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) 2004 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

A Trip through the Multiverse

by Djinn




The party is raging around Kirk, music blaring, hot and sweaty bodies pushing against him.  He has had too much to drink, tried too many of the alien beverages, and his head is spinning.  He's so dizzy that he feels as if he will fall down.  Fortunately, his dance partner is holding him up. 


Who is his dance partner?


Oh yeah.  He smiles.  "Hi, hon."


Chris just rolls her eyes.  "I leave you alone for five minutes..."


"Try five hours."  He nuzzles her neck.  This reception would be deadly dull without her here.  Not to mention he'd be on the floor.  "Did you bring the antitox?"


"I did."  She shoots him with the hypo, their bodies are pressed closely enough that no one notices what she has done.


He closes his eyes, leans into her.  "Love you," he murmurs as his head starts to clear of the combined effects of the plethora of alcoholic beverages he's consumed.  The Talathians insisted, said it was an integral part of the signing ceremony for their mutual cooperation agreement with the Federation.  So he drank.  And drank.  And drank.


"Yeah, you say that to all the girls."  But she holds him tighter.  "You can say it again, if you want."


"I love you," he says over and over, saying it faster, all as one word as if it is a chant, a mantra. 


"Are you trying to hypnotize me?"


"Right into my bed."


"I hate to break it to you, but I'm already in your bed."


He mock frowns.  "Damn.  I'm seducing the wrong woman."  He pulls her closer, hears her laugh.  He loves to make her laugh.


He swings her into the dance, feeling better now, more assured as the antitox clears his head.  He's a great dancer.  He knows it, and she is smiling.  Fortunately, she can stay with him.  Not everyone can.


"Did you see they have a beach?" she says softly.


He smiles.  "You want to go walking?"


She nods.  "I have a great fondness for beaches."  She gestures over to where Spock is standing against the wall, a look of disgusted forbearance on his face.  "And for a certain Vulcan that pushed us together."


He smiles.  "Yeah, we owe him."


"Let him go back to the ship.  That should be thanks enough."


"Can't.  The brother-in-law of the masseur of the son of the first minister has a crush on him."  He points to the short, rotund man who stands a few feet from Spock, staring up at him adoringly.


Spock is ignoring him as best he can.


"You're making that up."


Kirk laughs.  "Well, he does have a crush, but he may be the maitre'd here, for all I know."


She chuckles.  "You're crazy."  She nestles in, does something to his ear that makes him shiver.


"Crazy for you," he says as he swings her into the next dance.  "Crazy for you."




Chapel orders drinks from the bartender.  Beer for her, scotch for Jim.  She looks over at him.  He's staring at her, and he smiles when she turns.  A very, very naughty smile.  She smiles back, happy that she let him talk her into taking leave and coming out to Starbase Four, happier still that he was able to take some leave and join her.


"Jim Kirk, as I live and breathe!"


Chapel sees an attractive blonde bearing down on Jim.  The woman sidles up next to him.  He smiles at her.  It's a cautious smile.  The blonde sits down in her chair.


Chapel scowls.  Then she feels a hand on her shoulder. 




She turns, sees Larry Porter, head of Starfleet tactical, and before Jim one of her occasional lovers. 


"I can't believe I have to go offworld to finally see you, Christine."


She looks over at Jim.  He's managing to both pay attention to his blonde, and check out what is going on at the bar. 


She turns to Larry, moves his hand off her shoulder.  "We've got a table.  Come join us?"


"Us?" he says with a frown.  His frown grows deeper when he sees who she's with.  "Captain Kirk.  I didn't realize..."


Jim smiles at him.  "At ease, Commander..." 


"Porter.  Larry Porter."


"Nice to meet you."  Jim hooks a chair at the next table with his foot, pulls it over close to him.  Very close.


Chapel sits down on it.


"Grab a chair," she says to Larry.  Then she looks at Jim.  "And who's your friend?"


The blonde answers for herself.  "Elise Majors.  Jim and I go way back."


"Hmm," Chapel says noncommittally.  She sees Larry check the woman out.  He can have her, with her blessing.  She feels Jim's hand come to rest on her shoulders, his fingers pressing as he massages.  She knows both Larry and Elise can see it, that he intends them both to see it.


Larry doesn't react, but Elise's eyes narrow for a moment, then she turns to Larry with good grace, making small talk that soon turns into something less small.  They turn toward each other, leaving Jim and her out.


Jim leans in, says, "Think they'll notice if we leave?"


"We can't leave.  Our room's not ready."


He gives her a wicked smile.  "Think anyone will notice if we do it right here."


She looks around the crowded club.  "They'll notice, but they may not mind."


He laughs.  "So is that a yes or a no?"  His grin is unrepentant.  He runs his hand down her leg.


