TWO

"So Sarek's all right," McCoy finished.

Chekov, Uhura, and Sulu on the screen in front of him all relaxed in their seats. Their quiet relief was audible.

The doctor sat in a large chair in Sarek's and Spock's home office at the latter's own desk. The large antique was a gift from Sarek's parents when their son was made an ambassador. It once belonged to Stron, and his father before him, and now Solkar's great-grandson inherited it.

The office was much like Sarek and Spock's offices in ShiKahr: a warm palette of terracotta colors, tapestries, and art including a large oil painting on the wall to the side of the desk. In it, Amanda sat in a chair, husband and son at her shoulders. It did a wonderful job of capturing Amanda's spark, Sarek's dignity, and the son who combined the two. The orange, gold, and black drape covering the chair back blended well with the room's colors; Amanda had given this to Sarek and he'd brought it home when she had passed.

The office door was open and lytherette music floated in from another room. McCoy wondered if it was Spock or Sarek who played.

Sulu asked, already knowing the answer, "Saavik's with you?"

McCoy replied airily, "You mean the Lady of the House? Oh, she's here."

"What does that mean?" Uhura asked.

"That apparently part of her and Spock being much more touchy-feely is her being the de facto woman of the family."

Sulu smiled. "Amanda would have loved that."

"Vhat about Sarek?" Chekov asked.

"Proud as can be," McCoy answered. "It's good because he needs pleasant surroundings, even if his virus is in the early stage."

Uhura apparently still thought over the doctor's earlier point. "They do touch a lot more if they think they're alone," she murmured. "Something happened at Tomed."

McCoy shot up his eyebrows. "Did it?"

She gave him a dazzling grin. "You're terrible at playing innocent, Leonard."

"Sorry, doctor-patient confidentiality. Literally," he muttered with some aggravation as he remembered how Saavik had tricked him into it. "Notice I didn't deny it, but I didn't agree either. The critical point is, I still think I could win the pool."

Chekov's face bunched up and his graying bangs flopped near his eyes. "Vhat pool?"

"The one that says when they'll stop dancing around each other and tell each other everything."

Sulu and Uhura laughed as Chekov argued, "I don't remember any pool."

"That's no excuse for not paying up when I win."

McCoy noticed Chekov grew quiet. "Pavel?"

The navigator now Admiral leaned forward. "I feel bad for them. Ve have all lost loves. I vould bet ve have all wanted someone ve couldn't have. But they can and they could lose that because they don't see it."

"I think they will," Uhura replied. One thing about her being the head of Starfleet Intelligence: her office was soundproofed. So, it was quiet, unlike the starship gentle noises and station life for Sulu and Chekov. "Whatever Leonard is hiding about Tomed, they showed they're so close now to reaching that place where they tell each other. It's written all over them."

McCoy wanted to reply but each of their three faces turned into masks, like ensigns getting caught by their captain. What the-?

Sarek answered the unasked question by speaking quietly from the doorway. The former Enterprise crewmembers on the screen, all in powerful positions, found reasons to hurriedly sign off right away.

"Cowards," the doctor snarled in a whisper before turning around in his chair and greeting the Vulcan. The lytherette music continued. "I thought that might be you playing. Obviously, it must be Spock." The melody stopped. "Or not."

"It is Spock." Sarek strode to his own chair and sat down at his desk. The office's luxurious comfort kept the atmosphere from turning formal or awkward. "He has worked through the nights since he arrived home. He decided he would take the time Saavik is away to play the lytherette. He contacted her at her house and she will aide him in his mission studies as well as their own research projects. No doubt she has returned."

And that's why he stopped. Except the music began again and took on a different tone, slower and provocative, and McCoy pictured Saavik curled next to Spock as they quietly talked as he played.

The shutters on the windows lining the corner behind Sarek stayed closed, but none covered the view through the door that made one of the private entrances to the garden. The window did tint itself against the morning light to block the heat. McCoy watched clouds gathering into a darkened storm and heard distant thunder. He once saw one of Vulcan's rare rain storms where the drops dried in the air. Maybe since it's earlier in the morning, I'll get to see them reach the ground.

