Disclaimer: As we all know Paramount and Viacom own the universe we love to play in. The characters and Star Trek in general are theirs. Only the storyline is original. Copyright (c) 2004 Kiristeen ke Alaya. Rated R.

Red Handed

Kiristeen ke Alaya

When this duty had been received, he had been unsure of its viability and if he'd given in to the emotions all Vulcans spent their lives suppressing and controlling, he'd have protested about the wisdom of assigning only the two of them to a landing party. Both the Captain and Dr. McCoy knew he was ... uncomfortable around Dr. Chapel. Of course, since he was Vulcan, he didn't. He simply did his job and kept any illogical arguments to himself. It wouldn't have changed anything anyway. A crew member did not get removed from landing party duty just because of 'whims'.

Unbeknownst to the object of his scrutiny, Spock watched Christine stoke the fire in between them. Shadows created by the flickering fire danced across her face, distorting her features. The illusion disturbed him, but the reason for that escaped him completely. She did, however, seem ... different tonight. He continued to watch her slow movements. She stared into the fire, clearly lost in world of her own. It had been like that the first night they camped here also.

* * *

"Doctor?"

She lifted her eyes slowly and looked over at him with what he could only describe as a 'dazed' expression. "Yes, Commander?"

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she answered, her dazed look being replaced by one of puzzlement. "Why do you ask?"

"You seemed a little," Spock paused, searching for the correct phrase. "...out of it."

Christine laughed lightly. "It's the fire," she answered, lowering her gaze back to its hypnotic glow. "I've always loved firelight."

Silence descended as he pondered her words and she continued her fire watching. "I could always lose myself in it for hours," she said softly.

Spock glanced up at her words, carefully observing her facial expressions.

"Even as a child, when nothing else could induce me to sit still for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Sit me in front of a campfire and my parents had the peace they wanted."

To Spock it seemed as if she wasn't really talking to him. It was more like she was reliving some old memory and if he was an accurate judge, it was a pleasant one. He surprised himself by inquiring further about it. "Did your family go camping often?"

She smiled across the fire at him. "Yes, I remember that each year Julie and I used to watch the temperature every day, because when it stayed warm enough for four days in a row, we knew we'd go on a camping trip the following weekend. They were always the highlight of our summers."

* * *

From that night, once the days surveying had been completed, their dinner finished and it was still too early to retire for the night, they sat on opposite sides of a roaring campfire and shared memories of similar events in both their lives. One night she'd shared that she was something of a pyromaniac and when he'd reacted with concern, she'd been quick to assure him, she was a 'safe' pyro.

She'd laughed when he'd raised an eyebrow and said he hadn't realized there was such a thing. He'd realized then that she had a pleasing laugh. Each time they revealed something about their past, Spock was surprise at how easy it was to share the stories and each night it became easier; more natural. A couple of times, as he'd lain beside the fire, readying himself for sleep, he'd remained somewhat ... astonished at the facts he'd revealed to her. Some of them had been memories he hadn't shared with anyone.

They'd done that tonight too and now they sat in companionable silence. Now, as he sat watching her, he began to review the times they'd interacted in the past. Barring the Psi 2000, incident, and perhaps one other time, which he refused to bring fully into focus within his memory, she had never acted with anything other than complete professionalism, but he had always been aware of her feelings.

He'd never really delved into why he was uncomfortable around her, he simply was. He hadn't ever pondered overly long on why, of all of those who professed to love him, she was the one female he remained ... wary of, long after the fact of her 'confession'. To all appearances, since she had returned to the Enterprise as a doctor, she had long since moved past her 'attachment'. Why, he wondered, hadn't he?

When she stood and stretched, moving off into the darkness, it hit him what it was about her tonight, she moved differently. After being aboard a starship for any length of time, one began moving differently than those who were planet bound. As he watched the darkness surround her, he realized they'd been here just long enough for their movements to begin reverting. 'Getting their land legs', was what it was called.

* * *

Making her way carefully, Christine moved off into the darkness. The moon light was enough to see by, barely, but only if she were careful. The dark shadows hid pitfalls that could easily trip her. When she was sure she was sufficiently distant from the fire to be hidden from even Spock's eyes, she stopped and found a fallen log to sit on.

What was with him tonight? She was sure he hadn't realized she'd noticed his observation, but she had and it unnerved her. If there had been sufficient light where she was now she would have checked her appearance. Unfortunately that was not an option. But, while she was sure she looked the worse for being stranded without having packed for an extended stay, she didn't know of anything about her that would evoke such a response.

She had been very careful not to let any of her abiding love for him show in any way, not since having returned to the Enterprise, so she knew that was not the problem. In fact she was sure it seemed as though she didn't have any feelings toward him one way or the other. That was probably the only reason he'd suddenly opened up to her this trip.

