DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Kiristeen ke Alaya and is copyright (c) 1999 by Kiristeen ke Alaya. This story is Rated NC17.



A New Beginning

Kiristeen ke Alaya



On board the Enterprise, life went on normally for most of its crew. The pirates plaguing both sides of the Neutral Zone had been apprehended. Oddly enough, half had been rounded up by the Federation, and half by the Romulan Empire. A fortunate happenstance considering the inherent instability of that sector. The Federation and the Romulans were always balancing on the head of a perverbial pin, keeping the peace between two such radically different cultures.

Spock was gratified that the situation had been rectified with as little bloodshed as it had, and they were now freed to engage in their primary mission. As soon as the last known pirate ship had been confiscated and the pirates themselves remanded to the custody of the USS Horatio, the Enterprise had been cut new orders. They were to proceed directly to sector Keelan 568, unexplored territory.

They had been traveling at warp 7 for 11 weeks, 4 days, 14 hours, 25 minutes, and 53 seconds, and they were just now beginning to recieve generic data from the long range sensors. Spock stood hunched over his small science viewer studying the information as it scrolled past. The inquisitive side of Spock was at the fore, and he was intent on the data. So far he had catalogued 10 planets that the limited scans indicated might fall within the required L-O class that allowed non-terraforming habitation, 15 that were class k or p that would require mild terraforming, and 7 that were j or q class and would require major terraforming.

Of course closer scans would be required to ascertain their exact class and subclass, but all indications so far said this sector was a rich find for the Federation. That was assuming of course that no other sentient race laid claim to this sector, or if they did they'd be willing to share. The thought of first contact always intrigued him. It allowed him to put the ideals of IDIC into more active practice.

While the long drawn out negotions that followed a successful first contact he quite willing left to those who were better suited to such endeavors, he found the slippery mental slopes of conducting first contact were a challenge to his logic. In a situation where one wrong word could very well end with possible new allies becoming new enemies, he found much mental stimulation in avoiding such an outcome.

In the first contacts he'd had while serving on board the Enterprise, he'd come to realize that they were the most fascinating part of his duties. Unfortunately in this day and age of border wars, skirmishes, and outbreaks of a medical nature, all too often the Enterprise and her crew found themselves well within the confines of already Federation aligned worlds, catering to this need or that one. Captain Kirk hated most when they were co-opted to ferry ambassadors or other equally prestigious persons.

If he were truly honest, he would have to admit, he also did not care for those assignments. They all too frequently led to emotional chaos on board, a situation he was most uncomfortable with. He allowed a slight curve of his lips as he realized that emotional chaos well described the situation into which he was diving willingly. It was a contradiction he did not understand and would probably not resolve to his satisfaction for some time. He especially wouldn't right now, as he was still on duty.

He should have been relieved 15 seconds ago, but he'd learned long ago, not to hold non-Vulcans to such rigid time schedules. He in no way held it against them, as it was part and parcel of what made them who they were. Fascinating, emotional, many times chaotic people, some of whom held his undivided respect and loyalty.

He noted the arrival of his relief and set his station to archive all information retrieved by the long range sensors until he returned to duty. The computer would automatically note oddities or potential threats, and bring them to the attention of the duty officer. He rose gracefully and headed for the lift.

"You have the conn, Lt. Ambers."

"Aye, sir."

* * *

Dr. Chapel sighed. It had been a long and tiring day. An accident down in one of the research labs had resulted in several injuries. Most of which were of varying minor levels, but two research assistants had been right next to the explosion resulting from the mixing of improperly labeled chemicals. Both of the young officers had received life threatening burns as well as internal injuries when the force of the blast sent them flying against two separate bulkheads. Both had needed immediate surgery if they were to survive. She had taken Ensign Leyla Ceyon to OR 1, and Dr. McCoy had taken Lt. Michael Wells to OR 2.

She and her team had worked non-stop on the ensign for 4-1/2 hours. It had been touch and go for most of that time, and they'd almost lost her on 3 separate occasions. In the end, perseverance, the better than excellent med team, and her own stubborn refusal to lose to death again so soon, had won the day. Although she wasn't yet out of danger, Leyla was stable. If treatment kept on track and they managed to prevent an infection while the new skin, stimulated by the dermal regenerator, grew in, she should be up on her feet inside 3 days. It would be far longer before she would be ready for full duty, but at least she would be alive and pretty much unscarred.

Christine rubbed her eyes and dictated the last of the new information needed in her medical logs. Moving quickly on, she opened the Nurse's Duty Log. It didn't take her long to note her standing orders as well as special areas of concern for the oncoming shift in regards to Ensign Ceyon, That finished, she rose and crossed to where her patient lay on one of the biobeds, still sedated.

She looked across to the next bio-bed, where McCoy hovered over the lieutenant. "How
is he?"

"He'll make it," McCoy grumbled, moving around the end of that bed. "Damn fool mistake to make, mislabeling bottles!" Stopping by Christine's side he asked, "How's she?"

"Same. She'll make it." Christine looked thoughtfully at him. "I suppose that since the bottles were destroyed in the fire, we'll never know who did the labeling?"

McCoy hrumphed. "I plan on makin' a surprise inspection today. I'm gonna check on some of them bottles to see if any others aren't right. I don't ever want a repeat of today's incident."

"And if some are, chances are the same person mislabeled them." Christine nodded. "Good idea."

"You makin fun of an old man?"

"Who me? Never!" Christine replied with utter innocence. "Besides, you're not an old man."

McCoy glared at her from under bushy eyebrows. "Don't get smart now," he retorted wagging his finger in her direction.

"You win." Christine laughed. "All I can say, is I'm glad this day's almost over. I've just got a couple of loose ends to tie up, then I'm outa here."

"Yeah, me too."

Christine took one last look at her patient's readings, and satisfied, she returned to her paperwork. All she had left were the routine logs. What with this mishap and then another, these always seemed to lag behind, while other, more immediately critical paperwork got taken care of. Making herself comfortable she set about the boring task of double checking and transferring the crews physical fitness reports to their individual files. She'd spent about an hour each day for the last week and a half making sure these got done.

Twenty minutes later, she was finished. She reconciled the list of modified files, and came up with two unmodified. Frowning she called them up, wondering if she'd accidently missed two. When the names came up, she knew she hadn't missed any files, they had missed their physicals. Again.

Well, she smiled, one of them could get grabbed today, if he held to pattern. Yeah, right, Spock not hold to pattern. "And I just might be the next captain of the Enterprise, too," she muttered and rose quickly. Maybe she could catch Dr. McCoy before he left Sickbay. Yes, there he was. Evidently he'd had more to do than he thought. She waited until Nurse Quintara walked away before approaching.

"Doctor, you're not going to believe this," Christine smiled sweetly, her voice dripping sarcasm. "But we have two hold outs on crew physicals."

"So what else is new?"

"Well, one of them will be walking through that door shortly. Would you stay, in case Spock would prefer you performed the physical?"

"Maybe in a thousand years." McCoy laughed. "But I will hold off the inspection until after he arrives." He narrowed his eyes. "So, what's all this about Spock willingly coming to Sickbay? I usually have to blackmail him to get here." McCoy sauntered over to her and casually draped an arm across her shoulders. "Why don't you tell this country doctor your secret?"

Christine laughed nervously. "No secret, Doc. I just don't insult him everytime he comes into earshot."

"Hey, I resemble that remark!" He glared, but his eyes said 'I don't believe you.' "Now, tell me just what's goin' on?"

She sighed and looked at him thoughtfully. "You know something, I'm enjoying being able to be friends with him. I've never had that chance before."

"I would imagine so, with him running in the opposite direction." McCoy watched her reaction to that very closely. Thought so! He'd almost believed her, but something told him she wasn't being completely forthcoming. This would definitely bear watching. He'd wondered what had happened after that bridge incident nearly 4 months ago, but no one had seen fit to enlighten him. Ah well, despite opinions to the contrary, he could bide his time.

* * *

As the turbolift doors closed behind him, Spock's mind switched from duty and work oriented thoughts, to those of a more personal nature. Lately he'd been doing that a lot. His current personal life, for the first time in his life, was not completely under his control. He was not used to that. Despite the presence of the unexpected sexual tension, he was surprised to discover that he enjoyed spending purely social time with Christine and even missed her presence when they were unable to have dinner together.

Whenever they were together, he found in himself an incredible urge to reach out and touch her. In the three months since they'd read that message from Betazed and what had followed, he'd only dared give in to that impulse four times, and never in public. Each time had ended the same way. That strange, unnerving, nearly overwhelming, and ... erotic ... feeling, flung his logic, his control, and nearly everything he considered sane out the proverbial window. Only with the finest threads of that control was he able to keep from taking this to far to fast.

Taking slow measured breaths, Spock controlled his reaction to the mere memory. Illogical that. However, he was definitely beginning to understand the penchant humans, and so many other species found so appealing about kissing. It was quite ... arousing. The turbolift doors opened. He strode out and headed towards his quarters. Today, he wanted to check if his father had responded to his last communique. He had calculated that yesterday would have been the first possible day for a response.

After the second time they'd touched and the experience had been as intense as that first time, he'd returned to his quarters later, and drafted a letter to his father, and deleted it. Waking up the next morning he'd written another, then deleted it as well. That night he'd finally sent his father a letter asking something he never thought he would ever ask him, and still didn't quite believe he had. Under normal circumstances he would never have even thought of asking such a personal question of his father, but these were not normal circumstances. He'd sent it text, knowing that a visual, or even a vocal message would reveal far more than he wanted to. The simple fact of his asking, revealed too much as it was.

When he entered his quarters the message light was blinking. He steeled himself for the set down his father would have every right to give him for transgressing so far outside strict Vulcan protocol.

Going to the computer and activating the message before he change his mind Spock sat, as his father's face filled the small screen.

"My son, It is a difficult subject you raise." Spock noted with some surprise that his father looked distinctly uncomfortable. "It is, of course, something I have never discussed with anyone except your mother. I spoke with her before deciding just how to answer you." Spock felt himself flush at the thought of his mother knowing. Illogically it was even more embarrassing than his father knowing. "Yes, my son. It is a normal reaction." Spock saw, of all things, a touch of amusement flare in Sarek's eyes. "I did tell you long ago, that marrying your mother was the logical thing to do. You will be gratified to know that it does diminish, somewhat, with time, which will make it ... easier to deal with." Sarek raised his hands in the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper my son." Spock stared at the screen a moment after it had gone blank. He had not expected his father to be so forthcoming on the subject. Despite the fact that it had been illogical to worry in the first place, he was greatly relieved by his father's reply. So thinking, he rose and left his quarters. He had 3.4 minutes before Christine was off duty.

