DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of J. M. Lane and is copyright (c) 1992 by J. M. Lane. This story is Rated NC17. Originally published in Nivar 3, 1992.



NI VAR 3: A NEW BEGINNING

JM Lane



ONE



Christine cried for hours after Spock left, cursing both herself and him. Herself for her weakness, being unable to prevent his leaving, and him for waiting until she couldn't stop him. They had been through so much together -- how could he just walk out on her as if nothing had ever happened between them, just when they needed each other most to recover from the sorrow of losing another baby? And to think he had had the gall to lecture her about being illogical!

She called McCoy to come and spend some time with her because she needed to talk, get things off her chest…but less than an hour later, she began to cry again. Leonard simply sat quietly in the chair beside her bed; not until she almost screamed with grief did he step in and give her a tranquilizer shot -- then sat on her bed and held her until she composed herself.

"Thanks, Leonard; I needed that. Now please tell me that these last twelve hours have all been a bad dream -- that I haven't lost my baby, that Spock hasn't walked out on me to go back to Vulcan for the Kolinahr…and most importantly, that I'll wake up to find myself in bed with him, in his arms, and feel our baby move inside me."

The Chief Surgeon lifted her face to his, blue eyes tired and sad. "I wish to God I could, Chris -- but it's real. He's gone."

Fresh tears misted Christine's eyes at his words, but she blinked them back. "No. No more tears. I have no time to waste on useless crying. There's got to be a way to get him back. I can't let him go like this."

"Chris, it might be best, at least for now, to just lie back and let yourself get well. You can't do anything until then, anyway. Besides, you both need time apart to get your heads back together…and for God's sake, don't file for divorce. You'll lose Spock for sure that way, because something tells me that he doesn't want this separation any more than you do. I also believe that he's just as torn apart inside over the loss of your child as you are and needs you, your love and support, in order to surmount his grief…but is too damn stubborn to admit it.

"He's never been able to turn to someone in times of crisis, least of all a wife -- and because of that, he doesn't realize that you need him right now as much as he needs you. And being a typical pigheaded Vulcan, he'll put you both through Hell before he finally does realize it. Until that happens, nothing you say or do is going to do one bit of good…though there is still one thing in your favor. He hasn't severed your bond."

Christine's lips twisted wryly. "Probably waiting until I'm stronger, then he'll come back and drop that bomb on me…but I'll refuse to sever it -- and it can only be done by mutual consent." She sighed sadly. "You know, Leonard, the last thing I ever took Spock for is a coward…especially when he killed those other men in the arena in order to win me.

"Not to mention the way he so cleverly talked the Pre-Reform Vulcans out of killing us when they weren't allowed to observe us as we consummated our bonding. Can our love and marriage have meant so little to him that he would rather throw it all away instead of doing his utmost to save it? If that isn't illogical, nothing is!"

"That's the spirit! Now you sound more like the woman I know."

"Leonard, I've made up my mind. I'm going after him once I'm well enough. We're going to sit down and work things out, even if I have to drag him back by his elegant ears!"

"Keep thinking like that. Your marriage had far too much going for it to just throw it away. You have years with him that can't be erased…not to mention the son you left in the past."

"Which reminds me. All Spock had to do was say so if he didn't want me to go on that trip to the past. I would have stayed behind. Dammit, he knows that! But he didn't even try to stop me -- so the loss of our baby is as much on his shoulders as it is mine."

Christine stretched, then settled back into bed.

"I can't believe Spock would ever let his father's disapproval come between us, that Sarek's opinion would matter more than our love. I can't see how Sarek could possibly disapprove when he married a Human woman, too! And most importantly, Spock loved me. I know he did! He said nothing mattered but the fact we were together, that he would always love me, no matter what happened in our lives…so I'll never believe he just suddenly stopped caring after all we've been to each other."

McCoy leaned over and kissed her forehead. "Chris, with that attitude, I feel as sure as anything that you'll not only get him back, but have more children and a marriage even stronger and happier than that of his parents. Well, I've got to get back to work, so I'll see you in the morning. Get some sleep now, dear, and think happy thoughts."

"I'll try."

"Don't try -- do it. That's a medical order!"

The Chief Surgeon's light-hearted tone made Christine smile in spite of her depression. "Okay, Leonard, if you say so." She then turned on her left side and fell asleep.

McCoy stood and watched her for a while, then quietly told the lights to go out as he departed.

* * *

STARDATE 5834.11, PLANET VULCAN SPOCK, PERSONAL LOG

I AM TRULY ALONE NOW. I HAVE LEFT BEHIND EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE I HAVE EVER LOVED. THE ONLY SALVATION LEFT TO ME IS THE KOLINAHR DISCIPLINE, WHICH WILL REMOVE THE SOURCE OF MY PAIN ONCE AND FOR ALL. I MUST NEVER AGAIN ALLOW MYSELF TO THINK OF THE ENTERPRISE, JIM, THE DOCTOR OR CHRISTINE. SURAK, FORGIVE ME. I LOVE HER SO -- YET THAT LOVE HAS DESTROYED US. I MUST THINK OF IT, AND HER, NO LONGER -- SHUT THEM ALL OUT OF MY MIND AND HEART FOREVER. THINK ONLY OF LOGIC…NOTHING BUT LOGIC.

The weary traveler's steps seemed weighted down with lead, his heart as heavy as his feet as he slowly moved closer to his destination -- the stark, forbidding mountain looming ever larger ahead of him. It seemed an eternity before he reached the summit of Gol, where the Kolinahr sanctuary stood -- the only thing standing between him and insanity. As if in slow motion, he knocked on the heavy door with its equally heavy knocker. A darkly-robed Vulcan elder responded instantly.

"Who dares to disturb the sanctuary of Gol?" Steely eyes in a finely-lined face stared sharply through the newcomer.

"It is I, Spock."

"Spock… Thee are the son of Sarek of Vulcan and Amanda of Earth?"

"I am."

"What is thy wish, Spock?"

"I wish to learn the Kolinahr discipline and purge myself of my Human emotions."

"Are thee aware of all the Kolinahr discipline involves?"

The younger Vulcan's head inclined slightly, his voice dull and lifeless. "It is my only salvation."

The elder nodded and silently motioned Spock inside, closing the heavy door behind them and leading him up a flight of narrow, winding stairs to the lowest level of the stonehewn sanctuary.

* * *

It took Christine six weeks to recover -- physically -- from the trauma of her second miscarriage. Emotionally, she wasn't sure if she would ever be completely whole again… even if she managed to bring Spock around and have another child. The combination of losing her third baby and his cold, abrupt departure had torn her heart almost beyond repair.

At times she felt like an automaton -- as though she had been programmed to walk, talk, breathe and go through all the motions of being Human…but if there was one thing she was certain of, it was that she was going to Vulcan. Going there to find that boneheaded husband of hers and make him see reason, whatever she had to do! That was one of the few things she had left to live for, the one thing preventing her from simply lying down and willing herself to die. She was so terribly empty, bereft of both her much-loved child and even more deeply loved husband.

* * *

Christine wrote Amanda a few days before McCoy released her, telling her mother-in-law all that had happened the past six months and requesting permission to see her. If anyone knew her husband's whereabouts, his mother did. Within a week of her release, Chris was aboard a Federation long-range shuttle bound for Vulcan. She was fortunate in that she had been able to obtain the six months medical rest leave Leonard had prescribed for her. She wanted as much time as she could get, since it might take months to bring Spock back to his senses.

Amanda was waiting for her when the shuttle touched down at the spaceport; the two women embraced and kissed. "It's good to see you again, Christine," the older woman said. "Though I do wish it were under happier circumstances."

"So do I, Amanda. Have you arranged a room for me?"

The other woman nodded as the pair headed for a nearby restaurant to have an early lunch.

"And have you heard anything from Spock?"

Amanda's eyes clouded over but her voice was calm and steady. "He has been in seclusion at the Gol sanctuary, undergoing the Kolinahr discipline, for the past six and a half weeks."

"Do you know how to get there?"

Amanda frowned and shook her head. "Sarek is the only one who knows besides Spock -- in our family, that is."

"Wouldn't your home computers have that information in their memory banks?"

Amanda nodded. "But I have no idea how to gain access to it. Sarek and Spock change the access codes to their personal computers at random."

Christine smiled after taking a swallow of iced herbal tea. "Luckily, I happen to know Spock's access code. I am also familiar with the operation of his personal computer," she said between bites of salad. "That is, provided he hasn't already changed the code and put the information under voice-print or something."

"Not as far as I know…but you'd still need to come to the house to get it."

"No problem," came the confident announcement.

"I'm afraid there is. Sarek has developed a habit of coming home unexpectedly."

