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) 2002 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG.
Once Upon a Shore Leave
Christine Chapel woke slowly and sat up with a groan. Her short black dress had pulled up and she was chilled where her bare skin had rested on the stone floor. Either this had been the best shore leave ever or something had gone very wrong on the way down to the Amusement Park Planet. She looked over and saw Spock lying on the floor next to her. He appeared to be sleeping peacefully, his chest moving up and down in a slow, sure rhythm. She leaned down to kiss him, thinking maybe this was the best shore leave ever, after all.
"Miss Chapel. What exactly are you doing?" He was staring at her with a look of alarm.
She stopped, her lips not quite touching his before pulling away with a start. "Mister Spock?"
"You were expecting someone else?" He sat up gingerly, touching his head. "I do not remember anything other than beaming down."
She nodded. "Same here."
He stood up and surveyed their surroundings. Chapel pushed herself to her feet with a groan and watched as he walked around a room they appeared to be trapped in.
"There are no exits, no windows, no skylights, no visible means of access." He touched the wall. "The stone wall seems to be created from one complete piece of material. There are no seams or mortar. Yet despite all this, the air is fresh." He looked over at her. "You do not remember anything?"
She shook her head.
"Where were you beaming down to?" he asked, as he knelt to examine the spot where the floor met the wall.
"To the planet."
"For shore leave?"
"No, for a lecture on hygiene—of course for shore leave." She tried to tug her dress down a bit but gave up when she noticed that her actions only pulled it lower than it already was on top.
Spock ignored her. "I, too, was on my way to the planet."
He shot her a look. "For shore leave, Miss Chapel."
"Shore leave? You?" She laughed outright.
"Doctor McCoy convinced me that I might find shore leave, if properly utilized, refreshing. I decided to see if he was correct."
She frowned. "McCoy's the one who convinced me to come here too. I'd planned to stay on the ship."
"Intriguing coincidence," he said, rising slowly. "There is no seam where the wall meets the floor either. This entire space seems to be carved out of one piece of rock. There is no way in and no way out."
"Yet here we are."
"We were beamed in, obviously."
"Great." She kicked at the wall softly.
"Which means that the Enterprise can beam us out."
"If they even know we are gone. And if they can find us."
"When, not if. They will find us."
She laughed. "Who knew you were such a Pollyanna?"
He raised an eyebrow slowly.
"Ooh, points off for lack of familiarity with classic Terran literature." At his look, she explained, "It means an irrepressible optimist."
"I can't believe you never read it. Wasn't your mother a teacher?"
"Yes, a teacher of linguistics, not literature."
"Still, Mister Spock, we're talking the classics. Treasure Island, Moby Dick, Alice in Wonderland."
"My father found such works bad for my character."
"Even The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?"
Spock seemed to sigh. "Especially that one. I..."
"I read that one when I was very young. It made quite an impression on me. In fact, I decided that I could gain good will with my father and his neighbors if I whitewashed our house."
"What was wrong with that?"
"Our house was made of sandstone. A rare color of dark reddish brown."
He nodded. "It took eight months, four days, five hours, sixteen minutes and forty-seven seconds for it to fade."
He didn't respond, just began another sweep of the wall, looking for what she wasn't sure. When he was halfway around, he turned to her. "What I cannot resolve is why you are here?"
"It's your worst nightmare?"
"It's certainly not my fantasy either."
He studied her. "What exactly was your fantasy?"
"Well now, that question's a little intrusive, don't you think?"
"Not if the answer is relevant to our situation."
"I wanted to spend some time alone with you," she mumbled.
"I wanted to spend some time alone with you." She turned away and could feel her cheeks flushing.
"It appears you got your wish."
"This isn't what I had in mind, Mister Spock." She sighed wistfully. "I was thinking a secluded but tastefully appointed bungalow. Champagne, chocolates, caviar."
"I do not eat caviar."
"Well, the robot Spock might have." She frowned at him. "So us being here is obviously not my fault. That leaves you. What was your little shore-leave scenario?"
"To solve a near-impossible problem."
She just stared at him.
He stared back. "What?"
"That was your idea of relaxation. To solve a near-impossible problem?"
"Yes, it was." He turned away. "At least my idea did not involve a facsimile of a fellow crew member." He looked over at her. "I suppose I do not wish to know what you planned to do with this copy of me. Although by your attire, I can only assume the worst."
"You don't like this dress?"
He didn't answer.
"So I guess the robot you wouldn't have either."
"There is nothing wrong with the dress."
"Then you do like it?"
"I did not say that, Miss Chapel."
"So you don't like it."
