DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Gueniver and is copyright (c) 2002 by Gueniver. I have taking the Vulcan spelling and Kun ut Kali fee ceremony from the Vulcan Language Institute and "Amok Time". I got the idea from the Torres/Vorik pon farr episode from Star Trek: Voyager. Let me know what you think, please. This story is rated NC17.

Sometimes Having is Much More Pleasing

Gueniver


"After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical but it is very often true."

"Amok Time" - Spock to Stonn

-------------------------------------------------------

Dr. Christine Chapel tapped her foot absently to the simple rhythm of the music as she finished editing her research paper.

Seven and half weeks of research writing and she was almost ready to submit it to Starfleet Medical. Just one last edit, she hoped. She was alone for the afternoon so she had selected some of her favorite tunes. This particular disk was one of her mother's favorites, a selection of pre-war classics by Marvin Gaye, Dave Matthews and obscure lounge singer William Shatner.

She didn't hear the swish of the door over the music but she turned nonetheless and flashed a humming smile to her beloved.

He moved directly to her, as he always did, and leaned down to kiss her lightly.

Fifteen years ago she never would have imagined that he would ever be in the habit of kissing her as a greeting.

"Computer, music off. How was your day?" She brushed his cheek as he lifted his head.

"Uneventful." He moved to their shared closet and removed his uniform jacket, neatly hanging it up. "Our new orders came in."

"Yeah, Leonard told me. He's been talking about this amazing whiz bang bio bed that we're going to get. How long will we have?"

"We are scheduled for five days at Vulcan." He removed his boots and slid them into the closet as well.

"Will your parents be there?" She asked hopefully. She saved her work and shut down the terminal.

"I do not know. However, we can inquire." He turned from the closet and moved to the chair opposite hers.

"I'd love to see your mother again. Maybe we could meet them for dinner in Shi Kahr? Your mother says there's a terrific Indian restaurant there."

"That would be acceptable." He sat and reached for her hand.

She raised an eyebrow at this and he looked at her meaningfully. "Perhaps T'Lar will also be unoccupied."

Her eyebrows both shot upward in surprise. "What? What do you mean?" He responded with an amused expression as he covered her hand with his. "I had thought that I been quite clear, however, if you would prefer a more traditional proposal," and he slid to one knee before her.

She laughed protesting and tried to pull him up. "Spock! What are you--! Spock! Get up! You don't have to do that!" She continued laughing as he rose back to his chair his eyebrow still raised in question.

"Am I to assume that you are declining my proposal?"

"No! No--" She was still laughing, she took his hands. "Oh, Spock. Love! That isn't what I meant! I mean I knew what you were saying. I just didn't understand. I didn't think we were going to do that. I mean… Oh, Spock, help me out here!"

"It has always been my intention to formalize our union. I believe you expressed some reluctance to participate in the traditional Terran ceremony your mother would prefer. Since we have already obtained T'Lar's consent to officiate it only seems logical..."

"Spock, that was six years ago!"

"We have been otherwise occupied."

"Yes, but--"

"Christine, if you do not wish to--"

"No! I'm not saying that! It's just so sudden! I mean, well, where will we stay? How much time will we need to take off? Do we have enough time to plan for all this? I don't even know if we can take the time off work."

His expression remained softened with humor as she worried through the details, "Christine, the actual ceremony will only take an hour and requires no special planning on our part. Each of us has a surplus of leave time that I am certain Jim will approve. As for accommodations I am certain my parents will welcome our presence."

She smiled seductively. "Actually I was hoping on private accommodations."

"Logical."

"I'll invite my mother. Will we need to take a couple of weeks leave time? Have you seen our orders for the next month? Do you think Enterprise could come back and pick us up in a couple of weeks?"

"While I would welcome the time alone, it is not a requirement unless you wish to have a Terran honeymoon. We could plan on a trip to Earth if you wish."

She furrowed her brow for a moment, confused. "Spock I think we're talking about two different things, my love."

"I was referring to the traditional bonding ceremony. It was my understanding that it was your wish to have a traditional Vulcan ceremony. Am I mistaken?"

"No, that is exactly what I wanted. Kun ut Kali fee, A TRADITIONAL Vulcan bonding."

"Surely you're not implying.."

"Why not? We've got plenty of time to plan. It would only take one visit to Leonard. He could inactivate my ovulation inhibitor--"

"No." He rose from the chair and moved to the replicator. "It is too great of a risk and it is not necessary to the ceremony." He keyed the controls and retrieved a steaming pair of mugs and returned to the Christine with them.

"Risk? What risk? You don't believe I plan to challenge?" She took the mug slowly.

"No, of course not. I merely do not wish to risk your health or well being in order to pay homage to an archaic tradition among my people. It is not necessary and I do not wish it."

"But I do wish it."

"You do not know what you are asking, Christine."

"I think I do. Look, this was your idea. If we're going to do this, we should do it right."

"You have not experienced the madness, it is incomprehensible."

"Just because I haven't felt it doesn't mean I don't understand it. I'm a doctor. I've studied the medical aspects of pon farr. Oh, and by the way, I have a little news flash for you, this is not uncharted medical territory, other Humans have quite successfully participated in the pon farr. Your mother--"

"My mother was the first human woman to experience this and, while I do not wish to speculate on the matter, I do not believe it was a pleasant experience." His face colored at this. Certainly not a choice topic among Vulcans it was unthinkable to imagine his own mother in the throes of pon farr.

Christine was beginning to look annoyed. "Spock, please don't patronize me. I'm a Starfleet officer, I'm hardly helpless."

"You are human and--" he began reasonably.

"And what? Are you saying you think you could hurt me?"

"Not intentionally. However, in the depths of the blood fever it is difficult to say what may happen."

Her temper began to flare at this. "So? What is that supposed to mean? You think I couldn't defend myself against you?"

Spock remained undaunted. "I believe that it would not be something I would wish to discover."

"Ooh, the big bad Vulcan might lose his precious control and leave a mark?"

"Christine, this is not a subject to be taken lightly."

Christine rose angrily. "No Spock, it's not. It's a Vulcan bonding and I won't have you bending the rules of an ageless tradition for me because I'm a fragile human. You're a direct descendent of Surak, for crying out loud! If you want to rescind your proposal, fine! I understand. But if you want to just go through the motions because you think I'm made of glass then you can just forget it!"

"No, Christine. I wish for nothing more than to formalize our union. I only do not wish to hurt you."

"On your feet, Mister I-don't-think-you-can-handle-it." She marched angrily to the door expecting him to follow her.

"Christine--"

She spun angrily, her eyes flashed, her arms spread in exasperation, "Spock, I'm tired of this. Let's go to where it's nice and safe and you can make your point. You kick my butt and I'll concede. We'll go through the motions on Vulcan, I won't like it but I'll do it. But if I kick your cute Vulcan butt, you have to go through with it. All of it!"

"I will not enter into a wager over this. We must discuss it rationally."

"No, Spock, that's the problem." She punctuated her words with her pointed finger. "You're trying to think rationally about something that is not rational. My Love, I know this isn't a logical request. This is about passion and dedication and pride and all those emotions that you love about me. I want to prove to you, your family and even myself that I'm ready and capable of being your wife, in every aspect of the word. I know this isn't the first time a Vulcan and a Human have bonded, but you're not just any Vulcan. Can't you see that? You're the legendary Spock of Vulcan, son of Sarek and last descendant of Surak. A lot of people will be watching. I don't want to do this if we're not going to do it right."

He sighed heavily.

He regarded her silently for a moment. Unsettling as it was to think of his mother and father surviving the madness, it was a convincing argument. Christine had proven to be his match in the gym at Kzinti Katenaii, but lost in the madness there were no rules and no safety pads. There was no disputing that in brute strength he was more than her match. However, with proper training, strength was less important than skill. It was a risk that all men and women who walked the sands of his ancestors undertook many with far less training than Christine had. With the exception of his own ill fated bonding ceremony there had been no serious injury in almost a century.

He shook his head slightly. He could think of no logical reason to deny her this. "It would appear that you have put considerable thought into this matter."

"I have, but I want it to be a decision we make together."

"I believe I have little choice in this matter." He reached for her, pulled her into his arms. "I would not deny you anything that you feel so strongly about."

"You can still take me up on that gym scenario." She cocked an eyebrow at him teasing.

"You do not seriously believe that you would defeat me, do you?" He raised an eyebrow in disbelief. In such close physical contact she could feel the humor in his mind.

"You bet! Name the time and place and I'll be there to kick your cute little Vulcan tail!"

"Vulcans do not have tails, Christine. Therefore, if this decision hinges on your ability to locate and strike a non-existent appendage with your foot..."

"You!" She exclaimed in mock exasperation and kissed him firmly to stop his diatribe.

* * *

"Reckless and dangerous." He passed the scanner over her abdomen. "I can't believe you're even considering it." He spoke pointedly to the Vulcan who stood nearby.

Christine rolled her eyes and responded, "Leonard, I appreciate your concern. We have discussed it and we are going to move forward with this."

He snorted and muttered "I bet!" under his breath, shooting Spock a look of sympathy. He reached for a smaller scanner and this time touched it to Christine's abdomen over one of her ovaries. He watched the monitor over her head but spoke to Spock, "In other words she didn't give you any choice!" He lifted one hand forestalling Spock's protest then moved to the other ovary watching the monitor again, "Don't bother trying to deny it! I've worked with her for too long. You realize that just because you inactivate the inhibitor you may not ovulate right away."

"Yes, I do. That is what you're trying to determine, Leonard." She spoke slowly as if to a child.

"Hm. I still think it's a bad idea." He turned to the computer model and hit a few keys. "Hmmm. Uhm-hmm. Well, you're likely to ovulate right away. Your hormone levels are good. Ovaries are in good condition. Hmm.. Have you already discussed children or do you want a shunt again?"

Christine looked at Spock, momentarily unsure.

Spock answered her unspoken question, "I believe it was your intention to have a 'traditional' ceremony?"

