DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. This story is the creation and property of Kiristeen ke Alaya. Copyright (c) 2001 by Kiristeen ke Alaya. Rated NC17. Warning: The title says it all. If you want a fairy tale ending of "And they lived happily ever after", this won't be your cuppa tea. Explicit m/f sex, borders on non-cons. Not quite rape, but not quite freely consenting either.

When Having is Not So Pleasing a Thing as Wanting

Kiristeen ke Alaya

Prologue

Christine Chapel, Personal Log, June 15th

"In some ways it's been a very long 6 months since we, those of us from the Enterprise, were all reassigned. In other ways the time has flown by. I haven't really thought about it much, not until this morning. I've been far too busy, what with deciding to finish my medical training. Even allowing for the fact that during my tenure on the Enterprise, I never stopped learning. (Leonard McCoy is an amazingly patient teacher.) The condensed course I opted for is grueling. I never seem to have enough time to worry about missing my friends or about what 'could have been'.

"I suppose I should just get right to the point of this. My schooling certainly isn't the issue and definitely isn't the reason I decided to record my thoughts after such a long interval. At the moment that doesn't even come into play. Starfleet 'co-opted' me and I've been given a 6 month hiatus to fulfill their ... request.

"What is at issue is that I ran into one of the old crew; specifically Commander Spock. It was good to see him again and I'm very glad to say it was just that. Since I left I've done more than get my career back on track. I've ... moved on. Until today, however, I was never really sure whether I was fooling myself or whether I was truly over him. Oh, yes, I still love him, but it's different now. I'm not in love with him.

"Now that I know that's out of the way, I can safely say that I believe I will enjoy working on this project with him. When I asked him about it, he told me it would be his last assignment for Starfleet. Apparently they talked him into completing thins task before he officially retired. As always, it's difficult to tell what he really thinks of all this, but I'm sure that..."

Her voice trailed off and she turned her head at a quiet sound from the other room. "End personal log," she said as she rose and crossed to the closed door.

She stepped through and stood gazing down at the sleeping figure. Eventually one lazy eye opened.

"Good afternoon, sleepy head."

He groaned softly and rolled onto his back, throwing his arm up over his eyes. "Night shift is gonna kill me one of these days."

"No, it won't," she responded, laughing lightly. "You'll survive it."

"I'm not so sure. I hardly ever see you anymore."

"Well, I'm here now," she offered, a throaty purr coating her voice. She reached for him, trailing her hand slowly down his back to cup his backside. "I know a way to wake you up." Her other hand snuck down and boldly slipped between his legs as she spoke.

"Mmmm. I'm up; believe me."

She chuckled, enjoying the 'morning' play. "I can tell." Glancing down with an evil glint in her eye, her smile widened. "But since you say the night shift is 'going to kill you', I'm not sure you're up, enough."

Both eyes popped open. "Oh, really?" he drawled, then pounced and Christine found herself flat on her back, arms pinned above her head, before she was fully aware he'd even moved. "Was that a challenge I just heard?" he taunted lightly as his head dipped down and he teased her throat with lips and tongue.

"Mmmmm ... Could be."

"What was that?" he asked, one hand dropping down to fondle a breast.

"Yes," she gasped. "It was."

He grinned, eyes going dark with mischief. "In that case," he said, "I'll just have to meet that challenge."

"I was hoping you'd say that," she whispered as his mouth and hands began their slow, pleasing torment.

Part One

"Dr. Chapel?"

"Oh, hello, Mr. Spock. I was just running the fourth control simulation."

"Have you noted any abnormalities in how the programs function?"

"No, they've been running perfectly so far. I don't anticipate we'll--"

Both turned to face the unexpectedly beeping computer.

After shutting off the alarm, Christine turned her attention to the readout. She frowned. "That's not right," she said.

"This is a reading on control #4, per our discussion?"

"Yes."

"Then you are quite correct, either the program has glitched or the samples have been contaminated."

Christine chuckled. "I'll check the samples."

With a cocked eyebrow, Spock turned his own attention to running a program diagnostic and cross checking the results of the first three samples with that of the fourth. Unless the last sample had been contaminated there should have been no difference in the results.

* * *

"Christine?"

Christine looked up from her fourth DNA analysis. She'd gotten the same results each time. No contamination. "Yes?"

"You have a personal call."

She frowned. "I don't really have time to take it right now, Jenna. Please let them know I'll get back to them as soon as possible. Just make sure you find out who it is," she said with a grin, turning back to her analysis.

"I already know that."

"Oh?"

"Yes, it's Matthew."

"Oh," Christine murmured, fighting a blush. "Tell him I'll call him when I get finished here."

"Dr. Chapel, you have completed three separate tests on the samples. Logic dictates that the error is in the programming."

Christine glanced at Spock, trying, mostly successfully, to hide her amused surprise. "Are you suggesting I take off early?"

Spock drew himself up. "Indeed not, Doctor. Quite the contrary. This past week we have both spent a considerable amount of extra time here in the labs. You have, in fact, been averaging 11.56 hours a day working here. What I am suggesting is that, today, the 9.34 hours is sufficient.

"The next step in this project cannot continue until I discover the error in the programming so it is not logical for you to remain."

Christine looked from Spock back to the half finished analysis she was working on. It was very tempting to take him up on that offer. She grinned suddenly. "You're right. This doesn't have to take over."

Spock watched her stride from the room, with a lighter step than she'd displayed in the last 3 days. He returned his attention back to the program display in front of him, but could help but wonder who this 'Matthew' was and what he was to her.

He shook his head. Perhaps accepting this last assignment had not been the good idea it had appeared at the time. Obviously, what was to come was already affecting his perceptions. He fought a frown. He had been warned, before returning to the ship from Vulcan those years ago, that the unresolved nature of his encounter could disrupt his natural cycle.

Unfortunately the priest who had spoken with him, while of the opinion that his mixed heritage would also affect it to 'some' degree and had, in fact, offered various theories as to how it might, his 'explanation' had, (in effect) been a very long winded way of saying he had no idea. In other areas, however, he had been helpful. He had helped him understand that, now that he'd been through it, he could recognize the signs much earlier.

