DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Esther Lemay and is copyright (c) 1984 by Esther Lemay. This story is Rated PG. This is the sequel to "We Are Star Met."

"Dedicated to Leonard Nimoy, not only for the man he is, but for creating a multifaceted character whose depths we are still exploring after fifteen years. You are Spock's Human side." -- Esther Lemay

The Human Side

By Esther Lemay

I struggled so they'd never see

There was a human side of me

Thought it in an impregnable shell

That I'd imprisoned it very well

But when into my life she came

And gently, warmly, spoke my name

She cracked the shell that ought to be

And freed the human side of me

Gave life to emotions I sought to repress

Let me freely experience happiness

To others I need not explain

A Vulcan I will always remain

But within our bond for her to see

There is a human side of me.

Normality was returning to the Enterprise. Spock was evincing interest in chess again. He and McCoy were back to verbal fencing. Spock and Christine were not the main topic of conversation anymore. It was business as usual.

Every now and then speculative glances were directed towards Spock by female crew members who had, prior to this, thought him inaccessible. Now with an assist by hindsight, they were regretting not making the effort. The longevity of Christine's infatuation for a seemingly unattainable individual was admirable and unmatched. To some, his new status, which made him more unattainable, made him more desirable.

Christine was collating some lab results. Suddenly she smiled and turned in response to Spock's voice calling her name. Her smile slid away as her eyes searched the room, to find herself its only occupant. She looked puzzled, then shrugged and returned to work.

It wasn't unusual for her to think of him at times during the day. There was still an air of unreality about her relationship with Spock. Of all the things she desired in her life, the one she never really hoped to have suddenly was hers. She walked a precarious line between ecstasy and fear, still terrified she would wake up and find it was all a dream. Her thoughts would turn to him frequently during the day, and lately, on numerous occasions, she would turn, expecting to see Spock, only to find herself alone. It was stranger still that each time it happened, it wasn't just a sense of his presence, but the sound of his voice calling her name.

She had not mentioned any of this to Spock, ashamed he would think her melodramatic. Sometimes, lately, when they were alone together and he would look at her, she thought she could sense his responses to her, or once, when he was experiencing some difficultly with a computer problem he was working on, amazingly, she sensed frustration.

Suddenly she was startled from her reverie by the sound of her name. This time it was Dr. McCoy, who smiled and said, "A Vulcan penny for your thoughts."

She returned his smile. "Sorry. Doctor. I've finished these reports and we can continue with the next step of the experiment."

They began to work and her thoughts did not stray again.

* * *

She was scanning some research material in their quarters when Spock, calling her name as he entered, made her turn, look up and smile. She rose to welcome him with a kiss and slid her arms around his waist, snuggled close and rested her cheek against his chest. His arms encircled her and she was content. She spoke into his chest, "I thought I heard you call my name earlier today. I'm glad you were there this time. I've missed you."

"I did not say anything at all. I just entered the room when you precipitously rushed at me."

She looked up at him and the expression in his eyes told her he was gently teasing her. "But I distinctly heard you say 'Christine'."

He looked at her thoughtfully. "As I entered I thought your name, as a response to your presence."

"Spock, earlier today I had the same experience, but you weren't there."

He asked her at what time this phenomena had occurred. She told him, and after more thought he said, "When I was in the dining room with the Captain this afternoon, I thought I saw you at the other end of the room with Dr. McCoy. However, it was someone else."

"But what....?"

"Your name came to my mind at that time. I was pleased at the prospect of your company."

She smiled and snuggled close to him again, always delighted when he said something she could interpret as affectionate.

Fascinated, Spock wanted to investigate further. "We must discuss this, Christine. It is possible that you are experiencing some form of telepathic bond with me."

He went into the sleeping area, presumably to change clothes. Christine had turned to resume her research when she suddenly turned back towards Spock and asked, "What did you say?"

"I did not say anything. I was just verifying your telepathic experience."

She sensed an excitement in him, and that this new element in their relationship was pleasing to him. He paused thoughtfully. "If I were bonded to a Vulcan female, part of that bond would be telepathic. It would not be constant. We would still shield our thoughts, but it would intensify certain experiences and would signify a total commitment, physical and mental. I had not thought this possible in our bonding and was well satisfied, but I must admit I am very pleased to find that this may be possible between us."

"It frightens me."

He approached her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him. "We will experiment slowly. I do not wish to frighten you or touch your thoughts against your will, but think of the unity we could experience through mental bonding when we choose to do so. I stress choose. I would not do so if you did not wish it."

"I know." She looked up at him. "It's the strangeness, the unexpected way it happens that scares me."

"With practice you will learn to control the experiences and to permit or shield against contact."

"I'm willing to try, especially since it means so much to you. To be honest, it's exciting as well as frightening. This close proximity is also exciting. Are you receiving the emotional aura I'm sending?"

"All too well," he replied with the barest hint of a smile, and he bent to her lips and tightened his arms around her as if to prove it. His hand moved to caress her cheek, his fingers almost casually paused over her temple and she became aware, not of specific thoughts, but of sensations. With this slightest touch to her lips and face, he allowed her to sense his emotions, seething beneath the surface. He lifted his fingertips as their lips parted. She looked up at him with delight and surprise on her face.

"Spock, I was never sure that our marriage wasn't one of logic and convenience for you. With one brief touch, you've made this kiss more meaningful than any other experience we've shared. I want this now, as much as you do. Please..."

He bent to her again and she surrendered her mind as well as her body to his will. He had never truly revealed his inner self to her and she would do anything to fully share the feelings he had bared to her, making himself as vulnerable as she, and strengthening their bond.

* * *

A few weeks later the Enterprise entered orbit around Aragon. Spock, resplendent in his dress uniform, left their cabin early to join Kirk in the conference room before beaming down to the planet's surface. This was to be a diplomatic mission. They were to represent the Federation at a conference where a ruler would be elected. Commodore Garrick had sent a tape outlining the pertinent data of the existing situation. Kirk inserted the tape and Commodore Garrick's face appeared on the viewer and he began to speak.

"Aragon is a highly industrialized planet, specializing, as you know, in the manufacture of essential parts for warp drive engines and guidance systems. Their past rulers have favored alliance with the Federation, however, our agreements with them have always been contingent on assent of the existing government, and renegotiated each time a new ruler was elected. Succession is not passed from father to son, but rather determined by an election of the populace. The candidates are chosen by the preceding ruler and his advisors. They are elected for a life term, and this system has functioned successfully here for hundreds of years. This is the first time in recorded history that there have been rumors that the recently deceased ruler may not have died of natural caused, but these rumors are unsubstantiated. The two candidates are well thought of by the people, but the same rumors hint that one of them has been approached by the Klingons. The addition of Aragon to their alliance would be a coup. Valerius and Dax are the two candidates."

