DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2001 by Cheree Cargill.

Nothing Says Loving...

Cheree Cargill

Christine was lucky that she'd made a big batch of plomeek soup that morning. There was still enough left that she quickly went to her cabin, dished up a bowl and stuck it in the heating unit. Meanwhile, she programmed into the food slot an order of crunchy vegetables, cheese and fresh French bread. All were ready within a couple of minutes and she arranged them onto a tray along with a spoon, napkin, carafe of cool water, and some small condiments. Then covering the soup dish, she retraced her steps to Spock's cabin.

It was with a sense of deja vu that she reached his quarters, thankful that there were no curious observers filling the hallway this time. It was mid-shift and traffic was at a minimum.

The door to Spock's cabin slid open with a hiss and then closed as quickly behind her, and she was once again momentarily startled by the darkness and heat of the Vulcan's quarters. She didn't see him anywhere. "Spock?" she called softly. "I have your food."

He appeared out of the bathroom, the light flicking off in his wake. He had changed out of his uniform and was wearing a dark floor-length caftan-like robe, his bare feet silent on the carpet. There was a slight sheen of moisture on his face and his bangs were damp, giving her the impression that he'd been in the process of washing his face when she arrived. But he didn't look any more refreshed, his eyes still shadowed and his expression drawn and sad.

"I have your food," Christine repeated hopefully. "The soup."

"Oh, yes," he murmured. "Thank you. Please ... just leave it on the desk. I will eat it shortly."

"You need to eat it now, while it's still hot," she answered and placed the tray where he indicated. Something compelled her to remain, afraid that he would again ignore sustenance and go without. He hadn't eaten in three days, she knew from his records. She was determined that he not make it four. "Please, Mr. Spock. Come and sit down." He didn't move and she tried a different ploy. "It is not logical to starve yourself."

He showed a flicker of response, twitching one brow up in answer, but he moved toward her. "Indeed," he said, his voice low and rough and soft.

Christine felt her heart pound as he paused before her and gazed at her silently, his dark eyes intent on her blue ones. With him standing barefoot and her in her boots, they were almost exactly the same height, their faces level with each other's, only a few inches apart. Her lips opened minutely and his eyes flicked for an instant toward her mouth, invitingly close, then he dropped his gaze to the tray and reached to lift the cover on the soup dish.

The rich, tangy aroma swirling up from the thick orange liquid abruptly made his stomach growl with hunger and his mouth water in anticipation. "This smells quite delicious," he commented as he seated himself and picked up the spoon.

"I hope you like it," she responded with a smile, pulling up a chair to sit beside him. "I made it myself."

The soup was steaming hot and pungent with Vulcan spices, and Spock involuntarily closed his eyes as the flavors burst upon his tongue. He held still for a few seconds before swallowing, savoring the tastes of his home world. When he did open his eyes, there was an expression akin to bliss on his features. Then he glanced at the woman next to him.

"This is remarkable!" he said to her. "I have not enjoyed plomeek in a number of years ... and seldom as well prepared as this! You have a very real talent, Miss Chapel. There are few Humans who are adept at preparing Vulcan cuisine."

"I'm glad. And it's Christine, remember?" she gently reminded him.

"Yes ... Christine..." He gazed into her eyes again, searchingly, and she realized that she could feel his body heat radiating from his skin. It was like a flame burning near her, drawing her like a moth to its brightness. For a moment she was lost in the depths of his eyes, in the magnetic pull of them, then they both seemed to come to themselves and the contact was lessened.

Spock turned back to his food and resolutely began to eat, lifting spoon after spoon of the fiery orange soup to his mouth. Christine sat back to watch him, loving the opportunity to observe him in so mundane and intimate a task, her eyes absorbing every nuance ... the way his fingers held the handle of the spoon, the way his lips opened to receive the spoon bowl, the way his throat moved as he swallowed, his adam's apple sliding upward below his skin and then down again. She noted the little details of his face ... the dusky shadow of his unshaven beard, the thick dark lashes defining his downcast eyes, the little scar underneath his cheekbone and the other on his jawline.

She wondered how he'd gotten them. It was unusual nowadays to see any sign of facial damage. Most people would have had such imperfections removed by a simple skin regeneration technique. At least most Humans would have. She supposed that physical perfection was not so important to Vulcans, who valued the small evidences of individuality as pleasing under their principle of IDIC. In any case, she was glad that Spock had chosen to let these blemishes remain. They were part of his history, part of what made his face uniquely his. Part of what made him the man she loved so much.

Spock did not notice her observations, however, concentrating now on his meal. Once he'd begun to eat, he realized how famished he was. Within ten minutes, he had devoured all that she had brought, then sat back, seeming a bit surprised that there was no more.

Christine smiled broadly, pleased. "Do you want more soup, Mr. Spock? I can get you more."

"No ... no, this was quite satisfactory," he answered. "Thank you ... Christine. It was delicious."

"Well, then I'll just get these dishes out of the way and be going--" She reached for the tray, but he startled her by abruptly seizing her wrist and turning his penetrating gaze on her once more.

"No, please ... would you stay for a while? Simply ... talk with me, Christine?" His voice held an imploring note to it.

"Of course, Spock," she responded, a bit taken aback. It was so unlike him to touch someone or ask this of another. But his grasp on her wrist made her shiver with the power she felt within him, barely contained and seeking to burst free. Despite it, there was a vulnerability showing in the dark reaches of his eyes, something that yearned for her and which she could not refuse. "You know I would do anything for you," she continued softly. "Anything at all."

