NOTE: Star Trek is copyright by Paramount and Viacom. This is a work of non-profit fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended. This story is copyright 2000 by Jade Nocturnias and may not be posted, distributed, or linked to without my consent.



Horses that Beggars Might Ride

Jade Nocturnias



"Are you planning on beaming down now, Miss Chapel?"

Christine turned at the sound of Spock's voice addressing her. She'd been so wrapped up in her thoughts of what to buy Doctor McCoy for his birthday she hadn't even noticed him enter the transporter room.

"Yes, Mr. Spock. I want to look around at the bazaar for a present for Dr. McCoy."

Spock raised one eyebrow slightly. Christine expected him to give a short, dry lecture on the illogic of buying gifts and celebrating the anniversary of one's birth. She briefly wondered what Vulcans did on their birthdays. She couldn't imagine one of them buying a gift, let alone making a cake like the three-layer one that Uhura had helped her with. Spock's next words, however, made her raise an eyebrow of her own.

"Indeed. I, too, am purchasing something for the doctor to commemorate this occasion."

"I didn't realize that Vulcans did those kinds of things," Christine commented as neutrally as possible.

"Vulcans," Spock replied, "do not. However, Doctor McCoy is a human. I would not wish to offend him in this matter."

"Well, then, shall we get going?" Christine looked around. They were alone in the transporter room. "I thought the Captain and Lieutenant Uhura were beaming down with us," she said.

"Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura are currently involved in re-organizing and updating the communications department. They will not be beaming down at this time," Spock replied.

"I see. Then shall we go, Mr. Spock?"

"If you are prepared, Miss Chapel."

Christine nodded, watching as Spock set the transporter for auto-beam down before joining her on the transporter pad. As they re-formed on the surface on Somari, the bazaar was already well under way.

Christine looked around the bazaar, eyes open wide. It still looked pretty much the same from the last time she had visited two years earlier. Races from all different parts of the galaxy called out to those who passed by their booths, trying to catch their attention with the wares on display. Humans, Andorians, Tiverians and many others crowded around pans of food being cooked over small pits of fire.

The sounds and smells were almost intoxicating to Christine, who hadn't been planetside anywhere in four months. She took a deep breath and smiled. She glanced over at Spock, who was taking in their surroundings with his usual impassive expression. Still, she thought she saw the tiniest bit of intrigue in his eyes. "Have you been to Somari before, Mr. Spock?" she asked.

"No, Miss Chapel, I have not. I confess that I find it a curious place. Why does someone come here, walking around all day for an item of interest or need when the same item could probably be found much more efficiently in a store or ordered from a company?"

Christine suppressed a laugh as she answered him. "It isn't logical, Mr. Spock. But it isn't meant to be."

Spock's expression was blank. "I do not understand."

"It's..."

Good grief, how to explain this to him so he could even begin to understand. "It's about having nothing you have to get done. It's about feeling the ground and touching a piece of cloth or leafing through an old book. It's about giving things a more personal touch."

"Indeed."

She could tell from the look on his face that her explanation did not alleviate much of his confusion. But he changed the subject. "Since I am still largely unfamiliar with the Doctor's tastes, I would appreciate any help you would give me in selecting his gift."

Christine lowered her eyes so that he wouldn't see her pleasure in his casual request. "I'd be glad to help you, Mr. Spock."

"Then shall we begin our examination of the merchandise for sale? Our beamup will be in approximately 1.92 hours."

"Of course."

Christine picked an aisle at random and inclined her head. Spock followed her as they made their way between a rows of booths.

Vendors called to them left and right as they studied their offerings.

"Here you are, miss, the finest silk in the galaxy!"

"Vintage vase, old Earth date 2047!"

"The greatest collection of weapons on Somari!"

Finally they stopped at a booth where a wizened little man was selling statues and pottery. Christine's attention was drawn to a figure of a man lying in the grass, a whiskey glass in one hand and a book in the other. Although it was obviously old, the colors were still vibrant and the patch of painted grass also held violets. It reminded her of Leonard somehow. She pointed it out to Spock. He was about to say something when Christine whispered to him: "Let me do this, if you don't mind."

Spock raised an eyebrow and stepped aside. Christine picked the statue up casually, as if she was only mildly curious. "How much for this?" she asked.

"For you, lovely lady, six hundred credits."

"Six hundred? You've got to be kidding me," she laughed. "I saw one exactly like this on Vega Risa for only FOUR hundred."

She started to put the statue down when the man touched her hand. "Three-fifty."

"Five-hundred," he offered.

"Four-fifty."

"Four twenty-five."

"Four hundred," Christine countered with a smile.

"All right, for you, four hundred."

Spock, whose eyebrow had been raised through the entire dialogue, paid the man without comment. As they walked away he asked; "Miss Chapel, may I inquire as to why you bantered with that individual over the price of the statue?"

She smiled. "It's called haggling, Mr. Spock. It's an insult to these people if you don't argue over the price of something. That takes half their fun away."

"I....see."

Christine was about to expand her explanation when they heard a scream.

"Help!!! Please, someone help, she's dying!!"

