DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of DebbieB and is copyright (c) 2000 by DebbieB. This story is Rated R.

Better Living Through Reckless Experimentation

by DebbieB

Christine Chapel hugged herself tightly. The rotting shell of a building did nothing to stop the wind. She thought longingly of the big fuzzy robe she kept in her closet on the Enterprise. It was pink terry cloth, with faded spots in the elbows, and it made her look like she weighed two hundred pounds. She loved it.

At this moment, she'd break Prime Directive Numbers One through Seventeen to be in that pink robe, with a mug of hot cocoa in her hands and a Clark Gable movie on vid.

A blast of icy air shook her out of "It Happened One Night" and back into "I'm Gonna Kill Mr. Spock One Day." She glared at him through the gray light, wondering what had ever possessed her to want to sleep with him. Right now, she didn't even want to share breathing space with him.

*'It's fine, Mr. Spock. The readings are negative.'*

*'Regulations state we must investigate each building to ascertain that no colonists remain in the encampment.'*

"Regulations, my Aunt Gertrude."

"I beg your pardon, Nurse?" Spock looked up from the bundle of leaves and twigs he had gathered. It was going to be a long, cold night before this weather cleared enough for the transporters to cut through.

"I said, if I had known we were going to be roughing it, I'd have brought my pup tent."

Spock's eyebrow lifted. "There is no need for sarcasm, Miss Chapel."

"If you had believed me when I said this place was deserted…."

"And there is no need for recrimination." He pulled a layer of pure Vulcan calm over him like a fuzzy pink robe. "It is illogical to place blame for a situation one cannot change."

Chapel smiled tightly, flashing back to her summer camp days. "It is also illogical to set somebody's sleeping bag afloat in the middle of the lake, but don't think I haven't done it before."

Spock's glower did nothing to improve her mood. "Miss Chapel, if you have nothing constructive to add to the conversation, I suggest you focus your attention on establishing shelter."

"No, Mr. Spock," she said. "I do have something constructive to add. A request. A simple, official request."

The first officer stopped stacking the few provisions they'd managed to gather from the deserted colony. "Yes, Nurse?"

"Under no circumstances, do I ever …EVER want to accompany you on another landing party. Not for love, not for money, not for all the latinum on Ferenginar."

Spock sighed, shaking his head. "Your irrational response is not helping matters, Miss Chapel."

"This isn't an irrational response," she snarled, closing the gap to take a medpack from his hand and throw it on the pile. "I've read reports from other starships, Mr. Spock. Do you know what happens on other ships? Do you?"

"I…"

"I'll tell you what happens on other ships. People, just like us, go down on landing party missions. They do their job. Then they beam back to the ship. Period. End of story."

Spock handed her a bottle of rubbing alcohol he'd found in the deserted medical center. "Your point?"

"In the four years I have been on this ship, nobody ever just beams down and does their job. No. That would be too easy. Our people find salt vampires and acid-shooting plants and bored Greek gods and time machines. You yourself have been killed, blinded, mugged, imprisoned, possessed by free-floating omniscient aliens, spored, and proclaimed a god. It's not normal, Mr. Spock. And I'm sick of it." She caught her breath, realizing a moment too late that she'd been undoing the stacking Spock was doing. "Seriously," she added, with a soft, slightly mocking smile. "You're a menace."

Spock was not amused. "Miss Chapel, we have less than thirty minutes till sundown. At that time, the temperature in this cabin will drop to a dangerously low point." His expression alone had a wind-chill factor of at least ten degrees. "I suggest you stop complaining and help me establish a fire."

Chapel shot him a dazzling smile. "Gee, Mr. Spock. The same weather conditions that blacked out the transporters have rendered our phasers useless. Perhaps you have a couple of sticks I could rub together? Preferably, one being a match?"

"I have gathered dried leaves and kindling from a nearby wood. I believe we can use bits of stone from the encampment to spark the leaves and build a fire."

