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) 2015 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

Live Long and Prosper


by Djinn



Chapel took a deep breath as she headed to Spock's quarters. He'd waited a week before calling her to him. She'd expected a comm earlier, right after V'ger, when his emotions were in full play.


She'd expected it and had a hundred ways to say "Not on your goddamn life" ready.


But he hadn't commed, had only given her very gentle greetings when they passed in the corridors, asked her how she was as he'd waited for Len in sickbay two days ago, congratulated her on attaining her M.D.


And now he wanted to see her in his quarters. Now that she wasn't pissed as hell at herself for being so damned glad to see him that she'd practically squeaked out his name on the bridge. Now that she wasn't sure anymore that this would be just like the time in his quarters before he went to Vulcan to claim his wife. Or when he came to her after the Platonians and she'd sent him away—using willpower she hadn't known she had till then.


Willpower that had made her sit down and fill out the form for medical school. Because even if she'd turned him away, she still loved him, and he would never, ever love her. Hell, he didn't even want her unless he had hormones of one kind or another driving him.


She stood a moment before his door, composing herself, then rang the chime.


The door opened. The room wasn't dark and incense filled as she'd imagined it would be. Spock was sitting at his desk, the lights on full, and he looked up at her as she walked in, his expression one of ease.


"I owe you an apology," he said, gesturing to the seat across from him.


"Don't think you do." She decided to wander his quarters instead of sitting and saw his expression change slightly, but then he took an audibly deep breath and turned off his terminal.


"I left without a word, Christine."


He was calling her by her name? "I was already packing for Earth and medical school when you took off for Gol. You didn't owe me a thing, Spock." She turned to look at him.


He rose and walked to her. "I believe I do."


"I think you owe the man in the big chair an apology—and an explanation would be nice, too." She'd heard Jim bitch enough about Spock leaving while she'd been hanging out in bars with him before she reported to the Enterprise.


"Are you in a relationship with him?"


"With Jim? No." She laughed softly and it wasn't a very nice sound. "Are you?"


"I am not."


"Were you?"


"I was not."


She waited for more, but he seemed content to just stand and study her. "Do I meet with your approval, Spock?"


"You do. Your confidence has grown. I believe Doctor McCoy will have finally met his match."


She laughed, this time not so mean a sound as before. "Not when it comes to loitering on the bridge for no apparent reason."


"Agreed. He excels at that."


"If they gave medals, he'd win a gold."


Spock's lips tilted up ever so slightly.


"Still not completely over V'ger, are you?"


"I believe I am. I do not need to be emotionally overwhelmed to find you amusing, Christine."


"Mmm hmmm, you just keep telling yourself that." She walked to his desk and sat down in the chair he'd indicated. "Why do you think you need to apologize to me?"


"You were one of the things I was leaving."


"Well, we all were." She made a gesture to indicate the whole ship.


"No, everyone was not. Jim was. You were. My anger at my father. My constant concern that I was hurting my mother. Things...other things that occurred."


"Like Zarabeth and Droxine and that Romulan bimbo?"


"Her rank was commander."


"Oh, bimbo isn't part of the Romulan military hierarchy? My mistake." She laughed and tried to bite it back, but the lightness in his eyes only made her smile wider. "So I was one of the things you left? Why wouldn't you run? I was your stalker."


"That is not how I thought of you."


She leaned back, crossed her arms over her chest, and said, "Then how did you think of me?"


"As a potential mate."


She thought her eyebrow was probably giving his a run for its money in showing surprise. "Since when?"


"When you turned me away after Platonius. I was..."


"Hurt?" She leaned in. "Spock, this is just 'the one who got away' syndrome. Men always want the women who shot them down."


"I am not a human male."


"You're half human. And that part of you is probably more in control at the moment than your Vulcan half." She stood. "You're forgiven, okay? That's what you want to hear, right? We're fine." She walked toward the door.


