Title: Counter Gambit

Author: Jenny

Beta: Kerry

Rating: PG 13

Archive: Yes

Character Codes: S, Mc, Saa

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The two men sat across from each other and stared down at the antique mahogany chessboard between. Spock was quiet, even for him, and McCoy could almost term the mood his friend was in as pensive. Spock had been pensive for days and McCoy had finally had enough. Before he could demand to know what the Vulcanís infernal problem was, Spock prompted him.

"It is your move."

"I know, damn it. Give me just a minute. I want to ask you something." Irascibly, the old doctor Ďhurumphedí.

"No," Spock sighed quietly and started to explain even as he was interrupted.

"No?! I canít ask you a question? Iím your doctor and I can damn well ask you anything I want..."

"Calm yourself, Doctor. I was not indicating that I did not wish to speak with you, only that I wanted to speak of that phrase, ĎIt is your moveí." Spock raised one eyebrow and waited for the otherís response.

"Well, okay. What about it?" Bones settled into his chair, the game temporarily forgotten.

"What does it mean?"

"Well, in itís most obvious sense, it means just what I took it as. A prompt to make my play on the board." The good doctor waited to see if this would satisfy the always-curious Vulcan. It did not.

"And in a not so obvious sense?" He thought of Saavik and knew that while she had been open and up front with most of her reply, that last comment had been open to interpretation. His interpretation.

"Itís a common phrase used in human debate and also human romance."

"Debate?" Spock rested his chin on his long, steepled fingers. "How so?"

"Well, say if we were debating the best brand of Kentucky whiskey, Iíd make my point. Then it would be your turn and I could turn the floor over to you by saying, ĎItís your move, Spock.í Then you would make your point against the superiority of certain types of Kentucky whiskey. See?" McCoy picked up his own glass of replicated, alcohol free Kentucky whiskey and sipped. Then he moved his rook.

Immediately Spock shook his head at the doctorís gambit and over took with his own bishop. "I think so, doctor. But you also mentioned that the phrase had a meaning in human romance. What of that?"

"Maybe you better save that one for Jim, Spock. Heís the ladiesí man, not me." Conceding defeat, he tipped his queen and watched his companion.

"Jim will not be back for 3.4 days. I do not wish to wait that long." Spock stated this and felt his own surprise as he realized how true this was. If Saavik was saying what he suspected... he did not want to wait any longer than was absolutely necessary.

"Okay. I guess the best way to explain it would be to say that if someone has said to you that it is your move... then they feel that they have laid their emotions on the table and that what you do with or about them is your call. Spock? Has someone said that to you? Do you wanna talk about it?" Clearing his throat, McCoy continued, "I know Iím not Jim, but Iíve been married. If there is something else you want to know..."

"No. Thank you doctor, I understand. I must go." Spock unfolded his long legs from under the low playing table and strode to the door. "I will be in my quarters if I am needed."

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Light years away, Saavik was leaving her quarters to begin her shift. The com panel squealed and she paused to answer. "Yes. Saavik here."

"Lieutenant Saavik, there is a real time communiqué coming in for you. Should I patch you through? Itís from the Enterprise."

*Spock*

"Yes, Yeoman. Thank you." She straightened her uniform, brushing away wrinkles that werenít there and tossed her hair back. She sat at her view screen and waited for the patch through. The Starfleet insignia dissolved into the face of Spock. "Greetings, Spock."

"Hello, Saavik-am. I received your last message this morning. I felt we should speak." He seemed calm and his voice never wavered.

Saavik feared she could not say the same about herself. "Very well. I have 10.6 minutes until I must report for my shift on the bridge." She swallowed hard and clasped her hands in her lap. Why did her heart beat so hard? She fought for each breath she took and knew that Spock could see her highly emotional state. She would never insult him that way and so she struggled for control. Calling on the mental disciplines she had been taught years before, she brought her body under control and focused on him once more. "What do you wish to discuss?"

"Moves. I wish to discuss moves, Saavik. More precisely mine... and yours." He leaned forward and stared intently into the screen and her eyes. "Your actions on the Genesis planet have given me much to think about, Saavik-am. While I, regrettably, have no memories of the experience, I do find that I have strong feelings that should be discussed. You have made it evident that my gratitude isnít needed for your actions... nor is my gratitude wanted. I can accept that... if you can accept something in return."

Saavik nodded and replied, "I can accept anything from you, Spock. There is no one that I trust more."

"Indeed. Trust is a good place to start. You have my trust, my confidence, and my belief in your ability to do that which you must. You have had that since you were a very small child. Our trusts were exchanged rather instinctively, as you pointed out. I have to believe that it was for a very specific reason that our paths crossed so many years ago. It is possible that our destinies were fulfilled on Genesis and we could say our responsibilities to fate have been filled. We could continue as we have for years. Friends, with a teacher-pupil relationship."

Saavik heard his words and felt her heart stumble, pause and then begin to beat again, almost painfully in her chest. He was rejecting her. Gently, and without malice, yet still a rejection. Could she accept that? She had already promised that she could... "Spock, I understand and will abide..."

"Saavik, if I may finish?" Spock interrupted her. "As I was saying, we could continue much as we have for years... if you desire. I do not."

Not just rejection, but a complete withdrawal. He wanted nothing more to do with her. Crushed beneath the heavy weight that had settled over her, Saavik struggled for her continued composure. Her breath hitched and she blinked several times to clear the sudden mist from her vision. "Spock... I do not wish..."

Again he interrupted. "Good. Neither do I. I do not wish for a pupil-teacher relationship. I want more, Saavik-am. I want to know you as more, if you will allow it."

Desperately trying to follow his train of thought, Saavik held up one hand in restraint. "Spock, please. Wait... I am unsure how to respond. What are you saying?" She looked deep into the view screen and studied his expression. To her amazement, a look of doubt was evident on his face.

"I believe I have done was you would have me do, Saavik. I have Ďmade my moveí. And now I wait for your reaction."

She watched him closely as he calmly waited for her next words. His face settled into the lines and planes that she knew so well. He was familiar and comfortable, yet this was a new and foreign place she had manipulated them into. Manipulated. Did she manipulate him into this? Was this his sense of responsibility speaking to her?

Doubt suddenly plagued her. She dismissed it almost as soon as it took root. Spock did not lie. She knew that as well as she knew her own name. He had said that he wished to know her... to know her as more. More than a pupil... as a person and a woman? He wanted her... oh gods... he wanted her.

The weight on her chest lightened and she drew her first free breath since she sat down. "Spock, my wishes and thoughts are the same as they were when I sent the first reply. I, too, wish to know you as more than a teacher and comrade. I would give you memories such as I have already. I would be honored to."

"No, Saavik-am. It is I who am honored. Our ships will be in closest proximity to each other in 3.5 weeks. I would come to you, if that is agreeable." Spock paused and seemed to want to say more.

She waited on him to finish, but he merely shook his head minutely and remained silent.

"Very well. I will await your arrival. Good-bye...?" She asked.

Spock quickly interceded. "No... I would speak to you again, before then. I, too, have felt our lack of communications. I will not say good-bye now."

"No... not good-bye. Only until we meet again." Saavik smiled, her eyes bright. She inclined her head and the unruly curls fell over her shoulder. "Until then..."

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