* * *

McCoy looked up from the readings he was taking. They were merely busy work anyway. The real show wouldn't start until Spock arrived. "How long before you're supposed to be off duty?"

"Basically now. Why, Leonard?"

"No. I mean exactly how long?"

Frowning, Christine glanced at the chronometer. "Exactly 25 seconds. Why the sudden interest in precision?"

McCoy set down the padd he'd supposedly been working on. "I'll be in my office." He grinned and left her staring open mouthed after him.

"What was that all about?" she asked starting after him. She hated it when he got in this kind of mood. There was no telling what he could be up to.

"You'll see." Maddeningly, that's all he said.

She shook her head. There was no dealing with him now, she'd find out what he was up to when he was ready for her to. She turned back to the counter and picked up the duster she'd been using, Busy work. Anymore, someone else usually did it, but she was bored.

Then Spock walked into the room. Christine almost laughed. So McCoy had been paying closer attention than she'd thought. She should have known. Slipping back into her professional demeanor she approached him.

"I noticed today that you've yet to have your physical." She waved him further into Sickbay. "Since you're here, you may as well get it done now." Watching him, she noticed things she never had before. The slightest twitch of his hand, shoulders that almost started to slump, both beginnings of reactions, aborted, and ending in the same expression they'd all come to know when he was doing something duty required, but he didn't think was actually necessary.

Not allowing her new awareness to show, she waved vaguely in the direction of Dr. McCoy's office. "Would you prefer Dr. McCoy to perform the physical?"

Spock glanced towards McCoy's office. Through the open door, he saw McCoy's head bent over his work, apparently occupied. Looking back at Christine with brow raised, he stepped forward and responded quietly. "I believe it would be safer if McCoy did it."

In his office, McCoy's head snapped up. He couldn't possibly have heard Spock right! While he had been sure something was happening between the two of them, what could possibly make him say something like that? His attention shifted from one to the other before he rose and rounded his desk on his way out.

Spock caught the sudden movement out of the corner of his eye. Evidently the good doctor's hearing was better than he'd anticipated. He hadn't intended him to hear that, and unfortunately it was something he knew the human would never let him forget.

Christine stifled a groan. Spock's comment, obviously intended for her alone had just left the field wide open for Leonard McCoy. She loved Leonard dearly, but sometimes his sense of humor was a little hard to take.

Spock waited patiently. He knew McCoy was more than suspicious about the way he had been escorting Christine from her work almost every day. He hadn't been trying to keep any of it a secret, otherwise he would not have been dining with her in the Officer's lounge, but he was not looking forward to being treated to the doctors idea of wit. McCoy reached them wondering what the hell Spock meant by 'safer'. "Since when do you consider me safe, Spock? Aren't you usually the first to complain about my 'noxious potions'?"

Oh, Spock thought, just since even accidently touching Christine seems to rob me of my control. His eyebrow twitched in response to the thought of what Dr. McCoy would say if he'd actually said something like that out loud. Spock began to wonder about his own sanity, that he could even think about putting himself in that kind of position.

"It seems you misunderstood me, Doctor. I did not say I consider you safe." Not a lie, he thought, just not the whole truth either. "If it must be done, Doctor, let us get it done," Spock requested, hoping, despite previous experience, that McCoy would drop the subject. He was pleasantly surprised to find that this time, he planned to do just that.

McCoy recognized the ploy for what it was, but let it pass. He didn't know where his sudden restraint was coming from, but he hoped it didn't stay too long. It wasn't any fun keeping his comments to himself. "Hop up, Spock, and I'll make this as painless as possible."

Spock did so, wondering why he was getting off this easily. He hoped it didn't mean McCoy was saving it all up for something outrageous.

Christine left the room, ostensibly to allow them privacy, but more because she really didn't want to be present when Leonard finally let go and started baiting Spock. She couldn't quite make herself go completely out of earshot, though, and managed to find herself something to do. When Spock and McCoy joined her, she narrowed her eyes at McCoy. What's gotten into him? She didn't know what to make of it. He was so ... so quiet. Her next thought pushed all others momentarily to the side. What's he planning!?! "Are you finished here?" Spock interrupted her thoughts.

"What?" She blinked. "Oh, yes. I'm done." She snapped back to the present and started for the exit.

"Good day, Doctor," Spock shot over his shoulder.

"Good night, Spock," McCoy responded automatically, busy wondering if there was any information he get out of Jim.

* * *

Walking away from Sickbay, Spock watched Christine silently, wondering if he should tell her about his father's message. No, he thought. She probably wouldn't appreciate the logic in having asked his father for advice in this situation.

One lock of her hair had fallen loose from the bindings that held the rest of it. Irrationally, he was glad she'd let it grow long, he liked it better that way. He wanted to reach out, though, and brush back the one errant lock. He ruthlessly suppressed that. "Will the injured officers recover?" he asked instead.

Christine turned her head towards him before answering. "Yes. They will have a long road to go before they are fully recovered though. The chemical burns are what will take the longest as they covered such a high percentage of their skin."

Spock nodded. That was as much as he had figured. The two young officers had been badly injured, after all. He was silent a moment longer. "Would you care for dinner in my quarters? I would like to discuss something with you."

Christine smiled. "That would be fine, Spock." She loved spending time alone with him, although it tested her patience to the maximum. He was setting such a slow pace that she wasn't sure if she'd survive it. Sometimes she wondered though, was it her or himself he wasn't sure of? Sometimes she wished she had the nerve to give in to all her desires and simply ravish the man. Maybe then he'd relax a little.

She sighed. No, that wasn't the way to go about this. She knew from past experience, that if she pushed, he'd simply run the opposite direction, and then she'd be in a worse situation than she was right now. So despite her tattered nerves and sexual frustrations she would continue to let him set the pace.

Spock resisted yet another impulse to reach out to her. They needed to talk and touching her would not be conducive to that. He almost laughed at himself. Spending time with her was pushing his self control to the limit. When he'd even thought about the possibility of becoming involved with a human, he'd always assumed that her control would be the issue. Now here he was, getting involved, and he wasn't at all concerned with her impulse control. She seemed to have it well in hand. It was his that was in tatters. It seemed humans, one in particular, had a lot better control of their raging hormones than he'd ever given them credit for.

He ushered her into his darkened quarters as the door obligingly opened for them, then pulled out a chair for her. He glanced at a chair across the small room and considered taking that one, but knew it might be taken as a form of rejection. He sat across the table from her. Diving right in, speaking
bluntly, he asked, "What do you want?"

Christine gave him a puzzled look. "Now?" she asked. "Dinner. I'm starved." I'd love a shoulder rub, she thought, but I KNOW I'm not going to get that.

Spock suppressed a pained expression. That was not what he'd meant, but rose and crossed to his computer and contacted a yeoman to bring two dinner trays to his quarters. After he finished he turned back to Christine. "I was referring more in terms of the long range." Christine rose and started toward him.

Spock's heart rate sped up, but raised his hand to stop her. "No, please stay there."

Slightly nonplused, Christine stopped and sat back down. "Well," she said slowly. "From that I have to assume you mean what I want from us?"

Spock nodded and then realized that her next words were very important to him.

Christine thought carefully about how to say what she wanted to. She didn't want it to come out overemotional or 'sappy'. She studied her hands as she began. "I have enjoyed spending time with you and I'd like that to continue. I have already told you how I feel about you." Now she looked up at him. "That hasn't changed, not in a very long time, and I don't see it ever changing." She blushed just a touch. She couldn't believe she'd been that frank and sounded so calm about it too!! Breathe, Christine, breathe, she thought to herself. "What do you want?" she whispered.

One corner of his mouth twitched upward as he intentionally parroted Christine. "Now?"

She smiled suddenly. For so long she'd thought she never be on the receiving end of one of his subtle jokes and here he was teasing her. A thought struck her. He couldn't possibly be as nervous about this as she was. Could he??

"That's sufficient for now." Christine smiled. Little steps, she thought.

Spock's eyes flickered back to Christine's, startled. He'd prepared in advance what he was going to say about the future. He had not expected her to drop the ball back in his court early. Before he could think about it, words he didn't realize he was going to say popped out. "To touch you." Both froze a moment, stunned that he'd actually said that out loud.

Christine rose slowly from her seat, her eyes never once leaving Spock's. Spock took an automatic step forward. At the same moment their hands meet in between them. As the now familiar spark shot through them from their contact, their fingers intertwined and Christine leaned toward Spock.

He pulled her toward him, suddenly impatient to feel her body against his, and their lips pressed together. Christine's lips parted willingly, eagerly, as Spock's tongue sought entry. She moaned quietly as she succeeded in capturing his tongue in between her lips and sucked lightly on it. Releasing it, her own sought re-entry, and slowly, sensuously explored the deliriously warm confines of his mouth.

What seemed like hours later, Christine's insides were a trembling mass of molten jelly and her center was pulsing in rhythm with her frantic heart. She really didn't know how much more of this sweet torture she could take without flying apart at the seams. She felt as if she were about to dissolve into a puddle at his feet. She pulled away weakly, breathless and hot, after a moment to pull enough air into her lungs. She looked up into his eyes and almost melted back against him.

"Spock," she gasped. "I realize that as a Vulcan, you can probably do this forever, if you were so inclined. I ... can't. Not without ... I...I better go." She turned to rush out.

Spock couldn't quite stop a groan at the effect her words have on him. His hand shot out and grasped her arm before she could leave and pulled her back against him. "It doesn't have to be ... without," Spock managed before reclaiming her lips.

Rational thought was lost to Christine. All she knew was that now she was free to touch all she wanted and she did. Her hands began a tender, almost timid exploration of previously forbidden territory. Seemingly of their own accord her hands found their way to his tight round backside and she lovingly caressed where it joined his long powerful legs, squeezing lightly.