She nodded in agreement and looked to the doctor, "Nope, no shunt, Leonard. Just hit me with that hypo and we'll be out of here."

The doctor grumbled again and fussed with a few different compounds until he came up with a small blue vial. He raised it to the light, an unnecessary visual check that he always performed on his medicines.

"Are you finished yet?" she grumbled.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" This time he looked directly at her, his gaze unwavering.

"Yes!" she exclaimed.

"Alright." He raised a hypo spray, as if to press it against her arm and stopped. "On one condition."

"What now?" she growled sitting up angrily.

"You wear this." He almost magically produced a small round disk. "It's a bio sensor. I'll be monitoring it for any changes in your hormone levels."

Christine fairly exploded, shaking her head, "No! I won't have you hovering over me. This is a private matter. We came to you in confidence. I don't want this to be the subject of your next paper to Starfleet Medical."

"Chris, I don't know whether you've considered all the ramifications of this. Let me paint you a clear picture. Your ovulation cycle is quite different than a Vulcan woman's cycle. If we do this, it's going to come on fast and it's going to be unpredictable. I don't give a damn who's done this before or what happened. I'm not doing a research paper. I'm your doctor, and if you are going to get this hypo I will monitor you!"

"The doctor has a point. Perhaps it would be prudent to monitor you," Spock added evenly.

The doctor's eyebrows shot up in surprise, but he wasn't finished. He turned to Spock with a second disk, "Terrific, because I've got one for you too."

Now it was the Vulcan's turn to protest, "I don't believe that will be nece--"

"Don't bother arguing with me. I'm not doing this unless you're both monitored." Steel blue eyes spoke clearly. There would be no compromise on this issue.

There was a silent standoff.

Spock extended his hand for the sensor. He positioned it low on his neck, hidden below his uniform collar. Christine sighed angrily and reached out for hers as well.

The doctor looked from one to the other for a long time.

Then he pressed the hypo to her arm.

There was a quiet hiss.

He stared at the empty hypo, "There. Done." His expression seemed to tell that he had washed his hands of the situation.

Christine sat up and swung her feet over the edge. She looked up as Spock. His face was impassive as always but she knew he was as excited as she was.

She smiled, "Now we wait."

* * *

Uhura waved across the room to Christine indicating that she was saving a seat for her.

As Christine approached with her breakfast Chekov and Sulu rose. "Good morning, Doctor."

"Good morning guys. Are you leaving already?" She sat in the empty chair next to her friend.

"Ve are due on the bridge. Sorry." Chekov smiled and patted her arm.

"Yeah, some of us have supervisors to answer to!" Sulu chuckled and turned to leave. It was an old joke, once one of the worker bees, now Christine got to make her own rules.

She chuckled in response and toasted them with her coffee. "It's good to be the queen."

The pair laughed and left the women alone.

"You're not due on the bridge?"

Her friend laughed and picked up the mug in front of her. "No, I've got a half an hour still."

Christine sipped the hot coffee and contemplated the toast she had ordered, suddenly not very hungry.

"So, are you and Spock planning on visiting his family at all?"

"Oh, yeah. Spock spoke to his parents. They're still on Earth, but they should be back before we arrive. We're supposed to meet them for dinner."

"That should be nice. I don't know what I'm going to do. This isn't exactly a recreation center. I know you'll be busy with the medical refit, but it gets pretty quiet up on the bridge."

"Well, I do have a small favor to ask. Since you don't have any plans."

"Uh-hm." Her friend hummed through her tea.

"I was wondering if you'd like to take a long hot sandy walk across the Forge and watch while Spock makes an honest woman out of me."

"What!" Tea sloshed out of the mug as she fairly dropped it to the table and grabbed Christine's hands "Yes! Oh, God, Christine! How wonderful" She laughed loudly "It's about time! I think the whole ship's tired of the two of you shacking up together!"

"Sshhh! It's not exactly been announced. I mean it's no secret, but we really want to keep this quiet."

She lowered her voice, but could barely contain her excitement. "I can understand. So when is the ceremony? Is there anything you need me to do?"

"No, the ceremony's pretty simple. We just need to show up. And I don't know when it'll be, yet. But I'll let you know."

"You don't know? That's odd. Vulcan's are so precise and exacting."

"Well, not when it comes to Kun ut Kali fee. I promise I'll let you know."

"Kun ut-- Christine!" She hissed lowly and grabbed her friend's arm here eyes narrowed. "Tell me you're not going to do what I think you're going to do." Her angry voice was a bare whisper.

"Ny, I don't know what you're talking about." Christine feigned ignorance.

"Don't play stupid to me, Christine Chapel. I'm not a total idiot. I remember the last time we were here and that term came up. I know what kind of risk you're taking. My God, Chris, Spock could have died!" Here eyes bright with anger and fear for her friend.

"Yes, I know and that won't be a problem this time." Her friend looked unconvinced. "Oh, please, Ny. Don't make a big fuss over this. I can't tell you all about it but I know all about the risks. Please, you have to trust me, you have nothing to worry about. I really want you there with me. Can you accept that? Can you trust me?"

Her friend looked worried for a moment, her brow furrowed with concern. Finally she answered, "Alright. Yes. I'll do it. But only if you promise you'll be okay."

"I promise." Christine sighed in relief.

"Oh Christine, I'm so happy for you! Have you thought at all about what you'll wear? I mean is there a special ceremonial something you need?"

"I don't know. Spock wore his duty uniform when we were here last time. So I guess I'll just wear my uniform. I sure don't want to be schlepping across the sand in a formal gown!" She giggled and picked up her cup again.

"Well you just let me know if you need anything."

"I will."

"I'd better be getting up to the bridge. You finished?" She reached for Christine's tray offering to take it with her own to the disposal chute.

"Yeah, go ahead." She handed over the tray with the untouched food on it smiling sheepishly at Uhura, "I guess I'm too nervous to have much of an appetite."

"I don't know why." Uhura grinned facetiously.

"Let's go. I may not have a supervisor, but if I'm late I'll have a staff to answer to!" She laughed.

* * *

The captain of the Enterprise turned to the bridge science station, "Mr. Spock? I'm headed to the mess for lunch, you want to join me?"

"Yes, Captain. One moment please." The Vulcan saved his data and shut down the library computer and rose to join his friend in the turbolift.

The doors shut with a hiss. "Deck seventeen," the captain said. "So, are you planning on visiting your family while we're here?"

"Yes, I was. Actually, it is something that I wished to discuss with you."

"What's up?" His friend smiled easily.

Spock turned to face his friend. "Will you beam down to the planet surface with me for a brief ceremony?" Spock's eyes softened with humor at the familiar ring to his phrasing.

His friend paused for a moment, blinked as the words sank in, then said, "Computer, hold turbolift!" He turned to Spock with eyes wide with momentary panic. He grabbed his friend's arms as if to steady him, "Spock? Are you -- is it?"

Spock raised a hand forestalling the question, "There is no emergency this time, Jim."

Now a grin spread across Jim's face and he clapped Spock on the back chuckling, "Time to make an honest woman of her, eh?"

"Curious phrasing, yes, it is time. Computer, resume turbolift. Shall I assume that you will accompany me to the surface?"

"Absolutely, we need to do it right this time!"

The doors opened on deck three to an exasperated Dr. McCoy. "Don't you two have a damn conference room to meet in? Turbolifts are for transportation, they're not meeting rooms!" He stepped in and the doors closed.

The Vulcan's expression was patient and tinged with humor "Doctor, will you beam down to Vulcan for the ceremony as well?"

"Only if I get to take a fully charged phaser this time!" He laughed. The joke fell flat and he cleared his throat uneasily. "Of course I will, Spock. Sorry."

"No need to apologize, Doctor." The doors opened on deck four and the trio exited, oblivious to their immediate tendency to step in cadence, three abreast like musketeers. "I have long since accepted your unfortunate sense of timing and word choice in times of crisis and matters of extreme delicacy."

"I believe he's saying is you have a lousy sense of humor, Bones."

"I heard what he said! Did I say one fully charged phaser? I meant two! One for each of you!"

They turned the corner and entered the mess hall.

* * *

It was a long shift and though she knew it would take time she felt anxious for something to happen, anything. She had taken 4 scans of herself during the day finally telling herself to stop before she made herself crazy.

She went to Spock's quarters, as she habitually did after her shift. She didn't bother buzzing in, she knew the door would be unlocked. It always was. They had long since stopped checking to see if it was a good time.

She found him sitting at his computer, as he often did, reading.

She smiled as she recognized the subject matter. The newest specifications for starships included family quarters. Starfleet had just approved the modifications in light of the long standing peace and the need to recruit and keep good scientists for the longer deep space missions. The particular specifications he was studying included a smaller room labeled 'Minor Dependent Quarters'.

She smiled at him, "Counting your chickens before they hatch?"

He turned to her and pulled her into his lap for an uncharacteristically affectionate hug. "I thought it prudent that we prepare for any eventuality."

"What makes you think I'd want our daughter raised on a starship?" she teased.

He responded in kind, "I believe our son could benefit from the discipline of a military environment as well as the educational possibilities of space exploration."

She teased back, "Maybe it would be safer for her to live planetside."

Suddenly serious, "I would welcome the opportunity to raise our child on Vulcan."

"You? Mr. Mom? I hardly think so!"

"You would prefer to leave Starfleet?"

"Well, no. But--"

"I would welcome the opportunity. It would be in keeping with our long term goals and could be equally beneficial to our son or our daughter."

She smiled at his word choice, but her brow furrowed slightly. Then she dismissed the possibility, "Why don't we just cross that bridge when we come to it?"

"I thought it best to explore the possibilities as there is a distinct possibility that we shall be making such long term decisions very soon."

