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



Fragments in a Mirror

Cheryl White & Jacqueline Bielowicz



Christine Chapel retrieved her luncheon tray and headed for a vacant table setting half in shadows at the back of the Officer's Mess. With supreme effort, she kept her expression as casual as possible, determined not to respond in any way to the calm, appraising gaze of the Commander as he followed her with his gaze from across the room. For the third time in as many days, she knew that cool look fell on her and her alone. Why? she wondered anxiously. Why me? What have I done?

Trying to ignore him, she sat down to concentrate on her meal, but a moment later she became aware of an odd, prickling sensation at the back of her neck. There was no need to question the source ... she knew. Her stomach twisted into a hard knot, making the food in front of her suddenly unpalatable.

What was it about the Commander that so completely unnerved her? Fear? His alien difference? Or plain and simple hatred? A scene flashed unbidden to her mind and she knew it was all these things ... and more. She remembered a young crewman brought to Sickbay after one of the commander's "disciplinary" sessions. It seemed that he had "regretfully" miscalculated the man's endurance time in the Booth. And the others ... medtechs, doctors, even some of the nurses, wagering on how long they would have to code him to bring him back, assuming they could bring him back at all. Which they hadn't. The memory made her physically ill and she angrily pushed the food tray aside. No, there was no way around it, no way to dismiss the fact that the Commander's attentions seemed focused on her. For what reason, she couldn't begin to fathom ... or perhaps she could. For a woman born of the Empire, there were certain unofficial duties expected of her. Was that what he was after? Taking a deep breath, she picked up her coffee cup, took a sip of the bitter brew, then set it down in disgust. Maybe so. She knew that look well, and Human or alien, it was universal in its implications ... and undeniable. In that case, it would be up to DeSalle. She was his woman and therefore, he would have to be the one to face the Commander for both of them.

Sighing, Chapel brushed back a stray wisp of blond hair and stole a look in the Commander's direction. Not unexpectedly, she found him watching her. He caught her gaze and held it a moment, then nodded almost imperceptibly with a slight rise of a satanically slanted eyebrow. She felt her cheeks grow hot and hurriedly looked away, her mind grappling with what little she knew of the alien. As head of the ship's science division, she knew him only through her duties in Sickbay and a few landing parties they'd been assigned together, occasionally as a patient. Theirs was a professional relationship only, or had been ... until now. She knew Spock wielded much power, not only in the 'Fleet, but within the Empire itself where his family held several positions high in government. It was these same influential ties which had propelled him through the ranks in an unprecedented short amount of time ... for a non-Terran. A practical woman would be eager for his attentions. As his consort, she would undoubtedly reap many benefits from their union, regardless of its duration. It would make her even more desirable to other men.

But I'm different! she insisted to herself. I can still feel and I feel nothing but hatred and contempt for this man! How can I justify the prostitution of my body when I don't give a damn for all his power and position can do for me? I can't ... I simply can't ...!

And there was more. Rumors concerning Vulcans were always rampant among the other races of the Empire, most neither confirmed nor denied by the Vulcans themselves, thus adding fuel to the fires of mystery surrounding the race. It was said Vulcans were totally emotionless, that they worshiped the god of logic above all else, becoming machine-like in the process ... in all respects save sexuality. It was this rumor in particular that bothered her most. Stories that hinted at an insatiable and abusive sexual prowess, perversity that would revolt even the most jaded of Humans. The fact that the Commander was half Human did nothing to alleviate her fears. Bitter experience had taught her early to expect no compassion from that quarter. How much worse would it be with this half-breed?

With something close to despair, Chapel bowed her head slightly and prayed to the Gods that she was wrong, that the Commander was not interested in her as a sexual partner after all, for she realized now that DeSalle really didn't stand a chance ... not against the Commander.

"You still blush, Lieutenant? Interesting ... even becoming."

At the sound of the Vulcan's deep voice, Chapel started, nearly knocking over her forgotten coffee cup in the process. Swallowing hard, she forced herself to look up and meet the gaze of the Commander as he stood patiently beside her table. Amusement shone deep within normally humorless eyes and she suddenly felt trapped in a perverse game of cat and mouse.

"You ... you startled me, sir. I didn't hear you approach."

"Perhaps you were not meant to," he responded dryly. He pulled out a chair and sat down beside her, his demeanor totally relaxed. "I trust you do not mind if I join you?"

"No, sir," she answered meekly, although she did mind. She minded very much. But she knew he was merely being polite and would have joined her at any rate if that's what he truly wanted to do. Vulcans were nothing if not polite, even when they killed you.

She watched him warily, waiting, then dropped her gaze to study her hands clasped tightly on the tabletop. After a few moments of silence, he reached across and placed a forefinger under her chin, exerting pressure until she was forced to look up at him. Tears blurred her vision, but the Commander was completely unmoved by them. It was to be expected.

"When your present shift has ended, Lieutenant, you are to report to my quarters. I will send one of my guards to escort you."

Chapel felt her jaw tremble in his grasp. Clamping it tighter, she jerked her head back in a show of defiance. "I am DeSalle's woman, Commander," she retorted as evenly as her fear would permit, cutting through any pretense that she didn't know why she was being ordered to his quarters. "And I wish to remain so."

This was true. While she harbored no delusions of love for the man, she had come to know a certain amount of security in their relationship and occasionally even affection. DeSalle was surprisingly gentle as long as he was given no cause for jealousy or anger. He had only to beat her once for her to learn that lesson. His biggest fault was his possessiveness and she wondered how he would handle Spock's obvious intentions. Yet, there was another, more immediate reason she wanted to stay with DeSalle. As impressive as his rank might be, the Commander was still a dark and unknown quantity; one she was loathe to discover on an intimate level.

"I intend to speak with Mister DeSalle on this matter," Spock stated, disregarding her protest as if she'd never made it. That, too, was to be expected. "You will report to my quarters as directed."

Chapel sat very still, her mind scrambling furiously for a way out. What else was there to do? She couldn't simply disobey him; few women could. It was the price they paid for their chosen lifestyle; a life still far superior to those women who did not join the service of the Empire. Sex was merely a necessary tool with which to survive in the system.

As the hopelessness of her situation became clearer, Chapel felt consumed by a familiar bitterness. Not only for Commander Spock, but for all he represented, for the disease that was the Empire itself. Why? She raged inwardly. Spock could have his pick of almost any woman aboard ship, many more beautiful and exotic. For the love of space, why me? She glanced up to find Spock watching her face with detached curiosity.

"I believe I have made myself clear?" His tone left no room for further discussion.

"Yes, sir," Chapel answered stiffly. There was nothing left to say.

"Very good." He rose from his chair, his face impassive as always. "You may carry on, Lieutenant."