"Of course. We should get a merit badge for this. That is, if we don't freeze to death first." Chapel gathered as much of the kindling and brought it to the communal cooking area of the building. A huge draft from the damaged chimney was going to make any attempt at fire-starting difficult. "Build a fire, Miss Chapel. Help with the supplies, Miss Chapel. Regulations state, Miss Chapel."

"Miss Chapel, will you please discontinue your muttering?"

Chapel rolled her eyes as she pounded one rock against the other, fighting the laws of physics to try and reinvent fire. "Will you please discontinue your muttering?"

"Miss Chapel!"

His tone got her attention, and Christine decided to continue her litany of rants in thought only. It was bad enough she had never been able to live down her very public infatuation with him. He avoided her like a cat avoided water. Like a fish avoided dry land. Like a turkey avoided Thanksgiving dinner. Like a five year old avoided brussel sprouts.

Like a competent writer avoided endless similes.

She knew she was being a brat. It wasn't Spock's fault he was so anal-retentive. It wasn't Spock's fault the storm had stranded them on this frozen hell hole. It wasn't Spock's fault it was her birthday.

The rocks clicked slowly at each other, no closer to sparking fire than she was to walking into the super-secret surprise Uhura had been planning for her for weeks.

"This isn't going to work," she said under her breath.

"Miss Chapel, please."

"No…no…" She groaned as she lifted herself off of her knees. "I'm just saying that there's too much draft for the sparks to ignite." She looked around them, wondering what she could use that would stand up to the ever-increasing wind coming through the chimney. "Mr. Spock, hand me that medpack, would you?"

He seemed surprised by her subdued tone, but handed her the requested item. Chapel immediately began looking through it. "There's gotta be something of use in he…Oooh, banzai!"

"I find it hard to believe there is a small Japanese plant in that medical kit, Nurse."

Chapel lifted her eyes from the chemical treasure trove. "I'm just going to pretend you didn't say that."

"Thank you."

"No problem. Now." She pulled a length of sterile gauze from the pack, along with a container of ethyl alcohol and several vials of different medicines. "Dicarboteralyne, mathyetrexicate, damn…"

Spock had paused his activities to watch her momentarily. Finally, he asked, "What are you doing?"

"Bingo!" Chapel found the elusive substance and took her prizes back to the kindling. "Better Living through Reckless Experimentation, Mr. Spock. Today, you learn why they really don't want you to consume alcohol with certain medications."

She formed a depression in the stack of dried leaves, then doused the gauze in rubbing alcohol and placed it right in the middle of the depression. "Stand back," she said as Spock leaned over her shoulders to watch. She opened a tiny vial filled with brown-black liquid. With the dropper in the cap, she placed three drops of the medicine on the gauze. Then, carefully, she took a huge breath and blew.

The gauze exploded into flame, setting the kindling on fire in the process.

Chapel smiled at Spock's expression. She could tell he was impressed. "Now, if we only had a frying pan and oil and flour…"

An eyebrow shot up, and Spock nodded his head. "I shall return, Miss Chapel."

She grinned. "Well, this might not be so bad after all."

* * *

Oh, there was nothing like fry bread to heal the wounded spirit. Not only had Spock found flour and oil, he'd even laid his hands on a bit of sugar. She knew those four years as a Junior Chipmunk Scout would eventually come in handy.

"Oh, god, this is better than sex," she moaned as she tore another strip of the crunchy-soft bread from the plate and popped it into her mouth. The leaves and twigs had created a smoky, but otherwise comfortable fire. She breathed in the woody scent of the fire, feeling very cozy as the fry bread danced on her palate.

"It is delicious, Nurse Chapel. You have my compliments."

She turned to him with an exaggerated look of surprise. "Why, Mr. Spock. Do you think it's better than sex, too?"

He lifted his brows, cocking his head slightly to the left. "That is something … I really couldn't say."

