“The commander of a starship should not lurk.”

 

Saavik arched a mock reproving eyebrow at Amanda.  “And the lady of one of Vulcan’s most honorable houses should not be away from her guests.”

 

Amanda actually snorted at that and joined Saavik in the protective shadows of the archway.  She rubbed the sore spot in the center of her forehead and sighed.  “I hate social functions.”

 

Saavik’s eyebrow lifted.  “And yet you bonded with an ambassador?”

 

Amanda grimaced.  “Point.  I thought when Sarek postponed attending the diplomatic function last night, this might get cancelled as well.”  She gave Saavik a mother’s glower.  “Why aren’t you out there suffering with me?”

 

Saavik eyed the house stones of the robed crowd again. The grand room at Amanda’s estate was filled with them.  Even from her safety position in the archway outside the hall, she could see them. “Distance does not inversely affect sympathetic responses.”

 

“Chicken.”

 

“I am hardly a member of the Terran species Gallus domesticus.”

 

Amanda tried to smother a grin.  “I have missed you.”

 

Saavik dipped her head in acknowledgment.  “So you said yesterday.  The sentiment has been mutual.”

 

“Can you stay long?”

 

Saavik eyed the crowd.  “I should not.”

 

Amanda sighed.  “I mean on leave.”

 

“Ah.”  Saavik’s gaze shifted away from Amanda’s blue eyes.  “And what does the ambassador say?”

 

Amanda suddenly frowned.  “You two argued again, didn’t you?”

 

Saavik stilled.  “I would prefer to call it a profound irreversible difference of opinion.”

 

“Damn it!”

 

Saavik gave the other a firm glower.  “That is not an appropriate vocalization for someone such as you.”

 

Amanda’s blue eyes narrowed dangerously.  “Saavik--”

 

Saavik sighed.  “I will apologize.”  Then her jaw firmed.  “But I will not alter my position.”

 

Amanda gave the ceiling a pleading look.  “Why is every Vulcan in my life so stubborn?”

 

Saavik answered dryly,  “I believe ‘karma’ could be construed as a possible causal factor.”

 

Amanda shook her finger at Saavik, but smiled.  “You are trying to distract me.”

 

“Did it succeed?”

 

“Are you going to tell me what this one was over?”

 

Saavik’s humor drained out of her eyes.  “No.”

 

“Why not?”

 

Saavik gave Amanda a very pointed look.  Her eyebrows lifted.  “That bad?”

 

Saavik glanced away.  “He does not hold his son in high regard.”

 

Amanda blinked and then a delighted smile curved her lips.  “He told you everything about the bonding agreement?”

 

Saavik’s head snapped back around.  “You agree with this?”

 

Amanda’s chin lifted, and she met Saavik’s severe disapproval with calm control.  “I do.”

 

“Upon first hearing Sarek arranged this agreement, you opposed it.”

 

“I illogically made a judgment without knowing all the arrangement’s details.  I did not know the woman involved.  I changed my opinion when I heard it was you.  May I point out that when Sarek first discussed this, you approved?”

 

“Like you, I did not know I was involved.  My judgment has changed since learning that fact.”

 

“Your judgment is wrong.”

 

Saavik’s eyes glittered.  “I had thought you would be different.”

 

Amanda slipped in front of her, forcing her attention. “Do you or do you not feel anything for my son?”

 

Saavik virtually gathered her control for a long moment and then turned away. “We will not have this conversation.”

 

Amanda’s face eased.  “I thought so.”

 

Saavik gave her a dark look over her shoulder.  “He deserves someone more appropriate, someone who is--”

 

Amanda gave her the look right back.  “I am quite aware of what my son needs.  As is Sarek.”

 

“I disagree.”

 

Amanda stepped closer.  “Your heart tells us otherwise.”

 

The stiffness around Saavik’s mouth deepened.  “My lack of proper discipline should not--”

 

“It is called ‘love’.”

 

Saavik stopped.

 

Amanda smiled gently.  “It is not a statement of your lack, dear one.”

 

The younger woman was silent a long moment.  Then her eyes grew pained and she moved close to Amanda.  “I am not... certain... ”

 

Amanda took Saavik’s hands in her own and held them tightly.  “Spock chooses you.”

 

Saavik stepped so close they were almost touching, her eyes probing Amanda’s so mercilessly that it almost burned.  They stood that way a long time and then suddenly Saavik looked away.  “You... believe this.”

 

Amanda heard the quiet awe in the other’s soft tones.  She shook her head.  “What is it about all of this that you find so hard to accept?  You choose him, he chooses you.  Yesterday, Sarek listed the qualities of the woman he had in mind, and you agreed she – you – had every quality Spock wants and needs! If you want, I could give the list of what you need.  Want to hear it? You'll be pleased that Spock fits it very well.”