Spock sighed, trying to concentrate on the information contained on the monitor. According to his calculations he still had several months and that had figured into his acceptance of this project. However, he had not anticipated that it might begin to affect his thought processes this soon. Perhaps it was time to admit that he should hand this project over to someone else and return to Vulcan now.

Several months ago, he had made arrangements for when this came again. In some ways it had been an exercise in ... discomfort. In other ways it had been far easier than he had imagined it would be. His experience with T'Pring had left him soured on the entire process, but bowing to the logic that it needed to be done, regardless of his ... sentiments, had pushed him forward.

This time, although they had chosen not to undergo the betrothal bonding, he had someone waiting for him who had freely chosen the match. As such he need not concern himself with the outcome. However, he could not, quite, stop the ... wondering.

Doctor Chapel's return, brought him, abruptly, out of his thoughts and it was with more than a touch of surprise that he realized he had allowed his mind to wander for far too long.

His eyebrow cocked upward as he watched her silently headed straight for her stool and resumed her work. "Doctor, I was under the impression, you had decided to leave for the evening."

"Well, actually I'm planning on leaving as soon as I finish this analysis. I can't leave it half done. If I did, my mind would be on it all night," she responded, with a self depreciating laugh. "That would kind of defeat the purpose of leaving."

"Indeed it would," Spock replied and returned his attention to his own work, coming to the decision, there and then, that he would see this project through to its conclusion. There would be plenty of time and he, also, did not like ... unfinished business.

* * *

"Well, that's that," Christine announced. "Exactly the same result as all the other times."

Spock looked over at her, a hint of amusement revealed in his eyes. "Did you truly expect a different outcome?"

She sighed softly. "No, not really. I guess I just hoped it would be."

"Why?"

"Because a contaminated sample would be easier to correct than tracking down a glitch in a program that didn't appear until the fourth trial run."

"While I agree that such a circumstance would, indeed, be easier, it is illogical to wish for what cannot be."

"True," Christine replied. Then her gaze sharpened and her eyes narrowed as she wondered whether there was some hidden meaning to his oddly phrased statement. It wouldn't be the first time she knew, but her speculations were interrupted by the opening of the lab door.

They both turned toward the sound coming from the adjacent room. Usually by the time Jenna Carlyle left for the night, they were left undisturbed. Spock's eyebrow raised as a male voice called out.

"Christine?"

"In here, Matthew."

Spock turned most of his attention back to his work.

'Matthew' poked his head around the corner and upon seeing Christine, smiled broadly, strolling across to her. "Did I give you enough time?" he asked, bending his head down to lightly kiss her.

Christine returned the kiss, but she pulled back immediately and Spock noticed a faint blush rise up her face. Fascinating, he thought. He would never have suspected her to be uncomfortable with displays of affection. This wasn't exactly a 'public' setting. He nodded to the man as Christine formally introduced them and was gratified by the fact that Mr. Devalar did not extend his hand.

"I understand that you're the one who handles the programming end of this project," he said instead.

"That is correct," Spock answered neutrally. Why, he thought, did he have the strange desire to add that it wasn't all he did? He put the question to the back of his mind as he and Mr. Devalar, fell to discussing some of the more obscure ins and outs of computer programming.

The discussion evolved to include the project and their current stall with the simulation program. Devalar agreed it was quite odd that it would not have shown up on the very first trial run.

Christine chuckled finally and both men turned to catch her shaking her head, wearing an expression somewhere between fond amusement and exasperation.

Spock's eyebrow canted upward. He could find nothing amusing in the conversation that had just been taking place.

"I thought you came by to pick me up, Matthew, not talk shop," she accused, struggling to keep the grin off her face.

Matthew had the grace to look sheepish. "I'm sorry, sweetheart," he shrugged. "But, you know me and computers."

She laughed and shook her head again. "Yes," she responded drily.

Spock watched as the two of them left and found himself wondering why he ... disliked the man. He had seemed friendly, open, and quite intelligent. It wasn't logical, he concluded and pushed that to the back of his mind as well, returning his attention to the computer.

He could rewrite this program from memory; knew it backwards and forwards, yet still he could not discover what, precisely, had gone wrong. Stifling a sigh, he scrolled back to the beginning and began dissecting it once again.

* * *

Christine sat staring in slack-jawed amazement. She blinked twice and tried to respond, but couldn't. Her thoughts chased themselves in endless circles and she could seem to tie even one of them down. "Wow," she said finally.

Matthew's face clouded. "Um, Christine, I'm not sure how to take that. Is that a yes or a no?"

"What? Oh!" She smiled brilliantly, her face lighting up. "It's most definitely a yes, Matthew! Yes, I will marry you."

Matthew Devalar reached across the small table and, removing the diamond solitaire from its velvet case, he slipped it onto Christine's trembling finger. Pulling her closer to him, he reverently touched his lips to hers; a kiss of promise; of a future as yet unfolded.

* * *

Spock stared at the screen with as much amazement as he had ever felt. It was so simple. How could he have missed such a simple equational error? While searching through the programming in the fresh hours of the morning, it had been painfully obvious. He did have to admit however that it had taken him 45.32 minutes to trace the consequences of the error before it became obvious that it would have the affect it had.

It was quite fascinating, actually. One simple computational error and it rendered the data less than useless. It actually made it misleading. According to his calculations, an average of one in ten samples run through the simulations would randomly read an unacceptable level of toxicity. One in twenty would register as mutated.

He made a mental note to mention to Dr. Chapel they should consider raising the number of control runs. It was pure happenstance that the error had occurred in the first four runs. While he doubted he would have made two such errors, it was only logical to take precautions.

Within a matter of minutes he had corrected the language and moved on to begin rerunning the first four control simulations.

The com beeped quietly next to him and he flipped it, never removing his eyes from the sim. "Spock here."

"Christine, here. Are you ready for me yet?"

Spock eyebrow shot up as a flush went through him. He ignored it. "Yes, I found the programing error and have begun rerunning the trials."

"On my way. I'll be there inside 20 minutes. Christine out."

* * *

Christine strode into the lab exactly 18.46 minutes later, humming quietly to herself. He looked up as she crossed to where he was running the second trial. The smile she wore held a hint of great self-satisfaction and told of inner peace and joy. He'd seen Jim wearing that exact look too many times not to know at least part of what it meant.