"In that case, we'll have to plan our strategy very carefully. I've got a husband to win back and a marriage to patch back together."

* * *

After finishing their meal, the women moved surreptitiously toward Amanda's ground-car, driving to the outskirts of ShiKahr and the large estate where Spock's parents lived. Christine waited in the car until Amanda signaled that it was safe to come in, motioning her daughter-in-law inside and leading her through the house to Spock's old room…but Chris was too anxious to reach the computer to take note of her surroundings.

"This is the room Spock uses while visiting us. Would you like me to come in with you?"

"No, I should be fine. All I need to do is get some information from the computer."

"Okay then, I'll just go about my normal day-to-day work. Let me know when you're done."

Christine smiled, nodded and disappeared behind the door of Spock's room. She forced herself to think only of the business at hand, not looking at the decor of the room where Spock had spent much of his early life and now only used on infrequent visits home. It was fairly easy to log the computer on, though she experienced a few anxious moments, certain that Spock had placed the information she sought under voice-print and/or retina scan, in which case she'd be out of luck -- to put it mildly…then the computer recognized Spock's access code.

Chris breathed a sigh of relief when the computer's pleasant feminine voice said, "Computer on. What information do you wish?"

"I require detailed directions to the Gol sanctuary."

The computer seemed to hesitate for a moment, then said, "Working." Within moments, Christine held a detailed printout of directions to the sanctuary where her errant husband was in seclusion in her hands. After folding the printout carefully, she placed it in her jacket pocket and patted the latter, smiling with satisfaction. Only after accomplishing her appointed task did Christine take a look around, drinking in everything she could before opening the door and heading back down the hall to the living room. Amanda was working at her desk, raising her head when the younger woman made her presence known.

"Did you get what you wanted?"

"I sure did -- but I'd better go now."

Amanda accompanied her daughter-in-law to the ground-car; the women again shared an embrace. "I packed a backpack for you when you first contacted me, and have kept it in readiness for your arrival. It's in the back seat. I suspected that you might have something like following Spock in mind. Everything you need is in it. Good luck, dear."

"Thanks. I'm going to need it."

* * *

Christine parked the ground-car in a safe place upon arriving at the closest point a motorized vehicle could come to the isolated mountain sanctuary before setting out on the day's hike still before her. She had brought her medikit as a precaution, armed with several doses of tri-ox compound which would partially compensate for the heat and help her breathe in the thin air.

She was also grateful that Amanda had packed the survival gear so thoroughly, thus ensuring that she, Christine, would be well prepared for any emergency which might arise -- up to and including an attack by the Vulcan predator, the le-matya, or the carnivorous d'mallu plant Spock had told her about and pointed out to her during their six-year sojourn on the early version of his home planet.

She was also careful to take frequent rest stops and drink a lot, since the heat was at least a third more intense than even the hottest summer day she had known on Earth as a young girl…and if she remembered correctly, it was still only early spring here on Vulcan.

Even in her light clothing, wide-brimmed hat with her hair piled on top of her head, the collar of the blouse turned up to help prevent sunburn on the back of her neck, Christine perspired profusely. Her skin was so sensitive that even with sun-block, she often ended up looking like a lobster unless she took pains to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Unfortunately Chris soon realized that there wasn't much in the desert which cast enough of a shadow for her to get completely in the shade…so she made the most of what shade there was, grateful for it wherever she happened to find it. Thank Heaven she never met a le- matya or the carnivorous d'mallu plant; she was having enough difficulty without them.

About halfway to her destination, she began to get lonesome for the sound of another voice, fervently wishing that she had thought to bring her small tape deck and some tapes with her -- or better yet, had Amanda accompany her…though that would have been "highly illogical," as Spock would say. She had enough to worry about just keeping herself going without having a companion, especially one older than she, so she just kept her mind busy by concentrating on what she planned to say to Spock when, or if, she managed to see him.



TWO

Christine was forced to stop when it got dark, since Amanda had somehow forgotten to include a flashlight with the rest of the survival gear. She eventually set up camp under an overhang of rock, determined to depart as early as possible to beat the worst of the heat.

An hour after settling into her sleeping bag, she was startled awake by a loud noise about fifteen meters from her position. She sat bolt upright, phaser in hand. She may have been married to a Vulcan, but was still Human and thus prepared to defend herself. Be that as it may, she could never have harmed another being unless her own life -- or that of Spock -- was being threatened. In addition, the phaser was set on stun, so the worst that could happen was that the intruder would be unconscious for a short time.

"Who's there?" she called out. "Answer me or I shoot!"

"Hold your fire," came a deep, familiar voice from out of the darkness.

Chris was totally flabbergasted at the identity of the intruder. She had had no inkling that Spock was anywhere nearby. He must have sealed off the bond or something to keep her (or was it his?) thoughts and feelings from interfering in his Kolinahr discipline.

She lowered the phaser, satisfied as to her safety. "Spock!" she exclaimed as he walked into the light.

"Christine." His voice was quiet but cold as he sat down a few feet from her. "What are you doing here?"

"I came for you. What are you doing out here?"

Spock sighed exasperatedly. "Christine, you are wasting your time. My mind is made up. What I am doing is the most logical course of action for both of us."

"That's a matter of opinion. I have no intention of letting you go without one hell of a fight! We've been through too much together to simply throw it all away at this late date. Especially when we still love each other."

The Vulcan's reply was icy. "Love is not the Vulcan way. It is illogical."

Christine almost snorted. "Bullshit. Pull that 'love is illogi cal' bit with someone who doesn't know you as well as I do. I'm your wife, and I intend to remain so, whatever you may try to do to sabotage our marriage!"

"Christine, you must understand. It is over between us. Permanently. Whatever chance we might have had died with our baby."

"That reminds me. You have a colossal nerve calling me illogical when you didn't lift a finger to keep me from going on that trip where I had that beating which caused me to lose the baby. As far as I'm concerned, it's as much your fault as it is mine. You had only to say the word and I would have stayed behind!"

"You were so anxious to see how our son had fared that I saw no point in trying to refuse you, since you would have found a way to go in spite of my concern for your safety and that our unborn child."

His voice was calm and matter-of-fact ... and he was right, so she didn't argue. "All right, I won't dispute you there--but you still haven't answered my first question. What are you doing out here? I thought you said you were going into seclusion."

"I was ... but soon realized that there was something I had forgotten to do. Therefore, I was coming to see you about severing our bond. Several weeks have now passed, so I am certain that you are strong enough to endure it. The last thing I expected was to find you out here, though I really should have guessed that you would do something like this. It only reinforces my earlier conviction, that what I am doing is the best course of action--one which will spare us any further pain."

"And how do you think I've felt these last six and a half weeks without you? Don't you think you caused me pain by walking out on me right after I lost the baby, just when I needed you most?"

Spock bowed his head, eyes closing in deep pain. "Christine, I am deeply sorry for any pain I have caused you, and wish to assure you that it hurt me just as much as it did you. However, I believed it to be the best thing for both of us." His voice was so quiet that Chris might have missed his words had she not been listening closely.

"Better than staying together? Better than talking things out and doing our utmost to pick up the pieces and start again? Oh, yes--as far as your request is concerned, you can damn well forget it. The only way you're ever going to sever our bond is if you kill me right here and now!"

"Christine, your stubbornness will avail you nothing. I have no intention of changing my mind."

"I figured you'd probably be difficult ... but one thing is certain. I'm not leaving this planet without you!"

"Do my parents know you're here?" he asked, changing the subject.

"Your mother does, yes. I have a room in town that she got for me."

"How long have you been planetside?"

"Three days. Dr. McCoy released me ten days ago."

"Then it is even more illogical for you to be out here."

"For Heaven's sake, Spock, what do you think I am, porcelain? I have survival training--and even if I didn't, my medical skills could get me this far." He was silent, so she knew she had him. "And one other thing. Just what does your father have against me that he couldn't even acknowledge our marriage or speak to me when your mother called?"

"I was unaware of any disapproval of you on his part. If I remember correctly, their shuttle was due to depart in a few moments. I would surmise that he was simply in a hurry to make their flight."

"How long does it take to say hello?" she threw back. "A few seconds. Could he have been in so much of a hurry that he couldn't spare ten seconds to say hello?" Spock seemed at a loss for words, so she continued. "I also believe that it was the lack of your father's blessing that made you walk out on our marriage. Spock, I can't believe that you would actually consider his opinion more important than our love. Not when you told me that nothing mattered but the fact we were together--and your mother is as Human as I am, so I can't see him disapproving of me on that score. The impression I got was that you didn't consider our marriage worth saving without your father's blessing, so you walked away rather than sit down with me and work things out. I could understand your doing what you're doing if our marriage and life together had been lousy, but we were so happy -- had so much going for us. I had no idea you were so much of a coward that you'd sooner walk away instead of going your utmost to patch things up so we could start again."