"If we are indeed fine, then I assume having dinner with me tonight will not be a hardship?"


She didn't turn. "I have plans."


"With whom?"


She reached the door, and as it opened, she glanced back at him. "None of your business."


The look on his face was priceless.


It was even better when he saw her in the mess later, sitting with Nyota and Janice. She winked at him as he walked by; he looked confused but...relieved. He murmured, "Doctor," as he passed.


"What the hell was that?" Jan said, jabbing her in the ribs with her elbow. "Did you two just have a moment?"


"It's just V'ger."


"V'ger was a week ago," Ny said. "And he's shaking off those effects fast. It's almost like having the old Spock back on the bridge."


"Still means nothing."


"I think that was something." Jan jabbed her again, then turned to Ny. "It was something, right?"


"Oh lord, child, for Spock, it was really something."


"Knock it off. Physicians vow to first do no harm. I'm starting with myself. No mooning over Spock. No over-analyzing everything he says and does, wondering what every little look he throws me could mean."


"But that was a really interesting look," Jan said. "Did he think you were here with someone else—of the male variety?"


Chapel shrugged but was unable to keep the grin off her face. "Mayyyyyyyybe."


Ny held up her glass of water. "About damn time. Who's with me?"


Jan clinked her ice tea against her glass. "Hear hear. Guest of honor?"


Chapel bit back a strangled laugh and clinked her mug against their glasses. "You're both delusional."


"Then why are you toasting?" Jan went back to her meal, her expression the one that meant she knew she was right.


Chapel glanced over to where Spock had taken a seat with Scotty. They seemed deep in discussion. Then he looked up and met her eyes, and something in his expression...softened.


She could feel something in hers softening, too.


"If you two get all goo-goo gaga, I swear I'll take you over my knee." Ny shot her a look that meant she was serious. "And if you and he start something up, you are not allowed to ignore us. I hate friends who do that."


"Well," Jan said, "if the captain wanted me, I'd be ignoring you two like crazy while we holed up in his quarters."


"You're not helping," Ny said, but her expression eased, and she grinned at Christine. "I'm rooting for you."


"Thanks." She forced herself not to glance over at Spock's table again. It was way harder than it should have been.




Chapel was pretending to be working when Jim sauntered up. "I'm busy," she said, pretty sure what he was going to say.


"You're not any busier than I am, Chris." He turned her and they walked along the bluff that looked down on a lovely beach and water beyond. "You know, it's an interesting thing: Spock decided on the crew complement for this mission."


Captain playing Cupid—what a shock. Only it wasn't. "Why's he having to do that, Jim? You too busy getting over how much you drank last night at the goodbye party on Iolitia to do that?"


"Meow. And that just goes to my point. He picked you for that, too."


"Mmm hmm." She put the tricorder away. "There's nothing for me to do. This area has been scanned before."


"Yes, but after V'ger destroyed a lot of our outposts, these planets are of renewed interest. Not unlike how certain women might be of interest to a man whose quest to purge his emotions was upended by V'ger."


She started to laugh. "Is he paying you to say this?"


"He may have grilled me—in a quiet, Vulcan way—on the nature of my relationship with you."


"What did you tell him?"


"That you let me bitch ad nauseam about Lori and my job so long as I sprang for the booze. He seemed...happy that we weren't a couple."


"Sure he did."


"Well, happy in a Vulcan way, not in a wacky 'I melded with a giant killing machine' way." He started to grin. "Why, here he comes now."


Spock was indeed walking to them. Quite fast. "Sir. Doctor."


"Spock, beautiful planet. Neither Chris nor I are doing anything useful. One of us should go back to the ship."


"I will see you later, Jim." Spock eased her way from him with a rather implacable hand to her elbow.


"Told you," Jim said as he pulled out his communicator and asked for beam-up.


"This was all your nefarious plan to get out of having to—" She stopped because the transporter had taken him.


"You are upset he is gone?"


