Communion in Dust and Sorrow by Djinn

Sand swirls at the foot of Mount Seleya, obscuring everything. It doesn't matter; Kirk comes out here every day--he has memorized the view, has stared up at the mouth of the cave that swallowed his friend until he can see it in his sleep.

He keeps waiting for Spock to emerge. Whole. Happy to see him--or if not happy, then relieved or satisfied or pleased in some acceptably Vulcan way. But though Spock does emerge just enough to stare down at him, he never makes a move for the stairs. Nor does he tell Kirk to come up, to join him and talk or play chess or just be there for him. Spock is alone because he wants to be. Kirk is alone because Spock wants him to be.

Kirk sighs, then forgets to take a shallow breath and inhales too deeply. Dust fills his mouth and nose, and he coughs. He hates it here. Hates the dust and the heat and the god-awful thin air. He feels as if the sky itself is pressing down on him, trying to make him give up. But he cannot give up, he cannot stop himself from walking out here, cannot release the hope that Spock will someday look down from the mountain and actually want to be with him again.

Besides, what else does Kirk have to do but wait? It's not like he or the rest of his faithful friends are going anywhere. Not while Sarek tries to intercede for them with Starfleet and the Federation Council. Not while there's still a chance they won't all go to the stockade. They know they aren't getting off this hellish world any time soon, but they still work on their stolen bird-of-prey, fixing it up as if it might become their new ship. He's even had Scotty lower the center seat a little; he might as well be comfortable in his new command chair.

He coughs again and feels a water jug being pressed into his hand. He turns, expecting to see Bones or Uhura, and is surprised to see Saavik standing quietly behind him.

"Drink," she says, her voice the same calm tone that broke his heart not too long ago.

"David is dead," she told him, and his world spun out of control, and he realized he had traded his son for nothing more than the chance of getting Spock back. And he still doesn't know if that was a good trade or not, and hates himself for not knowing. And hates Spock a little bit too.

His son. His life that could have been.

His friend. Up on the ledge. Staring down at him. Some days, Kirk wants to yell up at him. "My son gave his life for you, you bastard!" But he doesn't. Of course, he doesn't.

"Sir, drink." Her eyes are soft and sad and dark the way Spock's are when he stares at him over chess.

"I didn't expect to see you, Saavik." She is due back at command. Not part of the conspiracy. Welcome to take her career back up and leave him and the others far behind.

"I am not going back to Earth. I have taken a leave of absence. Under the circumstances..."

"Yes, of course." So much tragedy, and now this, her mentor, alive. And she is important in that; she kept him alive on that planet. Kirk knows what that means; he can count to seven very fast, the way the planet must have made Spock's body count the years far too fast.

He wonders what Saavik would say if he told her he knows. He imagines she would simply look at him with those dark, fathomless Vulcan eyes and say, "I cannot discuss such a thing."

"Has he come out yet?" she asks, surprising him with the question. Does she stand here also, staring up at the man she loves and wondering why he will not come down? Unlike Kirk, she can go up to Spock, but she seems to spend more and more time with them, on the Klingon ship.

She is looking at him, waiting for an answer to her very simple question. Has Spock come out yet?

"It's been dusty."

"And you could not see." She actually sighs. "A blessing perhaps?" She looks back at the ship, then up at the cave.

"There is nothing in between," he murmurs.

She does not smile, but there is something in her eyes, some dark amusement that he feels parts of his body responding to. It is most inappropriate.

"Nothing in between, but there is something to the side." She takes the water container from him and drinks deeply. "Come."

He follows her away from the ship, away from the steep, wind-blasted steps. She leads him around the mountain, and into a depression in the rocks. It is cooler there, dark and out of the wind.

He sighs in relief. "I hate it here," he says, unsure if he will offend her.

"As do I," she replies, her eyes meeting his. "I stay for him."

"I know." He grins at her, feels as though the expression, once so much a part of him that he could pull it out at whim, falls a bit short. "As do I."

"I know." Again the dark amusement shines in her eyes, and then it changes to something he understands better: sorrow, grief, anger, hurt. "I wait," she says. "Everyday. And he looks down. And he sees me. And I do not matter to him. At all."

"I know."

"David died. So that he and I would not. And yet, that does not matter either."

Her words strike him to the heart, yet he cannot say she is wrong. David is dead...and for what? This endless vigil for a man as dry and barren of relief as the desert he looks down on?

"I know," he says again, amazed when she sobs. "Saavik..."

"I do not understand." She cries, and he remembers how she cried at Spock's memorial. She is volatile and soft and everything that his friend who stares off that damned cliff is not.

"I feel too much," she says. "I am not like the people here."

"Join the club." He tries to hit the light note, the cute note. She does not appear to appreciate it; she does not appear bothered by it either. It is as if he has said nothing.

Her voice is a whisper as she says, "I have this anger inside me."