She shook her head. She didn't think she'd ever understand that man. She'd long ago accepted the fact that there would never be anything romantic between them, but this trip was affording her the opportunity to discover that perhaps there might actually be a chance for friendship. It was a turn in fate she intended to enjoy. Rising she returned to the fireside, discovering that Spock had already retired for the night.

She curled up for the night, and thanked the stars for the happenstance that had left them stranded here alone. It had given both of them a chance to move past her love and into camaraderie.

When they'd first discovered they'd been left here, she hadn't been happy about it. She had to admit that years ago, during their first five year mission, she would have been delighted at the chance. Now however, she had only feared it would reopen old wounds and allow Spock to realize she still loved him.

* * *

"Spock to Enterprise."

Christine moved around the base camp, only half listening to Spock's incipient communication with the Enterprise. What she wanted most right now was to wash off the collected filth of their underground explorations and to soak her tired, aching feet. They had finished the primary survey analysis and now they needed the full team to beam down and complete the secondary stage. She did not hear the Enterprise's response, because she was already beyond her hearing range.

They had just now finished the surveys of the strange caverns they had been found on the day of their arrival. They were a fascinating series of crystalline caves, beautiful to look at and containing numerous undiscovered life-forms. As such, they had occupied a large portion of their time dirt-side.

The only drawback to them was the fact that the odd combination of metal and crystal prevented outside communication after having journeyed more than 200 yards past the entrance.

She knew it was that very property that intrigued Spock so much about them. They'd been on this world for seven days, four of which had been spent inside the caves. Their last communication with the Enterprise had been three days ago, to tell them they would be unable to communicate with them for six days.

Captain Kirk had vetoed that idea quickly and had instead given them only three days for their underground research. She was as disappointed with that ruling as was Spock, but they'd both bowed to the inevitable and had come back long before they were able to finish cataloging the indigenous life forms they had found within the cave.

Along side the new animal life forms, they had found plants of a kind that didn't even come close to matching any that had been previously found. That alone was enough to incite the researcher in her. She couldn't even begin to imagine the medicinal benefits of even one of the plants they'd found so far and they'd found dozens. Plants and their healing properties was one of her passions, passed on to her by her great grandmother, who'd been an herbal healer.

Even with this treasure trove of scientific discovery, she would be glad to transport back to the comfort of the Enterprise. The climate might be very temperate here, but she missed the relative comfort of her bunk. The ground was harder than it used to be. She didn't remember it being this hard when she had gone camping as a child.

The first day they'd been here, Spock had deemed it more logical to stay planet-side rather than beam up every night and then back down every morning. She didn't agree, but that was neither here nor there. Since he was in charge of this mission, his word was law.

Christine had almost made it back to her tent, when something odd caught her eye. Now what is that? she thought as she moved toward the new pile of equipment. On the top of the pile was a datapadd. She picked it up and activated the message contained therein.

"Stardate... Commander Spock ..."

* * *

Two days before their scheduled communication, the Enterprise had received a priority one distress call. Without the ability to contact them or simply beam them up they'd been forced to leave them behind, while they went to the rescue of the endangered ship.

The pile of equipment she'd found had been the extra supplies the captain had sent down before they'd left orbit. It had contained everything they would need for their suddenly extended stay. Spock had informed her they would be here a minimum of eight nights, as it would take the Enterprise three point four three days just to rendezvous with the other ship. They'd both agreed that they should remain in the immediate vicinity of the beam down coordinates in case of emergency. Neither wanted to take the chance of injury finding them too far from the beam down point.

That had been 6 days ago and, now, lying here on the edge of sleep, she couldn't help but think that in all her past scenarios she'd never imagined the easy comfort that was developing between them. As sleep stole over her, a soft, satisfied sigh escaped and smile formed on her lips.

* * *

Christine woke to, too bright sunlight and a chorus of this worlds birds. Rising slowly, stretching carefully as she did so, she was never more grateful that the Enterprise would be returning soon. She was getting too old for this she thought to herself, and she eagerly awaited the call they would receive as soon as they entered hailing range. That would signal that their wait was down to only two measly hours. She swore to herself that the next time she was assigned to an extended planet survey, she'd make sure she included a cot or at least better padding!

She moved toward the fire, happy that Spock had, as usual, already risen and stoked it up. As nice as it was here, the morning's were quite chilly. She couldn't understand why, since he had to be more susceptible to the morning air than she was, he chose to bathe first thing in the morning. However, he did so every morning. She allowed herself only a moment or two of luxury, then set about making something edible from a combination of field rations and the local vegetation they'd previously gathered.

By the time Spock returned, the air was beginning to warm and breakfast and coffee were cooking. With a mutual nod, Spock took over the chore, while she gathered what she needed and headed off to take care of her own morning ablutions.