Spock lifted his head to face her; in the glow of the fire, Christine could see his eyes and discern the depth of the love he still felt for her.

She was sure he would move toward her, but he simply said, "Christine, come here, please." It was all she could do to walk over and seat herself beside him. "Move closer."

She did so, surprised to feel his arms go around her and pull her gently but closely to him. She rested her head on his chest; for an interminable time the couple sat quietly in each other's arms in front of the small campfire. The only other move he made was to reach up to stroke her hair before entwining his fingers at her waist again.

"Very well, Christine. We shall try again--for a time--since you feel so strongly about it. It would be illogical not to at least try to make things right again ... but if they do not work out, you must allow me to sever our bond and dissolve our marriage so that we may go our separate ways, live separate lives."

The very thought was abhorrent, painful, to her, but Chris knew she had to promise or else she risked his getting up and walking away from her right here and now. "Yes."

The next thing she knew, Spock was draping a heavy blanket around the two of them, snuggling her even closer to his warmth for a few moments to lie on her sleeping bag. She expected him to kiss her, but all he did was brush the top of her head with his lips.

"Sleep now, my wife. We still have a great distance to travel before reaching home, and will need all our strength to accomplish it."

"Not as great as you think. I have a ground-car parked 12 hours' hike away," Christine replied before falling asleep.

The Vulcan's embrace tightened as he raised an approving eyebrow at his wife's unexpected display of logic. Perhaps they could work things out between them after all!

* * *

Christine lay in her husband's arms with her eyes closed, feeling warm and content as she marveled at her success so far. How she had missed this, hungered for the feel of Spock's body close to hers once again! Now that she had him back (albeit on a trial basis), perhaps they would conceive another child ... and this time make sure nothing happened to make her lose it, even if it meant both of them retiring from Starfleet service.

She hoped it wouldn't come to that, but if it did, their happiness and continued relationship mattered far more than any career she might have. Of course, if Spock wished to remain in Starfleet, she could not refuse him, but for the moment, Chris intended to take things as they came and hope for the best.

It had taken all her willpower to keep her hands and lips off him. It had been so long since Spock had kissed her or made love to her ... but she sensed that he wasn't ready to resume their previous intimacies just yet. Even so, Christine was sure Spock wanted it as much as she, but could not bring himself to do it until some of the scars of their recent tragedy were less fresh in their minds and hearts.

Leonard had assured her that her body was completely recovered from the miscarriage and that she could resume lovemaking whenever she wished (provided she could talk Spock around), so there was no problem there. Their wounds were more emotional than physical, and emotional wounds always took longer to heal than physical ones. She would simply have to be patient, bide her time until he was ready to join with her again. God knew it would be difficult; she had already waited so long...

Christine wanted so very much to feel Spock's hands and lips caressing her, then his hot velvet hardness inside her again--but if waiting meant that they would stay together, remain husband and wife, she would have to dredge up the strength from somewhere to remain apart from him. In the meantime, all that mattered was having him close to her, in her arms once again.

* * *

Amanda heard Sarek return home an hour after Christine's departure, her anger building with every passing moment. Damn him, he had no right to destroy Spock's marriage--their son's only chance for happiness--by withholding his blessing and approval! She had tried in vain to get him to say a word to Christine when she had called their daughter-in-law to congratulate her on her marriage to their son. Amanda still couldn't understand why Sarek had refused, since she had been certain her husband would be pleased to learn that Spock had also found a Human wife and was happy with her--but he certainly didn't act pleased, despite his claims to the contrary. There had to be something he wasn't telling her, but she was unable to learn what. He had immediately erected mental shields to keep his thoughts secret from her.

Damn, but he could be maddening sometimes! Surely Sarek knew how important his approval was to Spock ... so much so that if it was withheld, Spock would assume he had made a mistake in marrying Christine and act accordingly--even if it meant breaking both their hearts. Amanda would never forget the profound sorrow which had shadowed her son's eyes when he had arrived six and a half weeks previously--alone--and she had asked about Christine.

It was obvious that Spock was still deeply in love with his wife and it was tearing him apart to be separated from her. That brought to mind an identical look in Christine's eyes at the mention of her husband. If only for that reason alone, Amanda had no intention of allowing them to break up ... not if it was within her power to prevent it!

Amanda was waiting by the door when Sarek walked in. He raised a perplexed eyebrow at the grim look on his wife's face even as his right hand automatically raised, customary fingers extended to cross with hers. He was even more perplexed when she did not raise her own hand, particularly when he sensed her hostility. At the best of times, it was almost impossible for Sarek to fathom his wife's Human peculiarities, even as much as he loved her--and he had no idea what he had done to merit such anger from her.

"Sarek, I want to talk to you."

"Certainly, my wife. What about?"

"Spock and Christine."

Sarek's brows rose in shock. "Why? What concerns you about them?"

"Your treatment of them--or more accurately, your reaction to Spock's announcement of their marriage."

"There is something you are not telling me, my wife. Please elaborate."

"They're separated."

"What does that have to do with me?"

"They're apart because of you." Amanda almost spat the words at him, angrier than he had ever seen her.

"I do not understand."

"Like hell, you don't! Damn it, Sarek, why did you withhold your blessing of Spock's marriage from him? You know how important your approval is to him! Because of you, Spock has gone into seclusion and is undergoing the Kolinahr discipline ... and Christine has come after recovering from her second miscarriage, planning to stay until--or if --she has a chance to talk to him and see if they can't work things out. Be that as it may, I doubt she'll be able to do it without your blessing ... especially if you don't make it convincing. I believe what happened is that Spock assumed he had made a mistake in marrying Christine when you withheld your blessing, so he has acted accordingly--using the loss of their child as an excuse to leave her. So if you would care to enlighten me, I would like to know just what you have against her that you would withhold your blessing."

"My wife, I have nothing whatsoever 'against' Christine. As I told you before, I am very pleased that our son has made such a logical choice."

"Then why couldn't you have told him that?"

"Amanda, by now Spock should have the ability to sense whether or not I approve of something he has done."

"But he obviously doesn't--at least not in this case. Otherwise, he and Christine would still be together."

"My wife, if Spock truly loves Christine, nothing could come between them--least of all my so-called 'disapproval.' When a Vulcan is married, their partner has top priority ... everything and everyone else comes second. That is why we have remained happy together these many years. However, it would seem that our son has not yet learned that ... so it is up to Christine, his wife, to enlighten him. If she cannot, then perhaps it is for the best that they are separated, for she could only cause him more pain."

"How can you say that? You haven't seen the look in her eyes when she speaks of him! Sarek, she still loves him ... and I know he still loves her. I saw it in his eyes."

"My wife, you are a hopeless romantic."

Amanda shook her head in affectionate exasperation. "I swear, Sarek, if I didn't love you so much, I'd hate you! You damn Vulcans are so arrogantly sure of yourselves, so absolutely certain that you're right and everyone else is wrong."

"If that happens to be the case, it is not our fault."

"Of course not. It never is," Amanda retorted dryly even as she sighed and raised her two fingers to cross with those of her husband.

"Where are Spock and Christine at the moment?"

"Hopefully somewhere between here and Gol. Christine took my ground-car, so it shouldn't take as long for them to get back as it would if they were coming back on foot."

"Will they be staying with us?"

"Unlikely. They're going to need all the privacy they can get in order to work out their differences properly--if you know what I mean." Amanda gave Sarek a sly wink, prompting him to lift astonished eyebrows. "They wouldn't get any here, so I reserved a suite for her in town--or should I say 'them'? I would also surmise that we had better not expect to see much of them, especially if you facilitate matters by telling them that you do indeed approve of their marriage instead of keeping them hanging."

"I will inform them at the first opportunity. Will that please you?"

"It is more important that it please them, my husband." Amanda again winked at her husband. "Now allow me to tell you something you can do to please me immensely."

Sarek raised an amused eyebrow. "You are insatiable."

"Especially where you're concerned."

"If Christine behaves like this with our son, it is no wonder that he feels as he does about her."

"No more shop talk. Come with me." Amanda smiled seductively and held out her hand. Sarek's hand met hers, their fingers intricately entwining as they walked down the hall to the master bedroom, disappearing behind the door to share a romantic night of their own.



THREE



The younger couple reached the cleverly concealed ground-car after a long hike from their overnight campsite, depositing their jackets and backpacks in the rear seat. Christine's skin tingled

through her thin blouse at the touch of her husband's fingers on her back as he helped her into the passenger seat. It was all she could do not to throw herself into his arms. Chris finally gritted her teeth and stiffened her back, determined not to touch him, no matter how much she wanted to.