As he mentioned their names, two images appeared on the screen. They were in long tunics over matching pants. The style was simple and severe, long sleeves, high neck with a tailored collar. The tunics were mid-thigh length, worn with a simple chain belt, and a low cut boots completed the ensemble. Valerius was tall, slim, and had very dark hair and blue eyes, an unusual combination. He wore deep blue. Dax had auburn hair and large dark brown eyes. He was tall and powerfully built, and wore cocoa brown.

Garrick was continuing, "Both were very close to the late ruler, Sylvan, and reputedly totally loyal. Their historic tradition has been alignment with the Federation and we'd like to keep it that way. Both have said they are in favor of continuing to maintain the alliance. I hope you well be able to discern if this is so, and at the same time try to find out if there are any truths to these rumors we've heard. If you can obtain any evidence before the election we could expose the guilty party and insure the continuation of our relationship with Aragon. Please, above all, be discreet."

As the picture began to fade Kirk glanced at Spock and caught him with an elevated eyebrow.

Spock muttered, "Indeed."

Kirk smiled broadly, then sobered lest he reveal his amusement at Spock's indignant reaction to the admonition to be discreet. "Come on, Dr. Watson," he said to Spock.

"I believe Dr. Watson was an associate of Sherlock Holmes, a fictitious detective of great intuitive skill. Dr. Watson was rather obtuse, if I remember correctly."

Kirk flashed a smile at Spock. "All I meant was let's go play detective. It might make this conference less deadly dull."

"I hope that was an unintentional pun Captain."

As Kirk held up his hands in surrender, Spock off handily said, "Are you also going to affect a pipe and magnifying glass? Also I believe Mr. Holmes was a cocaine addict."

"Touche," said Kirk. "Let's go before this conversation degenerates any further."

Neither Kirk nor Spock was fond of diplomatic assignments, Kirk preferring action and Spock, to satisfy his consuming curiosity about everything.

* * *

The coordinates they had been given brought them to a reception center in a large, elaborately decorated hall in the ruler's residence. It was a lovely, lavishly landscaped building, centrally located in the large capital city. The hall was teeming with people, representatives from other cities, who had the responsibility of delivering the votes of the populace in their area. Also present were the advisors of the previous ruler, the candidates and their entourages.

"It all looks peaceful enough," Kirk said to Spock.

"Clue number one?" Spock asked softly, his eyes widely innocent.

Kirk looked up at Spock with a glint in his eyes and asked, "Humor, Spock?"

Spock assumed his most severe Vulcan demeanor.

Kirk and Spock were warmly welcomed and promptly introduced to both candidates. Despite the formality of the occasion, everyone wore the costume shown on Commodore Garrick's tape. Some of the colors were brighter, perhaps their concession to a special occasion.

After exchanging small talk and pleasantries, Spock asked, "I would like to visit the installation where the photon guidance systems are manufactured. I understand there have been some recent innovations. I would like our chief engineer, Mr. Scott, to accompany me. Would this be possible? We have the required clearance levels."

Valerius spoke up at once. "Mr. Spock, I will have Madoc, my aide, personally accompany you to the site tomorrow if you wish."

"Thank you," Spock replied formally.

After a few moments when Dax and his party had moved on, Valerius turned Kirk, exuding warmth and charm, and said, "I have a modest request."

"How may I help you, sir?" Kirk asked.

"Well, we manufacture many important components of a starship, but have never been aboard one. Would you be so kind as to conduct two of my advisors on a tour of your ship? It would be most appreciated."

Kirk was surprised, but the request seemed simple enough. He glanced over at Spock, who stood, as usual, with his hands behind his back. He just raised one eyebrow, but voiced no objection.

"I'm sure that can be arranged. As a matter of fact, Mr. Spock will conduct the tour personally." He avoided looking at Spock as he said that.

Valerius immediately seized the opportunity and said, "Perhaps you could do that this morning, and then later, during the election, you could tour the plants. You are unable to vote and could therefore occupy yourselves rather than wait idly by for the results."

Kirk could find no objection to this suggestion and agreed. Valerius volunteered, "I do not believe that all of Dax's advisors have arrived yet. If they make an appearance today, I will see that they join the ship's tour. If not, perhaps you could offer them another opportunity."

Kirk answered, "I will leave that to you, sir. We will return to the ship in 2.5 hours and whoever is at the transporter center may accompany us."

Valerius said, "My advisors, Mudoc and Elgar, will definitely be there promptly at that time, and we appreciate your generosity."

As they moved off, Kirk looked over at Spock and said, "I'm sure you'll make a superb tour guide, Mr. Spock."

Spock didn't answer him.

They conferred with Theron, the chief advisor to the deceased ruler. He was an old man, tall, shoulders slightly bowed with age, white hair, and still bright, blue eyes. He wore the same simple costume, in deep blue, making his eyes stand out in his otherwise pale face.

"Yes, Captain, Sylvan did die suddenly, but he was an old man, like myself. He was our ruler for 52 years, a just man, beloved by everyone. I have no idea who could have contacted the Federation to suggest that there was any foul play involved in his death."

Spock asked him respectfully, "Sir, are you sure that there was no opportunity for someone to hasten his death?"

"There was someone with him at all times, myself most of the time. We were good friends, almost of an age. The doctor was in attendance constantly, and he is also a personal friend, and above suspicion."

"Well," Kirk sighed. "Perhaps like most rumors, this one is unfounded."

"Deductive reasoning, I presume," Spock said quietly, retaliating for Kirk's tour guide jibe.

Kirk looked over at Spock trying to comprehend that Spock had uttered a number of sarcastic witticisms. He brought his attention back to Theron and said, "I hope I haven't offended or upset you."

"Not at all. I understand. You are just doing your job, Captain."

"Thank you for your time, sir."

The old man smiled and moved on to rejoin the crowds in the hall. It should be a busy day, the last opportunity for the candidates to garner any additional votes. The election would begin early that evening. Kirk looked over at Spock and said, "It must be time for us to join Valerius's advisors at the transporter center."

"We still have 10.7 minutes, Captain."

"Well, let's head over and see how large your tour group will be," he said smiling.