"It seems as though you enjoyed your evening," Spock said, immediately aghast and disbelieving that he'd actually made the comment. If the look on her face was anything to go by, she didn't exactly believe it either.

"Well, quite honestly; yes, I did," she replied brightly, as if the question were nothing out of the ordinary. "He asked me to marry him last night."

Spock was silent a moment. "Indeed," he replied very quietly. "I believe congratulations are in order."

She smiled. "Yes," she said. "Thank you. So, how far on the retrials are you?"

* * *

The rest of the day passed quickly, without a hitch, each of them running several control trials. Both ate lunch in the lab, neither wanting to take the time out to eat elsewhere. Working in perfect since they completed 37 trials, all without a hitch.

"It seems to be working perfectly," Christine said, as the 38th finished it's run. She brought her hand up to secure the hair that had fallen loose. "Only two weeks into this and I think we'll be ready to take it into the field, by tomorrow. The only initial lab work we have left is the trial runs of affected plants."

The lab's light reflected off the petite diamond solitaire on her hand and caught Spock's attention. The size of it went well with the shape of her hand. "Indeed," he responded, "despite yesterday's setback, we are ahead of Starfleet's projected timetable by 24.67%."

Christine laughed as she cleared their work area for the next set of trials. "We make a good team," she said as she handed him a new set of plants.

They did, he thought. Much had been accomplished in a short time.

A comfortable silence followed where they each took a separate plant, beginning their own runs. Jenna Carlyle came in and out, unobtrusively making sure their needs were met. She refilled their refreshments and she was the one that brought dinner in when both simply continued working instead of taking a break.

Both scientists glanced up long enough to offer thanks, but went immediately back to work.

"Hello."

Christine jumped and Spock looked up.

"Matthew! What are you doing here?"

He laughed. "Well ... let me see. It's 11:45 at night and my fiancee isn't home yet," he responded with a grin. "I figured I would come see what had her so occupied. I have to check out the competition," he said with a wink to Christine.

She blushed furiously, and tried to usher him out of the room. "I'll see you tomorrow, Commander."

Spock nodded once and cocked an eyebrow. "I have heard that competition is what humans thrive on."

Christine froze, her jaw dropping as the situation spiraled out of her control. Had he really said that?

Matthew laughed, the sound bursting from deep within him. "You're absolutely right, Commander," he said bowing slightly in acknowledgment. "It keeps us on our toes."

"Indeed. That has been my experience with humans as well."

Christine went pale. This conversation could not be happening. What the hell, had gotten into Spock. This was so unlike him.

Matthew gazed intently at Spock a moment then broke once again into a broad smile. "I like you. If the rest of the Enterprise crew was anything like you, I can see why Christine was upset that you were all scattered at the end of the voyage."

Christine choked. "Commander Spock was, and is ... unique," she said, very grateful that she managed a calm, even tone.

"Thank you, Doctor."

"Well, with that recommendation, I'd like the chance to talk with you some time." He glanced over at Christine. "Perhaps after your field tests, you could join us for dinner."

"Circumstance ... permitting, I would be honored."

"Good," he responded lightly. "Christine? You ready to go?"

Yes! She thought fervently; more than ready. "Yes," she answered simply. "I'm starved. I could eat a ... lot," she finished lamely.

Matthew chuckled, slipped his arm around her waist and escorted her from the lab.

Spock watched as they left, his lips a thin line. The human was quite likable, he thought. So why did he find him objectionable? He would have to meditate on that disparity, he concluded as he turned to close down the equipment.

* * *

Christine stretched luxuriously, wincing only slightly at abused muscles. She smiled dreamily as the memories of last night came rushing back. Anger had its uses she thought. Laughing as she climbed out of bed, she was willing to bet that Matthew still didn't know what hit him last night, after they'd gotten back to their quarters.

Before last night, she pretty much been content to let him be the dominant partner in their lovemaking, but not last night. Last night she'd been the aggressor. Aggressor? That was putting it mildly. The man had been stripped of his clothing and flat on his back before he'd known what was what. It had been incredible, as if her anger had released some last inhibition within her and at long last she'd been able to let go.

Humming quietly to herself, she enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Matthew was not yet home from work, ('Home', that had a nice ring to it.) and she still had an hour before she needed to be in the lab.

* * *

Spock rose quickly, realizing instantly he had slept past his normal time. He tried ordering his thoughts, in chaos from snippets of half remembered dreams. Last night's meditation had gone far in aiding his understanding of his ... odd behavior, and with that understanding came the realization that this project must be completed as quickly as was possible.

He had gone to bed with a renewed sense of purpose and peace, but that had not stopped the dreams. Now in the light of the morning, a hazy picture would form in his mind, but as soon as he tried to bring it into focus in order to analyze it, it danced tauntingly out of his grasp. With a tight frown of impatience he wrestled his confusion under control and strode out of his temporary quarters.

He headed not for the lab but for transportation. He wanted no delays when they were ready to begin field testing. Given their current rate of progress and allowing some time for unexpected setbacks, he was certain they would be ready to head out in less than 36 hours.

* * *

Christine was half way to the lab, when the conversation of the night before began to replay itself in her mind and with each step and each startlingly clear replay, she grew angrier. By the time she reached the lab door, she had a full head of steam and fully intended to find out who the hell he thought he was.

It wasn't like him to play the kind of game he seemed to be playing last night and she intended to get to the bottom of it. She stormed into the lab, stopping short in still dim light that surrounded her. He wasn't here. She frowned, slowly moving to set the equipment up. He was always here before she was.

She was half way through correlating the data they had already accumulated when Spock walked in as if he wasn't an hour and a half late. It touched off the anger that had festered when she hadn't been able to confront him on her terms. "Where were you?" Christine challenged him fiercely.

His eyebrow shot up and he opened his mouth.

"Never mind," she snapped, dismissing his unsaid words with an angry cut of her hand. "WHAT the hell were you playing at last night?"

"Doctor Chapel," Spock responded tightly, "I was not 'playing' at anything last night."