Motionless, Chapel watched as the Commander strode out the room, followed closely by two of his operatives. Damn you, you bearded bastard! Hands trembling, she suddenly grabbed her tray and sent it hurtling across the room where it smashed loudly and messily against the doors as they hissed shut behind Spock and his men. All around her, crewmen snapped their faces in her direction, their wide and curious eyes staring. She glared back, daring anyone to speak. When no one did, she pushed her chair back angrily, sending it crashing to the floor, and hurried out of the room.

* * *

"Just exactly what do you mean Lieutenant Chapel will be occupying new quarters?" DeSalle demanded in angry disbelief.

"I mean precisely that, Mister DeSalle," Spock answered calmly. "As of today at 1530 hours, Lieutenant Chapel's residence aboard this ship will be the same as my own. I cannot make it any clearer."

DeSalle groped around for an answer, his face turning a darker pink. "Women aren't exactly a commodity on this ship, you know! Besides, what could you possibly want a woman for anyway?" he asked contemptuously. "You're a Vulcan!"

Spock took a step closer, his face a mask of deadly stone. "Indeed I am, Mister DeSalle, and you would do well to remember it. As for my interest in the woman, it is none of your affair. Suffice it to say that I want her. And I intend to have her, with or without your cooperation."

DeSalle clenched his fists tightly against his thighs, wanting nothing more in that moment than to tear into the smug, arrogant expression on the Commander's face, but a glance behind him confirmed the impulse to be a decidedly unhealthy one as two of the Vulcan's operatives stood dangerously close by. Besides, he wasn't stupid. He knew he couldn't hope to take out Spock without some kind of weapon.

"I want you to go with one of my guards and oversee the removal of the Lieutenant's personal belongings from your quarters," Spock continued.

"Did she say she wants to go with you?"

"That need not concern you," Spock answered curtly.

Something in Spock's tone told DeSalle that Chris was not a willing partner in this new arrangement. It both infuriated him and gladdened him, making him feel more protective of her than he ever had in the past.

"Then just who the hell gave you the right to ... "

"Indeed, Mister DeSalle, who gave any of us the right?" Spock interrupted soberly. "Now please do as I ordered or I shall be forced to consider insubordination on your part."

DeSalle blanched, knowing full well the implications. He had experienced the Booth only once in his career, but the memory was enough to make him break out in a cold sweat now. He clamped his mouth shut and turned to one of Spock's men. "Come on," he ground out sourly.

"One moment," Spock called as they started to leave.

"Sir?" DeSalle turned, bitter sarcasm intoned in the necessary reply.

Spock clasped his hands behind his back as he took a few steps toward him. "I have taken the liberty of securing a ... replacement for you. One Ensign Barrows. She is very much in agreement ... if you have no objections?" One brow rose inquiringly.

For a stunned moment, DeSalle could only stare at Spock dumbly, astonished by the Vulcan's unbelievable audacity. No objections? He'd show him objections! He'd ... what? Glancing around, he measured the odds yet again, then shrugged, trying to appear disinterested. He was beat and he knew it; at least, for now. "No objections, Commander." He turned and headed quickly for the door, Spock's operative in tow.

"That was a most unusual gesture, Commander," Spock's remaining aide commented as they left Engineering and walked down the corridor for the turbolift. "I am not sure DeSalle truly appreciated it."

Spock glanced over at him in annoyance. "Nor am I, Salack. However, it seemed the logical solution to a rather complicated situation. I was warned in advance that DeSalle had more than the usual attraction for Lieutenant Chapel, thus I arranged for a substitute. I have enough enemies without adding DeSalle to the list," he added irritably. "In time, he will forget her, as most Humans do."

Salack made no further comment, acutely aware of the real reason behind the Commander's irritation. It was a time all Vulcans dreaded, especially when in deep space with no expedient way to return to their home planet. They walked in silence the rest of the way until they were safely encased in the turbolift and on their way to the Bridge.

"Have you completed your task?" Spock asked as they began the ascent.

"Yes, Commander. The lock mechanism on your quarters has been modified to accept the voiceprint of the female upon your order. Not until then."

"Very well." Spock nodded in approval. "Once you have seen me safely to the bridge, you will proceed directly to Sickbay to await Lieutenant Chapel. If she is not there, you may find her in one of the bio-labs. When her shift is over, you will then escort her to my quarters."

"Yes, Commander."

The lift doors opened and they stepped out onto the Bridge. The crew came to immediate attention.

"As you were," Spock ordered, returning the salute.

Interpreting the order literally, Sulu resumed leaning against the back of the Communication Officer's chair, leering down at its occupant. For the most part, Uhura appeared to be ignoring him, yet there was a teasing, almost inviting expression smoldering in her dark eyes.

"Return to your post, Mister Sulu," Spock ordered curtly. He was as much a stickler for military protocol as Kirk, and he was in no mood for one of Sulu's little moves for tension.

Reluctantly, Sulu returned to his chair. Salack eyed the Human from his temporary position beside the lift. He did not trust this one. Indeed, he did not trust any Human, but Sulu was more ambitious than most, and had the position and cunning necessary to carry out any plans he might be harboring against the Commander.

After one final look around the Bridge and a signal from Spock, Salack stepped back into the lift and ordered its descent.

* * *

"Damn!" Christine hissed as a beaker of evil-smelling, potentially dangerous solution went crashing to the deck. She grabbed the cleaning fluid and a disposable wipe and bent to mop it up impatiently.

"My, what a temper!" Marlena commented as she stooped to help.

Chapel jerked her head up and glared at the other woman.

Marlena grinned slyly. "I hear you'll be sharing quarters with the Commander from now on. Congratulations. He's quite a catch."

"I see the grapevine is as efficient as ever," Christine returned sarcastically. She straightened and returned to her worktable with Marlena at her heels.

"Then it's true?"

Christine bit her bottom lip and nodded. "It's true."

Marlena arched a perfect brow at her, and appeared thoughtful for a moment. "Strange ... I wouldn't have thought you were the Commander's type."

Christine scowled at her, towering over the smaller woman. "And what the hell's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing," Marlena answered, shrugging her shoulders petulantly. "It's just that ... well, Vulcans generally don't have use for our kind of women. Of course, there have been times when there have been exceptions. And Spock being half Human ... " She shrugged again. "Who knows?"

Christine didn't need a medical reference to get what Marlena was hinting at. On rare occasions, Vulcan men did pair off with 'Fleet women. Something to do with a mysterious sex drive peculiar to their race. No one knew much about it, save some of the higher ups, but she was sure it was the source of the rumors. She wondered nervously if she was about to discover more about it, first hand.

"Maybe he just likes blondes."

Christine and Marlena both turned to the petite, blonde figure of Ensign Ames leaning in the doorway. She smiled at Christine, catlike, enjoying the other woman's discomfort. "He's sent one of his goons to make sure you don't get lost on the way, Lieutenant," she added, gesturing toward the corridor.

The little twit's entire attitude infuriated Christine, but before she could say anything, Marlena came to her defense. "Stow it, Ames," she warned, fixing the woman with an icy stare that should have chilled the junior officer to her boots. Unfortunately, Ames chose to ignore it.

