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 PG-13.
Seagulls fly overhead and the sun beats down on bare skin—sweat drying as two lovers lie on towels on the sand, their hands touching, occasionally looking over at each other.
"So you'll stay?" he asks, and the look he gives her is one she can't resist. She thinks he knows that, knows he's aware of her history, her predilection for cold men who left her wanting more—men who would never load such a simple question with so much emotion.
She sighs. This time she's having with him, these sensual moments they've been sharing all afternoon, is unexpected. She agreed to come down to where he was spending shore leave to talk things out—to tell him she was leaving his ship. That she couldn't stay. Not with Decker gone—her lover, too. And not a cold one. But also not one who would ever love her best: she knew that the moment she saw how he looked at Ilia.
But she doesn't have to tell him, even though she doesn't know that. He already knows Decker was her lover. He doesn't care. He's been the lowest he's ever been just before stealing back his ship from the man he recommended to replace him. He saw her and Decker several times at Command, standing so close, laughing softly, the ease between them immediately making him jealous—not because he wanted her, but because he wanted back the ease he'd had with Bones...and with Spock.
Besides, he knew it was over for her the moment he saw Will look at that Deltan. He should have hurt for her, but he'd been...happy. Or relieved, maybe that's the more noble sentiment.
He's not sure when getting her became synonymous with getting his ship, but somehow it has. And even though he has the ship, and his friends are back, too, something is still missing and he knows it is this, having a woman—one that his ship will share him with. This woman fits—she knows him better than his wife-for-a-minute did, even before this sharing of flesh they've been engaged in for hours.
"You took my job away," she murmurs, afraid to spoil the mood but not wanting this to just be about good sex and expert touching and how relating to him is suddenly easy and so delicious.
"Technically, your job is still there. You're just not in it." He rolls to his side and touches her face as he talks.
She grabs his hand and puts it back on the sand. "Don't. Don't manipulate me."
He frowns: that hadn't been what he was doing. "Okay."
"Why do you want me if I was with Decker?"
"Why would you want me when I was with Lori? No one comes without a past, Chris."
"But ours both died. Sacrificed on your ship." His ex-wife on the transporter when it malfunctioned. Her lover leaving of his own volition—becoming something else.
"So we mourn them, if we need to—I did my mourning for my marriage months ago—and we move on."
"To each other?"
He nods. Then he leans in and kisses her, and they both wonder why they never thought of doing this before. Although to be fair he has thought of it, every time he saw her with Will, and she's thought of it, too, the few times during their first voyage, when she had her captain alone in sickbay, and he was sweet and joking and trying to cajole her to let him out of bed and back on the bridge.
She leans back and he follows her, stroking her skin as he says gently, "Let's talk it out. Honest. That'd be a good way to start this."
She smiles, but knows it is not a nice one. Honest? Fine: "I don't want to be Len's deputy. Same shit, different day."
He wants her to be honest, but he didn't expect her to open with this. "Is it shit? Because if that's how you think of this ship—of me...?"
He sounds hurt, and she didn't mean to hurt him. "You're not shit. The ship's certainly not. But doing this job. I'll always be a glorified nurse to him."
He smiles. "There's a biochem position that technically is part of McCoy's staff and not Spock's. It's research mainly. New lifeforms and new civilizations come with all sorts of viruses and medicines."
"There's no such position."
He grins. He love this part: the gotcha, only in this case, it's a good kind of reveal. "There is now—if you want it? I thought it up. Convinced Bones that if he wanted to keep you, he better champion it. He's already pitched it to Starfleet Medical, and they're on board."
"You'd do that for me?" She feels a rush of pleasure because this sounds good and fun and challenging and different. Even if she's barely had time to get bored with being a doctor. But still, it's just another way of manipulating her. "Or are you doing this to me?"
"Do you think so little of me? You're not exactly low on ways of making things come out your way." He nuzzles her nose with his as he says it, taking any sting out of the words.
"You've been thinking about this."
He pulls back, the distance giving him away even as he does it, and he knows his expression has changed.
"What happened to honesty, sir?"
She studies him like some bug on a slide and he looks away. Finally he says, "I saw you with Will. On Earth. I was...jealous."
"That makes no sense." But he's said it and he looks like he's being truthful, and so she uses the intellect that many people used to think she didn't have buried under all that blonde hair and considers. "He had your ship. You couldn't take that away—but you did. And now me?" She sighs and falls back into the sand. "Are you kidding me? I'm just a trophy of some kind?"
