DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2013 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
Howzabout We Forget Last Night?
Chapel saw Spock walk out of the lift and turned on her heel, hurrying to get around the corner before he saw her.
She thought she heard him call, “Doctor Chapel,” but kept going, finally slamming her palm on the door of her quarters and rushing inside.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“Please just go away,” she said over and over until the chime on her door went off and put an end to that pipedream.
He didn’t know she was in here, did he? She might have gone to the lab.
“Commander Spock requests access, Doctor Chapel,” the room controller said, sounding far too loud—could he hear through the door?
“Has Commander Spock inquired as to my location?” she whispered.
“Please restate command at appropriate volume.”
Screw this. She walked to the door and slammed her palm on the opener. “What?”
Spock looked uncomfortable. “I wish to talk.”
“And I don’t.”
He took a deep breath. A deep audible breath. “Christine, please let me in.”
“So we can have sex again and you can tell me how unresponsive I am?”
He looked both ways down the corridor, as if checking to see if anyone might have heard her. “You implied I was unskilled.”
“No, I stated it. Out and out declared it. You reek in bed.” She tried to close the door.
He held it open, then his attention was caught by something near the lift. “Doctor McCoy is headed down the corridor toward us. Do you want him to hear us discussing this?”
“No, I want you to go away so we can stop discussing this.”
He stood like a stone. Finally, she grabbed his arm and yanked him into her quarters, setting the door to privacy once it had closed.
She walked into the main room and took the desk chair, forcing him to choose the bed or stand—he chose the bed. “So?”
“So, I regret what I said.”
“Let me guess? You’re still suffering from post-V’ger horniness and you want to get your rocks off again with me, the frigid bitch.”
“I did not call you that.”
“If you were fully human, you would have. I might have preferred it to your overly detailed account of my shortcomings.”
“I have had sexual relations before. My partners were satisfied.”
“They were faking, Spock. F-A-K-I-N-G faking.” She leaned back in her chair. “Or are you going to tell me you felt their orgasm with your handy dandy telepathic skills?” She dared him to tell her that. He’d been so lost in his own pleasure last night he hadn’t even noticed she was left high and dry—well, not dry, exactly but—crap what did it matter? Fat lot of good telepathy was if horniness made it go on the fritz.
“And you do not fake. You made that quite clear last night.”
She sighed. “If it’s not there, it’s not there. I’ll note, however, that I think last night it could have been there if you had paid the least bit of attention to me. And why did you pull my hand away when I decided to give myself a ride home?”
“It is unseemly for a—”
She stood, moved closer to him, and struck her finger against his chest. “What is unseemly is a guy who doesn’t take any time to get his lover off. I use the word lover ironically. How about sex partner?” How about goddamn whore? That was what she’d felt like last night. Not that she knew what they felt like—but she was projecting.
“And I am sure Doctor Korby was a skilled lover who pleased you in every way.”
She closed her eyes.
“Ah. He was not. So two unskilled lovers or one unresponsive woman? Occam’s razor says the simplest—”
“I know what it says. And you know what, the simple fact is that men are asses sometimes, never more so than when the little brain is driving.” Although in Spock’s case it was not that little. She’d have bet money it alone could have brought on some happy feelings. She’d have lost big. “And Roger was not my only lover. Trust me. I know what a good orgasm feels like.” Or any orgasm. Even a missed one would have been preferable to last night.
He stood and pushed her out of the way. “I wanted to tell you I was sorry for the way the evening ended.”
“But now you don’t want to tell me that?”
“I do not. This is not all my fault.”
He walked toward the viewscreen, clasped his hands behind his back, and said softly. “You do not trust me. I could feel that every time I touched you. I finally invoked a Vulcan discipline to limit the telepathic input.”
“So rather than work on getting me to trust you—and for the record it isn’t you I don’t trust, it’s your sudden interest in me—you just chose to ignore it so you could have sex?”
“Your talent for expressing my deficiencies in the most damning manner possible is impressive.”
“Hey, when you have good material to work with, it’s not hard to do. And answer the damn question. Why not work on trust? Or do you see this having a limited shelf life and just wanted to get inside me while the urge was strong?”
He turned and looked at her. “You can be extremely unpleasant.”
“Wow, nice way to answer the question, Spock. Thanks. Now get the hell out.”
He did not say, “With pleasure,” but the way he strode out of her quarters pretty much said it for him.
She leaned against he door and told herself not to get mad, not to let him ruin another evening. Her pep talk failed utterly.
Chapel joined the landing party on the transporter pad. She’d waited until the last possible minute, sure that Spock would tell Jim to find another doctor for the mission.
“Chris, nice of you to join us,” Jim said softly as she passed him, giving her a look that basically said, “What the fuck?”
“Sorry. Forgot something.” As lies went, it wasn’t a bad one.
Spock met her eyes. “Doctor.”
“Commander.” She took her place, and Jim said, “Energize.”
They materialized on a dry world, the wind blowing sand at them as Jim waved the team into action, surveying and tagging anything of interest.
Chapel didn’t have a specific task, other than standing around being a doctor, so she began to take samples of the immediate area to stave off the boredom.
She sensed rather than heard Spock come up behind her. “I figured you’d ask for me to be taken off this assignment.”
“Why would I do that?”
Shit. Jim, not Spock. She turned and gave him the kind of smile that she hoped conveyed, “I’m joking. I’m completely joking.”
He didn’t look convinced.
She laughed and asked, “Don’t you like to take Len to all these garden spots?” She made sure her smile went all the way to her eyes—something she’d perfected when she’d been applying to Roger’s program in grad school, standing in front of her bathroom mirror in the nights before her meeting with him making sure her smiles looked real.
Jim made the face that usually meant he was disappointed in something she’d said. “He’s been off his game lately. You the reason?”
“He? He who? Len?” She shrugged, which was probably overkill.
Jim rolled his eyes. “You don’t misdirect any better now than you did on Earth. I don’t know why you think I’ll constantly fall for your little wiles.” He looked over at Spock, shielding his eyes with his hands. “He’s upset. He seemed to be pursuing you and suddenly he’s not. You’re my friend. He’s my friend. He’s upset. You’re talking about being taken off landing parties. You see my dilemma?”