"The hell you weren't, Commander. I don't know what it was, but it better not happen again. If I didn't know better ... " Her voice trailed off, unable to finish the unthinkable sentence. "It's just a damn good thing I do, Commander, or I'd be a lot more pissed than I already am." As her breath ran out so did her anger. Simply getting it off her chest had been cathartic, she didn't really need to know, which was a good thing, she supposed, as she was likely never to find out anyway.

"Where were you anyway? It's also not like you to be late."

Spock, bemused anew with the human ability to go from uncontrolled anger to simple curiosity in such short order and with so little provocation, took a moment to reply.

Christine bristled as she listened. "A little presumptuous, wouldn't you say, Commander?"

"On the contrary, I believe it was a logical measure to prevent down time. Without setbacks we should be finished with this stage by midmorning tomorrow and even allowing for unforeseen circumstances there is no reason to believe we would not be ready by the time I indicated."

Christine chuckled then and shook her head. "You would," was all she said as she turned back to her work, only to look over at him moments later. "What say we 'start this day over'? Perhaps we can attribute this to the fact that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and leave it at that."

"Indeed," Spock replied. "That would be acceptable." Then he clamped his lips around the ridiculous statement he'd been about to make.

* * *

The sun shown brightly above them, the aqua sky highlighting the alienness of the planet they were now alone on. Preliminary studies of the world had revealed a wide variety of plant life, and no animal life larger than that of Earth's mosquitos. This world had been the reason behind the project. What was so fascinating about it, and what had seduced Spock into accepting this assignment, had been the conflicting DNA patterns of the plants.

Utterly contrary to every planet previously explored and every bit of scientific data gathered over the millennia, regarding the evolution of a world, that always revealed common strains of DNA in all, indigenous, living and even nonliving matter; on this world there were myriad strains, that had absolutely no common factors.

Scientifically, it was not possible, yet at this very minute he stood on the evidence that refuted that impossibility. It ignited his curiosity as nothing had been able to, in years. He stepped forward. They had a lot of work to accomplish in the next few weeks.

Starfleet scientists wanted a reason behind such extraordinary differences. They were, in actuality, one small part of a much larger effort. Several different groups were already on this world, each having been assigned to a different continent, and were working from completely different angles. Looking around them, at the lush, wild landscape, it was difficult to believe that they were not the only two people on this raw, open world.

Working side by side they set up their base camp, erecting their shelter and their equipment, slowly bending this small portion of the world to fit their needs. Few words were necessary as they slipped into old patterns formed from years of landing parties. It mattered not, that neither had worked with the other in this way. Professionals to their core, it was a simple thing to adjust to new conditions.

As the sun lowered toward the horizon and the shadows deepened around him, Spock felt an odd sense of being home. Frowning slightly, he brushed aside the illogical notion and reached out to stir the meal.

Christine Chapel walked out of the plastisteel shelter and headed straight for the campfire. "See, isn't this much better than using the portable replicator or the sterile ration packs?" she asked quietly as she sat down.

His eyebrow rose sharply. "It is less efficient," he replied evenly, but the amusement in his eyes gave away that it was said more for form's sake, than for any true objection.

Christine swallowed her smile and the two sat comfortably as the last rays of the day slid beneath the horizon. As it did so, a soft hum began.

Christine glanced away from the fire, listening to the sound. The quiet sound rose and fell, a heart beat in the growing darkness. She smiled, remembering nights as a child, curled up on her mother's lap, her head laying against her mother's chest, listening to the regular pulsing beat beneath her ear. "Comforting," she whispered.

"What is?" Spock asked crisply, handing her a plate.

She frowned at him, accepting it. "The sound."

"It is merely the insects, Doctor."

"I know that, Mister Spock," she replied, only just keeping herself from rolling her eyes. "But it's relaxing anyway." She paused listening once again as a new harmony began, this one quicker; more lively, sounding of the bells of Christmas. "It reminds me of ... oh, I don't know ... home."

Spock looked over at her sharply and suddenly set the plate down, clanging it against the rocky ground. "I find it ... irritating," he responded tersely, heading for the shelter.

Well! she thought. That was certainly odd. She turned to watch as he stalked off. "You didn't eat."

He stopped just before entering the shelter. "I find that I am no longer hungry," he said without turning around, then stepped inside, closing the door on any further comment.

Christine sighed and turned back to her own food. How anyone could find that lilting sound irritating, was completely beyond her. She settled down to eat, allowing the sound to soothe her soul.

* * *

The next three days fell, easily into a pattern. Each morning, sunrise brought with it not only the beginning of a new day, but the retreat of the nocturnal insects as well. And with each dawning, Spock breathed an internal sigh of relief, rising immediately to accomplish as much as possible while the sun was above the horizon.

He was long gone by the time Christine arose to begin her day and did not return until late each afternoon. At which time they compared notes and ran their individually collected samples through the simulation programs. Each evening they continued to eat dinner cooked on the open fire that Christine had originally insisted upon. But the moment the sun touched the horizon, he disappeared into the shelter and into his tiny room.

He knew Christine questioned his behavior and also knew she'd been on the edge of asking him what was wrong several times. He hoped she continued to keep her own counsel, because he had nothing to tell her. He could not even explain it to himself, let alone to her.

He knew it wasn't the pon farr, the height of that was still months off, but he was still at a loss to describe what the nightly symphony did to him. He had told the truth when he had told her it irritated him, but it wasn't the complete truth. It reminded him of 'home' too. It brought to mind the waves of heat that radiated from the sands; that undulated under the scorching sunlight.

He swallowed convulsively against the droning hum as it started once again, the quick pulsing tinkling of the insects grating through his mind. It was impossible to meditate once it started, three previous nightly attempts had proven that, but stubbornly, he tried once again. He knew if he didn't manage to soon, he would have to take time during the day and that was unacceptable. Only one other time had personal ... problems, interfered with his duties and he wasn't about to let it happen again.

Forty ... some odd, minutes later he gave up, dropping onto his back. He curled onto his side covering his ears. It didn't help. The sound seemed to seep into his very bones, chasing him even into his dreams.

Christine frowned at the closed door to Spock's sleeping area. As a friend, she wanted to leave Spock his privacy. As a doctor, she fairly itched to find out what was wrong. Obviously, the frequency of the insects nightly harmonics ... troubled him somehow. But as he'd slowly grown more closed off and her concern increased, so grew her inhibitions.