"I hear the Captain rather likes blondes himself," she went on, directing her remark to Marlena.

The flash that statement elicited from Marlena's eyes made Christine almost feel sorry for Ames. Almost. Ames was either too stupid or too arrogant to realize just how thin the ice she was now treading. Of all the women Christine knew in the 'Fleet, Marlena was possibly the most shrewd and most dangerous. Any threat, intentional or otherwise, to her position as the Captain's woman was an invitation to open warfare.

Marlena's slender, brown fingers slid to the top of her boot, and before Christine or Ames realized what was happening, Marlena sprang, shoving the blonde up against the bulkhead with one forearm. With her other hand, she brought up her knife, pinning Ames effectively, the dull, cold blade pressed dangerously into her soft throat.

"I am the Captain's woman!" Marlena ground out through clenched teeth, bobbing the knife against Ames' flesh for emphasis as she spoke. "If I even so much as suspect you've been with him or tried to catch his eye, I will slit your pretty little throat for you! Is that clear, bitch?"

Ames swallowed hard and nodded, finding it difficult to speak with Marlena's knife still pressed to her larnyx. Marlena held her there another long moment, glaring, then slowly removed the knife and tucked it back into her boot. Finally, she released the young woman and Ames gratefully ducked out of the lab.

"Better learn how to handle them, Christine," Marlena advised. "Now that Spock's taken a woman, there will be plenty who'll try to take advantage and push you aside. He can do a lot for the right woman."

"So what if he can?" Christine replied irritably. "I'm not sure I give a damn one way or the other anymore."

Marlena stared at her as if she had lost her mind. "You can't be serious! Don't you realize --?"

Christine gave a short, bitter laugh, cutting off Marlena. "Oh, sure I do. Tell me, what would you have done if it had been you he chose? Would you really go that alien's bed willingly?"

"Hell, I'd jump at the chance to be in your position. Any woman would have to be a fool not to. Christine, you have to learn to use your opportunities as they come or you'll find yourself knee-deep in shit working out your contract on some backwater planet. A smart woman is not only used, but is the user. Remember that. Besides, DeSalle is a loser. I think his days in the 'Fleet are numbered."

Christine brushed her hand over her eyes and sighed. "I ... I don't know, Marlena ..."

Exasperated, Marlena shook her head. "This could be the best thing to happen to you, or the worse, depending on what you make of if. It's your bed ... "

Christine looked up at her sharply. "Was that really necessary?"

"It did seem appropriate," Marlena grinned. Then her expression changed quickly and the smile was gone. "Remember what I said, Chris. And ... take care."

Marlena walked out of the lab, leaving Chapel with a lot to think over. When the shift ended, Christine emerged from the Sickbay, only to have her path blocked by a mountain of Vulcan male.

"I am Ensign Salack, Lieutenant. Commander Spock has instructed me to see you safely to his quarters."

Christine glanced up at him warily. "I have to get my belongings from DeSalle's cabin," she answered flatly.

"Not necessary, Lieutenant. Your personal effects have already been removed and taken to your new quarters."

Christine's head snapped up, blue eyes flashing. "The gall of him! I can do my own packing!"

Salack raised a brow, genuinely bemused. "I fail to understand your attitude, Ms. Chapel. Commander Spock merely wished to spare you any embarrassment should you happen to encounter your former ... companion. No insult was intended."

"I'll bet!"

Salack looked down at her coolly. "You are being totally illogical concerning this matter."

"And I suppose I should be honored?" she demanded harshly.

"Lieutenant, if you will follow me," Salack replied, ignoring her outburst. He started down the corridor to the nearest 'lift, then turned when she did not follow. "Lieutenant?"

She glared back at him stubbornly.

"I believe you should be made aware that I am prepared to carry out my orders in any fashion I deem necessary," he warned.

He didn't have to paint a picture. Christine clenched her fists at her side and walked stiffly to join him.

* * *

"She is inside?" Spock asked, pausing outside the door to his cabin.

Salack nodded. "Yes, Commander. However, she did not appear to come willingly."

"No matter." Spock started through the door, then stopped and turned again to his aide. "I am not to be disturbed for any reason other than urgent ship's business. In that case, you have my permission to enter. But only you, Salack. No one else."

"I understand, Commander."

Spock nodded, then entered his cabin. On initial glance, the cabin appeared empty and the first thought to enter Spock's mind was that the woman had managed somehow to slip past Salack. He was well aware of her reluctance; she had made that clear enough. Logically, he knew this could not have happened. Salack would never have permitted it nor was the lock on his door able to be released by any one but himself and Salack at this time. Later, perhaps, when she had come to accept her situation, she would be allowed that privilege.

Moving through the shadows of the room, he saw the bathroom door was closed and he could hear the faint sounds of someone moving about inside. Slightly irritated, Spock sat down at his desk and punched up a complex set of numbers on the computer console. Perhaps a complicated chess maneuver would help occupy his mind and ease the fierce, unreasonable sensations coursing through his bloodstream. Feelings of desire were nothing new to him; however, only once before had he ever experienced them in such magnitude as this. A time of madness he would sooner forget. He reached for the viewscreen, but his hand trembled so badly, he was forced to curl his fingers into a fist to steady it. He had made his choice none too soon. Another day, possibly two, and he would have begun to lose control of his actions. This could have resulted in a serious breach of discipline, for which he was sure he would have suffered the consequences, if not dying from the madness first. Conceivably, it could still ruin his career in the 'Fleet. There were those, he knew, who would push the issue hard. Although she did not know it, the woman behind that door was the key to his successful future, for all that she hated the sight of him.

Agitated, he pushed himself up from the desk, and walked over to his bunk and lay down, closing his eyes. Sleep would be more than welcomed, but he knew that he would not sleep, not until the Time had passed. He glanced at the bathroom door again, impatiently wondering what was taking her so long. Surely by now, she had reconciled herself to the situation. That was the primary reason he had chosen her. Of all the records he screened, hers was the most promising. It showed an excellent ability to adapt to new and unusual circumstances. And she was strong for her species, both physically and emotionally, factors that would prove vital in their relationship.

The sound of the bathroom door opening pulled him abruptly to attention. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bunk, he perched on its side, and watched as Christine entered the main room, brushing her hair as she went, unaware of his presence. She crossed to the mirror above the dresser, her long, pale blue gown swishing softly as she passed by the semi-partition which separated the sleeping area from the rest of the cabin. Spock sat quietly, watching intently as she set the brush down and gathered some pins. Taking the loose strands of her shoulder-length hair, she twisted them into a knot at the base of her neck, picked up a pin, and started to insert it into place.

"Don't."

Startled, Chapel glanced into the mirror and saw Spock's reflection approaching behind her. She turned to stare at him.

"Why not?" There was a slight tremor in her voice.

Spock stood very close now and reached a hand to the back of her neck, untangling the knot so her hair fell loosely to her shoulders.

"It suits you better this way," he answered, pulling his fingers through the silken strands in a near caress.

