Series: TOS. After The Wrath of Khan.
Summary: McCoy and Kirk try to help Saavik live with Spock's death... and a physical condition that is making things difficult for her.
Archive: Anywhere you want, but please let me know where.
Disclaimer: Saavik and Spock belong to Paramount/Viacom. I get no money for this story.
The chiming continued.
"Saavik, we know you're in there."
The half-Romulan lifted her hands from where they lay at her sides under the blanket, and pressed paired fingertips fervently against her temples. Her body ached from how long she had lain there, staring at the place where wall met ceiling on the opposite side of the quarters. She could feel her bones distorting themselves, an ache that demanded motion, but the complaint converged in her brain with the clamors from the ache in her temples that demanded rest and the ache in her heart and throat that told her nothing mattered. There was too much exhaustion and pain to resolve any conflict. She allowed herself to sigh.
The voices outside the door turned to each other, and her ears registered the words disinterestedly.
"Bones, perhaps if she wants to be left alone..."
The doorbell chimed again. "She's been left alone for three tendays. Even if she weren't due for her routine physical, it's just not healthy to withdraw into herself like that. I've seen enough deaths to know what happens to the ones left behind. Without support from their friends, folks who've lost a loved one have a hell of a time getting back into a comfortable life. They turn into different people, Jim."
A sound rasped through her throat, though no one heard it. You have no idea. Turning her head on the mattress, she rested on the unaccustomed thickness of her hair and groaned silently. They say that stress is the catalyst for this. How anyone survives stress at the same time as the things it catalyzes...
"Saavik, if you don't answer me, I'm using medical override."
She would have been able to lie more comfortably padded by the weight she had lost in the past days, but her hair made a convenient barrier for voices she didn't want to listen to. Tangling her fingers in it, she pulled it down over both ears and buried her face in the bed. If the captain and the doctor wanted to come in and see her like this, let them override her lock. She was too tired to go to the door. She hurt too much...
A long moment later, hearing the sound of an opening door muffled by hair and bedding, she raised her eyes. Superimposing her mental picture of Captain Kirk's appearance over the place she knew she would see it, she was not surprised; her prediction matched the reality. Whites of his eyes showing all around the irises; a fold between his brows and a hand that rested at the place on his belt where a phaser would be if he were wearing one.
"Who are you? Why are you in Saavik's quarters? How did you prevent the intruder alert from going off?"
"Jim..." The puzzled burbling of McCoy's tricorder almost hid his voice. "According to the DNA scan, this is Saavik."
Twenty seconds of silence squeezed by uncomfortably. Then Kirk spoke.
"You know we're still expecting an explanation."
Pushing her way up through the suffocating exhaustion, she rolled fully onto her back again and locked her eyes on the juncture of wall and ceiling while she tried to formulate a reply. Her first choice would have been "go away," but she had begun to register the advice of some core of logic in her aching brain that had been whispering kaiidth and it's inevitable so get it over with.
"I'm sorry, you'll have to speak Standard," Kirk forced out. "And I'm going to need more than one word of explanation. McCoy's tricorder says you're Saavik, and I don't deny a resemblance, but the last time I saw a person change appearance so much in so little time, it was a kid with a growth spurt."
"To'ovaya," repeated Saavik. "Literal Standard translation: growth. Closest Standard equivalent for this usage: final growth spurt. Full definition in Standard: the last phase of overall physical change in the development of a young Vulcan or Romulan."
"Of course," McCoy was murmuring. "The three-hundred year lifespan... she's no older than a human who looks her age... makes perfect sense. She's not mature yet, Jim. Or at least, she wasn't until this happened."
"I still am not," Saavik clarified. "The 'growth spurt' is not yet over. Even now, I sense my bones lengthening, my hair texture changing, my weight re-distributing itself. There is great variation among individuals in the severity of to'ovaya; some suffer a complete metamorphasis, while others experience only small developments. Spock told me that his greatest change was in the pattern of his eyebrows. I am to be one of the less fortunate."
McCoy bowed his head at the pain in her voice when she mentioned the name. "It can't be easy for you, dealing with what happened to Spock, and having to deal with this toe...hoe-vay-ah, or however it's pronounced, as well."
"A stressful experience is often the impetus for to'ovaya's onset," her dispassionate voice said to the ceiling. "My mentor's death probably caused the change I am going through."
"He was our friend too." The furrow in Kirk's forehead became deeper as the emotion it expressed changed from puzzlement and surprise to grief. "We are all in pain. I want you to know that."