"No." She shrugged off his hand. "What do you want?"


"I was hoping you would work with me." He held his tricorder out to her. There was a list of minerals and plants on the screen. "This is close hold. It is why you are here, as Jim well knew."


She could see why the list was close hold. Many of the items were of strategic value in one way or another—and the Federation would not want it known they were now lacking some of these thanks to V'ger's swathe of destruction. He copied the list to her tricorder, then moved along with her, scanning basically the same area.


"You do realize that this is hardly a model of efficiency, right? We're covering the same ground."


"I am aware of that." He met her eyes. "You led me to believe you were involved with someone."


"No, I led you to believe I was eating with someone. Which I was. My friends." She gave him a smile that could mean anything. "One of us needs to find new ground."




She laughed. "For the scans. And the old you would heartily agree. I don't think you're as free of V'ger as everyone else—including you—seems to think you are."


He straightened up, the perfect Vulcan in place, but she thought it was all an act because he never took his eyes off her.


She leaned in and pitched her voice as low as it could go. "Tell me it's not the Pon Farr."


"It is not." He didn't even seem uncomfortable talking about "that which is not mentioned."


"Okay, good. I'm going to go over there so we really can divide and conquer the area."


"Most logical."


"And how scary is it when I'm the one being logical?" She grinned at him and walked away, losing herself in the job, working her way across the terrain, keeping away from him and trying not to peek over to see if he was looking at her.


Trying and failing. She peeked. He was looking.


She couldn't hide the smile when she turned back to her tricorder.


Just before beam-out, he found her, looked at her results and transferred them over to his tricorder. "Thank you for your assistance."


"Not a problem."


"Am I to take it you have plans for dinner again tonight?"


"I actually do."




"Again. None of your business."


His face changed—a mixture of frustration and amusement. Damn, this would never, ever get old. And she wondered what he'd make of her eating with Len—would he realize they were just going over the crew complement or would he think he had a rival?


Rival. Spock caring who the hell she saw. It was all so...ironic. Now, when she really was prepared to be over him, to not repeat her mistakes of the first voyage. Now he had to decide to be interested?


Well, better late than never.




"So that's the last of my picks. Hopefully you agree with the staffing." She didn't make it a question because part of her didn't give a rat's ass if Len agreed or not. He'd been sitting on his porch in Savannah sipping bourbon and getting friendly with the local belles while she'd put sickbay in order. Although Starfleet Medical had as much to do with it as she did. The Enterprise was a prime posting and not every selection was discretionary.


She'd let Len know which of the doctors and nurses had been directly assigned by Medical, but so far she didn't have problems with any of the selections and didn't expect to. Prime postings went both ways. You often got people you hadn't selected, but you rarely got people who weren't up to the job.


"I just have one question, Christine." Len leaned back and sipped his coffee. Then he started to grin. "Why in the hell is Spock staring over here at us so frequently and unabashedly?"


"He thinks he's interested in me."


"Does he now?" Len's look changed from amused to mischievous. "Should I make a move on you to see if he'll come charging over?"


"Uh, no." She made some notes on the padds they'd been using, then looked up at him. "I think it's just V'ger."


"And if it's not? He looks pretty intense."


"Well, then I'll play it be ear."


He laughed. "I'm willing to bet that's not the part you'll play." His expression grew thoughtful. "Unless those pointy ears are an erogenous zone?"


"Not something I have cause to know."


"Well if I'm reading his look right, you may be in a position to find out." He took a deep breath. "Enough about Spock. We haven't talked about the demotion. You know I didn't mean to rain on your 'CMO right out of med school' parade, right?"


She smiled. "I know. It wasn't much of a parade."


"So you don't hate me?"


"Well, not for that." She laughed at his expression. "No, Len, I do not hate you. Relax."


He glanced over at Spock again. "Okay, he's giving me the willies. Just go sit with him so he relaxes. Jim's waiting for me in the lounge." He stood, then leaned in. "Anything I should know about Jim and you?"