When they reached the transporter center, Madoc and Elgar were waiting for them. Kirk greeted them and asked, "Will Dax's representatives be joining us?"

Elgar spoke up, "His entire party has not yet arrived in the city. Perhaps they could see your ship at another time."

Kirk contacted the Enterprise and explained there would be four to beam up. Coordinates were set and in a matter of moments the four figures materialized on the platform in the transporter room on board the Enterprise. Kirk smiled and introduced Madoc and Elgar to Kyle, then gestured towards the door and said, "This way, gentlemen."

The two visitors were very carefully observing everything around them. They went through the door with Kirk and Spock right behind them. Madoc was quick to observe that the corridor was empty of Enterprise personnel, and without exchanging any signal that Kirk or Spock observed, both went into action.

Madoc stepped back along side Spock and Elgar turned to face Kirk. Both drew weapons from the folds of their tunics, totally surprising Kirk and Spock, who were relaxed and in the company of supposed guests, comfortably back aboard ship.

"Make no foolish moves Captain," Elgar warned. "We do not wish to harm anyone unless forced to do so. Please surrender any weapons in your possession at once, as well as those communication devices I saw you use earlier."

Both officers hesitated, calculating their chances of overpowering their antagonists. Madoc was aware of what the hesitation presaged. He spoke up, "Captain! I warn you against resistance. One or both of us has on his person a homing device which when activated will guide photon torpedoes to our exact location. Since your ship would be unprepared for attack, with all shields down, none of us would live to see the devastation that would result, but I assure you it would be terrible. Think of the cost in lives."

"What do you want?" Kirk asked, in a tight controlled voice.

"First things first. We do not want to remain here where we may be disturbed at any moment. Surrender your weapons and then we can retire to a more private location for discussion," Elgar said.

Kirk looked over at Spock, who nodded, both gave up their communicators. "We do not have any weapons, Elgar. This was supposed to be a diplomatic mission."

Madoc smiled.

"Let us go to your quarters, Captain, where we can explain to you exactly what we want of you," Elgar said.

Spock interrupted, "Jim, if we do not report to sickbay, Dr. McCoy will become apprehensive."

Jim looked at him and then said, "Yes, we must do everything as usual so as not to attract any attention. Elgar, we always report for a physical examination when returning from a planetside expedition. It is a precaution against bringing any alien bacteria or diseases aboard."

Madoc began to object, but Elgar quieted him and said, "If we alter their normal routine, someone may become suspicious and we do not want any undue attention. I do not wish to die unnecessarily."

Madoc was the more explosive, Kirk observed. He was nervous and maybe later could be provoked into acting without thinking. Kirk was on the alert for any possible advantage.

Elgar said, "Let's go to your sickbay and get this over with. The sooner we reach the privacy of your quarters, the safer your ship and crew will be."

Kirk gestured to the left and said, "The turbolift is at the end of the corridor."

Elgar spoke softly, "We are placing our weapons in concealment, but remember, if we are attacked, we will activate the homing devices and your ship will be destroyed."

Spock turned to Elgar and said, "We will cooperate fully once this examination is completed. I am sure we can provide whatever it is you wish." He avoided Kirk's eyes as he began to assert control over the group. He began to walk just a little faster than Kirk and Elgar. Madoc picked up his pace to keep up with him. "Deck 7," Spock instructed the turbolift once the doors closed. He was the first to exit when it stopped. He wanted to be sure he was the first to enter when they reached sickbay.

Kirk was clenching his teeth so hard it hurt as they entered sickbay. He was sick with apprehension. He did not understand why Spock had insisted they had to come here. Elgar and Madoc were tense and therefore dangerous, and he did not want to agitate them and cause them to harm anyone. Given time, he and Spock would devise a plan to thwart them.

Christine emerged to greet them and before her smile was fully formed, Spock said, in his most severe command voice, "Miss Chapel, where is Dr. McCoy?"

Startled, she stammered, "He ... he's in the lab." She had a perplexed look on her face.

Spock coolly glanced over at her again and ordered, "Summon him at once, Miss Chapel."

Christine turned abruptly to use the intercom and unobtrusively slid her ring off her finger. As she spoke to McCoy, she dropped it into a beaker of dark liquid on the table in front of her, making it appear she only toyed with it nervously. Her mind was racing. Spock had projected *Danger!* to her, and obviously he did not want these people to know they were anything more than shipmates. In order to warn McCoy that all was not as it should be she said, "Doctor, this is Miss Chapel. The Captain and Mr. Spock have ordered you to sickbay, immediately."

McCoy was quick and responded, "On my way, Miss Chapel," to acknowledge he understood that something unusual was occurring.

When he arrived, Kirk gestured towards Madoc and Elgar and introduced them as guests from the conference below. "They wanted to observe the routine exam required for ship personnel after any planetside expedition," he explained. "We are touring the ship."

"Well, Captain, I am not accustomed to working with an audience."

"It's okay, Bones. They'll stay back, out of the way."

Elgar shot him a warning look and said, "If it's permissible, we'll just observe from this end of the room."

Kirk nodded at McCoy very slightly, knowing that if there was an attempt to eject them from the room someone would get hurt. He just wanted to give Spock some time to accomplish whatever it was he had in mind. They each climbed on a diagnostic table, McCoy ran a scanner over Kirk and Christine followed suit with Spock, not really knowing what was expected of them. McCoy was thoroughly perplexed, but assumed Kirk would inform him of the reason for this charade later.

Christine's eyes probed Spock's face, but there was no discernible change of expression. Suddenly he closed his eyes, as he did so she heard his voice say *Danger*, but she saw his lips had not moved and she realized what had happened. Then she received *Hostages* and a brief expression of alarm flickered over her face, but she mastered her emotions immediately. *Wait* came to her, and then his eyes locked on hers, then he began to rise. She reached out and closed her hands around his upper arm to assist him. Normally he would not have permitted it. To reassure her he sent *Later* and she nodded slightly.

Not knowing what else to do, McCoy took the scanner she had used and his own. "Looks like you both passed. I'll be back in the lab if you need me."

As McCoy exited, both descended from the tables and walked towards the door. Spock was slightly ahead and Madoc gave him a shove into the corridor with Kirk and Elgar right on their heels.

As they exited, Christine heard two heavy thudding sounds. Madoc had slammed Spock against the bulkhead, his body and head hitting the wall so hard he bounced off and was pushed back against it by Madoc's hand in the middle of his chest. Kirk reacted reflexively, but was pushed back and held against the opposite wall by Elgar. He was raising his fists and looking over Elgar's shoulder when he saw Spock give an almost imperceptible shake of the head. Just when Madoc slapped Spock, two resounding blows, open palm and backhand, bumping his head into the wall with each one.