“Not really.” She gave him a patently fake smile and walked away.
He caught up with her in two strides. “Chris, damn it all.”
She looked back; Spock was watching them. Was he worried what she might tell Jim? She might not have enjoyed her little interlude with him, but she was sure as shit not going to tell his best friend that he lacked in the lovemaking department.
She put a hand on Jim’s shoulder, gave him her best “this is going to hurt, but it’s for your own good” look, and said as firmly as she could, “Leave it alone.”
“Fine. For now.” He slipped out from under her hand and walked away.
Spock was still watching her. She gave him an angry “What?” look until he turned around.
Jesus. And people thought she was needy?
She had just washed the dust of the planet off and was deciding what clothes to put on before going to grab some chow when her chime went off.
She strode to the door and slapped it open. It was, of course, Spock.
“Really?” She walked away and he followed her in. “I’m about to get dressed.”
“Do not bother. I wish you to show me what you would have preferred I do in bed.”
She turned to look at him. He did not have on his “I am with Jim therefore I must bullshit my way out of this situation” look. “What did you say?”
“I want to know how you like to be pleased.”
“Why? I wasn’t planning on repeating the experience, so it’s a moot point.”
“If you had enjoyed it, would you want to do it again?”
“The question is illogical.” She pushed hangers around, trying to look busy. What the hell?
“It is not illogical. You were shut down from the moment we started despite the interest I had showed in you after my meld with V’ger. You came to me the other night, Christine. You were the one who initiated this.”
“Yes, and that was very stupid of me.”
“But that is my point.” At her glare he hurried to say, “Not that you are stupid. But that you were of two minds. You wanted me, but you were afraid as well. Why were you afraid?”
She stared at him. He stared back. She realized trying to make him uncomfortable enough to leave was a losing proposition.
“Christine, why were you shut down?”
She abandoned the closet, walked past him to where she kept her makeshift bar, and poured herself a good stiff drink. “Scotch?”
“No. An answer would be preferable.”
She downed the drink and then said, “I took advantage of you—of your openness. And how likely were you to stay interested in me, huh?”
“I do not know. But it is the nature of Vulcans to be faithful to their mates.”
“We were having sex, not mating.”
He did not seem to have an answer for that so she turned to look at him.
“What do you care? Is it just wounded male pride? Don’t worry, I haven’t said anything to anyone.”
He moved closer. “I...I wish to have a do-over.”
“A what now? You did not just say do-over.”
“Jim says it all the time. I find it appropriate to the situation.”
“No.” She poured herself another drink—did she have any antitox left? She wasn’t sure so she sipped slowly. “Here’s my do-over, Spock. I don’t go to your quarters. I don’t say I want to sleep with you. You don’t say yes. And we don’t disappoint each other.” If she closed her eyes, could she wish him out of her quarters?
“But I have come to your quarters this time.” He put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed gently. “I am asking you.”
“Go ask someone else.”
“I do not want to. And you want me. I can tell.”
She ducked away from him and his stupid “I’m telepathic, ask me how” hands. “Sure, now you can read me just fine. Go away, Spock.”
He studied her for a long moment, then nodded slowly. “Good night, then.”
“Nighty night.” Her tone was as mocking as she could make it. She felt a pang of regret and crushed it ruthlessly into oblivion by finishing her drink and pouring another.
But not before she checked to make sure she had some antitox on hand, just in case she was needed in sickbay.
Chapel sat in a cave with Spock, wondering why she couldn’t have refused this mission. It would have meant going over his head to Jim, and she just couldn’t do that to him, romantic sap that she was.
Plus she thought Spock knew that the mission was sure to appeal to her love of biochem and previous work she’d done on immune systems. The people on this world, although still in the equivalent of Earth’s Middle Ages, were remarkably healthy. This mission was designed to find out why. The fact that the Klingons had been nosing around the system was also curious; Spock was scanning the mineral components of the planet while she took care of the biochem aspect.
Normally they’d have run the scans from the ship, and they had done some preliminary ones, but there was something on the planet that was interfering with their sensors. Spock was working to identify it now.
“Have you found anything?” he asked softly.
“I’ve found a whole lot of healthy people. Our flyover probes are getting me tons of data, but so far I don’t see anything all that unusual. I foresee long hours in the lab studying this.”
He pushed a tricorder at her. “What do you make of this?”
“Geology is not my specialty.”
“Nevertheless, the question stands.”
She smiled and took the tricorder. The combination of minerals was not one she was used to seeing. “What is this?”
“Uncertain. A new element, perhaps?”
“Or a chimera.” She reached for her tricorder, and he leaned around her and grabbed it, then handed it to her. “Look. See these cells. I thought they were random mutations, but what if they’re just like what we’re seeing here with these ores?”
“The data the probes are collecting should help us determine what on this world is contributing to the strange combinations.”
She programmed in a few instructions for the ultra high-flying probes and then leaned back. “Maybe once upon a time someone terraformed this world, set it to be this way? It could explain the interference.”
“How do you explain the current state of the population?”
“How do you explain finding Terran Indians on a planet far from earth? Maybe these people were seeded just as the Indians were.”
“Logical.” He took her tricorder gently from her, studied the readings. “It may have been a deliberate attempt to promote health, perhaps increase longevity.”
She nodded. “The mutated ores may be an unexpected side effect, whether beneficial or not remains to be seen.” She realized they were having a conversation: a nice conversation. “Spock?”
“Did you bring me down here to woo me with science?”
“That would be a misuse of my position.”
“Not if I was the best qualified to partner you on this shindig.” She studied him. “Also, that was not an answer.”
He kept working as if checking the progress of his probes was taxing.
“Spock? Really? Using science for personal gain?”
“As you said, I selected the most qualified officer.”
She started to laugh. “You have at least three scientists on staff who are also qualified.”
“But less so than you. This was your specialty when you worked with Korby.”
“And how long ago was that?”