Christine raced off in the direction of the cry, Spock beside her. They came to a booth where a crowd had gathered around a Kedran woman lying on the ground, her naturally red skin turning pale. A man was beside her screaming: "A doctor, is there a doctor here? Please. My wife -- I think she's dying!!"

"I'm a nurse," Christine said as she pushed her way through the crowd to kneel beside the woman. "Let me see her."

"Please, hurry!" The man begged.

Christine checked the woman's pulse. Irregular. She opened her medikit that was strapped to her side and ran a scanner over the woman. The results showed that she was suffering from their equivalent of food poisoning. She quickly prepared a hypo. "This will make her well," she told the husband as she pressed it into the woman's arm.

The crowd watched, hopeful and frightened. Christine waited. After two minutes the woman's color began to return to normal, as did her pulse. She opened her eyes and slowly looked around. "What happened?" she asked.

Cheers went up for Christine's work. When they died down she addressed the man and woman.

"Something you just ate had an extremely high level of acidity. For Kedrans, that causes food poisoning, and it acts very quickly. A few more minutes..." she trailed off, not wanting to distress them further. The crowd dispersed, with some people patting Christine on the back or saying what a good nurse she was.

Spock, who had watched everything with his usual calm, broke into the proceedings. "Miss Chapel. I commend you on your skills and quick action, but it is time for us to return to the Enterprise."

"Of course."

She stood and looked at the couple. "I'm glad I could help," she told them.

As she turned to go the man stopped her with his voice. "Wait, please wait!"

Christine stopped and turned as he frantically began searching inside a box under the counter of his booth. He reached out a necklace to her. It was an elaborate carving of an animal that resembled an old Earth dragon, made with what appeared to be jade. It hung from a silver chain, spinning in place as he held it. "For you."

"Thank you, but I couldn't possibly accept this," she told him.

"You must. It is our custom when a life is saved we give a gift, so that the goodness will spread to others. Without you my Hulana would be dead. I beg you, please take it."

"Well..." Christine hesitated, mindful of the Hippocratic oath. But if she refused she would be insulting everything they believed in. She didn't want that. She took it from the man's insistent fingers. "Thank you so much. It's beautiful."

"It will fulfill your dreams," he said with a smile.

"I'll treasure it." And to show him that she meant it, she put the necklace on. "Thank you."

He brushed tears from his eyes as he hugged his wife.

"Miss Chapel." Spock's voice was quiet. "If you are now ready..."

"Of course."

She followed Spock back to the beam-up site. It wasn't until the transporter energized that she remembered she hadn't bought Dr. McCoy anything for his birthday.

* * *

As Christine and Spock reappeared aboard the Enterprise the object of Christine's thoughts stood before them wearing a scowl in his face.

"About damn time you two came back. How is anyone else supposed to enjoy the place if you two stay down there rubbernecking all day?"

"Rubbernecking, Doctor?" Spock's face suggested he was familiar with the term, and McCoy's expression suggested that he'd still be more than happy to explain it to him.

Before McCoy could speak, Christine said: "Please excuse me, gentlemen, but I have some things to do before my shift begins." She smothered a laugh as she headed for the doors, only half listening to Leonard as he began to tell Spock what he thought. She hurried to her cabin, mentally kicking herself for forgetting to buy Leonard something. It was just that between the statue and the woman, everything had happened so fast...

Memories of the events on the planet made her remember the necklace, and she rubbed the charm absently as she went in her quarters.

* * *

Uhura sat at Christine's desk, putting the finishing touches on the birthday cake that they'd personally baked in the galley. They'd decided to move it in case Leonard got nosy, something that he'd been known to do on occasion. Christine flopped down on the edge of her bed and sighed. Uhura looked over at her. "Rough time?" she asked, dark eyes sparkling.

"Have you ever gone shopping with a Vulcan?" Christine asked.

Uhura laughed. "Nope. Bet you had a fun with Spock making a running commentary on everything."

"Actually, he didn't say much. But we did have an adventure." Christine went on to relate about the statue and how she'd bargained it down by 200 credits, about saving the woman's life, and the necklace that the man gave her as a token of thanks. She lifted it up for her to see.

"Christine, it's beautiful," Uhura said.

"Thanks, Nyota. The man said that it would make my dreams come true or something. I guess he wanted me to know that it was really special to them."

"You'd better hope you don't dream about anything wicked, just in case," Uhura teased.

Christine smiled. "The cake looks fantastic."

"I hope so, I've worked on it the entire time you were gone." Uhura frowned slightly as she looked at Christine. "Hey, where's your gift for Dr. McCoy?"

Christine sighed. "I didn't get him one. By the time I saved the lady's life it was time to beam up."

"Oh, Christine! What are you going to do?"

Christine shrugged. "Make a wish that I find a hundred-year-old bottle of Saurian brandy sitting around somewhere?" she joked.

"I'm sure you'll think of something. I've got to get going now, I'm on duty soon. I'll see you tonight in the rec room at 1600 hours." Uhura gave her a quick hug and left.

Christine glanced at the clock. She had three hours before her shift started. She decided to take a nap, and instructed the computer to awaken her in two hours. She stretched out on her bed and almost instantly fell asleep.

