Name of beta reader: Kerjen
Character codes: Saa & Valeris
Summary: Valeris' first meeting with Saavik.
The wind was blowing again.
Valeris tried to pretend that it did not exist.
It blew harder, slapping her black hair against her fair skin and making her eyes narrow defiantly at the sting. She lifted her chin higher and refused to give in to the discomfort.
That would not be proper for a Vulcan.
She hitched the strap of her carryall further up her shoulder, ignoring the bite of it across her muscle and straightened her back to ramrod correctness.
They would expect nothing less. The old pain pinched inside. Or rather, they would.
Her jaw clenched and she blinked hard against the wind.
Again she checked the chronometer strapped too tight to her wrist. The family transport was not due for some time yet. She would have to wait a substantial while longer.
Unsurprising really. Waiting had a distinct tendency to neatly remind one of one's place. And they wanted her well reminded.
The data padd with her citizenship forms cut the soft skin of her palm as her grip tightened.
This time, the pain was replaced by the dull anger.
Valeris forced her posture still straighter, locking her face into unpierceable stone. The wind blew, seemingly to mock her.
She refused to shift position.
The wind died and abruptly the suffocating heat returned. She felt the top of her head begin to burn. Her unprotected skin prickled uncomfortably and a deep ache began to throb just behind her eyes. A match for the growing one inside her skull. Her nose threatened a potential bleed and she felt her tongue beginning to swell.
She resisted a long-suffering sigh. And her eyes caught a flash of brilliant crimson ahead.
The Vulcan woman she saw was... perfection.
Tall and self-possessed, the woman turned back her way and for one instant Valeris found herself utterly held by the most intensely dark gaze she had ever seen. Caught, she lowered her lashes respectfully, feeling curiously for the first time no shame under a Vulcan's eyes. When she looked back up, the woman had disappeared.
Valeris felt a sudden sense of irrational panic. She flicked a quick look around the streets, trying to assess the possibilities, to calculate the potential end of her subject's path.
Her eyes latched onto the stately curve of the Federation Embassy.
For a moment she hesitated, strangely afraid of the inevitable rejection that only seemed natural from Vulcans. Unbidden, the last transmission rose up in her mind, making her ears heat emerald again with remembered humiliation.
The inside of the embassy was almost chilly after the searing heat of outside, the sudden transition from Vulcan's sun making the interior seem unnaturally dark. Valeris edged forward, trying to smooth the simple shipsuit to fit better amongst the crisply pressed uniforms. She straightened her shoulders and raised her chin, daring the politely inquiring officer at reception to challenge her right to be here.
As all of Vulcan did.
But he merely inclined his head correctly and returned to his terminal.
Valeris glanced about neutrally, mentally weighing her choices. And not liking the outcomes.
Seemingly identical corridors branched off in opposite directions from the reception. Corridors which, in turn, veered off again and again labyrinthine style. Sober faced security officers stood guard throughout and Valeris held no misconceptions about their placement.
Unauthorized wandering would most assuredly not be tolerated.
A soft chime from an opening door drew her attention to the queue behind the desk.
Two joking humans stepped through, and her customary distaste for them was swept away as she happened to look just past them into the queue.
The Vulcan woman was standing inside at ease, gazing out the far window to the mountains beyond with her hands clasped loosely at the small of her back. As completely at home here as she had been outside.
And Valeris felt a terrible stab of jealous longing.
The officer at reception cleared his throat expectantly. "Are you looking for someone, ma'am?"
Valeris took her eyes off the Vulcan reluctantly and decided to take a chance. Her chin lifted higher. "I am," she said coolly. And started to brush past him, not daring to breathe.
If she could just get to the doorway–
His hand snapped up sharply. The guards along the walls went alert. "I'm sorry ma'am, but I need a name."
And instantly, all her strength fell away. The bitterness filled her again. A name. She stopped, shoulders sagging.
It was unsurprising really.
"A name, ma'am?" he prodded.
Valeris started to turn away.
Her eyes went wide and her head lifted.
The tall Vulcan was standing in the doorway of the queue, calmly staring down the young man at the desk with an aura of complete command that entranced Valeris. "Why are you detaining my guest, Ensign?"