"We're just friends."


"Friends or friends?"


She rolled her eyes.


"I had to ask." With a grin, he walked off and recycled his tray, leaving her alone.


She saw Spock looking her way and got up, stowed her tray, refilled her coffee, and joined him, taking the chair next to him. "So, you were not subtle. Len wanted to know why you were staring."


"I know. I could hear everything you said."


"That's unnerving. Where does your range end?"


His eyebrow went up. "Would telling you that not put me at a disadvantage?"


"No, it'll be giving me some much-needed privacy—we were talking personnel issues."


"Christine, if they were serious issues, you would have held the discussions behind closed doors in sickbay. You were briefing him on his new personnel."


"And you didn't answer my question. How far away do I need to get to have privacy?"


At the level you were speaking, two tables farther would have been beyond my ability to overhear."


She laughed softly. "So, if we'd been whispering?"


"I would not have been able to hear you."


She took a sip of coffee before asking quietly, "Did you want to listen in? Because you could have moved—gotten out of range and all."


"I could have. Had you been doing more than briefing him on skills and qualifications, I would have. But it was interesting hearing your opinions—for all the years we have known each other, we have not worked together often. Hearing how you characterized the doctors and nurses under your command allowed me to understand how you think."


"Well, at least you believe I do think. Not so sure you did during our first mission."


"That is not true. I have a great deal of respect for the work you did with Doctor Korby."


"Ah, the halcyon days before I lost him and fell for you. And got teased unmercifully by Len for it."


"I have often wondered if Doctor McCoy was harsh with us both because he wanted you for himself and resented me for being the man you preferred."


She started to laugh. "Len doesn't want me. He's just an asshole some of the time."


"That was an alternate theory." His eyebrow went up, making her laugh harder. "I have always found the sound of your laughter enjoyable."


This time she let her eyebrow go up. "How many times have you heard it?"


"I have convalesced in sickbay. You laughed with the other nurses and with McCoy at times. Not with me, I agree, but our relationship was not conducive to...mirth."


"Mirth? Okay, just hearing you say that word is a little scary."


"I know many words. I do not have to embrace the emotions behind them to recognize what they mean."


She gave him a shrug-nod that meant she didn't feel like arguing the point. "Spock, has it occurred to you that you have a type?"


"What do you mean?"


"Leila, Droxine—yes, I heard about her—and Zarabeth: all willowy blonde beauties. I'm none of those things." She leaned in and took a cookie she was relatively sure he hadn't chosen for himself off his plate. "I like to eat. I'm not going to bleach my hair anymore, and I'm...well, I'm not a great beauty." She bit into the cookie and sighed happily. "I'm all right with that. I have good legs and no one's complained about other parts of me. I get enough attention to make me happy. But...I'm not your type." She took another bite then met his eyes. "In fact, I'm far more Jim's type than yours or Len's."


"Jim assured me you were not with him."


"So he told me." She grinned at him. "We're friends. Good friends."


"Which is convenient since he is also my good friend." He handed her the other cookie on his plate. "I will point out that I am not with any of the women you cited as my type."


"Well, with Zarabeth, you didn't have much choice."


"I will concede that. But the other two I chose to not pursue." He took a deep breath. "I know your favorite type of cookie, Christine. I know many things about you. We shared consciousness."


"And I pictured you bathing in antibacterial bubble bath for a month afterwards just to get rid of my cooties."


He looked amused. "Nothing so drastic. The experience was far from unpleasant." His look grew more serious. "But, Christine, I could tell what you wanted from me, and I was in no position to give it to you."


"T'Pring was ancient history by then."


"I do not mean because of her. Your feelings for me were—"




"I was going to say overwhelming." He reached under the table and stilled her leg—she hadn't even been aware she was jiggling it. "Christine, I do not know if this will make sense to you, but I began my journey to Gol long before I put in my request for acceptance. I could never choose you when I was so concerned with maintaining what I felt to be some sort of Vulcan ideal."