Chapel began to laugh. "Oh, I forgot how educational camping trips could be. Do tell, Mr. Spock. Why couldn't you say? Is it because … you lack empirical data to make such an evaluation?"

At his mildly embarrassed look, she burst into another fit of giggles. "Or is it experiential data?" For some reason, the entire conversation was cracking her up.

"I simply do not feel qualified to make such a judgment."

This sent Christine into howls of laughter. "Oh, god…oh, Spock, I'm sorry. I'm really…" She coughed hard, then dissolved into another round of laughter. "It's not that funny. Really, it isn't."

Spock, without ever changing the inflection in his words, agreed. "Really. It isn't."

Chapel screamed, batting the air with her hand in the universal gesture of "stop, please, you're killing me!"

To her surprise, Spock began to laugh as well. Slowly at first, like a rusty bicycle that's been sitting in a garage for too long, but then with increasing vigor until, finally, he was cracking up as hard as she was.

"Spo…Spock, there's something…hee-hee…wrong here."

"I agree." He held his palms hard against his stomach, as if the muscles were aching from the unusual act of laughing his ass off.

"I'm not sure about it, but…" Chapel lost her train of thought, which of course started the laughter up again on both sides of the fire. "What was I saying?"

"'I'm not sure about it, but…'"

"You don't have to be sure about it. Just tell me what I was trying to say, and I'm sure I'll remember the point."

Spock fell over onto his side, rolling slightly as another round of chortles overtook his staid Vulcan frame.

"Mr. Stock, you're sponed."

"I beg your pardon?" He was in a fetal position.

"Sister Mock, you're….no, wait." Chapel leaned back on her heels, trying to clear her head enough to say what she was thinking. "Pister, Smock…No." Another fit of hysterical laughter.

"Mister Spock," he corrected.

"I'm Christine Chapel, nice to meet you," she said, extending her hand to the huddled lump on the dusty floor, then collapsing in another round of giggles. "No, no, seriously. Mister Sprock, I believe, in my most studied medical opinion, that you are stoned out of your Vulcan mind."

"Nurse Chapel, that is absurd. I do not….I don't….No way. I am not stoned."

"Oh, I think you are. I think we both are." Spock had calmed slightly, rising to a seated position next to her. Chapel pointed at the smoke from the fire. "Did you bother to scan those leaves you gathered, Mister Spockers?"

"You know that the storm rendered our devices useless."

"What are you thinking…RIGHT NOW?" She practically pounced on him, verbally.

Spock, startled by the question, blurted out the first thing that came to his mind. "I want to have sex with you."

Chapel rolled her eyes. "Oh, yeah, you're stoned. You know what I'm thinking?"

Spock barely heard her words. Suddenly, images of naked bodies filled his head like sugar plums on Christmas eve. "What?"

"PB&J. I'm thinking of a huge, double-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted raisin-wheat bread. Crunchy on the top layer, with strawberry preserves, and creeeeeeeeaaaaaammmmmyyy on the bottom, with blueberry jam." A glazed expression softened the head nurse's face. "Oh, baby. That would be so good…"

"Are you sure you aren't thinking of sex?"

"Mmmmmmm…..crispy toasted raisin-bread. The peanut butter melting over the sides. Oh, man…"

"Sex?"

"Huh?"

Spock looked suddenly embarrassed. "Nothing."

He turned away, covering up with the thin blanket they'd scrounged for bedding. Chapel dozed off, too, thinking lustful thoughts about toasted bread products.

* * *

Spock wasn't sure when their clothes came off. But that was not relevant at this point. The only relevant thing in the universe was the feel of her skin against his. Her body, slick and sweet with perspiration. Her breath, hot against his throat as she moaned his name over and over. "Spock …Spock …Spock…"

"Spock." A hand shoved him hard, rolling him onto his side, facing away from the remains of the fire.

"Stop snoring, will ya?"