The young man blushed furiously to his hairline. "I apologize, Lieutenant, I had no idea that you were expecting–she wouldn't give a name and regulations specifically state--"
A glint of warm humor touched those dark eyes. "Ensign, I am well aware of what regulations specifically state. Please note that in Vulcan culture, names are traditionally not given without the permission of their owners." The gaze found Valeris again and once more she felt the contemplation. "Undoubtedly, my guest was merely seeking my honor."
Valeris felt her admiration for this woman rise even higher and fought a warm coloring of her cheeks.
The Vulcan's eyes took in the young ensign. "Have you further concerns, or may my guest complete her visit outside of detention?"
His blush took on a truly remarkable shade of red. "No, Lieutenant."
She inclined her head graciously and Valeris watched fascinated as the human exhaled in relief. Then those eyes found her again and this time, an elegantly arched brow rose.
"Would you care for refreshment?" Saavik asked in Vulcan.
The traditional first question amongst friends. Amongst those who belong.
Valeris had to blink suddenly to maintain biocontrol and lowered her eyes in profound gratitude. "Thank you," she said softly in the same language, her voice nearly trembling, "I would be honored."
Saavik extended a hand, offering to take her carryall. Valeris' hand almost shook as she passed it. Saavik slipped it over her shoulder.
"My name is Valeris," she said suddenly.
Saavik tilted her head, causing her dark hair to fall handsomely over her throat.
"It is Klingon," Valeris said quickly, "But I will change it to be a proper Vulcan. I have the forms--" She bit her lip hard and looked down at her boots, awaiting censor.
They had disapproved of even her name.
"Mine is Romulan."
Valeris' head jerked up, eyes going very wide.
A rueful twist of the other's mouth sent a strange... easing through her body. And for the first time since setting foot on Vulcan, she felt... safe.
And utterly in awe.
Perhaps I am not alone, after all.
"Will you change it?" Valeris asked suddenly, needing to know.
Saavik shook her head, a soft faraway look coming into her eyes that Valeris desperately wanted to know more about. "No. Someone once told me that I was unique. That I must choose my own path." She looked at Valeris. "He said that my name was a part of my uniqueness. As is yours. You would do yourself a disservice to change it."
Valeris felt seized with a hope she had thought long lost. Someone not only understood but approved. And Saavik knew him.
She stepped closer to Saavik, clutching the data padd in her hands with whitened fingers. "I need a teacher," she pleaded. Her throat closed and she had to blink hard again. "I am... so very far behind. And they... they do not want me as I am."
A shadow passed over the other woman's face that Valeris could not interpret, but then Saavik nodded. "I will make the arrangements."
Valeris felt what could only be described as sheer joy. It was all she could do to maintain some grip on control. "Then I will be a proper Vulcan?" she pressed excitedly.
Saavik's smooth brow furrowed. "If that is your wish, he will direct you." The dark eyes took Valeris in for a long moment. "Have you other needs?"
Valeris opened her mouth and then colored. "You are most kind already to a stranger."
"You are not a stranger." Valeris found that humored glint back in those eyes. "We know each other's name."
"Saavik," said Valeris softly.
"Valeris," said Saavik in return.
"Then are we... friends?" Valeris asked suddenly.
Saavik tilted her head again. "Do you wish to be friends?"
"Then we are."
Valeris' eyes widened at the unreal ease of what she had not dared possible on Vulcan. "I have never--" she breathed in and shook her head. She turned dark eyes upward, to take in Saavik's face. "I do not know if I will succeed in the position."
Saavik's mouth twitched at the corner. "Then we will see." Her eyebrow angled up again. "Tell me, Valeris, would you care for a tour of the city?"
The shuttle would be coming for her soon.
Saavik's eyes never wavered.
Valeris lifted her chin. They would have to wait. She bowed to Saavik.
The two of them walked comfortably out into the blasting heat of Vulcan. The wind stirred their hair and seemed to accompany them companionably down the street.
"Saavik?" she asked softly, fingering the data padd.
"You are... what you are because of him?"
Saavik's face was beautifully serene. "I am."
An eyebrow rose.
"Would you tell me of my teacher?"
Saavik lifted her eyes to the sky as if looking for something. For a long moment she was silent, then she said, "His name is Spock... "
And Valeris began to listen.