Spock involuntarily gasped, as his desire leapt unexpectedly. His own hand drifted down to cup one of her breasts. She moaned in response to his fiery touch. His fingers tingled where he touched her. Her trembling fingers found their way under his tunic and t-shirt, caressing his well muscled abdomen, his stomach tightened in response. He felt he was drowning in feeling and he began to wonder just how many new overwhelming sensations he could possibly feel at one time, when as if in answer to his thought, his Vulcan heritage chose that moment to add to the maelstrom. He hadn't realized just how tightly he'd been shielded until the extra barriers fell away and they both felt the first mind touches of the other. The suddenness of it reverberated between them and doubled the fire within as they began to fully experience both sides of their passion.

The door chimed.

They jumped apart as if electrocuted. Flushed, disheveled, and disbelieving at the incredible bad timing, they realized who it had to be. "Dinner," they said in unison, both embarrassed that they'd forgotten it had been ordered.

The door chimed again.

Spock moved first. He straightened his tunic and hair, taking a deep calming breath and managing at least surface control before answering the door.

After retrieving the trays and efficiently dispatching the ensign, Spock returned and set them down on the small table, then looked up at Christine. "Are you hungry?"

Oh, she was definitely hungry all right. She glanced down at the trays and then back up to Spock. "Yes," she replied huskily, licking her lips.

Spock began a breathing technique and carefully lifted off the lids.

Christine stepped forward and lightly placed a restraining hand on Spock's arm. He snapped his head up and their eyes met.

"But not ... for food." Christine leaned down and once more captured his lips with hers. It surprised her each and every time. It was like she was a bed of red glowing embers and he the tinder. One touch was all it took, and the ever present energy flowed between them like water through an open floodgate.

Spock's hands trembled and the tray lids clanged when he set them down. "Door lock," Spock said curtly as he pulled away, long enough to sweep her up into his arms, then his lips were on hers again. Christine felt on fire, with desire, and with the heady knowledge that she could do this to the normally cool and collected Vulcan. She would never look at him the same way again. This time there were no extra barriers between them and they met lips, body and mind. Only Spock's final thread of control allowed him to hold in check the instinct that called for him to make that last final step to complete the joining. To Bond.

Once in the bedroom, his lips left hers and trailed down her neck leaving pools of liquid fire behind. Christine again worked her fingers beneath his tunic and t-shirt. Pulling back just a few inches she drew them up over his head in one swift move. Finally having free access to that magnificent chest, she bent forward and teased his nipples with her teeth and tongue, first one then the other. They gasped as one. It was incredible this shared dual perception.

He found the fastenings to her uniform and divested her of it. Her boots and hose rapidly followed. His eyes drank in the sight of her before him, wonderfully, gloriously nude. He pulled her toward him, but she slipped down to her knees and returned the favor. First pulling off his boots and socks, then inching her hands up to work at the fastening to his trousers. Pulling them open, she then pulled them down over his hips ever so slowly, allowing her fingernails to lightly graze his thighs.

Spock shuddered, but let her take her time. The anticipation of what they both so badly wanted and knew was about to happen, robbing them of breath. Then, only moments later he too stood before her, and she reveled in the sight. For the next long while, hands explored reverently, followed by hot eager lips, teasing each other to heights each thought previously impossible. Sweet torture continued until that instinct, old as time itself could no longer be held at bay, and they moved together as one.

Their souls as two made one by Vulcan meld and Imzadi Bond, both knew exactly what the other wanted and when they wanted it. As the waves of pleasure built, Spock reached down and open the petals of her femininity and she caressed and guided him. He slid home into her in one long easy stroke, as if the two had been made by the hands of destiny solely for this moment in time.

Spock moved within her and she around him. Waves of intense pleasure radiated and built for both as they moved against each other time and time again. Finally in a deafening crescendo their simultaneous climax cascaded over them, leaving both deaf and blind to the outside world for an eternity of minutes.

When the world came back into focus, both gasping for breath, Christine reached up and traced Spock's lips with her finger. Amazed exhaustion lit her eyes as she watched her Vulcan tremble and gasp for breath above her. Finally when, breath slowed and heat cooled, he leaned down and kissed her gently, before rolling onto his back beside her.

He pulled her into his arms and simply held her. She curled her body to fit against his and relaxed into heaven. No words were spoken. None were needed. They simply lay quietly, basking in the afterglow.

* * *

Captain Kirk sat in his command chair watching the distant ship on his view screen. Anticipation tingled along every nerve. Who were they? What would they be like? What dangers would this bring?

"What can we tell about it, Lieutenant?" Kirk spun around to the officer manning the science station.

"The ship is approaching at Warp 8.5 on a heading from sector 568. It is currently on an intercept course, sir."

Spock walked out of the turbolift and straight to his station, while sparing a glance at the view screen. The yellow alert that had started only seconds after he had been summoned was still flashing. The lieutenant stepping easily aside for him and returned to his primary position at the engineering board.

Bending over his viewer, Spock studied the information coming in. "They are just now coming close enough to discern some characteristics, sir." He turned to face the Captain. "They are traveling at Warp 8.5, are heavily armed and armored. Their ship is easily our equal in technological level."

"Well," Kirk responded, looking back to the screen. "Let's hope they also equal our peaceful intent."

"Yes, sir."

"ETA to communication range?"

"5 minutes and 53 seconds, Captain," Spock replied.

"McCoy to Captain Kirk."

"Kirk here. What is it, Bones?"

"What's going on? Am I going to need to prepared for casualties?"

"I hope not, Bones." Kirk stifled a sigh. "You'll get plenty of warning should things go bad. Right now it's just an unidentified ship."

"Not from 568?"

"How'd you guess?" Kirk chuckled.

"I'm on my way."

Kirk looked up at Spock. "Has to be in on the action."

"Indeed," Spock replied.

Uhura turned from her console. "Captain, we are now in communication range."

"Hail them, Lieutenant, all frequencies, all channels, and engage universal translator."

"Hailing frequencies open, sir."

"This is Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. We are on a peaceful mission of exploration." Everyone on the Bridge waited in silence to see if the other ship will respond.

The lift opened and McCoy strode out and right down by James Kirk. The waiting atmosphere obvious, so he waited like everyone else.

"They are dropping out of warp, Captain," Sulu said after glancing up from his own viewer.

"Drop us out of warp, Mr. Sulu. Let's match them for now."

"Thuncd thinque stranxon clintaf cre soot."

Captain Kirk and Spock shared a glance. Spock silently shook his head.

"Unknown vessel, we did not understand your message. Could you please repeat?"

"sinta crentlin dev nu. xint, fub quewnt forlienz geutnab jingter."

"What are they doing?"

Spock returned to his viewer and studied the continuing flow of information from the long range sensors.

"They don't sound hostile, Jim." McCoy shrugged.

"No, they don't," Kirk responded, hoping what sounded true, was true. "Spock?"

"The other ship is now orbiting a Class M planet. It appears that perhaps we are supposed to join them."

"Chekov, lay in a course for that planet."

"Course laid in, Sair."

"Sulu, full impulse."

"Full impulse. Aye, sir."

"Approaching planet, Captain."

"Good. Standard..."

"Captain," Spock interrupted. "Six members of the alien crew have just transported down to the planet surface."

"Correction." Kirk turned back to officers in front of him. "Geosynchronous orbit within transporter range of the landing site."

"Aye, sir."

Captain Kirk thumbed open the comm to Security. "Security."

"Cmdr. Nelson here."

"I need two officers for landing party duty in transporter room 2 in 15 minutes." Kirk turned to McCoy as he rose. "Bones, get yourself and one other med staff and join us."

Even before Kirk finished speaking, McCoy was on his way to the turbolift. He hated short notices almost as much as he hated the transporter.

"Uhura, you have the Bridge." Captain Kirk stopped at her side. "At the first sign of aggression, raise shields immediately. Don't worry about us. We can take care of ourselves."

"Of course, sir," she replied properly. Like that's what you'd do, she thought privately.

"Spock, you're with me," he said as they headed off the Bridge.

* * *

Ten minutes later the transporter beam released Drs. McCoy and Chapel, Captain Kirk, Spock and security officers Grant and Collins. Waiting for them were the members of the other ship. Captain Kirk had envisioned many things, but nothing so ... familiar. They were all tall and slender. Each of them was at least a head taller than he, but he suspected he outweighed the heaviest of them by a good 20 pounds. One stepped forward, from all appearances a female, and raised her arms up in front of her, palms forward. He stepped forward and mimicked the action. Then she smiled. At least he hoped that movement meant the same for them as it did for humans, because it bared quite long and pointed teeth, much like a cat's.

Despite a quite instinctive nervousness at the sight, he smiled back at her. Then he pointed to himself. "I'm Captain Kirk."

This time the female mimicked him. "oger osta krenna." She paused. "Krenna."

Captain Kirk responded in kind, then slowly both leaders introduced each member of their respective teams. The universal translator stored each exchange as it occurred, its circuits tracing roots of language in an attempt to make sense of what, for the moment, sounded like gibberish.

A couple of hours later, the language lessons were well in hand, the group having casually split up into groups of two to give the translator a wider range of discussions upon which to base its efforts. Each group consisted of one member from each ship. When the universal translator finally kicked in, all twelve people heaved a sigh of relief. Communicating with alien races was fraught with enough obstacles, without the complete language barrier as well.

Captain Kirk drew off to the side and hailed the ship. "Kirk to Enterprise."

"Uhura here, Captain. How's it going down there?"

"We've broken the language barrier, so it should proceed more quickly now. How does it look up there?"

"All's quiet, sir. They've been doing the same thing we have. Waiting."

"Good. Kirk out." Looking around, he discovered that Krenna -- she'd given no other name or title -- had wandered off, so he began rounds of all the groups. During his mingling from group to group he gleaned quite a bit of information. The other ship was indeed from the sector they had been sent to explore. They called themselves Onwheyon and lived within a society similar to the Federation in structure, called The League of Nine Planets. One of her officers had laughingly admitted the name didn't apply much anymore, as there were more than nine planets and had been for many years, but it had been named more than 200 years ago by the founding planets. As explorers, they had grown rapidly by seeking out contact with others.

Comparing experiences with each other, both groups discovered an amazing number of similarities in both ideology and mission parameters. Although the translator hadn't yet managed to completely interpret the languages and some rather amusing phraseology errors had occurred from both sides, this was going far better than any other first contact Kirk had been party to. He was beginning to relax marginally.

As the sky began to darken with the first tinges of dusk, all groups began to reassemble at the beam down point. All looked exhausted. It may be only evening here, but Enterprise time was nearly midnight. It had been a long and eventful day, with both sides glad it had ended, but eagerly awaiting another.