* * *

Spock caught himself turning to watch Christine a number of times during breakfast. Of course, as soon as he did so, he stopped. There was no cover of darkness to be covert behind. Resolutely staring either at his plate or at the fire, he finally set himself to discovering why, now of all times, this odd behavior stemmed from.

Logic dictated that as soon as he did so, he would be able to control the impulses. It did not take him long to come to the only 'logical' conclusion and he found that instead of helping him, it only made matters worse. He resisted yet another glance by rising and cleaning off his plate in the tub of wash water that had already been prepared.

However, that simply task did nothing to take his thoughts from their stubborn path. Logically he had a decision to make, of course not knowing what her feelings about him were, it made it difficult. It could be that things were exactly what they seemed. If they were, his decision was easy. He would simply maintain the status quo.

If they were not, his choices were those before him now. Did he maintain his distance, as always, or did he 'open up' to her? Of course if he did the latter, he risked putting her in the same position he had been placed in so many years ago. Did he have the right to do that to her? He supposed, it would be better if he simply kept his newfound discovery to himself.

As Spock finished putting up the remains of breakfast and she was double checking that the fire was completely out, she noticed Spock look over at her several times. It was still a mystery to her and she came to a sudden decision. She marched over to where Spock was bending over their supply packs and dropped down, sitting cross legged no more than a foot from him.

"Okay, Spock, what's wrong?"

Spock glanced up, clearly startled by her abrupt question. "I do not understand--"

"Bull!" she said frankly. "You've been observing me off and on for the last three days. I want to know why." As if realizing just how harsh she sounded, she softened her tone and continued. "I ... need to understand what's going on."

Spock stared her a moment, obviously debating exactly what he was going to say. Christine waited patiently, all the while wondering if he was trying to come up with some plausible reason that might 'head her off'. Little did she realize the true path his thoughts were taking.

The length of silence grew until she began to wonder if he was going to answer her at all, when suddenly he drew a quick breath and asked as rushed as she'd ever heard him. "Do you still have ... feelings for me?"

"Excuse me?!" she asked, her jaw dropping, incredulously.

Spock straightened instantly. "Never mind, Doctor," he said stiffly, turned abruptly and finished packing the dishes. He chastised himself silently. That wasn't exactly the best way to begin the conversation.

Of course, he was not exactly highly experienced in these matters and if she expected that, then perhaps it was best he had 'bungled' the attempt. Christine however interrupted his musing.

She reached out and touched his arm lightly, something she'd never before dared do, in her right mind anyway. "Spock, don't go all stiff backed on me. You can't blame me for reacting with surprise. It would me help if you'd explain why you would ask such a thing."

He didn't answer her, but she noticed he did not pull away from her touch either. That was promising, she thought, then stamped down on that line of thinking. She sure as hell, didn't want to broadcast anything. "Talk to me ... please. You obviously had a reason for wanting to know."

He looked back to her finally. "And you will not answer me until I tell you me reasons for wanting to know," he asked quietly.

It was actually more a statement than a question, but Christine answered anyway as her arm dropped away. "I would hope you would understand why." Suddenly she felt like a teenager in a childish game of you tell me your secret first.

"Spock, I ... "

"Christine ... "

The both trailed off and an awkward moment passed before Christine once again, began. After all, he'd stretched his Vulcan codes pretty far already, just by asking her such a private question.

"Yes, Spock, I still have ... feelings for you," she said, rushing to complete the thought. "But I don't want that to--" She lost her train of thought to surprise as he reached out and very lightly caressed her cheek.

"I'm ... glad," he said so quietly she almost didn't hear him.

"Oh, my!" she responded breathlessly. That, she had not expected. "Are you telling me that..." she trailed off. That was a dumb thing to ask, she thought. Trying to make him say it out loud, would not be the brightest thing she'd ever done. She watched as an amused expression showed in his eyes and his half turned up lips.

"I believe the phrase you used earlier was, 'talk to me ... please'."

She grinned in spite of herself. How like him to turn her own words back on her. "I just don't want to misunderstand this." She reached up, subconsciously mirroring his earlier caress, almost afraid she was imagining this.

"Perhaps I can clear up the 'message' in such a way that you could not possibly misinterpret," he said softly. Spock leaned forward, pulling her toward him at the same time. He leaned down and gently kissed her lips.

Christine's ability to breathe vanished along with her ability to stand. She melted into his kiss.

As he felt her body relax against his, he deepened the kiss, flicking his tongue against her lips. Her mouth parted, eagerly accepting his probing tongue. Her hands palmed their way up his chest to his neck. Then she did something else she had always wanted to do, she lightly traced the online of both his ears. She was surprised at his reactive moan of pleasure. It sent an incredible jolt of pleasure straight to her belly and a rush of heat to her center. She moaned incoherently against his lips, sure that if he let go now, she'd fall. Her head swam and her knees felt like they were made of jelly.