He reaches over, feeling for her hand. "My motives were not pure, I'll admit." Finally, he finds it, her amazingly soft skin, the way she twines her fingers with his even though he suspects she is very angry at this moment. "I wanted you because it was him you were with. But now...I just want you." He turns his head and finds her looking back. "Is that so bad?" He doesnŐt smile, doesn't give her one of the many expressions he's practiced because they're so damn useful in getting his way. He just waits, his expression neutral, but his eyes soft, because he can't help that, he can't help that he wants to crawl on top of her and use other parts of his body to convince her.
She looks away, but she doesn't let go of his hand. She knows she should, that she should stand up and get dressed and get the hell away from him—and his ship.
But it feels so good to be next to him, to be under him—or on top of him. To have his focus entirely on her. She sighs and finally looks back, and he is still watching her with his soft, patient look.
"Will you think about it?" He reaches for her with his other hand, his fingers making lazy circles on her stomach. She thinks she could lie like this forever.
"I'm an idiot. I'm going to go on record and say that now. But yeah, I will." She moves closer. "Why me?"
"Why you for the science position?" His grin is gorgeous, open and silly and letting her know he understood her question but is teasing her.
"Yes, please, tell me all about how my resume arouses you." She reaches down, finds that if not her resume, then something about her makes him very happy. "Why me for your lover?"
"Because we've always been kind to each other, even if not entirely in each other's orbits." He doesn't want to tell her that the fact that Spock might want her also is a factor. He's glad beyond measure to have his friend back, but he's also still hurt and bitter and angry that he left—angrier still that Spock can't articulate a reason he went to purge all his emotions. No matter how many times he asks him, there is a helpless look in Spock's eyes, like he is asking for something impossible. In light of that, in light of how he saw Spock watching her one day in sickbay, and in light of how nice it is to be near her, he wants to have her.
No, he has her right now. He wants to keep her. He does not miss the irony that it is the same way he felt about the ship until he knew Nogura would let him stay.
"Kind." She moves closer, letting her hands run over his body, finds where he is ticklish and files that info away for some other time. He leans in and kisses her, his lips so soft, so sweet, and she knows he is manipulating her with this tenderness he is giving her, but if he also feels it, is that so bad?
Because he's right. She is no stranger to manipulation. And she understands what it is to want what someone else had. She was not first in line for Decker's CMO until she seduced him. And she seduced him in ways no one but this man who is kissing her now might understand.
He urges her onto him, lets her ride him, moving to help her find the right rhythm, adding fingers and lips and tongue when needed. He wants her to want him, to need him. He holds her hips as she moves, his touch light, not trying to control, just support until she cries out, and he watches her, enjoying the way she squeezes her eyes shut and clenches other parts of her anatomy, making him follow, calling her name out.
She leans down and kisses him in a way she already knows she won't tire of anytime soon, and murmurs, "Spock wants to talk to me, too. I suppose it's not to discuss my assignment."
"I think he's regretting his choices."
She eases off him and curls up facing him, playing with his hair in a way he decides he adores. Her expression is thoughtful as she murmurs, "He should have regretted them before he went off to become a super Vulcan."
He laughs softly. "That's not really what the graduates are called."
"Don't care. Don't want to know." She holds her hand over his mouth, and he finds the move strangely arousing. "Shut up now. I don't want to talk about him."
And then she rolls to her back and looks away, and he feels a pang. He leans over her and brushes back her hair so he can see her face. He likes her hair this new dark color. She had changed it from blonde before she left the ship for med school, but it was still a sort of medium shade, almost red. This very dark brown is good on her. "Would you rather be with him?" He doesn't like how the question makes him feel.
She laughs, but there is no humor in the sound. Mostly helplessness. "Sir—Jim, I loved him for so long."
And just like that he knows he may have won the ship, but he has not yet won this woman. She is with him, she is giving him everything—except her heart.
She glances at him. "Do you want to rethink that job offer?"
"No," he says, and his voice is tight, the voice of life down on Earth, of life with Lori, of days spent at a desk instead of in the center chair.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what else to say. I came down her to tell you I was going to leave but then this happened and..."
He holds up his hand and she stops talking—she is grateful, actually. Everything she says makes it worse.
The great Casanova of the galaxy, and she thinks she has broken his heart. Only...this isn't about her. He doesn't know her any better than he did when she first beamed down to talk to him. Well, other than knowing her body and how she likes to be touched.
This wasn't about her. And she hasn't broken his heart.