Christine stood utterly still, scarcely breathing. "As you wish, Commander."

"Spock." His voice was husky. "When we are alone, you will address me by my given name." He stared down into her eyes, fascinated by their stark blueness and saw his own reflection there ... dark in contrast, almost foreboding. The fire in his blood flared, catching at his breath. The woman pulled back, sensing the change in him. His arms came up around her, holding her fast.

"Do not challenge me," Spock muttered tensely as she began to struggle slightly against him, unknowingly stirring his desire to an even higher pitch. "It could only serve to cause you harm."

Christine obeyed immediately, frightened by the harshness of his voice. "Please," she whispered. "I will do as you say. Just don't hurt me."

She looked into those dark, burning eyes in search of any sign that he had heard or acknowledged what she had said. She saw nothing there but savage, uncontrollable passion. In a sudden panic, she resumed her struggle, her mind screaming at her to get away and run, anywhere. Just run and hide where this madman could never find her.

Spock held her almost too easily, crushing her painfully to him. Christine gasped as he suddenly closed a fist around her hair at the back of her head, bringing stinging tears to her eyes. Slowly, he pulled her toward him.

"You must do what is needed of you," Spock whispered when their lips were only inches apart. "I have no wish to hurt you, but I will do what is necessary. I ... am losing control. You must understand ... " Then their lips met and what was left of the Vulcan's control was lost.

Christine squirmed as his mouth crushed down on hers, bruising her lips against her teeth. She tasted the slightly salty taint of her own blood as her teeth ground into the soft inner lining of her bottom lip. Instinctively, she opened her mouth and ran her tongue experimentally along the injury.

At the touch of her tongue, a small explosion went off inside Spock. His own tongue darted instantly in search of hers, tasting her deeply, hungrily, savoring the coolness he found there. His breathing became more rapid as he groaned deep within his throat. His long, tapered fingers groped for her temples.

Suddenly, Christine realized she had stopped struggling. Her body was betraying her, responding to the incredible sensations exploding at her nerve endings. If was no longer a question of Spock's passion alone. Her arms came up around his neck, pulling her closer into the embrace as she returned his kiss with a passion she would not have thought possible. The world around her ceased to exist as she let herself be totally swept up in the hunger of the moment. Never in her life had any man touched her this way. Even the pain as he crushed her to him became exquisite, something to be cherished. She briefly wondered why she had been afraid or perhaps she was just going insane. She didn't care. All she knew was that she didn't want this feeling to stop. Not ever.

At length, Spock broke the kiss, and pressed his lips against her ear. The warm rapid gusts of his breath stirred the tiny wisps of hair as he tried to speak. Euphoric, Christine smiled at the mildly tickling sensation and rested her head against his shoulder, gently nipping at the warm plane of his neck. She could hear the strangled words, but they held no meaning for her as they were all in Vulcan. She didn't need to know. The rough, strained cadence of his voice as he spoke transcended all communication barriers. Playfully, she combed her fingers through his beard, then reached with her mouth and traced the outline of one gracefully pointed ear with her tongue. She heard him catch his breath, then suddenly found herself swept up into his arms. She locked gazes with him as he held her a moment against his chest and had the eerie impression that he was looking through her, not seeing her at all. Some of her earlier fear began to creep over her, then swallowed her completely as Spock dumped her unceremoniously on the bed.

"Undress," he ordered harshly, then turned and began stripping off his own uniform.

For an instant, Christine could only stare stupidly. Then slowly, the numbness wore off and she sat up in the center of the bed, untying her belt. The robe slid to a pale blue puddle around her hips as she sat back on her heels and waited. There was nothing else to remove. Within moments, Spock turned to face her, his eyes flickering briefly over her nakedness, then he walked the length of the bed and sat down beside her, reaching to caress one full breast. Boldly, Christine leaned forward and kissed him, pressing close and feeling his chest move rapidly against her. She was desperate to recapture that incredible passion of only moments earlier. It was the only thing that kept her from going insane with panic.

Spock reacted instantly and savagely, crushing her to him so powerfully, Christine feared her back would snap under the pressure. His hands groped roughly for the smooth outlines of her breasts, then slid lower to explore her moist, warm nether regions. Immediately, he was driving her down onto the bed with the weight of his body and began prying apart her legs with one of his own.

Stirred by the heat of this traitorous, alien passion, Christine opened her thighs readily, eager to comply with his needs. Spock jabbed at her once, twice without success. Sensing his growing frustration and leery of the possible violence that might accompany it, Christine reached between their bodies, took firm hold of his swollen penis, and guided it expertly into the mouth of her vagina. At her touch, a sound escaped Spock's lips ... a sound close to rage. His hands reached beneath her, gripped her buttocks, and lifted her several inches off the bed before he slammed his hips forward in a powerful, gut-wrenching lunge.

Christine's breath rushed out under the impact, then she thought she heard someone scream far off in the distance. In a daze, she wasn't sure. Everything ... the red-tinged darkness of the room, the grotesque figure of the long dead god, and the heavy, spicy smell of incense that threatened to choke her ... seemed to take on the quality of a dream. And in this world of unreality, something very warm, dry, and tremendously potent and unrelenting was pounding at her, consuming her, using her without thought or warmth or kindness of any sort. With an effort, she opened her eyes and saw Spock, but with each successive, grinding thrust, his image began to dim. Her lips curved ever so slightly into a rueful smile. The Devil come to collect his dues, she though wryly. Then, finally and mercifully, even this dream world began to fade, and she slipped into a total absence of light.

She was floating in a sea of blackness, content to relax and let the nothingness carry her. Now and then, a light would break in on her peaceful serenity and a figure would hover over her menacingly while a strange pain grabbed at her entrails and coursed through her back and between her thighs. Finally, the light came no longer.

An eternity later, Christine felt the presence of another in the comfort of her velvet darkness. Angrily, she willed the intruder to leave her alone, but the presence persisted, pursuing her through the corridors of her mind doggedly, unyielding.

//Wake up, Christine. Come back with me, now. I command it!//

Christine's eyelids fluttered a moment, then opened. She saw Spock leaning over her, watching her face intently. He took his hand from her temple, and gently brushed back her hair from her damp, clammy forehead.

"You should have told me," he said harshly. "Possibly I could have made it easier for you, although I think not."

Christine turned her head away and stared at the wall. "I screamed. Wasn't that enough?"

Spock turned her to face him again and shook his head. "No, Christine, you did not. You only thought you screamed. Perhaps in your mind, you did."

Out of habit, Christine bit down on her lower lip, and immediately winced. Yes, it was possible. Over the years, she had conditioned herself to keep silent, to tolerate almost any abuse imaginable. It must have been that way with Spock. At length, she whispered, "You didn't have to hurt me. I was willing."

"Yes, I know," Spock nodded. "And for that, you can be thankful. It could have been far worse," he finished quietly. There was a long silence before he spoke again. "I have taken you several times tonight, Christine. However, I will have need of you many more before this Time is over. Prepare yourself; accept it as inevitable and I will do what I can to protect you. Otherwise, I cannot be held responsible for what may happen."