She bites back a moan.  It's been too long since they've made love.  And she's not making love to anyone else these days.


Larry shoots her a look, then asks Elise to dance.  They seem eager to get away, and Chapel isn't sure if it's to get some privacy or just to get away from Jim and her.


"Don't leave on our account," Jim murmurs.


She leans in closer to him.  "Now I know why you were so willing to give up the alien babes.  You've got more than enough human ones to take up the slack."


"For the record, I never slept with her."


"Uh huh."


He laughs.  "Okay, maybe just once.  You're still ahead in the ex-lover count."


She pouts.  "Only by one."


"This trip."  He smiles.  "Do you suppose there's anywhere we can go where we won't run into ex-lovers?"  He makes a sheepish face.  "I sort of forgot how busy I've been."


"And you got mad at me for that, I seem to recall?"


"Well, mine are spread out over thirty odd years.  Yours seem to be rather concentrated."


"I was making up for lost time."  She reaches under the table, squeezes his thigh.  "I'm very boring now."


He gives her an intense look.  Finally, he smiles.


She wonders how long it will take for him to completely trust her.  At least he doesn't seem to be holding it against her anymore. 


There's something else she'd like him to hold against her.  She leans in.  "Maybe if we tipped the reception clerk?"


He stands.  "Worth a try."   He wraps his arm around her, pulls her close as they leave the bar. 


"I've missed you," she whispers.


His arm tightens on her, and she smiles.


He says softly, "You can show me how much, hopefully in a few minutes."


"You sound pretty sure about that.  Just how much do you plan to tip the woman?"


He smiles.  "However much it takes to get a damned room."




Kirk watches as Chris gets ready.  She is trying to decide what to wear, and he's enjoying watching her move around her bedroom naked.  He loves that she doesn't cover up in front of him.


She looks over at him and grins.  "I still can't believe you're here.  Two months early."


He smiles. It was an unexpected trip back.  Nogura wanted to see him; Kirk wanted to see her--it worked out all the way around.


"So who else is going to be at this dinner?" she asks.


"His wife.  Others, maybe.  Don't know."  He leans back in the bed.  He doesn’t care who will be there, is finding it difficult to take his mind off of Chris, off the sex they've just had and the sex they'll have when they get back. 


He's missed her since she left the ship.  He told her so earlier.  She gave him her sweet smile and kissed him.  He loves the way she kisses him.


"So how's med school?"


"Hard.  Exhilarating."  She grins as she holds up a couple different dresses.  "Which do you like?"


"Which comes off easiest?"


She laughs, holds the green one a little higher.  "Why, this one, I believe."


"Then I love that one."


She gives him a silly grin and lays it on the bed.  She dresses slowly, glancing over occasionally.  He smiles, enjoying the show.


"Come here."


"We'll be late."


"Come here."


She comes over.  He pulls her down, into his arms, rolling her over his lap and onto her back.  She laughs as he leans down and kisses her.  Her arms steal around his neck.


They kiss for a long time.  Then she pulls away a bit.  "We really will be late."


He nods, lets her go.  Gets up and pulls on some clothes.


"Any idea why the big guy wants to see you?"


"Not a clue," Kirk says.  "Maybe he wants to promote me."  He laughs.


"That would be nice...wouldn't it?"


He frowns.  Would it?  He can't be an admiral and have the Enterprise.  It just doesn't work that way.


"Or not," she says softly. 


"I'd be with you," he says.


"And I'd love that.  But I want you to be happy."  She pulls him to her for a quick kiss.  "And we both know that you are happiest on the ship."


"I don't know.  I'm pretty happy right now."


She nods.  "I am too.  I'm glad you asked me to come to dinner."


"I'm glad I had you to ask.  I thought Nogura was going to fall off his chair when I said I actually did have a friend to bring."  He makes a face.  "There's just no good word for what you are to me.  Lover sounds pretentious, but girlfriend sounds like we're teenagers."  He smiles.  "Women get to say beau, why don't men have a similar word?"


She laughs at him.  "Friend is fine.  I like being your friend."


"You're a lot more than just a friend, and you know it."


"Yeah.  I do."  She gives him the grin that he first saw after the Platonians. 


He suddenly loves those arrogant SOBs for bringing them together. 




"Stop it," Christine says as she tries to mix the last of the frosting.


Jim pushes against her, his hands are under her shirt and he is kissing her neck.


"It was your idea to make Spock a birthday cake."


"I know."  He reaches out from under her shirt, dips his finger in the frosting and brings it to his lips.  "Mmm.  Not too sweet."


She smiles.  "Where is the cake?"


He shrugs.


"You said you would make the cake."


"No, I said, we'd be the cake."


She laughs.  "No, you didn't."  She gives him a puzzled look.  "Spock doesn't even like sweets that much."