"The dress is very nice."
She smiled. "So what do you like about it?"
"Miss Chapel, the dress is irrelevant." His words were clipped, his voice louder than normal.
She held up her hands. "Fine. Never mind." She ran her hand along the stone wall. "So why are we here then?"
"Perhaps with such similar scenarios the planet decided to conserve resources and simply put us together."
"Or Doctor McCoy had something to do with this."
"He knows how this place works and has an in with the caretaker." She nodded. "I'm going to kill him as soon as I get out of here."
"Not if I do it first."
"We could do it together. Would serve him right. And be poetic justice."
"Indeed." He studied the wall and appeared to be calculating something.
She was quiet for a while, not wanting to interrupt his figuring. But then her stomach growled loudly.
He looked over at her.
"What? I'm hungry? Can't a girl be hungry?"
"If you had stayed on the ship, you would even now be sitting down to a meal."
"Right, because this is my fault."
He didn't answer.
"You couldn't have asked for a lavishly catered near-impossible problem?"
"I was not expecting guests."
"Big surprise there." She looked up. "You know, this sort of reminds me of a tower. Like in a fairy tale." She glanced over at him. "I don't suppose you read those either?"
"I did not. But I'm sure you are well versed on such fantasies."
"Okay, that was just mean." She scowled at him but he didn't look up from the wall. "I do happen to remember some of them."
"And I'm certain that you will enlighten me."
"Well, the most obvious one is Rapunzel. She was a beautiful maiden trapped in a tower by an old woman. A prince fell in love with her and would call up to her. And she would let her extremely long hair down from the window. He would climb up her hair to be with her."
"That sounds like a painful experience for the maiden. This story is obviously not useful as we have no windows and your hair is not that long."
"Plus you're not a prince."
"Actually, I am."
He turned to look at her. "If you were to translate my Vulcan rank to its Terran equivalent, prince would be the closest term."
She stared at him. "I stand corrected. I think it's safe to say, I'm not a princess."
"That much is certain."
"Or a beautiful maiden."
He said nothing.
"Well, at least you don't insult me to my face."
He looked over at her again. "I said nothing because I am unsure as to how to define maiden and whether it applies to you. As for beautiful, that is surely a subjective concept."
She looked down. "Surely."
There was a long silence. She didn't look up, feeling like an idiot as she blinked back tears.
"I am sure many men find you beautiful, Christine."
"Thanks a bunch." She realized what he'd just called her and looked over at him.
He was staring at her. "I'm sure the robot Spock would have found you beautiful."
His eyes were gentle as he nodded. "I think he would have liked your dress."
She nodded then turned away.
"It is most attractive." He met her eyes as she turned back to look at him in shock. "Black is flattering to your coloring. But I do not remember you wearing it before."
She laughed. "I wear black all the time. You just never see me when I'm off duty. What? Did you think my entire wardrobe was made up of light blue?"
He looked uncomfortable.
"Oh God, you did." She shook her head. "There's a lot you don't know about me. Which I guess is kind of the point of this whole little fantasy thing with you...I mean the robot you. It wasn't what you think." At his look of skepticism, she blushed. "Okay, maybe it was sort of what you think. But mostly it was so I could say goodbye."
"You are going somewhere?"
"Figuratively," she said. "You know. Goodbye to the whole fantasy, the crush, the infatuation. Whatever you want to call this whole 'I love Spock' bull. Adios. Sayonara. Good riddance. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Get the hell out of—"
"I believe I grasp the concept." He turned back to the wall.
"Are you upset?" She walked toward him. "You're upset, aren't you?"
"I am not upset. That is an emotion." He moved away from her. "You said there were other fairy stories that had a tower?"
"Fairy tales. And yes, there are. There's Rumpelstiltskin. But that may have been a dungeon, not a tower."
Spock shot her a glance. He clearly didn't see how it mattered.
"Fine, at any rate, there was a beautiful princess—don't say a word, Spock—who was locked in the tower until she could spin straw into gold."
"That is impossible."
"Well near-impossible, at any rate." She laughed. "Luckily for her this dwarf came by. Or maybe he was an imp or an elf or a goblin or something." She waited for the look that told her to get on with it. She wasn't disappointed. "I'm sure whatever he was, he had pointed ears."
He ignored the jibe. "Did he get her out of the tower?"
Chapel had to think about that. "I'm pretty sure he did. Well, she did actually. She guessed his name and he stomped himself right into hell. I think."
"Your storytelling skills leave something to be desired. I will refrain from asking why she had to guess his name." He gave up on the wall, turned and faced her with his arms crossed against his chest.
