THREE

Beautiful dark wood, the color of Terran mahogany, lined the archway that Sarek passed through. The arch marked going into the private section of the house. The wood was all that was left of the once plentiful timber from his family's early beginnings, and when he walked into the living room, the stone forming the one wall and the pillars lining the large window came from the same first mountain homes his ancestors forged.

He took his usual seat in Amanda's big, antique rocker as Spock played a soft tune of his own on the lytherette. Saavik had left only a moment before on an errand, as Sarek well knew since he had called her to the office and sent her to the task. If he timed this right, she'd return when he needed her.

But first, he watched his son play and drew in the peace surrounding them. He might irrevocably damage it with what he planned, but he did this for his child and a parent didn't always have the luxury of being acknowledged for what they did.

Sarek took another moment to listen to the music as he looked to the garden and the Llangon Mountains beyond. The garden he had built with Amanda and where their son had grown up.

"My son," he began at last. "I must speak with you on a personal matter."

Spock's eyes had flicked up when his father called him, but on this last sentence, he carefully leaned his lytherette next to him on the sofa's arm.

Sarek steadied himself. He had reached a point where his virus barely troubled him, except in this moment where he pushed down a sense of weakness. "You may prefer not to discuss it; however, it is for your sake that I speak and I cannot allow this particular illogic to continue."

The careful way Spock reacted intensified. "Illogic?"

"Yes. You come by it naturally in this action."

Spock frowned. "You refer to Mother."

"I refer to myself." Sarek's soft voice didn't stop his son's frown from turning to his eyebrows flying up into his hair. "I nearly did not tell your mother how I wanted her for my wife until I heeded someone I respected. I could have lost all the years I had with Amanda and with you."

"It is illogical to speculate on what has not happened," Spock reminded his father and Sarek caught the note of rebelliousness. The dark cloud of T'Pring hovered overhead.

He refused to answer it. It would harm what he tried to do. "It is, except when used as historical evidence on a current action. I convinced myself it was not time to speak with Amanda and would have lost her… as you could lose the life you can build with Saavik." He forestalled Spock's protest. "I believe I know your reasons and they are understandable. However, like me, you miss what is obvious to everyone who knows you. Perhaps, you will heed someone you respect as well."

"Father-"

Sarek unexpectedly told the computer to play a recording; a large screen appeared in the stone wall and lit with the playback from where he pinpointed. He caught the shadow of a slim form stopping at the doorway, no doubt from also seeing who lay center in the video.

Amanda: wane, thin, lying in bed with pillows propping her up, and recording messages she wanted to pass on before she died. In this one, she didn't stop it as she grabbed her husband's hand, talking openly about her sadness, her fear, and her longing to have more time in this life.

Except, Sarek moved to the point after those words. Even then, his wife's eyes lit with a twinkling smile when she looked up into his face. He felt the touch of her hand and mind all over again, as her spirit and personality bubbled with life and her physical body faded.

"Sarek, could you grab Spock and Saavik by the back of their necks and shake them at some point?"

He clearly stiffened next to her. Despite that, Amanda continued, "This dance they're doing around each other instead of to each other is infuriating. Maybe you don't see it yet, but when you do –" she smiled, "and you will - and if they're still clueless about how the other feels, give them a little push. Wake them up. The two idiots. I adore them, but honestly."

"Amanda," he asked on the screen, "you are certain of this?"

Her blue eyes shone. "Aren't you?"

Sarek began to speak in the here and now, but Spock's stunned voice stopped him. "She was certain. She spoke of it with me. It must have been… shortly before this."

"She spoke with Saavik as well," Sarek told him, earning another speechless look from his son. But he said no more about it. At this point, that private conversation could only be told by Saavik herself.

And in she came with a fire from Vulcan's Forge, no longer a shadow at the doorway. "Sarek! You have no right to do this! Did you think I would stand for this – intrusion – for either myself or Spock? I do not understand why this arrangement includes me, but that inclusion does not change my argument. Amanda's illness could cause such lapses in judgment. Yours, however, has no such excuse."

Spock rose to his feet and went to stand with her. "Saavik." His voice rumbled both gentle and strong, the same way he looked at her. Then in the true form of her name, "Sa'Av Ik."