"Damn you," Kirk snarled through his teeth.

"Shut up," Madoc snapped at Kirk over his shoulder. He turned back to Spock who had put his arms out from his sides, palms against the wall, trying to lever his body away from it. His eyes locked with those of Madoc who became aware at that moment of his fragile mortality, preserved solely by the phaser in his possession. "There was something going on between you and that nurse, but I'm not sure what."

"You are mistaken," Spock stated softly.

Madoc raised his hand to slap Spock again, but remembered the look in his eyes and thought better of it. As he raised his hand, Kirk had surged forward again, only to be pushed back firmly by Elgar.

"Perhaps I should go in there and haul her out and ask her a few questions," Madoc growled.

Spock's eyes seemed phaser powered, but before he could reply or react Kirk shouted, "No! You will not abuse my crew. The only reason you are still in control is your word that my crew would remained unharmed. I will not stand by and allow anyone else to be involved. Do you want this ship and our cooperation, or do you want a battle right here and now? What do you think your chances are of maintaining control of this ship without us?"

Madoc and Elgar stepped into the center of the corridor and gestured for Kirk and Spock to proceed down the hall towards the turbolift. Kirk let out a breath he didn't know he was holding and gave Spock a thoroughly appraising glance. He seemed in control, but Kirk, who knew him so well, was aware of the depth of the anger he had witnessed only a few moments before. Had Madoc attempted to approach Christine, Kirk was sure Spock's control would not have held. Perhaps he was just caught unaware and would regain complete control given a respite. On many previous occasions, he had demonstrated awesome strength of will despite terrible pain or pressure, but he had never loved before. Kirk was forgetting lapses of control Spock had demonstrated on his behalf in the past.

* * *

Christine had pressed her body against the wall almost opposite Spock's on the other side. She closed her eyes as she felt his anger and almost felt the blows to his face. *Stay* he was projecting strongly to her, and she obeyed. Tears ran down her face, products of her frustration and helplessness. She had to remain unsuspected so that he could contact her again. She realized that their still tenuous mind link was crucial now and could affect the safety of the ship and everyone on board.

* * *

As soon as Kirk and Spock and their captors were gone, Christine stepped to the intercom and called McCoy in the lab.

"I'll be right there," he responded, and was gone before she closed the circuit. As soon as he entered sick bay he blurted, "All right, what the hell's going on here?" Then he subsided as he saw Christine's tear streaked face. "Christine! What happened?"

"Those two are holding the Captain and Spock. I don't know why yet, all I know is Spock said they were hostages, and to wait."

"Spock said...? I didn't hear him say...."

"Doctor, Spock and I have been experiencing telepathic contacts."

"Do you mean mind melds?"

"No, actual telepathy. I can read some of his thoughts. He, as a Vulcan of course, is highly telepathic. It's been occurring sporadically, but getting stronger. We've been working on strengthening it," she said with a slight flush.

McCoy knew that a Vulcan bond was partially telepathic. "Well, what are we supposed to do now?"

"Spock will contact me again, I know it, " she asserted strongly. "We've got to help them."

"Let me know as soon as he makes contact with you again. I'll alert Scotty, and we'll go up to the bridge. I won't let anyone do anything heroic," he said as he saw the light of panic in her eyes.

"If anything happens to Spock I don't think I could stand it. Not now, after..." She stopped, tears flowing down her face. She couldn't tell McCoy about the emotions she had just begun to share with Spock. She was just beginning to believe he really loved her. Nothing could happen to him now or she'd die too.

"Christine, I swear to you, I won't let anyone do anything to endanger either one of them, but we've go to be prepared in case an opportunity arises to act. Try to get as much information as you can the next time he contacts you."

"All right, I'll try to control my emotions."

Both paused a moment and couldn't help smiling at her choice of words, but then she turned from him to hide a fresh flow of tears.

As McCoy exited she took the beaker containing her ring and emptied it so she could retrieve the ring. She dared not put it on yet, so she slipped it inside the front of her uniform. The feel of it against her breast was comforting and she washed her face and composed herself. She needed to be calm and alert now, for all their sakes. She tried not to think of his face as he lay on the table in front of her only a short time ago; perhaps the last time she'd ever... She had to stop this.

* * *

Once they entered Kirk's cabin, he relaxed a little, just one less chance of someone doing something to unknowingly alarm these two. Kirk turned to face them and Elgar said, "Be seated please. There is less likelihood you can launch a surprise attack from a seated position."

Madoc gleaned the opportunity to roughly push Spock into a chair.

"Look," Kirk snapped at Elgar, "I want him to leave Spock alone."

"Who are you to make demands in this situation?" Madoc growled.

"Are you trying to provoke Spock into attacking you for some reason?"

"Captain, we do not wish anyone to do anything foolish," Elgar interjected.

"Then what do you want?" snapped Kirk impatiently.

"At last, the heart of the matter," Elgar smiled slyly. "We want to do some campaigning for Valerius."

"I see," Spock remarked.

"What do you see?" Madoc barked. It was becoming obvious he enjoyed baiting Spock.

"You wish to use the power and weaponry of the Enterprise and the Federation to force votes for your candidate."

"Quite astute of you," Elgar said snidely.

Madoc snorted. He would lock gazes with Spock whenever he spoke and to his disgust always broke eye contact first. That Vulcan seemed docile enough, but Madoc sensed something about him that told him it would be unwise to push him too far.

Kirk looked at Elgar, "What do you plan to do? You can't expect me to allow you to actually fire on the city. I'd let you destroy the ship before I'd let you kill all those innocent people."

"Captain, you weren't listening," Elgar soothed. "We intend persuasion only, and I'm sure that will be sufficient to sway the election in our favor. Even though we are an industrialized city, there are virtually no weapons here. We have had no need of them."

Kirk and Spock exchanged looks at Elgar's last remark. Kirk shook his head at Spock who seemed about to speak, not wishing to risk another confrontation with Madoc. Jim felt helpless, angry and restless. Wanting to pace to relieve the tension, he started to rise from his chair. Elgar misinterpreted his actions and struck out, hitting Kirk above the ear, slightly stunning him. Kirk fell to the floor and Spock was at his side before Madoc could react. "Wait," Spock ordered, aware his tone would momentarily halt them. "I only wish to see if he is seriously injured." As he spoke he ran his fingers over the side of Kirk's face and head. Since they had melded on previous occasions, Kirk offered no resistance when he felt Spock attempt to enter his mind.