Both pulled back at the same time. He gazed directly into her eyes, wanting more than anything he could ever remember wanting, to see the look shining from her expressive blue eyes, knowing he was the cause of it. What he saw staggered him and for a moment he could not breathe. He felt like he could drown in their clear emotion filled depths.

Taking a deep ragged breath, he tried to speak normally. "Clear enough?" he asked.

Christine was glad of the catch in his voice, it showed beyond all shadow of a doubt that he had been as affected by the kiss as she had. "Yes, crystal."

One corner of his mouth twitched up in response to her emphatic answer. He stepped back, allowing his hands to drop to his sides and was surprised to discover that his legs were a little shaky.

"Now that we have that cleared up, perhaps we should begin today's analysis of the indigenous life-forms," he said, walking off, to all appearances, as if nothing untoward had happened.

"Yes, sir," Christine answered aloud. Yeah, right! she thought, very privately.

* * *

Christine was buzzing. She had to keep reminding herself to remove the silly grin, she kept catching herself wearing. Spock was surprising her almost constantly. Whenever she'd imagined a life with him, her mental pictures hadn't really included much touching, well, barring her more exotic fantasies that is.

Today, it seemed that every time she turned around, he was holding out a hand to help her over a fallen log or large rock, or guiding her over rough terrain with a light touch on her elbow. It was quite sweet actually and she reveled in it. While the day had been filled with scientific discovery and the Latin naming of the flora and fauna that they were cataloguing, the touches and the occasional lingering looks that accompanied it were sweeter than any 'sweet nothings' that had ever been whispered in her ear.

They were currently in the wooded area west of their base camp. So far today, they'd located and identified 26 previously unknown plant types, and 12 animals, well, 17 if they included the insects, fully three quarters of the plants were edible to both humans and Vulcans, though some of those had an extremely bitter taste. One of the plants they'd found surpassed the hottest Jalapeno she'd ever tasted. After the first taste, she'd steered clear of that one.

Spock on the other hand seemed to like it. He called it 'tangy'. When he'd said that, she'd just shaken her head and continued eating the apple-like fruit she'd chosen. They'd stopped the days 'hunting', to eat lunch by a crystal clear lake they'd found. Now that she was finished, she stared out over the water longingly. It had been ages since she been swimming.

The first thing upon their arrival at this spot Spock had reactivated his tricorder and scanned the water. As he had closed it up and sat down to eat he'd informed her there didn't seem to be any large or predatory water dwellers. Now she stared at it, wondering whether it would be warm enough to enjoy.

Coming to a sudden decision, she looked over at Spock. He was busy reading data stored in his tricorder. She shrugged and headed for the water's edge.

"Doctor?"

Christine turned. "Spock, last I checked we were still on lunch break. I'm only 'Doctor' when I'm on duty." She smiled and waited, her look almost daring him to call her Christine.

"Where are you headed, Christine?"

"To test the water."

"I already scanned the water."

"No, I mean whether it's warm enough."

"According the readings, at the time of the scan it was 21.3 degrees Centigrade."

"Great, that's just about perfect. A little cool perhaps, but just what the doctor ordered." She grinned and resumed her walk. She heard Spock rising and moving to catch up with her. "What are you intending?"

"To go swimming."

"Swimming apparel is not standardly included in survey team's packs."

"I know."

"Then what are you ... oh." Spock stopped moving. "I believe I will go back and clear up our lunch site," he said, heading back.

Christine chuckled to herself. Predictable, she thought, very predictable. "That's quite all right Spock. I imagine coming from a desert planet, you're not overly fond of all that water."

He stopped and turned back to face her. "It's not a matter of the water, Christine."

"Oh," she asked, the picture of innocence. "Then what is it?"

He cocked an eyebrow and just looked at her. "I would hope that--"

Christine couldn't hold the expression any longer. "I'm sorry Spock, I couldn't resist."

He sighed disapprovingly. "Perhaps next time ... you should try harder."

Struggling to keep her grin from growing, she snapped to attention and responded with a crisp, "yes, sir". Unfortunately, she could tell be his expression she hadn't carried it off.

"I believe you should also resist spending so much time with Dr. McCoy," Spock said drily.

"That would be difficult," she answered as she turned back toward lake. "Since he's my direct superior."

Spock would have acknowledged that unfortunately truth, but he realized she was undressing as she made her way to the water's edge. Instead of responding to her last quip, he turned abruptly and headed back to their 'picnic' site.

* * *

Spock policed the area, firmly keeping his back to the shoreline. Although, several times, her sudden splashing almost made him turn around. Having finished his task, Spock was, for one of the few times in his life, at a loss. He was sorely tempted to join Christine in the water.

Her earlier teasing suggested that she would not mind his presence, but he had learned over the years that humans often teased about that which they least wanted to happen. Consequently he could surmise that she would be embarrassed were he to join her. Audibly sighing, he reached for his tricorder and continued his interpretation of the data they'd gathered so far.