"Good, because I've kind of forgotten that part." She smiled sheepishly. "I read these a long time ago, Spock." She sighed. "The only other one I remember is Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful princess—"
"It is never an ugly princess, is it? Or a plain but vastly intelligent princess? Humans are obsessed with beauty."
"Spock. Please. I've yet to see a homely Vulcan. You have no room to talk."
"Proceed with the story."
"Sleeping Beauty was cursed and on her sixteenth birthday...or was it eighteenth?" She saw his look and hurried to continue. "Well one of those, she pricked her finger on a spinning wheel needle and fell asleep for a hundred years. In a tower, surrounded by thorns."
"That is the story?"
"No, there's a prince of course."
"Of course. A handsome one, no doubt?"
"Does anyone want an ugly one, Spock? Come on, you said it yourself: we're obsessed with beauty."
"So this prince, he hears about her and he wants her and he hacks his way through the thorn bushes, and climbs the many stairs to the tower..." She noticed that Spock was walking toward her slowly. "And, uh, he comes to the room where the princess lies sleeping."
"Yes?" He was standing right in front of her.
"Yes. And he tries to wake her up."
"But she does not wake?"
"No. He has to kiss her."
"Ah. Of course." Spock turned and walked back to the wall. "A kiss would wake her up?"
"In this case. And in Snow White's too. But there wasn't a tower in that one."
"I think these fairy stories are not helping us, Christine."
"But you didn't even try." Chapel's voice sounded pathetic, even to her.
"Well, you are not asleep. There are no thorns to fight through, and no curse that put us here. I must use logic to figure this out. I must forget you are here and concentrate."
Stung, she turned away. "That sounds like a great idea, Mr. Spock. You just forget I'm here. You just forget that you were about to kiss me until you thought better of it..." Chapel was suddenly very dizzy. She took a breath but didn't feel like the air was reaching her lungs. The world started to spin. She didn't mean to call out to him, didn't want to reach out as she started to fall. "Spock?"
He was there in an instant, easing her down to the cold floor. "What is it?"
She could barely keep her eyes open. "Can't breathe. No air."
"The air is fine, Christine. You are fine." His voice sounded very far away. "Christine?"
She felt her strength giving out. "Spock?" And then she felt something else, something strange. Something touching her lips, pressing on them. She groaned and the pressure increased. It took her a long time to realize Spock was kissing her.
She opened her eyes and saw muted sunlight coming in from the windows of a snug and wonderfully warm bungalow. Champagne on ice and fancy chocolates sat on the table by the bed that she and Spock were lying on. "What the hell?" she said as he pulled away from her.
"We appear to be free of the tower." He stood up and walked to the door. "It was the most logical choice of action."
"Yes, logical," he said firmly as he reached for the door and opened it.
They were immediately back in the tower again. She started to laugh and he turned to glare at her.
"You find this funny?"
She nodded. "In that really bad way when you're at the end of your rope."
He walked toward her. Pulling her to him, he kissed her soundly. When he drew away, they were back in the bungalow. He pushed himself off the bed and headed for the door. As he tried to go out the door, the bungalow disappeared and they were back in the tower. He stalked over to her and reached for her again, but she held up a hand.
"You're a stubborn man, Spock."
He stared at her.
"It's either your fantasy or mine. This"—she pulled his face down to hers and kissed him gently—"appears to be the way out of yours. But obviously the door is not the way out of mine."
He raised an eyebrow.
"I was supposed to say goodbye, remember?" She looked over at the champagne. "Sayonara."
"Good riddance," he said softly.
She nodded. "I think that's the only way for this to end. You solved your near-impossible problem. But I haven't solved mine yet." She turned to him and ran her hand down his face, then moved it to stroke his ear. "I've always wanted to do that."
He closed his eyes at her touch.
She forced herself to pull away from him. "I won't get the fantasy part. But that's okay. It wasn't right to think I could have that, I suppose." She looked down. "I'm sorry, Spock. Sorry I thought it was okay to make you part of this, even a robot you."
She looked back up at him. "I've loved you—thought I loved you, anyway, for a long time. But I guess you can't really love someone you don't even know. I mean I think this is the longest conversation we've ever had. Isn't it?"
"That's really sad." She laughed as a bitter feeling crashed over her. "This crush I have on you isn't healthy for me."
"Or for me?" he asked.
She laughed. "I doubt that for you it's much more than an occasional annoyance. It's not like you're suffering from feelings you don't want to have." She took his hand and led him to the door. "I'm sorry if I've ever embarrassed you. I know I've embarrassed myself. Goodbye." She opened the door and watched him walk through into the sunshine—finally free of her fantasy.