He rubs some frosting on her lips, kisses it off.  "He'll like this."


A soft cough from the doorway to the kitchen interrupts them.  Spock is watching them, a fond look on his face. 


Jim holds out his hand.  "Happy Birthday, Spock."


Spock joins them, takes Jim's hand.  Christine moves around behind him, pulls his shirt off and up.


"Is this a birthday ritual of which I am unaware?"


"Yep," she says, kissing his back as she grabs the waistband of his uniform trousers, pulls them down.


Jim is already painting him with the frosting.  She steps around and he pulls off her clothing and adds some frosting to her.  Then he hands her the bowl, and she smiles evilly, waiting until Spock has stripped him to spread frosting in some very hard to reach places.


Spock is nearly smiling.  He pulls her to him, kisses her, licking frosting off in the process.  "Did you make this?"


She nods. 


He touches Jim, looks at her.  "You will help me with him?"


"Oh, yes," she says, already moving in.


Jim closes his eyes as they begin to lick him, she in the front, Spock moving around behind him.


She meets Jim's eyes.  "Wait a minute.  Shouldn't this be Spock we're doing this to?"


Jim just laughs.


Spock peeks around, shakes his head.  "It is not my birthday, Christine."


Jim laughs harder.


"You," she says, making him jump as she sucks off frosting with a great deal of vigor.  "Are a very, very bad man."


He's too busy moaning to argue.




From the bar in the living room, Kirk turns and watches as Spock and Kerr talk to Chris.  They are out on the balcony of the apartment he shares with her.  He never thought he'd have another chance with her, much less be sharing his life with her.


Especially when she had those two chasing after her.  Together.  Kirk smiles.  She chose him over them.


Or chose him over living some other Christine Chapel's life. 


Whichever.  He still ended up with her. 


He sighs, feels the tug of sadness over the life he lost when he got Chris back.  He misses Antonia, even if he's more than happy with Chris.  It's a strange dichotomy of emotion, but he's become accustomed to it. 


Spock touches Chris on the arm, then comes in with Kerr's empty glass.  "You have been very quiet."


Kirk refills it.  "Just watching the show."  He grins, sees Spock's expression lighten.


"Watching?  Or contemplating joining in?"


Kirk shoots Spock a glance.  "Why Mister Spock.  I don't know what you mean."  It is the old tone from long ago, and they both enjoy the game as much now as they did when they first served on the Enterprise together. 


"Of course not, Jim."


Kirk laughs.  "Four might be an interesting number."


"Indeed," Spock says, but his tone is light as if they can both tell Kirk isn't serious. 


"I have stout.  You still drink it?"


Spock nods, watches him pour the drink.  "Does she miss us?" he asks and his tone is wistful.


"She does.  But I think she misses her Spock and Kerr even more."


"I understand that.  I miss our Christine more than I can say."  He looks out at Kerr and Chris. 


She's laughing at something he says.  Laughing hard and he's grinning like a fool.  Kirk finds himself chuckling softly.  She chose him over that.  


He feels damn good.  He hands Spock the stout and Kerr's refill, then picks up Chris's and his.  "Randall shouldn't have all the fun with our woman."  He smiles gently at Spock.


Spock nods.  "I am glad she is with you.  I know you will be good for her."


Kirk can feel his smile fading.  "I am sorry, Spock.  I lost Antonia but I got Chris.  You two..."


Spock shakes his head.  "Do not feel bad for us, Jim.  We have learned to live with this new arrangement."


Kerr's laugh rings out.  He touches Chris's arm.  It's a rather possessive touch.


Spock sighs.  "Or, at least, I have."  He lifts an eyebrow.  "He is very much like you."


"I can see that.  Let's get out there now."  He doesn't wait for Spock to agree, walks out to the balcony, handing Chris her drink, managing to insert himself close enough to her that Kerr has to back off a bit. 


He waits until Spock has handed Kerr his drink, then lifts his own.  "To friendly reunions."


The others murmur the toast back to him.  Chris moves closer, her shoulder bumping up against his. 


"To friends," he says softly. 


He shoots Kerr a look.  Kerr shoots him one right back.


"To friends," the rest echo.


"And younger versions of ourselves," Kirk mutters as he stares at the younger, irritating version of himself.


He hears Chris laugh, smiles.  She presses against him more and he relaxes. 

She chose him.  In this crazy, mixed-up world, she chose him.


And that's all that matters.




Chapel moves slightly, feels Jim's arm tighten around her.  The late afternoon sunshine streams through his blinds, making slatted patterns on their skin. 


"I have to study tonight," she says.


"Okay."  He sighs, as if he is finally relaxing.  And he probably is.  He's always tense when he gets home.


She can tell he hates his job.  But he won't admit it.  Not even to her.  She knows why.  To admit it, will be to make it real.  Too real.  Too final.  If he just pretends that it's all right, or maybe even temporary, he'll get through it.