Even as he spoke, Christine felt him stir against her, hard and unyielding. His eyes seemed to turn darker, if that were possible, and her heart began to beat faster as apprehension tightened in her chest.

"Please, don't hurt me again," she pleaded in a soft whisper. Tears welled up in her eyes, blurring her vision. With each beat of her heart, the soreness between her legs throbbed painfully. Suddenly angry, she turned her head away. She seldom cried anymore, and never, never in front of a man.

With a gesture uncharacteristic even unto himself, Spock leaned down and kissed the side of her face, tasting the salty moisture of her tears.

//Interesting.//

The brief thought registered with total dispassion in the back of his mind, then he turned his attention to her bruised and slightly swollen mouth. Kissing was a Human custom he had learned early to enjoy.

As he gathered her once more into his arms, Christine felt that terrible aggressiveness still in his movements, but knew, in his own way, he was trying to be gentle. She closed her eyes and steeled herself for what was to follow.

As he kissed her, Spock caressed her breasts, then entered her and gradually, very slowly, began rocking his hips back and forth in a methodical, sensuous rhythm. After several long moments, Christine sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him forward, again betrayed by a body with a will of its own. The pain was deadened somehow, almost gone, and with a tingling sensation, she felt her nipples begin to harden, then become fully erect against the friction of his chest as he moved. She caught her breath and quickened the movement of her hips to match his. With long, calculated thrusts, Spock gradually increased the tone of their lovemaking. Christine buried her head against his neck and panted softly beneath his ear, no longer able to see, hear, or feel anything but the two of them and what they were doing. As before, everything else ceased to exist. At length, she wrapped her long, slender legs around the small of Spock's back and pulled him even deeper within her, whispering his name over and over incoherently. Instinctively, Spock quickened his pace, his thrusting no longer cool, calculated, but once more demanding, exacting as the heat of her excitement assailed his senses, goading him to a fevered pitch. Christine cried out, in as much pleasure this time as pain, and raked her nails along the taut muscles of his shoulders and back, leaving a trail of long, dark green welts in their path. Abruptly, he gave one final lunge, then shuddered with the release.

When it was over, he sighed heavily and laid his head on Christine's heaving breasts. He closed his eyes and a moment later, felt her hand caressing him lightly along the length of his back, soothingly, possessively. He settled into a comfortable position and relaxed, enjoying her touch. Suddenly, her hand stopped and he felt her stiffen beneath him. Puzzled at first, Spock became aware of the scratches along his shoulders, just as Christine had an instant before.

"It seems I collected my own dues," she observed dryly. But there was anxiety in her voice, and perhaps a hint of regret.

"There is no pain," Spock replied calmly. "Rest."

Christine sighed her relief, and closed her eyes. Within minutes, she was asleep.

Spock propped himself on one elbow and reached down for the thin bedcover, draping it over the two of them. He studied the delicate lines of her profile as she slept, and almost involuntarily, his gaze dropped to the provocative curve of her hip beneath the blanket. He could not sleep ... not yet.

He slipped out of the bed, and walked to the servocomp, suddenly very hungry. He punched out a meal, then took it back to his desk where he sat and consumed it in record time. While he ate, he glanced occasionally over his shoulder at the slumbering figure in his bed, unable to resist the instinct to keep her within touch or sight at all times. Such was to be expected during the Fever. He realized, perhaps for the first time, that she was truly beautiful, in an exotic, alien way. Suddenly, he seemed to smile without actually doing so. Yes, he had chosen well. Despite her initial hostility, Spock sensed through the shallow meld he employed during their coupling that she would eventually become the companion he was seeking. And with time, she would accede totally with his wishes. Perhaps, one day, there would even be a bonding between them, although that was yet far in the future.

Content, Spock stretched with satisfaction, looking forward to the days to come, and started back toward the bed.

* * *

"Bitch!" DeSalle hurled at the young brunette sitting on her heels in the middle of his bed, clutching a bed sheet to her breasts. "Get your things and get out of here!"

"Gladly!" Barrows shot back. She scrambled off the bed to the closet where she hauled out a storage bag and flipped it onto the bed.

DeSalle snatched his pants from the foot of the bed and hastily began pulling them on. "You may inform the almighty Commander Spock that, as a matchmaker, he is a complete failure!"

"I heartily agree!" Barrows came back hotly, throwing clothes and personal items into the bag. "I was under the distinct impression you were a man, not a eunuch!"

DeSalle whirled to face her, his expression murderous. He took one menacing step forward, then stopped, holding himself rigid. "I could kill you for that! Get out! Before I give in and break that pretty neck of yours!"

Barrows had unconsciously backed into a corner, her face an ashen gray.

"I said, get out!" DeSalle shouted.

Barrows hastily finished squirming into her uniform top, not bothering to fasten the clasp, then snatched up her bag and ran swiftly for the door, hitting the release button. As the doors hissed open, she turned and glared at him. "You'll never get her back, DeSalle! And after tonight, no other woman aboard this ship will have you, either. I'll see to that!"

"Why, you little slut--!"

Barrows quickly darted out. But the time DeSalle reached the doorway, she had disappeared down the hall, leaving him furious and frustrated in her wake. He smashed his fist against the bulkhead in a futile display of anger, then ignoring the pain, he turned and stared hard at the rumpled bed. Barrows' words came echoing back to him, cutting deeply. In the nearly ten days they had been together, he had been unable to perform sexually. At first, Barrows had said nothing, but as time passed, the tension grew until tonight, when it had exploded, revealing her utter contempt and disgust for him.

He took a deep breath in an attempt to get hold of his anger, then walked over to his desk where he pulled out a drawer and retrieved a holo of Christine and himself, both tanned and smiling happily. Gently, he traced a fingertip over her image, recalling the shore leave on which it was taken; the lush, tropical world with its moonlight and warm-scented breezes. Gods, she had been so beautiful in the moonlight ... the way it shone on her hair ... her eyes dancing as she undressed for him the night they camped on the beach. At the memory, he felt desire stir and tighten in his groin.

"Damn!" he muttered darkly. He was not impotent. If not for Spock, he and Christine would be together still.

A half-formed idea began to creep into his consciousness. Abruptly, he turned to the closet for a fresh uniform. He must have Christine back. Just the thought of that bastard's hands on her ... Shaking, he pulled his tunic over his head. He would talk to her, make her see that, together, they could rid themselves and the 'Fleet of the half-breed Vulcan forever.

* * *

Christine stared unseeingly at the computer screen, ignoring the lab problem on it as she mused over the past few days. The fever, that she now knew was called Pon Farr, was easing in Spock and Christine was trying to come to grips with the confusion in her mind ... and heart. Her old image of Spock warred with the new image; he was still the cold, logical Commander that she had always seen, but there was also a Spock that she never imagined had existed. The lure of his body was like a drug to her, and she understood her desire for him though she was still surprised that the alien was the only male who had ever brought out the responses she had to his lovemaking.