It had taken them years to form even a working friendship and she was reluctant to force the issue. With a sorrowful shake of her head, she turned away. Tomorrow was soon enough to face his rejection, if she should feel the need to push. For that matter, if it got bad enough, she could face anything. If, in her professional opinion, he required medical interference, she would face down the hounds of hell, before letting go.

Not bothering to close the door, she slowly, methodically began her nightly routine. Concentrating on such triviality was all that kept her from dwelling on the puzzle that Spock's strange behavior presented. Crawling into bed, she realized that all her precise, concentrated efforts had been for naught. As soon as she closed her eyes, her mind began to toss.

Her thoughts chased themselves in circles until her belly tightened into painful knots. Deep breathing didn't help. Forcing herself to clear her mind didn't help, because, as soon as she relaxed her guard, visions of a tormented Vulcan filled her mind.

Suddenly, she bolt upright; inspiration and sudden, startling fear, nearly jolting her out of bed. Several deep breaths later, she realized, she couldn't be right. 'One,' she thought reasonably, 'he was still eating.'

'Two,' she continued in her mind, 'while his behavior was ... odd, for him, he was apparently sleeping. It couldn't be that.' She took a slow, deep breath, calming her sudden case of the panics. She rolled over onto her side, jabbing her pillow for good measure and forced her mind to more pleasant topics. She was letting his odd reaction get to her and, on top of that, letting her imagination run wild.

Taking another, deeper breath, releasing it as slowly as she could, she began visualizing exactly what she wanted to do to Matthew the next time she saw him. As her self induced fantasy became more and more detailed, she drifted off to sleep and fantasy turned into dream.

* * *

Christine startled awake. She cast a quick glance toward her small window and realized she succeeding in waking up earlier than normal. The sun couldn't have been up for more than half an hour. Throwing back her covers she jumped out of bed and dressed quickly.

She doubted he would leave before dawn, at least she hoped not. She hurried out of the small structure, sparing only a short glance at his closed door. Outside she stopped cold. Damn! She had missed him. She briefly contemplated grabbing her tricorder and heading out after him (she really hadn't liked the way he looked when he'd gone to his room last night), then decided against it.

Sighing deeply, she turned her attention to building a morning fire. He hadn't bothered with that this morning either. Once the fire was burning to her satisfaction, she reached for the reports from the teams that had come before them. She should have done this earlier she realized ruefully; as soon as he began ... reacting to the insect's sounds.

There had been Vulcans on two of the other teams. Maybe they mentioned something. Scanning quickly, it didn't take her long to reach the relevant passages.

"The nightly soundings of the indigenous insect life have a fascinating affect on the research team. It seems inherently different to each species. Lt. Anderson, a human, describes it as a 'comforting heart beat'. Ensign Ayata, an Andorian, describes it as 'like bathing it hot mud'; she assures me it's a pleasant experience. I believe I will take her word for it. Lt. Sevar, Vulcan, says; quote, I find the noise slightly irritating, unquote. When pressed for more detail, he would only say that it caused a minor disruption in his ability to sleep and meditate, and that it heightened 'unspecified' instincts.

"I couldn't get him to elaborate on which 'unspecified instincts'. He did say that the affects were negligible, that with only minor adjustments to his mental disciplines he had relegated the effect to a level easily ignored. He also noted that it should not be considered hazard, but that any other Vulcan's assigned here should be forewarned of the oddity.

"For myself, I can only agree with Anderson."

Christine frowned, quickly scanning the rest of the report. Nothing further on the 'unspecified'. That word reverberated inside her skull as she dropped the data padd into her lap. That didn't sound
right. Vulcans were so ... so ... precise; anally so, she thought with a laugh. Why hadn't this ... She picked up the padd, searching. ... Sevar, been more specific? It just didn't make any sense.

The only time Spock had-- Her thought trailed off as her jaw dropped open. No, she thought. It couldn't be that. But even if it was, that did nothing to explain why Spock was having so much trouble.

She stood suddenly. Enough was enough. She pocketed the padd, grabbed and flipped on the tricorder.

What? He was still in his room. Concern coursed through and she had to fight breaking into a run. She grabbed her medkit as she passed through the front door. Knocking perfunctorily, she opened his door and strode in.

She was shocked at the evidence that he'd been sleeping. She'd never known him to oversleep. She took advantage of his momentary waking confusion, to step forward and begin a medical scan.

"Doctor Chapel, that is unnecessary. Over sleeping, due to four nights of interrupted sleep is quite normal," Spock informed her stiffly, pulling back from her.

"I'll decide what's 'necessary', Mr. Spock," she responded. Pulling out the data padd, she dropped it onto his lap.

He arched an eyebrow and looked at her questioningly. "What is this?"

"A previous team's report on the conditions here. I believe you'll find part of it quite fascinating," she said, directing him to the appropriate subsection. She crossed her arms across her chest and waited while he listened to the same information she already had.

He closed his eyes and very brief flicker of pain crossed his expression as the specified passage came to an end.

Damn! She'd hoped she'd been wrong. Cutting short their time here was not going to go over well. "How long?" she asked flatly. He was silent for long enough that she began to wonder if he was going to answer at all.

"At least four months," he finally answered.

Christine frowned, her arms relaxing. "That's, uh, not exactly, very exact."

A low strangled sound came from low in his throat. "It is not exactly an exact ... science, Doctor," he replied, starting to rise. When the sheet slipped further down revealing more of his bare abdomen, he settled back onto the cot.

"Right, sorry," Christine gathered her equipment, turned to the small, bedside table and began slowly repacking her medkit. She swallowed a smile as she heard him rise behind her. She took the time to decide exactly how to phrase her next question.

"Is it your opinion that the condition is being exacerbated by this local effect, or rather that the condition simply makes the local effect more ... difficult to deal with?"

He sighed before responding. "In the absence of empirical data, it is difficult to be certain, however, I believe the latter is the case."

Christine heard, and sympathized with, his reluctant tone. This couldn't be easy for him. Unfortunately, she couldn't 'just let it go'. "But you cannot be sure?"

"No," he replied stiffly, "I cannot."