But I'd better have him soon, she told herself, or else I won't be gentle with him when we finally do get together!

Spock felt it through their bond, reaching for her hand and gently squeezing it. "Patience, my wife. Everything comes to she who waits."

I certainly hope so! Christine thought as she returned his squeeze and settled into the contoured seat, managing to content herself with watching her husband's profile and graceful -- even

sensuous -- movements as he aimed the sleek vehicle in the direction of ShiKahr, some 150 kilometers from their position.

* * *

James T. Kirk leaned back in his contoured chair, located in the spacious living room of his suburban San Francisco apartment, enjoying a leisurely drink of Antarean brandy with close friend, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

"So, Bones, what have you heard from Christine lately? I haven't seen her since before her second miscarriage."

"Oh, she's completely recovered from that, Jim," the Doctor said with a smile after taking a swallow of his drink. "Now she's gone to Vulcan -- "

Kirk nearly jumped out of his chair. "What? You're kidding! When did she go there?"

"A week after I released her. She said she wasn't letting Spock go without a fight."

Jim whistled. "She's got her work cut out for her, that's for sure. Spock can be very stubborn when he chooses to be -- the original immovable object."

"For every immovable object, there's an irresistible force -- and I believe that Chris intends to be that irresistible force where Spock is concerned. She's every bit as stubborn as he is, if not more

so, when she's really serious about something -- or someone."

The Captain chuckled. "They certainly make a perfect pair, don't they? Spock's determined to walk away and Christine's equally determined to get him back."

McCoy gave his friend and superior a sly wink. "If I know Chris, she's already got him back."

"Now, Bones, aren't you being just a tad optimistic? After all, she's only been gone a couple of weeks. I think that's expecting too much, even of her."

The Chief Surgeon shook his head with a grin.

"You didn't see the look in her eyes when she told me she intended to go to Vulcan and bring him back, even if it meant dragging him back by the ears! Not even someone as pigheaded as our

Vulcan friend could resist that lady for long -- especially not when they're still in love with each other."

"For both their sakes, I hope so, Bones. I never could figure out how Spock could have walked away from her just when they needed each other most."

"Spock's used to just walking away, you know that. It wasn't until Chris came along that he ever knew a woman who would come after him. A woman every bit as pigheaded as he is who's determined to keep him with her, whatever it takes -- and it's shocked the hell out of him, though I doubt he'll ever admit it. Especially when he wants everyone to think that nothing could ever make an impression on him. Least of all a woman!"

"Especially if that woman is Christine Chapel," Kirk laughed before downing the rest of his brandy and holding out the empty glass to the Doctor for a refill. "Here's to our friends' reconciliation. Fill 'er up, Bones."

* * *

In the meantime, Amanda's sleek navy blue ground-car -- carrying Spock, Christine and their belongings -- pulled up in front of the ShiKahr hotel where the latter was registered. An attendant moved to get behind the wheel and park the car for them once they had retrieved their possessions. The attractive Vulcan woman serving as clerk at the registration desk saluted Chris before handing her a holovid cassette when the couple reached her.

"Good morning, Dr. Chapel. Here is a message for you. The caller requested that you return her call at the earliest opportunity."

"Thank you, T'Pala. I shall do so."

The other woman raised an eyebrow upon seeing Spock standing next to his wife, but quickly recovered. "Will you be checking in today, sir?"

"Not today. I am merely a friend of Dr. Chapel's come to visit her."

T'Pala's eyes widened when she saw Spock join Christine in the transporter booth, which automatically activated once a guest stepped inside -- either alone or with a companion -- then beamed the occupants directly into the room.

"What a cool liar you are, Spock," Christine laughed upon fully materializing. "'Friend', indeed!"

The Vulcan raised an indignant eyebrow. "It is no lie. I am here simply to visit you."

Chris smiled wickedly as she turned her back on him and inserted the holovid cartridge into the nearby video terminal. A situation which I intend to change very soon, she thought as she turned the machine on.

Amanda's beautiful but care-worn face appeared on the small viewscreen, her voice warm and affectionate as she greeted her daughter-in-law. "Hello, Christine. How are you, my dear? I hope you've been able to contact Spock and have a long talk with him. I pray that the two of you will be able to save your marriage because I know you still love one another."

Spock again raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"Please contact me as soon as you can and let me know what has happened with you two, if anything. I will be waiting to hear from you, dear. Farewell."

Spock's lips twisted wryly as he sighed in affectionate exasperation. "I fear that Mother is an incurable romantic."

"What's wrong with that? Life would be pretty dull without romance to liven it up."

The Vulcan once again raised an eyebrow at his wife, but did not argue.

Christine sat down at the computer and said, "I wish to contact the Lady Amanda, wife of Ambassador Sarek."

"One moment," the computer replied.

Amanda appeared soon afterward, her smile widening upon seeing her daughter-in-law. "Hello, my dear. I'm so glad to hear back from you so soon. Did you just get in? And is you-know-who with you?"

Christine laughed. "Just a few minutes ago -- and yes, Spock is here. Would you like to talk to him?"

"For a minute or two, if you don't mind."

"Of course not. Spock?"

He moved to the terminal and waited.

"Hello, Spock," Amanda said.

"Mother."

"Are you all right, my son? I have been very concerned about you."

"I am well, Mother -- and I trust you and my father are the same."

"That reminds me. Your father wishes to speak with you a moment."

"Indeed?"

The next face and voice were Sarek's. "My son, I must speak with you and Christine on a very important matter."

"Yes, Father?"

"I fear that I have been most remiss in offering my congratulations and bestowing my official blessing on your marriage. I meant to do so when I met with you 6.8 weeks ago, but my mind was occupied with the speech I was to make to the High Council of Altair Six. So I hope you and Christine will accept my somewhat belated but nonetheless sincere wishes for a long and happy married life such as your mother and I have known."

They then saw Sarek raise a surprised eyebrow and flinch (Chris suspected that Amanda had poked him in the ribs), but the Vulcan Ambassador did not break the continuity of his conversation with his son and daughter-in-law.

"Please accept my apologies for any difficulties my unintentional oversight may have caused you. It is my hope that you will both make every effort to work them out and remain married. Remember, my son, Vulcans marry for life."

Spock raised a surprised eyebrow, but Christine felt his pleasure at learning that his father did indeed approve of their marriage and had at last bestowed his long-awaited blessing upon it. She smiled at her husband as the couple crossed the customary extended fingers; the elder Vulcan gave them a half-smile in return.

"I must return to my work now, my son, but wished to clear up any misunderstandings and tell you that I think you have made a most logical choice of bride. I am certain that Christine will prove a fine wife and excellent mother for any future offspring the two of you may have -- and if only for your mother's sake, I hope that you do indeed plan to have more children, for she has confided to me her longing for more grandchildren. In which case, it would behoove you both to do your utmost to grant her that wish as soon as possible." He saluted them; the younger pair returned it. "Farewell, my children."

This time two pairs of brows shot up, but they simply replied, "Live long and prosper, my father."

Sarek then moved out of visual range and Amanda reappeared. "Well, Spock, what did you think of that?"

"It is something of a surprise, Mother, but we are very pleased -- and assure you that we will do our best to 'iron out' our difficulties and eventually grant you your wish."

"I am happy to hear that, my son. Well, I must also return to my work, so I'll let you go now and talk with you both later. Farewell, Spock. Farewell, Christine."

"Goodbye, Mother."

"Amanda."

After the screen went dark, Chris gave her husband a triumphant smile. "Well, are you satisfied now?"

Spock raised a perplexed eyebrow. "Satisfied? With what, my wife?"

"Your father has officially blessed our marriage. Now do you consider it worth saving?"

The Vulcan's eyes widened; he seemed momentarily at a loss for words.

"I now believe it would be logical for us to get started on granting your mother's wish as soon as possible. After all, you don't want to disappoint your parents, do you?"

Spock frowned. "Christine, do not attempt to pressure me. I am not yet ready to join with you again. If our reconciliation is to be successful, it must be accomplished in a logical manner -- and only when I am ready."

"Spock, all I ask is a chance to prove that our marriage can work. Your parents have expressed their confidence that we can make it work, and you know that I'm sure we can. All that remains is your opinion of our chances."

"My wife, I have already stated that we will try. That is all I am promising for now."

"I suppose that's the best I can expect -- and what better time to start trying than now?" With that, Christine doused the lights and moved into her husband's arms for a long-awaited, mutually- desired kiss -- as well as anything else the pair of them decided to do!