He never bends.  Just finds his own way not to break.


It's just one of the reasons she loves him.


She moves again, notices something on his upper arm.  A small scar.  "I missed one."


He looks down, where she is pushing at his skin.


"I think it's a burn."  She kisses it.  "I can get rid of it later."


"Leave it.  I should have something from what we went through."  He pulls her away from his arm, up to his lips. 


His hands run across her back, warm, so warm.  She hasn't been cold since they came back to Earth.  She doesn't envision ever being cold as long as she's with this man.


He grins, runs his finger down her nose.  "Even without that scar, I have something from Alesson.  I have you."  He kisses her.  "You're the best thing in my life."


"Right now."  She strokes his cheek.  When he frowns at her words, she sighs.  "I can tell you're unhappy.  If we can't talk about it..."


His jaw tightens.  He looks away, but his hands tighten on her.  She waits.  Waits in the silence that builds between them.  It's not an uncomfortable moment, although it could be if she didn't know him so well.


He strokes her hair.  "It's boring.  And I do stupid things most of the day."


She relaxes, rests her head on his arm.  They are talking about this.  "Are there lots of meetings?"


He sighs.  "I meet, therefore I am."


She laughs and feels him chuckle, the amusement silent but real if she just gets close enough to feel it.  "I'm sorry."


"Bones was right.  Not that I'll ever tell him that."


"No.  Don't.  It will make him insufferable."  She kisses his cheek.  "It's people like you who will change the job, Jim.  You will make a difference again; you just have to figure out how."


He smiles.  Then he shifts so they are facing each other.  "Are you still going to look at that apartment tomorrow?"


She nods.  It's a lot less convenient to campus than his lovely high rise is.  But more in her budget.




"Don't go look at it?"


He shakes he his head.  "Don't move into your own place.  Stay here.  With me.  This can be our place, not just mine."


"Are you sure?"


He nods.  "Stay with me."  He pulls her into his arms; his body is so strong against hers. 


She smiles as he takes her, her hands raking his back, running over the now healed-over scars from Alesson.  The scars that brought them together. 


"Of course, I'll stay." 


She doesn't want to leave him.  Ever.




Kirk catches the punk that was stupid enough to attack Chris.  The man shifts in his grip, trying to use his knife.  He's too scared to do it well.


"This is what's for dinner?"  Kirk looks at Chris, shakes his head.  "You couldn't do better?"


"You expect me to whip up a five-course meal on short notice?"  She laughs as her face shifts.  "Can I help it he doesn't have any friends?"


The punk struggles harder.


She turns back to him.  "You said if I didn't do what you wanted that you'd hurt me?"  Her voice is silky terror.


"No.  That was just a joke.  I was just teasing."


Kirk can smell his fear.  The man stinks of it.  Fear and guilt and some kind of twisted darkness deep inside him that makes what Kirk and Chris have become look happy and light.


"I don't think so."  Chris stalks toward the man.  She takes the knife away from him easily, holds it up, runs her finger down the jagged blade. 


Blood wells up on her finger, and she sucks it off.   Her cut closes as they watch.


The man whimpers.


"Five women have been hurt very badly in this area.  Didn't they do what you wanted?"  When he doesn't answer, she holds up the knife again.  "My friend here knows magic; he can make this talk to him.  Everything this knife has done is buried in the metal.  Blood, guts, pain.  All those women you've hurt."


The man wets himself.  "They were asking for it."


Kirk shakes his head.  That was not the right thing to say.


Chris buries the knife in the man's groin.  He screams and Kirk bites down, silencing the cry.  He drinks until the man doesn't move again.


Letting the body drop, he looks at Chris.  Her face has gone back to normal. 


"Feel better?" he asks.


She nods.  Stares at the man for a long time, then walks away.  Kirk reaches down and rifles through the man's pockets.  Several credits richer, he hurries to join her.


She reaches back as she hears him come up, her hand grasping his tightly.  "I keep waiting for it to go away.  This need to help others."


He smiles.  "I think it's going to be a long wait."  He pulls her to him.


They kiss long and almost frantically in the dying night.  Morning is close.  They can both smell it, can both feel it in their guts. 


"Let's go," he says.


She takes his hand, and they disappear into the night. 




Chapel watches Spock as he sits across the table from Jim.  He is not happy that she is in the lounge.  She joined them for a few moments, could see he was irritated that she was encroaching on his time with Jim. 


It's not getting easier with him.  She hoped it would, but, if anything, he seems to resent her the longer she's with Jim.


She knows Spock didn't think she and Jim would last.  It must be terrible to realize you're wrong.  To realize that over and over again.  Every night when Jim goes to sleep with her and not with Spock.


Spock left.  She was there.  End of story.