"Actually, the odds are one in 1,147." He looked skeptical, so she continued. "That assumes a single viable ovum at ovulation and an average of 1,314,000 sperm per ejaculation with a 90% mobility rate and a 1 in 10 chance of correct protein match to allow for non invasive fertilization based on results from your last physical. If your pon farr lasts for 4 days and at an average of 1 ejaculation per waking hour but a drop of viable sperm per hour of 10% incrementally--"

His ears had flushed dark green by now and as his obvious discomfort had not stopped her he pulled her down and smothered the end of the description with a kiss.

She laughed against his mouth and hugged his neck tightly.

"I do not doubt your calculations."

"Good!" she laughed, "I checked them twice with the computer!"

"Then we shall not make undue preparations for improbable outcomes."

"Yes, or we could just cross that bridge when we come to it." She laughed. She loved teasing him.

"I believe that is what I said, Christine."

"Yes, dear. What about Jim and Leonard? Have you already talked to them?"

"I have. They will accompany me. And you? Have you spoken with Nyota?"

"Yeah, this morning at breakfast. She's quite a lady. She did a little research the last time we came to Vulcan. I don't know where she found what she did, but I'm pretty sure she's well informed. I didn't enlighten her, however. I just asked her to walk with me to the ceremony. Is that alright? I mean, I don't want to scare her, but I don't want to have her walk into something ... well..."

"Like Jim." He spoke what she would not say. His voice low, a bare whisper. "All will be well. Have no fear." His eyes warm and promising and she believed what they told her.

"It's going to be wonderful," she whispered in response.

"Yes. It is."

* * *

One week later, Enterprise came into orbit around Vulcan. They sat once again in Spock's quarters discussing their plans.

"Have you contacted your mother?"

"Not yet. I haven't been able to reach her. Not that I'm going to know what to tell her. I want her to be here, but I don't want to call and have to give her a Vulcan biology lesson."

"I would also prefer that you do not." His eyebrows furrowed at the thought that private Vulcan matters could become a subject of conversation between his betrothed and her mother.

"I could just ask her to come and not give any details of when the ceremony might happen. It would take her some time to get a shuttle … we might get lucky, timing wise. I don't know if she'll be able to make it."

"It would be preferable to a discussion of more a more personal nature."

"And you, love? Have you contacted your parents?"

"I have. However, this is not something which is discussed. I have merely said that we will pay them a visit while we are here. My mother has invited us to join them for an evening meal in 2 days, when they return from Earth."

"How do you feel?" It was a question she had asked with increasing frequency.

He rose from his desk chair and moved to her. This time he answered her with the same question, "How do you feel?"

She looked down for a moment, "Nervous as hell." Then she smiled slightly, "Excited, scared, anxious. You know."

"Yes, I do." He brushed her cheek gently, leaned in and kissed her softly. Then he pulled her into his embrace, turning her so that he could nestle her back to his chest, his arms encircling her protectively. "It will take some time." His baritone rumbled against her as she let her head rest on his shoulder.

"Yes, I know. I'm not very patient, am I?"

"The time will come, Christine. That much is certain."

"I don't even know what I'm going to wear, you know."

"You will decide on suitable clothing when the time comes. I assure you it is a minor thing."

"I won't be wearing white that's for sure. What will you wear?"

"I shall wear clothing that is suitable." His eyes crinkled with humor.

"Thanks!" She playfully batted at his arm.

"You are welcome." He hugged her affectionately. It was such a comfortable thing to be here with her. On the brink of such a major change in their relationship, he felt a wash of nostalgia for moments like these. Certainly the change was welcome, but nonetheless he couldn't help but wonder at what would be different.

She yawned sleepily. "Well, my dear. I have to help with the new bio bed install at 0600, so I should really get to bed." She rose and turned to face him, leaned down and kissed him goodnight.

"I will join you."

Her eyes widened with surprise. Spock habitually meditated at bedtime, not requiring as much sleep as she did. He rarely came directly to bed, unless he was feeling amorous. She had no sense of arousal from their bond, but welcomed the company nonetheless.

They undressed in easy silence. She climbed into the narrow bunk first and he followed, easily finding a comfortable spoon position nestled against her back. He rested an arm over her waist and nuzzled her neck affectionately.

"Sleep well, Christine."

She raised her hand and laced her fingers in his. "Sweet dreams, Spock." She pulled their hands to her lips and kissed them.

Soon they were both sleeping.

* * *

Leonard McCoy sauntered into sickbay stepping casually over circuit boards and installation gizmos. No one would ever think to ask the great 'Bones' to lower himself to such a menial task as sweaty manual labor. He waved to a red-cheeked Christine.

She grumbled and wiped her forehead. "Leonard!" She rose from the floor beneath the bio bed and stomped after him as he retreated to his office. "Dammit, Leonard! Didn't you even read the specs on this thing before you ordered it?"

"Why? What's the problem?" He casually summoned a couple of cups of coffee from the replicator for them. He didn't seem the least bit concerned.

"For one thing the pedestal is Parsii standard not Federation standard. It's at least 3-1/2 cm too small. The power supply isn't even UFP certified. It took us all morning to verify that it wouldn't blow all our power out in an emergency. The techies are having a helluva time getting it installed." She grabbed the cup angrily.

"Oh, I dunno." He sat easily in his chair and keyed up his monitor to read the pass on report from the midnight duty shift. "I've always thought a good engineer loved a challenge."

"Ugh! You're infuriating, you know that?" She heaved an angry sigh and sat heavily in the chair opposite him.

"Christine, it's been approved by the CMO of Federation Medical, it'll be fine." He handed her a copy of a burn report for a crewmember under her care.

She took the report and began to read, "Hmph, You know George'll approve anything you ask for."

He laughed, "Ha! I have it on good authority that I'm not his type! Besides, he's much more interested in the other blue eyed Enterprise CMO!"

It was something of an ongoing joke, whether it was the old boys club or just an older man's infatuation that had the two of them sharing the job.

"How're you doing?" he asked trying to sound nonchalant.

"Fine." She didn't look up from the report that she scrolled through.

"Not feeling too … frustrated?"

"What?" She looked up now. After a moment she comprehended his unspoken question. She laughed, "Oh! That! No, Leonard, I'm just fine. I'm annoyed, that's all. I think I can tell the difference between putting up with your mess and …Well, I can tell the difference."

"Uh-huh." He didn't sound convinced, but didn't push the issue either.

It was curious that Spock's taboo had somehow translated itself into this new reluctance in Christine to talk about a normal biological function. He decided it wasn't a good time to discuss it with her. "Well, you let me know right away."

"I will." She sighed with annoyance. His mother hen routine was already getting annoying. She rose, replacing the coffee cup in the replicator. "Well, back to work."

He nodded but didn't look up from the monitor as she exited. He pressed one key, then another, sighed as the bio scan results appeared.

* * *

"Commander?"

Uhura turned from the communications panel. "Yes, Captain?"

"I wanted to discuss this with you." He extended a pad to her as he moved closer, the display showed her request for leave.

Her eyes darted around the bridge. She didn't want to explain in such a public place.

"Sir?" Her eyes begged him not to continue.

"You seem to have left some information off your form, Commander." He pointed to the field labeled `Begin Date'. It was blank.

"Yes sir, I … well, I wasn't certain what I should put…." She tried to convey meaning with here eyes but he didn't seem to understand. How could he not understand? Christine was her friend, naturally she would need to take time off when Christine left. She sighed in frustration. Spock did not turn from his chair, but she just knew he was listening.

The captain seemed to understand for a moment but then he pursed his lips in a thoughtful expression. "Commander, perhaps we could discuss it later. Report to my quarters after shift."

"Aye, Captain." She turned back to her panel in relief.

* * *

Spock felt the presence of his betrothed before he saw her sitting in the corner booth alone. The entire lunch shift seemed to sense her blue funk.

She was upset. Even without the empathy of their betrothal bond, he would have known. Her shoulders slumped and she rested her head in one hand wearily. He waved Jim and Leonard on to their customary table and moved to join Christine.

She lifted her head and smiled half-heartedly to him.

"Christine?" He sat across from her, unconcerned that anyone might see them together. The pair had stopped hiding their relationship a long time ago.

She sat up straight and managed to contain a sigh, "I can't reach my mother." She swallowed hard.

He could feel her frustration. It was important to her that her mother be present for their bonding. Given the amount of pressure she had applied to the pair to get married, he knew it was as important to Mrs. Chapel as well.

"Perhaps she is out?" he offered reasonably.

Her eyes narrowed irritably and she made a sound like a grumble in her throat, "No, Spock. I tried again this morning at 10. You know she wouldn't leave her precious animals for more than a day, unless she's off camping. So I called a neighbor and they said they don't know where she is, but she's not home."

"Do you believe that she has come to harm?"

"No, I think she's just sleeping under the stars. Why not? It's springtime at home, she was just saying last month that she was feeling cooped up."

Spock raised his eyebrows and gave a little sigh. "Then there is nothing more that you can do."

"I know, I just hate it that after all this time and all her badgering that we finally tie the knot, she's not going to be here."

"There is still time, Christine."

"I know, I know. But it takes days for a commercial transport to get to Vulcan, chances are she won't make it." She smiled wryly, "Looks like you're gonna be off the proverbial hook!"

"Which proverbial hook is that?" He leaned back, folding his hands easily, visibly relaxed as Christine's sense of humor reasserted itself.

"You'll put off meeting the evil mother-in-law one more time!" He had yet to meet face to face with Christine's mother. He simply raised an eyebrow at her in response to her teasing laughter.

"I am certain that your mother is as charming in person as she is via subspace, Christine. We shall meet when we meet. Would you care to join us for lunch?"

"No, I was just leaving."

"Oh? You have not eaten. Is there a pressing issue in Sickbay?"

She hissed in frustration at that, "Yes. Ask Leonard!" she glared at him across the room. He waved congenially to her. "Well, I'll see you later." She reached forward and lightly touched his arm as she rose and abruptly left.

He watched her go, almost stopped her, but decided against it.