* * *

In the morning Spock was gone, but Christine was confident he would soon return as she relived the deliciously romantic night they had shared. They had not made love, but did indulge in some very exciting love play. So exciting, in fact, that both had been obliged to exercise all their control in order not to take it to its so-called "logical" conclusion. But Chris could be patient, for she knew it was only a matter of time. She stretched languorously on the unmade bed in her hotel suite, feeling warm, content and deliciously lazy. Had she been a cat, she would have been purring. At that

moment, her bedside intercom buzzed.

"Dr. Chapel, you have a visitor," T'Pala reported.

"Who is it, T'Pala?"

"I believe it is the Lady Amanda."

"Send her up."

The older woman materialized in the room moments later; Christine rose from her bed to embrace her mother-in-law.

"Christine."

"Amanda."

"Well, what happened?"Amanda blurted out before she could stop herself.

The younger woman's eyebrows rose, then she laughed. "Oh, you mean with Spock?" she asked innocently.

"For Heaven's sake, Christine! Of course I mean with Spock! Did you two--? Well, you know..."

"You mean, did we make love? No. Spock said he wasn't ready to resume that yet--but we did indulge in some very exciting love play. So exciting, in fact, that it was all we could do to stop."

The older woman was pleased, if somewhat disappointed--but managed a smile.

"Well, at least it's a step in the right direction. So am I to assume from what you say that it's only a matter of time until you do make love?"

Christine blushed but nodded.

"Then I hope we may soon hear that you are once again pregnant--and that you'll take steps to make sure you don't lose the baby this time."

"We'll make love as soon as Spock indicates to me that he's ready. Until then, I have no intention of forcing the issue. I came far too close to losing him forever to feel that I can afford to take chances. It's his ball game, and I'm playing by his rules. When we do make love, I'll let you know--and you'll be the first to know--after Spock, that is--when I'm pregnant again. And rest assured, dear mother-in-law, that I have every intention of bringing our next baby to term!"

Christine patted her belly to prove her point and indicate her fervent desire to once again feel her husband's child move and grow within her body.

"Well, I'm certainly glad to hear that. What time is it now, dear?"

Amanda gasped in shock when she learned. "Oh, my lord! It's that late already? I've got to go! I'm meeting Sarek at 1230. I'll talk to you more later. Goodbye, my dear."

The two women exchanged a quick kiss, then Amanda stepped into the transporter booth to the left of the door and was gone after admonishing her daughter-in-law not to forget her promise. Christine smiled and assured her she wouldn't, then turned toward her bathroom and indulged in a long, luxurious shower before ordering a large lunch. She dined leisurely while catching up on the latest news from the Federation's interstellar holo-comlink serving Earth, Vulcan and all other Federation planets--very sophisticated devices which had only recently been installed in the rooms of this, ShiKahr's finest hotel.

She only intended to remain as long as she absolutely had to--until she could feel certain that she and Spock were reunited for good. In the meantime, she planned to have him meet her here for

private discussions, then perhaps--with luck--eventually for the purpose of making love and conceiving another child. She had felt the lack of both most keenly the past several weeks.

Christine again smiled as she finished her meal, dreaming of once again making love with her beloved and bearing him another child. For the time being, however, she intended to take things as they came and make the most of any opportunity to strengthen their renewed relationship which happened to present itself--for she had no intention of letting him slip through her fingers--and would see to it that he never wanted to leave her ever again!

Two nights later, the pair spent another night enjoying various forms of love play, but as before, no sexual union occurred. Even as exciting as it was, Christine was ready to climb the wall because she wanted to feel Spock inside her again, feel his lips and hands on her bare skin... If he made her wait a third time, she'd literally go crazy!



FOUR



The next afternoon around 1200, Spock asked to see Christine, saying he had something very important to say to her. Christine had just finished a shower and was preparing to dress when he beamed up to the suite at 1600. His brows shot up upon seeing her in a filmy blue peignoir with her hair wrapped turban-style in a towel. The Vulcan's sensitive nose caught the intoxicating smell of his wife's rose-musk perfume as he felt the heat radiating from her body. He felt desire stir inside his own body as he recalled other times similar to this in the early days of their marriage. She had accepted his statement that he was not yet ready to resume making love with her, but Spock was unsure whether or not he could make himself abide by its restrictions ... for he had missed it, and her, so much.

"Spock! Aren't you early? I thought I had time to take a shower and fix my hair before you came. You said you were coming at 1600."

"Affirmative. And if I am not mistaken, it is now ten minutes and ten seconds past that hour."

Christine looked at the chronometer, not at all surprised to see that he was right. "So it is. I lost track of time. Did you want to go somewhere? If so, I need a few minutes to get ready."

His reply was quiet. "That will not be necessary. I would prefer that we remain here."

The timbre of her husband's voice reminded Chris of the time they had been reunited after Kirk had been forced to blow up a ship Spock was believed to have been on. The Captain had come to her and explained the situation, that Spock was most likely dead unless he and his landing party had been on the planet instead of the doomed ship. Christine had never believed he was dead, for their bond had remained intact throughout. She would have felt it if he had died; the bond would have been instantly severed. She couldn't help smiling at the memory of their joyous reunion.

Spock raised an amused eyebrow as he felt her thoughts. "Is that all you ever think about?"

"When one has become accustomed to regular lovemaking, then has to do without it, it's to be expected. For Heaven's sake, Spock, have you any idea how much I've missed you, missed it? My God, I'm only--"

He held up a hand to stop her. "I see your point, my wife ... and must confess that it has been very much on my mind these last few days."

Her eyes widened. "Are you saying that you're now willing for us to--?"

Her husband stepped closer and reached to caress her cheek. "I believe I said that."

"Well, it's about time! I think I'd have literally gone crazy if I'd had to endure a third night without making love."

"I assure you, it was just as difficult for me to wait as it was for you ... and allow me to remind you that I have not had as much practice at expressing my deepest feelings."

"I can remember a time when you wouldn't admit to having any feelings, especially not to me--though I can understand why, considering your upbringing. But there's nothing wrong with expressing your deepest feelings to someone who loves you, particularly if you're bonded and married to them."

"Have I not always done my utmost to express my deepest feelings toward you?"

"Most of the time, yesàthough it sometimes seemed that you retreated behind your well-known wall of logic, as you did three months ago. I had a terribly hard time of it because of that."

Spock put a finger on his wife's lips, which she promptly kissed. "That is all behind us now--and may I say that you talk entirely too much, my wife. There is a time for talk and a time for

silence ... and that time is now."

Christine lifted her chin to face her husband, his bent finger holding it up as he bent his head and found her lips with his.

* * *

They did everything that had been denied them for eight long weeks -- and then some. To Christine, it was like coming home again from an extended journey to once again feel Spock's hands, lips and tongue exploring her body as well as knowing every inch of his body once again.

She had even been able to convince him to try rear-entry intercourse ... and feeling him inside her that way was every bit as pleasurable as the regular way. It didn't seem like they would ever get

enough of each other; they almost literally devoured each other.

He didn't allow her to speak for a long time, silencing her with passionate kisses whenever she made the attempt. And when she had at last taken him into her mouth, he had tasted every bit as delicious as she remembered -- the flood of liquid passion from his body like the nectar of a flower. Best of all, however, was when he had done it to her... After a dozen or so climaxes between them, she had lost count, but really didn't care. All that mattered was that they were together again. It wasn't until several hours later that the lovers finally came back to earth, sated for the moment, arms and legs intricately entwined, their bodies close and smelling of their passionate lovemaking. Christine woke up with her face buried in her husband's neck, nuzzling it warmly to make him shiver.

"Oh, Spock, my love. You have no idea how I've missed being with you like this, hungered for the feel of you inside me again."

He smiled and trailed kisses down her throat and neck. "Just as I have missed feeling you in my arms, your warmth all around me."

"Please tell me that I'll never again be without you, be without this. I don't think I could stand it." Christine smiled and sighed contentedly upon feeling Spock's answer in her mind. Her head was

cradled on his shoulder as her left hand rested on his upper right abdomen, directly over his heart, where she could feel it beating. She began to lightly stroke his warm, bare skin with her fingers, eventually traveling up his torso to run them through his dark chest hair, her lips soon tracing the path her fingers had made.

"I declare, Spock, your body just seems to grow more beautiful to me every time we make love."

"You are 'beautiful', my wife. I am 'handsome'."

"Whatever. Means the same thing ... and that's what counts. Which reminds me -- are you sure you haven't had anyone else? I swear, your technique only seems to improve every time we're together."

"Indeed not. There were no opportunities for sexual intimacy at the Gol sanctuary, and I was there for 6.57 weeks before you arrived."