It was the private Spock that intrigued her, the Spock only she saw in the privacy of their quarters. There were moments when they shared more than a bed. There were quiet evenings when they worked on private projects or simply talked while music filled the cabin. Spock was more than willing to tell her something of his world, and he seemed fascinated by her memories of Earth. Their conversations opened fragile lines of communication. Christine knew her feelings toward Spock had changed, but she wasn't sure how. Nor was she completely sure of how Spock viewed her. Was she just a temporary solution to a temporary problem or... There were times when Christine would catch him watching her with a very enigmatic expression in his eyes. She sighed and shook her head. He was a most bewildering man. The shrill bleep of the intercom interrupted her thoughts. It was a mistake for her to answer it.

* * *

Christine switched off the intercom, shaken by DeSalle's urgent call. He had sounded upset, almost irrational in his plea for her to meet and talk with him. Fortunately, Spock was on the graveyard shift this week, but DeSalle must have known that or he never would have risked the call. At first, he had asked that she come to his quarters where they could talk more privately, but she had balked. What if Spock found out? Would his jealously be as great as his passion? Finally, she agreed only to meet him on the observation deck, assuring him that at that time of the ship's night, it was sure to be desert. He accepted ... reluctantly.

Christine stood up from the desk and smoothed her uniform into place, making doubly sure her dagger was secure in her boot top. For some reason, she was uneasy about this meeting, but she felt she owed DeSalle at least on last time alone. A chance to say good-bye, privately, which they had been denied. Now, if she could only get by Salack without arousing his suspicions. She took a deep breath and walked to the door.

"Salack?"

The big Vulcan standing guard at the door turned as Christine emerged from the cabin. "Yes, Lieutenant?"

"I've been called to Sickbay on an emergency. There's no time to explain; just tell Sp ... the Commander I will return as soon as the crisis is over."

Salack hesitated a moment, then finally nodded. "Very well, Lieutenant. Shall I escort you?"

"No," she answered crisply. "That won't be necessary. I'll be going straight to Sickbay."

Salack watched Christine until she disappeared down the corridor to the lift. A moment later, he slipped into the cabin and went directly to the desk. Once there, he located a hidden recording device and replayed the conversation between Chapel and DeSalle. It was as the Commander suspected. An enemy of DeSalle's, a woman, had warned that he had become irrational where Chapel was concerned and might try an attack against Spock. It was for that reason only that Salack allowed Chapel out of his sight. She was to be the bait to trap DeSalle.

He leaned over and switched on the intercom. "Bridge. Commander Spock, please."

* * *

Christine stepped uncertainly from the brightly lighted 'lift into the semi-darkness of the observation deck. She remained where she was for a few minutes after the 'lift doors hissed shut, letting her eyes adjust to the dimness of the starlight. Finally, she edged toward a large port window embedded in the bulkhead and waited.

"Christine!"

Startled, she automatically reached for her knife and whirled around defensively.

"It's me ... Paul," the voice assured her.

Christine sighed her relief and re-sheathed her knife. "Where are you?" She peered into the darkness.

DeSalle stepped away from a bulkhead so she could see him clearly. "Are you alone?"

"Of course," she replied impatiently. "Do you think I would risk bringing someone else along?"

"I've been told that Vulcan ape Salack goes with you everywhere," he grumbled. "Come. There is a bench around the corner where we can sit and talk."

Still uneasy, Christine, nevertheless, followed him. If he wanted to talk ... well, she owed him that much. But how to make him understand her relationship with Spock now, when she didn't really understand it herself? Gods, had it only been ten days?

"Now, what is so urgent, Paul?" she asked quietly as they settled on the bench, well away from the 'lift and main viewing area. "I can't stay long. I'll be missed."

"Us," DeSalle stated bluntly.

"I ... I don't understand," Christine responded, slightly confused. "There is no 'us' anymore. You know that."

"But there could be, Chris," DeSalle stated vehemently. He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips before glancing up at her again. "I've got it all worked out, with a little help from someone else aboard this ship who shares my hatred for the Commander. I even know when and where we'll kill him."

Christine stared at DeSalle in total disbelief. "Kill Spock? Have you gone completely insane, Paul?" she demanded harshly, jerking her fingers out of his hand.

DeSalle grasped her shoulders tightly. "Don't you see? It's the only way we can be together again! And I could possibly move up in rank. If it's power you want, I'll have it!"

Christine tried to twist free, but he held her securely. "Listen, Paul," she began in what she hoped was a calming, reasonable voice. "Spock's men are the most loyal in the 'Fleet. Don't be crazy! You'll only end up getting yourself killed."

"Not with your help," DeSalle insisted. "Look, you work in Sickbay every day. You have access to the drugs. Vulcans can die just as easily as Humans when the right lethal chemical is injected into their system."

"Me?!" she asked, stunned. "You want me to kill him?"

DeSalle pulled her against him. "You must, Chris. For both of us," he whispered huskily against her ear. "I've been half crazy since he took you form me; knowing he was ... touching you." He drew back to look at her, his eyes searching hers intently. "I won't have it. I must have you with me again. I ... I love you, Christine."

She stared at him, feeling numb. For the first time in her life, a man was telling her he loved her, and she could feel nothing in return. Had she lost herself to the devil so completely that she could no longer find it in herself to care? "I'm ... I'm truly sorry, Paul," she breathed.

"Sorry?!" DeSalle burst out. "What does sorry have to do with it? Damn it, I love you!" He abruptly leaned forward and brought his mouth down hard on hers.

Something inside Christine went cold. His mouth as he kissed her felt too cool, too moist and pliant. Instead of arousing her as would have happened in the past, she could only hold herself rigid against her revulsion.

Slowly, DeSalle backed away, breaking the kiss, and stared at her as if he were seeing her for the first time. She had been like a mannequin in his arms ... stiff, unyielding, cold. "What has he done to you?" he asked accusingly. "I don't know you anymore."

"He's done nothing to me," Christine snapped coolly. She stood and started for the 'lift.

DeSalle followed, enraged. "Yes! Yes, he has!" He reached out and spun her around to face him. Christine tensed, for the first time sensing true danger as DeSalle glared at her, his eyes betraying a glint of insanity.

"And you like it, don't you?" he demanded.

Tears sprang to her eyes as he suddenly grabbed her upper arms and began shaking her. "You're no better than the rest of the whores on this ship!"

"Paul, please--"

"Well, if I can't have you, neither will he!"

"Listen to me, Paul!" Christine tried to stay calm, realizing just how far over the edge he had gone. Part of her felt pity and wanted to help, but the rest of her was terrified.

A half-sob escaped Christine as she began to struggle in earnest. Her dagger was just beyond the reach of her fingers. If she could just break free a moment ...