The computer woke her up exactly two hours later. Christine yawned and stretched, sitting up slowly. She had to figure out what to do about Leonard's gift, and quick. Maybe she could offer to take him to dinner The next time they were planetside. He'd enjoy that.

She rose from the bed and glanced over towards the cake. Uhura had done such a good job with it. The gold and blue icing trim...the rich white frosting...the bottle of Saurian brandy...

Christine blinked, opening her eyes back slowly. No, she hadn't Imagined it. Sitting next to the cake was a dark green bottle in the unmistakable shape of Saurian brandy bottles. It even had a ribbon tied around it.

Christine advanced upon the bottle slowly, wondering if she was hallucinating. She touched it. It was real.

"What in the world...." Then she realized what must have happened. Uhura had obviously found someone with a stash of it and coaxed whomever it was out of a bottle for her to give to Leonard. Christine smiled. Nyota was such a good friend. She'd have to thank her after the party and find out how much it had cost her to pay her back. But at least now she had a great gift. She smiled as she showered and dressed and reported for duty.

* * *

"I can't believe you tricked me."

Leonard McCoy stood outside the door to the main rec room, scowling again at whoever happened to be nearby listening to him. At the moment, that was Christine and Captain Kirk.

"Tricked you, Bones? In what way?" Kirk's expression was so serious, he reminded Christine of Spock. Spock... she knew she shouldn't think about him too much. It only made her ache. If only...

"You know damn well in what way!" McCoy snapped, bringing Christine out of her thoughts. "You told me Lieutenant Carson needed help and couldn't be brought to sickbay! 'Turbolift malfunctioning,' you said. 'Can you climb up two turbo shafts and come here and check him,' you said. Well I say: poppycock!!"

"Now, Bones," Kirk grinned. "What were we supposed to do? Say: 'Dr. McCoy, please report for your birthday party?' I really don't think that would've encouraged you to move any faster."

"Indeed." The three of them turned to see Spock walking towards them. In his right hand he carried McCoy's present, which according to custom he had neatly wrapped in silver paper.

McCoy peered at the parcel suspiciously. "What've you got there, Spock?"

Spock looked as though he desperately wished to sigh but was restraining himself. "Doctor. This is your birthday party. Obviously, this is your birthday gift."

"From whom?"

"From me."

McCoy raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you bought me a gift, I'd better go into this party for a while. It'll be worth it just to see what kind of logical present you bought."

"Now that's the spirit," Kirk said as he gently pushed McCoy through the doors.

* * *

"Having fun, Christine?"

Christine turned at hearing Uhura's voice. The chief communications officer was walking towards her with a plate in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other.

"Now that we got Leonard to come in and actually celebrate his birthday, yes." Christine could've strangled Sulu a little earlier, who had made the mistake of calling out "Has the party started?" while turning the corridor when she was standing there with the Captain and Doctor McCoy. Sulu had taken one look at McCoy's expression and ducked into the rec room while muttering: "Sorry, guys" over his shoulder. If it hadn't been for Spock, who knows what Len might have done.

She glanced over at him, holding Kirk's arm with one hand and a glass of the Saurian brandy in the other. Gifts were piled around the table where he stood. She noticed that the gifts from the captain, Spock and herself were in the center of the collection. She smiled, remembering that she hadn't thanked Nyota yet.

"I'm glad you're here. I wanted to thank you and ask you how much you paid for it."

Uhura looked at her blankly. "Thank me for what? How much I paid for what?"

"For the brandy. I'll give you back whatever you spent, plus extra for your trouble. It couldn't have been easy to find."

Now Uhura looked even more confused. "Christine... I didn't give you that brandy."

"Okay, Nyota, if you're doing something to try and keep me from giving you any money..."

"Christine, I'm being serious. I didn't get it. I've never seen it. In fact, I was going to ask you where YOU got it."

The look on her face told Christine she was being sincere. "But... I took a nap and when I woke up it was sitting next to the cake."

Uhura's dark eyes widened. "Did you tell anyone else about it?"

"No. In fact, I never saw anyone but you between when you left and when I woke up."

"Christine, this is strange. Are you sure nobody else could've heard you say it?"

"No! We were in my room! The only one who could've heard anything if they were walking by would be..." Her voice trailed off.

"Who?"

Christine's voice was filed with amazement. "Would be Mr. Spock."

"Spock? But why on earth would HE have done it?"

"Maybe because I didn't get to pick out a gift. Maybe as a way of thanking me for helping him."

Uhura smiled. "I didn't know he had it in him."

Christine stared at him. "Neither did I."

"Well, maybe you should thank him."

"I will. But not in front of everyone. I'll wait till later tonight and stop by his quarters."

"Will you be wearing any clothes?" Uhura teased.

"Nyota!!!"

"Well, you DID say you were going to thank him..." Uhura laughed.

Christine snorted. "Like he'd let me thank him that way."

Uhura hugged her with a final laugh and went to find Sulu. When she walked away Christine looked at Spock again. He stood slightly apart from the crowd, watching intently. She sighed, and the thought came before she could stop herself.