 

The lines around Saavik’s mouth grew hard, making Amanda shake her head wearily.  “You have never been one for hope.”

 

“You may attribute it to my birth.”

 

Amanda looked at her steadily.  “You will accept?”

 

The way Saavik’s eyes took in the crowd made a pang run through Amanda’s heart.  “I have nothing to bring him.  Or his family.”  She looked at Amanda curiously.  “I know that we are friends, as Spock and I are, and friends are often honor bound to overlook certain... flaws.  But I fail to see why the ambassador would seek this agreement.”

 

Amanda smiled teasingly.  “He simply can’t resist impossible negotiations.”

 

“Amanda...”

 

Amanda sobered.  “He is very fond of you.”

 

That got both of Saavik’s eyebrows up.  “I find that... extremely difficult to believe.”

 

“Even from me?”

 

Saavik frowned, still thinking of Sarek.  “We have only begun speaking in recent years.”  She gave Amanda an arched look.  “And as approximately eighty-seven point three percent of our conversations involve subject disagreement, I would hardly call that a good development.”

 

“Debating is not the same thing as arguing, and you know it.”

 

“We argue.”

 

“You debate.”

 

They locked gazes until those hard lines melted in Saavik and Amanda laughed.  “You are as stubborn as the lot of us.”  She became serious.  “I want you to stay in my home.”

 

Saavik frowned, puzzled.  “I am currently residing in your home for the duration of my shore leave.”

 

“You imp, I mean permanently!”

 

“That would hardly be conducive to domestic peace.”

 

“Peace,” said a deep tone behind them, “is not the object of our intent.”  Sarek inclined his head to Amanda and then focused dark eyes entirely on Saavik.  “Our intent is a daughter.”

 

Saavik could only stare at him.

 

Sarek’s chin lifted slightly.  “I have improved significantly in my fathering... since Spock was a child.”  He looked at Amanda.  “You did inform her of this, my wife?”

 

Amanda kept her face perfectly in control.  “Of course.”

 

Satisfied, Sarek turned back to Saavik. His dark gaze studied her thoughtfully.  “Perhaps you prefer to garner a better family in your making a match?”

 

“No! I--” She stopped, gathering her words. “I know of none better.”

 

Sarek flicked a gratified look at Amanda.  “Then if you have no difficulty accepting Amanda and I, perhaps then your discomfort is with our son.  You would select a better consort?”

 

Saavik’s eyes widened and her gaze snapped back to Sarek’s.  “No! I--”

 

He calmly raised an eyebrow.  “Then logically, I fail to see the cause for your resistance.”

 

Saavik looked at Amanda in a silent plea.  She only received a sweet smile back.

“I–it is--” She looked back up at him with pained eyes, “sir, I am... lacking.”

 

Sarek looked at Amanda sternly.  “Who has informed her so?”

 

She winced.  “Life in general.  She has,” Amanda added ruefully, “amazing retentive abilities.”

 

He studied Saavik very quietly with keen eyes and then straightened.  When he opened his mouth, it was in the tone that had commanded rulers of worlds.  “You will give obedience to your Elder.”

 

He had Saavik’s surprised attention instantly. 

 

“Logic dictates that when a parent sees a child about to commit an erroneous choice, the parent must override that child’s decision for her own protection.  As you do not have a father to perform this duty, under the law of Vulcan to maintain proper order, I hereby accept the responsibilities of the position through the rite of familial bonding.”

 

Her eyes widened, completely taken aback.

 

He turned to Amanda.   “My wife, would you please carry my congratulations to our son?  I believe his new comm code has already been recorded in our main computer.”

 

Amanda beamed.  She bowed to both of them and disappeared into the crowd.

 

Saavik turned disbelieving eyes on Sarek.  “You...”

 

He folded his hands in front of him, calm and sure. “I believe I informed you before that I would attend your bonding.”1

 

“You said I would agree!”

 

He looked at her steadily.  “You do.”

 

Saavik closed her mouth before shifting arguments.  “I want to make my own choice for bondmate.”

 

His eyebrow rose gently.  “You already have.  I did not interfere with your choice, only in your denial of its fulfillment.”  He watched her curiously.  “You would prefer otherwise?”

 

They stood silently in the shadows of the archway.

 

“May I ask why?” she said quietly after a while, watching the crowd.  She straightened her shoulders.

 

His dark eyes glinted.  “It will lead to a rather... warm... discussion.”

 

Saavik glanced at him, then a slow return glint mirrored his in her eyes.  “And the ambassador of Vulcan believes he will lose?”

 

An eyebrow rose.  He held out his arm correctly.  “May I have the honor of introducing my daughter to these distinguished guests?”

 

 

1 As seen in “Triads” by Marla, currently in revision and therefore not on the web.