He carefully examined the impulse, not the first introspection in recent days. He compared it to his memory of his last pon farr. He decided it was not the same sensation, not a biological need but an emotional one. One that he was becoming more and more accustomed to in his time with Christine. He loved her and found that even when it may not be appropriate by Starfleet or even Vulcan standards he often wished to comfort and keep her. Curious that he should think of it in those terms, in the words of Terran wedding vows. Curious he decided, but not unexpected, given the circumstances.

He looked up across the mess hall to his waiting friends then rose from the empty table and joined them.

* * *

At only moments after the end of their duty shift, the captain and doctor met in the captain's quarters. They had only just begun to talk about plans for the trip to Vulcan when the door buzzer sounded.

McCoy hastily put the bio sensor in his pocket, where he had kept it out of sight for the last week.

"Come." The captain told the intercom and the doors hissed open obediently.

Uhura had returned to her quarters after work and was wearing a colorful civilian outfit of earthy reds and browns. It looked a lot more comfortable than the uniforms that the men still wore. Her hands were full.

"I come bearing gifts." She smiled broadly and her rich voice lit up the room. She walked easily in, as if it were her own quarters, moving to the table in the ante room and setting down her gifts a tall bottle of blue liquid and three small hand-blown glasses.

"To what do we owe the pleasure, Commander?" the captain said as he and the doctor joined her. Each looking bemused and trying to appear innocent.

She made a motherly sound of disbelief, as if the games and pretenses had to stop, "Jim, Leonard, don't pretend you don't know. Christine's already asked me to walk with her. I know what's going on." She lifted two of the glasses, offering them to the men. "A toast?"

They looked at one another and nodded in agreement, each man took a glass. Uhura raised her own, "To Spock and Christine!"

"Spock and Christine." They echoed and the trio tipped back the glasses.

McCoy sputtered, but Jim swallowed hard then shook his head unbelieving. "What is that stuff?"

"I thought it was Romulan Ale!" McCoy sputtered hoarsely.

Uhura savored the flavor for a moment, "Mmmm, the finest blue Tequila on Terra!"

The men laughed for a moment at the moxie of the lovely communications officer.

"So, Gentlemen. What are we doing?"

McCoy looked uncomfortable for a moment, the he began. "Well, it's like this. Spock and Christine aren't just going to get married. It's more … biological than that."

She chuckled, "Leonard. Is this the big uncomfortable pon farr talk? Because if it is, don't bother, I already know."

Jim looked skeptical. Based on what the doctor had said he found it doubtful that Christine had told Uhura much. "How much has Christine told you?"

"Not much, just that I need to be able to drop everything and beam down to the planet with her."

"Then where exactly did you get your 'education'?" the doctor asked.

"Do either of you remember the last time Spock came to Vulcan?" Their looks told her how foolish that question was, so she continued. "Captain, you received orders from Starfleet allowing Enterprise to divert to Vulcan after the ceremony." He nodded, remembering. "And Doctor, you received a treatment text from Vulcan Medical in that same message." He nodded as well. "Well, who do you think translated that text?" At this she sat on the couch, the cat who ate the canary.

"Well, I'll be--" Jim sat in a chair nearby. "I had no idea."

She smiled wickedly at him, "Really, Jim. Don't you even know your bridge officers? It's in my file. I'm fluent in over 13 different languages spoken in the Federation. And Doctor, you know how much trouble it was to get medical files back then in standard. I translated dozens of documents with Christine. Why do you think I spent so much time in Sickbay?"

Both men looked stunned.

Uhura leaned back easily and spread her arms out on the couch. "So, tell me what the plan is…"

* * *

Spock paused, his hand above the commit button on his science station comm system. He had remained on the bridge after his duty shift, as was his habit. His relief worked quietly at the auxiliary station nearby.

Christine's anxiety at not reaching his mother had effected him deeply. He had devoted nearly half his duty shift attempting to find her. Of course, no one on the bridge had known and no one would question him. He worked quietly with a single-minded determination to find Ms. Chapel.

Finally as a last resort he had written a discreet note to his mother. If they had not left Earth yet they might still have an opportunity to help.

It was not something he was accustomed to, asking his parents for help. Especially in matters so delicate. He had not even told his parents what their plans were. But asking his mother to find and bring Ms. Chapel was tantamount to an announcement. Vulcans did not do such things.

Of course, if Christine had been a Vulcan there would be no need to find her mother. She would be on Vulcan or she would not be available. It would be of no consequence.

But if Christine had been Vulcan she could not have loved him as she did. Only she who had stood by for so long could know and accept him as who he was.

He could not bear to see her in such pain over her mother's absence. If he could not find her mother then he would ask his parents for help.

He pressed the blinking white button sending the priority message and let out a small sigh as he pressed his lips together.

"Spock?" a voice soft at his shoulder. It was Jim.

He turned to face his friend and found him smiling softly, lines of concern around his eyes.

Spock opened his mouth to speak and met the eyes of Dr. McCoy over Jim's shoulder. He was holding the turbo lift for them. The doctor only nodded meaningfully.

Spock raised a hand to the sensor hidden beneath his collar disbelieving.

Jim lifted his brow and tilted his head as if to say 'well, you asked for it''

Spock spoke evenly, "Yes, Captain. One moment." Then turned with careful control and turned off his station forgetting the fact that the science relief officer would use the station once he left. He rose and followed his two friends into the turbo lift.

* * *

It was absolutely infuriating. The pedestal for the bio bed wouldn't line up with the power supply for anything. Fourteen hours of re-wiring and re-working and the stupid thing wouldn't fit.

She sat up abruptly hitting her head again on the lower lip of the bed's frame with a loud angry yelp. The technicians all winced and braced themselves for the stream of curses. None were surprised at this point with the doctor's colorful vocabulary, as she had been working all day and each successive injury or perceived insult had been followed by a longer and more creative curse.

The sickbay doors opened with a hiss admitting Doctor McCoy and Commander Uhura.

Dr. Chapel saw their expressions of exasperation and suddenly remembered.

"Oh, hell! I forgot about dinner, Ny. I'm sorry." She sounded very sincere, but she cut her eyes at the doctor. "I've been trying to rig this damnable thing all day, I guess I forgot the time. Maybe if I'd have gotten some help!" she said pointedly to the doctor.

Uhura rolled her eyes in mock exasperation then smiled. "C'mon. Let's go eat."

Doctor McCoy looked at her with some concern, but held his tongue.

Christine waved her friend away, "No you go ahead. I'm almost finished." And she ducked back under the bed. The nearest technician looked at the communication's officer, his eyes begging for help.

The doctor moved quietly around and silently motioned the engineers out of the room, dismissing them for the evening.

Christine looked up at the sound of the doors closing behind the relieved men.

"What the-- God damnit Leonard! You can't just send my technicians away like that!"

Dr. McCoy ignored her and reached for a large medical scanner. It confirmed what the smaller bio sensor had already alerted him to.

"Uhura, take Christine to her quarters."

"Now wait just a minute! You can't just send me home like a child. This is my sickbay and--"

"Computer, register Doctor Christine Chapel on medical leave effective immediately." He was unfazed by her words, his expression patronizingly even.

Christine's temper had reached a boiling point, she charged at him hands balled into fists.

Uhura intervened easily catching her friend off guard sweeping her feet out from under her and lowering her to the floor with a basic judo drop. She broke Christine's fall as best she could, but her friend lay stunned for a long moment pinned by Uhura's unyielding grip.

She blinked the anger away, her expression sobered.

She met Leonard's eyes, then Nyota's.

They silently confirmed it.

It was time.

"Shit." She shook her head embarrassed.

Uhura released her and easily helped her to her feet.

Now apologetic she turned to McCoy, "Leonard, I'm sorry. I didn't realize."

"It's okay. Just go get something to eat and get some rest. We'll beam down to the planet in the morning."

Uhura smiled and patted Christine protectively on the back, "I'll stay with her."

"I'm counting on it. I want you to call me immediately if her symptoms worsen."

Christine looked angry again, hands on her hips she spoke pointedly to the doctor, "I'm fine, thank you. And I'm still here, so don't talk about me in the third person. Have you checked on Spock?"

"He's in his quarters meditating and don't bother trying to see him, I put a medical seal on his door."

"You've thought of everything," she commented wryly, suddenly aware of how much she was beginning to want to see Spock. Her friend smiled in his best country doctor fashion and rocked back on his heels, "I just want to get you two to the church on time. Now, go get something to eat."

"I'm not hungry," she responded now petulant.

"Uhura, if she doesn't eat in the next hour I want her back in here. I'll intubate her if I have to get some nutrients into her!" His tone was threatening.

Christine knew he wasn't joking.

She felt her temper returning, but Uhura grabbed her by the elbow and steered her to the door, "I've got it under control, Doctor!" she answered him.

McCoy, ever with the last word, shot to the retreating pair "You think you've got it under control!" and the doors slid shut.

* * *

"Computer, Nutritional supplement 17, double portion." Uhura had tried everything. This was a last resort. Stir-fry, a sandwich, two kinds of soup, even cake hadn't sparked any interest. Uhura had seen the bio scan of her friend and knew she needed something, anything.

Christine had tried the barest of tastes from each, but had struggled to swallow them. It was as if her throat wouldn't cooperate.

Uhura looked grimly at the brown liquid. If the chocolate supplement didn't go down, she'd take Christine back to sickbay.

"Here you go, ma'am." Uhura deposited the tall glass in front of Christine. They had a corner booth, far from the other late night diners.

The smell of the food was an overwhelming annoyance. Christine had felt the nausea rise before they entered the mess and the feeling had only gotten stronger the longer they stayed.

"Chris, you better choke some of it down or you know what Leonard'll say."

"Ny, he's just being a worry wart. I just ate."

"You 'just ate' yesterday. Leonard checked the logs, he told me on the way to sickbay. You set off that bio scanner of his this afternoon with a dip in estrogen or progesterone or something."

"Estrogen," she answered absently, still contemplating the thick brown goo.

"Whatever. You can't beam down hungry and dehydrated. C'mon, try it."

