A Logical Explanation
Spock surfaced in stages from the depths of meditative trance. Raising his head from contemplation of steepled fingers, one winged brow flared upward as he focused on the silhouetted outline of his one-time student and ward, Saavik. Limned in the warm amber radiance of the asenarah lantern hanging by its silver-linked chain from the cloister roof, she stood framed by the sheltered colonnade's pilastered entrance. Oblivious it seemed to his presence there, she stared unseeingly out into the dusky reaches of the ShiKahrii villa's extensive gardens apparently lost in her own thoughts.
Spock watched her in remorseful silence for some seconds, before softly clearing his throat. "Thee seem -- preoccupied -- this evening, Saavik'kham. May I enquire as to the cause?"
But even when he rose gracefully from the black meditation stone, and joined her at the garden's periphery, she did not turn to look at him. Instead, her gaze remained on T'Khut as the huge orange ball gently sank below the horizon and out of sight. For a moment, the skies burned with fiery radiance and then, as in many tropical climes, night swooped down to claim the land, blanketing the garden in darkness. Within seconds of T'Khut's disappearance, the night blooming shmaru and tsinen flowers twining about the portico columns, bathed in the glorious white fire of thousands of stars, opened their phosphorescent petals and filled the air with fragrance, their soft luminescence complementing the memory lanterns mellow glow.
At last, still without looking at him, Saavik murmured in the coolly detached manner she had assumed ever since her first arrival at the villa three days before.
"Thee will, no doubt, claim that I am illogical, Sa'met'ra Spock, but the house seems empty without the presence of Lady Amanda, even so many months after her death. Yet in the garden, for some mysterious reason, I continue to sense her presence as if, at any moment, she might wander into view, pruning shears in one hand …"
"Indeed," Spock replied in gentle agreement, ignoring her chilly reception. He controlled his expression, strengthening his mental shields in order that his own sorrow should remain where it belonged, contained within his mind.
" And with that astonishing bonnet upon her head --" he completed, his light baritone failing to suppress his affection at the recollection of the battered, straw sun hat Amanda refused to consign to the recycling unit despite Sarek's oft repeated urging for her to do so.
"This -- awareness -- appears irrational. Humans do not possess a living katra as we do. How, then, should I perceive her here so strongly? "
"My mother would certainly have disagreed with that allegation." Spock murmured quietly. "I recall her telling me of the belief some Humans uphold in the disembodied soul - ghosts, Saavik'kham - that continue to visit the living. If I recollect accurately, she suggested that when her time came to depart, and she had the opportunity to become such a phantasm, she would find some way of making her presence known to those she cared about."
Saavik regarded him in the same cool way she had spoken, her large eyes very dark, very solemn, one eyebrow quirked upwards in perfect imitation of his own.
"Thee speak of ghosts, and phantasms, Mr Spock. Surely thee cannot believe in such a concept?"
At her formal address, her restrained mockery, his eyes hooded, winged brows drawing together in a frown. "Please, do not be alarmed, Saavik'kham." He murmured dryly, "I am merely stating my mother's point of view, not my own --"
Saavik inclined her head intrigued, despite herself, by Spock's explanation of Amanda's self-confidence in the continuance of her Human spirit after death. "And did the Lady Amanda state how this would be accomplished, Sa'met'ra?"
"She did not. However, knowing her as I do, I believe it would be anything but -- mundane."
"Agreed," Saavik granted soft voiced, and turned from his penetrating gaze to inspect the garden once more.
A taut silence grew between them until his sensitive hearing picked up a melancholic whisper, barely audible, an exhaled breath, or perhaps a wistful sigh? It was difficult to be certain.
Abandoned on the Romulan colony world Hellguard until the age of ten, his former ward had never known her mother or father. She had, in fact, declined with iron resolve, the opportunity even to ascertain which had been her Vulcan parent and which Romulan.
