Kirk was in the shuttle bay to meet Spock when he returned the following morning. His friend looked overly tired and preoccupied but he gave his report immediately.
“The moon Artemis is a planetary body very similar to Derilia,” he said. “There is extensive farming and ranching as well as established cities and infrastructure. If not for the higher gravity and different phenotypes of the inhabitants, one could believe oneself to be on Derilia. There is nothing particular outstanding in the environment or the culture. I have of course included data on recent history in my written report.”
“Of course,” Kirk said as they left the shuttle bay and entered a turbolift. “But I’m afraid I have some bad news. There’s a strong storm on Taini like the ones on the planet. Saavik will be delayed in returning.”
Spock stiffened visibly as he bowed his head and closed his eyes to center his thoughts. Kirk watched him with concern.
“I’m sure it won’t be long,” he said. “The colonists assure me that she’s perfectly safe.”
“Yes, Captain,” Spock said, looking up again. “I sense no distress from her at this time. I am simply...unprepared for her absence.”
“Well,” Kirk said with a smile, “that’s not uncommon for newlyweds, I guess. Even Vulcan ones.” He studied Spock a moment longer. “Come on. I’ve got just the thing to take your mind off it.”
When the turbolift doors opened, he led the way to the gym. He kicked off his shoes as he approached the mats.
“A good work out will do you good,” he said to Spock’s unspoken question. “It’ll get your blood pumping.”
Spock still stood in the doorway. “My blood is well circulated at this time,” he said flatly.
“Come on, Spock,” Kirk urged, “I need a sparring partner and you need a distraction.”
“Very well,” Spock answered, removing his own boots and stepping on the mat with the captain. “But I believe your own directives call for protective gear.”
The captain waved his hand dismissively. “It’s just a friendly sparring contest,” he said. “Nothing too dangerous.”
“As you wish,” Spock said, suddenly kicking out and connecting with the captain’s chin. Kirk stumbled back, shaking his head to clear it. But he was ready when Spock tried to strike him, catching the Vulcan under the arm and flipping him completely off the mat. Spock scrambled up almost immediately, diving at the captain’s legs and sending them both tumbling. They wrestled until a lucky blow to Spock’s ear allowed Kirk to disengage and stand again. Spock stood more slowly, breathing heavily.
They circled one another, feinting and dodging but not making any real connections. Kirk took the opportunity to catch his breath but noticed that Spock’s breathing remained elevated and his hands had begun to tremble.
Kirk’s distraction earned him a kick to the shoulder and a blow to the side of the head. Kirk staggered sideways to regain his footing and launched his knee into Spock’s back before he could re-position himself. Kirk kicked out at his fallen friend, but wasn’t fast enough to prevent the Vulcan from grabbing his leg and pulling it out from under him. Now flat on his back, he could only roll away from Spock’s next attempt to pin him. They scrambled together again, but neither could manage a final blow. They regained their feet at almost the same time and stood facing one another again.
But Spock didn’t bother to circle this time. Instead he landed three rapid kicks to Kirk’s chest and belly, causing him to crumple where he stood. Spock was on him instantly, raising his hand as if to strike Kirk’s head. Coughing violently, the captain raised his hands in defeat. Spock’s hand stopped just before making contact.
“Had enough?” Kirk finally managed to ask.
Spock sat back on his heels, blinking rapidly as if suddenly remembering where he was.
“Forgive me, Jim,” he said, holding out a hand to Kirk as he stood. “I did not intend to injure you.”
Kirk took the offered hand and rose gingerly to his feet. “Well,” he said, wincing as he moved around, “I think I’ll live. How are you feeling?”
Spock nodded. “Except for the need for an analgesic, I too will survive,” he said. “Thank you, Jim. The exercise was indeed a distraction.”
“No problem,” Kirk said, wincing again. “Now we’d better get to sickbay and hope Bones understands.”
When they arrived in the medical ward, McCoy sized them up silently and directed them to two empty biobeds.
“Well, I’m sure being kept in business with Spock’s sparring partners,” he said. “Any chance either of you remembered protective gear this time?”
At Kirk’s shrug he muttered something and picked up a scanner. “Jim, you’re getting too old for this nonsense,” he scolded. “Now take off your shirt so I can patch you up.”
Kirk did as he was told and McCoy deftly tended his injuries. Spock quietly waited on the adjacent bed. Too quietly, McCoy thought.
“Ok, Jim,” McCoy said as he finished. “I’ve put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. Now please refrain from falling off any more walls.”
The captain laughed. “I’ll try,” he said. “See to Spock. I should go read that report and discuss the next steps in the negotiations.”
When he had gone, McCoy turned to Spock. “You look like hell,” he said.
Spock simply nodded. “I have felt better,” he admitted. “The separation has been...troubling.”
“I should think so,” McCoy answered as he studied the Vulcan’s trembling hands and tense face.
“For someone entering pon farr.”
