Title: The Taste of Snow
Codes: S/U, Saavik
Summary: Uhura and McCoy make a hurried trip to Dantria after Uhura receives a message from Spock.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and company. I have just borrowed them for a while, and I will not profit from any of this.
This is the sequel to A Woman's Touch, and it relies heavily on events from that story. The next story in the series is Almost a Kiss.
As with A Woman's Touch, many thanks to Carolyn Clowes for my very favorite ST novel The Pandora Principle. Even though I used that novel as a basis for this, however, note that I ignored the idea that Spock's friends did not know Saavik prior to her visit to the Enterprise as a cadet.
Also, thanks to Jungle Kitty for help with the timeline and for beta reading, and to Olivia for the use of one of her 'Taylor moments.'
This story won 2nd place for "Best S/U Story" in the 1998 Golden O Awards.
Feedback is desired.
The Taste of Snow, Chapter 1
A bounce in her step, Uhura strode through the corridors on the way to her quarters, moving as quickly as she could without compromising her dignity. She smiled pleasantly and nodded to a pair of crewmembers as they passed in the opposite direction. Waiting until they were well behind her, she decided to quicken her pace. Dignity be damned! She couldn't wait to get to her quarters to hear her messages.
The Enterprise had been incommunicado for the last five days, and they had been inundated with personal messages for various members of the crew once she had reopened communications. As the messages had come across her board today, she had noticed that three of them were directed to her and that they had come from Dantria IV. She'd been too busy to find out exactly who sent them, but she really didn't need to look it up to know. Saavik, true to her promise, had recorded a message almost every single day since Uhura had said goodbye to Spock and his little ward at the Dantrian spaceport.
She felt the heat rise to her face at the memory of that unbelievable goodbye. Still incredulous at her own brazen behavior, she recalled the heat of Spock's lips against her own when she had impulsively kissed him only moments before rushing off to board her shuttle. Boy, she'd been brave! Hopefully she hadn't pushed him too hard. She would hate to think that she'd damaged their friendship in any way.
Maybe it was a good sign that he always participated in some manner in Saavik's communications. Even though he hadn't personally sent her a message in the three months since she left, he was always in the background of the little girl's messages, chiming in with a correction here or a supplemental comment there. He was more apt than anyone she knew to close himself off when confronted by an assault on his personal defenses, so she figured that his continued presence in those messages meant he wasn't avoiding her.
Finally, she swept through the door to her quarters. Pausing only long enough to throw her jacket over the back of a chair, she sat at her desk and faced the computer.
"Computer, play first message for Lieutenant Commander Nyota Uhura."
"Working. Transmission is from Saavik on Dantria IV, stardate 3871.7."
Saavik's serious little face appeared on the screen. "Hello, Nyota. I know that you will not get this for, uh, six days."
Uhura heard Spock's voice from a slight distance. "Five, Saavikam." It was accompanied by the sound of running water, and she glanced at the chronometer display in the corner of the recording: 2110 hours. Time for his nightly cup of tea. She smiled, picturing Spock moving serenely and efficiently around the small kitchen while he listened to Saavik record her message.
"Five days. But I decided to send it anyway. I have much to tell you! It was cold again last night, and the leaves on the trees are not green anymore. They are red and yellow and orange. I wish that you could see them! Some of the leaves are falling on the ground. Spock said that the trees will lose their leaves soon, and that it reminds him of the fall season on Earth.
"The stupid boys who live on the other side of the woods came by today, and we worked hard to put all the leaves in a big pile, but when we were done you will not believe what they did. They jumped on them and scattered them back out! It was most illogical. I told them if they want to do raking again I will not help them."
As Saavik spoke, Uhura was very aware of Spock's movements in the background. She could hear his quiet tread as he padded about the kitchen, and her heart beat a little faster when she understood that he had evidently finished preparing his tea and was coming to sit next to Saavik. Grinning at her own foolishness, she realized that she was actually holding her breath in anticipation of catching a glimpse of his face.