She raised the cup to her lips, almost gasped at the sensation of the cool glass on her lips. Everything was taking on a highly sensual nature and each passing moment seemed to only increase the sensation.

She tipped the glass, felt the creamy chocolate fill her mouth. She was instantly hungry and nauseous. She tried to swallow a mouthful. It was as if the liquid were somehow too large for her throat. It clung to her tongue like glue. The muscles of her esophagus protested one at a time as she forced the mouthful down. Then, in a valiant effort she tipped the glass up more and choked the liquid down, concentrating on swallowing quickly. Half a glass later she began to choke. She abruptly stopped to prevent the liquid coming out her nose.

Her friend watched in silence then offered a napkin to help cover her mouth.

Christine swallowed again, hard. Then she gasped for air. It took all her effort not to retch. Now even the smell of her own breath nauseated her. The chocolate supplement threatened to come back, but she chased it away with a swift drink of water.

"There now, that wasn't so bad was it?" Uhura tried to sound soothing.

Christine only glared at her friend and took another sip of water.

"I need to get out of here," Christine suddenly said and she rose without another word and practically ran to the door.

Uhura quickly flagged Sulu from another table where he sat huddled over a chessboard with another crewman. She hurriedly asked him to clean up for them promising him anything if he just would help this one time, then she ran after her friend.

She found Christine in the hall at a four-way juncture, staring blankly into space.

"Chris? You okay?" Uhura's voice barely pulled her from her reverie.

Christine was lost. All she could remember was that she had been going somewhere but now she couldn't remember where.

She looked at her friend, blinked then spoke, "What time is it, Ny?"

Her friend looked at the computer panel and checked the time stamp, "0103. Not much longer now. Why don't we go to your quarters and you can get some rest."

A pained expression crossed her face and her blue eyes began to well with tears. "She'll never make it."

Uhura was now perplexed. "Who'll never make what, Chris?"

Christine began to cry suddenly. Uhura looked around desperately at the deserted corridors, trying to think of somewhere they could go. It wouldn't do for the ship's CMO to be found crying like a lost child in the halls at 1 am.

"Chris, we need to get out of the hall, do you understand? C'mon, honey, let's go to your quarters."

Christine nodded her head and continued to cry, one hand muffling the sound the other reached out to her friend for support.

An unexpected flash of raw emotion suddenly caught the two women when their hands touched. For an instant the desire was overwhelming. Like lightening it jolted them both and they suddenly stepped apart. Their eyes met and widened as recognition came followed by fear and embarrassment.

The silence of the hall was deafening.

Christine spoke first, her head momentarily cleared by the rush of adrenaline and embarrassment, "Oh, Ny, I'm so sorry."

Nyota smiled now painfully understanding her friend's behavior. "It's okay, but let's not do that again, alright?" She didn't envy her friend at all. How she had managed to make it this long was a testament to her commitment to Spock. Uhura just hoped that in the end it would all be worth it.

"I'll try. Let's get out of here." But she still looked helplessly at her friend. She didn't know how to get to her quarters.

Uhura gestured to the right and Christine led the way. Each woman kept the awkward distance and silence as they entered the turbolift.

This was going to be a lot harder than either of them had thought.

When they entered the turbo lift, Christine spoke, her tone uncharacteristically commanding "Bridge."

"Bridge? Chris, we don't need to go to the bridge. Computer, belay that."

The turbolift stopped. Christine looked at her friend helplessly for a moment, looking like the lost little girl again. Then before Uhura's eyes she transformed, her face lost the fear and concern and she was commanding once again. It was almost as if the captain or Mr. Spock had taken over her body. She spoke again. "Computer, resume turbolift, Bridge!"

This time, Uhura didn't stop her. The door swished open and she strode out onto the bridge confidently.

Chekov had the conn. He swivelled in the big chair and looked pleasantly surprised to see them. As enticing as the command chair was, the night shift orbiting Vulcan wasn't one of the big draws for anyone.

"Ny, Chris, To vhat do ve owe the pleasure of your presence this evening?"

"Mr. Chekov," Christine spoke her voice tight and controlled, she moved to Spock's empty science station smoothly and began a scan that Uhura was sure Chris didn't know how to perform. "Have there been any incoming vessels from Earth or messages from Earth?"

"No." He furrowed his brow and watched her bewildered, "Vere ve expecting any? I vas not avare of any incoming wessels." He scanned through the pass on log on the small screen in the command chair noticing nothing.

"Commander Uhura." Christine's Spockian tone commanded her friend's compliance as well.

"Yes." Uhura didn't know what to say to her friend. She suspected she was somehow speaking with Spock and not Christine, but she couldn't be sure.

"Have there any incoming transmissions from Starfleet Command or from Earth in the last 2 hours?"

Uhura leaned over the night watch's shoulder, smiling apologetically at him. He made a space for her, as bemused as the other bridge officers at the doctor's behavior.

"No, nothing. Wait. I see that there is a message from the Vulcan Embassy to planetary security indicating that the Ambassador and his wife are being transported to Vulcan on a Starfleet long-range shuttle. They have not reported an ETA. The flight is classified personal. That is the only message."

Christine looked dumbly at her, not comprehending.

Then the lost look began to return. Her voice was soft suddenly, "No word from my mom?"

Uhura turned from the console not taking her eyes off her friend. "No, not yet. But maybe there's something in your quarters. Why don't we try that, huh, Chris?" She beckoned her friend to the turbolift.

The dazed doctor rose from the science station as if she was not at all certain how she had gotten to the bridge. She moved to Uhura but was careful not to touch her friend although she couldn't remember why it was important not to.

She moved dreamily to the door.

Uhura turned to Chekov, "Pavel, can you scan for the Ambassador's ship on long range and estimate when it will be here? I'll be in Chris' quarters. Let me know when we can expect it. Okay?"

"Uhura, vhat is going on?"

"I can't tell you right now, Pav. Just let me know about that ship, okay?"

"Okay." He sighed. What was it about Vulcan that made things so mysterious and crazy, he wondered?

* * *

The walk back to Christine's quarters seemed to take an eternity.

Uhura, now afraid to touch her friend, watched as she struggled with some inner foe. Christine walked slowly and stopped frequently looking about in confusion. She sighed and moaned as she walked so that Uhura had come to believe she was in excruciating pain. Her brow was beaded with sweat.

She could not know that Christine was quickly falling into a hormone-induced stupor. Her temperature rose and dropped. Her skin tingled with sensations she couldn't begin to describe. By the time they reached the door to her room the very colors around her had taken on a quality of other worldliness.

Christine led the way into her cabin. She moved straight to the sleeping quarters and stopped abruptly in front of the closet staring at the closed door.

Uhura watched with some interest from a spot near the door.

"I think I need a shower," Christine said quietly but she didn't move.

After a long silence, Uhura spoke, "Chris, honey, the shower's that way." She pointed to a door in the corner of the cabin.

Christine didn't appear to have heard. She didn't react at all.

Uhura moved closer to her friend. Close enough to see that her friend was trembling. "Chris?"

Christine turned to face Uhura slowly. She looked positively ill. Her cheeks were flushed pink and her lips bright red. There was an almost unnatural glow to the blue of her eyes. Her breath was short and shallow. She looked at Uhura for a long time, her gaze was intense and for a moment Uhura was afraid for her friend.

"Ny, I'm scared," she said finally.

"I know you are, hon. But we're almost done, okay? So you go take a shower. All right?"

"My mom's not going to make it, is she?" She started to look like she was going to cry.

Uhura didn't know what to say. She had no idea whether Ms. Chapel was coming or not. She hadn't known until a few moments ago that she was expected. But she didn't want Christine to get upset again, so she stalled for time. "I don't know for sure, Chris. But I tell you what, while you're in the shower I'll do some checking, how would that be?"

Christine blinked again then nodded her head thoughtfully. She didn't say anything but looked relieved as she turned and moved wearily toward the bathroom.

As soon as the doors closed Uhura keyed up a cup of coffee for herself. It was already late into the night and she knew she wouldn't be getting any sleep until tomorrow.

She picked up the steaming mug and moved to the comm unit. She would call Pavel on the bridge. She was determined to find out if Christine's mother was on her way.

The buzzer to sounded. Someone was in the corridor. Uhura hesitated. Who would be visiting Christine at this hour? Should she answer? It couldn't be Pavel; he'd have sense enough not to leave the bridge.

The buzzer sounded again and then the intercom sounded. "Uhura? I need to speak with you." It was the good doctor.

Relieved, she moved to the door triggering the sensor, "Come in Doctor. Christine's in the shower."

"Here." He thrust a phaser and two hypos at her.

"What's this?" She stared at the hypos. "A sedative and some tri-ox. I've been monitoring Christine's condition and you may need the sedative to control her if she slips into the blood fever. The tri ox is for both of you. The air on Vulcan is too thin and you'll both need a dose to make the journey."

"Journey?" she sputtered.

"It's about a kilometer from your beam down site to the Kun ut Kali fee. You'll need to beam down at first light. You don't want to be too early or the nocturnal predators will get you."

"Hence the phaser." She lifted it.

"No. The phaser is for your protection while you're here. If I can't keep Spock under control for the next 4 hours, he'll be beating on your door. I'll give you as much warning as I can, but if he comes through that door you are to stun him. He will only see you as an obstacle to his bonding."

"And who said Vulcan's weren't romantic?" she smiled sardonically. "How is Spock?"

"He's holding up well enough. But the night's not over yet. I'd better get back."

"Thank you, Leonard." She smiled tiredly. "I'll buy the first round at what ever bar will have us in Shi Kahr when this is all over."

He winked and pointed a finger at her, "You're on!" then turned and left.

* * *

Christine lifted her hands to her temples as pain shot through her head.

The light in the bathroom was too bright. It hurt her eyes. For a moment she wished there were something that she could do about the splitting pain in her head. Then she remembered that she could control the lights. "Computer, lights to one half normal. And increase the temperature by 5 degrees."