After several false starts and rereading the same data without absorbing any of its significance, he realized that 'knowing' she was mere yards behind him, in the water, nude, was curiously distracting. Each time her body impacted the water, he was forcefully reminded that she had to have been at least partially out of the water first.

His innate curiosity rose and it became a struggle to keep his eyes on the data stream. He could picture her rounded, feminine form slicing through the water with clean efficiency, her bared posterior rising out of the water with each powerful stroke as she freestyled across the lake.

He could see her flip casually onto her back... This was not productive! Standing suddenly, Spock cut off the flow of pictures within his mind. He chose a new seat, purposely closed down his awareness of his surroundings and 'lost' himself to his studies.

He was succeeding until a short while later an aborted scream jerked him upright. He whirled around and ran for the lake, all before he'd realized he had dropped the tricorder. Stopping at the water's edge he quickly scanned the surface. He could see no sign of her. He felt a moments fear as he realized she could be just about anywhere.

While he was an adequate swimmer, having learned at Starfleet Academy, it was not something at which he was overly proficient. Then a weak, "Spock!" snapped his head to the right. He scrambled quickly up the rocks, and there below him, Christine lay, half in and half out of the water.

He was by her side instantly. Before he dared move her, he laid a hand on her shoulder, "Where are you injured?"

"It's my ankle," she said faintly. "I think something bit me."

Having been relieved of his concern of broken bones, he scooped her up into his arms and carried her back to the lunch site, and their equipment.

Christine rested her head against his chest. She was so tired. She closed her eyes and tried to stop the world from spinning. She struggled to pull in air, taking short gasping breaths. "Can't ... breathe," she said as he set her beside their packs.

As he opened the packs to find her medical kit, Spock visually inspected the wound. It was raw, red and swelling rapidly. He could see three large, evenly spaced puncture wounds centered along the worst of the angry welt and a long ragged tear toward the edge, exposing the large bone. Blood still oozed from the mangled flesh.

"Ox...y...gen."

Spock, interpreting her word as an order for him to apply oxygen, pulled it out of her now open med kit. Applying it quickly he returned to the wound site. He closed his hand around her leg just above the bite, squeezing tightly enough to cut off further blood supply.

Christine moaned in protest.

With his free hand, he activated the medscanner. Moments later, his concern of an unknown poison abolished, he released his near death grip on her leg.

Christine's eyes closed as her breathing became more and more erratic.

Spock moved urgently, passing the scanner over her limp form. "Christine!"

No answer.

Spock reached up and slapped her cheek lightly. "Doctor, wake up."

Christine's eyes fluttered half open and she tried to focus on the face above her.

"Doctor, your body is going into shock."

"Tell me ... scan ... say."

Spock frowned a moment, translating her broken words in his mind. Then as quickly and as shortly as he could he informed her what the scan had revealed. "Histamine count up, IgE count up, blood pressure 95 over 50 and dropping."

"Al.er...gic ... ep...in...rin."

Spock held back his frustrated sigh and wished McCoy were present. "Epinephrine?" he guessed.

Christine nodded weakly.

"How much," he asked turning to retrieve a hypo. When he turned back her eyes were again closed. He again slapped her cheek. "Doctor! How much epinephrine?"

"Three ... " Christine closed her eyes in frustration, each time she tried to speak, her throat closed itself off. So dizzy, she thought. Can't concentrate.

Hoping she meant 3 cc's, Spock programmed the hypo.

"Chlorphen ... "

"What? Chlorphen?" Spock demanded as he administered the epinephrine, leaning closely to catch her nearly inaudible words.

"Add ... amine."

He'd never heard of that. "Chlorphenaddamine?"

Christine groaned and tears slipped from beneath her eyelids. "No."

As he tried to decipher what she'd meant, he noted her breathing was beginning to ease and her elevated heart rate was slowing. Going through a mental list of all the drugs he knew that began correctly ... "Chlorphenamine!"

Relief flooded Christine and she nodded slowly. "Fift ... " she said, just before the world went dark.

Fift?? Spock thought, fifteen or fifty? Playing it safe he tried 15 first. Taking the time to pull out a thermal blanket he covered her with it, then sat back, closely monitoring her bioreadings. When he began to see a slow but consistent improvement he turned his attention back to her ankle. He almost winced.

It was now swollen to roughly three times its normal size and was bruising a multitude of colors. Four inches above it was a second, fainter bruise encircling her shin. He hadn't realized at the time that he'd applied enough pressure to damage her skin. He frowned thoughtfully as he first sterilized the area then gently closed the jagged edges with his finger tips and ran the portable dermal regenerator over it.

* * *

Kirk sat in his command chair only barely restraining himself from muttering out loud. The passengers they now carried from the defunct ship were beginning to wear on his nerves. They'd only been aboard for 4 days and already there had been 6 arguments between them and his crew.