"I'm not going to say yes to Spock." But she's not entirely sure that's true. If he comes to her with the same look he's been giving her lately, if he touches her...
He turns to her, his grin back in place, a sweet one. "This was fun."
He touches her lips, "And it never happened if that's what you want. Although if you're with Spock, he might pick that up from a meld. If he melds during sex—I've never been sure how that works."
She laughs. "So you've never...?"
"With Spock? No. Although plenty think I have." Even though it's hurting him to do it, he grins again. "Guess you'll find out what it's like to have a telepathic lover."
And how much better will Spock be as a lover for her, if he can feel exactly where she is? He starts to sigh but immediately turns it into a fake yawn. "I'm going to go swimming before I fall asleep here." He thought they could walk on the beach, arms around each other. How many dreams was he ready to load onto her?
"I think maybe I'll go back to the ship."
"All right." He pushes up, glad he spent so much time in the gym that he can stand in one lithe movement even if he can't make this woman his as easily. "I hope...I hope he makes you happy."
She frowns as he turns away, not liking the sound of his voice, the resignation. He walks for a bit on the wet sand before wading in and diving under the surf, his head popping up further out, his stroke sure and strong.
"I loved Spock first." She says it out loud and she's not sure why. It's not like she loves her captain, not after one afternoon. It was just sex.
She gets up, pulls on her clothes, and calls for beam-up back to the ship.
Sickbay is quiet, the lights turned down, several nurses wander through, checking readings on the biobeds. They both pay extra attention to the bed closest to McCoy's office: their captain is a special patient. They shoot glances into the office where Chapel is working. She should have been off shift hours ago, but she has not left. She is not technically on duty since she moved to the special billet, and she has an office down the hall that is really hers, but she's taking a special interest in one patient. They share a knowing glance and then go into the next room.
The door opens and Spock walks in, his steps soft as he makes his way to her office. She looks up, smiles gently and says, "He's sleeping."
She has not had sex with Spock, and she thinks the man lying in the bed outside her door and pretending to be asleep does not realize that yet. She thinks Spock wants her, but it is a gentle—almost distracted—sort of desire, and while at times she thinks she should just say yes, find out if what she wanted from him matches reality, she cannot get that afternoon on the beach out of her mind.
"Jim will be all right?" Spock asks.
"He's out of the woods." It is easy to say, now that the danger is over. But earlier, neither she nor Len was sure. Len didn't ask why she was suddenly on duty again as a doctor and she didn't offer a reason—she suspects she doesn't have to. Len is a master at reading Chapel face.
"I will..." Spock seems unsure what to say. He sits.
The man, lying out in the bed, strains to hear what Spock will say next. He is not sure if Spock and she are lovers or not. She has not come back to him, not to his bed, at any rate, but she finds her way to the mess the same time he does for breakfast and they've shared a lot of meals. Lunch is usually grabbed on the run, dinners with Spock or Bones, but the mornings belong to her.
He hates that he's in sickbay—as a patient, he doesn't mind being there to shoot the shit with Bones. His midsection hurts, and he's finding it difficult to get comfortable no matter how they adjust the bed for him. But he loves that she's still there, that she has not left him. That she stays in this office that isn't really hers for him.
Or if not for him, he will tell himself she is. He needs that now, as he moves and his abused body protests. He needs to think she loves him enough for that.
"I have had much time to think," Spock says, and he perks up, as much as he can without wincing or giving away he is not asleep. Is Spock going to break up with her? Or propose?
Should he still care? It has been a month since that afternoon on the beach. Just because he can't forget it doesn't mean she hasn't.
"Think?" Her voice is the cagey one he has gotten to know. Were she to use it with him, while they sat over their oatmeal and eggs and bacon, she would have a smile that told him she was on to him, that such a statement was a first shot in some new manipulation.
A game, he thinks, the idea of manipulation has become. Good natured and even sweet at times, and as he suspected, she is as good at it as he is.
She hears him moving out on his biobed, the telltale signs of a patient who needs more pain meds but is too damned stubborn to admit it. She'll let him pretend a while longer: she imagines he is as interested as she is in where Spock is going with his statement.
"I have shown interest in you. In a variety of ways." Spock is watching her with a look that is almost clinical. "I believe you are no longer interested in me."
She hears the ping of the biobed as the man outside holds his breath. Before it can alarm, she says, "You're right. But we've never been friends, and I'd like it if we could be."