“No,” Spock said forcibly, “ I still have my reason and my intellect. It is the physical manifestations that I need assistance controlling at this time. Perhaps a sedative...?”
The doctor pursed his lips. “Maybe,” he said. “Short term anyway. But there’s only one way to cure what ails you.”
“Indeed,” Spock said, “my biology will eventually force the issue. However, for the moment, I can still be of use to this ship and the mission.”
The doctor nodded. “Alright,” he said. “I’ll get you what you need. But first let’s get you patched up or Saavik will have my hide.”
Spock almost smiled as he lay back on the bed for treatment.
It was late into the night when Saavik returned. She found Spock already sleeping, naked and uncovered on the bed. Gingerly she touched the new bruises and gently explored his body with her hands. He moaned softly in response to some fitful dream but did not awaken. Retrieving a soaked washcloth from the lavatory, she carefully bathed him with it, soothing the fever within. He moaned again, his face revealing an emotional battle that could still be masked during waking hours. She brushed the hair from his face and softly kissed his neck and chest. His breathing fluttered but he remained asleep.
With a sigh she undressed and lay down beside him, her finger tracing along his lips and face. She watched him sleep, relieved that the pon farr had yet to claim him and that she would be near when it did. Carefully she arranged herself so as not to warm him further, and stroked his fevered body as she fell asleep beside him.
When she awoke in the morning, he was still sleeping. It had been some time since he had slept well, but this sleep seemed unnaturally deep and long. She sat up beside him and stroked the sides of his face and the delicate points of his ears.
His eyes fluttered open at last and he smiled when he saw her there. “Saavik-kam, my love,” he murmured, pulling her into a kiss. She went willingly, allowing him to pull her on top of himself. He held her firmly and his lips were hot on her lips and face. Her tongue found his sensitive ear, eliciting a moan of intense pleasure. With a quick movement he rolled her under him, purring in her ear as he returned the favor. She wrapped her hands around the back of his neck, massaging the tense muscles there, and he sighed deeply while kissing her neck and shoulders.
The sudden whistle from the intercom disturbed the moment and Saavik answered it reluctantly, audio only.
“I’m sorry to disturb you,” Uhura’s voice said quietly, sounding not at all confused by the lack of visual communication. “But you and Spock are expected in the debriefing meeting in conference room A”
“When is it scheduled to begin?” Saavik asked, her voice catching as Spock’s roving hand found a particularly sensitive area.
There was a short pause before Uhura responded. “It began ten minutes ago,” she said.
“Damn!” Saavik exclaimed as she cut communications. Spock was still kissing her neck with no indication that he had heard the exchange. She stroked his head and back, attempting to get his attention.
“We must go, my love,” she said. “I am sorry.”
He didn’t respond but continued to explore her with his lips and hands. She sighed, wondering if the captain’s anger would be any worse for a longer delay.
“Beloved, we must go,” she said again, catching his face in her hands and meeting his dark eyes. He looked at her in confusion for some time before rolling off of her and sitting up.
“Forgive me,” he said softly.
She sat up beside him and kissed him gently. “There is nothing to forgive,” she said. “It is not my wish to deny you, but we are needed elsewhere.”
“Of course,” he said curtly, getting up quickly to dress. She sighed, watching his tense movements before also getting up to prepare for the meeting.
As they arrived at the conference room, Captain Kirk looked up in irritation.
“Take your seats,” he said tersely, fixing them with a hard gaze. “And may I remind you that this is an important mission, and I expect punctuality in all participants. “
“Yes, Sir,” they answered together. Saavik averted her gaze but Spock looked directly at the captain.
“The error is mine,” he stated. “Saavik is not to blame.”
“Noted,” Kirk said and turned to Sarek who was watching Spock curiously. “Ambassador, please report on your meeting with the regent.”
Sarek turned back to the captain and folded his hands in front of him. “Of course, Captain,” he said.
“The regent freely admits that relations with the colonies have seen a reduction in recent months. However, he denies that it was the Derilian government’s intention to withdraw from colonial interests. They apparently had other concerns that took precedence.”
“What other concerns?” Kirk asked.
Sarek shook his head. “I’m sorry, Captain,” he said. “I was unable to elicit a satisfactory answer to that question. While the Derilians speak a great deal, they say very little.”
The captain pursed his lips as he thought that over. “Was there any response to the colonists recent requests?” he asked.
Sarek bowed his head a moment. “The regent was most evasive concerning contact with the colonies. On the one hand he seemed most eager to restore relations, but on the other hand he seemed unable or unwilling to do so.” Sarek shook his head. “Captain,” he said, “ I do not believe that the regent is fully in control of his government.”
“A power struggle?” Kirk guessed. “But with whom?”
“Unknown at this time,” Sarek answered. “Recent history suggests a sudden fragmenting of the regent’s power and influence. I have yet to ascertain the cause.”
Kirk let that mull over in his mind. “Outside influences?” he asked.
“It is possible,” Sarek answered, “but there is no evidence at this time.”