Christine laughed a moment later; Spock asked what she found so amusing.

"Can you imagine what T'Pala must think of your visiting me so often? Three times in one week! I can still see the look on her face when she called me for breakfast the morning after the first night you spent with me. I could tell she wanted to ask if you were still with me. I also believe she is seriously considering charging you for those nights. Last night makes the third ... and you know how expensive this place is."

"Are you asking me to move in with you?"

"I wouldn't object if you wanted to, but am not trying to pressure you or demand that you do so. It's your decision."

He gave her a half-smile before kissing the top of her head. "I will consider it. In the meantime, I would like very much to get started on granting Mother's wish -- provided that you do not disapprove."

Christine smiled and shook her head; after returning the smile, Spock proceeded to once again turn his wife beneath him. Their coming together was passionate but infinitely loving and healing, each kiss and caress a soothing balm which healed every hurt they had ever inflicted on each other. Nothing before this time was important; all that mattered was here and now.

* * *

Spock eventually found it necessary to send a message to the Head Elder at the Gol sanctuary, explaining that he had changed his mind and would not be returning. He had originally come because of difficulties in his marriage to a Human woman -- but chose to stay with her now that those differences had been resolved ... and engage in what Humans referred to as a "second honeymoon." There was no reply, nor did he expect one. No doubt the Elders considered his decision totally illogical, but what counted was that they accepted it.

* * *

Amanda dropped by about 1330 the following afternoon. Christine decided to answer her question before it was voiced; the older woman's brows rose in a most Vulcan manner, but her voice betrayed no surprise.

"That's wonderful, dear. Do you think you might be pregnant yet?"

"It's too soon to tell, but I wouldn't mind if I was."

"Has Spock been staying here with you?"

"Three times this week ... but we didn't make love until last night."

"I can imagine how difficult it must have been to wait after having already waited two months."

"Tell me about it. Eight weeks without him was eight weeks too long!"

"Has there been any mention of his moving in with you?"

"I asked; he said he would consider it. I have to accept whatever he decides, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did move in."

"At least you'd be living as man and wife again ... and would it be all right to drop a hint to Sarek that we might be grandparents again soon?" Amanda asked hopefully.

"I think it would be best to wait until I know for sure whether or not I'm pregnant. Right now, all we're doing is speculating."

Amanda looked somewhat chagrined, but nodded understandingly. "I suppose we can manage to wait a little longer, since we've already waited this long ... but not too much longer, okay? We'd like to know at least one of our grandchildren, since we can never know our grandson in the past."

"Oh, did I tell you that Spock and I are grandparents ourselves now? Our son in the past was married with two children the last time we saw him -- a boy and a girl. We even managed to get one of our descendants as a crewmember aboard the Enterprise -- a lovely girl named T'Pirn, with Chekov has managed to get himself seriously involved ... not to mention the psychiatrist who treated me for a while after our return from the past, about the dreams I'd been having about Spock and me which turned out to be real. You should see him -- the image of Spock, except for the blond hair and blue eyes."

Amanda shook her head in disbelief. "Incredible."

"I know what you mean. It's almost too much to fathom, even for me."

Christine's eyes clouded over; her voice was quiet when she spoke again. "I've never stopped thinking about our son in the past or stopped loving him, but have resigned myself to the fact that I'll never see him again. I can only pray he had a long, healthy and happy life."

"Do you think Spock ever thinks of him?"

"I'm sure he does -- but like me, he's resigned himself to never seeing our son again ... and considers it more logical to concentrate on the present rather than dwelling on the past."

"Be that as it may, it's good to know that you'll have another chance to be parents. Which reminds me ... what do you think you'll have this time?"

"At this juncture, I'll be thankful not to lose the baby -- but if I had a choice, I'd say that I'm hoping for a daughter, since the last two babies I lost were girls."

"Maybe you'll have one of each."

"Twins? That would be very nice, but I don't know if that's possible."

"With Spock's physiology, anything is possible, so I wouldn't rule it out if I were you."

"I'm not -- but at the same time, I'm not holding my breath."

Amanda looked at the chrono on the bedside table, reluctantly standing up. "I'm afraid I've got to get my shopping done, then return home since I promised Sarek I would be home before he was ... and he's due back in another two hours. Take care of yourself, dear, and keep me informed on what's happening with you and Spock."

"Will do."

"Goodbye, dear. Give my love to Spock when you see him. After all, he's my son and I do love him, even if he considers me illogical for feeling that way."

"You're his mother. A mother is supposed to love her child. I'm sure he knows that, even if he won't admit it."

"I hope so. Well, I've got to get moving now. I'll see you later." With that, the older woman stepped into the transporter booth and was gone.



* * *

Christine was glad that McCoy had prescribed the six months medical rest leave now ... and not just because of the upcoming pon farr, though that was certainly part of the reason. In the event of another pregnancy, it would be necessary for her to inform Fleet Command and obtain maternity leave -- which meant that she would not return to duty for at least another year.

Provided they don't retire me because of the baby, she thought wryly. I wouldn't mind if it was just me ... but I don't want to be separated from Spock -- nor do I have any wish to take him away from Starfleet. It's his life, all he has known for umpteen years ... one of the few places he feels at home. It's one thing to voluntarily leave the service, but entirely another to be forced out. She sighed deeply. Oh, hell, what am I doing worrying about that now? There's plenty of time to figure out what we want to do. That pregnancy test I gave myself was inconclusive, so I made an appointment with Dr. Corrigan on Amanda's recommendation. He was the one who took care of her when she had Spock. One way or another, I'll soon know, and then Spock and I can act accordingly.

The buzzing of the bedside intercom cut into her thoughts."Yes, T'Pala?" she asked upon seeing the Vulcan woman on her small viewscreen.

"You asked to be reminded of your doctor's appointment, Dr. Chapel."

"Yes, T'Pala. Thank you."

Christine returned to her original train of thought once the other woman's face faded from the screen. Spock was not with her at present, having accepted a temporary position as his father's assistant at the Science Academy a short time before ... and would not return for several hours. She quickly showered and dressed, beaming down to the lobby and hailing an aircab (Spock had the ground-car) once she stepped outside. Traffic didn't seem too bad, so she should make it.

* * *

Christine made it to Corrigan's office with two minutes to spare. He smiled as he ushered her into his treatment room and motioned her to lie down on the diagnostic bed.

"Make yourself comfortable, my dear. How is Spock? I haven't seen him for a long time." "He's fine. He's working at the Academy as his father's assistant while we're here."

"Have you seen Amanda lately? I haven't met with her for an even longer time, though I've talked with her a few times by vidphone."

"She's dropped by a few times."

"I had no idea Spock was married, much less planetside, until Amanda told me a couple of days ago. How long have you been married?"

"Almost seven years."

"That long, huh? Had any pregnancies?"

"Two -- but miscarried both times. The second was due to an accident."

"What kind of accident?"

"It's a long story, and frankly we're still trying to put it behind us -- so I would prefer not to talk about it right now, if you don't mind."

"Of course not."

"Oh, yes. Spock said that you were married to a Vulcan woman," Christine said conversationally.

"Yes. My colleague Sorel's daughter, T'Mir."

"Any children yet?" Christine wondered.

"Still trying ... though I'm sure we'll eventually succeed if Spock can father children. You know, at first we didn't think he would be fertile because of his hybrid physiology -- but you're living proof that he is."

"Are you saying that I'm ... ?" she trailed off hopefully.

Corrigan shook his head. "'fraid not. The biocomps detect no pregnancy at this time. I think it was probably a false alarm." Christine looked somewhat disappointed but managed a smile. "Don't worry," the doctor assured her. "I'm sure it'll happen. You'll just have to keep trying. Which reminds me ... do you and Spock intend to remain on Vulcan once you do become pregnant?"

"At least until the baby is born."

"I would be honored to deliver Spock's child, just as I helped bring him into the world."

"Thank you, Doctor. We'll definitely keep you in mind."

"One last thing. Did Amanda tell you that I've got an unbelievable backlog of work due to my receptionist being out sick?"

"I believe she mentioned something about it. Why?"

"She said you're not doing anything else at the moment -- and I'd really appreciate it if you could see clear to help me out."

"You mean you want me to...?"

"I know it's not what you generally do, but it is in your chosen field."

Christine debated with herself for a time, then figured, Oh, what the hell. I need something to do while Spock's working anyway.

"Okay, sure. No problem. Just give me some stuff to do."

"Thank you so much, Christine. I'll be right back. Wait here." She nodded as Corrigan disappeared into his office, returning with a large collection of computerized medical files. He handed them to her. "No real hurry on these. Most of them don't have appointments coming up for several weeks. Just work at your own pace and get them back to me at your earliest opportunity."