Really, Nyota! A person would think that you're a silly schoolgirl mooning over a mysterious stranger, rather than a mature woman thinking of a fellow officer. A fellow officer, by the way, who has been one of your closest friends for nearly ten years!
She brought her attention back to Saavik's words.
"After the stupid boys left, Spock and I picked the last of the tomatoes in the garden. Some of them were still green! He said that he wished that you were here so you could fix us some green tomatoes."
Saavik glanced in his direction, evidently spotting some sort of disapproval at her statement. "Well, you did!"
Uhura heard Spock's resonant voice. "Those were not my exact words, Saavikam."
"But that's what you meant!"
Saavik turned her attention back to the screen. "Anyway, I wish that you were here, Nyota." Speaking quickly so that Spock would not have an opportunity to object, she added, "And Spock does too. But if you will tell me how to cook the tomatoes, I will do it myself!"
She looked back at Spock again. "It is time for me to go to bed. I will send you a message tomorrow! Saavik out."
The screen went blank. Uhura smiled fondly, shook her head, and asked for the next message.
"Transmission is from Saavik on Dantria IV, stardate 3872.7"
Saavik appeared on her screen again.
"Hello, Nyota. Today we walked in the woods and watched the little animals. They were all very busy. Spock says that they are getting ready for the cold season. When I asked him what the cold season will be like, he said that it will be windy and rainy and might even snow! I hope that it does. He said that you do not have snow where you grew up. Have you ever seen snow? Did you taste it? I asked Spock what snow tastes like and he pretended that he knew, but he does not."
"Saavikam, snow is merely a form of ice. It has no true flavor."
"But you have never tasted it! Anyway, when snow happens here I will taste it and find out." She paused before launching into her next topic. "One of the little animals got into our garden and ate the last of the beans. I do not mind because I do not like beans. I am glad that it did not eat my big squash! Spock wanted to pick it a long time ago, but I want to see how big it will grow." Saavik held up her hands. "It is this big! I will show it to you when we pick it."
She reached offscreen for a moment, and then held her hands up again. Uhura looked closely and smiled when she recognized the shiny black eyes of Saavik's pet lizard.
"Look, Nyota, my lizard has two red stripes down his back. Spock said that he is trying to look attractive for the female lizards. He has been gone a lot recently, and I think that he is looking for a female lizard. Maybe he will find a mate and they will make baby lizards."
The lizard slipped out of her hands and darted away. Her attention already on recapturing her pet, she said quickly, "I must go now. Goodbye!"
Uhura debated going ahead and recording a reply so that she could answer Saavik's questions about snow, but she decided to listen to the final message first.
"Computer, play next message for Lieutenant Commander Nyota Uhura."
"Transmission is from Commander Spock on Dantria IV, stardate 3874.1"
She sat up a little straighter. A message for her? From Spock? She had received a hundred messages from him in the past, but things had changed between them and this was different. He had sent her a message! Realizing that she was clutching the armrests of her chair, she forced herself to relax, but she couldn't suppress her huge smile. A message from Spock!
The instant his face appeared on the screen, though, her excitement was replaced by a heavy feeling of dread. She knew immediately that something was wrong. Strain was obvious on his features, and behind him were the sterile white walls of an institution of some sort.
"Commander Uhura. I am at the Dantrian Main Medical Complex. It is with great difficulty that I must inform you that Saavik has fallen ill. Yesterday afternoon she complained of aching muscles and fatigue, but I assumed that she had merely caught another virus. When I checked her late last night, however, I noticed that she had developed a rash on the inside of her elbows and the back of her knees, and when I tried to wake her she was unresponsive. I became alarmed and took her to the local medical facility."
As Uhura listened to Spock's message, she became aware of a rushing noise in her ears. She forced herself to take a deep, shaky breath. Oh Lord, what was Spock going to tell her?
"The doctors there diagnosed..." Spock's rigid composure broke for an instant, and he blinked and lowered his eyes. When he looked back up, his face was so calm that she thought she must have imagined the break in his control, until she saw him swallow and draw his eyebrows together slightly.