The fal-tor-pan refusion six years before, had left Spock changed, his memory incomplete. While he had undergone re-education, Amanda had taken Saavik in, sheltered her like a valued daughter, despite some opposition from other high-ranking Families. That great kindness allowed Saavik to remain on Vulcan close to her childhood mentor while he slowly recovered - and even when he had left on the purloined Klingon ship to serve as witness in his shipmate's official inquiry, she had stayed on Vulcan in the Family home. In consequence, a deep bond had formed between the two women, which had continued until Amanda's death three months before.
Spock's own regret at his mother's loss had been profound.
Although his life aboard the Enterprise had kept him away for months, and even years at a time, the knowledge that his mother attended her daily routines as she had when he was still a little boy, always had the power to reassure him whatever the Universe threw his way.
Yet, his knowledge of Kolinahru techniques had enabled him to assuage his painful devastation and come to terms with it. Not so, his former kham'et'ra, Spock realised. Saavik, though her face maintained a cat like composure, still had yet to acknowledge his mother's passing with serenity. From the moment of her arrival at the villa, Spock had perceived a distinct reserve in Saavik's manner, though she had declined to speak of the reason for her diffidence. Nor was it her lack of enthusiasm for the ceremony of katra fi'salan, scheduled for the next day, though she was uneasy with the concept - the memorial rites that marked the demise of those whose living spirits had, for whatever reason, been cast adrift on the winds.
Those winds now seemed to moan through the stately columns and pillars of the cloistered walk in a low murmur of grief that rustled the brittle-brown stems of chakh' together with the Terran plants that his mother Amanda had always cherished. Without her nurturing hand to tend them any longer, however, those original shrubs had soon withered, despite all his attempts to stop the decline. Only a month ago, though exceedingly reluctant, he had cleared everything out and replanted with imported new stock from Earth.
Saavik had saved him from the fires of pon-farr on the Genesis World in the only way open to her, Spock knew, although that knowledge had only been gained bit by bit as his katra, stored by McCoy for a time, was reinstated in his body. For many months after his rescue, those memories had been too insupportable, too traumatic, to consider sagaciously. He had shut them away deep within - and the remembrance of what Saavik had done along with them.
Although, she had not mentioned his lack of care on the two brief occasions when they had met since, he could imagine how his continuing neglect had hurt her. For before Genesis they had been as close as father and daughter, now they were little more than strangers to one another. That estrangement he wished most fervently to end and yet whenever the chance to speak occurred, he experienced a most bizarre embarrassment and apprehension.
At his shoulder, he heard Saavik sigh again. Perhaps he was mistaken, but the sound seemed just a trace louder than before. Without further prevarication, Spock decided to tackle the difficult situation head on. He swallowed hard, his throat suddenly quite dry and forced his unexpectedly tense muscles to relax.
His voice sounded unnaturally pompous even to his own ears as he started to say what should have been said years before. "Saavik, I am aware that my continuing --- indifference --- may have caused thee some distress ---"
Abruptly, her spine tautened. She raised her head proudly and stared at him, her face affecting the distant equanimity that would have satisfied even a Kolinahru adept. However, unlike a Master of Kolinahr, her soulful eyes blazed with a sudden fiery disdain. "This is a subject that thee must find -- offensive -- Mr. Spock, as I dost also. Please, speak no more of it."
Taken aback by her intensity, he speedily acquiesced, falling back on protocol. "As thee so wish, Saavik'kham. I -- understand. Within the family, all is silence."
The tomblike hush descended once more and seemed to stretch unendurably between them. Spock breathed in deeply; seeking the calm engendered by the hours of meditation, but his previous tranquillity eluded him. Again, the various scents of the Vulcan evening seemed to fill the darkness, the fragrances of Vulcan plant life, pungent and aromatic, the invigorating smell of ripening produce from the fruit vines nearby, the spicy cinnamon piquancy of desert sands. Yet, strongest of all, wafted to him by the restless wind, came the usually delicate perfume of a Terran bloom, one that Amanda loved most of all.