“Well,” Kirk said, addressing the table, “we have already discussed Artemis.” He looked pointedly at Spock who had been absent for the reading of his own report. “And Derilia might be in the midst of a planetary coup.” He turned to Saavik. “What can you tell us about Taini?”
“Taini is a more barren world than Artemis or Derilia,” Saavik spoke up. “Technology and the sciences make life possible there.” She paused before continuing thoughtfully. “This reliance has spawned many advances that are well beyond anything seen on Derilia or Artemis. Of the three populations, theirs is most prepared for independence, but the chancellor still seemed most eager to reestablish contact with Derilia.”
“Did you discover any new information on the mineral trausium?” Spock asked.
Saavik turned her attention to him.“Very little than what we have already learned,” she said. “ It is strongly magnetic and dense, with wide applications in construction and energy production. Due to it’s common occurrence on Taini and Derilia, they are able to produce unlimited energy at very little cost.” She paused with a look of confusion. “I find it curious that these colonists have been unable to develop long range air craft since this mineral could be used to not only build, but power their ships as well.”
Kirk rubbed at his chin. “So we have another mystery,” he said. “How does Artemis fit into all this? Are they trapped between the two, or do they possess some undiscovered mystery as well?”
Spock took a deep breath before answering, and Kirk noticed a sight twitch of his head that revealed his difficulty in concentrating. “Artemis appears to be a normal prospering colony,” he said. “The inhabitants are friendly and productive, with less loquacious tendencies than their forebearers. I observed no hidden agenda and no cultural, political or material advantage. Their stated desire to return to normal relations with their home world appears to be sincere.”
Well,” Kirk sighed, “I think it’s time we all sat down together and get to the bottom of what’s coming between these people,” he said. “Sarek, Spock, Saavik—meet with your representatives and work out a mutually acceptable time and place for a meeting.” He stood and addressed the table. “In the meantime,
run all data on these worlds through the computer. Check for any correlations or flashpoints that might have precipitated this conflict. Report immediately any significant findings.” He sighed again as he dismissed them. “That’ll be all.”
As the others filed from the room, Sarek rose and addressed Spock who had taken Saavik’s hand at his side.
“Explain your tardiness, my son,” he said. “Does your condition now threaten this mission?”
Spock turned tensely but still held tight to Saavik’s hand. “No, Father,” he said evenly. “I was simply fatigued from my journey and did not awaken at my usual time.”
“I see,” Sarek responded with little conviction. “Perhaps the doctor can assist with this issue.”
“Perhaps,” Spock said noncommittally.
Sarek studied Spock’s tense expression a moment before glancing pointedly at the clasped hands as he turned to go.
When he had gone, Spock turned to face Saavik, taking her other hand as well. Saavik looked up at him expectantly as he bent to kiss her. She returned the kiss eagerly, the morning’s diversion still fresh in her mind.
Neither seemed to notice the door sliding open and Doctor McCoy entering the room. He stopped when he saw them, shaking his head at the unlikely sight.
“Now that’s more like it,” he murmured as he retrieved his forgotten data slate. He shook his head again as he discretely left the room.
I did say a private corner, he thought, but I guess any port in a storm...
After much communication between the contentious parties and the Enterprise mediators, a general assembly had been called on Derilia, to be convened in three days. The representatives from Artemis and Taini had accepted the Enterprise’s offer to shuttle them to the meeting, and all the details of the meeting were being carefully decided beforehand. With little to do in the meantime, Kirk was beginning to relax as he entered the mess hall.
He saw McCoy seated alone and went to join him after choosing his meal from the synthesizer.
“Where’s Spock?” he asked as he slid into his seat. “I don’t think I’ve seen him all day.”
“I’m sure he’s occupied,” McCoy said evasively as he sipped his coffee.
Kirk looked around. “For that matter, where’s Saavik?”
The doctor gave him a long look. “He’s told you about the joining, Jim,” he said. “I suppose that’s what their doing about now.” He stared at the captain’s incredulous look. “Really, Jim. How do you think little Vulcans are made anyway?”
Kirk shrugged. “Well...I...”
McCoy grinned. “He really can’t help himself, ya know. He’s as randy as a human teenager right now, and Saavik’s pheromones are driving him crazy.” He shook his head at the thought. “He won’t admit it of course.”
Kirk smiled and shook his head also. “I never thought of Spock as a Romeo,” he said, then with a more sober expression, asked. “Is pon farr going to be an issue?”
“Yeah, eventually,” McCoy admitted. “He doesn’t have long in my opinion, but he seems to be handling it ok. I’ll keep an eye on him.”
“Good,” Kirk answered as he took a bite of his lunch. “And let me know if and when I need to pull him from this mission.”
McCoy nodded. “The more they can be together now, the less the impact will be later, I think,” he said. “But I’ll let you know when it’s time to lock them up together.”
Kirk grinned at the thought and shook his head again. In many ways, Vulcans were still the most alien beings he knew.