She eased his hand off her leg. "And now you've had the polar opposite event as Gol, haven't you? You were inundated with emotions from your meld with V'ger, which is ironic given it was a machine that didn't understand feelings. But you do have feelings—clearly you do, and I've always known it. You just don't have them for me." She held her hand up when he started to say something. "Let me finish. I'm okay with that. I've given up, Spock. What you're feeling right now, it's so much fun for me—you really have no idea—but it's not going to last."


"May I speak?"




"I left Gol and I can never go back. I accept that fully. I will find my path in some other way than purging my emotions."


"I don't want to be your consolation prize because you flunked out of Kolinahr school."


He looked amused again, his lips tilting up into what, for a Vulcan, was definitely a smile. "I did not flunk out, Christine. I left. I heard V'ger and followed its call. A call that led me here. To this moment. With you."


"That sounds nice." She kept her eyes on the cookie, breaking it into smaller and smaller bits.


"Look at me."


"No. Because more than anything I want to believe you."


"But you are afraid."


"I'm afraid it won't last. I'm afraid of having to deal with that, seeing you—how it will hurt once you don't want me anymore. I don't want to have to transfer off."


"As a scientist, is it not premature to anticipate results so strongly? You will taint the experiment."


"We all go into an experiment with a working hypothesis, Spock."


"There are hypotheses and then there is fear."


She pushed the cookie bits and her coffee mug onto his tray and got up. "I'm going to call it a night."


"How much time must pass before you believe me?"


"I don't know." She met his eyes. "I want to believe you. You must have felt that when you stilled my leg."


"I felt it very clearly." He seemed to dial back the intensity in his eyes and said softly, "Goodnight, then."


She gave him a real smile back, appreciating him letting go of this, even if just for the evening. "Goodnight."




She woke to blackness and fire, someone was pulling wreckage off her, and then she tried to sit up. The pain that erupted in her head sent her back to the ground, and she curled up and felt warm liquid slide down her cheek. Head wound. A bad one. The doctor in her worked out what had happened while the rest of her huddled in misery.


"Move." A voice—Spock's voice—concerned and gentle but commanding. "You must crawl but do it without moving your head."




"We are still in the line of fire."


"Why are they firing?" She felt him supporting her and crawled away from the wreckage of the flitter they'd been travelling on. "Where are Duncan and the prelate's assistant?"


"They were behind us. Their flitter successfully turned back without being hit." Spock pulled her with more urgency, and she felt liquid seep over her hand.


"Are you bleeding, Spock?"


"I am. It is nothing."


"Let me see."


"Christine, you can barely move without pain. Trust me when I say I am not badly injured." She understood why they were crawling as weapons fired, hitting the flitter. "Hurry," he said, and she tried to crawl faster.


It wasn't fast enough, apparently, because he picked her up and tossed her as if she were a sack of potatoes, diving after her as she came to rest behind a boulder, her head throbbing from the abrupt motion


"Down," he said, pushing her, covering her with his body, and she heard the flitter explode. He let out a sharp cry of pain that he cut off, and she asked, "Were you hit?"


"It is nothing."


"Stop saying that. I'm the damn doctor." But she couldn't get free to check him, and he was calling for beam-out, then the soft buzz of the transporter taking them made her stop and wait.


She pushed him off as soon as they were on the ship, tried to get up and said, "Oh, holy crap," as pain exploded in her head again. When Len came running in with an emergency team, she pointed at Spock and said, "His back, Len. He covered me."


"I am fine, Doctor. Please attend to her."


"Well, if this isn't charming," Len said, as he helped her into an antigrav stretcher. "Both of you wanting the other one helped first." He moved away, very quickly, and stopped Spock as he tried to walk to her. "Lie down on your stomach on the stretcher. You've been hit, and she'll be fine without your help."