Sarek felt certain that the two of them knew each other's private names, but his son would use that when they were alone. He waited for Spock to explain why his father played Amanda's recording.

"Sa'Av Ik," he repeated, stroking each syllable in a verbal caress, "this includes you for the most important reason. Because I can tell you the moment I first looked at you and saw you had become an amazing woman. One that mystified me for you were the Saavik I knew and the new woman Saavik who attracted me. More than attracted me. In one moment, I touched you and with the power of who you are igniting me, I knew with no doubts you are the one I choose. Your mind, your warmth, your strength, your absolute acceptance of me – you are everything good about Vulcan's logic and everything fascinating about its heart. Several Terran cultures would say you are my other half, but they would be wrong. You manage the extraordinary: you are both my halves and more importantly, you are the part of me that is no halves at all. You are what makes me unique, what makes me Spock as you are uniquely Saavik. I promised myself to give you time to build your life as I waited – and hoped, that when you were ready, you would choose me."

Sarek kept carefully quiet. He never expected his son to speak like this and the way he had: so certain, so sure. Saavik obviously never anticipated it either; she was so taken aback, she hadn't taken hold of her expression, which was why Sarek tried blending into the background, so he didn't disturb the moment. He needed to leave.

Saavik saved him. Never looking anywhere but at Spock, she said, "Sarek, you must excuse us."

She said it in a hurried, "Sarekyoumustexcuseus," as part of her reaction to Spock's words. No matter; he bobbed his head and slipped away. He informed the staff that Saavik and Spock were not to be interrupted before he decided against returning to his room and instead went into the garden he and his wife had created. Where her ashes had been scattered.

Amanda, you are certain of this?

The way she had said, Aren't you?

A warm breeze drifted through and mixed with the fountain's splashing. Yes, my wife. I am.


While Spock waited for his father to be out of hearing distance, his eyes played on Saavik's beautiful, astounded features.

"Spock," she whispered. "How long?"

She didn't ask if he meant what he had said; she knew he did. He gave her both the Stardate as well as explaining, "It was the first time we met Rrelthiz."

She gave a bare shake of her head, eyes locked to his. "All that time..."

He stepped backward to the sofa with no word and she came with him like he was tied to her. In many ways, he was. He expected her to sit next to him, but she knelt with grace in front of him.

"Spock! Why did you never say anything?"

He repeated the reason he gave her a minute ago and added others: to give her time to build her career, to not have her come to him out of debt, and for her to show signs of wanting him in return. And then…

"And then?" she asked intently. He saw the connections happen behind her eyes before he could say anything. She stilled. "Valeris."

The name dropped like a heavy stone into their calm.

Saavik grasped the rest of it like so many other times she jumped ahead of him in her thinking. This time, she saw what he wanted to say before he said it. "This was the letter Valeris sent to you supposedly from me. And it said I ended our association because of it."

She didn't ask, but he answered, "Yes."

"Spock," she said, putting a hand on either side of his legs, "I told you I would never reject you. I never have and never will. The same is true now. How could you think it?"

He held back from touching her for the simple reason that he wanted this building anticipation. They were like a moment years ago after Amanda's death when they spoke of Genesis. He was acutely aware of how close she was to him, a mere a hand's breadth away. "To be fair, Saavik, you believed I would reject you over Genesis."

"It is different."

"It is not." He imagined what her lips would feel like under his hand. How her hand would feel. "After we healed from Valeris, I saw no signs that you thought the same way about me."

She leaned forward, her body brushing his legs ever so slightly. He tasted her breath on his lips. "Spock, I told you on Tomed that if you came to me, I would welcome you." He pointed out this offer was for pon farr, and she frowned. "Do you think I make this agreement with all unbonded males? The offer was to you, only you, because -" She swallowed and leaned back. "You are saying you have made this offer to others." Her mouth clenched, and she said nothing for half a second before she spoke through bared teeth. Her eyes flashed, and her hands grabbed the end of the sofa. "Who?"