"Sarek," he said, grabbing the bull by the horns. "I'm sure you heard some of what we were saying. I want you to know this wasn't idle gossip about something private. We've known both Spock and Saavik for a long time and we only want the best for them."

Sarek forestalled any more apologies before he settled back with his arms resting on the chair's and his hands folded over each other. "I do have a general sense of your conversation. Am I correct in saying you see Spock and Saavik's relationship as I do? Please be open with your thoughts."

"Gladly, but I first need to know what you think their relationship is. I can't say I agree with it without knowing what it is, as cliché as that is to say."

The thunder rolled closer as Sarek's gaze flicked downwards and McCoy gave him credit for talking openly about the private subject.

"For some time," Sarek spoke, "I have seen their relationship evolve where they clearly chose each other, including the time when my wife was alive. I suspect Valeris used it against them with her falsehoods to separate them. Do you know the contents of her letters?"

"Valeris," McCoy grumbled, "I still haven't forgiven her for the damage she did. If her handiwork manages to keep Spock and Saavik apart for good, then… ah hell, I don't know what I can do. If only Spock had told Saavik what was in his supposed letter, this whole thing could have been solved years ago!"

Sarek asked what that was, but McCoy suddenly became reluctant to discuss it, saying it was something… personal between them.

But Sarek put it together. "As it is something Spock believes a delicate subject, something to do with Saavik, am I correct in believing it spoke of an... attraction for her?"

McCoy grinned and shook his head at himself. "Should've known better to think you wouldn't get it. Yeah, that's it exactly. I only know because it happened - him realizing he was attracted, I mean - before he died. He thought she needed time, and he didn't know if she'd return how he felt. When that phony letter said Saavik found out, that she was - honored - by the attraction but couldn't return it, so she felt she'd better not see him anymore. Well, you see how that hurt him. By the way, you only brought up his letter. Do you know what's in Saavik's?"

"Through chance, yes, I do."

Neither said more because that was private: the pon farr Spock had shared with Saavik on Genesis. McCoy did venture to say, "It's something else that made them closer."

Sarek nodded. "I noticed at the fal tor pan, although I did not understand the reaction then."

"I think they're - excuse the term - scared to get hurt again. It's too close to what happened before when Valeris ended things between them. They're good friends - very close ones. They don't want to lose that." And if you knew what happened at Tomed. But then, you walked in and saw them when I did. Sarek certainly could figure that out as well. McCoy stood his head again. "The dance they're doing around each other is making me dizzy."

"Doctor, you will remember when we clearly interrupted something between them on Tomed."

Yep, he worked it out.

"Spock asked to speak with me on what my opinion was regarding Saavik. I thought he meant to inform me they had at last spoken with each other. But they had not."

Okay, he doesn't know all of it.

"Your theory of their avoiding the pain of rejection would explain it."

"To be fair," McCoy said, "Spock waited for other reasons in the beginning. Saavik built her career, and Spock switched his, so he also needed time to establish himself. So, they stood there, supporting each other, waiting." He added on the change in their relationship from teacher and student to where they could explore the possibility of something else. "Now, I see two reasons. One, neither of them believes that the other one wants them. I've told each of them that it's true, but they believe I'm projecting something. What really makes me bang my head against the wall is, Spock will say that if Saavik wanted him, she'd have said so or given him a sign. When I point out she's given him plenty of signs, he doesn't believe it. She's the same about him. Which leads to yes, they fear rejection. They're the only two people who don't see it. Everyone else does."

Sarek's head came up on that and then he slowly nodded. "Do you believe they will ever see it for themselves?"

"Actually, yes I do. I just worry that they'll take too long and lose time they could have had together." The doctor paused before he told Sarek, "I'm guessing you're thinking the same way we are. I hate seeing them so close together, but not seeing what's in front of them. They're lonely, Sarek. I think, and this is my humble opinion, they belong together. They chose each other a long time ago. You can see it in the way they act with each other. But they'd be floored to find out that the other felt the same way."

Sarek's hands tightened on each other. "I certainly understand the aloneness of not having the one you want."