She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Circles were already forming under her eyes. A bead of sweat rolled down her temple. She brushed it away. She didn't feel warm, in fact she still felt cold despite the temperature increase.

Damn, she thought, this is hard. Her mind clung to the word 'hard', rolling it about with other torturous adjectives that seemed to creep from some undersexed teenager in her mind. Hard, wet, hot. Soon she was breathing heavily.

She met her own gaze and hissed out an exasperate breath. She began to question her own judgment. Perhaps she had bitten off more than she could chew. Maybe it wasn't too late to call Spock and tell him.

Yeah, that's it. I'll just call T'Lar and tell her that I've changed my mind. She heaved a heavy breath. After all my whining and complaining about a traditional ceremony I'm too hot and bothered to make it through the night.

She fairly growled at the tired face in the mirror.

No! Dammit, you can't give up now. Just a few more hours. Soon. Soon you will be able to be with him.

She wondered as she slipped her tunic off how Spock was doing. Was he struggling as she was? Was it possible that he was feeling doubt as well?

The answer came as swift as lightening and as hot as the sun. Beloved. Her Betrothed projected his mind's voice to her. The sensation of it was like a caress over her fevered mind.

"Spock?" she gasped closing her eyes to reach out to him.

Christine - T'hyla - I burn for thee. And the thought came with an image of flame. She could almost smell the incense that she knew burned in his cabin.

She moaned as the sensation of fire burned across every nerve in her body.

"Spock." She whispered anguished, "Spock, I need you. I need you now." She felt her hands trembling on the cold bathroom counter as she tried to steady herself.

Soon, Beloved. I will meet thee at the appointed place.

A tear of frustration trickled down her cheek and the sensation was excruciatingly sensuous. She answered in a strangled whisper, "Parted from me and never parted. I await thee."

She strove for control and drew herself shaking up.

She focused her mind on the single task of showering. With great economy of motion she turned to the stall and peeled her remaining clothing off ignoring the incessant throbbing of her skin as she moved.

She stepped into the stall and keyed up a cold shower. The water fairly steamed as it hit her skin, cooling her for a moment.

But the relief was brief and the icy cold water quickly had the opposite effect. The pressure of the icy stream began to stimulate her fevered flesh. She used a minimum of soap and quickly washed only as necessary. Even the soles of her feet seemed to be unnaturally stimulated. When she finished rinsing and turned off the water it took her several moments to regain enough control to leave the shower stall. She pulled on her robe roughly, not bothering to dry off. She was already sweating again with aching need. For several minutes she stared into the mirror trying to make a medical assessment of her condition but only succeeding in getting more frustrated and confused. She turned, finally and moved out of the bathroom.

The tingling of her skin was almost unbearable.

She shivered suddenly, not from cold but from a sensation of overwhelming stimulus. Her very skin seemed to crawl with the ache for Spock. It was a physical pain. She couldn't think.

"Chris?"

Uhura was there. Her voice was an anchor to reality. She turned to focus on her friend. It was very difficult. Her friend seemed so far away.

"Chris, Honey? We've got to get you dressed. Take your robe off and we'll get you dressed."

Robe? She didn't understand. Her friend tugged on the robe from behind. Christine didn't resist and the thick fabric slid off her shoulders and down her back. The overwhelmingly erotic sensation evoked a gasp from her. The trembling returned and her vision swam before her.

Uhura pulled something from a closet and pulled it roughly over her friend's head. When Christine's head erupted from the snug navy collar her face was transformed. Her skin seemed paler than possible next to her suddenly red and flushed cheeks, her pupils had risen up beyond her lids and eyes were only white crescents of madness.

Uhura snatched up a brush, glancing nervously at the chrono on the wall. She quickly began pulling her friend's hair. She had called the bridge. She spoke pointedly to the wall comm unit, "Pavel! Tell me you've got good news! We're running out of time."

"I'm sorry, still no word."

"Alright, listen. I want you to stay by the comm. When I give you the word I want you to beam Chris and I directly to the coordinates that I gave you. Do you understand?"

It was the third time she had told him what the plan was but he refrained from sharing that and simply responded with "Yes, Commander."

"Uhura out."

* * *

Christine sat for the next two hours in a chair swaying occasionally as if she were drunk then righting herself. She didn't talk or even acknowledge Uhura.

Uhura had found soft boots and put them on Christine's feet. She brushed her hair and braided it in a single plait down the back. Then she turned to the mirror and inspected her own appearance.

The soft red trousers and long batik tunic would have to do. She hoped this wasn't going to be a formal affair. She debated for a moment about the caftan that adorned her head, then decided it would help keep the sun's punishing rays off. A quick look in Christine's cosmetic supply turned up a good healthy sunscreen. After applying a generous amount to herself she looked at her friend weaving in the chair. Her fair skin would surely be burned by the time they got to the wedding site.

She approached her friend slowly. Uncertain what effect contact would have this time. "Chris?"

Nothing. Her friend appeared to have not heard.

"Chris? We're going to leave soon and you really should have some sunscreen."

Still no response.

"Chris, I'm just going to put a little on you face, okay?"

After a moment of silence Uhura sighed and reached forward with the cream. Christine's hand shot up and stopped her.

"No. I will do it." Her voice was calm, normal sounding.

Uhura knew better but handed her the cream nonetheless.

With painfully slow strokes Christine covered her face with the sweet smelling goo. Her hands shook violently, but she eventually completed the job.

Uhura glanced at the chrono on the counter.

"Damn!" She muttered under her breath. It was time to go.

She keyed the comm system. "Uhura to Chekov."

"Chekov here."

"Any word, Pavel?" she asked hopefully.

"Nothing."

"Anything on long range scanners?"

"Nothing. What's going on?"

"I'm sorry, Pavel, I was just hoping Chris's mom would be here before we left."

"Her mother? Vhy vould she be coming to Vulcan? Vhere are you - Oh, Bozje Moi! Nyota Uhura, I cannot believe you veren't going to tell me."

"Tell you what, Pavel? I haven't told you anything and you don't know anything, is that clear?"

"Yes, ma'am! Vait a minute. There's something on long range scanners."

"What is it?"

"Federation long range shuttle. Coming in at warp 6!" he was duly impressed.

"Hail them, Pav."

"No answer, they're transmitting something called the Ambassador's Privacy signal. Vhatever zat is."

"It's one of the Vulcan ambassador's privileges. It means that Vulcan won't question them as they come in as long as they keep their hands where everyone can see them."

"Zey are heading for Shi Kahr."

"Scan for life signs."

"Looks like a Vulcan male, a human male and two human females."

"That's gotta be them."

"Them who?"

"Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda. Pavel, listen. Chris and I are ready, so beam us down now. And I want you to beam everyone on that shuttle to the coordinates."

"But the shuttle is moving, Ny. It's barely in transporter range!"

"Tractor it, damnit. Do what you have to but get those people to the coordinates now!"

He grumbled, the answered, "Aye-aye 'Keptain'!"

A few moments later the dark room disappeared and everywhere there was sand and light. It was early morning on Vulcan and it was already getting hot.

There were people waiting, all Vulcans. T'Lar, a man in black with a large ax, attendants in silver carrying large wooden frames filled with bells and two men with very ugly looking weapons. They turned to face her.

Uhura feeling the thin air make her light headed, reached into her pocket and retrieved the pair of hypos that McCoy had given her a few hours before. She looked at them carefully. Tri-ox and a sedative. She pressed the tri-ox into her arm and turned to do the same to Christine, but she was already stumbling away across the sand.

"Christine! Stop!" Uhura raced to grab her friend, not caring what she might feel with the contact.

This time there was nothing, but Christine was not stopped either. She simply walked, slowly murmuring Spock's name.

There was a hum of a transporter, but Uhura didn't turn to greet the newcomers. She was trying to stop Christine any way that she could.

"Chris, stop. Christine!" Uhura stood in front of her friend blocking her way, but Christine was undaunted, she seemed to not see her friend, walking slowly forward.

A voice cut across the sand like a knife, "CHRISTINE CHAPEL, YOU MARCH YOURSELF OVER HERE THIS INSTANT!"

The dazed woman stopped in her tracks and turned. "Mom?" She stumbled across the red sand to the four newcomers. Uhura recognized Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda. A small woman dressed in khaki and a stunned young Starfleet cadet flanked them.

"I'm here, little one, I'm here." Christine's mother raised her arms to her child and hugged her firmly, her eyes lined with concern. Her daughter, head and shoulders above her mother, lowered her head to her mother's shoulder.

The Vulcans conferred for a brief moment as mother and child embraced in silence. Uhura sighed with relief.

Amanda approached the women. "Ladies, we must go now, it is time." She gestured each of them into place. When she came to the shuttle pilot she was at a loss. She looked at Sarek for a moment, then nodded at the silent communication between them. "Young man, you'll walk here." She gestured kindly.

A moment later the wedding party set off on the kilometer long journey, the sun already beating down on them.

First the pair of silver clad Vulcans carrying the ancient bell frames. T'Lar in her ceremonial white robes walked next. The bride walked in the traditional protective circle of women. Her mother walked to her left, Amanda to her right, Uhura walked behind the three. Sarek, as head of household walked protectively behind, followed by the shuttle pilot who occupied the only place in the wedding party that had been available, the position of the challenger. The weapons bearers and peacekeeper completed the short caravan.

As they began the slow trek across the sand, heat waves began to distort the horizon giving the illusion that they made no progress across the terrain. But at Christine's insistent pace they made covered the distance in 17 minutes.

* * *

Jim Kirk shifted uneasily from one foot to the other and the sound of his boot on the cool stone echoed in the circle. It was unsettling to be back in this place. He looked nervously at the doctor who only smiled.

They both stood silent. Their Vulcan friend had long since stopped speaking.