The virtually non-existent space between them was enough for him to sense the waves coming from her mind. Something very ancient and very male awoke deep in Spock. Saavik was saying that he and no other was her Champion and that she was his as she gripped the cushions like the shaft of a lirpa, wanting to face the person who sought to claim him from her. He knew the instinct well; he had felt it for her when he thought she chose another male for her past pon farr. That very primal part of him surged through him in victory: in all the people around her, she only saw him. Wanted him. Defended her right to him.

And he only saw her.

Spock's voice roughened as he used the words she once said to him, "I made the offer to no one else. No one has the claim to me that you do. No one can."

He had once told Chapel, It is undignified for a woman to play servant to a man who is not hers. But that was the thing:

He was Saavik's. Was she his?

It's time. He took her hands in his and the heady kiss of her skin on his most sensitive fingers flushed his body with heat. "Saavik, when I say I want a marriage, I want a full one in all sense of it."

"I would agree to nothing else," she responded, her voice throaty. "And I deny you nothing."

Another pleasurable jolt ran through him and his brain nearly stopped working. "There is something else." He rubbed at her hands gently and her gaze grew heated. "Home… it is different for every person. For some, it is the planet they stand on. For Captain Kirk, it was the Enterprise. For the two of us, home isn't a place. It is a person. It is each other."

Her expression softened. "We are."

"However, I still want our children to have a home here. I want them to have these roots we built even as we show them the universe. I believe it important for them."

"Children?"

She pulled back and stared at him as if she heard wrong. What had he done? Until now, she acted like he had: she felt sure they were meant for this, that it was time to speak.

But now she sat on her heels and her mind shuttered itself.

Spock took a moment. "Yes, children. I thought on this and it – they are something I want. I know I haven't always thought this way, so I understand why you thought I had not changed."

She took hold of herself, but she sounded stiff. "Of course, you have your family to consider. Are you planning on adoption?"

He argued delicately, "I do not think of bloodlines. I think of us. We could adopt if you prefer."

"I see no other option unless-" Saavik pulled further away. "Are you asking for a surrogate?"

"No." What could possibly make her think so? "I meant the option that you somehow do not see. That we have children in the sense they are physically ours."

Oh… of course. She had even mentioned bloodlines.

Spock took back her hands and tugged her closer. "Saavik, no. You cannot think-"

"I cannot?" she fired back. "Cannot want another innocent child to lose to Thieurrull by inheriting it from me? How could anyone want that line to continue? Especially yours?"

Spock put their joined hands over his heart so its steady beat could soothe them both. "Hellguard - Thieurrull – is not a gene. Our children cannot inherit it. What they can inherit from you is strength, bravery, vibrancy, the desire to protect what is good, and discovering the wonders in the unknown, whether it is another world, another people, or something and someone already here. You cannot find fault with these qualities."

Saavik shot back, "I can't?"

"No, because they and others are what made T'Pren and my mother love you."

Her eyes flew wide and again sat thunderstruck. Both the women who she would call Mother if she could: T'Pren, the Vulcan woman on Hellguard who cared for her and Amanda who once said Saavik was an extraordinary gift from T'Pren.

"I know," Spock continued, "my mother listed these traits in one of her last messages. You heard it."

"I did," her voice barely there.

He wanted to go back to how it had been a few minutes ago. He thought, perhaps if he lightened it? "I grant you she also listed flaws. Stubbornness, for example. It could be a concern."

She gave him a dry, sidelong glance. "Only my stubbornness?"

Spock lifted an eyebrow in response. In a moment, she asked, "Children?"

He nodded. "So, they have each other, a person who understands."

Saavik needed no more explanation for that, but she still hesitated. He captured her chin in his hand.

"Saavik, Avrách'laba," using her secret, ahtía name, "whatever you want – to have children, to adopt, to have none – we will do. What is most important to me is you, as my wife. The bonding will only show you what is already true. I am never not thinking of you and I already carry you with me. Saavik… I am not choosing to marry. I am choosing to marry you, it is you or no one. Will you choose me? Marry me?"

She cupped her hand to his cheek, drawing a line along his jaw, and he caught both the smile flicking at the corners of her own mouth and the heat of her eyes. "Your propensity to lecture." She didn't just lean in, she moved so her body pressed against his legs and with her other hand, she spread her fingers so they softly captured his leg. "And I would choose no one else in these worlds but you."

Read Chapter 4