Christine smiled and put them in her bag. "Will do. Thanks for your confidence in me."

"Thank you," Corrigan smiled. "I'll see you later."

* * *

She beamed back up to the suite upon arrival at the hotel with the intention of showering and changing, then working on the medical files before Spock arrived ... but was surprised upon stepping out of the transporter booth to see him sitting at her desk with eyes closed and elbows resting on the desktop. His hands were steepled as if he were meditating; he lifted his head and opened his eyes when she called his name.

"Spock!"

"Greetings, my wife," he said, holding out two fingers to cross with hers as the couple exchanged smiles.

"It's wonderful to see you, but what are you doing here now? I wasn't expecting you until 1800."

"I have good news for you," Spock told her.

"What is it?" Christine was barely able to keep excitement out of her voice. His being here now could only mean one thing.

"I have informed T'Pala that I will be living here with you for an extended period."

"Spock, are you telling me that you've moved in?"

"I believe I said that."

"Spock, you're unbelievable! Why couldn't you have told me earlier that you'd decided to move in?"

"I wished to surprise you. I had assumed you would be pleased to learn of my decision, but your reaction seems to indicate otherwise. If you prefer, I will--"

She stopped him with a raised hand. "For God's sake, Spock! Of course I'm pleased! I only wish you'd told me so I could have been here."

"I had no wish to inconvenience you, especially when T'Pala informed me of your doctor's appointment. Which reminds me -- why did you make one?"

She smiled and projected her thoughts at him. *I thought I was pregnant again*

*Indeed?* He raised one upswept brow with a half-smile.

*But I wasn't, the doctor said. He thinks it was a false alarm.*

*But we can still keep trying, can we not?* Chris felt Spock's amusement through their link, even if it didn't show on his face. *And once we succeed, do you wish for a daughter?*

*I'm not particular about gender this time -- and believe me, I have no intention of losing our *next* baby. Not even if I have to stay in the hospital the whole time!*

Mind-laughter again rippled to her through their link. *I doubt that will be necessary. I foresee no time travel or deep-space missions in our immediate future. In addition, my only wish at this moment is for an evening alone with you.*

Christine smiled as they crossed fingers again. *My husband, you are insatiable.*

*No more than you,* he countered; she again felt his mind-laughter. *Now may we dispense with talk and get down to business?*

*Talk? We haven't said a word for the past ten minutes.*

*Silence, woman. We are wasting valuable time.*

*What if I say no?* she teased, knowing that he knew she was teasing him.

*Never attempt to deceive me, Christine. Remember, I know your every thought. You want me as much as I want you.* With that, the Vulcan stood up, effortlessly sweeping his wife off her feet and into his arms.

Her arms locked around his neck and pulled his lips down to hers. *Love me, Spock.*

He carried her over to the bed and placed her on it, expert fingers soon making short work of her light clothing and intimately caressing her silky skin as she moaned with pleasure at his every touch. Moments later, she lay unmoving as she watched him undress, marveling once again at his incredible body.

She opened her legs, bending her knees and resting her feet on the bed ... and then he was with her again, inside her again, moving deliciously as his arms locked around her. *Christine ... oh gods, Christine ...*

She felt his pleasure through the link; it only served to enhance her own in once again feeling him moving sensuously within her. *Spock, my darling ...*

*I have missed you so much, my wife.*

*Not half as much as I've missed you. Please say that we will remain man and wife always, never be parted again.*

*Only by death,* he assured her -- then she felt her climax coming and knew he wasn't far behind. She gasped as he thrust deeply into her, arching her back and holding him tightly.

*Spock!*

*Christine!*

She smiled as she felt his hot sweetness fill her when he relaxed against her. She had been so empty, so alone, without him ... and never intended to be without him ever again -- not for as long as she lived!

*I love you, Spock,* she communicated through the bond.

*And I cherish thee, my wife,* she felt him reply in her mind. *More than words could ever express.*

Spock lifted his wife's face and kissed her tenderly, putting all the feelings he bore for her into it. At the same time, she brought out such unbelievable passion in him ... but there was plenty of time for both, since they had a lifetime ahead of them.

*Sleep now, beloved. We will join again in the morning.*

He gradually allowed himself to fall asleep as soon as he felt her drift off to sleep, discreetly drawing a sheet over their intricately entwined bodies.

* * *

It was Christine who awakened first, her heart feeling so full that it could have burst upon seeing her husband sleeping peacefully in her arms. *Spock, you have made me so happy.*

His eyes opened so unexpectedly that she was startled; he smiled sleepily at her. "Good morning, my wife."

"Good morning, Spock."

Christine shivered as his lips again traced a path down her neck and throat, embrace tightening as they returned to possess hers. They were as sweet as honey and as intoxicating as any drug... She felt his passion through their bond, so intense it almost frightened her -- and it wasn't time for the mating fever, either. But oh, when it was ... !

He felt her hesitation and held her head close, tenderly stroking her hair and kissing her temple. *Do not be afraid, my wife; I will not hurt you.*

*I know you won't,* she assured him, feeling him relax. *I want you,* she thought as she allowed her hands and lips to roam greedily over his body, stroking, kissing and caressing intimately ... eventually finding his large, verdant shaft. Her tongue lovingly stroked the sensitive flesh before her lips kissed the smooth tip.

*Christine ... * he groaned, his back arching as his hands clutched the sheet, barely able to contain himself. *Christine, I can wait no longer. I must have you -- now!* He rolled her over onto her back, her legs parted in welcome as his body claimed hers. He thrust inside eagerly, sighing contentedly when he felt her warmth surround him. *Thank you.*

*My pleasure,* she smiled through the link ... and soon laughed out loud.

*What do you find so amusing?*

*What Leonard -- Dr. McCoy -- said a few months ago when I was pregnant with our third child.*

*What did he say?*

*That he thought we should cut down on our 'wild sex orgies' while I'm pregnant.*

*What did you tell him?*

*That I couldn't guarantee we would -- but that we would try.*

*But we did not 'cut down'.*

*You know that and I know that, but he doesn't ... and what Leonard doesn't know won't hurt him.*

*Are you saying that you believe we should do so now? That you think that might have contributed to the loss of our other two babies?*

*Hell, no! -- especially since we had 'wild sex orgies' all during my first pregnancy and our son turned out just fine ... so there's no reason why everything shouldn't go well this time. Besides, I've waited far too long to have you like this again to slow down now!*

*As have I,* the Vulcan replied, cuddling his wife's warm, fragrant body close to him as the couple again feel asleep in each other's arms.

* * *

The next morning, Spock took the opportunity to record a letter to Kirk while Christine was in the shower.

JIM, he began. I ASK YOUR FORGIVENESS FOR KEEPING YOU WAITING UNTIL NOW, BUT IT WAS UNAVOIDABLE. CHRISTINE AND I HAVE HAD MANY URGENT PERSONAL PROBLEMS TO RESOLVE.

He momentarily stopped the recording to lean back in the chair and stretch his sleek body.

I AM PLEASED TO REPORT THAT OUR PROBLEMS HAVE, TO ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, BEEN RESOLVED ... FOR WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO CONCEIVE ANOTHER CHILD. OH -- AND DR. McCOY, YOU NEED NOT BE CONCERNED FOR CHRISTINE OR OUR CHILD'S WELL-BEING. CHRISTINE HAS INFORMED ME THAT ONE OF THE PHYSICIANS WHICH ATTENDED MOTHER AT MY OWN BIRTH, DR. DANIEL CORRIGAN, WILL DELIVER THE CHILD AT THE SCIENCE ACADEMY MEDICAL CENTER WHEN THE TIME COMES.

Spock again stopped the recording to allow himself a smile at the thought of the Enterprise's Chief Surgeon -- every bit as much a loyal, trusted friend as Jim, despite their differences. The Vulcan had no doubts but that McCoy would be right there with Jim when the latter played the holovid; it was for that reason that he had added the medical note. McCoy would surely be curious, if only as a doctor, about what would happen when Christine had their next baby ...

Spock sighed and resumed recording the letter.

WE WILL INFORM YOU OF ALL THE NECESSARY DETAILS AT THE PROPER TIME. OH, YES ... CHRISTINE SAID TO TELL YOU THAT SHE SENDS HER BEST WISHES AND HOPES ALL IS GOING WELL WITH EVERYONE ON THE ENTERPRISE. I BELIEVE SHE MISSES BEING ON BOARD AS MUCH AS I ... BUT WE HAVE NOT YET DECIDED WHAT WE WILL DO ONCE WE HAVE ANOTHER CHILD. WHEN WE DO, WE SHALL INFORM YOU. IN THE MEANTIME, LIVE LONG AND PROSPER, MY FRIENDS.