“Are you saying you are no longer qualified? I can request one of the three to come down if that is the case.”
She started to laugh. “Wow. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”
“Only if you consider remaining on the planet doing fascinating work to be damnation.”
“You left out the ‘with you’ part.”
“Ah. My mistake.” He looked up from his tricorder.
She could have sworn his eyes were sparkling. “Let me guess. Your imprecision is a side effect of the meld with V’ger?”
“Exactly.” His lips ticked up, and she laughed. “It is good to hear you laugh, Christine.”
“Well, I’m sure it rates higher than me berating you.”
“Indeed. But even without the comparative factor, it is pleasant.”
She laughed again. “Holy shit, you’re really working hard to make me smile, aren’t you?”
“As part of our problem the other night was that I did not work hard enough, it is fitting, is it not?”
She wanted to give him a snotty retort but what he said was logical—and made her feel good, too. “Fine. It’s fitting.”
He leaned in close and showed her the results he was getting. “I have never seen readings like these.”
“As geology is not my specialty, which we previously established, I think you just want an excuse to be close to me.” But she studied the readings. They were strange.
“That would be a misuse of—”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” She tried to bite back a smile as she read his results, then pointed to one set of data in particular. “This may be useful for my work. Can you get samples from a wider spread?”
He looked vindicated. “Of course.”
She tried to make her expression as disapproving as possible. Either she failed or he was a complete masochist, because he seemed very happy with himself—and her.
Chapel was working in the lab when Spock came in.
“I sent you the results you wanted.”
“I know. I said thank you in a message back. Which you saw.” She started to laugh as he stood there; apparently he had no answer ready for her calling bullshit on him so quickly in whatever kind of wooing attempt this was going to be.
“I thought you might have questions.”
Wow. Weak. “Nope. But if I do, I know where to find you.”
He nodded and began to walk around the lab, straightening things up like her grandmother used to when a houseguest moved the coaster a millimeter. Sometimes she missed her grandma—should she thank Spock for making her think of her?
“I have not asked Jim for advice on how to pursue you.”
“And can I say ‘Yay’ to that, Spock?” She refused to look up from her scope to see what kind of expression he was sporting.
“You and he are close now?”
“But you were not before he was stationed on Earth?”
“Nope.” Or was that technically a double negative she should answer with a yes? Oh well, he’d get it. Maybe.
“How close are you?”
“Quite.” She was just being mean at this point, but if he wanted to know if she and Jim were lovers, he’d have to come out and ask it pointblank.
“Were you lovers?”
Wow. Points for Spock for taking the direct approach much sooner than she’d have called it.
She finally looked up at him. “No. We weren’t. Spock, what is this?”
“You know what this is. I told you what this was when I came to your quarters.”
“Ahhh, the big do-over scenario.” She cocked her head to the side and studied him. “And you think that the only reason I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience is because there’s someone else.”
He shook his head. “You would not have come to me if you were with someone else. I believe you would be faithful.”
“I came on to you when I was looking for Roger.”
“But you were under the effects of the virus. I give you a—pass? Is that not how you would say it?”
“You damn well know it is. You’ve been around Jim and Len long enough to know.” She sighed. “Okay, thanks for the pass. I do tend to be faithful. So, no, there’s no one else. And no I did not sleep with Jim on Earth and now that we’re on the ship have had to give him up.”
“I would not want to have to compete with him for you.”
“You’re not even competing with yourself for me, Spock.” She closed her eyes. “Can you go get me some food if you’re going to loiter here?”
“I can. What would you like?”
“If I say a rare steak, you’ll go get that for me?”
“Yes. I will detest every moment of it, but I will.”
“Good to know. I actually just want some pie. I skipped it at dinner and now I want some.”
“Yep. Key lime. And some coffee. Milk and sugar.”
“Very well.” He abandoned the cubby he was tidying up and walked out.
And was back not too long later with a really large piece of pie and coffee, with milk and sugar on the side—clearly he didn’t want to chance getting the amounts wrong.
“You planning on sharing this pie with me, cowboy?”
“I am not. I was not sure how hungry for it you were.”
She started to laugh. “Uhh, probably not this hungry. But A for effort.”
He looked pleased. “I will leave you to your work. And your pie.”
“Alrighty.” She took a bite of the pie. “Oh, so good.” He deserved more than just a hypothetical A for this so she grinned at him, very warmly. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome.” He turned and left her, obviously getting the hang of quitting while he was ahead.
She was sitting down to breakfast the next day when Jim came in and saw her. Smiling, he walked over with his tray. “This seat taken?”
“Sit. Please.” She surveyed his choice of breakfast. “Dieting?”
“I’ve overindulged for three nights straight.”
“Key lime pie?”
He laughed. “No, beer and chips.”
“What happened to scotch?”
“I’ve been having socials with different parts of the crew. Most of them seem to prefer beer.”
“It’s easier on the credit line than single malt, my love.” She laughed as he got an “Oh, shit, of course” look. He’d forgotten what it was like to live on the salary of the lowly. She knew. Her title might be grand, but her pay was still that of a lieutenant.
He leaned in. “Speaking of love, whatever you’re doing to make Spock a happy camper, keep it up.”
“I take it his chess game’s improved?”
Jim nodded and smiled, all while eyeing the bacon on her plate.
“Oh for God’s sake, take some. You know plain oatmeal is not going to cut it for taste. Live a little, put some maple syrup on it.”
“Or just give up and order the cheese grits. Bones programmed his own recipe into the synthesizer.”
She made a face. “I’ll never be an honorary southerner. Don’t like pecan pie and can’t abide grits.”
“Your loss. And really? No pecan pie?” He said it the southern way, with a long E and the stress on the first syllable, making her laugh at his sudden down hominess.
“It’s too sweet.”
“That’s what the whipped cream is for. Unsweetened, anyway. It’s the same premise as milk cutting the sugar in cookies.”
“I get the idea. I just don’t like it even so.”
“I saw Spock with a big plate of key lime pie a few nights ago. Was that for you?”