* * *

Back on the Enterprise the six members of the landing party gathered in the briefing room to discuss their findings. Several people reported being asked about surveying the planet jointly. Kirk admitted that Krenna had approached him on the subject also and had agreed it was a welcome idea. After all reports were given and commentaries on their impact made, Captain Kirk announced that he had invited them over for to the ship to share dinner the next evening. "Of course, it will be dress uniforms."

"Wonderful," McCoy replied

"Any other comments?" Kirk asked taking a look at each of them.

None had anything specific, just that the day had gone quite well.

"Almost too well," McCoy muttered, when Dr. Chapel mentioned that fact.

"What was that, Bones?"

"Nothing, Jim. Just my paranoid side showing its colors."

Kirk grinned. "Yes, it isn't very often that our missions go smoothly."

"That's an grand understatement," McCoy commented drily.

There was muted agreement around the table. The Enterprise and her crew were infamous for the twists and turns in supposed milk runs, and even hairy ones in missions that weren't.

"Given the nature of the 'unknown', we cannot expect most of our missions to be accomplished with ease. There are too many variables for events to unfold ... smoothly." Spock admonished.

"That's my point, Spock," McCoy pounced. "This is going way too smoothly."

Spock merely raised his eyebrow. He did not understand McCoy's paranoia regarding this particular mission. Just because this first meeting had been so successful was not an indicator that something untoward was going to happen. Although he did have to admit, the ease with which this contact was occurring was quite rare.

"Well, gentlemen. Dr. Chapel, unless someone else has something to add..." He waited. "Bones, Spock, I want both of you to assemble teams from your departments to work hand in hand with the Onwheyon on the planet. Now, I suggest we adjourn for the night and get some much needed sleep." They stood and filed out.

* * *

As Spock walked back to his quarters, his thoughts reviewed the day's events. The previous 24 hours had brought more than one radical change into his life, and he wasn't sure how to incorporate it all. Even without Bonding to her in the Vulcan tradition, he now found himself aware of her in a way he never had been before.

He was constantly aware of her presence as an muted undertone to his thoughts. It wasn't a full awareness, like would be in a formal bonding. It was her emotional presence that he sensed. Usually he suppressed or controlled any emotions he might feel, it was the Vulcan way. And despite the fact that he could do neither of those to the ones emanating from her, he found that as long as he succeeded in controlling his response to them, he could still function much the same as always. Contrary to what he would have believed previous to this experience, it did not make him uncomfortable. Quite the opposite in fact. It surprised him to find that he found them oddly comforting.

Right now, he could feel her fatigue, as well as his own. Underneath that, he could feel her love and happiness. He breathed deeply once. He could tell she was conflicted, between him and sleep. He almost smiled. He was similarly conflicted. However, it had been a long day and tomorrow promised to be another just like it. Sleep was what they both needed.

Where his problem lay, was when she was in the same room with him. It was then he had to work at maintaining his Vulcan demeanor. He ... felt ... better when she walked in and of course being who he was, he did not react outwardly to that, but did have to actually think about controlling his reaction. That was not something he'd had to do in many years, unless something truly surprised him. It took getting used to. Even her emotions on seeing him, which were numerous, strong, and varied, he could ignore while duty demanded it. What he was having the greatest amount of trouble with suppressing was his mental and physical reaction to her emotions. It was as unwelcome on duty, as it was becoming welcome off.

He hoped his father was correct in his assertion that it would diminish with time, but found himself wondering exactly what he'd meant by 'somewhat'. His parents had been bonded for many years, and if the vague term 'somewhat' was his ever-precise father's choice, it did not bode well for it diminishing significantly any time soon. Carefully looking back over his life in his parents' home, he could remember no evidence of such a reaction to each other, but he did have to concede that most of those here, couldn't see what was going on inside him either.

Realizing that his thoughts were taking him in circles, he finally gave up trying to neatly catagorize this. As was usual, only time would tell what the future held, and it would do so in its own time. Even with that as settled as it was going to get, sleep was elusive. He finally had to apply a meditation technique to relax him enough to allow sleep to claim him.

* * *

Christine walked back to her own quarters lost in thought. Today had been one event right on top of another. It was taking a lot of getting used to, feeling Spock's presence. Especially so when they were in the same room together. Before, it had been only when they touched. Now, it was there all the time. Not as intense, of course, but present nonetheless. Usually his presence was quiet and calm, quite soothing actually. But when they entered the same room, she got brief flashes of both subtle and strong emotions from him. They were quickly reduced, of course, but not before she reacted to them. They exhilarated and aroused her. So much so, that she was surprised it wasn't immediately obvious to everyone in the room.

She knew without even thinking about it, that this had nothing to do with him being Vulcan. Somehow she knew that aspect would be different. This was because of the Imzadi connection. She didn't know how it would be different, just that it would. She wondered briefly if that was because he was so sure about it. She would have to ask him the next time she saw him, well, when they were alone anyway.

She sighed heavily, feeling every minute of this long day settle onto her shoulders. While most of it had been very pleasurable, it had still taken its toll on her energy. She was deeply tired and still she debated whether she should go straight to bed, or if she could go see Spock. Common sense won out and she entered her quarters virtuously alone.

She showered quickly and snuggled down under her covers, but even as tired as she was, sleep was a long time coming. A couple of times she considered getting a sleep aid, but before she'd made up her mind about it, sleep mercifully claimed her.

* * *

Spock awoke the next morning with a start, 5 minutes before he normally did. He was sweating from the dream that had awakened him. Vulcans don't dream, so as a rule, neither did he, but occasionally his human half kicked in and he then experienced the most disjointed indecipherable images. The dreams usually did not make any sense. They followed no pattern that he could discern, so he ignored them as inconsequential and simply went on with his day.

This time however, he had dreamed of Christine. She and someone he couldn't quite identify were fighting. It was a very coherent, vivid sequence. What he couldn't understand was why he would have been simply standing by watching it happen. He could envision no circumstances where he would stand idly by while any crewmember, let alone Christine, was in a fight.

He had to use Vulcan calming techniques as he remembered the emotions of the dream. In the dream, not only had he not moved to help her when she fell, he'd been unable to utilize his Vulcan training. He likened it to the dreams he'd heard Captain Kirk talk about, where he was running from some evil and couldn't move. It was the first time he'd experienced the phenomenon himself, and now understood with greater clarity why it was so disturbing.

He climbed out of bed, and resisted an irrational urge to contact Christine. She would not be awake yet, and just because he'd dreamed of her danger, didn't mean she was actually in danger. He settled back into his morning routine.

* * *

Christine sat bolt upright in bed, shaking from some nameless fear. She hadn't dreamed, of that she was certain. Other than some rather pleasant dreams earlier in the night, reliving some recent memories, she had slept peacefully. She looked at the chronometer and sighed. A full hour before she had to be up. Wearily debating whether she could go back to sleep, she decided it would be impossible. She began her day early.

* * *

Captain's Log

Teams from both ships have been down on the surface of Mellar 5578 all morning. They broke up into smaller teams consisting of one member from each of our ships, and so far it's working quite well. We are getting samples at an incredible rate. I have to say, this is by far the smoothest first contact I've ever been involved in. Of course, both sides have been heavily involved in surveying this planet and with simply learning to communicate. Even with universal translators on both sides, it has been interesting. They have an extremely complex language, where one word can mean so many different things, depending on the context in which it is used. We have continued to have some rather comical miscommunications. Translator would get the right word, rephrase it wrong. That has worked both ways. So it remains to be seen if this atmosphere of cooperation will continue beyond a work setting.

Captain's personal log

Even Mr. Spock got caught in one of the communication fiascos. It was amusing to watch him as he realized just what he'd said to Krenna. I don't think it's often a Vulcan mistakenly propositions an Alien CO during first contact. He informed me later that in response to her question regarding first contact, he'd responded with "I find first contact fascinating." Neither of us is sure how that could have been translated so far from it's original meaning.

She hadn't been insulted, in fact quite the opposite. Spock was trying to convince her that she was mistaken and that it had simply been a mistranslation. From my vantage point, it didn't look like he was succeeding. I was about to go over and see if I could smooth things over, but interestingly enough, Dr. Chapel came to his rescue. Evidently she is more of a diplomat that I've previously given her credit for, because before I could get there, she seemed to have things well in hand. The two walked off chatting amiably.

I do not know what she said to her, but I would definitely like to know. Spock said he was unaware of what it was, due to the fact that they withdrew from earshot.

* * *

"Captain, the other ship is hailing us," Ensign Reevers, who was replacing Uhura while she was down on the planet, announced.

"On screen."

"Captain, greetings. We did not establish dressing for meal." Krenna smiled. "What is normal?"

"We normally wear dress uniforms," Kirk informed her with a smile.

Krenna laughed and tried to cover it. Kirk heard more laughter from beyond the vision of the viewer and wondered what he'd said.

"What kind uniform?" Krenna asked, failing miserably to hide her remaining smile.

Captain Kirk shifted in his chair before answering. "They are formal uniforms worn for official functions."

"Oh." Krenna looked off screen briefly. "We don't have uniforms like that. Dress very nice, okay?"

"Certainly. That would be quite acceptable."

"Thank you, Captain." Krenna bowed and the screen went back to stars.

"Ensign, please make sure all officers required to attend tonight's dinner are made aware that there will be no dress uniforms tonight. Formal civilian wear is the order of the day."

"Aye, sir."

* * *

Christine Chapel was fuming when she beamed up from the planet. How in the world could such an innocent statement cause so much trouble! That woman was so ... so ... obnoxious!

The transporter operator watched her storm out with wide eyes. He'd never seen her act that way.

She didn't slow down until she strode through the door to her quarters. She threw herself down into the chair at her table, grabbed a datapadd and began her report. This whole situation could turn into an a very ugly incident. As soon as she finished she summoned a yeoman, who arrived a short time later.

"Take this report directly to the captain. Make sure and tell him that it's important that he read it immediately."

"Yes, Doctor."

Christine stepped back and allowed the door to close. Before it did, she saw the yeoman shake his head and mutter, "Medicos."

Glancing quickly at the chronometer, she saw she had plenty of time before the she had to be ready for the dinner. Stripping off her uniform, she headed for the shower. After a day spent running around down there gathering samples and culture shock, she needed one badly. As she did so, she began to relax. The captain would know what to do about it. If Krenna didn't give up on the idea, he would figure something out that wouldn't insult them.