*Jim, we must not allow this. It would be necessary for them to destroy us later to hide their perfidy.*

"Yes, yes, Spock," he mumbled, "I'm okay." But his eyes told Spock he understood.

*Jim,* Spock continued, *I can telepathically contact Christine, and when we devise a plan I can send word to her.*

Madoc grabbed Spock's arm and pushed him away. "Your solicitousness is sickening. That's enough."

Spock regained his feet and slowly sat down again. Kirk got up and returned to his seat.

* * *

McCoy returned to sick bay and found a very controlled Christine. "Don't worry, I've got everyone on the bridge on alert, Condition Green."

Once Spock committed himself to their bonding, he had allowed himself to soften his rigid Vulcan demeanor somewhat. By no means would anyone be able to say he totally relaxed, but he wasn't as inflexible in repressing his human half. Only she and Jim were aware of this change in him because they were the only ones he allowed to get close enough to really know him. She sensed his struggle to control his anger, made more difficult because of the newly allowed freedom he gave his human side. McCoy had once told him, in one of their interminable exchanges, that his human side must be allowed to surface occasionally in order to make him a whole person. Right now it was a handicap for him to overcome.

Christine decided to attempt to contact him. Now that everyone was on condition green, she felt the tension level alone would create danger and she hoped she could learn something to help end their ordeal. Opening her mind as he had been teaching her, she sensed his direction and realized they must be in Kirk's cabin. She went quickly and quietly to the corridor outside his cabin and concentrated all her strength of will to call out to Spock's mind.

* * *

Inside the cabin everything had settled down. Kirk and Spock were seated a good distance apart and Madoc and Elgar stood at the far wall quietly conversing, but with phasers in hand, and glancing at their hostages every few moments. Fortunately Spock was unobserved when Christine made initial contact, though the only sign he gave was a slight widening of the eyes. Kirk had avoided looking at him, sensing the difficulty he was having with Madoc and the uncharacteristic anger it was evoking.

Spock immediately concentrated all his efforts to impart a message to Christine and to get her as far away from there as possible. *Hostages against planet. One or two photon homing devices on captors. Tell Scott. Go. Now.*

She turned to leave with the precious information, but was unable to leave until she made some contact with him for herself. *Spock.*


*Spock, I love you.*


*I would give anything to hear you say those words to me,* she thought, as she quickly turned and left. She headed for the bridge.

Spock sensed her leave. She was unaware he had picked up her last thought.

Kirk was getting restless and since he couldn't relieve his tension through physical activity, he began to talk. He also wanted to try to find out as much as he could from their captors. If any opportunity arose for Spock to communicate with Christine again, he needed something to tell her. He was unaware they had already made contact and there was no way for Spock to tell him at the moment.

"All right, Elgar, when are you going to tell me what you want?"

"All in good time, Captain."

"We are running out of time. My crew are going to wonder at the absence of Mr. Spock or myself on the bridge."

"I caution you, Captain, any interference will result in the destruction of your ship."

"For the moment I can tell them we are occupied with our guests," Kirk said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, "but this can't go on forever."

"You will be told all you need to know very soon now."

* * *

Christine went directly to Scott and told him everything Spock had communicated to her. As little as it was he was at least aware of what they were up against and he could begin to try to circumvent their plans. He turned the conn over to Sulu, and followed by Christine, headed for engineering. He wanted a brainstorming session, however, the brain he wanted most was Spock's, unfortunately unavailable to him at the moment. In the turbolift he told her, "Don't worry, lass. We'll find a way to get Mr. Spock, the Captain, all of us out of this."

She just nodded at him distractedly.

* * *

Madoc and Elgar approached the center of the cabin. Madoc stood near Spock and Elgar perched on Kirk's desk, on one hip, seemingly quite at ease. "All right Captain, now we can discuss your role in our upcoming election."

"What do you expect us to do, Elgar?"

"Not very much Captain. Your role is quite a simple one. We want you to send a message to Theron telling him that you have evidence pointing to Dax having had something to do with Sylvan's death. Also that you feel he is engaged in trade negotiations with the Klingons. Once the election is held, no matter what outside influences, that elected official rules for life. That is our law."

"What will happen when we can produce no such evidence?"

"That will not matter. The election will have been decided. Dax will be exonerated, but it will be too late. Actually, Captain, there can be no proof of murder because Sylvan died a natural death. A few words to the contrary in the right ears did, however, bring you here, to serve our purposes."

"What will be accomplished here, besides deciding an election, will be to discredit the Federation, and turn your people's allegiance towards the Klingon Empire," Spock stated simply.

"The Klingons can also make use of our equipment, and have offered more credits."

"You will find the Klingons very rarely pay for what they can take, and once you are not allied with us, you will no longer enjoy our protection," Kirk said.

"That is not your concern, Captain. We will deal with the Klingons when the time comes. Right now our primary goal is to ensure Valerius' election tomorrow. Very soon I will ask you to send your message to Theron. Once the election is over, we will be finished here."

"Jim, you know they must destroy us to silence us. They will not want--"

Madoc swung his hand backward and struck Spock a glancing blow, his phaser hitting Spock's cheekbone and making a small gash across it. Spock had sensed the movement and leaned back, preventing a more direct blow. Kirk jumped up to his feet and Elgar rose from the desk and leveled his phaser at Kirk.

"I told you to keep him away from Spock."

"All right, Captain, sit down."

Madoc was shouting at Spock, "You are not required to speak. We don't want your suppositions, just sit there and keep your mouth shut."

Blood was slowly seeping from the wound, stunning both Madoc and Elgar into momentary silence. Madoc murmured, "I knew Vulcan blood was green, but we have never seen it."

Kirk was angry. "You told me no one would be hurt. If Madoc keeps this up, I can't guarantee what will happen. He can't continue to provoke Spock, or keep striking him."

Madoc flared, "Who are you to give orders here. We are in charge now. Your rank has no meaning to me."

"Madoc," Elgar shouted, "it does not matter what he says, either of them." As Madoc quieted so did Elgar's voice, "They will do what we want and that is all we are here for. You must control your temper. Provoking them will only endanger our mission."

"That one will be silent for the rest of our stay on board," Madoc raged.