“Uh huh.” He grinned and took another piece of her bacon, chomping happily. “After losing him to Gol, I’d like to see him happy and...settled. So lock that down, will you?”
“Me? What makes you think that I could make him happy or that I want to be settled with him?”
He laughed and reached for her last piece of bacon.
She snatched it away. “No. Go get us more.”
“Bones took it off my privileges.”
“Are you kidding me?” She scowled at him. “Did you sit here just so I’d get you bacon?”
“No, that’s a happy fringe benefit of sitting with you. Now go get us more. Not quite so crisp this time.”
“Jesus. Whose bacon is this anyway?”
“Su tocino es mi tocino.”
“Ha ha.” She got up and walked to the synthesizer, ordering a double order of bacon, slightly less crisp, and a piece of pecan pie for good measure.
He started to laugh when she put it down in front of him. “Unsweetened whip cream?”
“As per your order. You really going to eat it?”
“Hell, yes. Some of it anyway. How sick am I going to feel later if I only eat bacon and pecan pie for breakfast?”
“Eat the oatmeal, too. It’ll coat your stomach. Plus being the only thing on your side of the table that’s actually good for you.”
“Officer thinking, Chris.” He ate his real breakfast first. Then he had a few bites of pie and put the rest back on his tray. “Good but not good for me.”
“Wow, look at you. Mister Willpower.”
“I’ve got a hot date when we get to Earth.”
“Hell, no. That’s long done. You remember Areel Shaw?”
She smiled. “I heard about that kiss on the bridge. If you ever catch me in a compromising position, I’m going to bring that up.”
“What? One kiss.”
“One long, passionate kiss.”
“Nyota needs to keep stuff to herself.”
“Wasn’t Ny who told me.” She winked at him. “And no power on this Earth—err ship—is going to get me to tell you who did spill the beans.”
He held his mug up to her. “To memories. Good ones and those not made yet.”
She smiled and clinked her mug against his.
Spock turned up in sickbay later in the day. He timed it perfectly; Len had just left with Jim for dinner. He stood in her doorway, watching her work, until she finally said, “And you want...what now?”
His lips ticked up. If she’d only known all those years ago that she just needed to treat him like shit to get him on the hook, her life would have been so much simpler. Men.
“I want you, Christine. But failing a do-over, would you like to have dinner with me when we are on Earth?”
“I have heard Paris is romantic.”
“Yep, it is. I somehow doubt it would be with you, however.” She met his eyes, wondering what he’d hit back with to return that insult.
“What if I told you I would make it so? Would you be intrigued enough to risk spending time in my presence?”
“Dunno. I’ve seen no evidence that romance is even in your vocabulary. I’m a little startled to hear it now.”
He moved into her office. “Give us privacy, Christine.”
She was curious what his next big play would be so she did what he asked—well, ordered was probably more accurate—and the door notice changed to busy and her window screens darkened.
He walked to her desk and sat down on it, sitting between her legs, facing her. Then he slowly reached out, letting his fingers roam—dance, really—down her cheek, across her lips, down her neck.
She didn’t mean to, but she let out an aroused groan.
“Perhaps I have been enlarging my vocabulary, Christine.”
“This is not romance. This is seduction.”
That seemed to make him think. He studied her, then reached down and took her hand, holding it lightly in his. “Please come to Paris with me, Christine. It would make me happy.”
“Wow, you didn’t even trip over ‘happy.’” She pushed his uniform sleeve up with the hand not being held by him. “You breaking out in hives yet?”
“Has it occurred to you that you are the one lacking in romance?” His voice held a note of amusement she’d never heard from him before.
“Well, I’m just a little stunned, that’s all.” She squeezed his hand. “Spock, I’m willing to admit that a good portion of our disastrous encounter was my fault. I shut down. I got nervous. I couldn’t relax. Take your pick. I’m letting you off the hook. You can give up this ‘get Christine to fuck me again’ campaign.”
“That is not the campaign I am on.”
“Yes, it is.”
“It was. Now...” He let go of her hand, took her face in a gentle hold, and kissed her. A long kiss. A tender kiss. A kiss that if she’d been standing would have made her weak in the knees.
“Now?” she managed to get out.
“Now my campaign would be more aptly named, ‘Get Christine to make love to me.’” His lips ticked up infinitesimally, and he laid his hand on her cheek for a moment. “Paris, then?”
She nodded. She didn’t mean to nod, but it happened quickly and unequivocally. And once she’d done it, she didn’t want to take it back.
“Excellent.” He got up and left.
The man was really getting the hang of the dramatically strategic exit. Holy shit.
She sat like a sappy ass fool for quite a few moments before she could finally get back to work.
“Come to the rec lounge with me,” Jim said, poking his head in her doorway and making her laugh with his silly faces. “I need to work on my witty repartee for Areel.”
“Wow, don’t I feel special?” She let her tone dip into the miffed zone but was already turning her terminal off, so she didn’t think he was taking it too seriously. “Are you nervous?”
“Hell, yes. Haven’t seen her in years—she got married after she tried to court-martial me—and I may be a little off my game after Lori.”
“Didn’t you hook up with Areel after she tried to court-martial you?”
“Well she really got married after that, not after the court-martial attempt.”
“You’re not helping my self-esteem, Chapel. It’s bad enough that two of the people I was mentoring chose to go off with aliens rather than hang with me.”
“I don’t think you can count the guy you stole a ship from as your mentee anymore. I’ll give you Garrovick, though. But Sulu’s still on the ship. So really you’re batting five hundred, which I now know is actually quite good, since you insisted we go to a baseball game and then regaled me with boring stats.”
“Not just quite good. Damn near impossible. Were you not even listening?” He winked at her. “Come on. Don’t you want to practice for Paris?”
“He told you?”
“Did he ask you for helpful tips?”
“Only on the restaurant.” He grinned at her. “It’s my experience that when Spock really wants something, he tends to just go after it, not tell me much about it.”
“Witness the times he commandeered the ship with you all, ‘Well, golly.’”
“God, you’re a bitch today.” But he was laughing, and she knew it was because bitch or not, she was right. “Come on, woman.”
