Spock awoke alone but didn’t open his eyes right away. His time sense was returning slowly but he could sense that it was very late. He would have to correct his tardiness soon in order to function on the ship.
He was aware of Saavik’s absence but he opened his eyes and scanned the room for her anyway. Sighing in disappointment, he got up to dress.
He could hear voices in the kitchen and found Sarek and Saavik at the table finishing an early lunch. He started to reach for Saavik’s hand, but in deference to his father, only touched her fingers instead. He was gratified that his tremor was barely noticeable.
“Spock,” Sarek greeted him, “after you have eaten, I must brief you on the Derilian situation.”
“Of course,” Spock replied, seating himself across from Saavik so he wouldn’t be tempted to touch her. She watched him over her cup.
My husband, are you well? She thought.
Ha, k’diwa, he replied silently.
Her eyes accessed him even as the mind-touch did the same. His eyes watched her closely, noting the delicate softness of her curls and the perfect symmetry of her upswept brows. Her soft laughter in his mind comforted him with waves of delight.
Your control is admirable, she thought with a slight smile.
It is necessary, he answered, smiling in return.
Sarek watched the silent exchange, wondering if Spock could indeed function in his condition. The joining was a powerful motivator even for the most disciplined mind. He got up and deposited his plate in the recycler.
“I will be in my office, Spock,” he said, “when you are ready.” Burying his concern for the moment, he walked out of the room leaving them to their private conversation.
The time left on Vulcan passed too quickly in Spock’s estimate. Saavik disappeared often, sometimes alone and other times with Amanda or the doctor. She kept her counsel about whatever business she attended to, but he half-suspected her absence was a test of his resolve to function without her constant presence. He bore it as well as might be expected, but her hormonal shifts were creating a most persistent demand on his attention.
“Are you listening, Spock?” the captain asked a second time, looking closely at his friend. They sat together in Amanda’s library and had been discussing the upcoming mission, though Spock could not immediately remember when he had stopped listening. He composed his mind with some effort and gave the captain his attention again.
“Forgive me, Jim,” he said. “I was distracted.”
The captain looked at him with concern. “Spock,” he began hesitantly, “is this...joining...going to be a problem?”
“It is not,” Spock replied with resolve, steeling his features against any emotional influence. The captain continued to watch him closely. Spock finally sighed and got up to gaze absently out the window.
“I can control the...issue, Captain,” he said. “It will not affect the mission.”
Kirk got up to stand beside him. “I’m not going to pretend to understand what you’re going through,” he said slowly. “But I’ve been in love. I know the ...obsessive...effect a woman can have.”
Spock smiled a little and lowered his gaze. Did he? How did humans function without the whispers in the mind? He raised his eyes to look out the window again.
“I hear her, Jim, in my mind,” he said. “I feel her presence even when she is not here. Not as one might imagine a lover, but as a real entity, with a voice and a form.”
Kirk watched him, wondering how it might be to be joined in that way. And how it might change his friend to be so distracted.
“Well,” he said, “it must be comforting to always have that connection. What was that you said so long ago...parted from me....yet never parted...”
“Ever and always, touching and touched,” Spock finished. “The meaning is literal for bondsmates, Jim. It is indeed comforting. However, in my current condition it is also highly....stimulating.”
Kirk raised both eyebrows at the admission. Vulcans sexual practices were a mystery to most humans, and this joining sounded suspiciously close enough to pon farr to make him uneasy. He’d have to ask McCoy if there was anything he could do to help Spock. In the meantime, he would have to do his best to focus his friend’s mind on the task at hand.