"Oh, but I wish he would...."

* * *

Spock completed his thirty-eighth circle around his quarters. Everything looked precisely as it had the first thirty-seven times. He was well aware that he was engaging in the activity that humans referred to as "pacing." He was also aware that he did not know quite what else to do. With every turn, every step, his thoughts had only one focus. And he did not have the first bit of understanding as to why.

Christine Chapel.

The mere act of thinking of her name sent a wave of fire through him. It had begun during Dr. McCoy's birthday party. One minute he was watching the doctor and the captain have what McCoy termed "an honest exchange of ideas": the next Christine was all he could think of. He had looked for her, but she had left the party. And he was left with a longing that he could neither explain nor control.

At first he was concerned that he was entering pon farr again. But then he realized that if that was the case, his desire would not have such a specific focus. This only made him more confused. Spock did not like to be confused.

His musings were interrupted by the sound of his door chime. Thinking it would be the captain, he called, "Come."

When Christine walked in she immediately felt the tension from Spock, and assumed it was because he was uncomfortable with her being in his quarters. Well, she'd make it quick. "I only wanted to thank you for what you did earlier," she told him.

Thinking she referred to his role in coaxing Doctor McCoy into the rec room, he replied: "No thanks are necessary, Miss Chapel." He noticed that his voice sounded harsh in his ears. He knew he was staring at her but found himself unable to stop.

The intensity of his gaze was not lost on her. But she again believed it do be the result of discomfort. "Well, I think they are." She started to say more, but decided it could wait. She turned to go, saying: "Good night, Mr. Spock" as she walked towards the door.

She was two steps away from leaving when he stopped her by putting his arms around her waist. She halted in mid-stride, shocked. He reached one hand up to the panel on the wall and activated the lock. As it clicked Christine's thoughts spun in circles. What the hell was going on?

Her question was answered when Spock turned her to face him. There was a look of hunger in his eyes, a look of... desire. She'd seen it before on other men, but never did she think she would see it on Spock. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe he was running a fever. "Mr. Spock, are you all right?" she asked.

He wanted to say: 'Yes, I am perfectly fine, please go.' But even as his mouth opened to speak he found himself helplessly pressing his lips to hers.

'Falling,' Christine thought as her mind spun out from under her and went into a spiral of oblivion. 'I'm falling, this isn't real, I'm dreaming...'

But it was real.

Spock broke the kiss with a moan. He was trembling hard, his voice barely above a whisper when he spoke. "Miss Chapel, you must leave at once and report my actions."

"Why?" She brushed her fingers against his cheek, watched him shudder. "You're not my immediate superior. We don't work in the same department. There's nothing against it in the regulations."

"That is not what I mean."

"Do you really want me to go?" she asked.

"No." He looked as though he was struggling to admit the word aloud. "I do not. But that is precisely the reason why you must."

"Why, Spock? I don't understand this." Christine knew she had to act quickly while he was not resolute in his words.

She ran her hands up his chest, linking them behind his head.

He couldn't think. All of his nerve endings were screaming her name. At that moment he wanted her more than the air he breathed. He was burning. And tired. So tired of thinking about it. He didn't want to think about it anymore...

When he spoke again, there was a tremor in his voice. "It WOULD be...illogical for us...to...protest...against our natures."

Christine stared at him, remembering the time two years ago when he had said those exact words to her. Now he was telling her again, and she knew what he meant...

She pulled him down into a kiss.

He responded without hesitation, pulling her body hard against his. The kiss made her dizzy and breathless. Instead of falling, now she felt as though she was being lifted up, up into the universe itself. She gasped and stepped back slightly, face flushed with passion.

Spock gently picked her up and carried her to his bed. He turned off the lights so that the only glow in the room was the red flame of his fire-pot. He lay down beside her, fingers searching for the telepathic contact points on her face. His mind brushed hers slightly. She gasped again as she felt his raw desire.

Spock stood her up beside the bed. His fingers fumbled with the fastenings before slowly peeling the uniform from her body. With the same gentleness he removed her bra and the matching panties of her uniform. Christine marveled at how soft his touch could be. He knelt before her, lips traveling up from her stomach in lazy circles to slowly tug on one breast. She thought she would go mad.

'How the hell does he know what he's doing?' she wondered to herself. And she felt a tiny thread of amusement, heard a voice that was not her own but was nonetheless a part of her.

'Because I am reading in your thoughts what you want me to do.'

Christine jumped mentally. 'Spock?'

Again the voice. 'Yes.'

It was then that she realized their minds were now linked to some degree, a conclusion that he confirmed. It was not a frightening experience, but a beautiful sharing that filled her with bliss. She felt his appreciation of her happiness as he continued to touch her with his tongue. He flicked it over first one nipple and then the other, making her moan. His hands kneaded her breasts, holding them as he kissed them. It was ecstasy.

Christine felt his arms going lightly around her waist. Before she could ask him what he was doing, she felt his tongue on her navel. He licked it before going lower...