She followed him out of sickbay and to the rec lounge. He didn’t want to sit at the bar, chose couches off by themselves.
“You’re serious about practicing, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m just tired. And you relax me. Being ‘on,’ after all the crew socials I’ve had, is a bridge too far tonight.”
“Poor Jim. Drinks are on me. You want your usual?”
“Yep.” He had his eyes closed.
She walked to the bar, ordered his regular scotch and an old fashioned for herself. She stopped to talk to Len for a moment, to give him an update on Ensign Th’lka, who was in isolation in sickbay with Darlevian Syndrome and was showing signs of improvement finally.
Len ran a hand through his hair. “I hope we’re out of the woods with him. His system is just so different than a human’s. I didn’t think Narissians could get Darlevian. But they’re so new to the Federation and Starfleet, I guess we’re still learning.”
“I guess so. Get some sleep, Len. You look beat. I’ll see that he gets transferred to Starfleet Medical tomorrow. I know you have happy times planned with one of your ladies in Savannah.”
His look grew wistful with some combination of lustful thrown in, and she wondered, not for the first time, what he’d left behind to rejoin Jim’s crew for good after V’ger. “That I do. Thanks, Christine.”
She held up the drinks. “Let me get this scotch to our fearless leader before he thinks I deserted him.”
“You know, if I didn’t see Spock hounding your every move—and know that Jim was catching up with the lovely Ms. Shaw on Earth—I’d think the two of you were involved.”
“Just friends. And Spock isn’t hounding my every move. I don’t see him in here.”
“You’ve got me there.” Len motioned off toward Jim. “Go. Enjoy. Thanks for taking care of Th’lka.” He looked more sorry for her than grateful. She had not told him about Paris. It would only add fuel to his crazy matchmaker ideas. So he probably thought she had no plans for their brief stop on Earth.
Jim looked up as she walked over. “They run out of—what the hell are you drinking?”
“Old fashioned. My grandma used to drink these. She’d make me one even though I was underage. She was...eccentric, I guess is the word. Rules be damned.”
“So that’s where you learned it from. I didn’t even know we had rye on the ship.”
“We don’t. I had them use a blended. There’s bound to be some rye in there.”
He smiled. “Smart girl.” He took a long sip of his drink. “Damn, I love this stuff. Is it bad how much I do?”
“Nope. Since I do, too.”
He grinned. “So are you excited?”
He gave her the fake laugh that always made her laugh. “About Paris?”
“Hmmm. Normally you’re full of smart-ass answers. A shrug is actually a good indication that you are.”
She leaned back and smiled. “Once he has me, he’ll get tired of me.” Or more accurately, once he successfully gave her a fun time in bed, he’d be over his quest to prove her wrong about his talents—or lack thereof—and things would go back to normal.
“Don’t think so. How long has he been my first officer? He could have been captain of his own ship about five times by now.” He turned his head, met her eyes. “He finds what he likes and he sticks with it.”
“If you say so.” She took a sip of her drink. Mmmm, just like she remembered it.
Chapel signed Th’lka over to the med techs from Starfleet Medical and patted his shoulder. “You’re in good hands. You get well and we’ll see you back here real soon.”
“Thank you, Doctor Chapel.”
“Send us a vid of you doing physical therapy. I know Doctor McCoy is as eager to see you on your feet as I am.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He lifted his hand as the techs led his antigrav gurney out.
She watched him till the door closed, then wrote up his final case notes, and closed down her terminal. She needed to get ready. Spock had said the place was fancy. Only he had said it less simply. The civilian equivalent of mess dress, were his exact words.
She decided to take him at his word, pulled out a dark red gown she’d bought for the med school graduation banquet. It was relatively modest, so she wouldn’t look like she was trying too hard, but hugged her body in a way that actually made her look curvy instead of lanky.
Not that such screening would work with Spock. He had seen her naked, after all.
She smoothed the dress over her hips. The color was one of her favorites, not crimson, not brick, something in between. A subdued red. She left her eyes relatively free of makeup, slicked on some dark red lipstick, and put her hair up in a French twist. Some sparkly earrings and she was done.
Her chime rang, and she opened the door. Spock stood for a moment not saying anything.
“Either you like it or you hate it. Which is it?”
“Good. Not that I care.” She checked him out. Pretty fancy robe he was sporting. “Got gussied up for me, too, I see.”
“As I said, it is a somewhat exclusive place. You will need a wrap.”
She grabbed a black shawl and followed him out of her quarters and to the lift. They beamed directly down to the Paris transporter hub and walked out. She’d worn little ballerina flats under her dress in case they had to walk far, but the hub Spock had chosen was right in front of the Eiffel Tower.
She looked at him. “There?” She knew there were a couple of restaurants. They were hard to get into, but more because everyone thought they should eat there than that they were really good.
“Have faith, Christine.”
“An odd saying coming from you.”
“Not at all. I mean have faith in me, not in a deity.” His almost smile was firmly in place as he led her around to the side away from the crowds waiting to go up.
They were waved in by a security guard, who murmured, “Commander Spock.”
“Hmmmm. I may be impressed.” She smiled as they got into a private elevator that sped them well past the levels the other two restaurants took up. It opened and they were in a lovely outdoor garden. “Okay, now I’m peeved. Jim told you about this? He never took me here.”
“It is possible I value you more than he does.”
“It’s possible that you want to get in my pants way more than he does.”
“He values you highly.”
“Are you saying he does want into my pants? Because you’ve been reading from the wrong script. Jim and I are buds and we both like it that way.”
“And I find that fortuitous. You will blend easily into my life if you also get along with my best friend.”
“Into your life? I’m not even back into your bed yet, Spock. Cart. Horse. There is an order that works, and an order that doesn’t.” She stopped talking because the maĒtre d’ came up and began to fawn all over them, which she had to admit, was really nice.
Their table was elegantly set and situated far from any other diners. Heaters were set up above them so it didn’t get too cold, and windscreens diverted the breeze. The view was amazing.