She heard Spock muttering something, but the techs were pushing her out of the transporter room, so she gave up and lay back and tried not to vomit as the ceiling rushed past her. Len caught up with them, was scanning her as they hurried to sickbay.


"How bad?"


"Bad enough that I'm glad we got you both beamed up. Why the hell does nothing ever go the way Jim says it will?"


"He's still down there." She started to get up. "He doesn't know—"


"No, we beamed him up. He's safe. Duncan, too."


"Is Spock okay?"


"He's fine, hon'. Just has a lot of metal in his skin—his head's too hard to be hurt."


She laughed but said, "No, it's not."


"Doctor?" Spock's voice from behind her, not sounding happy. "I trust this will not take long?"


"It'll take as long as it takes. Lie down and shut up." Len was actually smiling.


"You're enjoying this."


"Just the part where I get to tell him to shut up. I don't like seeing that much blood, and I'm trying to get him to stay still the best way I know how."


"I knew he was bleeding. He said it was nothing."


"It's not nothing." Len gave her a sweet grin. "But neither is your head injury. Now, be a good girl and stay down and keep quiet while Trhamh works on you, okay?"


"Yes, father."


He rolled his eyes but said, "Good. Glad we understand each other." Then he was moving away, "God damn it, Spock. What part of 'lie down and shut up' was unclear to you?"


She laughed, which made her head hurt. Then they were in sickbay and Doctor Trhamh was scanning her, pulling instruments out and telling her everything would be okay, her lovely Majrhing accent making the words even more soothing than normal.


Len was working on Spock, and that told Chapel exactly which of them was hurt worse. He was still working on him when Trhamh finished up and let her sit.


"You want help, Len?"


Spock looked over at her. "Rest."


She looked at Trhamh. "Am I cleared for duty?"


"You are."


She pushed off the stretcher and walked over to Spock, grabbing the instruments Trhamh had been using. As Len worked on Spock's back, she checked his arm, trying to find where the blood was coming from. There—a deep abrasion on his upper arm. She cleaned it out and heard him sigh softly.


"I'm fine," she whispered so softly she knew Len wouldn't hear her. "Relax and let us work."


He seemed to give in, exhaling loudly—probably for her benefit—and she closed the wound then moved to help Len. There were shards of debris from the flitter embedded along his side and upper back. The way he'd been lying had protected his spine and head. He'd been lucky.


He'd done this for her—covered her with his body. He hadn't even stopped to think.


"You okay, Christine?" Len smiled gently. "Guess you weren't in the line of fire thanks to our heroic Vulcan here?"


"I can hear you, Doctor."


"I know. And this is my way of saying 'Thanks,' Spock."


She waited, expecting Spock to explain why it was logical to not lose a medical officer that Starfleet had spent resources training, or that he'd done nothing out of the ordinary, but he only said, "You are welcome."


Which shut Len up, although he had a huge grin on his face as they finished. They let Spock up, and Len said, "You're fine, Spock. Quit loitering in sickbay. Jim no doubt needs you on the bridge."


As he got up, Spock looked over at her. He seemed to be assessing where she'd been hit, then he walked over and touched her shirt, where blood was drying. "You will need a new uniform."


She fingered his torn, green-drenched shirt, the back cut away by Len's laser shears. "You, too."


He didn't look away.


"Perhaps the two of you should skedaddle to your quarters and get some clean ones." Len was making shooing motions. "Git."


She followed Spock out to the lift, riding it in silence, then leading him out when they got to deck five. She stopped at her quarters and he stopped, too.


She realized her heart was beating madly.


"Tell me to go to my quarters," he said, his voice as intense as it had been during the Pon Farr but with none of the strangeness in his eyes.


She palmed her door open and moved inside slowly.


"Tell me not to come in."


She held her hand out and he took it, the door closing behind him as he rushed toward her, lifting her easily as he pushed her against the wall and kissed her almost frantically.