Christine felt her tension wash away with the dirt. Sighing, she realized she'd better get moving. She had time, but only if she didn't linger too long. She picked out a new dress uniform and struggled into it. She hated these things even more than she hated the regular uniforms. These didn't cover anymore skin, but were sure a lot more uncomfortable. She really looked forward to the day when men and women's uniforms conformed more to a similar standard. After getting her uniform on, she glanced at the chronometer, she had 35 minutes left.

Twenty minutes later she reemerged from the bathroom, feeling like a new woman. Nothing like fixing yourself up to give you confidence. She had 12 minutes left, plenty of time to...

The message light was blinking on her computer. She sat down and activated it.

"Dr. Chapel, do not wear your dress uniform tonight. Captain's orders are to go with civilian formal wear."

Only 10 minutes left and now she had to get into a formal?!! Christine kicked into high gear. It had been a long time since she'd had the opportunity to 'get fancy' as her mother would have said. She wasn't about to let a little thing like no time stop her from doing it right.

* * *

Seven minutes later she finished touching up her make up. If she had to say so herself, she'd done good. The gown was one she'd picked out three years ago. She'd found it in an out of the way shop on Aranolis 6. She was happy to see that after this long, it still hugged in all the right places. She
worked hard to keep physically fit and was glad to have this visible proof it was working.

The door chimed. Good timing, she thought as she emerged once again from her bathroom. "Come in." The door slid open and her heart stopped.

She'd only once seen Spock dressed in anything except his uniform and that had been casual wear. He now stood before her in a Terran tuxedo. Those had been around for centuries in much the same form and she figured they would probably be around for at least a couple more, but she doubted anyone would ever wear one as well as the Vulcan standing before her. "Wow!" she said breathlessly. "You look magnificent!"

Spock was uncomfortable with the praise, but could understand the idea. He had never before seen her in a gown of her choosing. She certainly knew how to select clothing to accent her best physical features. He suppressed his own reaction enough to merely raise his eyebrow, and only commented. "You are quite esthetically pleasing as well, Christine." She knew her Vulcan well enough to be pleased that he had chosen to comment at all, instead of being insulted by the bland complement. "Thank you, Spock."

"Are you ready to go? We are to meet our guests in Transporter room 2."

"Yes." She replied.

* * *

"I wanted to thank you for your intervention with Krenna. I was at something of loss as to what to say to dissuade her from the notion that I had meant what she heard. She was quite ... persistent."

"Certainly, Spock," Christine smiled. It wasn't often he got into something he couldn't get out of easily.

"What was it you said that made her break off? You two seemed to have a lengthy discussion."

"Oh, that," Christine demurred. "That part of the conversation didn't last long. Though I'm not sure she liked it, we moved on and had a rather interesting conversation. Most of it revolved around the cultural differences in sexual mores from one species to another. They have some very startling views on that, which I included in my report to the Captain."

Spock's eyes narrowed. It was obvious she was avoiding answering him directly. Even after all these years, a woman's ability to answer without answering still had the power to amaze him. "Christine?" Spock asked with just a touch of warning in his voice.

She laughed delightedly. "I exaggerated, okay?"

Spock's brow jumped, as understated humor briefly lit his eyes. "I wouldn't think it would take much of an ... exaggeration."

Christine smiled broadly. She liked the sound of that, but wasn't sure if he'd still agree if he knew exactly what she'd had to tell her to get her to back off, for it had come across to her as a very formal invitation. Even after she'd been told it was just a miscommunication, she had been difficult to dissuade. "I talked to several of the others afterward and discovered a lot. They were all quite willing to talk about it openly. You did get a chance to read my report?"

"No," Spock denied. "Until you mentioned your report a minute ago, I was unaware you'd made a report already."

Christine stopped short. Spock was forced to either continue without her, or stop as well. He stopped. "Considering, I would have thought he would have passed it on to you."

"Considering what, Christine?"

"Listen, there isn't time now to go into detail. We've only got, what, a minute?"

"49 seconds," Spock nodded.

"You're just going to have to trust me. And if I do something strange, just follow my lead."

Spock nodded reluctantly. He did, indeed, trust her, but did not like walking into a situation unprepared. "We must go now."

They walked the remaining distance to the transporter room and found the others already waiting.

* * *

"They have signaled they're ready, sir," the transporter operator announced.

"Beam them on board," Kirk said and turned to face the pad. As the beam released their guests, Captain Kirk stepped forward. "Welcome aboard."

"Thank you, Captain Kirk. We are delighted to be here." Krenna glanced around the room at all the people present.

Since there were new people present on both sides, a round of formal introductions was made. Christine watched carefully her new knowledge adding significance to each gesture. Gestures that she had previously not thought important. An even number of people had beamed aboard. As each pair was introduced, they reached out and touched hands. That was significant in that the Onwheyon always crewed their ships with mated pairs.

Krenna and what appeared to be her second in command did not touch. It confirmed Christine's information that Krenna was, as her source put it, 'on the hunt'. When Krenna's eyes landed on her, she smiled. It was nothing overt, but it was obvious Krenna hadn't believed her. She sighed. She never had been a very good liar. Her mother had loved that. It meant she couldn't get away with anything. Not that it had kept her from trying.

Uhura stepped forward. She had been assigned the role of hostess this evening. "If you'll follow me, ladies and gentlemen," she said and led the way. The Enterprise crew allowed the guests to go first.

Krenna stayed till last. "Commander Spock, would you escort me in to dinner?"

Spock found himself in a difficult position, torn between his own personal preference, and diplomacy. However, it wouldn't be the first time he'd had to do something he'd rather not.

When he did not decline, Krenna walked towards him as if to take his arm.

Christine watched Captain Kirk. Wasn't he going to do anything? Hadn't he read her report either? Sighing in irritation, she stepped between Krenna and Spock just before she reached him. She just knew it was going to turn out worse this way than if Captain Kirk had stopped this when he should have.

"No, Krenna," she stated forcefully.

Krenna stepped back, eyes flashing. "Seems to me, he didn't mind." She took a step to go around Christine.

Captain Kirk stared at Dr. Chapel in astonishment for only a moment, reigning in his anger and surprise. He stepped up to an obviously agitated Krenna. "I don't know what," he said, sparing a look for Christine, "precisely," he looked back to Krenna, smiling charmingly. "Dr. Chapel is doing, but perhaps you would accept another escort?"

"Yes," McCoy drawled. "I would be happy to escort you in to dinner."

Krenna shot one more glance at Christine, letting her know she wasn't through yet. "I would be honored, Doctor."

McCoy was dying to know what was going on, but knowing that Kirk was going to want answers without Krenna listening, he gallantly escorted the lady out, swearing silently that he'd find out what happened behind those closed doors, if it was the last thing he ever did.

Captain Kirk waited only a heartbeat past the door closing on Krenna and Dr. McCoy, when he rounded on Dr. Chapel. He got as far as opening his mouth.

"Captain," Christine rounded on him. "You didn't read my report, did you? This would have been prevented if you'd stopped it in your capacity as Commanding Officer!"

Surprised by her verbal assault, his anger waned. "No, I didn't have time to check the landing parties reports."

"That's why I sent it directly to you, marked urgent, instead of just entering into the computer."

"I never got it," Kirk replied outwardly calm, inwardly he fumed. "Explain what just happened."

"Krenna just made a return offer to confirm Spock's earlier inadvertent one. By being diplomatic and not immediately declining, he reopened this whole mess. She now sees me as the barrier to her wishes. It would have been a lot less messy if it had been you that stepped in, instead of me."

"It appears your exaggeration didn't solve the problem, after all. She is very determined," Spock concluded.

Kirk focused on Spock. "I thought you didn't know what she said to Krenna."

"I don't," Spock confirmed. "I just found out on the way to the transporter room that she exaggerated in some way."

Kirk looked to Christine, back to his first officer, and settled back on Christine again. "Okay," he breathed deeply, not sure he really wanted to know. "Just what did you ... exaggerate?" Spock watched her expectantly. He was fairly certain what she'd said to the woman. Considering what the truth was, there weren't a lot of ways to go for an exaggeration.

Christine mumbled.

"What?" Kirk leaned forward.

Christine looked over at Kirk and took a deep breath. "I said that we were engaged."

"If there was the chance that she might pull something like you are suggesting, and you had already determined this was the way to stop it, why did you not simply say we were married?" Spock asked logically.

"I didn't find out about all the convolutions possible until later, when I talked to Fendrall."

Spock nodded. "One cannot prevent that which one does not know about."

An odd movement from Captain Kirk caught her attention and she burst out laughing. She couldn't stop it from happening. Spock looked at her, puzzled. All she could do was point to their Captain. Spock turned and cocked an eyebrow.

Kirk was standing there with his jaw about as far down as it would go, shocked speechless. He wondered briefly if he'd somehow stepped into an alternate reality. When he realized just what a picture he made, his jaw snapped shut, and he yanked down his shirt hem, attempting to regain his dignity. "I must say, Spock, you're taking your sudden engagement quite calmly."

"Is there any reason why I shouldn't, Captain?" Spock asked blandly.

He was now absolutely certain he stepped off the edge of reality. If that was only an exaggeration then what, exactly, was going on? He was definitely going to have to pump McCoy for information. "So, did what happened here end this?"

"Probably not, sir." Christine sighed. "As I said earlier, Spock unknowingly opened a whole new set of problems. If he'd just refused her, it would probably have ended, but even that wouldn't have been a guarantee. Her actions tonight indicate one of three possibilities. One, she doesn't believe the truth of what I said." Christine half shrugged. It wasn't the truth, so who could blame her if she didn't believe it. "Two, she doesn't think I can hold his interest long enough to--" Here she ducked her head and blushed. "'Get him to the alter'." She could see that the captain was amused by her first two assessments, most probably about her embarrassment in the second.

"Three, she challenges my claim."

Kirk's amusement was abruptly gone. He didn't like the sound of that.

Spock frowned. "What would be..."

Kirk interrupted him. "Both of you are excused from tonight's festivities. I don't want either of you around them right now."

"Captain. You should be aware that they will consider our absence at this point an insult to more than one person."

"Explain," Kirk and Spock demanded.

"Since you did not interfere before, keeping us away from them will be seen as an insult to both Krenna personally and to their beliefs. And from the way they look at this kind of thing, they will see it as an insult to me as well."

Now Kirk frowned. He was beginning to get a headache and was remembering why he hated 'official' functions. "Why to you, Doctor?"

