Saavik is not one for impulsive decisions. It is neither in their nature, nor according to the logic and philosophies that they use to dictate their actions.
Coming here - so soon after Spock and his crew left Vulcan in order to face the authorities regarding their actions (of which Saavik had also played a role in) - could be, however, characterized as an impulsive decision.
There had been a rising feeling in Saavik that they were not supposed to remain, which had intensified with the departure of their mentors and their friends, and then grown fiercely unignorable when news reached Vulcan of the destructive probe, and Kirk’s announcement of his plan to communicate with it. Saavik should have been on that ship. It was not logical to want to play a role in events that appeared catastrophic and unsolvable, and yet this truth remained with them throughout the next tense hours.
When the communication came that they had been successful, and Earth was saved, Saavik’s decision was made, impulsive or not.
“And you are sure?” Amanda asks again, come to see them off in the transport ship bound for Earth’s moon, chosen due to its speed.
Saavik nods, stepping closer. It is human worry in their foster mother’s eyes, but they understand. It was easier these days, somehow, to parse human emotion.
“I am sure, Amanda. I will send word when I arrive, and will send a further message when I have met with Sarek and Spock after the trial.”
Amanda moves closer, taking Saavik’s cheek in her hand. “I don’t know what your plans are, after all this, but I do hope you’ll visit. It was nice to have you in the house again, my dear.”
Through the touch, Saavik detects no malice intended in the mention of their future, and yet the mere mention makes them tense. As if Amanda can sense this, she begins to frown.
“Thank you for hosting me,” Saavik says, hoping to dismiss it. They hold out the ta’al, and give her the warm look that they know no other human would quite understand. “Peace and long life.”
Amanda holds out her hand in turn. “Live long and prosper, Saavik.”
The transport vessel is a quick trip, just as Saavik had hoped, and after an equally quick shuttle they arrive with time to spare before the trial is set to begin. Sarek, of course, had been harder to convince than his wife over their reasons for being on Earth - mainly due to his preoccupation with their plans after the trial.
They answer truthfully when he asks.
“I have not thought out my actions that far, sir.”
Sarek is not pleased, but he says nothing further, agreeing to allow them in.
The trial had been delayed due to the probe, evident both by the crowd and the increased security, and it is only through Sarek’s authority and clearance that they are able to get into the courtroom on such short notice. Would be relief whips through them, therefore, when they notice Spock in the first row beside a woman that Saavik does not recognize.
Spock’s eyes assess them as they reach his pew. Saavik controls a flush. In the days after fal-tor-pan, he had hardly remembered Kirk, let alone the enormous debt and gratitude Saavik had owed him across a decade. His memories would come with time, Jim told them that the Vulcan priestess had said as much, but there had been something deeply unsettling about looking into their beloved mentor’s eyes and seeing no recognition.
Now, he is still different. The recognition is not completely there, but the warmth has returned and has seemed to even strengthen. It is evident that in their absence more of his memories had returned as well, and he proves it with his next words, spoken in Vulcan.
“It is a pleasure to see you once again, Saavik-kam. I did not expect to see you so soon.”
Saavik bows their head. “I wished to observe the ruling myself, Captain.” Few words had once been all they needed to communicate their true feelings with Spock, such as why they had truly come. At his answering nod, they can see he has once again retained his ability to understand.
Switching to Standard, he motions to the woman beside him. “Allow me to introduce my new acquaintance. This is Dr. Gillian Taylor. Her efforts were instrumental in securing the humpback whales we needed in order to communicate with the probe.”
“Oh you flatter me, Mr. Spock.” The woman beside him says, grinning.
She is beautiful, with silver blonde curls, light eyes, a smile as open as it is welcoming - Saavik does not know where to look, what to do, what the appropriate reaction to such a creature is. Dr. Taylor’s eyes haven’t left theirs.
Spock is still speaking.
“She is from the 20th century.”
“Excuse me?” Saavik manages, facilities returning slowly.
Dr. Taylor flaps a hand, as if to dismiss it as nothing. “I may have hitched a ride with them from the 80’s straight to the 23rd century.” She shrugs, “Had to see this thing through, you know?”
Saavik does not know, but they want to.
“I am Lieutenant Saavik. I was a student of Captain Spock’s.”