"Didn't you think that, when you started having ... difficulties, this was something that should have been dealt with by removing yourself from this world, at minimum?"

"I am certain you have long since finished putting away your medical equipment."

Christine laughed and as she turned back to face him, wondered if that was the Vulcan equivalent of, 'You can turn around now'. "You didn't answer my question." She watched him as he purposely strode toward the door. She followed behind, frowning. In her professional opinion, he was under more stress than he was willing to admit. And it looked like he was still not going to answer her question.

Well, she hadn't served as Dr. McCoy's nurse for over 4 years without learning a think or two about how to deal with stubborn, societally conditioned Vulcans. She quickened her pace and caught up with him outside. "Spock!"

"I am going out to continue gathering samples."

"No, you are not," she replied hotly. She watched his shoulders rise and fall before he turned to face her.

"Sure you can see the logic of completing our task here quickly."

Christine bristled at the superior tone in Spock's voice. "I tell you what 'logic', I see. I see that due to this unexpected interaction, we should call for removal."

"No!"

"Why not?"

His lips tightened and it was several moments before he replied. "There is less than three weeks worth of research here. If I am incorrect as to cause and effect, that will become apparent and will still leave time. And if that occurs and only then, will we call for removal. That is my decision, Doctor, and it is final. I will not debate this with you further."

Christine sputtered, nearly incoherently, when Spock turned around and once again began to walk out of camp. Why that g... She stopped her thoughts mid sentence. She'd spent way too much time around Dr. McCoy, but she was also beginning to understand why he drank so much.

"Spock, freeze!"

He kept walking.

Christine Chapel, friend and MD was torn, truly torn. She wanted to believe him. She wanted to leave him his secrecy, but his completely irrational behavior was baffling her. On the one side, he was probably right. There would probably be plenty of time even in a worst case scenario. If anyone would know, he would.

On the other side, the underlying tension and the volatile anger he was barely controlling, worried her; made her question his judgment. She silently headed for the shuttle. Ducking inside she made straight for the subspace comunit. Feeling like a betrayer, she quickly spoke the request for removal. Sending it off, she snuck out. She knew she'd done the right thing and she kept repeating that to herself as she headed out to gather her own samples.

* * *

Christine trudged back toward camp, tired and sore; the air around her oppressive and muggy. Sweat trickled down her neck along a well worn path between her breasts. Today had started badly and it wasn't getting any better. She dropped down to the ground, swiping her arm across her forehead.

She took a long swallow from her water bottle, dumping the remainder over her head. Surely it was her overtired imagination. It couldn't possibly be getting hotter; could it? With less than an hour to sunset it should be getting cooler.

This whole trip had been weird, she reflected morosely; the heat zapping her sense of humor right along with her strength. She certainly hadn't expected them to go their separate ways everyday, meeting for only a couple of hours each evening. It was not the best way to get this project accomplished. She looked toward camp, trying to get up enough energy to get up. She was late getting back, but right now, she didn't care. She'd stayed in the field longer today, knowing she probably wouldn't get another chance and she was paying for it now.

She sighed deeply as she checked the tricorder for the umpteenth time today. Another two degrees higher. She stood and a wave of dizziness sent her reeling. Taking deep, slow breaths she bent over, hands to her knees, supporting her. Damn, she thought. She'd overdone it and more than likely given herself a case of heat exhaustion. Just what she needed, she thought, kicking herself as she slowly gathered her packs.

* * *

Spock paced the edges of the camp, scanning the horizon. She knew when she was expected back. What could have happened-- Spock stopped, took a deep breath. He had to control. This place was really starting to erode his mastery. He forcibly turned away from his watch and the nearly setting sun.

Turning his attention, instead, toward preparing the evening meal. He briefly considered a fire, but decided against it. While he was comfortable in heat that far exceeded that of most humans, this ... wet heat was weighing him down; the very air around him like a damp musty blanket.

Tonight the replicator would have to suffice. Facing the shuttle replicator, he started as the comunit bleeped behind him. A frown creasing his forehead he hurried forward and activated the signal. It was a recorded message.

He impatiently tapped in his retrieval code and listened in silence, an outraged anger simmering below his veneer of control. Spock's head jerked up and he listened intently, the starfleet message fading into the background. No, it wasn't those ... bugs. But his mind was already humming with the sounds they began at full dusk. It reverberated within; his very bones nearly vibrating with the sound. Sound? No, not sound.

" ... .nearly a week away. If it is truly urgent, take off in the shuttle in two day's time and meet us part way. The coordinates..."

"No!" Spock shouted. Rising to his feet he brought his fist down onto the offending comunit. Pain shot up his arm. What he'd done hit him and he managed to stop a second blow only inches from the control panel. Trembling with the effort to regain control he turned toward the shuttle door.

* * *

Christine breathed a sigh of relief as the camp came into view. She'd never been so glad to see home. She stopped cold. Home? She shook her head. This heat must be getting to her. She felt like a dishrag. She shivered, then stepped forward once more. She was almost there, then she could rest.

She dropped her packs next to the fire pit and sank down onto the ground, her heartbeat loud in her own ears. This day was over, she thought gratefully and closed her eyes. She couldn't quite fathom why she'd been so worried. Now that she was here, she felt such ease and contentment. She was doing the work she was meant to do. She was loved. In short, she was as happy as she'd ever been.

She jumped, as a deep bellowed 'No!' sounded from inside the shuttle. The crash that immediately followed shot her to her feet. She made it one step forward before Spock appeared in the doorway, barely controlled anger radiated off of him in waves.

She swallowed convulsively. She only seen him like this one other time. What had set him off this time? Spock; shuttle; Oh no! He'd gotten the return message. What had they said? He froze as he looked her direction, his face darkening.

She took another step forward and a second wave of dizziness passed over her. Damn, she thought fiercely, she'd forgotten about the heat exhaustion. She couldn't deal with this now. She needed a clear head. "Spock..."

"You dare to try and run my life?" Spock shouted, striding toward her. "I gave you an order, which you deliberately disobeyed."

"I made a medical judgement, Commander!" Christine began hotly, then took a deep breath. That supercedes--"

"We are not on a starship, Doctor! You had not right."