"You would in effect be telling them that you don't think..." This was so e embarrassing, she thought and finished in a rush. "I can't 'keep my man'."

Kirk blew his breath out in frustration. "We can't keep our guests waiting any longer. Even McCoy will run out of things to say eventually," he said as he started for the door. "Brief me as best you can on the way to the lounge. I want to know what we might expect, and what, if anything, I can do to head this off. I really don't want an incident to ruin this first contact."

Christine and Spock followed, with Christine speaking quickly.

* * *

Dr. McCoy looked nervously at the door, for what had to be the twentieth time already. What in the devil was taking them so long? He'd handed out drinks and handed out idle chit chat till he was blue in the face. If they didn't get here soon, he was going to run out of things to say. Uhura had been a godsend, she was better at this than he was.

The door slid open and he turned to it in relief. Then choked on the drink he'd just taken a sip from. He almost reached up and rubbed his eyes. He could not be seeing right! But by the hush of all the Enterprise crew around him, they were seeing it too.

Captain Kirk led the way. He hadn't liked what Dr. Chapel had to tell him. It seemed that if this Krenna pushed the issue, he'd have to choose between two equally bad choices. He just hoped the subtle plans they'd made would be sufficient to head her off, so those choices would not have to be made. He had to laugh though, neither Spock nor Christine had liked his idea, although they both had been forced to admit that it would be an appropriate way to make her think she didn't stand a chance. Since neither of them could come up with a better plan they had reluctantly agreed.

Spock and Christine entered immediately behind the captain to the astonished stares of their crewmates. Holding her hand, he escorted her to her seat at the long table set up specially for this gathering. He tried to shake the feeling that he could actually feel their eyes, as it was irrational. He'd never been stared at in this fashion before and found it uniquely discomforting. It didn't help that he was doing something so out of character for him. Knowing that he was going to continue to behave in a manner not in line with his normal behavior did nothing to alleviate his discomfort.

Knowing that everyone was staring at them openly had Christine blushing brightly. She attempted to keep her color down, but didn't think she was succeeding too well. She glanced over at Spock and noticed that the tips of his ears were a little greener than normal. She wished desperately that she could confine her blush to that small of an area. By the time they reached her chair, however, she had managed some control. She didn't think she was noticeably flushed anymore.

He pulled out her chair for her and as she sat he leaned down close to her ear. "Relax, Christine," he whispered. "We'll get through this." Then he moved away to take his own seat next to her.

Captain Kirk smiled charmingly at the room in general. "Shall we begin our meal?" he asked with a wave of his hand.

Everyone moved toward the table and took seats around it. Captain Kirk kept the conversation lively, with help from McCoy and Uhura. Whenever the talk lagged one of them picked it back up again.

For her part Christine tried to help, but couldn't really keep up her end of the chatter. She found that every time she said something and they looked at her, all she could think of was the fact of Spock's continued, sporadic physical contact with her and her with him. Oh, she realized it was all quite tame, especially compared to the Onwheyon crew. Just a simple brush of his hand on hers when he spoke to her, and she did the same to him. But considering who he was, it all seemed so ... so personal.

The meal was about half finished, when Krenna stood suddenly, startling everyone present. "This is a farce!" she yelled, dismissing Spock and Christine's actions. "Anyone can see that!"

Spock gazed back at her and answered quite calmly. "Captain Krenna, Vulcans do not display affection publicly."

"Another lie?" Krenna demanded.

Remaining as cool as always Spock replied to her intended insult. "Vulcans do not lie."

Kirk closed his eyes. He could see where this was headed, fast, and he didn't like it. He didn't see anyway to stop this from breaking down. He couldn't believe someone in charge of a ship could put personal wants above the safety and welfare of their ship. Standing slowly he forced himself to smile. "Krenna, perhaps we should all calm down. There is no sense in letting a personal issue get blown out of proportion. We could all sleep on this and discuss the issue rationally tomorrow."

Krenna glared at the captain's efforts. "Calming down is not what I want. I challenge..."

Spock stood suddenly, one image from his dream flashing behind his eyes. "No. I cannot allow that."

"Nor will I," Kirk replied smoothly, smothering his own anger. "I understand that you are following your own customs in this regard, but they are not ours."

Krenna suddenly smiled a triumphant smile.

Kirk didn't trust that smile.

"It may not be the custom of your Federation, Captain," Krenna replied suspiciously quiet. "But thanks to the information exchange we had earlier, I know there is precedent in the Vulcan culture. Are you saying that you don't allow your crew their own customs? If so, why should we wish to be allies with you?" she continued in the ensuing silence. "It certainly doesn't bode well for how you would treat us."

"You have misconstrued the custom," Spock told her firmly and, for one of the first times in his life, really wished he could be anywhere but here.

"I don't think so." Krenna smiled still. "Look it up. I did."

Spock couldn't quite stop a slight grimace of distaste from crossing his face. "If you are referring to the Koon ut Kalifee," he responded coldly. "You have indeed misinterpreted the ritual. It would not only not apply here, it would be highly inappropriate."

"Of course not," she huffed indignantly. "That one is ridiculous!"

Gasps were heard around the room and Spock barely kept one from escaping him.

"I'll expect an answer in one hour." Krenna stalked away from the table, signaling the rest of her crew to follow. As soon as they'd gathered around her, she signaled her ship to transport them back.

"Mr. Spock, Dr. Chapel, Briefing room now!" Kirk muttered angrily and strode out of the lounge. Spock and Christine followed. McCoy, refusing to be left behind, followed also.

* * *

The four of them filed silently down the corridor to the briefing room. No one dared speak. It was quite obvious Kirk was furious with the position he'd been put into. When they entered, he deliberately still didn't say anything. He needed to calm down first. He walked slowly to the chair he normally sat in and took his seat. Drawing a deep calming breath, he then looked up and watched the other sit as well.

"Okay. Do you know what she was talking about, Spock?"

"No, sir." Spock shook his head. "I do not know what she was referring to. I am aware of nothing within the old traditions that could be twisted to her meaning."

"She seemed awfully sure," McCoy protested. "Now, I'd be the last person to insinuate that you don't know about your own heritage, but are you sure there's nothing that she could have grasped onto?"

"The last person, indeed," Spock replied, mildly perturbed despite his best efforts not to be. This whole situation was taxing him.

"We have to be sure, Spock," Captain Kirk said sympathetically.

"Captain, I will research the subject, but she will be disappointed. I am very well acquainted with my people's history."

"Very well Mr. Spock. I'll give you 40 minutes to do your research, after that, we have to meet again to determine a course of action that will hopefully satisfy both sides." Kirk rose and left, towing McCoy behind him.

"Well," Christine said quietly. "I guess I'll leave you to your work."

"No." Spock looked over to her. "I would appreciate it if you would stay."

She smiled. "Certainly. I'll co-op the other computer terminal and help."

Spock nodded in gratitude and bent to his own research.

They worked in companionable quiet, each entering their own data, for searches and cross searches. Twenty minutes later, Spock stared at his screen in mute surprise.

Christine instantly felt the difference and glanced up at him. What she saw, she really didn't like. "What is it, Spock?"

Spock looked up. "She was right," he whispered.

"What?!" Christine exclaimed and joined him on his side of the large table.

He pointed out the relevant text.

"But that's ancient. Surely it isn't used anymore," Christine protested.

Spock wanted to agree with her. While it was true, it wasn't used, it had never been removed from the books, which meant it was still technically Vulcan law. "It isn't used anymore, Christine, just as the Koon ut Kalifee isn't used any more," he said with only the slightest trace of bitterness. He couldn't quite get rid of it all.

"Oh," Christine breathed, understanding exactly what he meant. "In other words. It isn't logical, so it isn't done, but if someone were to choose to do it, the others involved have no choice."

"Exactly, Christine." He turned to face her fully. "Since she has invoked this aspect of my own culture instead of merely relying on her own, I cannot object to the proceedings without being in violation of Vulcan law. You, on the other hand, are bound by neither her culture nor Vulcan customs. That is our way out. Since she is claiming that if the Captain doesn't allow this, he is violating the customs of his own people, then logically, she cannot object to you not participating, because it is not your custom."

Christine laughed bitterly. "You really think she's gonna react logically?"

Spock took a deep breath. "I ... hope so, because if she doesn't, and she's at all representative of her people as a whole, it would not help the relations between them and us."

Christine understood what he meant. She turned back to the screen, reading the text closely. She reached forward and scrolled it down.

"Christine," Spock said. She didn't answer him. She continued reading.

"Christine," Spock demanded. "You are to deny her challenge."

When she still didn't answer, he continued. "That's an order."

Not taking her eyes from the screen. "Of course, I will," she said.

"You do not sound very convincing."

She broke off her reading. Looking at him, she sighed. "Spock. I will deny the challenge, but it might not be that easy. What was it you said after Khan attacked, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one?"

"Yes," he responded warily. He didn't like where she was headed.

"If bad goes to worse, I'm not going to allow something personal to interfere in establishing friendly relations with these people. They would be powerful allies and I would dislike having them be anything else." She watched him silently after she finished speaking, knowing he could give only one response to that.

"Logical," was drawn reluctantly from him. Her analysis was exactly that. His not liking it had nothing to do with the fact that she was right. If it came right down the line, the two of them were less important than the Federation as a whole.

"Well," she commented when she finished reading. "At least it's not a fight to the death."

Spock almost winced. "Even ancient Vulcan realized the value of keeping females alive."

"We have to talk to the Captain."

"Yes," he replied.

The two left side by side in silence. Nothing was left to be said.

* * *

Christine sat in her quarters after their second briefing with Captain Kirk. To say he hadn't been happy would be putting it mildly. Furious would be a better choice. When Spock had informed him that he could not protest, the captain had blown up. It was the first time she'd ever seen the captain yell at Spock and she had wanted to melt into the wall. She really felt she shouldn't be seeing it.

Fortunately his anger had been quickly spent. He'd informed her then, that she would have to be the head of reason this time and that she would refuse to participate. There'd been no mistaking the order in his voice. She'd told him she would, but hadn't missed the effect of the captain's angry insult on Spock. Neither of them had said anything about it, but she'd had to bite her lip to keep herself from jumping in and defending him. He was as perceptive as Spock had been.

"Dr. Chapel." Kirk leaned forward, tense lines of anger and weariness etched in his face. "Why do I sense a lack of sincerity?"