This time the good doctor had shot them both full of tri-ox before beaming down, so the air was no hindrance. The heat was another story. Both he and the doctor wore their duty uniforms and despite the Starfleet specifications, the damn things were too heavy for this heat. Spock stood stone-faced in the spot where he had beamed down. Impervious to his native planet's heat, he could have been carved from stone. He cut a image in his duty trousers, black t-shirt and flowing black meditation robe. He would never know how much he resembled the legendary statue of Surak that stood at the mouth of the temple in Shi Kahr where he had studied so many years ago.

As if by some unseen signal, Spock moved to the gong in the center of the arena raised the hammer and struck it. The odd warbling tone echoed in the silence. Jim and Leonard shuddered slightly, exchanging glances as if to say, Here we go. Neither wanted to admit to the other how eerily familiar this moment was. They turned and watched the stone arch through which the wedding party would enter.

For a long time nothing happened, only the sound of the of the desert sand hissing and rumbling in the distance.

Spock did not look to them, his gaze was fixed on the archway. Every muscle in his body steeled against the desire to run out to Christine. He struggled to control his breathing.

Then human ears could hear the sound of bells.

Finally the party was visible through the doorway to the desert.

The silver dressed Vulcans entered first bells ringing and took the circular path around the ceremonial grounds.

The three men watched the bride as she entered the arena.

She looked impossibly fevered and positively alien. She walked tall, proud but blind, only white crescents showing where sky blue eyes should shine. She wore a simple deep blue dress that hung almost to the ground. It moved lightly in the slight breeze the wedding party had created.

Uhura stole a glance at them, seemed relieved to see them. Her face glistened with sweat from the heat and the short walk.

Amanda walked with impossible grace and dignity in simple silk robes that made her appear to glide across the sand. She seemed unaffected by their journey.

The tired woman at Christine's side could only be her mother. She appeared curious about her surroundings and in need of tall glass of water. She walked quietly, glancing around for a moment then back at her daughter with concern. The Vulcans were all business and Sarek was the most Vulcan of them all walking in even measured steps.

The tail of the wedding party included a young human dressed in a Starfleet cadet's uniform. He looked exhausted and not a little frightened there between the hooded weapons bearer and the ax wielding peacekeeper.

The captain looked disbelieving at the doctor. "A challenger?" he whispered.

McCoy shrugged his shoulders; "Maybe it's a technicality. Maybe there has to be one."

Kirk shook his head now uncertain about the eerie familiarity of it all.

The wedding party walked the circular path around the arena then came to a stop in their appointed placed. T'Lar walked lightly to her place on the stone dais where T'Pau had sat so many years before. 60 years younger than T'Pau, T'Lar needed no bearers or chair. Years of priestess work in the temple had strengthened her for small simple ceremonies such as these.

The bells stilled and the deafening sound of the desert could be heard once again. For a long moment all was still.

It was time to begin.

T'Lar raised her hand spreading her fingers in traditional greeting to Spock. "Spock". It was both a salutation and a summons.

Spock stood frozen in the center of the arena. His eyes darted about in confusion for a moment. Then he moved woodenly to T'Lar. She could see that pon farr was upon him, it was not necessary to touch his mind when his own body betrayed him so.

He stopped directly in front of her with a slight nod of consent. She closed her eyes and prepared her mind, then raised one hand to his temple and reached gently for the uppermost levels of his mind to determine what kind of control still remained. For the barest of instants the flames engulfed her. Had she not been a trained priestess it would have consumed her. There was a slight quiver of response from her own body to the primal call of Spock. He was far too consumed by the blood fever now to know where he was or what he was doing. She could also hear the singing bond that had been forged with Christine. It was one of the strongest she had ever felt. Whispers of thoughts from struggling human woman suffused his burning thoughts. It was unusual, but not unheard of.

T'Lar pulled away from Spock and he turned to face Christine. She had approached silently as T'Lar had touched Spock's mind. T'Lar nodded her approval. This human had been well schooled on the Kun ut Kali fee ceremony.

T'Lar raised both hands and spoke to the witnesses "What you are about to see comes down from the time of the Beginning. This is the Vulcan heart, this is the Vulcan soul -- this is our way." Then turning slightly to address the bride's party, "Kali farr!"

There was an interminable pause in which T'Lar purposefully met the eyes of each of the onlookers, including Jim and Leonard who each looked fiercely defiant. A challenge would come over their dead bodies.

T'Lar brought her hands down abruptly and looked at the fevered pair before her.

Steeling her own mind with her priestess disciplines she reached out and gently touched the human woman's temple with one hand. Christine gasped involuntarily at the contact, her eyes snapping into focus and resting intently on Spock's face. Then T'Lar touched Spock once again. Suddenly she was a conduit through which flowed liquid fire. Spock's eyes suddenly appeared to clear and he locked gazes with Christine.

T'Lar struggled to control the flames around her, weaving and binding the minds of the two. The betrothal bond that they shared was strong.

Their love made her work easy. T'Lar struggled only with time. It was not her first Vulcan/Human bonding, but the timing was critical. Christine's hormone levels were high and Spock had responded quickly, the scent of fertility was thick on her. Spock's own guv-dau-tukh, sex hormones were strong as well. A thick musk scent wafted through the still air announcing his own readiness.

As T'Lar ordered her mind and completed the matrimonial bond, she made the decision that both she and the tall peacekeeper would remain. It was not normally a concern, however, given the depth of their fever she feared for their safety.

Her task complete she lowered her hands from the pair's temples and sighed slightly weary from the intensity of her efforts.

There was silence once again.

For a long moment T'Lar thought that something had gone amiss. She looked at the human woman who must now acknowledge the union by accepting her suitor's right to mate. Only Christine would say the words that ended the wedding. Only she could end the fever now.

Christine swallowed hard, trembling. She opened her mouth and with the control of a Vulcan announced in a loud clear voice, "Pon farr."

As one the newly wed pair raised right hands extended two fingers and met them in a traditional Vulcan kiss.

Bells rang vigorously as the Vulcans announced the end of the ceremony.

The bride's party turned slowly, the humans taking their cue from the Vulcans and walked the circular path around the arena following the bell ringers.

Christine's mother tried silently to get Christine's attention but her daughter was as unmoving as stone. Jim and Leonard took their places at the end of the party as it passed the groom's side and followed them to the archway. With a backward glance at Spock they exited the arena.

Sarek paused in the shadow of the archway.

T'Lar, who had followed the party on its circular path as well stopped at the edge of the archway. She and the peacekeeper took up their positions on either side of the arch.

Sarek met T'Lar's eyes and produced a small device from his pocket. T'Lar took it and recognizing it as a remote transporter device accepted it without a word.

The coordinates were pre set. Bio scans of Spock and Christine had already been entered. Once the marriage was consummated she would transport the new couple to the family's traditional wedding retreat.

In times past the pair would be observed by the matriarch as a measure security to ensure that neither would harm the other. In modern times such things rarely took place. However, when the mating fever was so strong none could expect them to walk to a place of safety and privacy.

Sarek had planned for this possibility. The descendants of Surak had maintained a special residence that had been Surak's after his own nuptial. The coordinates of the special lodging had been loaded in the transporter.

Sarek turned and in a few moments had caught up with the tail end of the wedding party.

Spock and Christine stared for a long time deeply into one another's eyes. Spock moved quickly toward her, pushing her back against the stone pillar of the dais with such force that she cried out.

He captured her mouth hungrily and pressed his body against her pinning her to the wall.

She moaned against his mouth frantically pulling him closer still.

The Vulcan chaperones stood silent.

Abruptly he tore his mouth away gulping air. He gasped painfully leaning his head back trying futilely to break the gravitational pull toward her.

He suddenly pounded the wall with both fists with an angry sound rumbling in his throat.

Christine was not frightened. She tried to kiss him once again, her skin burning with desire.

He turned his face away from her kisses. He was lost within himself, fighting some unseen demon.

Christine only burned with fever. "Spock! Oh God, Spock I need you so much." She clung painfully to him.

"Too.. Late ... cannot ... control.." His mind was flame. He was gripped by raw fear. It paralyzed him.

He would not hurt anyone again.

He was confused. He couldn't remember why but he knew that he had hurt someone. He didn't even know who he had hurt.

All he was certain of was that at this moment his body was flame and this was fatally dangerous.

He could kill. He had killed before. Someone important, someone he could not remember.

His whole world was Christine. She was the only one he knew. But he knew that he had killed in the depths of this inferno once before and his control would not loosen now.

"No, don't control. You don't need control!" She screeched, clawing at him pulling his robe from his trembling body tearing the seams. She tried to rip the black t-shirt from his now heaving chest.

She reached up pulling his face to hers. "Spock I need you. Please! I hurt so much." Her voice was intense with desire.

His eyes were rimmed with tears and his brows knit together in anguish, "I don't want to hurt…I won't..."

She growled at him and pulled his mouth down to her whispering against his lips, "Spock, please, I need you. I'm on fire. It is time, beloved." Her grip on his face tightened as if she could just will herself into his mind.

Then she did, she reached with all her mental will pushing against the thin wall of control he had erected.

He stopped struggling and focused intensely on her.

He was vividly aware of her strength and power. She had brought them here. Her need for him as a mate had brought them together.

She cried out to him. Her body needed him.

No, the voice of fear crept in once again. No, she is only human, fragile. A female needs protection.

And yet it was her strength of will and spirit that had brought them here to the sands of his ancestors.

As if for the first time he truly saw her.

She wanted him and all that he was. She needed him, needed his very Vulcan-Human self. She accepted who and what he was, and now cried out for him.

And he needed her, Christine Chapel, who had become the true meaning of love to him. Their friendship and love had ever loved and grown over the many years of their lives and now it was time to take the final step. He needed her to be his mate, his wife. The fire in him needed her more than he had ever needed anything before.

There was no doubt as he fell deeply into her cool blue eyes that she was not a fragile human. She had demanded this of him.

Yes, he remembered now.

"Yes. It is time." His voice strangely calm.

It was infuriating to her. How could he be so calm, how could he not ache as she did?