I bet you do, you poor man. You're suffering without Amanda.

McCoy added, "I didn't recognize it when I was falling for my wife. Of course, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wear everything on my sleeve. So, Caroline – my ex-wife, Joanna's mother – she knew, everybody knew how I felt, and that's the funny part."

Sarek agreed or thought he did. "You believe you recognize this in both Spock and Saavik."

"No, and that's the thing. It's better! They'll make it. And I know that because of my experience. I've been part of this, Sarek, everybody sees them wearing their hearts on their sleeves except each other, and I think, from knowing them, they can't see it because they're afraid of losing everything. Because they already lost each other once - twice in Saavik's case – and it destroyed them." Once when Spock died, once when Valeris separated them. "So, two of the bravest people I've ever met who I see risk everything else are afraid of risking this."

"Understandable. Even logical."

"Yeah. It's also damned aggravating."

It was Sarek's turn to pause. "I promised Spock never to interfere in his relationships. However, I have also promised Amanda's memory that I will point out he and Saavik are not avoiding pain. They avoid everything they want."

"Sometimes we need someone close to us to point out the obvious."

Sarek agreed. "I thought I could never have Amanda and if I could, I should still avoid her, believing I was not the choice for her. T'Qun pointed out the obvious to me. What I wanted is what Amanda wanted and the perfect choice for us both."

"T'Qun?"

"My first wife."

McCoy whistled under his breath to himself and muttered something about how good it was they could be amicable. And lost a son together. "Why do I know her name?"

"You met her," Sarek replied, calm. "At the ShiKahr ball held for the retiring Federation President in 2289."

"The high priestess? She ranks right under T'Lar?"

"That is correct. It has been a good path for her."

McCoy nearly whistled again but felt that pushed it. And she gave Saavik the stamp of approval back then.

As people froze wondering if the other important figure in Vulcan's elite would follow her statement of, "Ah, yes. One of the Sundered's hybrids," with support or rejection, anyone who wasn't paying attention did after that. McCoy knew admirals who would like to be able to pin someone to the spot and strip them down to their souls with one glance like T'Qun did to Saavik. He never asked Saavik what she was thinking while that intent look raked over her, but he heard Amanda hold her breath, saw Spock tense, and realized they were all just standing there like a group of raw cadets. And they weren't the ones under scrutiny.

In the end, T'Qun nodded once and spoke into that tense pause. "A most excellent beginning. I anticipate each new step."

It felt like the planet itself let out the breath it had been holding.

"I'm not as amicable with my ex-wife," McCoy said. "Too much bad happened and I admit, if I knew I'd go through it ahead of time, I'd be hard-pressed to do it again. The only reason I would is to have my daughter. Or if you would tell me that I'd have the same pain in my next relationship, I'd run the other way."

He did not mention Natira who he had shared an intense, hours old relationship, even a marriage. It didn't compare to Sarek's marriage to Amanda; but he heard Natira asked him again, "You have lived a lonely life?"

"Yes," he had admitted, "very lonely."

That was how he recognized it in Spock and Saavik, and how he knew they could have as Natira said - There will be no more loneliness for you. – and his own words: the chance to be happy for the first time in my life.

McCoy swallowed against the loss, but his voice rasped with it. "But, what do you do? Quite frankly, Sarek, if you want to pick 'em up by the back of their necks and shake them 'til they see reason, I'll help. Did I say something wrong?"

Sarek's eyes found Amanda in the painting. "My wife said nearly the identical thing."

The doctor smiled. "Then I'm flattered to be in such company."

"Leonard." McCoy couldn't believe he heard Sarek just use his name. "You know them both well and you honestly believe what we have said true?"

Damn. With the utmost seriousness, he answered. "Yes, I do. All of it. Somebody must tell them not to be afraid. Somebody they'll listen to."

A soft noise drew him back to garden door's window: raindrops. They dried immediately, but they were there. Actual raindrops. They blurred the world and turned it soft and cozy.

"It seems it's a day for seeing what's possible," McCoy finished.

He left a thoughtful father.

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