He was about to correct her, assure her that he did not, nor had he ever, snored. But the sound of her voice caused the quickly-fading dream to clarify in his mind. No. Better let her sleep.

Chapel rolled over. The snoring had stopped at least. She kept her eyes closed, hanging on to the precious blanket of sleep with all her might. Yes … yes, it was there. She slipped back into the dream she'd just abandoned with giddy delight.

Spock sat beside her at a long wooden table, dressed only in a silken black kimono. Before them was a spread of exotic delights that would have overwhelmed regulars at a Roman orgy. Plums, dates, olives, hummus, pita, grapes…Chapel moaned with delight. To her left, she saw a fully-roasted glazed duck surrounded by tiny braised vegetables. To her right was a chocolate soufflé, light and mind-numbingly decadent. Her mouth puckered in anticipation.

And on the plate before her was the piece de resistance …a double-decker PB&J on toasted raisin-wheat bread. Another moan escaped.

Spock leaned over, slowly scraping the melted peanut butter from the bread with the tip of his finger. He lifted it to Christine's lips, and she licked the warm salty-sweet goo from his skin.

"Miss Chapel," he whispered. "Wake up."

She grinned rapaciously as his fingers went for more peanut butter. "Feed me," she growled.

"Miss Chapel!"

Chapel sat straight upwards as Spock's voice cut through the dream haze. It was morning. Sun filtered brownish-gold through the dirty windows of their shelter. "What time is it?" she coughed.

"Oh-six-forty."

"Has the storm passed?" She winced as she began to stretch the kinks out of her neck and shoulders. She wondered briefly if Spock's head hurt as much as hers.

"Yes. I was about to contact the ship for beam-up." He allowed himself a long look at her disheveled clothes and hair. On another day, Chapel might've felt self-conscious, but this morning Spock wasn't exactly fresh as a daisy himself. "I thought we might wish to clean up first."

"Good idea."

And with that, the events of the previous night passed into that vague, mutually-agreed-upon oblivion that is home to all ill-conceived nights.

Epilogue:

Sickbay had been a nightmare. Crew physicals on top of month end reports on top of McCoy just getting dumped by this journalist hussy he'd been dating for the last three weeks.

To top it off, Chapel had gone so far past her monthly caloric intake rations that she'd be forced to eat celery sticks and apples for the next two days.

She decided to avoid the mess hall, heading straight for her cabin. Medical staff had limited personal access to replicators, and Chapel was not above using it for avoiding the riffraff in Mess.

She immediately stepped out of her uniform, tossing it into the recycle before grabbing her fat-lady robe from the closet. Wrapping it around her, she padded over to the replicator and ordered her salad. She hated salad.

What materialized captured her in wide-eyed amazement.

This had to be a mistake.

On the plate was a double-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted raisin-wheat bread. She peeked under the lid. Crunchy on the top with strawberry preserves, and creamy on the bottom, with blueberry jam.

A note had been replicated next to the plate. Chapel opened it with shaking hands.

"I gave you yours. Now, will you give me mine?"

It had to be a joke. She was dreaming. No one, not one person alive, knew about her sick PB&J fetish. Just…

The door chime rang, interrupting her errant thoughts.

She opened it to find Spock standing there with a bottle of milk in one hand. He lifted his eyebrow rakishly and said, "May I join you, Miss Chapel?"

A stunned Chapel stepped aside, allowing the Vulcan to saunter in to her cabin. This wasn't happening. This was some elaborate joke. Or a trick…or…

Spock walked straight to the dinette and placed the bottle of milk next to the sandwich. Slowly, he dipped his finger into the melted peanut butter and held it out to the stunned woman. "Your dinner is getting cold, Christine."

She stumbled to his side, as if drawn by an invisible string. Slowly, she licked the melted peanut butter from his skin.

"So," he whispered. "Is it better than sex?"

Chapel caught his eye, then grinned. "Well, we'll just have to find that out, won't we, Mr. Spock?"

The End