Spock's eyes lock with hers.


"He sure doesn't look happy with you," Rand says softly.


Chapel glares at her.  For once, Rand doesn't look like she's taunting her.  Or at least, that's not all she's doing.  There is a slight note of concern in her voice, in her expression.


"It'll be fine."


Rand shrugs.  "Whatever you say.  I sure wouldn't want to be on a landing party alone with him.  That's all I'm saying."


"He wouldn't hurt me."


"Vulcans are different."


Chapel nods.  "Yes.  They don't think like humans, for one thing.  Violence is a human failing, not a Vulcan one."  Barring the Pon Farr, of course.


She frowns.  Can it be the Pon Farr?  She can count to seven, can't she?


Jim looks up, sees her watching and smiles at her.  Then he turns back to Spock.


He's not worried.  Why is she?


She forces herself to relax, concentrate on the game Rand is running away with.


"Is he good?" Rand asks softly.


For a moment, Chapel thinks she means Spock, then realizes she's talking about Jim.  The question is not out of line, not for the friendship they used to have, but now Chapel feels odd discussing Kirk with her.  "He is," she says simply.


Rand looks away, studying the board far longer than she needs to for the simple move she ends up making.  "If we can't talk about him, just say so."


Chapel moves a game piece at random.  "We can talk about him.  Just...not like we used to."  Back when neither of them had anyone.  Back when they both hopelessly loved men who would never love them back.


"Right."  Rand suddenly takes one of her pieces, and through a complex series of moves, ends up at the finish line.   She gets up.  "Thanks for the game, Christine.  I'm going to turn in."


Chapel reaches out, touches her arm.  "Jan.  I'm sorry.  We just have to find a new normal."


Rand nods, pulls away and hurries out.


Chapel sighs.  She changes the game to a one-person version.  Tries to entertain herself while she finishes her drink.


"This seat taken?" Jim asks as he sits next to her.


"By you."  She smiles at him.  It is so easy to smile at him.


"Spock's going to be heading back to Vulcan for a while," Jim says quietly.


So she was right.  "He's all right?"  She wants to ask if he's a danger to them--to her--but can't bring herself to say it.


"He will be."  Jim's voice is sad.


"If you want--"


"--I don't."  He reaches over, closes down her game. 


She's losing anyway.  "You're sure?"


"I'm positive.  He'll be leaving later tonight.  I'll be staying here.  With you."  His arm steals around her, rests low on her back.  "You ready to call it a night?"  His smile is open, his look of lust the same as ever.  For her, not for some Vulcan he thinks he can't have.


"If you wanted him..."


"Chris.  Let it go."


She looks down.  "Okay."


"I want you.  Now, let's get back to my quarters so I can show you how much, okay?"


She nods.  "I love you."  It seems almost desperate to say it now.


He sighs.  "I believe you.  I just wish you had more faith that I love you."


"I'm trying."  She smiles, the gamest smile she can come up with.  "I do believe in us."  As she meets his eyes, the words become more real.  She does believe in them.  She loves him and he loves her and it doesn't matter what he still feels for Spock or what Spock wants. 


He's with her.  She's his choice.


He smiles.  Some of that realization must have shown on her face. 


She takes his hand, gives him a lascivious look. "Let's go."


He smiles, the expression happy and light.  He loves her.  What more does she need to know?




Kirk leans back against the bar in the rec lounge, grinning to himself at something funny Chris said to him before she went back to the pool table.


"You look awfully happy, Jim."  McCoy walks around the bar and orders up another drink.  "Something you want to tell me?"


Kirk nods to where Spock and Chris are fighting it out for billiard supremacy.  "It's just good to have her back."  He turns to McCoy.  "Don't you agree?"


McCoy sips at his bourbon.  "Of course I do.  I worked mighty hard to get her back here."  He smiles.  "I didn't think she'd want to come back.  I was damned pleased to see her show up yesterday."


"This is home, Bones.  She was ready to come back.  Plus, she's tired.  Burnt out on ops."


McCoy tries to hide a grin, fails completely.  "You seem to know an awful lot about how she's feeling."


Kirk shrugs.  "We talked at the seminar."  He turns back, smiles as she sinks the eight ball.  "And that's game."  He walks over to the pool table, McCoy following him.  "Care to play doubles?  Now that your death match is over?"


"Doubles would be agreeable."  Spock shakes his head.  "I am normally quite skilled at this."


Chris laughs.  "You still are.  I'm just better."  She looks at Kirk.  "Teams?"


He nods.  "You and me.  Spock and Len."  He sees McCoy's knowing look, laughs.  "Bones, we can't have two doctors on one team."


"Well, you could play with Spock," McCoy says.


"No," Spock says, "he should play with Christine."


"Oh?  And why is that?"


