Kirk watched as Sarek stepped on to the transporter pad with Spock, Saavik and McCoy. He couldn’t help but feel the loss even while they were still standing there.
“Captain Kirk,” Sarek addressed him as he turned to face him again. “If it is possible, Amanda has requested that you dine with us this evening.”
Kirk smiled his acceptance. “I would be honored,” he said.
Sarek nodded just as they faded from view.
The four rematerialized outside the gate of the family estate. Amanda was already there, beaming at all of them. Sarek touched her fingers without a word, but held the gesture perhaps longer than was his custom. She smiled at him knowingly before going to the others.
“Spock,” she said, resisting the desire to embrace him but looking him over carefully nonetheless. Sarek had informed her of his injuries but he looked fit enough.
“Mother,” he said, surprising her by taking her hands, if only for a moment.
She beamed at him and turned to Saavik at his side. She noticed with some regret that she and Spock appeared to be in control again and free of the joining.
But when she reached out Saavik took her hands without hesitation. “How are you?” she asked her.
“I am well, Mother,” Saavik replied evenly.
Amanda squeezed her hands, a promise to talk later, and turned to the doctor.
“Leonard,” she said happily as she embraced him. “I’m so happy you will be staying with us awhile.”
McCoy smiled back at her. “Only until I can find my own place,” he said.
“Nonsense!” she answered, “we have plenty of room.”
She led them all into the house and out of the midday sun. As they found places to sit in the bright library, Amanda brought them something to drink.
McCoy took the glass with interest. “All this time on Vulcan and I’ve never been served a cold drink before,” he said. “What is it?”
“It is birkeen,” Sarek responded. “It is traditionally offered to travelers in need of refreshment.”
McCoy tasted it and raised his eyebrows at the sweetness. Vulcans weren’t usually inclined to consume sugary foods. He wondered silently what other surprises lay in store for him during his self-imposed Vulcan exile.
Amanda was watching Spock and Saavik who were sitting close but not touching. To anyone else they might looked like only colleagues engaged in friendly conversation, but she knew there was much more behind the careful Vulcan masks they wore. And she knew the separation they would soon face would be more difficult then either of them could realize.
“Captain Kirk has accepted your invitation to dine with us,” Sarek was saying. “He will arrive this evening.”
“Splendid!”” Amanda said as she rose. “Then I shall make preparations.” She caught Saavik’s eye. “Will you help me?”
Saavik rose, her hand brushing Spock’s shoulder. Amanda noticed and knew it wasn’t by accident.
“Of course,” Saavik said as she followed Amanda to the kitchen. It seemed like only yesterday that she had been in this house, helping prepare the meals. Even as she thought it, she knew the feeling was illogical.
Amanda directed her to the table and brought out various vegetables for chopping. She always insisted whenever possible to cook real food rather than depend on synthesizer fare. They worked in silence for some time.
“You look well,” Amanda finally said. Saavik glanced up but was uncertain if a response was expected.
Amanda smiled at her. “How’s Spock?” she asked.
Saavik stopped her work to give Amanda her full attention. “He has made a full recovery,” she stated matter of factly.
Amanda continued to gaze at her. “And the two of you?” she prompted.
Saavik gazed back, uncertain. “I do not understand the question,” she said.
Amanda laughed. “All Vulcan again, I see!” she mused a little sadly, and laughed again at Saavik’s arched eyebrow. She reached out and took her hand. “Are you happy together?” she rephrased the question.
Saavik’s other eyebrow joined the first. “Our bonding is satisfactory,” she answered.
“Of course,” Amanda winked, letting go of her hand and continuing her work. She shook her head as she watched Saavik resume cutting the vegetables. She noticed the slight greenish hue on the edge of her ears and the restless eyes that more than once scanned the doorway. She reached out and stopped Saavik’s work.
“Go on,” she said, angling her head to the other room.
Saavik seemed caught between an obligation and a desire, and the situation rendered her speechless. Amanda patted her hands.
“Go on,” she said again. “You should spend as much time together as you can.”
Saavik stood, but hesitated, then turned back to Amanda. “Thank you,” she said and smiled for her before leaving the room.
Spock was engaged in conversation with Sarek and the doctor when she returned to the library. She stopped next to his chair, neither speaking nor touching him, but he gave her his full attention when he felt the mind-touch. He rose to face her, his control slipping just a little.
McCoy watched, fascinated, as they simply looked at one another for what seemed like a full minute. Then Spock turned back to them and inclined his head. “Gentlemen,” he said, “please excuse me.”
He turned and followed Saavik from the room. McCoy grinned and noticed that even Sarek did not look displeased.
The bedroom was just as they had left it over two months ago. As soon as the door was closed, Saavik put her arms around Spock’s neck and kissed him. He smiled and lifted her up as she wrapped her legs around his waist.
“K’diwa,” he murmured as he kissed her face and carried her to the bed. He lay her down gently and laid down beside her, playing at the fastenings of her uniform. She laughed and pulled his mouth to hers, the game of undressing being made more difficult by their closeness. He laughed with her when they finally removed the last of their clothing, and ran his hands gently over the length of her. She trembled visibly and pulled him close to kiss and touch him too.
He raised himself up on one elbow and gazed at her, his fingers tracing every feature of her face. She smiled at him but with a touch of sadness in her eyes.
“Do not think of the future,” he said, “think of now.”
He took her in his arms again, kissing and exploring her face as if for the first time. She clung to him tightly, finding solace in his hot skin and gentle touch. He explored her at length, committing everything to memory. Then with a smile that belayed the future loss, he joined his body to hers once more. She sighed and resolutely put the future out of her mind.