Valeris frowned. She leaned ever so slightly toward Saavik, keeping her voice low so the visiting Rbigitan lecturer would not notice the lack of proper attention. "Saavik?"

Saavik lifted an eyebrow absently, taking a careful sip of the wine provided for their table.

"Why do sexual relations require navigational skills?"

Saavik almost choked, earning them both a warning glower from the diplomatic aide standing watch off to the side. "What?"

Valeris flicked a motion at the woman still speaking. "She stated that sexual orientation was--"

Saavik's mouth twitched hard and she set her glass down. "She is using human phraseology regarding an individual's preference in sexual partners - whether a male or female is chosen."

Valeris' frown deepened and she studied the Rbigitan critically. "Perhaps someone should explain basic biological functioning to her."

Saavik's eyes glinted in amusement. "Valeris, she is not referring to reproduction."

Valeris blinked. "Then to what is she referring?"

Saavik gave Valeris a careful look. "Your teacher has not discussed sexual relations involving a purely, ah... recreational manner?"

Valeris' eyes widened.

Saavik sighed. "Of course not. Although I would have thought he would have discussed some portion as you are entering the Academy."

Valeris slid her chair closer to Saavik's. "Explain this concept of recreational sexual activity."

Saavik cleared her throat. "I believe that is the duty of your mentor. Or your family."

Valeris gave her a dark look. "I do not wish to wait."

Saavik grimaced. "Of course not."

Valeris lifted a correcting eyebrow. "You said he always had the courtesy of answering your questions."

Saavik's face softened. "Even the rabbits."

"I beg your pardon?"

Saavik's eyes refocused and she picked up her wine again. "After the lecture concludes."

Valeris narrowed her eyes. "You are attempting to avoid this discussion!"

The diplomatic aide gave them both another glare. Valeris lifted her chin, daring Saavik.

With an expression of seeking patience, Saavik motioned for her to stand. They slipped away from their table and into the foyer outside.

Valeris clasped her hands behind her back as they walked. "Now explain this concept."

They went outside and Saavik picked a random direction for them to walk. The sun washed everything in bright light; it took a moment to adjust after the dark lecture hall. She took a deep breath, tugging her uniform tunic into place.

"When you enter the Academy the greatest difficulty you will face will not be the scholastic rigors or the training tests. It will be in the interpersonal communications you will encounter."

Valeris' brow creased. "Because I am Vulcan?"

Saavik nodded. "And because the majority of the others will be very... not Vulcan."

"I do not understand."

"Vulcans do not... communicate the same as non-Vulcans."

Valeris looked wry. "So I have noticed."

Saavik nodded. "This same communication difference extends into all areas of behavior. As you are aware, while one species may act in the generality similar to another, it may also be completely dissimilar in the specific. While this is often a study of IDIC, it can also be extremely... confusing. The potential for serious miscommunication is very real. Take for example sexual relations. In generality, Vulcans and humans both practice sexual relations for reproductive purposes."

Valeris nodded.

"In specifics, however, Vulcans have a cultural tendency to not engage in such activity save during pon farr or when the deliberate siring of children is desired. The traditional view is sexual relations are a biological necessity for propagation of the species."

Valeris nodded again.

"Or so the myths surrounding Vulcan would have you believe."

Valeris' eyes widened. "Are you stating--?"

Saavik held up a hand, silencing her. "However, biological necessity is not the only view of sexual relations, even within the Vulcan populace itself."

Valeris stopped walking. She frowned openly. "This is the recreational aspect of which you referred to earlier?"

Saavik nodded. "Many species engage in sexual relations for purely... emotional purposes."

"Because?"

"Discounting such activity designed for brutality, generally pleasure."

Valeris gave an incredulous look at Saavik. "You... jest."

"I do not."

Valeris' eyes brightened and then narrowed. "You are speaking from actual experience?"

"Valeris, I could take substantial insult from that statement."

"But deliberately seeking emotions - that is not an illogical response!"

"Valeris, I am not stating that you will be required to engage in any such activity. I am informing you that you will shortly be attending the Academy where many others will be so engaging at various times." Saavik studied the younger woman with a humored glint in her eyes. "And as you are both a Vulcan and physically pleasing to view, you will undoubtably be invited to involve yourself."

Valeris actually sputtered. Again Saavik held up a hand, preventing interruption. "If you look in the direction of one hundred and seventy degrees, you will have an example of my meaning."

Valeris gazed in the suggested direction. Three human males of different races, one male from Saavik's own ship, walked behind them, but stopped since she and Saavik had stopped. When they saw her looking at them, they each smiled. She supposed their expressions were meant to suggest what Saavik indicated.

Two of the males, including the Starfleet officer, moved their eyes to Saavik. For some reason, that disturbed Valeris. From the corner of her eye, she took in Saavik's appearance, especially her uniform. Next to it, Valeris thought her civilian clothing inferior.