“They are my protégé,” Spock thinks it necessary to add, and Saavik’s eyebrow rises in surprise, “and were present for most of the events that the trial will detail. In fact, they may possess a greater memory of the events than I do.”
Saavik lifts their hand, intending perhaps to extend the ta’al, but never has the chance before Dr. Taylor takes it into both of hers, and shakes it vigorously.
“Oh, don’t worry, the Admiral told me all about you! He said we’d be the best of friends, and I’ve got a sense for these things, so trust me. I’m starting from scratch, after all!” She beams, her hair bouncing with the effort, and Saavik almost forgets to take back their hand, even with the rush of enthusiasm coming through the touch.
They do not need to look to know that Spock’s eyebrow has raised.
Saavik nods, hopes they have outwardly retained their equilibrium. The truth spills out regardless, in the face of a remarkable woman like this, “I likewise feel a connection to you, Dr. Taylor. I hope our paths cross again.”
Her smile becomes smaller, but somehow warmer. Another human impossibility.
“Call me Gillian.”
Saavik did not have a chance to respond, cut off by the arrival of Doctor Chapel and Commander Rand joining the ranks. Minutes later, the trial finally begins, and as the accused step forward, Spock joins them at the front.
Of course he had understood Saavik’s need to show solidarity.
The president announces the council’s decision to absolve the Enterprise crew of guilt, erupting the courtroom into cheers. Their exoneration was a foregone conclusion following the heroics of saving Earth, and although a welcome relief, was not shocking in its logic. The crimes of which they were being accused of were negligible after all, when it came to stopping the destruction of the Federation’s homeworld.
Still, Saavik is relieved and overjoyed all the same. The crowd gathers to share their well wishes, and to mingle as they celebrate, and it is only after Saavik has voiced their own congratulations that they turn to realize that they’ve lost sight of Dr. Taylor entirely.
Hours later, they find themself in Kirk and Spock’s apartment, celebrating the ruling as well as the former Admiral’s demotion, which Saavik does not understand.
Kirk attempts to explain it to them, gesturing with his food in a human manner as his crewmates and friends populate the room, indulging in the replicated foods and the aged synthehol Dr. McCoy had brought with him.
“I believe that Captain Spock said it best, back when we were ordered to Regula I - captaining a starship is my first, best destiny, that had always been what called to me. It was foolish to think I could find true purpose in anything else.” He smiles then, and it is lighter somehow than the one of reassurance he had given them aboard the Klingon ship only days ago.
The man had gone through much in the last few days, especially for a human, and yet his demeanor was strangely relaxed as he spoke of the events so casually. Saavik themself is still recovering from the whiplash, and cannot imagine how he can find such peace and control.
As if he had sensed his name, Spock leaves a conversation with Sulu to join them, lifting two fingers once he is close enough to do so. Kirk visibly brightens, as if it is the first time they have ever exchanged this intimacy.
Saavik has to look away. They are not confused by it as they once were. Now it is worse - they’ve identified the emotion that wells up at the sight as longing.
In their haste to disengage their eyes catch on Dr. Taylor, who is guffawing at something Mr. Scott has said. From across the room they are too far to hear what it is that caused such a strong reaction, but the sound of the laughter itself fills something in Saavik with a peculiar warmth. It is luck, plain and simple, that their paths had indeed crossed again, and so soon.
“-And I believe we long ago concluded that my first, best destiny is to be by your side, Captain.”
“I thought we agreed on Jim?”
“Very well. Jim.”
Saavik, not wishing to intrude, finds it logical to continue watching Dr. Taylor. She is telling a story now, or perhaps reenacting their rescue with her hands judging by her animated fashion. From their limited experience, it seemed that Gillian Taylor was a very animated person. They wonder what it would be like to be the focus of that energy.
“Now did she tell you, or did she purposely not tell me?”
“I merely had the sense to ask further.”
Saavik turns back to their mentors, who are once again engaging in what Spock had termed “the human behavior known as bantering”. He had neglected at the time to mention how often he too partook in this behavior.
“I find her plans regarding the science vessel to be sound, as she is correct: there are no other humpback whale specialists in the 23rd century. She is in a unique position, indeed. I look forward to her future.”
A science vessel? That would of course be the best use of Dr. Taylor’s talents, though Saavik would regret the loss of future interactions.
“Speaking of the future,” Kirk gestures back to Saavik, drawing them back into conversation, “what are your plans going forward, Mr. Saavik?”