She felt a violent rush of desire as he touched his tongue to the most secret part of her. She staggered back, but was supported by his gentle embrace. He held her still as he continued to pleasure her with his tongue, reading her thoughts to know what she felt and what was exciting her. She shuddered helplessly as she felt her body on the verge of exploding. But some part of her was afraid to show it, afraid of how he would react. Finally she couldn't take it anymore. She body jerked against his mouth and she cried out softly as the climax shot violently through her. She felt his pleasure at being able to have such a powerful effect on her.

When it was done and her body quieted slightly, she pushed him back so that he fell on the bed. Before he could speak, she pulled his shirt and the undershirt he wore with it off. He sat up and opened his mouth and she silenced him with her own, caressing him until he leaned back with a sigh. She could feel that he still had a small amount of hesitation. She looked into his eyes and spoke in his mind.

'Spock.... it's already done. It's illogical to worry about it now.'

Silence. Then: 'I know. I do not regret what we are doing. I do not wish to stop.'

'Then relax and enjoy it.'

She took off his boots and the rest of his clothes, raising herself up slightly to stare at him. He was beautiful.

There was no other way to describe him. The dark curls of hair on his chest shimmered in the glow of the fire. He was still trembling, his sensual lips parted slightly. Deep brown eyes met her dark blue ones. His skin was flushed with a green tinge.

She smiled at him. 'I only want to give you as much pleasure as you gave me,' she thought to him.

And she had every intention of doing so.

Christine didn't wait for him to respond, but moved beside him on the bed. She ran her hands over his nipples, feeling them harden between her touch. She could feel the heat of him like a brand beneath her fingers.

She slid her hands down to touch his hardness, smiling in the dark as she heard him gasp. Oh, he wanted her all right. She didn't know what had brought it about, and at the moment she didn't really give half a damn. Spock was all she'd wanted for the past three years, and he was here, naked and trembling from her touch. She felt like it was her birthday and not Leonard's.

As she stroked him he continued to writhe beneath her fingers his skin feeling hotter with every caress. His hands moved to her breasts and rubbed them gently. His mouth met hers and she felt the desire building in her again, even stronger than before. It was so exquisite it was painful.

Suddenly he turned her over so that she was beneath him. Their eyes locked for an infinite moment as he entered her with slow tenderness. She gasped to feel his body joined with hers, heard his echoing cry in her mind as the link between them deepened.

He moved against her and she answered with her own rhythm, their bodies joined in a dance of ecstasy. She couldn't court the number of waves that crashed over her, numbing her senses even as they brought her to life. She only knew that they were together, one mind and one body.

Spock closed his eyes, and Christine felt that he was on the brink. She moved faster, urging her body into synch with his. They came together in a low sound of desire, mentally calling the other's name as their bodies shuddered to passions' conclusion. He lay beside her then, gasping, body gleaming with sweat. He pulled her against him, pressing a final kiss to her lips before falling asleep.

When Christine awoke, she had trouble remembering where she was. It was warm, warmer than her room, and very dark. Then everything came rushing back to her on a tide of confusion and desire. She was in Spock's room, and he... and they...

It was no dream.

He lay sleeping beside her, naked as she was naked. She felt sore but vibrant. She was assaulted with so many conflicting feelings at once she didn't know what to do. Joy, curiosity, turmoil... how had this happened? One minute Spock had been his usual self with her, the next he was filled with fire. She didn't understand it.

Maybe... he was going into his mating cycle. No. He didn't show any of the symptoms he had two years ago. Then what had made him give himself to her physically like that?

Her thoughts a whirlwind of chaos, Christine decided to leave before he woke up. Maybe he'd regret it. She didn't want to be there if he did.

She rose softly and dressed. He slept as though he hadn't rested in years. At his door she took one last look at him before she forced herself into the corridor and down the hallway.

Even though she had the day off, she went into Sickbay to see Leonard. He was doing some research since there hadn't been any new patients in several days. He turned and smiled when she entered.

"Good morning, Christine."

"Good morning, Leonard." She saw that he was slightly rumpled and guessed that he wasn't fully recovered from his party. "Did you enjoy your birthday?"

"After I got over being flimflammed," he replied gruffly, but she saw the sparkle in his eyes. He studied her. "Did you enjoy yourself?"

"I had a blast. Have you got any brandy left?" She made sure her tone was casual. If McCoy had any inkling something was amiss, he would pounce on her like a Siberian tiger.

"Of course there is! What do you think I am, an alcoholic?"

"You know better. But I'm sure you had some help with it...." she grinned.

He smiled. "You know, Christine, that was one of the best gifts I got. I don't know where you found it, but thank you."

"No problem." She decided against telling him it was Spock's doing; he'd never believe it anyway. "I'm going to my quarters. Call if you need me," she told him.

"Looks like a slow day here. You go enjoy yourself."

"All right."

Christine decided to detour to the officer's mess for breakfast before going to her room. When she went in, she saw Uhura talking to Lieutenant Gyers. He walked away and Uhura waved for her to come over. With a little sigh she joined her friend.

"Well?" Uhura asked.

"Well, what?"

"Did you go see Spock?"

Christine hesitated, then said: "Yes."

"Did you thank him?"

Christine looked at Uhura, and the other woman could have sworn she'd never seen Christine look so happy and miserable at the same time. "Christine, what's wrong?" she asked.

