Spock watched her from the shadows.

Still in her Starfleet uniform, Saavik stood grimly immovable at the window, staring out at the stars. The polished glint of her captain's insignia and the crisp crimson lines of her tunic jacket belied a terrible exhaustion which shadowed her face. On the stone table behind her, the evening meal he had prepared for her had long gone cold and he sighed.

"You should be sleeping," she said softly, still staring at the stars.

Spock pulled his robes tighter about him and moved across the room to join her at the window. He looked down at the carefully wrapped child in her arms and leaned forward to smooth back their small daughter's sweat soaked hair.

"Her fever continues."

He let the tips of his fingers trace the olive flushed face ever so lightly. "I will contact the healers again."

Saavik's jaw tightened. "There will be no more healers."

He stopped, surprised, and nearly frowned. "My wife, I know you have never been fond of-"

Her eyes turned at last to his and for the first time in decades, he realized she had wept during the night. And that the exhaustion marring her face was something more terrible.

"The medical analysis came while you slept. T'Pren has a sixteen point four two percent probability of surviving the next five hours. Seleya's adept is preparing to break the familial bond."

Spock felt a consuming grief flare inside him and knew he should control it. Instead, he asked, "T'Selis?"

"No, nor have I tried to contact her. The number of fever cases has increased significantly and T'Selis cannot be spared from her own patients."

Spock wanted someone they knew, someone they trusted, but he would not disturb T'Selis either. Saavik's eyes were plastered to their child.

"I still find it difficult to believe they gave so little argument over bringing T'Pren home."

Saavik answered in the tone that had warned enemies away from the Federation's borders. "I gave them no other option. They admitted they could do no more for her, and agreed that if she is to die, it is better she is surrounded by us and her home." She paused, then admitted, "Better for her."

T'Pren's twin, T'Kel, stayed by her sister's bedside at a total loss. She hadn't uttered a word in days. Setik also hovered around her... Setik who began his Kahs-wan in three days and began to lose his childlike faith in healers.

Spock held out his arms and Saavik gave him their small daughter. He pulled her close and cradled her against his chest.

He had been away when T'Pren fell ill. So had Saavik, but she had been available to return home immediately when the school had contacted her, saying her daughter contracted the fever carried in a rare, few insects. Spock had heard the tales of the pounding warp speed that had brought Saavik home as soon as possible.

He had been secluded in delicate negotiations, and was only told when everything was settled. The same way he had not been told Saavik's life was in jeopardy giving birth to the twins. His wife could have died and he would not have known until she was gone and their bonding broken. T'Pren was already near death when he had returned home for this summons.

His fingers touched the worn blanket Saavik had wrapped around their child. It was Sarek's from his Naming Day, kept, as all such things were, to be used by the family. Amanda had loved the way time had worn it to such softness; it had been packed away for limited use after her death being too delicate for everyday anymore.

Spock and Saavik had used it for Setik's Naming Day, then put it back in the chest with Amanda's other belongings. It even held the faintest scent of her perfume.

He looked back up at his wife and saw how her arms hung empty, how her proud head had fallen, and he found that he could not bear any more loss.

He forced his shoulders straight and lifted his chin. "You will inform the adept that her presence will not be required."

Saavik's head jerked up. She moved to stare up into his face. "You would lose our child's katra?"

Spock reached out and gently touched Saavik's face. "I will not lose our child at all."

Saavik's eyes filled with a sudden, returned light. "How?"

"If the familial bond is broken, T'Pren will only have her own strength to survive."

Saavik looked torn. "But if she dies with the bond still in place, we will lose T'Kel for certain and possibly Setik. They are too young to withstand such a breach!"

"Indeed. But we are not."

Saavik turned away from him, shoulders sagging. "Spock. . . Gol has forbidden a mind to remain in contact with one that is dying. It results in the loss of both."

Spock nodded. "Yes, because the strength of the dying mind overcomes that of the living one." He stepped closer to her. "An imbalance."

Saavik slowly turned, the scientist in her automatically calculating. "You are suggesting that we. . . shift the balance."

"Two minds to hold one. Our strength together."

Saavik was silent a long moment. Then her eyes grew hard. "The probability of failure is too high. We cannot risk your death. Reunification will not succeed without your presence. There is a greater balance to be maintained."

Spock stepped forward and set T'Pren gently in her mother's arms. The child stirred fitfully in her dying sleep and small fingers curled themselves tightly in the crimson uniform. Saavik made an agonized noise.

Spock lifted her face, wondering how so much could be held in those eyes. "We are strong enough. The healers' analysis said that it was sixteen point four two percent that she would survive the next five hours. What did they say was her diagnosis if she did?"

Saavik stilled. "They said she would live."

"So all we are required to do is stall."

Saavik's voice was so soft he could barely hear it. "Is it. . .truly possible?"

He let his hand gently caress her face. "It is our daughter."

Saavik looked down at the child in her arms, and her face took on that same look he had seen once before when a particular Andorian officer had chastised her and her captain for weakness until he became a threat, and she had sent him into a bulkhead.

They reached for each other's psi points.

"But you are the one who gets to explain our choice to Gol."


Thank you to Kerjen (Kerry) for the use of Setik, T'Kel, and T'Pren.