He'd suspected from the moment he'd met them, nearly two parsecs away from where their distress call had claimed they were, that they'd be trouble and he'd been right. They hadn't been on board two hours when one of them had done something to the communication system. On the bright side, the two parsecs had cut almost a full day off their travel time.

Uhura was still trying to figure out how to repair the mess. As near as she'd been able to trace so far, there wasn't anything actually wrong with it. It just wouldn't work. Since Uhura was the best at what she did, and knew her system better than the back of her hand, Kirk could not help but be worried sick over what might be causing the fault.

McCoy leaned closer to Jim. "She'll figure it out."

"I know, Bones. It's just that I keep having visions of viruses and ship wide shutdowns dancing in my head."

McCoy grinned. "I think it would be more pleasant to have sugar plums and fairies."

Kirk scowled at him. "Not funny, Bones. This is serious. What if something has gone wrong on the planet?"

"Look, Jim, Spock's immanently capable of taking care of himself and anyone else and so is Christine. Add to that the fact that she's a capable doctor. What can happen?" McCoy answered, then chortled. "And it was funny."

"You know better than to ask such a question, Bones!" Kirk jumped up. "Sulu, you have the conn." Heading for the lift, he stopped by communications. "Lieutenant, we'll be in hailing range in just over four hours. I want the comsystem up and running by then." He heard her frustrated sigh come from beneath her console.

"Aye, sir." He turned abruptly and exited the Bridge.

* * *

Spock sat by Christine's side until her labored breathing eased into that normal for sleep. Double checking her life signs first, he rose and repacked. Adjusting them carefully, he jury rigged a separate tie strap so he could carry both.

After several tries and modifications, he had them both secured to his back and he returned to Christine's side. He knelt down and being as considerate of her injury as he could, lifted her into his arms.

Christine sleepily wound her arms around his neck and nestled her head against his chest, never completely waking up. It did not take long, however, for the motion that caused her foot to bob to jolt her awake.

"What? Where?"

"We need to return to the base camp," Spock answered quietly.

Christine could feel his answer rumbled from his chest and in spite of the lingering pain in her ankle, she smiled. It felt good to be in his arms. Then her mind caught up with her heart and she realized that not only was he carrying her, he had to be carrying both packs as well.

"Put me down Spock. I can walk." She could see a hint of amusement dance in his eyes at her request.

"No, Christine, you can't. I did what I could for your ankle, but I am not a doctor. It still needs work."

"But ... "

"No, buts. You are laboring under the misapprehension that I am fatigued. I am not."

Christine sighed. No, you're the one laboring, she thought, but gave in to the inevitable. She didn't really want to walk anyway.

* * *

"Mr. Scott! You cannot be telling me that the warp engines just quit!"

"Och, no, sir."

"Good. So we can get back into warp now?"

"No, sir."

Kirk slumped over the table in his cabin, wanting more than anything to simply bang his head on the hard surface. He refrained however, and instead, tried again. "Why not?"

"One of the dilithium crystals cracked. It'll take me about 4 hours to replace, realign and then restart the engines."

"Mr. Scott!!" Kirk began impatiently.

"I know, I'll try to do it more quickly. Scott out."

* * *

Christine sat, silently watching Spock move effortlessly around the camp. She'd done what she could to finish up the repairs to her ankle with the field equipment they had with them, but she really couldn't do much more than Spock had done. Despite his protests to the contrary, he'd done a credible job of patching her up. There was nothing left over that nature couldn't take care of on its own.

Spock could not help but notice Christine watching him. The time wore on and he neared completing the preparations for beginning dinner and he was beginning to feel he was on the menu. He forced himself to continue his efforts, but his thoughts went into what he could only describe as a feedback loop.

He was grateful the tasks he was performing were simple ones because he could not keep his mind focused on them. It was beyond illogical. It was irrational, but he could swear he could feel her eyes touching him. It was the oddest sensation, one that he could not accurately describe, except to say it was not, entirely, unpleasant.

As her eyes followed Spock's sleek form, she realized she'd never before felt such freedom as she felt right now and she took full advantage of it. She allowed herself to fully enjoy his economic yet graceful moves as he lit the fire, his back to her. She watched his hands as he prepared the vegetables. And as he bent to pop them into the vegetable stew he was making, she admired his tight, rounded backside; the backside that she so wanted to reach out and ... Oh my! she thought and stopped that thought, taking a deep ragged breath. All that would lead to was frustration.

"Are you well, Christine?" Spock asked turning to look closely at her.

"Oh, yes," she answered quickly. "The ankle doesn't hurt at all."

He stepped closer. "No, you're not. You're flushed," he said, reaching for the medscanner. "It's quite possible you've developed a fever."

Oh, I've got a fever alright, she thought. "No, Spock, I don't have a fever."