Christine met his gaze steadily. "I do not want to do this, Captain. The consequences of it, either way, are steep. But, the same as you would and have done, I will do what it takes."

Kirk leaned back and sighed heavily. That she was right, didn't help his mood. He did not like being backed into a corner and that is precisely what Krenna had done. "Very well, Doctor. I will keep that in mind. Dismissed."

Christine bowed her head into her hands, causing the necklace she wore to swing free of her neckline. She lifted the tiny golden cup in her hand and cried. She knew that Krenna would not give up on this and it put her in an untenable position. She well knew that Spock held rigidly to his people's traditions and laws. If she lost, she would likely never see him again. If she won...

The door chime interrupted her turn of thought. "Come in."

Spock stepped in and immediately knelt at her side. "Do not cry, Christine." He soothed. "There is no need."

Christine smiled tremulously. "You wouldn't understand."

"Try me," Spock said softly. "You might be surprised at what I understand."

"If Captain Kirk cannot find away around it, and I have to..." Christine trailed off.

"Fight."

"Yes. Even if I win, I lose."

"You're right," Spock admitted. "I do not understand."

She laughed humorlessly. "I know it isn't logical, but this way, I'll never know, for sure, why you stayed."

Although he did not agree with her assessment, he now understood what she meant. "Christine. If I had not intended for what is between us to continue, I would not have given in to my desires, no matter how intense they may have been." Spock pulled each of her hands into his. "Vulcans ... I would not engage in sexual intercourse, unless I was willing to make the relationship permanent."

"That helps Spock, a lot." Christine grinned then bent forward and kissed him.

Spock responded gently, but pulled back soon. "It is nearly time. We must go."

* * *

The turbolift door slid open and Spock and Christine walked out onto the Bridge, just as the comm system whistled.

"Right on time," Kirk muttered. "On screen, Lieutenant."

A moment later, Krenna's features appeared on the screen. "What is your decision, Captain Kirk?"

Kirk rose from his seat. "Dr. Chapel is not from either of the cultures you are citing to instigate this personal agenda. As such, she cannot be held to them. That makes this whole thing a moot point. Reconsider your request. It is still possible to forget this and resume our introduction to each other's cultures."

"She has chosen to default then?" Krenna smiled.

"Of course not," Kirk snapped.

"Then she has chosen to fight even if her own culture does not bind her to it?"

Kirk's frustration was really begin to boil over. He took a second to calm down. Getting mad at the woman was not going to help. "That is not what I said either. You cannot make her fight for what is already hers." He wasn't sure about that territory, but he wasn't about to let Krenna know that. He still wasn't sure exactly what was going on between Spock and Dr. Chapel. Even Dr. McCoy had seemingly minded his own business during this. He hadn't been able to get anything more from him than he already knew. Several very quiet, quickly smothered giggles around the Bridge confirmed he wasn't alone in his confusion.

"You're right. I cannot make her do anything." Relief spread across the Bridge. "She, of course, is free to do as she chooses. He, however, is bound by the customs of his own people." Krenna smiled again, she knew she'd get what she wanted one way or another.

Spock watched the exchange between his Captain and Krenna, with an odd sinking sensation. This woman had studied well. She'd not only found what she'd needed, she worked all the nuances out ahead of time as well.

"What has..."

Krenna cut him off. "Lets 'cut to the chase', as you people say. Are you or are you not going to allow this to happen?"

Holding his temper in check by the merest thread, Kirk answered her calmly. "It is a personal matter and as such is not mine to make. The decision was hers."

"Then I'm through talking to you. I talk to her."

Of all the arrogance! he thought angrily, turning to hide his reaction from the woman. He signaled to Christine to come forward.

When she came into view, Krenna continued coldly. "Do you accept, or do you give him to me?"

Shock flooded Christine. Like hell I'll give him to you, she thought. "It is not my right to 'give' him to anyone. He is a free agent. He is quite capable of making his own choices."

"So, you are giving up your claim on him then?"

Christine fought the impulse to rant and rave at the woman. She could twist words better than anyone she'd ever met! "No, I'm not."

"That's what you just said," Krenna inserted before Christine could continue. "If you will not fight for him, by his own custom he is mine."

Startled Christine's head snapped around and she looked at Spock. She hadn't thought of that. Would he go if she refused to fight? She didn't need to see his reluctant nod, she had her answer as soon as her eyes met his. Christine turned back to the woman she was beginning to seriously hate, and to the shocked silence of her crew mates continued as coldly as the woman on the other ship. "I accept your challenge!"

* * *

After transporting down to the planet Christine watched the activity as if from outside herself. Neither she nor Krenna had been willing for this to take place on the other's ship, so they'd decided on the planet surface as neutral territory. Glancing around at the setup, she was beginning to realize that the Onwheyon crew loved this sort of thing. They were rapidly clearing a roughly circular site, and, due to eminent nightfall, were placing what appeared to be plasma torches around the large area.

Back on the ship, the captain had tried to talk to her about this, but she had refused to listen. There was no way she was going to be talked out of this, not when the stakes were so high. He hadn't tried very hard. His heart wasn't in it. Like she'd told him earlier, if it had been him, he'd be doing the same thing.

McCoy on the other hand wasn't worried about such distinctions and had demanded to know if she was out of her ever lovin' mind! She'd ignored him too. She had to be in the right frame of mind for this or her nerves would get the better of her. She wiped all thoughts of the future or what might happen out of her mind, concentrating solely on right now.

Even Spock had started to approach her after McCoy had given up. Evidently he'd realized before he reached herm however, that she didn't want to talk to anyone, because he'd left her alone.

When it had come time to transport down, Kirk had called for Spock and McCoy to accompany Dr. Chapel and himself. Uhura had stood and demanded to go also. Captain Kirk had been about to refuse, when Uhura had made a point he couldn't ignore, not for something like this. "She's my best friend, Captain."

Now watching the Onwheyon finish setting up, she thought maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to close herself off. Her anger at Krenna was getting the better of her. With no balancing outlet, it had nowhere to go. Time didn't really have much meaning as she stood there, watching, waiting. Krenna didn't seem to have that problem, she was laughing and joking with her crewmates. It seemed it was all great fun to her. To Christine's growing disgust, this whole sordid affair was beginning to look like a circus.

That was certainly how the Onwheyon were treating it. She risked a quick glance at Spock. His expression was unreadable. He'd retreated behind his Vulcan wall of control. She snapped her head back to the activities in front of them. Someone had entered the ring of torches. It was Krenna, still smiling. She vaguely wondered if that smile was her amusement, or her way of trying to intimidate Christine.

Well, Christine had news for her, If she was trying to intimidate, she had a long way to go. She was not easily intimidate at any time, and now, she was not about to allow it. Even before Krenna spoke, she started forward.

Both had dressed in skin tight body suits, the best for keeping hand holds to a minimum. Neither woman knew what to expect from the other. Neither had seen the other fight. Christine watched Krenna move as closely as Krenna watched her. No overt signal was given, the two women just began moving, each studying, waiting for the best opportunity.

A hush had fallen around them. The only sound was the light wind through the trees, and indigenous insect life hailing the arrival of night. Krenna made the first move. Dashing forward she grabbed hold of Christine, and so help her, the first thought that flashed through her mind was that the woman fought like a girl. Christine squelched the thought and concentrated on the task at hand. Krenna's first move may not have been what expected, but the Onwheyon woman was quite strong.

Spock stood between Kirk and McCoy. He noticed out of the periphery of his vision that both of them made minute muscular twitches as the fight proceeded, mentally 'helping'. In another situation it might actually have been amusing, but Spock's attention was fully on the scene unfolding before him. The sights and sounds eerily similar to his dream. It was an association he could not quite shake, even having retreated behind Vulcan disciplines.

Even there he was not alone. Along the bond of Christine's heritage he could feel her growing anger at the audacity of Krenna. He knew quite well, that anger would affect her ability to fight. He wanted to warn her, she needed to calm down. Anger destroyed fighting ability. Helpless to do anything, a position he was not comfortable in, Spock kept watching.

McCoy sighed heavily. This was utterly barbaric! He could not believe it was happening. What in the galaxy had they been thinking to allow this? What it said about all of them, he shuddered to think. Taking his eyes off the spectacle in front of him, he glanced sideways at the Vulcan standing motionless next to him. Over the years, the green blooded Vulcan had become a brother to him. Despite their rather vast differences in ideology and personality, they were in a way kindred spirits. He couldn't have explained why, if his life depended on it, but there it was. He did wonder himself, what exactly inspired such strong loyalty in those around him. McCoy's attention was jerked back to reality when Krenna landed a particularly vicious blow across Christine's jaw.

Spock couldn't stop the small gasp as he relived his nightmare and Christine hit the ground. He began an involuntary step forward, but couldn't, as both Kirk and McCoy clamped down on either arm. They had all studied the forms and knew if he interfered, it was over. Neither of them were about to let Dr. Chapel's efforts be for nothing.

Spock could feel Christine's anger flare into fury. From deep in the recesses of his mind 'balance', floated to the surface using the voice of the Betazoid woman. He then knew what he had to do, all that remained to be seen, was could he? Spock let down his outer mental barriers, and for the first time purposely tried to use the Imzadi bond between them. Another first, he attempted to suppress the emotions of someone other than himself. He wasn't completely sure of the ethics of what he was attempting, but since they'd been told 'it was their duty' to each other, he was going to try.

He watched as Christine swept her leg under Krenna trying to unbalance her. Krenna leapt easily over and retained her footing. Christine rolled herself up and off the ground, prepared for Krenna's next swing.

He was having no luck. Her fury was washing over him in waves. It was making it difficult to maintain his own composure. An eternity later, he decided it wasn't going to work and concentrated on calming himself. His own building anger was surely not helping her. He was half way through the Vulcan calming techniques, when he realized that he was no longer feeling as much anger from her either.

That was the key, he thought incredulously. He was part of her current problem. He switched goals. Instead of trying to suppress his anger, he worked on mutating it. He worked on trying to feel a calm sense of purpose. He worked on feeling steely determination. Nearly the instant he succeeded, he began to feel and see a difference in Christine. No longer was she out of control. He watched with horrid fascination as she dropped into a perfect aikido stance.

Christine finally felt the ebbing of the fury she did not understand. She knew better than to let anger get the better of her. Whyever it came, and however it went, she was glad it was gone. Now she could end this farce.