"I make all the final decisions here," Kirk interrupted, "but I will want Mr. Spock's opinion. He is my first officer. Right now I am going to get a med-kit and stop that bleeding, and then we will continue this discussion. If you don't care to hear Mr. Spock's opinion then go sit on the other side of the room, but I want to and I will." Kirk stood and went for his med-kit. Elgar seemed undecided as to whether to stop him or not, but finally chose not to. Kirk walked with more assurance and felt it was about time he had asserted himself. Spock was right. They could both see it would have to end with the destruction of the Enterprise to protect their guilty secret.

Spock watched the whole scene, feeling not quite a part of it. He didn't even reach up to wipe the blood away as it trickled down his cheek and onto his tunic. He abhorred his own reactions and concentrated all his efforts on overcoming the anger he was feeling. Madoc had evoked this reaction outside sickbay when he had threatened Christine, and Spock was still trying to cope with it.

* * *

In Engineering, Scott was poring over guidance systems diagrams and printouts, trying to devise a plan to resolve their dilemma.

Christine felt Spock's anger flare and his struggle for control. She was afraid for him and hoped Scott would come up with an answer soon.

The sound of the door made them all look up. It was McCoy, who smiled and turned to Christine and said, "You can't do anything here. Scotty just needs time to work this out. Come with me, young lady, you are going to eat something and possibly have something to settle your nerves."

"No! I won't take anything--"

"I was referring to a glass of Saurian Brandy, not a tranquilizer. I'm the doctor here and I'll give the orders."

"Go ahead, lass," Scott said. "As soon as we come up with something, or if I need you, I'll call sickbay."

"All right."

McCoy took her arm and they headed for the door. When they were settled over sandwiches and small glasses of brandy, Christine began to speak. "Doctor, I know you and Spock always argue about his failure to show emotions."

"Christine, you know I don't mean anything by it."

"I know you mean well, but in his case perhaps emotions are a handicap. He hasn't really lived with them. He's spent his whole life suppressing them, and now perhaps their surfacing will endanger his life. One of the strongest things I sense in Spock now is anger, and his fierce struggle to control it. He's having to put so much effort into suppressing that anger that he may not be able to react at a moment of crisis. His human half is in bondage to his Vulcan half and now is not the time for it's emancipation."

"Christine, I never meant that Spock should behave as a human. I just felt he needed to loosen some of that rigid control, and he has. Just by his admitting a need for another person in his life. That's all I ever wanted for him, because no matter what he said, you could sense the caring underneath the Vulcan veneer. I could sense the vulnerability behind that iron front he put on. You can see how strong his friendship is for Jim, and I hoped he would eventually include a woman in his life."

"Oh, Leonard, he's so tender and gentle and although he's never said the words, I feel he loves me, not just needs me. I don't think he will ever say them, though a human need in me cries out to hear them, but as long as he's there, with his arms around me, I don't care if he says anything at all," she finished and flushed.

"Finish your sandwich and brandy, and that's an order," McCoy stated, not knowing what else to say.

Hurry Scotty, Christine prayed, as she methodically chewed her food, as per orders, tasting nothing.

The sound of the door opening made Christine drop her unwanted sandwich back on the plate and turn around quickly. Scotty was entering and she held her breath in anticipation.

"It's all right, nothing has happened. We've come up with something that may possibly resolve this situation."

McCoy heard the voices and came back into the room. "What have you come up with, Scotty?"

"Well, there is an element of risk, but it is the only thing we could come up with on such short notice. We are not going to be aware of the actual moment they activate those devices because they are in the Captain's cabin. Let's go up on the bridge and I'll explain it to everyone at once."

Christine stood and they all headed for the bridge, the tension evident in them as not one word was spoken until they exited the turbolift onto the bridge. Anxious faces, full of silent questions turned at the sound of the doors. Scott sat in the command chair, Sulu and Chekov turned to face him, Uhura stood and stepped to the right, and McCoy and Christine stood on his left.

"This is what we've come up with. It's going to require split second timing and team work. The only way we will be able to tell when those people activate those homing devices is after the fact. Once they are activated, they will be emitting a signal which will guide the torpedoes. If we activate the shields, they may kill the Captain and Mr. Spock. They must be in communication with someone monitoring us on the planet. We have no idea how many torpedoes they will use. Even with the shields, we couldn't withstand multiple direct hits without sustaining very serious damage. If we attempt any type of evasive action, they may be instructed to kill the Captain and Spock. However, once they have activated the devices, they will consider us destroyed and if we act quickly we can have them believing it and give the Captain and Spock a chance to possibly overpower their captors in the confusion."

Christine paled and swayed slightly in place. McCoy gave her a concerned look and put his arm around her to steady her.

"We'll have to wait till they activate their devices, then we will have sixty seconds to identify and reproduce the signal at a higher amplitude and at the same time pull out of orbit in the opposite direction. It will be tricky because of the time element, but I think we can do it. Chekov, take over Mr. Spock's station. I'm depending on you to isolate and identify that signal. Once you do, Uhura can program the frequency into the drone and release it. Mr. Sulu, start plotting a course that will get us out of here fast once the drone gets away. Those torpedoes will head for the closest target broadcasting the proper signal. At that point we can sound the red alert to signal the Captain and Mr. Spock that we have the situation under control and for them to attempt to overpower their captors. Christine, do you think you could get any of this through to Spock?"

She nodded wordlessly. Everyone turned back to their consoles to prepare for their tasks. Scott rose and went to consult with Uhura. Christine stared at Chekov, seated in Spock's chair, his fingers rapidly working the knobs and levers. Superimposed over them she saw Spock's long graceful hands and her vision blurred. McCoy led her to the lift, his arm still around her.

As they descended McCoy said, "Chris, won't you let me give you something to relax you, just a little?"

"No!" she almost shouted. "No," she repeated in a softer tone. "If it affects my contacting Spock, it will endanger us all. I'll be all right, just give me a few moments and then I'll go pass the message on to Spock."

"Just you be careful. We don't want to give them another hostage."

She knew that over four hundred lives were in her hands, but at that moment she only thought of one. She walked down that corridor again and stopped outside the cabin. She faced the wall and put her hands flat against the bulkhead. *Spock,* she thought, and prayed for a response.

Inside the cabin Spock leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. *Christine.*

Thank God, she breathed, and then began quickly, *Decoy drone to broadcast homing signal only after devices activated, red alert signal decoys operational. *

*Understood, go.*

This time she left at once. She went to tell Scott, message delivered.