"You're right," he said. "So why are you flushed?"

She debated with herself a moment before answering him, deciding at the last minute to give honesty a try. "I'm ... aroused."

Spock's eyebrow shot up. "By what?" Upon noticing her expression he continued. "I meant, specifically."

As soon as he said it, he looked like he wanted to retract the question, so Christine gave him an out. "Are you sure you want to know?"

For a moment it looked like he was going to take her up on the 'out', but instead he straightened slightly and his eyebrow lifted, subtle amusement showing in his eyes. "I would not have asked, if I did not."

The thought of actually telling Spock what she'd been thinking, turned up the heat another notch. She leaned forward, delight dancing in her eyes, never once removing her gaze from Spock's. She intended to watch his reaction very closely, as it would determine what she said after her first revelation. "As you were bending over the fire," she paused and licked her lips with the tip of her tongue. "I had the most incredible urge to reach out and run my hand over your backside."

She watched as Spock's eyes widened slightly, but he did not pull away from her. In fact she could swear his breathing rate increased. Emboldened by what she could only interpret as encouragement from him, she continued whispering. "If I did that, do you know what I would do then?"

"No," Spock answered a trifle roughly. "I do not believe I do."

She leaner closer to him, lowering her voice again. "I would trail my fingers around your legs. I would work my way up ... "

Spock stopped her flow of whispered, seductive words with two fingers on her mouth. "I think ... I get the idea," he said with an audible swallow and a near smile. "I've heard it said that actions, speak louder than words."

"I've heard that too," she answered, then caught the tips of his fingers in her mouth and sucked lightly on them. Spock's sharp inhale, made her bold and she reached up and traced his lips with her finger.

He in turn caught hers, repeating her actions. He reached up pulling her hand down, then lightly caressing the back of her hand with only two fingers.

Tiny bolts of electric heat shot through her hand and up her arm, radiating from where he touched. She gasped in amazement. It was so little but so much! When he brought his fingers around to match the tips of hers, she began mirroring his actions, much as he'd mirrored her earlier ones.

Long intense moments past as each explored the other. Never once did either lose eye contact with the other. Each stared deeply into the others eyes, both mesmerized by what they saw and what they felt.

Christine felt like she was beset by tiny little fires throughout her body. Her nerve ending tingled and every touch ignited a new mini fire.

Spock struggled to regulate his breathing. Christine's feather light touches evoked a longing deep in his loins, one that made his body tremble and his heart pound. A new heat radiated off of him on waves. Raw desire struggled against the bonds with which he barely held it in check.

He moaned aloud. This had started as a harmless flirtation and was rapidly flinging itself way beyond his control. Oddly he could find no logical reason to stop it, rather he felt this driving need to discover how hot the heat within could get, before he could no longer hold it in check. He leaned down and pressed his lips to Christine's, his hot tongue demanding entrance to the cool, refreshing confines of her mouth.

She parted her lips eagerly, drawing him in, caressing her tongue against his in a slow dancing foreshadow of sex. Each of their tongues taking turns darting in and out, exploring the moist depths of the other.

Without quite realizing how they'd gotten there, they found themselves lying side by side, their clothing no longer barring their seeking mouths and hands and both searched the forbidden with a heretofore unknown abandon.

Spock tasted the darkened flesh of her nipples, suckling one then the other. Christine moaned as his tongue teased each nipple. She kept her own hands in motion seeking that which she yearned to hold. As her hands found their target a sharp gasp brought Spock's mouth off her breast.

He returned to her mouth pulling her beneath him.

* * *

"Scan the planet for the life signs, starting at the beam down coordinates," Kirk ordered as soon as they were within short range scanners.

"Aye, sir," Ensign Reiling said, tapping his control panels and initiating the scan. "They are within 50 yards of the beam down point. Sir! Both life signs are highly elevated!"

"Elevated? How?" Kirk asked practically jumping from his chair. "And you asked what could go wrong," he snapped at Bones.

"All readings are at least 75 percent above normal."

"How long until transporter range?"

"Fifteen minutes, Sair," Chekov answered.

"Contact Scotty, have him meet us in transporter room two, and then signal us the moment we are within range," Kirk ordered, already heading for the lift. "Bones, you're with me."

* * *

Kirk and McCoy stood impatiently waiting side by side, it seemed an eternity since they'd arrived in the transporter room and still the Bridge had not signaled. He took two steps toward the in ship com panel, when it beeped. He whirled back around. "Mr. Scott."

"Locked on."

"Energize."

"Energizing."

The atmosphere in the transporter room was heavy with anticipation. What could possibly have gone wrong? McCoy stood ready to bound onto the transport pad, medical kit in hand. Captain Kirk kept seeing the worst case scenarios running through his mind as the transport beam began to shimmer.

"There's only one confinement beam," Kirk said. "Are you sure ... "

"I've got both of them," Scotty said indignantly.