Spock seems to be at a loss for words.  While he figures out what to say, Kirk steps closer to Chris.  "So, is it good to be back?"


Her smile is immediate, open and happy.  "God, yes.  I had my first real sleep in two years last night."


"That's great."  He looks over at Spock.  "Have you figured this out yet?"


"Doctor McCoy and I will play together."  Spock begins to set up the balls. 


"I'm glad you're here," Kirk says softly to her.


"I am too."  She leans up against him for a moment, her shoulder warm against his.  "My break?"


He nods.  And watches her break the hell out of the balls.  She winks at him.


"So?" He turns to Spock and McCoy.  "Care to make this a little more interesting?"




Christine comes into Jim's darkened quarters, sees him lying in bed, tossing.  She walks over to the bed, sits, watching him.  She touches his hot forehead.  The fever still hasn't broken, but at least he's sleeping.  She slips the hypo she brought from sickbay against his skin, empties it into him.  It will ease his aches without affecting the fever--that has to run its course.  Lowering it artificially will only prolong the sickness.


She sighs.  McCoy could have given him this when he shot him full of the anti-viral.  But he didn't. 


Was he punishing Jim?  Will he ever stop needing to do that?


She knows Len is with Spock now.  Sees that Spock is content but wonders if McCoy ever will be.  Even if she were with him the way he seems to still want, she thinks McCoy would find a reason to be unhappy.


Darkness seems to be in his nature.  Once, it called to her.  But not anymore.  Not when she has Jim to show her how nice it is to live in the light.  To make love in something other than the lie of darkness.


His eyes are open, and she wonders how long he's been awake.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to wake you."


He smiles.  Even sick as a dog, he can make her feel special with just a smile.


"Are you thirsty?"


He nods, takes the water she pours out. "You don't have to take care of me."


"I like taking care of you."


He smiles again. 


And he'll allow her to take care of him.  It is an unusual feeling, to be this close to someone.  To know him so well.  She lays her hand on his forehead again--not to assess the fever, but to establish that she does care.  He smiles again, a soft, contented smile.


"I love you," she says softly. 


They say those words all the time now.  At the oddest moments.  Yesterday, he said it to her as she sat at his table, reading up on a new vaccine series while he dozed fitfully.  She looked up and he was staring at her with the most tender expression.


"What?" she said.


'I love you," was the answer.


It had filled her with warmth.  And a light, silly feeling.  As if she could float over to the bed on those three words alone.


He closes his eyes.  "I love you, Christine."  She loves the way he says her name.  He has many names for her, some silly, some lewd that make her laugh, others just variations of her given name.  But sometimes he says Christine and it is with a lilt that makes her stop and want to take a deep breath.


His love makes her breathless.  He makes her breathless.  He is the air she breathes. 


Although that air is getting a little rank--the fever is making him sweat.  She settles down next to him anyway.  This is love, she supposes, when you lie down next to someone who could use a shower and hold them.  And when you know that there is no other place you'd rather be.


She's damned lucky to have found that.


They both are.




Kirk watches as Chris moves through the market.  Her movements are fluid, strong.  He wonders if she has any idea how much he is turned on by her strength, by her limber power. 


She looks back, holds up some wooden pegs.  She makes a staking motion, then begins to bargain with the merchant.


He supposes it is not a bad thing to be prepared, even if he did want her in space to be free of vampires.


She hurries up to him, her stakes wrapped in a small parcel.  She takes his hand, kisses him. 


He kisses her back.  It is such a luxury to be with her like this.  Free and easy and together on a simple shore leave.  Nothing in their way.  No reason to feel bad.


He sees her frown.  Follows her gaze.  Spock is walking with Rand.  Kirk sighs.  "Let it go, Chris."


"I just don't like it."


"He's not your business anymore."


"I know but--"


He kisses her to shut her up. 


She smiles.  "They're just shopping.  It's perfectly safe."


He nods.  "Yes.  Good.  Just keep telling yourself that.  Now, let's go."  He pulls her away, in the opposite direction from where Spock and Rand are headed.


"Do you think he actually likes her?" she asks.  Her interest sounds more like it is caused by casual disbelief, not any lingering longing for Spock.


"He does go for ditzy blondes."  He waits for her reaction, is not disappointed.  "You may have been blonde, but you were never ditzy."


They kiss again, and her mouth is like home to him.  Her body welcomes him as she leans in tightly; her arms are safety and love.  She is everything to him. 


He's suddenly glad she bought the stakes.  Anything to keep her safe.  To keep her with him. 


She leads him to a fortune teller's booth.  He half expects to see Tolvar sitting there.


"Want to have your fortune read?" she asks.


He shakes his head.  "I know my fortune."


"Oh yeah?  What is it?"  She bumps up against him again, and he closes his eyes.  He keeps waiting for this raging desire he feels for her to fade a bit.  But it only seems to get stronger over time. 