He turned to look at her, his hand resting on the door.
"I'm sorry for everything," she said as she turned her back on him and walked over to the bedside table. She lifted the champagne out of the ice bucket. "Here's to me," she said softly, trying not to cry as she peeled off the foil.
"You are dripping ice water on the bed." Spock's voice behind her made her jump.
She turned. "No, I don't want the robot."
"I am not the robot."
"Then why do you care about water on the bed?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Neither of us will want to sleep on that side, which could lead to a disagreement."
She was so confused. "We'd never disagree otherwise."
"Certainly not." He took the champagne from her and began to take off the wire muzzle.
She snatched the bottle away. "Spock! You'll put your eye out that way. Haven't you ever opened one of these before?"
"I have not."
"Then let me show you." She carefully pointed the bottle away from her face as she opened it.
"Is the cork not supposed to fly wildly at the ceiling?"
"You've been watching too many Terran vids."
"And the champagne is not supposed to spray out?"
"Why waste it?"
"Logical." He took the bottle and poured two glasses. "No caviar?"
"I noticed that," she said as she took the glass. "Curious."
"Curious indeed." He raised his glass. "We should toast the end of your infatuation with me."
She studied him. His expression was even. "I guess we should."
As she raised her glass to his, he said, "We should also toast the beginning of our getting to know each other in a more meaningful way."
She frowned. "You're not Spock. You really are the robot." She turned away.
"No. I am not."
He turned her to face him. "I like your dress."
"Because the color flatters you." He set his glass down on the table.
She frowned, still unsure.
"I left something out when I told you I liked your dress earlier." He took her glass from her and set it down on the table next to his.
He nodded, running a finger down the front of the dress. "It enhances your beauty."
She could feel herself blushing. "Thank you."
"One does not thank truth." He moved closer.
She shook her head. "You don't have to do this."
"I believe I do."
"I must solve this problem."
"What if it is near-impossible."
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her gently. "It is very near."
She smiled. "But what if it is impossible?"
"Oh, it is impossible. Maddeningly impossible."
She grinned. "Really?"
"That's a shame."
"Yes," he said as he unfastened her dress. "It is." As the dress slid off her, he stared at her. "You would make a beautiful princess."
She smiled. "Flattery will get you everywhere, Spock." As he moved in to kiss her, she said, "Why?"
He stopped. "Why did I come back?"
"You intrigue me." He ran his hands over her. "And I find that you move me. In ways I did not expect."
"And you like to argue with me," she said with a laugh.
"I do," he agreed as he pushed her onto the bed and followed her down. "Very much."
"I don't want to argue right now."
"Neither do I. Fascinating."
She laughed as she pulled him down to her. Much later, as they lay wrapped in each other's arms, she asked, "Was he right?"
Spock tightened his hold on her. "Who?"
"I believe he was correct that shore leave, if properly utilized, can be most refreshing."
He nodded as he pulled her to him. "Fortunately, there are many hours left to test out his theory."
Hours. She tried to pull away.
"Did I say something wrong?"
She shook her head. It wasn't his fault that she'd thought this was more than a shore-leave fling. She tried to pull away from him again but his grip was like iron.
"No, you are suddenly upset. Why?" There was a long silence. Then he said softly, "Do you not wish to spend the hours remaining in our shore leave with me?"
She rolled over and stared at him. "Of course I do."
"Then why are you upset?"
She looked down.
"I cannot guess, Christine."
"I just thought...it was stupid...I thought maybe..." She couldn't finish.
He looked severely confused.
"I thought that this was more than just a fling."
"A one night...well, two-nights in this case, stand." She pulled away again. "How stupid is that?"
"You think I do not want to see you after we get back on the ship?"
"Yes." He stroked her face gently. "Near-impossible problems are usually solved using an approach of trial and error over the course of a long period of time."
"That's true." She looked up at him searchingly. "So you didn't mean that this was only for..."
He shook his head.
"That's good," she said with a small smile. "So trial and error, huh?"
"I will endeavor to avoid the errors whenever possible," he said as he leaned in to kiss her.
"I endorse that plan heartily."
"But I'm sure there will be some errors that occur."
She nodded. "I'm sure there will be."
She forgot about errors and anything else but Spock for a long time. She was settling back into his arms when he asked, "How do those fairy tales of yours end?"
She smiled. "And they all lived happily ever after."
He considered that. "That is highly illogical. Even the most evolved species will find things to disagree on from time to time—"
"Spock. Shut up." She silenced any retort he was going to make with a long kiss.