He nods. He understands that. He wishes he were back on Genesis, fighting Kruge. At least then he was doing something, fighting the good fight, about to win again. Smack, his foot could go down again. Smack, and smack, and I have had enough. Of. You.

Sometimes he wishes he fell into the pit instead of Kruge. The lava of Genesis would have burned him up far faster and with more mercy than this slow roasting at the hands of his best friend's planet.

"What are you thinking?" she asks.

"That sometimes I wish I were dead." It is inconceivable that he has just said that to her. He never gives up; he never, ever gives up. Yet now, he wants to give up.

"I wish that too. Sometimes." She meets his eyes. "The Klingon's blade would have been for me. If David had not tried to protect me, I would be dead. And you would not have lost your son."

He is not sure that is true. David might have died no matter who took the blade first. "What is, is."

"How very Vulcan of you." She leans against the wall of their small cave. "I had feelings for your son."

"He had feelings for you."

"He told you that?" She sounds as if David never told her that.

"A father knows." He smiles. "And he couldn't keep his eyes off you."

She looks away. "Thank you. I am not sure it is true, but it "

He nods. He is not sure that David cared for her the way she appears to have cared for him, but it does not matter anymore. It will not hurt for him to say David did care if it makes her sorrow less, her guilt that David died for her not so hard to bear.

He sees her watching him and realizes that she still does not entirely believe him. She closes her eyes.

"Saavik, he did care--"

Her hand on his arm stops the make believe. They will never know if David loved her, or loved Kirk, or even if they would have loved him if they'd gotten to know him better and not had him ripped away before they could decide. All they have is a handful of possibility. David himself, they probably never knew.

She is watching Kirk, her hand still tight on his forearm. "I think I know you better than him," she says softly. She points up and back, where Spock might be standing even now. "Certainly better than I know him any longer."

Her grip on him slackens, and he reaches out, pulling her close to him, into an awkward hug. "I'm sorry," he says, even though he is not entirely sure what he is sorry for.

Maybe just in general--he is sorry for her, sorry for himself. Sorry that he couldn't have done better, gotten his ship back sooner, made his way to Genesis a little faster so that she could be here with his son and not him.

She looks up at him, her arms coming around his back. "I am...lonely."

"I am too."

"He does not care." Her voice is broken and utterly Vulcan, so pragmatic. It is just a fact, even if it kills her. Spock does not care.

"I know." He brushes her dark, coarse hair off her face, letting his hand run over her skin. It is soft. Soft and warm and so damn young.

She sighs, and he wonders if her lips will be as soft. He runs his finger over them--they are like silk.

She is watching him, no expression on her face, and he wonders what she is thinking, what emotions are at work under the Vulcan mask she is showing him.

"I saved him," she whispers. "Spock. On the planet."

He nods; he knows. Let her think, though, that he does not comprehend the full measure of her words.

She frowns, as if she knows he is pretending for her sake. "He burned. His body burned and his spirit was elsewhere. I made love to him, my mind locked to nothing as he burned."

Kirk can feel her shuddering. "No emotion, no intellect. Just the fire?"

She nods. "And now I freeze inside. I thought that when he came back, I would find warmth again. I would live again. But he has not come back, and I am dying of cold on Vulcan. Is that not an irony?"

He kisses her. He is not sure why he does it. Or even if she wants it. But it is the only thing he can think to do. When her hands clutch at him, and her lips press back against his fiercely, he knows he has done the right thing.

Or the right thing for the moment, which may be all there is left to either of them.

She pushes him against the wall, undoing his pants and her own. Her body is strong, and she presses against him, taking him into her, holding him, supporting him as their bodies crash together, and the ghosts that stand around them fade away for a moment.

But just for a moment. She is the first to pull away, her face confused. "I'm sorry, sir."

"Shhh." He gently does up her clothing, smiles as she returns the favor. "Maybe we needed that."


He touches her cheek. "You're warm, Saavik. You're warm and alive and that's how you're meant to be. We can't bring them back."

She is crying again, and he holds her and kisses her, and her lips against his are gentle and somehow sad.

"I would tell you of your son, if you wish it?"

He smiles at her, a tender feeling, the first tender feeling he has felt in a long time. He thought Vulcan had sucked away his capacity for tenderness, but this young, grief-stricken Vulcan has just given it back. "Tell me when I leave this place. I can't...not while I'm here."

She seems to understand, and her hand squeezing his is a promise to wait with the truth. Then she turns and leads him back to the base of the mountain.

They look up. Spock is there. They cannot see his expression, but Kirk knows what it will be. Empty. Cold.

He looks over at Saavik. Her head turns, and their eyes meet, and then she nods before walking back to the bird-of-prey.

Kirk looks up again, but Spock is gone. Back into the cave, back into the core of Vulcan.

Back away from him.

Sighing, Kirk stands in the swirling dust. And waits.