"I get the girl.  And live happily ever after."


She smiles.  "Lucky me."


"No, Chris.  Lucky me.  Lucky, lucky me."


They stare at each other.  He calls the ship for beam up.  They hurry to his quarters, and he is glad that most of the crew is on shore leave.  They look like two teenagers who've just discovered sex rushing for whichever house has no parents in it. 


As she pushes him down to the bed, climbs on top of him, he can feel the magic that increasingly accompanies their lovemaking gathering around them.  He groans and hears her make a similar sound as she feels the energy rising around them.  He's glad he has wards on his quarters.  He'd be worried about the warp engines, if this kind of energy burst escaped the room.


He figures they'd feel the pulse all the way to Romulus. 


He only hopes the soundproofing is as strong as his magical shields.




Chapel stares out over the alien sea.  It rages far below the cliffs, the purple sky turning the water a strange grayish-lavender.


"Remind you of anyplace?"  Jim leans against her, pushing his hands around her waist, to clasp under her chest.


She laughs.  "I was just looking for indigenous mythical life forms."


"Me too."  He kisses her neck, causing her to shiver. 


She has never had a lover who could make her feel so much so easily. 


His hands tighten and start to inch upwards, towards her breasts.  She laughs.  "What are you doing?"


"Exploring the indigenous life forms."


She puts her hands over his, stopping his upward progress.  "You are insatiable."


"You say that like it's a bad thing."  He kisses her neck again, then hooks his chin over her shoulder.  "God, it's beautiful here."  He squeezes her.  "The view's nice too."


She turns, kisses him.  Hopes that no one gets offended, that the natives on this beautiful, strange world are as easy going about affection as the natives of Capri were.  Soon, she forgets to worry about it.


He groans.  "You think this grass is high enough to hide us?"


She lifts an eyebrow, a perfect imitation of Spock's--the grass is mowed very short. 


He laughs.  "I guess not."


She kisses him again, feels his hands go up, underneath her uniform shirt.  Warm, his skin is always so warm.  "I love you," she whispers.


"I love you," he says fiercely.  He looks back at the big house where the negotiations are being held. 


She follows his gaze.  Spock is just going in.  She wonders how long he has been watching them.  He has been different since V'ger.  More emotional--although that finally seems to be fading.  But also a bit sad. 


She does not dwell overlong on it.  She is no longer terribly interested in Spock's state of mind, except as far as friendship goes.


"I better get back in."


She nods.  "I'm going to walk."


"Watch out for sirens and nymphs and demigods."


She smiles.  "I've got my own demigod."  Her smile turns wicked; she lets her hand brush against him.  Low.


"Not so demi if you keep that up," he says, pulling her in for a last kiss.  Then he turns and heads back to the house.


She watches him go, then heads into the woods, following the winding road down to the water.  She sits on the beach, enjoying the oddly-colored sunshine.  Yawning, she lies back, sleeps.


Water drips on her and she opens her eyes.  Jim is crouching down, holding a shell, and letting water pour out of it onto her face, a little bit at a time.  As she laughs and wipes her face, he tosses the shell away. 


"The rest went back to town," he says.  "I told them we'd catch up."


The sun is just setting and the planet's three moons are rising.  They sit over the dusky mauve sea, their light streaming across the water, seeming to light Jim as he leans over her.  He looks like something from a legend. 


She pulls him down to her.  They move under the moons, the small, round pebbles shifting beneath her as he pulls her uniform off, as he loves her and makes her cry out.  He is not silent either.


They lie in the bright light of the moons, and she looks out at the water.  He follows her gaze.


"You want to?" she asks.


"Yes."  He pulls her up.  "It's safe to swim.  But only barely."


She grins.  "You checked?"


"I knew we'd both want to swim.  If we could." He is leading her into the soft, warm water.  "And we can."


She follows him out past the small breakers.  Then they turn on their backs and float, hands linked as the moons beat down on their naked bodies.


She looks over at him.  His eyes are closed.  Then he grins, somehow knows she is looking at him.  He flips onto his stomach, pulls her close.  She paddles backward, getting them into shallower water where he can stand, can pull her up and to him.  She wraps her legs around him, sighs as she settles onto him.  This is their element.  Just theirs.


"I love you," he breathes to her as he moves.


"I love you," she says back, just as softly.


The sounds seem to carry out over the sea.  She wonders if this world's sirens can hear them.


If they can, she's sure they would approve.




Kirk moves closer to Chris as they watch Spock with his Romulan acolytes.  His voice is like gravel, his every motion stiff, unyielding.


Chris looks at him, smiles sadly.  "He's changed so much from when I last saw him. Maybe the Spock we knew is gone forever?"