The biobed goes back to normal as he lets himself breathe. She is not sleeping with Spock. She doesn't want him anymore.
And that's because of him.
It is, isn't it? She's not in love with someone else, is she? Have she and Bones...?
"Friends." Spock rises, and the look he gives her is neutral but then he gazes out, toward the bed, and he looks back at her, his expression knowing—far more than she expects. "Is he really asleep?" he asks so softly she knows the words won't go beyond the walls of the office.
She holds up a hypo and speaks just as quietly, "No, but he will be."
A slight uptick of his lips, and she grins, and the biobed begins to log increased blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
He has always had good hearing, but he would kill for Vulcan ears about now. What are they doing in there? Spock didn't try to kiss her, did he? A goodbye to lost chances. A kiss that turned into something more, a thought that revisiting would be better than saying goodbye.
"We're going to drive him crazy. Get out of here so I can check on him." She touches Spock's arm gently. "If things were different..."
"I understand. And, as my mother would no doubt tell me, I had my chance."
"That you did." She watches him turn and walk out of sickbay and then hurries to the biobed. "Can I help?"
"Tell me you weren't just kissing him."
"I wasn't just kissing him." She pushes along his side, finding the spots that are making him uncomfortable, assessing by feel before she reaches for the scanner. She likes to do it both ways, sometimes flesh can tell things tech can't.
"And you're admitting it?" She finishes scanning him, nothing out of the ordinary, just the normal pain of recovery. "Here." She holds the hypo against his neck and presses down.
He closes his eyes, loving the sound of her voice so close to his ear as much as the feeling of relief as the pain meds start to work. "I thought I moved you out of sickbay."
She brushes back his hair, remembering how it felt when it was damp with salt water and then later sweat from making love to her. "You did. But for such a special patient, I figured a return engagement was in order."
He gives himself over to her touch, to the soft fuzziness of the pain meds, to the dark comfort of sickbay when it is just the two of them in it. "You're not with him?"
"I'm not with him."
"Are you with someone else?"
She rubs his nose with hers. "You're being awfully direct. Where did all your magical 'you'll never know I'm interrogating you' skills go?"
"Out the airlock because I need to know." He reaches up, ignoring the pain in his side as he touches her cheek. "I can be direct when it matters."
She turns her head so she can kiss his palm, then gently lifts his hand from her cheek and eases his arm down to the bed. "Lie still."
"Okay." His head is starting to feel woozy, and he smiles at her, wondering if it is a sexy look or if he is beaming like some lovesick fool.
"Do you know why I'm not with you, Jim?"
"Really bad judgment?"
She laughs, which makes him laugh, but then pain zaps through him like a phaser, cutting off the sound. "Idiot," she says, but there is so much affection in her voice that he doesn't mind. "That'll teach you to be funny."
"Why aren't you with me?" He meets her eyes, wanting to hear this before he's too far gone from the meds to be able to hold a conversation.
"I needed to know that you'd let me do what I wanted. Well, at first, I thought I might want to be with Spock, if he wanted me. But then I found I didn't want that, that I kept thinking of you, but you have a way of holding onto things you think are yours."
"My ship never complains." He knows what she means though. It was, after all, why he went after her in the first place. Because he thought of her as his in some fundamental way: she'd served under him, not Will. She'd stayed on his ship even after she found Roger, and even if it had been because of Spock and not him, he doesn't care. She's his, and she always will be.
But that doesn't mean he owns her. "If you want Spock..."
"If I wanted Spock, I'd be with Spock. Or with whoever else I fancied." She can tell the drugs are about to do him in so she leans down and kisses him. "I love our breakfasts. I've gotten to know you—and I like you. So much."
"I do, too." He jumbles the words like a drunk. "I like you. And I love you. Kiss me again."
She does, kissing him until she feels him go limp under her, as he surrenders to sleep and the drugs and her.
"I thought something was going on." Len's voice behind her, his tone amused. "You two are wily, though. Never see you coming out of each other's quarters."
She looks up at him and smiles. "It's complicated."
"Isn't it always." Len takes the scanner from her and runs his own checks. For once it doesn't bother her. If she missed anything, she wants to know: this man is too important to her for pride to get in the way.
Len hands her back the scanner and asks, "When did you sleep last? Because you look like shit."
She laughs. "Thanks, boss."
"I'm just saying. He's not going to want you if you look like something the cat dragged in."
She touches his face, and he smiles in sleep and leans into her hand, murmuring something that she can't make out. "Actually, he will."