It was as if DeSalle read her mind. He wrenched her arms behind her and shoved her against the bulkhead. Pinning her with one arm, he reached down for her knife, then came up with it a moment later and traced it cruelly along her cheek.

"You're so beautiful, Chris," he whispered. "It would be a shame to mar such beauty. I wonder, would the great Commander Spock want you then?"

"Please, Paul. You're ill. Let me--"

DeSalle pressed the length of his body against hers, grinding his pelvis forward obscenely. Christine swallowed hard and closed her eyes, feeling his hard, unyielding flesh push into her lower abdomen.

"Tell me, Christine," he muttered harshly. "Does he fuck you as well as I did? Do you whimper beneath him, crying for release?" He dropped the knife to her throat, and with his free hand, suddenly ripped open the front of her uniform top, exposing her breasts.

"Paul, don't!" Christine cried out.

"I'm going to show you how it should be done to women like you. And when I'm through, you'll never want to set eyes on that half-breed freak again!"

Christine tried to scream, but was silenced as DeSalle covered her mouth with his own.

* * *

Salack stepped off the 'lift onto the observation deck, listening intently. He heard loud voices and immediately recognized them. He quickened his step. As he rounded the corner, the woman screamed. He saw DeSalle, his knife raised high in the air as he grasped a struggling Chapel by one wrist.

"All I wanted was for you to help me kill him, Chris." DeSalle's voice was an eerie chant. "But now... Now I will have to kill you. You know too much. You'll warn him."

Salack took four long strides forward, then lunged, reaching for the nerve at the base of DeSalle's neck. He found it just as the Human was about to bring the knife down on the terrified woman. Chapel gasped and fell to her knees, scrambling out of the way as DeSalle collapsed forward, unconscious. Salack checked the fallen man's pulse dispassionately, then straightened and walked over to the lieutenant where she sat on the deck, looking at him. Her eyes were large and a dark blue as she studied his face.

"Salack ... thank you. I didn't know ... this would happen," she stammered, clutching at the sides of her torn uniform top.

Salack reached down and helped her to her feet.

"How did you know?" she asked quietly.

"Please return to the Commander's quarters, Lieutenant. I will take care of the situation here."

"It's not what it looks like," Chapel tried to explain as he led her to the 'lift.

"Ms. Chapel," Salack began patiently. "For you and I to discuss this matter would serve no purpose. It is, essentially, a matter between Commander Spock and you. Now, please return to the cabin."

"What will you tell him?" Chapel asked anxiously as Salack guided her into the open 'lift.

"Only the truth, I assure you," Salack answered.

As the 'lift doors started to close, Chapel slammed her hand over the sensor, halting their movement. "Salack, there is someone else. I don't know who, but--"

"That is why DeSalle is still alive, Lieutenant. Now, please return to quarters. This ..." He gestured to the fallen DeSalle. "...no longer concerns you."

Chapel looked straight into his eyes, beseeching. "Please ... " The 'lift doors closed, shutting her from view. Then she was gone.

Salack went to the wall intercom and hit the switch. "Bridge. Commander Spock, please."

* * *

Christine paced the cabin nervously in anticipation of Spock's return. She had even showered and dressed in one of her most seductive gowns in the hope of softening what was to come. But that had been hours ago. What was taking him so long? Would Salack wait until after the shift to inform Spock? And what would Salack tell him? How could she be certain the Vulcan interpreted the incident as it had truly happened? What if ... ?

Abruptly, she stopped mid-stride and shook her head to rid it of all the impossible questions. It did no good to speculate what Spock's reaction would be. He was not a man to be anticipated. At worst, he would beat her badly, then send her packing to the common women's dorm where she would probably be alone to lick her wounds, as no woman stayed there long. But wasn't that what she wanted? To be rid of him?

Suddenly her knees felt weak and she went to the foot of the bed and sat down. NO! She realized she did not want to leave Spock. Not now. Not ever. There was no reasonable explanation for this feeling. He showed not the least bit of emotion for her outside of their couplings and she did not love him. Of that she was certain. But ... she wanted him. Whenever he made love to her now, her body responded almost frantically and she would find herself being swept along, drowning in the passion that often matched even Spock's. When this happened, she could sense something within him ... something indefinite, but possibly akin to delight. Everything in her world seemed to pale in comparison to his touch and their nights together, as if she was only really living when she was with him. Had she changed, as DeSalle had accused? What would she do if Spock forced her to leave him?

The cabin doors hissed open ominously and Spock calmly walked into the main room. Christine stood, but held back from going to him, nervously awaiting some indication of his mood.

Spock stood looking at her a long moment, then walked toward her. Christine cringed a little inside, steeling herself.

"I am pleased to see you are unharmed, Christine."

She lowered her gaze. "T ... thank you."

"However," he continued. "You were most unwise in agreeing to meet DeSalle in such a secluded area of the ship. As my consort, you are a valuable hostage and put me at risk."

Suddenly, he reach out and slapped her, hard, and Christine saw small pinwheels of light before her eyes as she sank down onto the bed.

"I..I'm sorry," she choked out, fighting tears. "I won't happen again."

"No, it will not," Spock stated flatly. "I cannot allow myself to be put in such a position." Christine looked up sharply to where he towered over her, her vision blurred by tears. Fear tightened in her chest. Is this how it would end? "Salack told you ... everything?" she asked tentatively.

"I believe he reported the incident correctly."

"I see," Christine commented softly. "I'll be packed and out within the hour, Spock."

He cocked a curious brow at her. "I do no recall asking you to do so. It is true that you did not trust me enough to inform me of DeSalle's call; I must accept partial blame for failing to instill in you that trust."

"But ... but I thought you thought ... " She stammered to a halt, confused. "You want me to stay?" she asked slowly.

Spock's features relaxed and a small smile touched his lips. He moved closer and reached up to trace the side of her face with one fingertip, brushing aside the perpetual stray wisp of hair that would not conform. "You must have wondered why I chose you for my consort among so many."

Christine nodded, her gaze never wavering from Spock's. "Many times. There are other women more beautiful. Some who would have been more eager --"

"But none more ... suitable," Spock interrupted. "I admit I considered others, but none of them, once investigated were as ... promising as you."

"Promising? Chapel sighed her frustration at not understanding what Spock was getting at. This was their first real, personal conversation since he'd commanded her into his bed, yet she couldn't understand what he was telling her.

Seeing her frustration, Spock elaborated. "It was a decision based on logic and need. I had reached a cycle in my life that demanded I take a consort," he said softly, his voice dropping to a husky purr. "I had long decided, that when you finally accepted me, I would make you my wife."

Chapel stared at him, bewildered. "But --"

"Do not say it," Spock interrupted again. "I am perfectly aware that you do not 'love' me, if I understand the definition of the word correctly. However, I am also aware that we are very well suited to one another and can offer each what the other needs in a marital partnership. You require security, a protective shield. I can offer that. I, on the other hand, require a mate, one whom I can trust to fulfill my needs now and in the future -- a mate who will not be swayed by political ambitions and greed. I believe you would be such a mate."