In truth, this was the question that they had been dreading since leaving Vulcan. It was the same question Amanda had asked when they left, and Sarek when she arrived on Earth. Still, Saavik had no answer.
Their worldview had shifted and changed shape so many times recently. They were no longer the same person who had taken the Enterprise out of drydock the first time, only weeks ago. They no longer had the same desires and aspirations as that person, and it has left them now feeling aimless. That this state of affairs would continue forever was an illogical fear, and yet one Saavik held regardless.
“My study leave on Vulcan has ended, so I have returned to Earth to seek out new opportunities.”
A diplomatic response, one she knew Kirk would take at face value, and that Spock will see through with ease, even given the state of his memory. He has never known them to not make plans.
“Well the world is at your feet now.” Kirk responds, proving their point, and unknowingly hitting the nail on the head.
The apartment, while spacious, becomes all at once stifling. Saavik wishes for a moment that they had changed into civilian clothes like everyone else, as the collar of their uniform suddenly feels as though it is threatening to cut off all circulation. They clear their throat.
“If you will excuse me.” Fortunately, both Kirk and Spock let them pass without comment, though they know they have not been subtle, and Saavik wades through the company until they can escape to the balcony, which is blissfully empty.
The air outside is fresh and chilled, the balcony opening onto the San Francisco bay after a storm. Saavik suppresses the urge to shiver. It was a far cry from Vulcan, where less than a day ago the dry desert heat had seeped under their skin, altered the texture of their hair. Neither matched the cool, clinical feel of the air filtered through a ship: perfectly climate controlled, a certainty in its comfort. They did not know the next time they would feel that certainty.
Work was what gave Saavik purpose, this had always been true. Working their way through the Academy, brushing past any stigma, that had been their main goal for so long. In the wake of Spock’s death, they had found solace in being assigned Science Officer aboard the Grissom, in finding work amongst the new path that Genesis had seemed to offer.
Now even that had ended, and the way forward was less than clear. The world was at their feet - to use the human figurative sense that Kirk had - that was precisely their problem. Having such a wide scope made it impossible to determine what they wanted, and left them without any sense of direction. Without any sense of what work there was to be done, Saavik was at a loss of where their place now was, and at a loss of purpose.
Their reverie is broken by the swish of the door. They turn to see Dr. Taylor with a smile on her face, but while Saavik still does not understand many of the nuances of human behavior, they can tell somehow that this one is not as genuine as her others.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize there was anyone out here,” she looks hopeful. “Do you mind?”
Although they had come outside precisely to avoid company, Saavik finds that they do not. They shake their head, and gesture for the woman to join them.
She does so with another smile, this one more genuine. “It was nice of them all to invite me of course, but I think I was starting to get a little overwhelmed.”
“That is understandable.” Saavik agrees, and wishes they could say more. It is after all, the reason they too had escaped to the balcony.
“But look at this view!” Taylor leans over the railing, eyes wide. “Who did they have to kill to get this apartment?”
Saavik startles. “Neither of the captains have killed anyone - this is a reasonable dwelling for senior officials of their rank, especially as Kirk was previously a-”
“Oh, I know, silly. It’s an expression!” Taylor then seems to come to a realization, shrinking as her demeanor turns almost bashful. “Or well. It’s a human expression. I haven’t had much experience with non-humans yet, so I wouldn’t know, you’ll have to forgive me. Are you also an, um…”
Saavik guesses where her fumbling is leading. “I am a Vulcan, just as Captain Spock is. Unlike him, I am also half-Romulan.”
It is not something they usually volunteer, especially with new acquaintances, and yet when Taylor does not visibly recoil at their heritage, Saavik does not regret the impulse. Something about this woman made Saavik feel as if it was okay to not shield so fiercely. They still remember the unshielded touch of her hand.
Taylor grins, her teeth showing. It’s charming. “Well, I’m human, as you probably know. Other races and species is one of the things I’m gonna have to get used to about this century, isn’t it?”
“Undoubtedly. But you will have help.”
Taylor’s grin widens. “Thanks.”
Saavik had not meant themself, but did their best not to show it, finding the prospect desirable. Both of their gazes return to the city skyline stretching out below them.
Taylor shivers as a breeze overtakes the balcony. “It’s funny - I spent practically my whole life in this city, and in 300 years it’s both exactly the same and completely unrecognizable.”