By his side, Saavik tensed. Then, without a word, she strode off along the raked path that soon disappeared among the exuberant growth of ironwood and desert willow. Spock followed close upon her heels, pushing aside the purple fronds of a large smoke bush, and narrowly avoiding the coiling tentacles of a miniature d'mallu that struck out instinctively at his sandaled foot. Quite soon, they reached a part of the gardens that Amanda had claimed entirely for her own. Amongst the yellow and red birds of paradise, the firecrackers and red-hot pokers, hedgehog cactus and octopus agaves, a group of seven rose bushes grew. In the daytime, the branches themselves were hard to see because of the profusion of huge yellow blooms. Yet, like all the plants imported from Tehr'a, the flowers shut up tight during the hours of darkness. Even in the bright, radiant, starlight, the myriad blossoms were now securely furled. Yet, despite that fact, the sweet, heady scent of his mother's favourite rose filled the air.
"I can see what thee are thinking, Spock 'sa'met'ra." Saavik's hushed voice whispered breathlessly as she stood close by his side. "That there must be a logical explanation."
"No", Spock answered softly, a little breathless himself, "I am not thinking that at all, Saavik'kham."
He searched her face; receptive and alert, wanting so much to believe that Amanda's soul went on, and felt an abrupt ache in his throat, for the first time in his life discarding prudence to protect her from hurt. He was unable to destroy her faith with the information that these roses were new stock and that he had been unable to procure the scented variety that his mother preferred. The fragrant perfume carried to them on the breeze was a concentrated essence released periodically into the air from a hidden mechanism, an insignificant subterfuge that had given him a measure of comfort in his grief.
"This must have something to do with the Lady Amanda. How else could the scent be here, at night, when the flowers are closed? Can it be true, that her katra survives?"
" Whatever the cause may be, this was her favourite spot in the garden. If her katra exists anywhere, it would be in this place, Saavik'kham. "
"Indeed." She sighed again, her need to believe openly displayed, yearning to trust again in the support that, before his death, he had never withheld from her. "I miss her so much, sa'met'ra. Her friendship was important to me."
He saw immediately the opportunity to close the rift that lay between them and, this time, found no need to avoid his responsibility. "Amanda regarded thee as the daughter she could never have, Saavik'kham. Thy appreciation of my mother was reciprocated."
"She spoke of me?"
"That is -- pleasing -- to know."
Spock studied her grave face, saw her burden lift, at least a little. "I would offer thee the chance to touch what she shared with me."
Saavik straightened her shoulders and met his gaze, maintaining her composure only by employing the biocontrol Spock had taught her. Nonetheless, her dark eyes glistened suspiciously. "Thee would mind-meld with me? That would be -- most welcome."
After a further moment of contemplation, they strolled back to the house, the silence between them more comfortable now. They stood in the colonnade for an instant longer than necessary, suddenly unwilling to part.
"Will thee take a bowl of tsa'e with me, my mentor?"
"An agreeable suggestion. And after the tsa'e we will begin the meld."
Saavik inclined her head and disappeared into the inner reaches of the house to collect the tsa'e pot and bowls while Spock entered the central living room.
The rose perfume persisted there, too, almost as powerful as when he and Saavik had stood in Amanda's garden. It happened sometimes when the wind was in the right direction and the screens were left open after sunset.
He started across the room, intending to close the night shutters, belatedly recognizing that he really did not require any physical manifestation to be reminded of his mother's presence. He still spoke to her in his mind. He still asked her for guidance and experienced all her warm affection. The rose essence mechanism was unnecessary, he decided. The following day he would remove it, early on, before Saavik was about. He was halfway across the room before he noticed that the thick drapes had already been pulled together and the shutters closed behind them. Saavik must have completed the task earlier in the evening. He stopped in mid-stride, one eyebrow lifting, as another explanation for the lingering rose perfume occurred to him. Softly, he murmured into the empty room, "Mother --"
And as he stood in the dusk, the tantalizing scent of roses increased in strength, wrapped around him as if in the loving arms and thoughts of Amanda herself. Then the fragrance faded just as quickly leaving him with an overwhelming sense of peace - and explanations, logical or otherwise, no longer seemed relevant to him at all.