He shakes his head.  "I can't believe that."  But he has to admit, this Spock is rivaling post-Gol Spock for cheerlessness.  "Let's go," he says softly as he takes her hand, already fading out.


She follows him, the warmth and brightness of the other place welcoming them back.  Kirk closes his eyes, is filled again with the peace he once thought he could only find in space or lying next to Chris during their good periods.


She smiles and he knows she is following his thoughts, their souls united through the touch of their hands--of their energy. 


"It's only good periods here," she says softly.


He nods, pulls her close.  They stay like that for a long time, then he starts to build them a world so they can be alone.  She grins as the Idaho countryside comes to life around them, as Caya and Kaiser find their way back to them, the spirit of the mare no better tempered than the corporeal form was.  She bites at Kaiser, who nickers in a long-suffering way that makes them both laugh. 


He just about has the landscape perfect, has put down a blanket, some food in a picnic basket far too bulky for the horses to carry if this were any place but their fantasy world.   It is like the Nexus, only there are no limits, no entity trying to control him and make him stay placid.  He can make love to Chris here and nothing interferes, in fact he feels as if the whole place seems to breathe in their affection, their pleasure.  As if everyone and everything around them is a part of their love.  It should be eerie, but it's not.  It's beautiful.


He is drawing her close to him, has started to pull her down to the blanket when he sees someone striding across the fields toward them.  It is a woman.  Dressed in leathers and furs.  And armed with a bat'leth.


A Klingon woman.  He looks at Chris, points with his chin to the approaching warrior.


Chris turns, and as she sees the woman a huge smile breaks over her face and she takes off running.


"Friend of yours?" he mutters, following her as the two women catch each other up in a fierce hug.   He sees Chris's whole posture shift as she talks to the Klingon woman, as if she is becoming stronger, fiercer.  He missed a lot when he was in that damned Nexus.  This is a Chris he wishes he had gotten to know.


The Klingon woman stares at him unabashedly as he walks up.  "So you are Kirk?"  She inspects him as if he is a specimen under a microscope.


Chris puts her arm around him.  "This is Khorta.  The first lady of our House."


"I am honored to meet you."  His voice is low, calm.  He doesn't look away from her as she stares at him and he sees something, some kind of respect grow in her expression.


"You'll do," she finally says.  "Since Christine is so fond of you."  She smirks at him.


He finds himself grinning.  Chris talked to this woman about him?  Even when she was with Spock?  He thinks he loves that. 


The woman looks at the picnic he's laid out, the horses tied to bushes.  "I see you are busy.  I just came to tell you that Gramton has killed a sh'iril.  There will be a great feast."


He looks at Chris.  She seems to be salivating.  She grins at him.  "Fancy a trip to Sto-Vo-Kor?"


It wouldn't normally be his first choice of destinations, but he sees the way her eyes sparkle at the thought and can't bear to deny her anything that gives her that much pleasure.  "Sounds like fun."


And the scary thing is that it does sound like fun.  Raucous Klingon afterlife here we come.  He grins crazily at Khorta and she laughs.


"You'll more than do."  She looks at Christine.  "We have this ritual, the Day of Switching Husbands.  Have you heard of it?"


Chris laughs loudly. "I haven't." 


"Damn," Khorta says, and shoots Kirk a disappointed look.


He looks at her muscles and is very glad that Chris is not the sharing kind.  Even if the woman couldn't hurt him, not really.  Not here.


"I do wonder if you'll still be so concerned with sharing when Spock finally comes home?"


Kirk thinks about that.  He glances over at Chris, sees her look down.  He smiles, realizes that the idea of sharing Chris with Spock doesn't scare him the same way being traded does.  "Vulcans live a long time.  We have some time until we find out if you're right."  He nods to her.  "Nice of you to drop in, Khorta.  You can see yourself out?"


"Subtle, you're not."  She grins.  "It's very Klingon.  I like it."  Turning to Chris, she says, "I will see you at the feast, Christine.  We can catch up on Hehnak."


Chris smiles.  "I'd like that."


Khorta walks away, fading much faster on the way back than she appeared.  Probably wanted a suitably dramatic entrance.


"Where were we?" Chris says.


"A much safer place," he says with a smile, pulling her to him again.  "Am I going to have to share you?"


She can't hide her grin.  "I think it's more that I'll have to share you, love."


He thinks about that.  "Well, that's all right then."  He laughs, pulling her down to the blanket.  "For now, can I just enjoy you?"


She nods, and words soon become an unnecessary thing as their mouths find much more useful things to do.


"I love you," he hears her say, feels her body crying it out to him.  The grass and trees and even the horses seem to echo it back to him. 


She loves him.


"I love you too," he says and the words travel the same route.  The very air hums with his love for her.


He loves her.


And they're together again.


Heaven.  It's heaven.