Christine turned so that only Uhura could see her face. Uhura was shocked to see a tear gleaming in Christine's dark blue eyes. "Oh, yes," she told Uhura softly. "I most certainly did..."

"What is wrong? Talk to me!"

"Oh, Nyota, I can't, I can't tell anyone..."

"What?" Her look became angry. "Did he hurt you?"

"No! Gods, no!" Christine shook her head violently. "It's just..."

"Christine, you know I won't tell a soul."

"I know. Just let me... work it through my head first, please."

Uhura's almond-shaped eyes narrowed. "Something...happened between you two, didn't it?"

Christine sighed. It was a whisper, but Uhura heard the "yes" as though it were a shout.

"Oh, my gosh." Then she grinned. "Well, how was it?"

"Nyota!"

"Just curious!"

"It was… exquisite." The memory of the night made Christine smile.

"I want details later. Right now I'm due on the bridge." Uhura rose and looked down at her friend. "I'll come see you tonight...if you're there."

She moved before Christine's hand could connect to her body, laughing as she left the room. Christine shook her head and went to get something to eat.

* * *

Christine put down the medical journal she was reading with a sigh. She'd been in her quarters for three hours and was bored. Not to mention still in an upheaval about the previous night.

Her hands remembered the feel of Spock's skin beneath them, and her lips still burned from tasting his. She wanted him again; it was useless to pretend otherwise. She hadn't heard from him, though. Maybe he was sorry it ever happened. Maybe he'd deny it to himself. Or maybe...

Her intercom buzzed. She rose and hit the switch. "Nurse Chapel."

"Ms. Chapel. Would you please come to my quarters. I wish to see you."

Her hand and heart froze and melted in an instant. Her voice trembled slightly as she answered: "Yes, Mr. Spock. Chapel out."

Christine took a deep breath. Well, he could want to tell her it was over. But something in his voice made her think otherwise. And when she remembered their lovemaking, she didn't want to think about anything else. She brushed her hair, put on some of her orchid perfume and left her room.

* * *

Spock, too, had been restless. He'd awakened to find Christine gone. His emotions were in disarray over the events of the night. Shame, pleasure, guilt and confusion pulled at him until he could not separate them. He only knew that he wanted her again with a force that seemed almost beyond his ability to control. It was more than the physical ache of pon farr. It was a desire of body, mind and soul.

He wondered briefly if perhaps he should seek out McCoy. But what could he tell him? That he was experiencing desire? Passion? Perhaps...love? No. It was not something he was ready to discuss until he had an understanding of the sudden cause of his emotions.

He sensed her presence faintly through the slight link they shared. It was only possible to detect her when she was very close. He opened his door and she stepped inside.

She was wearing an off-duty dress of pale pink. He could smell Terran orchids on her skin. Her poise was formal, however, as she asked: "You wanted to see me?"

In two seconds he had the door locked and her in his arms. When it was over, they lay together in companionable silence for a time before Christine asked: "Spock? Forgive me, but... what brought all this on?"

One eyebrow vanished into his bangs before he replied: "I do not know." His voice was so hushed she could barely hear him. He sighed heavily, then continued. "I only know that... I need you with me."

She felt his somber mood through the link and wanted to lighten it. "I'm not complaining."

His brow rose again. "Considering how long you have wanted this to happen, complaining about it now would be illogical."

She laughed. "You're absolutely right." She kissed him, then sighed as he nestled her into his arms. "And to think I only intended to thank you for the brandy last night and instead got this."

She felt rather than saw his puzzlement. "I do not understand."

She turned her face up to his. "The brandy you left in my quarters for Doctor McCoy. I don't know how you found it..."

Spock's face was grave. "Christine...I did not leave anything in your quarters for Doctor McCoy."

She stared at him, dumbfounded. "But... no one else could have heard me ask for it through the walls. A Human's sense of hearing isn't that good."

"Be that as it may, I assure you it was not me."

Christine fell back against his shoulder. "But if it wasn't you, and it wasn't Uhura, then who..."

At that moment the red alert siren sounded throughout the ship.

They both jumped up, hastily putting on their clothes. Spock finished first and glanced at her. "We will continue this discussion later. I must go to the bridge." She nodded and he left the room. A minute later she emerged and headed to sickbay.

When she got there Leonard was snapping orders to her nurses. "About damn time you showed up," he barked.

Christine hastily assigned the remainder of her nursing staff, then turned to McCoy. "What the hell is going on?"

McCoy's face was lined with tension as he answered.

"We're under an Orion attack."

The ship rocked violently as if to emphasize McCoy's words. Christine clutched at a nearby table to help keep her balance. "Why?" she asked.

"How the hell should I know?!! I'm a doctor, not a diplomat!" McCoy shouted. Christine didn't take it personally; she knew Leonard was afraid and worried just like she was. She thought of Spock up on the bridge with the captain, making decisions about what to do that could either save their lives or get them all killed...

"I am all right. Concern yourself with your patients, Christine."

She blinked. Spock, sending her a mental message? The link between them must have deepened. She gathered her control up and thought back to him: "Yes. I will. Take care."

