Spock entered the almost deserted mess hall and suppressed a sigh. Meditation had eluded him tonight and while he did not desire a social setting, some distraction was necessary.
He quickly selected a Vulcan herbal tea from the replicator and chose a seat in a quiet corner. He noticed McCoy and the captain at a table across the room and was not surprised when they came to join him.
“I thought you’d be sleeping by now,” Kirk said, but with a look that indicated he wanted to say something else entirely.
“Anything I can help with?” McCoy came to the point without his usual teasing. He sat down across from him and looked at the Vulcan with understanding. Spock was silent a long time as he steepled his fingers and considered a point beyond the two men.
“It is a personal matter,” he finally said.
“Uh oh,” Kirk sighed as he sat down next to McCoy. Spock glanced at him but shook his head slightly as he lowered his voice.
“No, it is not the pon farr, Jim,” he assured him. “Though perhaps it would be easier if it were.”
“Woman troubles?” McCoy asked bluntly.
“Indeed,” Spock answered without his usual reticence. He raised an eyebrow at the doctor as if expecting him to provide an answer. McCoy elbowed Kirk and winked. “Told ya,” he gloated.
Kirk looked closely at his Vulcan friend. “You and ...Saavik...are...dating?” he asked uncertainly. It sounded strange even to his ears.
Spock allowed himself a slight smile and shook his head. “Nothing so...human,” he answered. “Vulcans do not date as you understand it, though there is often a courtship period.”
McCoy shook his head. “That’s dating, Spock!” he laughed.
Spock sighed. “As you wish,” he conceded. “But even that eludes us. We have yet to speak of our intentions.” He didn’t mention that at the moment, Saavik would not speak to him at all.
“I see,” Kirk began hesitantly. “Anything to do with the...incident.. in the mine shaft?”
Spock sighed a very un-Vulcan sigh and nodded slowly. Perhaps the captain’s powers of perception weren’t so stunted after all.
“Well, dang it, Spock,” McCoy cut in, “just apologize! Take her some flowers or something.” He paused as he considered his own suggestion. “Do Vulcans like flowers?”
Spock steepled his fingers again. “I do not believe Saavik would enjoy the cut blossoms in a floral arrangement,” he said seriously. “However,” he continued, “there is no need for apology. I was not in error in the mine shaft.”
“Uh oh,” Kirk and McCoy said in unison. Spock raised both eyebrows.
“Spock,” Kirk informed him. “The lady never wants to be told she was wrong.”
“But she was,” Spock insisted. “It would be counter-productive to tell her otherwise.”
Kirk and McCoy exchanged a glance that spoke volumes. Kirk swirled his cold coffee in his cup and looked at his friend. Logic couldn’t be applied to relationships between Vulcans any more than it could with other sentient species. Getting his friend to understand that was going to be a Herculean undertaking.
He decide to try a different approach. “How do you...feel...about Saavik?” he asked, hoping he wasn’t breaking a social taboo.
Spock considered the question. “Her presence is agreeable,” he finally answered coyly.
“That means he likes her,” McCoy offered helpfully. Kirk gave the doctor a sideways glance and continued while Spock was receptive to the discussion.
“And does Saavik find your presence...agreeable?” he asked.
Spock raised an eyebrow in a way that looked suspiciously like annoyance. “She has not relayed to me her thoughts on the matter,” he disclosed.
The captain held up his hands in a helpless gesture. “Well,” he said, “would it not be logical to ask her?”
“Indeed,” Spock agreed solemnly. “However, the lieutenant does not wish to speak to me at this time.”
McCoy slapped the table. “Now we’ve hit the nail on the head!” he declared. “It’s a full blown lovers’ spat! This is gonna take more than flowers...”
Both of Spock’s eyebrows shot upward and he replied haughtily. “We are not lovers, Doctor, negating of course the necessary action on Genesis...”
“A figure of speech,” Kirk soothed, hoping to belay an argument between the two. “The question is, how do we get you two talking again?”
“We could put them back in the hole,” McCoy offered. Kirk shot him a look.
“I could send you on a mission together...” Kirk tried.
Spock shook his head. “I do not think that is wise, at least on this planet,” he said. “It has not had a positive effect on Saavik’s...demeanor.”
“Would a mind meld help?” the captain asked.
But Spock looked clearly uneasy with the suggestion. “I will not invade the mind of one unwilling,” he said. “It is a very serious crime among my people.”
“Now just a damn minute!” McCoy blurted, looking around to see if anyone had heard. He quickly lowered his voice before continuing. “I don’t remember being asked to babysit your katra!”
“The time and circumstances were not conducive to a shared acquiescence,” Spock said, giving the doctor his full attention. “I do regret the action. However, without it we could not now discuss it’s ramifications.”
“Well,” McCoy muttered, “I suppose that’s the closest thing I’ll get to an apology. Glad I could help.”