The waiters were even more wonderful, hovering discreetly, meeting her and Spock’s every need practically before they knew they had one. There were no menus—Spock had ordered for both of them, and she thought he’d gotten tips from Jim on what she liked because he scored with every course.
“You are winning big, big, big points with this dinner, Spock.” She smiled, for once keeping mockery out of it. “Thank you.”
“You are quite welcome. And it is my pleasure.” He was looking at her so fondly, she almost had to look away. “My affection makes you uncomfortable?”
“I’m not used to it.”
He nodded slowly, as if thinking hard before speaking. “I wanted you, Christine. After V’ger. I was not sure how to approach you and then you approached me. I wanted you, but I did not know you. I fear affection was missing that night.”
“I fear you’re right.”
“I will not rush you to bed again.”
“Well, to be fair to you, I rushed you. You were just minding your own business in your quarters when I...” She sighed and looked down. “I’m sorry if I was mean.”
“You were hurt. Humans often become mean when they are hurt. I saw it with my mother and father.”
“Your mom gets mean?”
He nodded with such vehemence she started to laugh. “When she is not the master of the silent treatment.”
“But Vulcans are used to silence, aren’t they?”
“Not silences so filled with hostility.”
“Ah. Right. Never doubt the human female’s ability to fill empty space with ire.”
“What did your father do to end the hostilities?”
“He is stubborn so it would take some time before he bowed to the inevitable and said he was sorry. Taking the blame was also a successful maneuver.”
She laughed softly. “Yes, we like that. Even if you don’t know what you did wrong or if you did wrong, take the blame and you’ll get back into our good graces—and into our beds.”
“I prefer to not imagine my parents in bed.”
“No one wants to imagine their parents in bed, Spock.” She held her hand out to him without thinking, then started to pull it back, wondering what the hell she thought he was going to do.
But he reached out, stopped her retreat, and laid his hand over hers. “Thank you for coming to dinner with me, Christine.”
“Thank you for asking me.”
Chapel got back to the ship and stopped in at sickbay to see what was going on. She found a message waiting in her queue from Th’lka’s doctor and smiled—was he walking around already?
She opened the note and her smile died. “Doctor Chapel, previous custodian. Patient Ensign Kerelka Th’lka died of cascade organ failure at 1900 tonight. Post-mortem showed complications from Darlevian Syndrome. Impossible to foresee; Enterprise staff did all possible given physiological information available on Narissians. Test results will be added to medical norms for Narrisian crew. We will inform next of kin.”
She sat down heavily in her chair. She’d lost plenty of patients when she was a nurse, but this was her first as a doctor. He hadn’t been just hers—all the doctors had worked his case, but she and Len had spent so much time with him.
Normally, she’d walk into Len’s office after a bad day, and he’d pull out the bourbon and pour them each one. On Earth, during med school or when she was an intern, she’d have found Jim, and they’d have drowned their sorrows in scotch. But they were both off the ship. So was Ny and Sulu and...
She was up and moving out of sickbay before she consciously thought of where she was going. “Deck five,” she told the lift and it seemed extra speedy with so many personnel off the ship. She walked to Spock’s door and rang the chime.
He didn’t answer, and she thought he was probably meditating or maybe in the lab. She was about to turn around when the door opened and Spock stood studying her.
“I lost a patient,” she whispered, knowing he could hear her just fine, but needing to say it softly. She would care for patients and then lose them. She knew that. She just hadn’t thought she’d lose one this soon.
He stood aside. “Come in.”
“No. I need a drink. Come with me to the lounge.”
“I have scotch in here.” At her look, he smiled. A real smile, even if small. “Sometimes Jim needs to...mourn the lost in a place no one will look for him.”
She nodded and let him draw her into his quarters. He pulled a bottle out from a cabinet, filled a glass with two fingers’ worth of amber liquid, and handed it to her.
She downed half of it, recognized the velvet glide and later burn of a Glenlivet. “Thank you.”
He moved around her, left her staring at the cabinet, as if he thought she might prefer to talk without looking at him. “I was not aware you had a patient you were worried about.”
“We transferred him to Starfleet Medical today. He seemed to be getting better. But he took a bad turn. There was...there was nothing we could have done.” She sighed. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to cry.”
“If it helps, you may. I will not mind.”
“I’m sorry. I know you wouldn’t mind. It just...it hurts.” She turned to look at him.
He was sitting on the bed, and she went and sat next to him. He almost gingerly put his arm around her, and she leaned into him, wrapping her arm around him.
She took another drink, a sip this time. “You’re missing out, Spock. Scotch will cure all your woes.” She held the glass out to him.
He sipped it and handed it back. “We have a drink that tastes somewhat similar. It is not intoxicating, but warms the throat the same way.”
“Gotta love the burn.” She sighed and closed her eyes.
“I was not your first choice to come to, was I? Leonard or Jim would have been better company. Uhura, perhaps?”
“It is all right. I am merely stating fact.”
She finished her drink. “Am I ruining our evening?”
“Not at all.” He took the glass from her and put it on the nightstand, then eased her up with him so she was lying against him, their heads on his pillows. “Who was the patient?”
“Ensign Th’lka. From engineering.”
“Mister Scott spoke of him. He had great promise.”
“He was a nice man.” She turned and buried her face in his robe, a different one than he had worn to dinner, suffused with the scent of his incense.
He wrapped his arms around her tightly and they lay in silence, until she finally fell asleep.
She woke in the morning; Spock had pulled the covers over them somehow, taken her shoes off. She studied his face, knew that he wasn’t really sleeping. “Good morning.”
He opened his eyes, looked at her with such a gentle expression it made her smile. “Good morning.”
She leaned in and kissed him softly, their lips barely opening. He stroked her hair.
“Thank you,” she whispered into his ear. “Thank you for taking care of me.”
“I would like to.” He kissed her the same way she had kissed him. “Think of me first, Christine.”
“In time, I might.” She eased away from him. “I have to go. I have to see if Len’s back.”
“All right.” He lay back and watched her put her shoes on. “Did I tell you last night that you are beautiful?”
“Then I was most remiss.”