A fleeting moment of warmth swept through her, a silent assent from him before the channel closed off.

The ship tumbled again. McCoy swore violently before slamming his hand on the comm panel. "McCoy to bridge. Jim, what the hell is going on up there?!"

Captain Kirk's voice, filled with anger and a slight touch of amusement, came back. "Well, Bones, it seems our friends think we're violating their space. They want us to surrender."

"Did you tell them to shove it up their--"

"Not now, Bones. Shields are hit. Kirk out."

Christine bit her lip. McCoy had activated the viewer and they could see the Orions turning to strike again. Scotty's voice came over the intercom.

"Bridge, Scott here. Cap'n, our shields are down forty-three percent. A few more hits and we'll lose em' for sure."

"Then you'd better be fixing them, Mr. Scott, because I'm not sure our friends want to lose such a valuable prize. Do whatever it takes. Kirk out."

"We'd better prepare for casualties," McCoy said to Christine. She nodded and he walked into the lab. She thought of Spock again; she couldn't help it. If they boarded the ship, the bridge would be the first place they'd go...and Spock would feel compelled to give his life to save Kirk's...

"Please, please stop, oh, God I wish they would go away" she said softly.

"Captain!"

McCoy, hearing Sulu's shout, came back to the terminal to listen.

"What is it, Sulu?"

"Look, sir. The ship... it's gone."

Kirk's voice was incredulous. "It can't just be gone. It was right there. Spock?"

Spock's deep voice, unhurt, soothed Christine's heart. "Affirmative, Captain. The Orion ship is not in visual range, nor is it showing up on the sensors."

"Explanation?" Kirk asked.

"I have none, Captain. But the fact remains that it is indeed gone."

Christine and McCoy peered into the viewscreen. The Orion ship had vanished without a trace.

"Good going, Jim!" McCoy shouted.

"Thank you, Doctor, but it wasn't anything I did." Kirk was puzzled.

"Well, whoever did it, good for them and let's get the hell out of Dodge!"

"Opinion noted, Bones. Mr. Sulu, set course for seven-two-three, warp two."

"Aye, sir, warp two."

"Mr. Scott, get to work on those shields in case it's some kind of trick."

"Aye, sir. Scott out."

McCoy bounced on his toes with a smile. "Well. Now that THAT is over with, we can get back to business as usual." He noticed a strange look on Christine's face. "Are you all right, Christine?"

She shook her head. "Yes. If you don't mind, Leonard...."

"Oh, sure! Enjoy what's left of your day off. I'll call you if I need you."

She barely waited for his response before running to her quarters. Once inside she unhooked the necklace with trembling hands and stared at it.

IT COULDN"T BE...

Christine stared at the necklace. It wasn't possible. But the brandy... the ship...Spock...

Only one way to find out...

"I wish I had a bracelet made of Denarian black pearls," she said aloud.

She looked around her room. Nothing on her desk, nothing on the floor... "See? You almost got crazy for no--" Her admonition to herself stopped as she looked beside her on the bed.

A bracelet of black pearls lay there.

She picked it up. It was real.

She shrieked and threw the jewelry across the room. For a long time she simply sat with her knees folded up against her chest, thinking. There was a lot of good she could do with that necklace. End war, famine, disease, keep Spock with her...

"No!" she screamed aloud. "I can't do it!"

"I can't do it," she whispered. For all that a part of her wanted to, it would be wrong to keep this necklace. Why had that man given it to her, if he knew what it could do? Did she look like the trusting sort? Or was he trying to give her the only other thing of value he possessed besides his wife? She didn't know and probably never would. What mattered now was getting rid of it.

If someone else found out about it... oh, gods, the battles that would rage to possess it. The entire universe could suffer, be changed by it.

Then there was Spock. As much as she loved him, she didn't want him unless it was of his own free will. Otherwise it was no better than on Platonius.

Maybe she could get a phaser and destroy it. But she had no idea what might happen if she tried that. And she knew she couldn't give it to anyone, not even the captain or Spock. If Spock even knew...

"I didn't mean to do it!" she exclaimed out loud. And it was true; she hadn't. But she still had to undo it. If only she'd never went down to Somari and gotten the blasted thing...

"That's it!" she exclaimed. "I'll just--"

'Hold up,' she thought to herself. 'I want to write all this down, changing a few things in case anyone ever finds it.' She felt uneasy about not leaving a record of the true events of the past two days, whether she'd remember them or not. She hastily found some paper (no way was she entering THIS log in the computer) and wrote an account. Then she took a deep breath. She thought of Spock one last time, thought of what she could have. But she knew it was wrong. She had to do it. She put the necklace back on, her face wet with tears.

"I wish...I wish we'd never gone to Somari."

She heard herself say the words as she slumped over and fell asleep.



* * *

"Miss Chapel."

What? Someone was saying her name... who?

"Miss Chapel. Are you awake? Are you injured?"

Spock...

Christine opened her eyes, staring in a daze for a moment. She glanced at the ships' chronometer. It was two days earlier. But... she remembered everything! "Of course, you idiot. You didn't wish that you would forget. And it WAS your necklace."