But she would have that uniform for her own, someday.

"Valeris," Saavik spoke. "Returning their gaze for so long a period may be construed as an acceptance to their invitation."

Hearing that, her eyes narrowed at the three males and they jerked in their steps just as they started coming closer. They turned back the way they came, muttering something to each other.

Saavik's eyebrows went up. "I believe this is why your mentor has neglected your education in this regards, and the danger in doing so. I can send extended files on this subject to your computer if you wish."

Valeris looked unsure. "What is Spock view concerning this?"

Saavik sobered abruptly. "I would not presume to so invade his privacy."

Valeris' gaze sharpened instantly. "Meaning--"

"Meaning I will cease this discussion if you provoke me."

They walked in silence for a while. Then Valeris' head lifted. "This is why the lecturer stated orientation'. Because of the view that sexual relations are not solely reproductively directed, that one may select another... direction."

Saavik nodded. "Correct."

Valeris considered it a long time. "Ah."

They walked in silence for a while longer. Then Valeris slid a contemplative look at Saavik. "May I ask a personal question?"

Saavik eyed Valeris back carefully. "You may, but I do not guarantee an answer having not heard the question."

"Of which philosophy do you ascribe? Reproductive or emotional use as well?"

"That is an exceptionally private question."

"As you are half Romulan and do not appear to be having discomfort with the concept, logic would indicate that you do not have difficulty accepting the emotional use of sexual relations."

"Valeris."

"Yes or no?"

Saavik turned away.

Valeris actually looked pleased. "Then my next question is of which preference of partner do you select?"

"That is a very private question, Valeris."

Valeris' dark eyes studied Saavik intently. "I would hazard a hypothesis that you select male."

Saavik narrowed her eyes at the other. "Valeris."

"Then my next question, following logical deduction, is do you prefer changing partners each engagement or is there one in particular you reserve such attentions for?"

"Valeris!"

Valeris nodded to herself. She cocked her head to one side, thinking. "I will accept those files."

Saavik's eyes narrowed even further. "This is undoubtably why your mentor has been delaying this discussion."

Valeris lifted her eyebrows. "I am merely seeking a comparison before I make my determination."

"Your family would most assuredly not approve of any... experimentation in this area."

Valeris gave Saavik a reproving look. "As my family prefers my presence elsewhere from them, I do not see how my decision merits their opinion."

Saavik's eyes stayed narrowed until she finally shook her head. "For a full Vulcan, you are decidedly rebellious in nature."

"And for a half Vulcan, you are being decidedly traditionalist in regards to my behavior."

"A character flaw." Her eyes softened. "I would keep you from harm."

Valeris' eyebrows drew down. "How could I come to harm in this? I am fully capable of biocontrol. And of selecting a healthy partner."

"I was not referring to a medical incident or an accidental pregnancy. Nor limiting the definition of such harm to that stemming from sexual activity." Saavik grimaced and shook her head at herself.

"Then to what were you referring?"

"When you engage in an activity that invokes emotion, you will experience two side effects. One, a loss, even if only in short duration, of full discipline control. And two, with the emotional access granted by these activities or by a personal relationship, a possibility for extreme emotional pain."

Valeris' eyebrow lifted. She looked thoughtful. After a few minutes of silence, she studied Saavik again, this time very quietly. "You... regret your participation in such activities?"

Saavik stopped walking and faced Valeris. "I have found that my life has more than sufficient memory of pain to merit the addition of any further." Her gaze grew distant and she looked away. "However," she said softly, "... I also have found that there is more than mere physical pleasure to a relationship. That there is a sense of... completion, of being whole for the first time, when two belong together." Saavik shook her head. She looked back at Valeris soberly. "I suggest you expend some time in the research of the concept of t'hy'la. It will... alter your perception of the other."

Valeris tilted her head curiously. "A prioritization?"

Saavik's mouth twitched. "Yes."

Valeris considered it. "I will make the research."

Saavik nodded.

"My next question would then be if you have found such a thing? A t'hy'la?"

Saavik lifted her head, eyes searching the sky above them. Valeris frowned.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for the stars."

"But it is daylight, you cannot see them."

Saavik's gaze grew soft. "They are still there."

Valeris' brow knit in confusion. "How can you take comfort in what is not seen?"

Saavik's mouth gentled. "That, Valeris, is another concept of which you will learn."

Valeris tilted her head. "What is it called?"

Saavik lowered her eyes from the sky. "The last occupant of a box."

Valeris frowned. "I do not understand."

Saavik glanced over her shoulder as she started walking again. "Come, I will walk you back to your apartment." They turned and began to cross the green. "Tell me, Valeris, what do you know of human myth, especially the Pandora legend?"