She smiled and touched his face for a moment before she left him to go find Len.
She sat in the back at the memorial service for Th’lka. Scotty and those closest to Th’lka told moving stories or funny stories, and she smiled, remembering the sweet young man she’d interacted with so briefly. Jim got up at the end, like he always did, managing to pull facts out about Th’lka from who knows where, letting everyone know that no one lost, no matter how new, how often or not they interacted with the senior staff, would ever be forgotten.
She mingled for a little while, then Jim found her, murmured, “I’m tired. I need to get out of here.”
“I know about your secret stash.”
“Good, then I don’t need to hide it from you.” He caught Spock’s eyes, and they did their weird, long-distance mind-meld thing, and then Spock was walking toward them, leading them without comment to the lift. They followed him to his quarters and Jim made a beeline to the cabinet with the scotch, poured himself a drink, then looked at her.
“I think I’m going to pass tonight. I’ve done my grieving.”
Jim took the only chair, leaving the bed for her and Spock. “I barely knew him.”
“You sounded as if you did.”
“That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it?” He threw back the drink. “The kid barely had a chance to be an officer. One of the Narissian’s first cadets and he’s lost from a damn disease Starfleet didn’t even think he could get.”
Spock’s voice was very gentle as he said, “A life in Starfleet is never without risk, Jim.”
“You think I don’t know that? Jesus.”
She decided to get comfortable and kicked off her boots, then scooted back on the bed, piling the pillows up behind her. She studied Jim; something was off, more than just losing a crewman he had barely known. “What’s eating you?”
“I’m just tired.”
Spock got up and poured himself and her a glass of water. Then he sat next to her, his leg very close to hers. “Ask him about Ms. Shaw.”
“Didn’t go well.” He glared at Spock.
“How come he knows and I don’t?”
“He caught me coming back the next day.”
“In a very bad mood,” Spock said, with an expressive eyebrow punctuating the statement.
“Not the reunion you wanted, huh?”
He drained his glass. “Nope.”
“I’m sorry. I know you were excited to see her.”
“You can’t go back. You can’t recapture what’s lost.”
She handed Spock her water, got up, walked over to Jim, and took his glass. She poured him another drink, a much more generous one than what he’d poured for himself, and handed it to him.
“You’re welcome.” She leaned down and kissed his cheek. “Areel’s an idiot, Jim.” She said it softly, but she knew Spock could hear her. Then she reclaimed her comfy spot on the bed next to Spock.
He handed back her water, his expression gentle and untroubled, and she held up her glass, saying, “To the many ways love stinks.”
Jim seemed to be looking at both of them when he lifted his glass. “And to the many ways it doesn’t.”
Chapel was sitting in the sun, enjoying the lush grass of the area they were surveying. They were working in the very small temperate zone, a combination of mountains and ocean making this one of the only comfortably habitable areas on the planet.
Spock managed to wander over her way quite often for someone who was supposed to be cataloging things.
“What are you doing, cowboy? This is your fourth pass by the Chapel homestead.”
“I am either interested in being near you or trying to ascertain if you are doing something useful.” He lifted an eyebrow in a “you decide” move.
She laughed. “Good one. Guess I’ll get busy.” She started to get up.
He shook his head and sat down next to her. “It is a pleasant place to sit.”
“It is. My grandmother’s back yard was like this. My cousin and I used to take a big blanket out and spend the summer talking about everything and nothing. Boys, mostly, as we got older.” She smiled at Spock. “Do Vulcan girls get boy crazy when they hit puberty?”
“It is difficult if one is already bonded. And for those who are not, they are limited to being interested in similarly unbonded boys.”
“That’s sad. I think being young and in love is a good rite of passage.” She leaned back on her elbows. “Were you and T’Pring ever in love?”
“Wow. No hesitation.”
“It is the truth. We were bonded when we were children. We had no choice.”
“Did you ever want another girl, someone you weren’t supposed to have?”
She sat up. “Leila?”
“Yes, once I left Vulcan, but before that, on Vulcan. There was an unbonded female I admired greatly.”
“What happened to her?”
“She married years later. Is a mother. A grandmother by now, perhaps.”
“You don’t keep track of her?”
“You mean the way Jim did of Ms. Shaw? No. I believe he was right. We cannot recreate the past.”
“Then why are you and I trying?”
“Technically, we have no past to recreate other than small interactions and one night that you did not enjoy. I believe we are creating something new. Something better, not trying to recapture anything.”
“Good answer.” She wanted so badly to close her eyes and just enjoy the sun. “You realize we’re setting an incredibly shitty example just sitting here?”
“I do realize that. Are you ready to work now?”
“So you indulged me with some personal stuff just to get me to work?” She laughed as she pushed herself to her feet, then held her hand out to him, curious if he would take it.
He did, and she pulled him up. “Yes,” he said, “that is exactly why I sat with you. I had no interest in simply being near you.” With another lift of the eyebrows, he went back to work.
She picked up her tricorder and made herself useful.
She saw Jim eating alone in the mess. It was an odd time, between shift meal breaks, and she was surprised to see him there. Before she got her meal, she stopped at his table. “You want company?”
“I do. Get something good so I can steal it.” He picked at his salad as if to show her how sad it was.
“Did Len block everything?”
“No, I’m just trying to not gain weight like last time. I tend to eat when I’m happy and work out when I’m not.”
“Fine. I’ll get yummy stuff.” She left him and went and got the food, bringing it back to his table.
He looked over the bounty of many small plates.
She pointed to the first one. “Chicken satay.” When his smile grew, she went down the line. “Papri chaat. Samosas. Kadu bouranee. And this aush is mine, so hands off the soup.”
“I love aush.”
“What part of hands off was unclear?” She pushed the plates to the middle of the table, but hovered protectively over the soup. Then she pulled back the kadu.
“What? Hands off all the Afghan items?”
She laughed. “Apparently so. You can suck it up. Plenty of other things to eat, and you know I hate samosas. I got those for you.”
“Bless you, my child.” He pushed the salad aside and dug in. “So. You and Spock?”
“Is his game off?”