The necklace!! She hastily looked down. It was gone.

"Spock…I mean, Mr. Spock, where are we?" She looked around her room as she asked. Nothing looked different, except the bracelet she'd thrown was gone.

"We are preparing to go to Starbase Twelve for shore leave. Miss Chapel... would you mind explaining this?"

Christine really looked at him for the first time since she'd awakened. He looked calm, controlled; and he held her writing in his hands.

'Oh, no.' She tried to think up something he would believe. Before she could say anything, he continued. "Because it appears to me to be a log entry of the past two days, with events that did not occur as I experienced them."

"Um...." Christine was lost.

Spock studied her, brown eyes soft and curious, not accusing. "I came to see if you were still willing to help me select a present for Doctor McCoy. I found you asleep, twitching violently, with this clutched in your hands. May I presume that these are the real occurrences of the past two days and you somehow altered these events?"

Christine sighed.

"If you are afraid to tell me because of the ramifications, I assure you that I know that these events can not be told or entered for the record. You have my word that I will discuss it with no one."

Christine felt the tears threaten to take her again. She turned her head so he couldn't see her face and said: "Yes."

"You were given this gift...and yet you chose to discard it."

"It wasn't really a gift, Mr. Spock. It could have destroyed everything, changed everything in the whole universe. That's too much power for anyone to have."

"Indeed. One wonders why it was handed over to begin with."

"Maybe...maybe he knew I'd realize it was too dangerous and give it back somehow. Maybe he thought it would give me some happiness before I realized I couldn't keep it."

Spock's face became unreadable. "And did it give you...happiness?"

Christine blushed deep red, remembering that, although she'd left out graphic details, her writing told of what had happened with her and Spock. She kept her face turned away as she said: "Mr. Spock. If I had known that the necklace was the cause of your...our...of what happened, I assure you I would never have made such a statement. If you don't mind, I'd like to be alone now."

She was certain that he would turn and leave. Instead she felt him sitting beside her on the bed. She turned and looked at him in shock.

"Miss Chapel. I did not mean to imply otherwise. I am...gratified to know that you chose not to keep this necklace. I commend you for your ethics."

"Thank you. Now would you please go?"

She sensed his puzzlement. "Mr. Spock, maybe it's easy for you to sit here and talk about my highly evolved moral code, but I'm going through hell right now. I gave up...well, everything, to make that choice. And I'm glad. But I still remember what your skin feels like, and I can't ever make that go away. And knowing that I'll never have that again... and to have you sitting here so calmly, is not helping." This time the tears did fall, spilling down her face like raindrops. She managed to keep her voice from breaking as she looked away again and repeated: "So would you please go."

She felt him shift and thought he was finally respecting her wishes. Instead, he turned her to face him and pulled her into his arms. She would have cried out in surprise if his lips had not covered hers. Then she heard his voice in her thoughts. "I knew all along."

"What? How?" she asked.

"Do you not feel this mental link we share? That does not occur with casual, fleeting contact. When I felt your mind touched with mine an hour ago, seemingly from nowhere, I came here to learn why. I read what had happened and knew it was the truth, because I felt everything in your mind as you slept."

Christine hesitantly relaxed a bit in his embrace, reveling in the feel of him against her. "And you don't hate me?"

"Christine. Aside from hate being one of the most illogical of emotions, you are correct that you acted unknowingly. It would be even more illogical for me to blame you for that."

She sighed as she felt his sincerity in her mind. "But.. then why are you here? Why are you kissing me? The 'magic' is gone; you aren't being influenced to do it..."

"No. I am not. I am doing it because..." He hesitated. "Having you in my mind, knowing what happened and that you were willing to give it up... made me realize the unselfishness and depth of your... feelings." He was quiet for a moment, then spoke to her mentally again. "I was...moved by this. And by the way it...feels....to have your mind with mine. The sharing, the bonding of it--I never had that with T'Pring or any other woman. Not until now, with you. I do not want to lose it."

Her heart leaped at his words, but her mind was cautious, not wanting to risk misunderstanding what he meant. "Spock--are you saying..." Her thoughts trailed off.

"That I have come to realize that I ...care for you? That I wish to know you better? Yes, Christine. That is what I am saying."

Her heart really DID leap then, jumping wildly in her chest until she thought it would burst with happiness. She felt his slight amusement at the thought of being responsible for the explosion of it, and that made her mentally laugh. The kiss seemed to go on forever before he pulled back to wipe what was left of the tears from her face.

"We are scheduled for shore leave in 2.3 hours. I would be honored if you would spend your leave with me," he said softly.

"I...I would like that," she answered a little breathlessly.

"Then I shall join you in the transporter at that time. Right now I must return to the bridge. The captain is no doubt becoming curious about my prolonged absence."

She smiled at him, and he was struck by the radiance of it. "All right. I'll meet you there."

"I look forward to it." He walked to her door, but paused. "And Christine..."

"Yes, Spock?"

"Perhaps I can show you that wishes can be more than horses that beggars might ride."

And with a tender, fleeting smile he left her to believe that sometimes wishes, and dreams, did come true...

THE END