"Granted," added the doctor, "he didn't raise us from babies, and while we loved him like a brother, we didn't go so far as to want to marry him."
Dark, transformed hybrid eyes challenged human ones for a second. The bitter words roiled behind Saavik's throat: Yes, I suppose everyone can see how much I wanted him. So much want could hardly stay hidden. So you admit I lost my friend, my father and the man I loved? You admit I am going through a physical turmoil beyond human comprehension? You admit that your troubles are as nothing compared to mine? And yet you still expect me to get up from this bed?
"Yes," said McCoy.
No one could possibly be more skilled than the old doctor at reading people's minds through their eyes. To scream at him would have taken too much energy, but oh, how she wanted to. All I am asking is to be left alone. To rest.
"What you need now," said McCoy, slowly flying his tricorder over the hills and valleys of her blanketed body, "is not rest, but movement. I'm picking up muscle atrophies, bone weakness... you know that if you keep your body in that position while it grows, that will be the position it grows into. You won't be suited for doing anything but lying in bed, if you don't get some healthy food and exercise pretty soon."
"I do not care."
"Furthermore, you say stress aggravates it. You may not believe me, but you're under more stress lying there thinking about how awful life is, than if you were out on a mission. People are happiest when they're working. I bet you anything that an interesting project would make your growing pains a darn sight easier for you."
"The Grissom is launching an investigation of the Genesis planet," Kirk contributed. "They'd welcome you. It would be a chance to explore something that Spock helped make possible... a chance to think about him in a positive way while dealing with your grief. David is taking part in it; you and he seem to get along well..."
"No!" Saavik clasped the blanket up around her shoulders in desperation, as if it were the last thing that might protect her from having to face the universe. "Nothing matters. Don't you see that? Spock was all that I had. Now I have nothing. My life is irrelevant. It does not matter if I go on the Grissom or become a hermit or stay in this bed for the rest of my natural life!"
She had lifted herself up on her elbows, the closest she had come to sitting up in days, and she might have gotten farther if McCoy hadn't leaned over and grabbed her firmly by the shoulders.
"Damn it," he said. "Damn it. Don't you appreciate what Spock did for you? Don't you understand why he did it? Think of it, Saavik, the man wandering around on that horrible planet and he finds this little tiny savage kid. He could have left her there, but he doesn't. He brings her home, risking all kinds of danger, and sends her to school and teaches her and takes care of her and gives her all the love he's got in his green-blooded, bizarrely located heart."
Streaming eyes looked down into the pain-wracked countenance of the half-Romulan. "Didn't you see the pride in his face, the day you joined the Enterprise crew? Do you think he put all that effort into you just to have you wither away in your quarters when he died? I think I know what his last thought was, kid. I think he died saying to himself, I'm going for a good purpose, to save the ship and the crew and Jim and little Saavikam. And I won't be all gone, 'cause I'm leaving behind someone I've taught pretty near everything I know. She'll do great things, my Saavik, and part of me's gonna live on in her. That's what he died thinking, I swear I have no doubt. Don't do this to him, Saavy. Don't destroy his last hope."
They were both crying by the time McCoy finished, his eyes haunted and his accent all the way back down to his homeland Georgia—and the tears alone wouldn't have made up Saavik's mind, nor would the voice. She couldn't have been convinced just by the sweaty grip and tremble of the medical officer's fingers on her upper arms, or the desperately sad look on his wet face, and she might even have been able to find an argument against his words. But as his last surge of grief and anger thrilled through their contact, up her arms and into her heart, she could have sworn that she felt the touch of Spock's soul.
A room deep in the caves of Seleya grew warm with shared memories. A white-robed man, the first person to undergo fal-tor-pan since the ancient legends, gazed lovingly at a young woman, the first person permitted to visit him after the ceremony.
"So that is how you decided to be part of the Genesis exploration team?"
"Indeed. I owe a debt of gratitude to McCoy and Kirk. If I had stayed behind, there would have been no one there who knew how to help you when you suffered the burning of your blood."
"I, too, am grateful. Especially to you. And if it is true that, as you suspect, you carry a child, then I shall be honored to be its father."
"There was a moment," she murmured, "when I thought you had ceased to care for me. You walked past all of us as if you were inspecting the crew at one of those ceremonies. I looked at you, but you barely made any response."
"I am ashamed to say it, but I did not recognize you," said Spock, a half-smile twisting the corner of his mouth. "Your to'ovaya was quite thorough. And although you have always been pleasing to look at, I find your current appearance... most attractive."
As their fingertips met, he entwined his other hand in the new thick curls of her hair, exploring the transformation of his Saavik.