'What you are proposing, then, is a marriage of convenience."

"Correct," Spock responded. "Not only do I desire such a union, but I find its logic sound. If I were a full-blooded Vulcan, there would have been ample time to make arrangements. But I am not. Therefore, I was unprepared."

Unprepared? Suddenly, Chapel remembered a conversation between the Captain and McCoy. Stupid that she'd forgotten it until now. "But aren't you married to a Vulcan? Surely she wouldn't approve--"

"I'm divorced." Spock's reply was clipped, his features turning suddenly cold and unyielding. "The female in question betrayed me. And I will not tolerate betrayal."

Betrayal. They were back to square one and Chapel understood no better now than she had at the beginning of the conversation. "You don't see my meeting with DeSalle as a betrayal?"

Spock quirked one brow up. "Should I?"

Chapel shook her head. "No. I had no idea Paul would attempt ... what he did. I only wanted to explain things to him, why we couldn't be lovers anymore, why I was yours, now."

"And why is that?" Spock asked, watching her face intently.

She swallowed hard, searching for the words to explain. "I don't know, really." She looked up, meeting his gaze directly. "I don't love you, Spock," she replied honestly. "Hell, I don't even know you well enough to say I like you. But ... I want to stay with you, be with you ... "

"Couple with me," Spock finished.

Chapel felt her cheeks grow hot. "Yes," she admitted, averting her eyes from the relentless intensity of his gaze. She held herself rigidly still, waiting.

Spock took a step closer, not quite touching her, yet close enough that she could feel the heat emanating from his body. "It is as I wish it to be."

His voice was a low, rumbling thunder, fastening itself to her auditory nerve and spreading like a jolt of electrical current throughout her system. It betrayed the stirrings of his sexual arousal that in turn excited her. Like an old scientific experiment she'd once read about, Chapel felt her body responding of its own accord to his tone of voice, heat and moisture gathering between her thighs. There was no question of control. There was none.

Encircling her waist with one arm, Spock pulled her to him, his free hand unfastening the front of her gown. Slipping his fingers inside, Spock caressed one breast, almost roughly. Christine's expression changed; her eyes became half-veiled, her lips softer, parting as her breath quickened.

Spock watched the change, intrigued. "This is why we are suited, Christine," he rumbled huskily, aroused by her total physical yielding to his touch. A fast growing erection strained against the confines of his clothing. He pushed forward, letting instinct take control. In response, Christine closed her eyes, moaned softly, and pushed forward to meet him.

Christine's eyes snapped open. No! The warmth of Spock's body had left her. But he had only stepped back to strip hurriedly from his confining uniform. Christine quickly followed suit, shrugging the gown from her shoulders and letting it fall away. A fraction of a moment later, she found herself back in Spock's embrace, their mouths meeting each other hungrily, hands exploring, caressing. Suddenly, Spock picked her up, his strong hands supporting the weight of her lower body, encouraging her to wrap her legs around his waist. Christine complied readily, laughing her delight out loud.

Spock's hot, moist mouth fastened fiercely on her erect nipple, then gentled unto a suckling pace that caused her to arch her back and sensuously stroke the increasingly sensitized juncture of her legs against his rigid manhood. As their passion grew, even Spock found their frantic movement impossible to maintain while standing and he moved over the bed, never once ceasing to taste her flesh. He fell back, absorbing the shock of their fall and started to roll them over. But Christine growled deep in her throat, forcing him back by shoving as hard as she could with her hands on his shoulders. He hesitated, his eyes glazed and wary.

"It's my turn to make love to you," she whispered, nibbling along his jawline as her hand wandered down his body, setting off explosive sensations in him.

Spock looked slightly disbelieving. "Make love to me!"

Christine smiled wickedly. "An old Earth custom. Trust me."

Spock's brow quirked again, but he made no further attempt to take control. After all, it was the least he owed for her ... co-operation during the Fever. It might prove ... fascinating. "Agreed," Spock answered tightly.

Christine sat up, moving lightly up his abdomen and running her fingers up his sides, gently pushing his arms up until her hands locked his down on the bed, their fingers interlocked. She started with his ears, the tip of her tongue lightly tracing the curved outline. Then she slowly, seductively worked her way over his face, carefully avoiding his lips and continuing down along the side of his neck, gently biting and tasting all the way. Spock lay back, totally enthralled with these new sensations. He had always been the aggressor in sexual activity, and he found being the recipient sparked new waves of desire that he had never realized existed.

Christine brushed her fingers in exploration down his body, her mouth following the path her hands found. Spock gripped her shoulders to keep himself from taking over. He moaned as her tongue gently laved the contour of his navel while her fingers stayed busy further below. As her head dipped lower, his fingers clamped onto her temples and the fiery cascade of her thoughts poured into his system like a bolt of lightning. Through the meld, he could smell himself as she did and feel how it added to her arousal. He was almost overwhelmed by the sounds and colors that fed through her into him. When she finally settled her hot feminine core onto his erection, her sense of power soared through him as she enfolded him deeply. She moved off and on him at an ever increasing rate as a coil of tension tightened in them both. As the coil exploded, Spock felt an explosion that expanded from his groin through her to the edge of the galaxy. For a few seconds, Spock felt entirely open to sensation ... and reveled in it. Then darkness overcame him.

Christine collapsed on Spock's chest as the reaction to their climax hit her. For long moments, she just lay there, waiting for her gulping lungs to catch up her oxygen needs. Then she noticed how still Spock was although his breathing was as ragged as hers. She looked up at his face, more relaxed than she had ever seen, even when he was asleep.

"Spock?" she questioned, lightly touching his mouth. His eyelids fluttered and he turned to his side, tucking his face into the curve of her shoulder. Not opening his eyes, he wrapped his arm around her waist and fell asleep without a word. Christine smiled slightly and kissed the tip of his shoulder. Her heart swelled with a sense of protectiveness.

As her fingers stroked through his soft, dark hair, she tried to imagine her future if she married Spock. He would protect her; even within the cruelty of the 'Fleet, there would be none who would dare harm Spock's consort. She could do the work she loved, her research, without worrying about ship politics. And Spock ... yes, she would protect him, too. She would be there when the Pon Farr came and would stand as guard to his back. She might never understand him, but on the other hand, the last hour had proved that maybe he would never understand her either. She grinned. But won't it be interesting to learn the surprises of each other! Yes, she would be accepting his proposal, such as it was. She yawned and chuckled at the same time as she imagined Spock as the classic lover in the holo-vids, on his knees with flowers clutched in his hand.

"What amuses you?" Spock asked sleepily.

"Your 'proposal'."

"But you accept," he said, using his hands on her waist to flip her over to her other side. He reached down for the cover and pulled it over them. He gathered her back into his arms spoon-fashion, as he had learned from her. It was a statement, not a question.

"Yes," she murmured, almost asleep. Secure in his arms, she was content to let the future come as it would.



The End

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