The two officers from the survey team solidified on the pad. McCoy took an automatic step forward before the scene playing out in front of them registered. He froze, along with everyone else in the room. For one long drawn out moment of incredulity no one could move, then the couple on the pad broke apart, rolling away from each other and up to their feet.

The three men standing in horrified shock, abruptly turned away, affording the two nude people the illusion of privacy. A heavy knowing silence reigned for eternal seconds before Kirk could find any voice at all. "Mr. Scott," he ordered hoarsely. "Beam them to private quarters."

"Aye, sir," Scotty muttered, his Scottish brogue thick. "Which one?"

McCoy began chuckling hysterically. Try as he might he couldn't stop.

"I don't care!" Kirk snapped, glaring at McCoy. "Just do it!"

"Aye, Sir." Scotty answered and turned back toward the console. Keeping eyes down, he stared resolutely at his console. There was nothing in the room except him at that piece of equipment. "Ready?" he asked, almost glancing up at the occupants of the pad out of sheer habit.

When he heard a fiercely whispered, "Energize," he activated the controls. This time he only heard the transport take effect. As the sound died away, the tension in the room dissolved and the three men breathed a sigh of relief. None of them moved.

* * *

Christine slumped to the deck, curled her knees to her chest and buried her head in hands. She wanted to block out the world and right now, that included Spock, but even her hands were red, a mute testimony to the all encompassing embarrassment she had just suffered.

Spock stood unmoving for several moments, before he could manage even one coherent, logical thought. Then, it was only that they should get dressed. He headed for his sleeping alcove, and pulled out his robes, as well as a secondary one for Christine. For now, that would be adequate. "Christine," Spock said softly, going to the partition between rooms. "I do not have anything close to your size, but this will work for now."

Her head came up at the sound of his voice in the all too quiet room. She took a deep breath and tried to pull herself together, as he had obviously done. "How can you be so ... calm about this?" she asked in a credibly even voice.

"Habit, Christine." Spock answered. "It would not help our current ... situation, if I were not calm."

Christine laughed a short humorless laugh. "It'd help me. It would give me something besides myself to think about," she said and bowed her head back to her knees.

Spock studied her back for a moment before coming to a decision. He crossed the room. Kneeling down in front of Christine, he reached out his hand and gently lifted her chin. "Since you say it would help you, I will admit that I too, am ... embarrassed by what just happened." His eyebrow and one corner of his mouth twitched up as he acknowledge the limited humor that could be found in this situation; if one looked long enough. "If I were to be completely honest, I would even admit that mortification, might be a better description of the ... emotion I am experiencing."

Christine smiled, a touch sadly. "Thank you, Spock."

"Why? I merely stated the truth."

"Yes, Spock," she responded, cupping the hand that still supported her chin. "And sometimes the truth is a most ... difficult thing to admit."

Spock inclined his head, acknowledging the truth of her statement. He held out the robe for her. "Here, put this on."

She reached out and took the Vulcan robes from him. She smiled, as she pulled them on. She stood, favoring her injured leg and ran a hand over the material covering her arm. "Very soft. I always did wonder what your robes felt like. They always looked so ... rich."

"You are a sensualist."

She wasn't sure how to take that at first, until she looked into his eyes and saw nothing except amused acceptance. "You bet," she said softly.

"If you will give me the access code to your quarters, I can get you something that fits better."

"Thank you," she said giving him the five digit access code.

Spock headed for the door, then turned just before reaching it. "A uniform?"

"No, something that covers all of me, I have a jumpsuit in my closet. That's what I want."

Spock nodded, fully understanding her desire.

Sickbay! Leonard! "Oh, God!" she said, groaning softly. "How can I face Leonard? What will he say?"

Well aware of McCoy's frequently pointed barbs, Spock thought carefully before answering. "I believe, that in this one instance, we can count on Dr. McCoy's silence."

Christine looked at him skeptically. "You really think so?"

"Yes, I do. I do not believe, even he, would wish to perpetuate the ... awkwardness of this situation."

Christine smiled brilliantly at him. "You know, I think you're right." Then she frowned. She just hoped Scotty would keep his mouth shut too. If even one person said one thing, this would be all over the ship in a matter of hours.

Spock strode back to her. "You are worrying again."

She looked down at her hands. "Yes, I'm just worried about what will happen if it gets out. I mean, I'm used to being teased about ... about you, but ... "

"If this gets out, and I'm not saying it will, I trust the discretion of the three men who ... saw us, but if it were to 'get out', it would not change anything and we would deal with what comes."

She liked the sound of that 'we' and she smiled up at him.

He lightly caressed her cheek then disappeared through the door. She let out a happy sigh as the door slid closed behind him and limped to the closest chair. Finally, with some bumps and bruises along the way, she was right where she had wanted to be for a very long time.

The End