She shrugs. “Well for the most part it’s familiar - the skyline, the landmarks - but then I look closer for a moment and suddenly it’s all too clear that I’m not in my San Francisco - I mean just look at those flying cars above the Golden Gate Bridge! If so much hadn’t already happened I would have thought I’d gone insane, and well.” Her voice seemed to grow smaller, losing its ironic tone, “It's hard to tell if I even have a place here.”
Saavik stayed quiet, allowing her to continue. “My San Francisco - it was so small. Just me and my whales and the people who would visit the Cetacean Institute, but even they would be interchangeable. This new world has so much in comparison.” Taylor huffs, and pulls her hand away from the railing to gesture with again. “ I’m the one who’s small now. And this distant, far off future, well it’s now my future, stretching out before me. I don’t know what to do with it all.”
Saavik had been right to feel such a kinship with this woman. “I feel much the same way.”
“You do?” Her tone is almost incredulous.
“My situation might not be on the same scale as yours, however, I have been…” feeling , the word they had used just two seconds ago, now felt inadequate, “having many of the same thoughts, regarding my future. I have completed my schooling, been cleared for duty, and received many offers, and yet I can find nothing that truly appeals to me. The thought of my future has become almost overwhelming in its limitless possibilities.”
“Yes, exactly!” Taylor snaps her fingers, pointing. “Sooo overwhelming!”
She sighs again, her shoulders almost deflating.
“I don’t even know if it’s the right decision - this science vessel I’ve signed myself onto - but it was the only one that made sense to me in the end. I mean, my only two familiar faces here are two humpback whales, for god’s sake, and I can’t keep relying on the Admiral to help me find a path of my own here! Or, Captain, or whatever he is now.” She shakes her head. “I told myself a long time ago, that I wouldn’t ever rely on a man anyway, and in this new century it’s just. I’m afraid that I’m being too impulsive, by not trying to explore it all right away, and instead running off to the ocean like I’ve always done.”
Saavik looks to the city’s skyline, as if it may offer up the sage advice that they hope to provide for Dr. Taylor. When it gives no answer, they recall Captain Kirk’s advice instead.
“If this science vessel, your whales, the ocean - if they are what is calling you, then that is precisely where you should be.” They step forward, hoping to drive the point home. “If that is your first, best destiny… then this new century can wait.”
Dr. Taylor - Gillian , she had asked them to call her, in the courtroom what felt like eons ago - her expression has become indescribable. Her mouth is half open, and with the lights of the city and the dim moon glinting above, her eyes shine. It is almost like awe.
“Come with me.”
Gillian nods, voice becoming stronger, “Come with me. You said it yourself, you haven’t found anything that appeals to you - well you haven’t met my whales.” Seeing that Saavik is at a loss of words, she barrels on. “Besides, you’re some sort of science officer right? We could use your expertise, and between my recommendation and the rest of the crew’s, it’ll be easy!”
“We have only just become acquainted, how can you be so sure that this will be a success?”
Gillian lifts her chin. “I have a good feeling about us, Saavik, didn’t I say? And besides,” she winks atrociously. Endearingly. “I’ve got a thing for hard luck cases.”
Saavik finds that a smile is threatening to break free on their face, and tries to add some logic to their sudden streak of impulsivity. The attempt fails before it has even begun, shattered easily by the earnestly hopeful look on Gillian’s face
“Then yes. I will come with you.”
The next thing they know, they are being swept into a broad hug. Gillian tucks her chin into their shoulder. “Oh Saavik, this could be perfect!”
After a moment, Saavik gently extricates themself, though Gillan still stands close. It is evident that Vulcan customs are another thing she has yet to learn, although Saavik finds there is no rush.
“This might’ve been a spur of the moment decision, but I wish I had thought to bring champagne glasses.” Gillian says, turning back to the view, although she loops her elbow through Saavik’s when resting her forearms on the railing.
“What would you propose a toast to?” This time, Saavik does not attempt to extricate themself.
Gillian shrugs and smiles, this one small and soft and somewhat mischievous, a whole new categorization. She holds out a hand, mimicking holding a champagne flute. “To our future?”
Saavik is charmed, and therefore helpless. They hold out their own imaginary champagne flute. “To our future, and the world at our feet.”