“Then why ask?” She grinned.
“Ooh, retreating into protecting your privacy. I like that. He’s happy, Chris. He’s really happy.”
“Mmm hmmm. You two looked like a couple the other night in his quarters. So comfortable together. You’ve never had that, have you?”
“Nope. You’re right on that score.”
“I would like having you with him. Two of my best friends happy together.” He grinned at her and then reached over and slowly pulled the kadu back to the middle of the table. “You don’t really think you’re not going to have to share this, do you? It’s the only way I like pumpkin.”
She smiled. She’d gotten a double order of it because she knew he loved it, but she still liked to screw with him.
Chapel was at the transporter room, pacing the way Scotty had been on the bridge, as she waited for Jim and Spock and Len to materialize. They’d been missing for five days. Stupid damn fools.
“Doctor, I’ve got them.” The transporter tech smiled at her. “They’re all yours.”
The three beamed in, looking dirty and much the worse for wear.
“Chris,” Jim said as he tried to push past her.
“Uh uh.” She stopped him, her hand hard in his chest, then she looked at Spock, who appeared to be trying to edge around Jim. “You, too. Stop right there.”
“Christine, glad to see you’re not going to let them get out of a physical. I’ll meet up with you and—” Len didn’t try to edge, he strode.
“Belay that, Bones. If we go, you go.” Jim grinned at her. “I know you could have stopped him, but I so rarely get to tell him what to do, and I owe him for the bacon.”
She grinned back. “Go to sickbay. Now. I’m right behind you.” She let the two of them go and followed with Spock. “I’m hanging back with you because of all of them, you’re the shiftiest.”
He looked pleased.
“Chop chop, cowboy.”
“I have never heard you call Jim that. Or Leonard.”
She laughed. “My grandma used to say that to people. She was from Laramie—cattle country. Grew up on a horse.”
“Did she say it to people she was annoyed with or people she particularly liked?”
She smiled in the most secretive way she could. “Yes.” Ushering him into sickbay, she said, “Biobed. Now. I’ll get to you eventually.”
Again he looked pleased. “So I will be last?”
“And your shift will be over?”
“Excellent. You can escort me to my quarters.”
“Spock, quit hitting on her so she can get to work. I want a shower.” Jim winked at her.
As she walked over to him, he murmured, “So much fun now that you’re with him.”
“Not with him.”
“Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that.” He laughed softly.
“He can hear you.”
“I know. That’s the beauty of it.”
She glanced over at Spock’s biobed; he looked very content. “Lie back, Captain. You don’t get a shower or anything else until I’m convinced you’re fine.”
“Worried about us?”
“You know I was. Who would steal my food if something happened to you?”
He grinned at her and lay back.
“Christine, I really think I could be of some assistance here.” Len started to get up.
“I say this with the utmost respect, boss. Shut up. And lie the hell down.”
“I see a new career for you as a dominatrix, Christine.”
Jim laughed softly.
She ignored both of them and went on with the exam. A shot of restoratives, an order to get some sleep, and Jim was free.
She moved on to Len.
He grinned at her. “So, saving Spock for last, huh?”
She lifted an eyebrow and his smile grew.
“Not going to throw me off the scent. You think I’ve been missing what’s going on?”
“Nothing going on, sir.”
“Uh huh. You can’t divert me by sirring me, Christine.” He lay back, then sighed. “Can you check my wrist? I think I screwed it up trying to keep up with those two.” His voice was pitched so low she didn’t think Spock could hear him.
“Sure.” It was sprained, so she worked on it. “Might want to wear a brace to sleep for a few nights.”
“I’ll grab one on the way out. Can I go, Doctor?”
She gave him the same restorative shot she’d given Jim—only a bigger dose: keeping up with the others had taken a lot out of him—and then released him.
Spock sat up as she approached.
She pushed him back down carefully. “Don’t make me order you to sleep here.”
“You would not.”
“And why is that?”
He looked around, probably to see if anyone was in the area. “Because you wish to sleep with me.”
“Nothing wrong with your ego. Let’s check the rest of you, okay?”
He rubbed her leg as she worked.
“Really? You think now is the time to do that?”
“I was thinking about you on the planet. How I might not see you again if we did not get away from our captors.”
“Fortunately, you did.” She’d been worried though. Not after one day. That was pretty standard for a Kirk-led landing party into iffy territory. But after two, then three, four, and five.
“I am fine, Christine. Release me so we can go.”
Annoyingly, he was right. She gave him a very low dose of the restoratives and said, “Okay, you can go.” She patted him on the arm and started to walk into her office to turn off her terminal.
He swung his legs off the bed and followed her into her office. “Call for priv—”
“Privacy, now.” The screens darkened, the door clicked, and she went into his arms. “Damn you. I did not want to care.”
“Understood.” He turned them so she was against the wall and kissed her.
She wasn’t entirely sure which of them got their pants off, but pants-less they both were, and he was hiking her up onto him, and she was running her fingers through his hair and murmuring, “You’re dirty and you smell bad.”
“I know,” he whispered in her ear, and then they were together and she moaned.
This time, he had no trouble finding the sweet spot, sending her off, kissing her as he did it to muffle the sound. He looked extremely pleased with himself, but then his expression changed to one of intentness, and he let go and found his own pleasure.
He held her, leaning against her as she kissed his neck, both of them breathing hard, the wall of her office a wonderful thing, keeping them upright. She had a vision of them doing it in here in the future, probably after he followed Jim into trouble again.
“I wish to shower, Christine. Come back to my quarters with me.”
“Are you saying I smell bad, too?”
His lips ticked up. “I am not. I am saying I want you with me.”
“During your shower?”
“After would also be pleasant.” He nuzzled against her and let her down. “I care for you deeply. I regret I was not able to give you pleasure our first time. I will—”
He had to stop talking because she had her hand over his mouth.
Once she was sure he wasn’t going to talk, she said, “Save your regrets for after you make love to me some more.” After his shower. None of her boys were what you’d call springtime fresh.
“I may no longer have any regrets after that.”
She smiled. “Win win.”