"It's okay. I'm okay," she murmured as he pulled away and stroked her face. "You're needed on the bridge."


"Yes. I am." He kissed her again, very quickly, then let her down and left.


She stood for a few minutes, replaying what had just happened, before she peeled off her uniform and grabbed a clean one.


Holy shit. That kiss had been nothing like the one on Platonius. Good did not begin to cover how it had felt.


She forced herself to get moving, cleaning the blood out of her hair before putting on her uniform, then headed out the door to the lift. She heard footsteps behind her and turned to see Spock. They got in the lift together.


"Are you free for dinner tonight, Christine?" He was not looking at her. It had been a week since her dinner with Len and their talk. Spock hadn't asked her since if she wanted to have dinner. She'd thought perhaps she'd been right—that his feelings were cooling. "Or do you again have other plans?"


"I happen to be free."


"Excellent." He glanced at her, his gaze possessive and tender and everything she'd ever wanted from him.


"In the mess?" She smiled at him, wondering where he'd go with that question.


"If you wish. Or your quarters. Or mine." His eyebrow went up in an adorable way.


She laughed, then said softly, "You protected me."


"I will always do so."


She wanted to tell the lift to stop so she could kiss him again, but he was needed on the bridge and the lift was opening anyway to her deck. "There may not be time tonight. Crisis and all," she said as she got off.


"Then we shall wait until there is time." His slight smile stayed until the doors closed.


She hurried back to sickbay, saw Len look up with a knowing expression. "Everything all right?"


"Everything's great."


He grinned and went back to his terminal.




As she'd suspected, there was no time that night, or the next, or the next. Jim had started calling this the mission from hell, and she was inclined to agree with him. But she was too busy to dwell on much but the wounded who streamed into sickbay, then finally slowed to a trickle.


"You think it's over?" Len asked softly as they worked together on a young security officer.


"I hope to God it is." She heard someone clearing his throat softly and turned to see Spock at the door to sickbay.


"Please tell me you're standing there waiting to tell us that business in sickbay will go back to normal, Mister Spock. I know you didn't come down here just to watch us work." Len winked at Chapel as he finished sealing the wound he was working on.


"I did indeed come to inform you that the crisis is over. The terrorist faction has been subdued. The prelate has agreed to Federation oversight of his next election. All is at it should be."


"In a pig's eye, Spock. People don't change overnight."


"Indeed not." Spock moved closer, but not so close he'd contaminate the sterile field. "People change slowly, as they realize the path they are on is not as suitable as they once thought."


"Suitable—how's that for romance, Christine?" Len muttered it, but Chapel knew Spock could still hear him.


She glanced over at Spock and his eyes were very light, so she grinned. "I think suitable is a fine word, Len."


"Indeed." Spock went into her office, making no show of having anything more to do but wait for her.


"Wow. Ballsy move on his part. Guess he's serious."


"He'd have to be to put up with your wisecracks every time he comes down to see me." She grinned at the offended sound Len made, then stood up, the last wound closed. "Can those reports you mentioned earlier wait?"


He started to laugh. "Yes, never let it be said I stood in the way of true love."


"I'm not sure that's what this is."


"Well, whatever it is, go take care of it." He was grinning as she rolled her eyes, so she left him and walked into her office.


"Did you hear all that?" she asked Spock.


He nodded. "You do not believe this is true love?"


She shrugged, trying to show him she was willing to embrace the Vulcan concept of kaiidth.


"Do you care if it is not?"


"Not if that kiss was any indication of what else might be in store. Let's get out of here."


He rose and followed her to the lift, standing very close to her, his arm pressed against hers.


"I need to shower," she said.


"I do, as well."


"So you want to do that and then meet up? For dinner or whatever we've got planned?"




"Okay." She waited, then turned to look at him, and was surprised at the amusement in his eyes. "Oh, I'm supposed to guess what you want?"


He nodded.