Christine lost it. "I had every right. Damn it, Spock! You're not thinking clearly--"

"And you are?" Spock sneered questioningly. "I am sick of your attempts to insinuate yourself--" A resounding slap across his cheek broke off his flow painful words.

He snapped out his hand, grabbing hold of her upper arm. "Don't ... ever ... do .. .that ... again!"

Christine gasped and as the shadows around the deepened, darkness enveloped her.

Spock instinctively grabbed her as she slumped. Shock and horror at what had just occurred coursed through him before he could even begin to make sense of it. He swept her up into his arms and started for the small shelter.

He gasped as the insects' insistent strumming began and it rippled across his skin and through his body like sound through liquid. Tuning it out was impossible, so he ignored the effect as much as was possible. He couldn't. By the time he was at her door, he was hyperaware of the woman he held in his arms; the incessant calling of the insects grating across his increasingly raw nerves. That was unacceptable.

Then faced with a closed door and both hands full, he frowned. It took only a split second to decide. He kicked it open and it bounced off the wall. It caught him in the buttocks as he passed through.

He froze half-way to the bed as a jolt of arousal surged through him. He closed his eyes against it. He stiffly took the remaining steps forward, once again trembling at the effort it took to control, his mind sliding into rhythm with the increasingly complex harmonies and subharmonics of an ever growing number insects. With each step the calling became louder and more pervasive.

He dropped her onto the bed and abruptly turned away, all but racing from the room. He stopped only after he'd closed his own door behind him. Then he sagged back against the door, his breath ragged and quick. With a stubbornness born of desperation he began the mental disciplines he needed to invoke to block out the calling. He let nothing stop him. There was no other choice. He had to succeed.

His relief when he began to successfully discontinue the signals from his ears to his brain was so profound he nearly wept. But as the sounds diminished, his awareness of something else grew. He could no longer 'hear' them, but still they sounded deep in his mind. Their affect still rippled through his body and soul, torturing his shreds of control.

His head jerked up and his eyes popped open as lightening streaked across the sky, brightening the room around him. He felt the thunder rumbled beneath his feet less than two seconds later.

He rose shakily to his feet. All he had to do was get through tonight. Daylight would drive these insects back to their nests; back to their rest. Then they would leave. He was certain, once away from what he now knew was as much a telepathic sending as it was true sound, his control would return.

* * *

Christine startled awake as lightening flashed as bright as day, immediately followed earth rumbling thunder. She gasped for breath as she tried to calm the too fast beating of her heart. What time was it? She crawled shakily out of bed, to find out and almost crawled right back in. Did it really matter what time it was, the bed was so inviting.

By the time she'd reached her bag with her chronometer in it, she was humming contentedly to herself; a quiet counterbalance to the continued singing of the local insects. She double glanced at the chrono. Insects? It was daytime. She frowned in confusion. It was so dark.

Lightening flashed outside, thunder sounded. She jumped backward, landing on her backside as the transparent aluminum in front of her shook ominously. She ducked as a torrent of rain suddenly pelted the shelter. Then she closed her eyes and sighed in pure bliss. The storm raged, a steady bass beat to the singing melody.

A low moan from behind Spock's door jolted her upright. Her jaw dropped and she stared at the closed door. She'd forgotten. How could she have forgotten? She rose to her feet. They had to get out of here. She cast a glance outside. She knew how to fly a shuttle, all academy graduates did, but could she fly through that? She didn't know.

* * *

Spock moaned low in his throat. This night seemed to last for longer than was possible. He had long ago lost all track of time. His mind was thoroughly coated with a green haze. His hearing faded in and out as he lost and struggled to regain control of the disciplines. His head snapped up as he caught sight of the door opening.

"Get out!" he roared.

Christine jumped. She said something, but he couldn't hear her.

He was thrown instantly back in time. No, he thought. This cannot be happening. What had she said? Christine's mouth moved again, but he heard nothing. Sound came roaring back to him in that instant.

"Get out, NOW!" he growled, his vision blurring. She had to leave now.

"Spock! We have to leave NOW!" She moved closer.

Panic surged through him. His mouth went dry. He tried to speak; couldn't; swallowed and tried again. "Wait until day ... control then."

She was speaking again, but it was like a foreign language.

"What?"

She stepped next to the bed. "I said; it is daytime."

"Can't be," he replied hoarsely. "The ... "

"It is. Can you walk?"

He nodded, then shook his head.

"Well, which is it?" she asked, some of her exasperation coloring her tone.

"I can ... walk. Can't fly."

"I can."

"What?!" he asked, incredulity momentarily clearing his mind. "In this?" he continued with an indeterminate wave toward the window.

"I have to try," she insisted as a violent wind gust shook the temporary building.

His eyes widened and he shook his head vehemently. "Better to wait," he finally whispered.

Both were silent as a new wave of what felt like gale force winds and lightning struck the ground outside one right after another.

"Can you?"

"Have to. Better one than both--" Spock interrupted himself by clamping his lip between his teeth.

Christine felt a wave of incredible tenderness engulf her. She shook it off and then the anger took over. "Don't even THINK it! Damn you. Get up now!" she screamed at him reaching out and grabbing his arm.

The cadence of the song changed, became frenzied, driving, imperative.

"Do not!" he cried out and jerked backward, but it was too late.

She pulled one direction, he pulled the other and they ended up tangled together on the bed. Spock shook violently, there was no control, there wasn't anything beyond the piercing cacophony of sound and projected images; nothing beyond the driving need to possess.

He rolled Christine beneath him, his eyes seeing nothing more than hazy images. She trembled beneath him, but didn't move. Then running his finger across her cheek he felt her emotions. He moaned low in his throat, dropping his head to her shoulder. He should have realized ... The thought trailed off as he felt a surge of ... success in the song.

Seemingly of its own accord, his hand moved brushing the meld points on her face.

"I need," he whispered.

"Yes, need," she repeated in a nearly silent, quivering whisper. "Home."

No more coherent thought as fingers completed the contact and two minds slid into one. Hands pulled and tore at the barriers of clothing, leaving nothing between them. Brown eyes met blue in smoldering desire.

Hands intertwined and lips touched skin. Fever hot and cool warmth, moved against the other in eerily silent contrast to the raucous pounding around them.

"Can't wait."