Spock inclined his head to him with some relief before addressing the captain again.
“Jim,” he said, “relations among Vulcans are often...complicated.”
The captain smiled. “No less so among humans,” he agreed. “Don’t worry, Spock. We’re figure something out.”
Spock’s eyebrow rose again. “Indeed?” he said, voicing his reservations with the one word. The meddlesome humans may yet do just that.
Saavik fought the urge to punch her pillow yet again. Sleep had eluded her for hours. She had almost decided that it might be worth it to ask Spock to help her with her meditations again. Almost.
That impossible, arrogant, frustratingly desirable man would probably throw her out on her pointed ears for the way she had behaved towards him. She had never been so uncomfortable in his presence nor so eager to be near him. It was a dichotomy that she didn’t want to think about.
With a low growl she got up from the bed. She still wore her uniform but she paused long enough to make her hair presentable before stepping into the corridor.
She wandered aimlessly in the dim lit halls, wondering if her frequent nighttime ramblings were subject of gossip yet. She knew well the incessant gossiping of shipboard crews. Perhaps it was a necessary outlet for beings subject to close confinement for long periods. But she didn’t have to like it.
She turned a corner and nearly ran straight into Uhura.
“Lieutenant!” the communications officer gasped, then her face brightened in a wide smile. “Saavik,” she said, “perhaps you’ll join me for tea in the rec? I just can’t sleep after that torturous meeting on the planet.”
Saavik started to decline then titled her head in acceptance. There was little else she preferred to do at the moment.
There were few people in the recreation room at this hour and they had their choice about where to sit. Uhura led the way to the furthest corner and slipped into the chair facing the door. May as well warn Saavik if a certain someone comes in, she thought.
“Now this is better,” she said brightly. “Good tea and good company.” She hoped so anyway; Saavik’s face didn’t reflect the best of moods.
They sipped in silence for a long while, each wondering if a conversation would ensue at all. Surprisingly Saavik was the first to speak.
“Commander,” she began, “you have known Captain Spock a long time.” It wasn’t really a question but Uhura answered anyway.
“Yes,” she said. “We’ve served together since the first five year mission. I like to think he’s a friend.”
Saavik arched an eyebrow. Spock seemed to find friendship easily among humans. Was it due to his human heritage or something inherent to humans? It was a question to consider at a later time. The issue now was more immediate and Uhura seemed willing to listen.
“I fear I am a disappointment to him,” Saavik said quickly before she changed her mind. Uhura’s face softened with concern and she reached out to touch Saavik’s hand.
“That’s not true!” she said sincerely. “He’s very proud of who you’ve become.”
Saavik drew her hand away in surprise. “Does he speak of it?” she asked more sharply than she had intended.
“Well, no,” Uhura answered, looking somewhat confused. “ He wouldn’t, of course. But communicating is what I do. I know he’s proud of you.”
“One cannot know the mind of another,” Saavik answered, “Unless...” Damn the ancient precepts of Gol, this was not going well.
The smile returned to Uhura’s face and she took both of Saavik’s hands in her own.
“Unless he’s a bondsmate?” Uhura asked softly.
Saavik gasped but didn’t draw away. How did she know?
“Saavik,” Uhura began carefully, reading the look of alarm on the other’s face, “do you love him?”
Saavik made her face as unreadable as any Vulcan could. “Vulcan’s do not speak of love,” she said evenly.
Uhura smiled again. “Of course not,” she agreed, then after a short pause, added, “but do you?”
Saavik looked away, her silence more revealing than any protestations she might have made. Uhura patted her hands then picked up her mug to drink again. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked simply.
Saavik closed her eyes a moment to calm her mind. “My temper is an issue,” she said finally.
“Aaaaah...” Uhura acknowledged but didn’t say anything else. Saavik waited a moment to continue.
“Spock risked much to rescue me from Hellguard and to ...civilize..me,” she spoke haltingly. “But I have changed little from those days. I’ve only learned to hide it.”
“We can’t hide from our past, Saavik,” Uhura answered gently. “It’s part of us. But you can choose your future—with or without Spock.”
Saavik resolutely stared at her hands. “He would not want me,” she said very quietly.
“Have you asked him?”
“Commander!” Saavik protested.
Uhura squeezed her hand again. “Spock has a right to choose his future too,” she said. “With all the relevant facts.”
Saavik considered the logic of that but it didn’t make the prospect any easier to ponder.
“You need to talk,” Uhura insisted. “You can’t tiptoe around him forever.”
Saavik gave her a bewildered look. “Tiptoe?”
Uhura smiled. “Just an expression,”she assured the other woman. “He won’t bite, you know.”
Saavik’s eyes widened. She hadn’t assumed that he might, though she secretly admitted that she wouldn’t mind if he did.
“Come on,” Uhura said as she got up from the table. “Let’s get you ready for your shift so he doesn’t have something else to complain about!”