"You want to take a shower and go straight to bed—to hell with me?"




The door opened to their deck and she followed him out. "You want to come in and shower with me?"


"I find I do."


"Fascinating. So I guess dinner is out?"


"If you are hungry, we can go to the mess after our shower."


"What if I don't want to leave my quarters after my shower?"


"Then we will go hungry."


"This ship should have room service. I'm going to mention that to Jim."


He held up a finger in a "hold that thought" kind of way, disappeared into his quarters for a moment, then came out holding several energy bars.


"Those are horrible."


"They are tasteless and unpleasant, but they will provide energy."


She palmed open her door, could tell he was right behind her as she walked in, he pulled her to him while also setting the door to privacy.


"Hell of a multitasker, Spock."


"As are most Vulcans." He took the energy bars and set them on her nightstand, then proceeded to pull off her uniform. Despite her protests of wanting some equity, he had her fully undressed and was still in his uniform as he stared at her for a long time.


She grew uncomfortable and crossed her arms over her chest, but he said, "Do not do that."


"Spock, what are you doing?"


"Deciding that you are wrong if you think you are not my type."


She started to laugh. "Would you please get naked, too?"


He undressed with an efficiency that did not surprise her in the least. "You have a shower, I believe."


She took his hand and led him into the bathroom, got the water the temperature she liked it, then drew him into the shower stall.


He pulled her into his arms, kissing her the same way he had before, as if he could not get enough of her, and she relaxed—had she been afraid that moment was still due to V'ger, was just an anomaly?


"Some day you will be sure of me, Christine." He touched her face gently. "As I am sure of you."


He reached for the shampoo, pumped some, and lathered up her hair. It felt so decadent she closed her eyes and leaned into him, content to let him do that all night if he wanted—or until her water ration ran out. But he pushed her back into the shower stream, then turned them, his intent clear that she should do him.


She turned the lathering into a massage, heard him actually groan, and laughed, surprised at how fun he was making this. She'd thought it would be serious and anything but this lighthearted touching.


They took turns with the soap, washing away more, she thought, than just dirt. Any discomfort being with him this way was disappearing as they played. When he finally turned the water off, they barely got each other dried off before he was pushing her to the bed and she was pulling him down onto her and inside—and oh holy crap.


She wrapped her legs around him and whispered, "I fantasized about what you would feel like. So many times. It was never this good."


"Perhaps your imagination is lacking."


She whapped him on the shoulder—he didn't lose a beat in the way he was thrusting: these Vulcan boys really could multitask—and said, "You're supposed to say, 'Oh, darling, I underestimated the sheer bliss of this moment, too.'" Then she started to giggle—a silly sound that made him stop and kiss her and murmur, "You delight me."


She tightened her legs. "Delight? Really?"


"Really. And I will never call you darling." But the way he kissed her after he said it sort of implied darling, and she decided she didn't care what he called her so long as he made her feel this way.


But just to keep things on an even keel, she whapped him again on the shoulder and muttered, "Putz."


"Perhaps you should alternate shoulders if you plan on doing that throughout the night."


She was about to give him a smart-ass answer, but he'd found the sweet spot, and words were suddenly beyond her. She made a nice amount of "gone to my happy place" sounds, though.


He looked very satisfied with himself as he finished and kissed her. "That was remarkable. It will be even better with the meld."


"Yeah?" She ran her fingers down his back, lightly touching, and he closed his eyes and arched like a cat under her caress. "I still love you."


"I know. I can feel it every time we touch." He met her eyes, his so gentle it made her feel safe and warm. "I believe I will be able to say it in time. Will that be acceptable?"


"I think so. And I don't want you to say it if you don't mean it."


"I can say this. I want you. Even now that I have had you, my desire has not abated."


"Well I hope not after only one time." She pushed him off her and began to nuzzle his neck, working her way up to his ears—oh yeah, they were definitely an erogenous zone.


Not that she was going to tell Len that.