* * *

Madoc noticed Spock's eyes were closed. He strode over to him and maliciously grabbed his hair and snarled, "Are we boring you?"

Spock opened his eyes and returned Madoc's stare but did not respond. Kirk stood and began, "I told you..." But was cut off by Elgar, who just said, "Madoc!"

Madoc snorted and yanked Spock's head back and then released his hair and walked away. "Well, you are starting to bore me."

Kirk sat down again and looked at Spock who shook his head, one sharp jerk and looked down so Kirk would not see the anger in his eyes. Madoc's sadistic tactics would be used on Spock once too often, unless something happened soon. Elgar checked the chronometer and walked over to where Kirk was sitting. "All right Captain, it is time. The election will just be starting."

"If there is a question about the integrity of one of the candidates, won't they simply postpone it until the matter has been investigated?"

"They cannot, Captain. Our law requires that an election be held within seventy-two hours of the death of the ruler, and we always wait until that time has almost run out, as a gesture of respect to the deceased ruler. Theron will be conscience bound to announce this to our people and Valerius will be elected. Let us not delay any longer."

Kirk looked at Spock and Elgar immediately spoke, "Forget it, Captain. Before either of you could prevent it, the homing devices would be activated."

Spock almost imperceptibly shook his head and Kirk nodded. He felt somewhat helpless not having all the information he felt Spock had. Somehow Christine must have passed some news on to him because he seemed a little more in control. Kirk took the communicator proffered by Elgar.

"Keep it simple, Captain. Tell him you have evidence pointing towards Dax's complicity in the death of Sylvan. That he had been motivated by the prospect of great personal gain offered by the Klingons when he ascends the throne and manipulates our trade agreements."

"And then what?" asked Kirk.

"Once the election is over, we will return to the planet and you can offer whatever explanation you choose for not being able to produce your evidence."

Kirk saw Spock draw breath to speak and curtly shook his head. Madoc smiled. "Won't Valerius be eager to suppress our testimony regarding his manipulation of the election?"

"Once elected he cannot be deposed, Captain, say what you will. You would be wise to remember that if you antagonize him, you may influence him to decide to trade with the Klingons. Right now, should the Federation be willing to make some concessions, he might be willing to continue to supply you with the equipment you need. He has not made any definite promises to the Klingons, and after all our alliance with the Federation is a tradition."

Kirk glanced at Spock again. Spock closed his eyes and shook his head again. For lack of a better plan of action, he decided to go along with them until Spock indicated otherwise. He called down on the channel indicated by Elgar and requested that Valerius and Theron be present to hear what he had to say. He assumed Valerius was scrambling any messages on the designated channel.

'"Theron, this is Captain Kirk. I felt obligated to inform you that we have found evidence pointing to Dax's involvement in Sylvan's death."

"That is a serious charge, Captain."

"I believe we have some strong evidence. We will beam down and present it to you as soon as possible. We just wanted you to be aware of this as it may have some influence on the outcome of your election."

Valerius interjected, "I feel the electorate should be informed at once."

"Shouldn't we actually see the evidence first?" Theron protested.

"Are you doubting the word of the Captain of a Federation Starship, Theron?"

"I am reluctant to malign Dax's reputation if there is even the remotest possibility of error," Theron said.

There was a long silence, then Kirk, prodded by Elgar's phaser added, "I think you will be satisfied with our evidence."

Below on the planet, Theron nodded. "Very well, I will go and make an announcement. Perhaps some will wait to cast their votes until your evidence is made available to us," Theron said, and walked into the main hall looking decidedly unhappy.

Valerius remained behind in Theron's study to close the transmission. "Thank you for your assistance, Captain. I look forward to perusing your evidence." He closed the channel before an angry Kirk could respond.

With a wolfish grin he too turned to enter the main hall. He strode forward boldly, already feeling regal and victorious. As he walked he reached down to a decorative emblem attached to his belt and a smug satisfied expression settled on his face.

* * *

"It's activated, Mr. Scott," Chekov said and swiftly began to manipulate knobs and switches. "They're very clever. It is very similar to frequencies normally functioning abroad." He fell silent and concentrated. As he neared the thirty-second mark, Scott walked over to stand behind Chekov. At exactly thirty-three seconds, he announced triumphantly, "Got it! Switching." He switched the isolated signal to Uhura and leaned back with a huge sigh. Scott put his hand on his shoulder and said, "Well done, lad."

Uhura quickly programmed the signal to the drone and selected broadcast frequency at maximum. "Done, Mr. Scott," she said fifteen-seconds later and released it.

Responding instantly, Sulu began to move out on the course he had set previously and almost in the same motion put up the shields. Scott nodded and Uhura sounded the red alert, then looked at Scott for assurance.

"It will be all right. We've done it all within the allotted time. I'm proud of all of you."

"The Captain and Mr. Spock..." she began.

"Call up a security team and have them meet me outside the Captain's cabin. I'm sure they'll have those two under control by now and we'll take care of them after that," he said with relish. He headed for the lift and said, "Sulu, you have the conn."

As the lift doors closed, he slumped against the wall, ordered his floor and looked upwards. "Don't make a liar out of me," he pleaded. He felt the tremor of the aftershock of the torpedoes exploding against the drone. 'Very close', he thought as the lift doors opened onto the corridor and he saw the security team waiting for him, phasers at the ready. "Set for stun only, remember the Captain and Mr. Spock are in there. If necessary stun them all, be on the alert. The situation may already be under control."

* * *

As the red klaxon sounded, Kirk rose. Madoc and Elgar were startled and both looked towards Kirk. At his sudden action they both leveled their phasers and then Madoc turned to cover Spock, who still sat in his chair.

"I must answer that. For me to ignore that would be a danger signal in itself."

"Find out what is happening, but be careful what you say."

Kirk, suspicious of Spock's calm demeanor, headed for the intercom on his desk. They all felt the tremors of the aftershock of the exploding torpedoes. Kirk suddenly whirled towards Elgar and grabbed the arm holding the phaser. Madoc continued to face Spock and warned, "Don't attempt to interfere or I will have the pleasure of killing you."

Like two inebriated dancers, Kirk and Elgar reeled and lurched around the room. Neither could seem to gain the advantage. Finally, they ended up on the floor, possession of the phaser still in contention. Madoc kept searching for an opportunity for a clear shot at Kirk. He kept swiveling his head back and forth to look for his opening and to continue to restrict Spock's movements. Suddenly he seemed to feel he had a clear shot at Kirk and decisively turned in that direction. Almost instantly Spock was out of his chair reaching for Madoc's neck with both hands.