"Is that all you've got?" she taunted her opponent. "If so, I'm getting bored." She watched the other woman lunge and deftly twisted out of the way. Not in a position to counterattack, she dropped back into a waiting stance while the other whipped around. Calm and in control, Christine blocked each strike as it came at her, waiting, biding her time for the opportunity she needed.

Spock watched the transformation with muted astonishment. The difference in Christine was little short of looking like two different people. As she sidestepped yet another swing and landed one of her own, Spock discovered he was holding his breath and had to actually tell himself to begin again. In addition to being highly illogical, he told himself, his passing out from lack of oxygen would not help Christine.

McCoy chuckled beside him. Spock winced. The good doctor had noticed his lapse. He was sure he would hear about it later. Neither could pull their eyes from the two combatants.

"You are going to lose, Krenna," Christine challenged.

"Who's the only one who's gone down?" Krenna crowed back at her.

Seeing her golden opportunity, Christine moved in. "Doesn't matter. I've got something you don't," she said as she whipped up and behind the astonished Onwheyon and maneuvered her into a choke hold.

"What's that?" Krenna wheezed out, struggling to remove herself from Christine's grip.

"Patience!" Christine uttered triumphantly and held her till she passed out. When she felt Krenna go limp, she immediately released her and let her fall. Combat over, the Doctor reasserted its position in her mind and she reached down checking the fallen woman's pulse at the neck. "She'll be
fine," she announced as she rose.

To the utter surprise of Kirk and McCoy, Spock moved out into the arena. This time it was a good thing they didn't need to stop him, as neither of them would have been quick enough. He strode directly out to Christine and pulled her roughly into a full body embrace. He immediately captured her lips with his.

Shocked to her very soul, Christine was a heartbeat behind in responding. But as the familiar connection flared between them, she responded with everything she was.

Around them sudden silence descended yet again. This time even the insects seemed in awe of the moment. Movement from the ground beside them pulled them back to reality and apart.

Krenna looked up in time to see that end of a soul searing kiss. "I might have been mistaken," she laughed hoarsely. Getting slowly to her feet, she continued. "I thought Vulcans didn't display affection in public."

"The cause was sufficient," Christine quoted and grinned, looking at Spock.

Spock fought a grin of his own and settled on a mere raised brow.

She glanced back over at Krenna, her expression suddenly unreadable. "Are we through?"

"Yes." Krenna nodded. "I lost."

"Good." Christine replied shortly, and walked off the battlefield, very happy with life in general.

* * *

Only moments later the five officers rematerialized on board the Enterprise. An atmosphere of relief and anticipation prevailed. McCoy moved first, reaching out to hold Christine's arm. "You, young lady, are going directly to Sickbay. You're not doing anything else until I get you checked out."

"I'm fine, Leonard," Christine protested. Although normally going to sickbay didn't bother her, that was the last place she wanted to be right now. "I'm just tired and want to go lie down."

"Did that sound like a request, Doctor?" McCoy demanded gruffly. "You'll go nowhere until this Chief Medical Officer gives you the once over."

"I agree." Spock interrupted whatever retort Christine had been about to make.

"Well, I'll be," McCoy drawled. "Such miracles are happening today. If this is what it takes to get you to agree with me, Spock, I can wait a real long time before it happens again."

Spock ignored the sally and in a momentary spirit of cooperation the each grabbed an arm and Christine had no choice but to travel between them to Sickbay. McCoy's silence lasted only until Christine was on a biobed and he was running the med scanner over her.

"You know, Spock, I was actually beginning to think you didn't have it in you," McCoy drawled casually.

"Pardon, Doctor?" Spock inquired, more of his attention on the readouts than what McCoy had said.

"Any man that can kiss like that has passion deep in his soul, and now you'll never convince me otherwise."

"Doctor," Spock began patiently. "As I have said before I am not..."

"I hear you, Spock, I just ain't listening, anymore."

Spock sighed. "As if you ever did."

McCoy laughed heartily. "You just might have a point there." He turned his full attention back to Christine. "You're fine. You've got a nasty little bruise there on your jaw, but other than that, you're fit as a fiddle."

"I told you that already," Christine replied irritably, as she sat up and slipped off the bed. "I assume I have your permission to go, DOCTOR."

McCoy just chuckled at her irritation. "Yes, DOCTOR, you're free to go."

Spock and Christine headed for the door; however they didn't quite make it through unscathed.

As the door slid open, McCoy looked over at them. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

Both of them look back at McCoy in astonishment, one more obviously than the other. Christine blushed to her toes.

Christine pondered the advisability of uttering the automatic response that flitted through her mind for about half a heartbeat, before as naturally as breathing said, "Oh, Leonard, what I plan on doing, I don't think you'd even dream of."

Spock's eyes widened and both brows shot to his hairline. Just before Christine turned to walk out the door, she could have sworn Spock was turning a light shade of green.

McCoy watched them leave with a light heart. It was about time, he thought to himself. Yes, things were finally on track. Turning back to finish cleaning up from Christine's impromptu physical, he began humming to himself. The next few months were bound to be interesting.

* * *

Spock held his peace until they reached his quarters. As soon as the doors slid closed behind them, however, he reached out and turned her around. "And just what, exactly, did that mean Christine?" Spock voice was low and quiet, accompanied by just a hint of danger in his eyes.

Christine thrilled at the look. "Not much really," she replied softly, trailing her hands languidly up Spock's arms, reveling in the current running between them. Spock stood still, waiting her next move and her next words.

"Did you know," she whispered as she circled behind him, "that danger is a very powerful aphrodisiac to humans?" She stood on tip toe, brushing her lips against the nape of his neck, allowing just a hint of warm moist breath to escape and brush against the short hair.

Spock breathed in slowly, her words and scent mixing its own powerful magic within him. "Certain types of danger are known to have the same effect on Vulcans," he replied carefully.

"Mmmmmm," Christine murmured, capturing his earlobe lightly in her teeth, darting the tip of her tongue out to caress the smooth skin. "Sounds intriguing," she replied and continued her exploration, allowing her hands to stroke the muscles of his back.

"Yes," Spock stated, turned and pulled her into his arms.

Their lips clasped together and tongues danced an erotic slow dance. Pulling her mouth from his, she murmured. "You know what else?"

"No, what?" he replied huskily as he moved his lips to the base of her neck, tenderly caressing with his lips and tongue the spot he would use the nerve pinch on and adversary. The nerves there were all close to the skin surface, and he felt her immediate reaction to the stimulation.

Gasping, she reached behind him and smoothed her hands down his backside, searching for and finding the area she'd so recently discovered was just as effective on Vulcans as humans. When he gasped lightly, she leaned even closer and whispered in his ear. "I intend to make love to you all night."

At her words, Spock's heart skipped a beat, then continued at a much faster rate. "Oh, really?" Spock questioned roughly. "Are you sure you're up to that?" He pulled her against him, letting her feel exactly how her suggestion affected him.

Christine quivered at his response. It was all she could have hoped for and more. "Oh, yes," she breathed. "I'm sure. I want to do things to you, you've never even dreamed of."

Spock's need rose swiftly in match to hers. He lifted her up into his arms, strode into the next room, and dropped her onto the bed. He began to pull off his shirt, but Christine stayed his hands. Smiling mischievously she shook her head no.

She rose up to her knees and pulled his shirt off herself. Leaning forward she alternately nibbled and suckled on first one nipple then the other. They hardened under her deft manipulation.

Spock pulled the bodysuit she wore over her shoulders and down as far as her waist, freeing her breasts, and trapping her arms to her sides. He was surprised to find the support was built in. He gently pushed her back down onto the bed and began his own oral stimulation. He gloried in her moans of pleasure.

As their pleasure increased and the contact lengthened, their perceptions widened. He began to feel what he was doing to her, and she relished the feeling of what she was doing to him. She wriggled her arms free, and stroked and caressed him in turn. The fire in them ignited higher and higher, until only they existed.

She reached down and cupped him through his trousers. A small gasp escaped them at the instant effect. Christine moaned, he groaned, and their clothes were quickly rendered out of the way. With a quick twist, she pushed him onto his back and holding him down, began trailing warm kisses with lips and tongue down his chest to his abdomen. When she reached his navel, she hesitated there and circled it lightly with her tongue.

Spock reached down and caressed the side of her face, the only place he could reach. He tried to slide down to meet her, but she didn't allow it. Instead she moved further down. Her fingers curled around the sacs at the base of his member. Spock trembled at the unexpected contact, and then gasped in shock as she took him into her mouth. He started to pull away, but she sent soothing emotions along the bond and almost immediately he was lost in the sensations she was causing. He gripped the edges of the bed in reaction. Christine throbbed in her own response. Suddenly he sat up, and pulled Christine up.

Taking a deep breath first, he began kissing her again. Releasing her lips, he said, "If you continue, this will be cut short."

He swiftly flipped her onto her back and began his own trek, his feather-light kisses shooting electric sparks through them at each touch. He kissed the hollows of her hips, they both twitched. He moved to the mound of her femininity and caressed her center with his tongue, he suckled the tiny nub as she had suckled him, gently flicking his tongue against it as well. She arched up and quivered, moaning her pleasure aloud.

He slipped one finger in and out, then two. She was moist with her desire, as was he. "Spock!" she moaned. "Now, please!"

Her plea sent shivers down his spine and he moved quickly to fulfill her desire and his. He slid easily into her ready moisture for only the second time. They moved as one, in a rhythm all their own. The rising tide of their desires soared them beyond reality, driving them higher and higher. Finally an eternity later Christine screamed her release, Spock followed only a heartbeat later, gasping his own climax. Their bodies shook as it claimed and owned them both.

What could have easily been hours later, their minds cleared. Desire momentarily slaked, they both panted for breath and Spock's arms trembled with the effort not to collapse on top of her. With arms weak from spent passion, she reached up and traced Spock's lips with still shaking fingers.

"I ... never ... imagined ... before ... it could be ... like this," Christine whispered breathlessly.

"Nor ... I, Christine," Spock returned. He then pulled back and lay beside her.

She rolled over and moved against him, curling her arm and one leg possessively across his body. Sighing in contentment she closed her eyes.

"Christine?"

"Yes, Spock."

"Will you bond with me?"

Christine opened her eyes and lifted her head in astonishment. After a moment of mind numbness, she found her voice. "Yes, Spock," she answered happily, tears streaming down her face.

The End