Second Chances
by Carol Smith
Originally published in Vault of Tomorrow 13
Copyright March 1988

Saavik walked across the courtyard to the door of the house. She waited a moment before entering, gathering her strength. The week-long vigil and the oppressive heat of the late afternoon walk had drawn heavily on her reserves.

As ready as she could be, she entered, walked through the living room and down the long hallway to the chamber. The room was lit only by the fading crimson light of the dying day that filtered through the curtained window.

Tears brimmed in her eyes, as they did each time she came. Reluctantly but determinedly, she approached the bed. As she peered into it, she saw that its occupant was sleeping. Saavik gazed lovingly at his face for a moment and was turning away when his voice stopped her.

"Saavikam."

He called her by the familiar form of her name, as he often did when they were alone. She bent slightly over the edge of the walled bed and said softly, "Spock?"

With eyes intent on hers, he slowly reached up a hand, and Saavik caught it in both her own. A sigh escaped from Spock, and Saavik bit her lip to keep from sobbing. Her years of Vulcan training still deserted her at times of deep emotion.

Spock closed his eyes again. Fear stabbed through Saavik until, seeing his chest continue to rise and fall, she knew he still lived. He must have drifted into unconsciousness again. If only she could feel his presence within. Now, it would never be.

The healer, Stenn, told her that Spock had been slipping in and out of consciousness all day, and that his time was near. She sorely regretted not having spent the entire day with him, but duties had required her presence at the Academy for several hours. The last time they spoke, Spock made her promise to attend to them.

Saavik glanced behind her and saw a chair nearby. Reaching back with one hand, she pulled it toward her, still holding Spock's hand with the other. She sat down wearily and looked at him -he still slept. She leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes, the quietness enveloping her. Spock's gentle breathing was soothing, and her mind began to wander.

She thought of her friend, her t'hyla, of the many years she had known him, of his numerous accomplishments, and of the lives he had enriched. Many of those had gone before him: Amanda, Sarek, McCoy, Kirk. Kirk. Spock's grief had been profound. Saavik remembered that he had gone alone into the mountains, not returning for nearly three seasons. When he did return, he looked haggard and thin, but the serenity in his race bore a silent testimony that he had made peace

with the pain.

Saavik paused in her reflections to study his face again. Angled, fleshless -- proud and peaceful were the words it brought to her mind. 'How I love him. How will I live with him gone?'

Her thoughts journeyed to another time she had kept a vigil by his side, thinking it the final one. Her joy had been great when it proved not to be. There would be no reprieve this time.

She wished that he could live forever or that she would die first. Many would grieve his passing, but not as deeply as she. He had filled so many places for her: father figure, teacher, friend, and lastly, for not years enough, bondmate.

The bond had been a tenuous one at best. Why, they never knew for certain. She and Spock consulted healers, priestesses, finally even the High Priestess T'Lar herself. The only hypothesis was that because neither was full Vulcan, a biological barrier prevented the mind link from completely forming. Saavik remembered the many years of anguish that proceeded their acceptance of the inadequacy, and Spock had attained it before her. Through various experiences, especially the mind meld with V'ger, he had learned to acknowledge his dual

heritage and its attendant conditions. After the meld, a synthesis began for him, growing together his two halves, resulting eventually in full accord.

Saavik, however, had always possessed a stubborn nature. She knew it had helped her survive on Hellguard for as long as she did and therefore did not regret it; but it was that same stubbornness that made acceptance of their imperfect bond so difficult.

Without the mental joining, physical separation for extended periods was intolerable to Spock and Saavik. Since service together in Starfleet could not always be arranged, they had worked side by side at the Vulcan Academy instead.

Spock's mind was as sharp and clear as ever, but his body had reached its end, quite prematurely by Vulcan standards - only one hundred forty-eight Earth years. The healers believed the Human elements in his blood to be the cause.

Saavik's sorrow was not easy to bear. To true bondmates, this parting would not be as painful. And having witnessed the joy between others for years, she found herself unable to look upon their situation as merely one of the vicissitudes of fortune, particularly in light of the promise made to them by T'Lar at their bonding. It seemed to Saavik that they had been cheated.

So, in these last days, rage was added to sorrow - rage against Fate for withholding this precious gift from them and rage against Death for ending all hope.

Suddenly, a shrill beeping roused Saavik from her disconsolate musings. She looked up and saw that the life readings on the wall behind Spock's bed were falling. Saavik knew his strength was ebbing swiftly and grasped his hand tightly in an effort to bring him to consciousness one last time.

Stenn, who had been monitoring Spock's vital signs from the next room, entered the chamber and walked quietly to the bed.

"We must awaken him immediately," he said, and began to shake and prod Spock. There was no response. Stenn turned to Saavik. "It is of no use. Saavik, with your permission, I will enter his mind to obtain the katra."

The realization that she would never again talk with her beloved burst upon Saavik. "No! This cannot be all!" she cried. "Stenn, please, allow me to enter the meld. I must be with him once more."

"You know that if yours were the usual bond, you would be the one to receive his katra. It is the Vulcan way. In this case, however..." He paused, then said firmly, "No, the bond is not strong enough, he would be lost. Because of this I must be the one."

Saavik grabbed the healer's arm. "Stenn, I must be with him. Let me enter the meld with you. It has been done before."

"The meld, yes, but not the retrieval of the katra. If your presence were to weaken the bond, he might be lost forever. As we talk, he dies. Move away, Saavik!"

Stenn placed his fingers in position on Spock's face and closed his eyes as he began the meld.

Saavik moved quietly around to the other side of the bed. She no longer cared to hold back her tears. She reached out to touch Spock's face, and as her fingers found their places, a shock jolted through her, leaving her breathless. She felt as if a great wind had rushed into her mind and from there through her whole body. Freshness, sparkling clarity, and immense strength pervaded her being, and...love. She was filled with love.

"I am here, Saavikam," came the deep, strong, familiar voice.

Saavik gasped. She had longed forever for this, the true oneness of bonding, and they had never achieved it until now, the moment of his death. She felt Spock's essence within her. Not since the meld of their bonding ceremony had they been this close. But this was not like that meld, when they were actually one person, his thoughts becoming her thoughts. Here, she was herself, holding his self within her.

Saavik's heart thrilled as Spock spoke again. "Saavikam, on the morrow we go to Mount Seleya, to the Hall of Ancient Thought, where you will place my katra with those of my ancestors. Until then, we will walk as one. I will speak to you and you to me; we will share our thoughts and feelings. We will be together as we never were in life. I am happy for this gift of destiny, my t'hyla. It is quite fitting. It seems life has often granted me second chances."

As the words flowed through her, Saavik looked one last time at Spock's mortal shell. It took a moment to fully comprehend that he was no longer there. Then she turned away from the body, directing her vision to where he really was.

"Yes, my love. I cherished having a part in your second chance for life on Genesis, as I do now cherish this new opportunity for oneness with you, whom I have always loved." Saavik smiled at the symmetry of their lives, remembering when Spock gave her another chance for life by taking her from Hellguard so long ago. She sensed him smiling with her.

Spock's voice returned. "We will one day enter the timeless union of final resting in Mt. Seleya, Saavikam, and our bond-promise will then be fulfilled:"

'Thee will walk as one for what will seem only a day, and after a small waiting, thee will continue as one in Mt. Seleya from Eternity to Eternity.'

Saavik held the glorious promise, finally understood, close within her as she walked from the dying-chamber into the gold of the Vulcan dawn. A peace like she had never known suffused her. She lifted her face to catch the cool breath of the morning and felt Spock's face lift with hers. Filled with joy, she moved to greet the prospect of the new day, together.

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