* * *

When Scott left the bridge to go to the Captain's cabin, Christine paled and felt a moment of panic. Her future was being decided at this moment in the tiny cabin below. Everyone on the bridge had been busy with their instruments and she was not even noticed. She would not go to Jim's cabin because she would break her vow to Spock about emotional actions in public. She quietly left the bridge and went to the observation deck. She felt a sense of awe at the sight from the huge viewscreen. It was one of Spock's favorite places and she remembered his father had chosen that place to meditate when he and Amanda had been on broad. She clutched the rail as she stood and looked out at the stars around her and hoped he would come to find her there.

* * *

Kirk stood up and pulled down his tunic. He tossed Elgar's phaser on the desk and turned to face Spock who just stood over Madoc's prone body. He hadn't even attempted to remove the phaser from his limp fingers. Kirk bent and did so, tossed it with the other, then turned and took a really good look at Spock.

"Are you hurt, Spock?" Jim asked. Spock had a very strange look on his face.

"Jim, I..."

Kirk waited a moment, then prompted him, concerned at his uncharacteristic loss for words, "Yes?"

"Jim, you know Vulcans are adverse to violence, unless absolutely necessary. I was pleased at the prospect."

"Spock," Jim interrupted softly.

"I wanted to kill. I did not plan to apply a neck pinch. I used two hands, as for tal shaya."


"Only at the last moment was I able to regain control of my anger and so he still lives. But there was a moment of hesitation. You could have been killed. I would have been responsible. My lack of control..."

"Spock," Jim shouted, and grabbed Spock's upper arms.

Startled, Spock turned to stare at Jim. He had been almost talking to himself, looking out over Jim's shoulder. "There is no need to shout, I..."

"I know, your Vulcan hearing. Listen to me. You pointed out yourself, in a previous situation, that tiny moment of hesitation was an instinctive trait and would not really make a significant difference."

"But I am not human. I am a Vulcan, and..."

"Right, SuperVulcan. Listen, as much as you suppress it, you are half human. It has got to affect you somewhat at certain times"

"This is not the time. You could have been killed. I would have been responsible."

"Spock, Spock, you are not God. You aren't always responsible. I am human. How many times has your life been in jeopardy and dependent on my actions? How many more times will it be so? I will always be burdened by that reflexive hesitation, I'm human. Does that mean I would be responsible if anything happened to you because I couldn't react quickly enough?"

Spock looked up at Kirk with a slightly surprised and more natural expression. "I had never considered that."

Jim smiled and realized how tightly he was gripping Spock's arms. McCoy was right. He could be thickheaded at times. He loosened his hold and instead grasped his shoulders and shook him gently. Any more obvious display of affection would have frozen Spock. Kirk turned to the intercom to ask for a security team and Uhura said, "Thank goodness you are all right. Mr. Spock...?"

"He's fine," Kirk told her, and heard a cheer in the background. "There should be a security team right outside your door with Mr. Scott in charge, Captain," Uhura told him.

He smiled, then thanked her. He turned to see Spock staring down at Madoc as if to determine what it was about him that caused his lapse of control. The door opened on a worried looking Scotsman and four business like security men.

Kirk gestured to the guards to remove the prisoners. "What happened Scotty?"

Scotty briefly outlined what they had done and then said, "Once they activated those devices, it was just a matter of time and finding the frequency."

"But, Scotty, they never did activate them."

"Well, Captain, Chekov said he thought the signal was activated on the planet, but it continued to broadcast from here."

"Spock and I were observing them closely at all times and not only did they not activate them, they seemed unaware that they had been activated."

"Jim," Spock said. "I said they would have to destroy us in order to keep their secret. Apparently Valerius did not want his two associates to have any knowledge that would give them power over him in the future. He decided to eliminate them along with us."

"Yes, that seems a logical explanation." He shrugged and sheepishly grinned at Spock and got a raised eyebrow in reply. Spock seemed to be returning to normal quickly. Kirk had been worried about him.

Jim said, "Spock, why don't you let Mr. Scott and me and the security team handle this now? We all owe a lot to Christine for her efforts. I don't know what we'd have done without her. Why don't you pass on my thanks and the thanks of everyone on broad?"

"Jim, I..."

"Go! That's an order."

As he left, Kirk turned to Scotty and winked. Scotty smiled broadly. "Good work, Scotty," Jim said.

"I can't take the credit Captain. It was a team effort."

"I'll have to log commendations for all of you."

"Why thank you, sir."

"Scotty, I have the feeling that these two were on a suicide mission, but they didn't know it. Valerius must have activated the signal after I served his purpose. That way he eliminated anyone who knew how he manipulated the election. There would be no way to clear Dax's name and any influence he had would be useless. I have a feeling that once we explain it to Madoc and Elgar, they'll do a little talking of their own. We better enlighten them in a hurry before too many votes are cast. Come on, we have some electioneering of our own to do."

* * *

Christine felt the ship shudder and heard the muffled sound of the explosions close by. She grasped the rail too tightly. He'd know where to find her if..."

* * *

After a moment's thought, Spock headed for the observation deck, knowing somehow that would be where Christine would wait for him. He reluctantly accepted what Jim had said. He was half human and he could not deny that part as totally as he had thought. It made itself apparent at often inconvenient moments. Spock, the Vulcan, would have to make peace with Spock, the Human, or he would destroy himself.

He quietly entered the observation deck and as always felt a calm descend over him at the sight of the star filled space before him. He saw her standing at the rail, and despite himself felt a pleasurable sensation at the sight of her. He began to walk towards her.

She mused on the enormous odds against any two beings coming together out of all of that. She sensed someone enter, but was frozen with fear to turn and see who it was, and unbelievably she received, *I would estimate the odds to be...*

She turned to face him, her eyes affirming his existence. He was there, alive and unharmed.

Before she could move, he closed the space between them. He looked down at her for a moment and then drew her against him. Her tensed muscles relaxed in his embrace. She reached up to caress his face and gently outlined one delicately pointed ear. She felt him tremble and he leaned down to kiss her. Then she just pressed her face against his chest and said, "Just hold me for a few moments."

He tightened his arms around her, creating a strong warm shield with his body. After a while he whispered softly over her head, "I do love you, Christine."

She drew back startled and looked into his eyes, and he did not look away. "Oh, Spock, even with the meld I've wanted to hear you say those words to me. Perhaps it a human need."

He whispered, "Only for you do I willingly free my Human Side."


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