He continued. "The doctors there diagnosed Rigellian Fever and transported her immediately to this medical complex. Nyota, her condition is critical. She is so very young, and even though she has been in good health recently, she suffered from malnutrition for many years and her body does not have the reserves needed to fight this."
Surely she had misunderstood. Rigellian Fever? Almost unheard of in this day and age. How could it be? He must be mistaken, her ears must be deceiving her...
The crease between his brows became more pronounced, and his voice lowered to barely more than a whisper. "Your friendship has meant much to Saavik, and I know that she has become important to you. I thought that you should know of this. I will make every effort to keep you informed. Spock out."
The screen became dark. She stared at it blindly for several moments before leaning forward on her elbows and covering her face with her hands. She sat like that, frozen and unaware of anything but the terrible, black fright that gripped her, for what seemed like forever.
Finally, she lowered her hands and realized that she could not sit idly by when there was a possibility that she might lose Saavik. Plus, she could not let Spock face this alone. They needed her. First she would talk to Dr. McCoy, and then she would decide what to do next.
She rose and left her quarters.
"Commander Spock, you have a call." The attendant stood patiently in the doorway. "Commander Spock."
Spock did not immediately look away from the tiny, still figure on the large hospital bed. The diagnostic display over her head had not changed since he brought her here two days ago, and he did not expect to see anything different now. Nevertheless, he allowed his eyes to flick across its panels before finally turning toward the source of the interruption.
"Commander Spock, you have a call. You may take it at the comm station down the hall. I will stay with the child."
He stood. "Very well. I shall return shortly." He did not know for whose benefit he had said those words. The attendant would wait as long as needed and Saavik... Saavik could not hear him. Illogical.
He glanced briefly at her pale features once more and left the room. The image of her face stayed before his eyes as he walked down the long, empty hallway. She looked so peaceful that he could almost believe she was merely asleep, if it were not for the ugly green rash that spread from her neck to her jaw. Seating himself at the comm terminal, he realized that it had not even occurred to him to wonder who might be contacting him.
"Computer, relay communication for Commander Spock."
The screen brightened, and he was surprised to see Uhura.
"Spock! Oh, I'm so glad that I was able to reach you! How is Saavik?"
"Her condition remains unchanged." His voice sounded flat, even to his own ears.
Disappointment flashed across her face. Before she could respond, a familiar, gruff voice interjected.
"Spock? Are the doctors sure that it's Rigellian Fever? They probably haven't ever seen a case of it."
Uhura moved to the side and allowed McCoy to lean over her shoulder.
"Yes, Doctor, they are certain," replied Spock. "It would appear that the virus has remained dormant in her bloodstream for quite some time. She must have been exposed before I met her. No one knows what caused it to become active, but there is no mistake. It is definitely Rigellian Fever."
"Well, then, you were exposed, too. Have they treated you just in case?"
"Yes. They administered the preventative series to me yesterday. I asked them if others were also at risk, but they replied that the virus will not spread if it is not active. Can you confirm this for me, Doctor?"
"Yes, that's true. What about the medical facilities? Sometimes the Dantrians can be kinda backward."
"The medical care is excellent."
"Okay. They're known for their top notch medical care, but I was just checking."
"Spock," Uhura said, "I'm on my way, and Dr. McCoy is coming with me. The Enterprise is going to rendezvous in six hours with the Yankee Clipper, which can get us there in another fifteen hours."
"Please do not trouble yourselves."
"Spock, dammit, Uhura is beside herself with worry, and you need a doctor you can trust. We're coming and that's that!"
For the first time in two days, Spock allowed the corner of his mouth to turn up. "I see. Obviously it is futile for me to argue."
"Very well. I am most appreciative."
Uhura smiled, a small, gentle smile, and looked straight into his eyes as if no one else was there. "We'll be with you soon. Uhura out."
As Spock returned to the room, he wondered how it could be that his burden of concern for Saavik suddenly seemed a small bit lighter. Most illogical.
End chapter 1