He raised a hand to her cheek, cupping her jaw for a moment. His intense gaze suddenly mesmerizing her. He leaned in slowly and lightly brushed her lips with his own and whispered her name, "Christine."

She moaned. The sound of his need for her brought her closer to the brink. She couldn't move. The wall seemed to be caressing her back. His breath on her cheek was almost too much.

His hand moved slowly away from her jaw and he trailed to fingers along her jaw and down her throat to the neckline of her gown.

She was gasping now. Their bond pulsed with her heartbeat.

He slowly grasped the neckline with his fingers and without warning or thought began to tear the dress slowly off his bride.

"Yes." He hissed as he slowly lowered his mouth to hers and trailed fiery hot kisses down her neck. "It is time." The sounds of fabric slowly tearing filled the air as he ran his fiery hands down her body. She clung to his iron biceps as if letting go would somehow end the world as she knew it.

Spock nipped and bit as he kissed down to take her taut nipple in his mouth. Christine writhed against him, frustrated tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

"Dear God, please, Spock." He moved deliberately down her body. Christine could not bear his slow pace. She tried to writhe against him but she was pinned firmly against the wall.

When the last of her dress fell away Spock raised his head from her breast and stood tall before her. He barely breathed as he looked deeply into her eyes once again.

He stepped back from her embrace and with great economy of motion he pulled the final piece of his torn t-shirt from his body.

Never taking his eyes from hers, he slipped the trousers over his hips and let them fall to the floor. His muscles rippled with hormone enhanced strength.

The sight of him there before her, the epitome of alpha male, was intoxicating.

She very deliberately ran her eyes down his body thinking loudly of every possible caress. She took in his broad chest covered with dark curly hair. Flushed a light patina color he seemed more alien and alluring than she had ever known him. Lower still she gazed, now licking her lips unintentionally, as she stood mesmerized by the sight of his fully engorged cock. It jutted straight up and glistened with the smallest of drops of semen, her hands fairly ached to feel the smooth velvet like skin. Sweat began to bead on his upper lip as the images that coursed through her mind flew through their bond.

He drank in her appreciation with a wry up turning of his mouth.

He only took the smallest of steps forward and then he was pulling her in to him crushing her into a trembling kiss.

She moaned against him pulling at him frantically once again.

Now he let go of his control and let the sensations wash over him. It was time. He pulled her roughly to the sandy stone dais.

She did not seem to notice the fall but instead writhed against him trying to position him between her legs as quickly as possibly, she cried out and moaned with each movement.

Spock seized her face and now flew her into his mind with the full ferocity of the mating instinct. She stiffened in his grasp, a scream flew from her and his mind was in her.

He was everywhere in her and around her. It was painfully sweet and intensely intimate all at once. She could not fight it, wouldn't even if she had known how.

Then somehow he moved and he was in her. His body found its way to its own release even as his mind sought the sweet cool release of her thoughts.

She was falling and crying and crying out in an endless tide of orgasms and something more. Something that had no words. It was a pleasure that she had never know that seemed to encompass her very breath.

She could feel with incredible detail as he slid into her, how the folds of engorged wet flesh seemed to caress him and draw him in. She felt the painfully cool wetness of her own body on his hot hard cock.

She was feeling every sensation of her own body as well as his in impossible detail. And the orgasm that wracked her was only the lowest of plateaus. She felt Spock's mind weeping with joy as the marriage bond completed itself, tasted the salt of her own tears and still could not begin to control the sensations that washed over her.

He opened his eyes and gazed down into hers where he found joy as neither had ever known.

As one they whispered, in time with the unending rocking of their bodies "never and always touching and touched."

Then they fell into the ancient rhythm of their bodies, reveling in the sensations.

When the familiar tingle of a transporter caught them, neither seemed to notice. They materialized in a room that was dark and cool, a huge contrast to the hot sun. Still neither cared to cease their lover's embrace.

Indeed it would be two days before either came to care in the least about their surroundings.

* * *

Shi Kahr, as it happened, had a substantial Terran community that surrounded the embassy area of the city. As such it had several places to chose from when the Starfleet party had completed their post wedding duties. A brief witnessing of legal documents and they were free to find relief from the day's heat.

Uhura decided that after the long walk in the punishing heat they deserved something 'nice'. The Deltan Suites Inn had an extravagant bar and with a few credits and the drop of a name they had procured a lovely private lounge. The soothing music and personal barkeep made for the perfect 'reception'.

Technically it wasn't a 'reception' Ms. Chapel had reminded them. But Sarek and Amanda quickly surrounded the exhausted woman with Vulcan hospitality and stories of ancient Vulcan tradition. After a few glasses of sweet cool water and an array of Vulcan delicacies the human seemed much revived.

The room was quiet and cool and blissfully dim; a welcome relief from the angry heat of the Vulcan morning.

McCoy looked across the room and spotted the lone figure sitting at a table in a corner. He was starring into a tall glass of water. Young, sandy-haired, he sat far too stiffly for a party goer. McCoy gently elbowed Kirk and gestured to the young cadet. The captain smiled and the pair moved toward the young man.

"Son," the doctor drawled in a fatherly tone as they approached the table, "I wanna thank you for getting everyone here on time."

The captain sauntered around and took a seat opposite the young man. "Uhura tells me you had that shuttle at warp six." His eyes glinted with approval. "You must be one helluva pilot." He smiled broadly.

The young man blushed slightly at the compliment. It wasn't every day you got the chance to meet the legendary captain, let alone get complimented by him. "Thank you, sir." He was secretly pleased that this voice sounded so steady.

"What's your name, son?" McCoy asked genially as he sat down too.

"Picard, sir. Jean-Luc Picard," the cadet answered.

McCoy extended a hand. "Pleased to meet you, Jean-Luc. I'm Leonard McCoy. You can call me Leonard. I'm sure you already recognize the illustrious James T. Kirk."

Jean-Luc shook the doctor's hand firmly, thinking back to his father's instruction on making a good first impression.

The captain extended his hand as well, giving a long suffering look to his old friend. Then he smiled at the young man, "Jim," he said.

Jean-Luc could barely swallow, let alone call him 'Jim'.

Uhura joined the threesome. She came bearing shots of light blue liquid.

The cadet didn't object but his eyes widened with surprise. He had heard of Romulan ale and knew that rumors abounded that the Enterprise often had a small stock of the illegal spirit. He almost fell from his chair as he saw that both the ambassador and his wife as well as Ms. Chapel had their own short glasses of the blue alcohol.

Uhura raised her glass reverently and the room followed suit. "Ladies and Gentlemen," and all turned to face her with glasses raised, "To Spock and Christine."

"Spock and Christine," they all murmured.

"We did it right this time," McCoy spoke in a low voice and threw back the shot.

"That we did, Bones," Jim replied with a shudder as he lowered his glass.

McCoy sucked in his breath and sighed. "Smooth."

Picard only shook his head sadly that Romulan ale should taste so much like cheap tequila.

* * *

Here two flow together as one. How beautiful, she thought.

She stood on wobbly legs in a small outdoor garden. The center was dominated by a carved stone bathing tub. Water flowed from a cool clear stream through the garden and dumped into a rough hewn tub. On the opposite side a hot spring bubbled up from the ground and flowed into the tub. A simple system of small stones to block and divert the water appeared to regulate the temperature. Around the lip of the tub were carved ancient Vulcan words. Their letters curved beautifully, enhancing the beauty of the stones that had been used to create the tub.

"Words, Christine. You must use words." The sound of his voice was loud and slow. It seemed wrong somehow. Awkward.

She told him that she didn't understand.

"You must speak, Christine. I know it is difficult, but it is important."

Why? she thought. Even the effort of the thought was slow.

"It is important that we maintain our independent thoughts or we may become unable to communicate with others."

She didn't understand.

He pointed to the inscription. She smiled at the poetic beauty again.

It looked as if it had been hand hewn centuries earlier.

He cocked an eyebrow at her, then the corner of his mouth rose. It was an expression she had seen a hundred times in the years with him.

Now she could feel the warmth and joy in the expression. How could anyone ever say that he didn't show his feelings when he smiled like that? She couldn't help but beam back at him.

His words stopped her, "You do not read Vulcan, Christine."

She didn't understand for a moment, then she looked again. The flowing characters were indeed Vulcan. She knew it and at the same time she knew what it said.

She blinked disbelieving and looked up at her husband. Now her heart began to race. What was happening? She couldn't read Vulcan, but there it was and she understood it.

Now she spoke, "Spock. What's happened? What's going on?" Her own voice harsh to her ears quavered with fear.

Her eyes were wide, tears were beginning to form. He reached out to her and his thoughts of comfort came before his hands could cross the distance. Still he took her comfortingly into his arms, and the fear dissipated.

"I do not know for certain. However," he smiled again. "We are not displeased."

"No, we're not." She knew it, she didn't have to ask it or say it. It was.

It was as if they were separate parts of one being.

It will take some time to get used to this, she thought to him, already smiling away his concern that she was not speaking aloud.

"Words are better." He spoke and his deep baritone seemed to reverberate in her own chest and she beamed at him.

He smiled at her unspoken compliment, "I enjoy the sound of your voice as well."

She giggled, "I like this, what ever it is. I hope it doesn't wear off."

"I do not suspect it will." He brushed his fingers across her cheek. He glanced at the water out of the corner of his eye.

"Yes, let's," she whispered to him. He did not have to ask what she spoke of, he knew she answered his thought question as quickly as it had occurred to him. He did not speak as he helped her into the steaming warm water then positioned himself on the low ledge next to her. She nuzzled in to his shoulder and sighed.

Tomorrow we will work on words. Today I want to be here with only you, she thought.

As you wish my wife, he sighed contentedly to her. As you wish. And he melted into her as she twined her body around his and kissed him sweetly.

Here two flow together as one.

The newly weds spent their precious honeymoon learning how to be together and, reluctantly, how to be apart. So that when it was time to return to Enterprise, they came to understand that though they may be apart, they would never be alone again.



THE END