His grip loosened but he did not lift his hand from her arm. Instead, there was something else in his touch now, something almost like a caress. He seemed to relax ever so slightly and his deep, hoarse whisper reached a place far within her soul that tingled in response.

"I must tell you how sorry I am that I assaulted you earlier today," he said, his gaze never leaving hers. "I lost control. I know that you were only trying to help me."

"Spock, it's all right," she whispered back, laying her hand over his without thinking.

His eyes closed for a second and he drew in his breath as her palm made contact over his fingers. For a fraction of a second, both began the motion to jerk away, but he pre-empted her actions, taking her hand between both of his and holding it there. She saw emotion flit over his face, then he bent his head so that she couldn't see him clearly.

"Spock, what is it?" she demanded softly. "Tell me what's troubling you. Let me help." Instinctively, she reached up with her free hand to caress his cheek.

Again, he gave a slight involuntary gasp as her fingertips brushed over his meld points, her love and concern for him flooding into him in a rush of emotion. "I ... I cannot tell you," he answered in a barely audible voice. He kept his eyes closed, struggling with himself for control.

Truly concerned now, Christine pulled her hand free and brought it up to his face, holding him between her palms. His skin was unnaturally hot, but she couldn't tell if he had a fever or if this was his natural body temperature. Vulcans were so different from Humans... "Spock, please. I want to know what's wrong. How can I help you? What do you need?"

The emotions of her soul overwhelmed him, battering down the crumbling shields he had been attempting to keep in place. Unwittingly, he opened his eyes and looked into the pools of clear blue liquid before him, losing himself in their soothing depths. He brought his own hands up to her face, his long, graceful fingers moving of their own accord into meld position. His tortured body was crying out for relief, both mental and physical, and the answer to his pleas was before him.

"You," he heard himself whisper. "I need you." He found himself pulling her gently toward him and he leaning to meet her. "You, Christine..."

Their lips came together in glorious fulfillment of instinctive need. For a split second, she resisted, shocked, then she melted against him as his heat and urgency poured over her. With a moan, she opened her lips and her tongue sought entry to his mouth. A small spark of surprise surged into her from his psyche, then he complied, allowing her in. Arousal shivered through him as her tongue played against his, the wet sensuous stimulation something he had never known before. Tentatively, he followed her lead, exploring with his own tongue and finding the contact with hers fueling his growing desire for her.

And then, just as abruptly, he broke the kiss and pushed her away. "No," he said hoarsely, almost to himself more than to her. "This is not right. I cannot do this."

Christine peered at him closely, her own adrenalin singing through her veins. "We can if you want to, Spock," she whispered earnestly. "We're both adults. You know how I feel about you..."

"That's not it," he answered, squeezing his eyes shut, almost in pain. "I cannot explain to you... It is ... it is too private a reason..."

He rose and stalked away from her, into his bed chamber, his shoulders tight with tension. Christine remained where she sat for a long moment, hurt and puzzled, her mind reeling as she tried to sort through all that had just happened. Too private a reason? Was it something medical? Swiftly, she reviewed his medical chart, mentally searching for something that might account for his conflicting behavior. Nothing stood out, but then something she'd overheard the Captain say suddenly alarmed her.

"I can't let Spock die now, can I, Bones?" he'd said.

She was on her feet immediately and going toward the tall man now standing before the ancestral figure on his bedroom shelf, his hands clenched before him almost in prayer. "Spock, tell me what's wrong with you!" she demanded. "I want to help you! But I can't if you won't be honest with me!"

He whirled around to face her, his face filled with rage. "Do you not comprehend what I say to you?!" he exploded, advancing on her with the same anger he had displayed earlier in the day. "You are not of the Bond! You are not mine! Get out!"

Christine back-pedaled into the room divider and there held her ground, shaking with fear but determined to see this through. "No, Spock," she said in a quavering voice. "Something is very wrong here and I want to help you make it right. Please..."

His features dissolved from fury into grief and he bent his head away from her, his fists clenched. "I would tell you if I could, Christine," he whispered with anguish in his voice. "But I cannot. I simply cannot."

She took a step toward him, then another until she was standing before him in the darkened bedroom. "All right," she soothed him. "You don't have to tell me." She suddenly saw that he was trembling and, without further thought, she took him in her arms, drawing him into an embrace of comfort and warmth.

He responded, sliding his arms around her and pulling her close, burying his face in her hair. They stood that way for some time and, gradually, his unsteadiness faded away and the unbearable fatigue he was feeling seeped past his mental shields to permeate her mind.

She pulled away a bit and steered him toward his bed, her arm around his waist. "You're exhausted," she commented softly. "I want you to sleep now." He made a token protest, but didn't fight her. "It's okay," she assured him. "I'll stay with you as long as you need me to."

"There really is no need," he answered, but allowed her to settle him onto the coverlet of his bunk. Almost immediately he felt his tired body sinking into the yielding surface of his mattress and his mind following it into slumber.

Christine observed his rapid descent into sleep, rolled on his right side with one hand tucked underneath his head, just as she'd found him when she'd come to him before. His eyes closed and his face smoothed out somewhat, and with a deep sigh he was asleep.

Careful not to disturb him, she took the black and white throw that was draped over the foot of his bed and covered him with it, tucking it around his shoulders. Then she bent and kissed his temple softly and with tender affection.

"Sweet dreams, my darling," she whispered to him. "We'll have you home in a few more days and then everything will be all right. You'll see."

She quietly retrieved the dinner tray and tiptoed to the door, pausing to glance back at the man she loved before slipping out to let him rest.