Christine moaned in response, her hips thrusting up against his.

He slid between her legs forcing them farther apart. He thrust against her, the head of his aching shaft brushing across her swollen nub. She whimpered in need and reached down. Grasping him firmly she guided his entrance. Gasping as in one hard thrust, he was buried within her.

Both froze for a split second then they began a gentle rocking. Spock dropped his weight onto his elbows, touching her face once again, seeking that final connection. 'Life,' screamed through his mind. 'Home," through hers. And with the rain sleeting against the roof of their shelter, the thunder resounding nearly constantly and the insects singing a matching melody, they moaned. Their bodies moving faster and faster the passions of both body and mind exploded together amidst nature's symphony.

* * *

Hours later the two woke to the midday sun streaming through the window and they moved together once again, both intent on only one objective. The fire within dimmed only slightly, each touch inflamed them, sending the lust spiraling upward once again.

Christine bucked and rolled, landing squarely atop the Vulcan. Straddling him, her hands on his shoulders, she slid back, her moist and ready warmth caressing him as she took him deeply inside. Tightening her muscles she gripped him and leaned forward to taste the flesh of his chest and belly.

He arched against her, moaning his pleasure and reached for her, cupping her breasts in his slender hands, making her gasp in return. She began moving atop him and his hands moved to grasp her hips. He met her thrust for erotic thrust. Flesh and mind intertwined again, this time each experiencing the duality of their act of passion.

Both possessed and were possessed; both cleaved and surrounded, their pleasure shared and enhanced. The delicious tension spread through them at the same moment and she clenched and trembled around him as his seed filled her.

The day passed in a startling alternating of intense need and overwhelming tenderness as they came together again and again, quenching the burning of the plak tow.

* * *

Christine woke to protesting muscles, Spock lying very still next to her, and a desperate need to bathe. Sanity slowly filtered into her mind and as it did, the tears began. She tried to muffle her sobs, but there was no stopping her overwhelming despair. She had done the unforgivable.

Spock rose to his elbow beside her. "I'm s--"

"Don't!" she nearly shouted. Jerking up and away from him, she swung her feet over the edge of the bed. "Don't say anything. It never happened."

"Yes, it--"

"No!" Christine insisted. "It didn't. It couldn't have."

Spock sighed behind her. He didn't know what to say to her. Short of having left this world much earlier, nothing would have prevented what happened.

"Just forget it happened, Spock."

He winced at the note of desperation in her voice. He truly wished he could grant her desire, but it simply was not possible. "Christine," he began, only to be interrupted yet again.

"Spock! Just ... just ... shut up!"

His lips tightened. He reached out and as tenderly as he knew how, pulled her around to face him. "We have to talk about this."

"Why?"

"Because this isn't the end of it."

"What!?" she asked her eyes widening. "You seem awfully in control to me," she continued challengingly.

"That's not what I meant. Yes, the plak tow is over and so is the worst of the pon farr. What I was referring to is, what I can only assume is due to the ... unusual nature of this particular encounter, enhanced as it was by the--"

"Get to the point, Spock!" Christine snapped.

"Very well. We are bonded."

She swallowed convulsively and shook her head, not trusting her voice. When he nodded in response to her unvoiced denial, her eyes filled anew with tears. She blinked rapidly, wiping them away impatiently. "Fine! So how do we break it?"

He winced at the sudden coldness in her voice and turned away. "There is only one way," he said stiffly. Rising suddenly he moved away from her. He felt ... something (alarm?) shoot through the newly formed bond, but couldn't be sure exactly what it was.

"You mean like ... like ... her."

He nodded once, unable to turn and face her. He feared what he would see there. He heard her rise and walk without saying a word toward the door. He spun around and strode after her. Reaching her before she got to the door, he grabbed her arm, yanking her around to face him, almost dislodging the sheet from around her and her uniform from that hand.

Open anger on his face, he stared her down. "Do you intend to challenge?" he asked, carefully enunciating each word.

Her jaw dropped open.

"I asked you a question," he demanded, not quite stopping himself from a jerk on her arm.

Her hand snaked up and for the second time in 24 hours she slapped him. His head snapped to the side with the impact this time. "I'm a healer, Spock. Figure it out for yourself," she snapped and snatching her arm out of his grasp, marched proudly out of his room.

He winced slightly as the front door slammed shut. He had not handled that well at all. It was a long time before he could move to clean himself up and put on a fresh uniform. By the time he did, the growing distress he felt from Christine urged him to move more quickly.

Ignoring the bright sunlight around him he strode off in search of her.

* * *

Christine methodically ran her fingers through her wet hair, her mind nearly numb. The fast moving stream had been cold, shockingly so. It had felt good to think about something so basic. Her hands fell to her lap. She was exhausted. Her head dropped back, letting the warmth of the sun bath her face.

Nothing was the same today. She laughed humorlessly with just a touch of hysteria added in. That was just about the single most stupid understatement she'd ever thought in her life. The beautiful day around her seemed to taunt her with its perfection. It was just warm enough to enjoy, without being sweltering. Even the humidity was less than yesterday.

As little as five months ago, she would have welcomed this. It would still have been less than ideal, but it wouldn't have been the soul shattering experience it was now. Five months ago, she'd met Matthew. Her left hand fluttered up helplessly and the sunlight glinted off the ring she still wore.

Her head and hand dropped down and she stared at the exquisite ring. Her vision blurred and unnoticed tears flowed freely down her face, dropping onto her hand. She silently slipped the ring off her finger, letting it fall to the ground.

He watched her from the negligible protection of the trees surrounding him. He watched the silent tears she shed. Every instinct within him urged him forward; to go to her; to take away the pain. He could not. He was the source of her pain.

His returning logic told him he needed to give her time. His instincts told him to protect his bondmate. Turmoil raged inside him as he watched her rise and walk away. She moved slowly, as if she felt very old.

He moved forward, stopping when a flash from the ground caught his attention. He knelt down and picked up the source. A diamond solitaire ring lay nestled in his hand. He knew it wasn't simply a ring that he held. No, he held her shattered dreams. His head jerked up and he stared at her distant retreating form. Understanding coursed through him. A single tear slipped down his face as his hand clenched around the gold band.

The End