing his eyes and stretching.
“Care for a walk, Bones?”
Spock and Saavik had spent a productive afternoon cataloging the local flora and fauna and were on their way back to the city when the storm came up quite suddenly. Spock opened his communicator to call the ship but there was too much interference. He glanced at the darkening sky with its almost constant lightening display and pointed up the path they were traversing.
“We must find shelter!” he shouted to be heard above the howling wind.
As they hurried across the alien landscape, Saavik attempted to hail the captain, perhaps hoping that planet-side communications would be more successful than to the ship, but she got only static. She put the communicator away and jogged after Spock. It was becoming difficult to see in the driving rain and she repressed a shiver in response to the plummeting temperature. Vulcans, even half ones, were meant for warmer, drier environments.
It was evident that Spock was heading for the caves they had briefly explored earlier that afternoon. They were not very deep but were on a raised plateau, which would protect them from any flooding. They had not seen any native fauna there earlier, and Saavik hoped that it wasn’t home to any nighttime predators.
It was a relief to duck into the dry confines of the cave, though it wasn’t any warmer there. The walls and ceiling of the cave sparkled with an unidentified mineral and reflected the lightning outside. Spock removed his soaked uniform jacket and spread it on the ground to sit on. Saavik did the same and sat nearby.
“It is regrettable that we do not have phasers to warm this area,” Spock was saying, “nor anything dry enough to burn.” Since their mission had been to woo the Derilians it was decided that an unarmed landing party was the best approach.
Saavik could see that Spock was distressed by the icy chill. He was older than she, but not old by any Vulcan standard. Perhaps dying had some effect on one’s metabolism. She almost laughed at the illogical thought but Spock was studying the storm and didn’t appear to notice.
“This storm is likely to last for some time,” he was saying. “The planet is prone to such disturbances.”
He glanced at her disheveled appearance and seemed to come to some decision.
“Saavik-kam, come sit here with me. Our shared body heat will aid us both.”
She did as he asked, sitting as close as possible to his side. She was not as tall as he and her head was perilously close to resting on his shoulder. For a moment she had dueling memories as both the elder and the younger. In one she was his foundling from the hellish planet of her birth, and in the other he was the distressed youngster in an equally hellish existence. She felt his almost undetectable sigh and wondered what he remembered of both worlds.
“The captain will worry,” Saavik said in an effort to distract them both from the awkward closeness.
“He often does,” Spock agreed.
They were silent for some time, watching the raging storm outside. In other circumstances it would have been a fascinating study, but now it was simply a distraction. Spock noted that his heart was beating unnaturally fast and knew that Saavik had to be aware though she did not speak of it. She was avoiding his gaze in any event while studying the data taken earlier on her tricorder. He closed his eyes to meditate, attempting simple biofeedback on his body processes.
He was almost annoyed that it didn’t work. He noted that it wasn’t yet his time and willed his body to cooperate. As an unbonded Vulcan his pon farr had never come at a regular or convenient time, but he was of an age when he would know its coming. No, it was not pon farr, but Saavik’s closeness did produce a response that he could not ignore. His father had been correct; he should have chosen a mate years ago.
He opened his eyes to see Saavik looking at him strangely. As a half Romulan she was less adverse to physical touch, but she had chosen the Vulcan way many years ago. He noticed that her heart was also beating quickly and tried to ignore that implication.
“We should rest,” he said abruptly, settling back on the hard ground. She lay down beside him, feeling his body heat through his damp uniform but seeing him shiver nonetheless. Logically they should remove the damp clothes but neither voiced that suggestion. He was right of course. Sleeping closely would be less awkward than sitting awake and avoiding the obvious but necessary conversation.