He raised his right hand in the Vulcan salute after making sure it would be properly recorded on the holovid, turning off the recorder with a brisk click. It took but a few moments to prepare the holovid for transmission, then beam down to slip it in the outgoing mail bin on the front desk, returning to the suite to await Christine.



* * *

A week later, while the Enterprise was in standard orbit around Rigel Four for yet another diplomatic mission, Kirk was surprised but pleased to receive a holovid from Spock, from whom he had not heard for nearly four months. Unfortunately he had received it while still on duty, so he would be unable to watch it until 1400, when he would be off-shift. He would then call Bones to join him since the doctor would surely be as interested as he in what had been happening with Spock and Christine since they had been planetside.

The time seemed to literally drag until 1400, but at least it arrived. Jim stepped onto the turbolift after gratefully relinquishing the Bridge to the Beta shift crew, breathing a sigh of relief and thankfulness at finally being free to do as he wished, if only for a little while. It seemed to take forever to reach his Deck Five quarters, but at last he was behind the doors of his private domain.

The Captain took a long, relaxing sonic shower, washing the remainder of his weariness away. Most had left him upon the receipt of Spock's holovid. Sulu had proved a competent second-in-command in Spock's absence and Chekov had served well as Acting Science Officer, but Jim missed his Vulcan friend's voice, his playing of his Vulcan lyrette and their weekly chess games ... more than he was willing to admit, even to himself.

Upon re-entering his bedroom, Kirk dressed in civvies, inserting the holovid cartridge into his personal communications terminal, depressing the PAUSE button and opening the nearby intercom for Sickbay. Bones would probably just now be leaving; perhaps he could catch him before he left.

"Kirk to Sickbay."

"McCoy here. What can I do for you, Jim?"

"I just received a holovid from Spock. I thought you might be interested in watching it with me."

"I'll be right there. McCoy out."

Twenty minutes later the Chief Surgeon stood at the Captain's door and pressed the button to announce his presence.

"Come," Kirk said, noting that McCoy had also showered and changed into civilian clothes.

"Here I am. Let's get on with it."

The Doctor pulled up a chair and joined Kirk at his personal communications center, waiting as the holovid playback was turned on. A few seconds later Spock's image appeared and the Vulcan began to speak. Jim's eyebrows rose, then he smiled when he realized that he had never seen his Vulcan friend look so relaxed and happy in all the years he had known him. The holovid wasn't long; Spock wasn't one to waste words. After it ended, his two friends looked at each other and grinned.

"Well, Bones, it looks as though you were right. Christine did get him back."

"Don't underestimate that lady, Jim. She's much stronger than she looks. She's had to be. Loving a Vulcan isn't easy, you know ... especially when you're married to one."

Jim smiled wistfully. "He looked happy, didn't he?"

"As happy as I've ever seen him," the Doctor agreed.

"I'm glad that Spock and Christine have managed to sort things out and stay married. He's been so lonely all his life. If anyone deserves a happy marriage, he does," the Captain remarked.

McCoy concurred. "Not to mention children. Remember, Spock said they were trying to conceive another child. I pray Chris is able to carry this one to term. It would kill her to lose another."

"I don't think there's anything to worry about on that score, Bones. Daniel Corrigan is supposed to be taking care of her ... and if anyone can bring a part-alien baby to term, he can. As I recall, he was one of the doctors who took care of Amanda when Spock was born." Kirk took a swallow of his drink.

"I'd still like to be there myself, though," McCoy said.

"I know ... but all we can do now is hope."

"I wonder what they'll do once they have the child ... quit the service or return to the Enterprise," the Doctor speculated.

"I'm sure Spock will let us know one way or the other, Bones," Jim assured his friend.

Then McCoy frowned; Kirk asked what was wrong. "It's strange, Jim. I seem to remember Spock saying that he was going to Vulcan for the Kolinahràbut he never said a word about it ... or why he left ... in his message."

Jim laughed. "I would think it would be obvious, especially to you ... but I'm sure he'll tell us eventually. That is, if he wants us to know. He may consider it too personal. You know how private Vulcans are."

"But we're his closest friends," the Doctor protested.

"Granted -- but remember, there are still things that we keep to ourselves, even as close as we are -- o I wouldn't be surprised if there are things Spock considers too private even to tell us about."

"I suppose you're right. Getting back to the subject -- if they have a child and decide to remain in the service, you can bet credits to navy beans that they'll find a way to do both."

"Though I doubt it'll be easy to get approval from Fleet Command," Jim remarked. "They pretty much frown upon bringing family members, especially children, aboard starship ... and the Enterprise is essentially a military vessel. They only recently started allowing married couples aboard, you know."

"Be that as it may, it's all speculation," McCoy pointed out.

Jim sighed and stretched. "And God knows how long we'll have to wait to find out for sure, one way or the other. In the meantime, let's break out the Saurian brandy and toast our friends' new found happiness, as well as their efforts to have another child." He handed McCoy his empty glass.

"Coming up," Leonard said, moving over to where the Captain's personal stock was kept to pour Kirk and himself two glasses of Saurian brandy, handing one to Jim and keeping the other for himself.

"Here you go, Jim. One for you, one for me. To Spock and Chris. May they always be as happy as they are now -- and may their efforts to have another child prove successful. And most of all, may the child be born healthy, beautiful and as smart as his or her parents."

"Amen," the Captain heartily concurred as he raised his glass to touch that of the Chief Surgeon.

* * *

It was unbelievable how fast the time went by, as far as Christine was concerned. Almost before she knew it, it was time for the pon farr. She'd been expecting it, actually, but could not have known just when it would happen. All she knew for sure was that it had not happened during the six years in the past -- nor had it occurred at any time during the last six months ... so it was only logical that it would come now. Chris was sure she could handle it, since Leonard would never have certified her physically fit if she wasn't. Frankly he wouldn't have let her out of his sight, much less let her go traipsing off to Vulcan, of all places! Most importantly, there was no history of miscarriages by the women in her family background ... or any hereditary weaknesses which might cause them.

As a highly trained nurse, Christine saw no medical reason why she shouldn't be able to handle another pregnancy ... after all, the only reasons she had miscarried before were accidents, like the beating which had caused her to lose her third baby. Even if Spock did tend to think of her as being as fragile as porcelain -- but then he considered all Humans to be such, women particularly so. But if that had been the case, there would never have been a Starfleet, especially not one which included women! Humans were tougher than they looked. They had to be, in order to survive on certain planets or as members of starship crews, the Enterprise being only one example.

* * *

Of course, Christine had a preliminary checkup as a precaution, obtaining a clean bill of health from Dr. Corrigan ... for Vulcan males were ruled by passion as long as the pon farr was in effect, so the last thing they would think of was to exercise self-control.

"You pretty much know how to handle Spock since you've been married to him for nearly seven years," Corrigan sighed as he shifted in his office chair. "...but a few words of advice, however. Relax completely; don't resist, whatever you do. Otherwise he could hurt you without meaning to. Give him whatever he wants whenever he wants it ... and don't expect to get much sleep or have much opportunity to eat until it's pretty much behind you. Which reminds me ... which symptoms has he exhibited so far?"

Christine told him about the short temper, memory lapses and lack of appetite.

"Then you had best be prepared, for those symptoms indicate that the brunt of the mating fever will strike within the next 12 to 24 hours -- probably less. So if you have the chaaance, I suggest that you get a good night's sleep beforehand, then eat a good hearty meal ... not to mention take a shower."

The doctor's words echoed in Christine's head as she headed home, and she fully intended to follow his advice as far as she was able.

* * *

Upon arrival, Chris found that Spock was meditating, so she had an hour to herself. She used the time to shower and eat. With luck, she would be able to sleep before the full brunt of the pon farr struck him. If not, she would have to snatch what sleep she could between sexual encounters. She didn't bother with a nightgown since he would more likely than not tear it off her ... simply got into bed and waited. She didn't have to wait long. Barely ten minutes later Spock came in, undressed and got into bed beside her, lying quietly for a while ... then said her name.

"Christine..."

By the tremor in his voice, she knew he was on the edge of his endurance.

"Is it time, Spock?" she asked.

He nodded briefly, then the next thing Chris knew, she was on her back with her legs apart and his body covering hers. He thrust inside her with a passionate urgency she had never felt in him before, muttering erotic declarations in Vulcan against her lips -- of which he couldn't seem to get enough. Every movement of his hips brought renewed pleasure and his kisses left her breathless. She wanted to give all she had to him, but had to pace herself. Otherwise she would never last the five days, much less satisfy him.

* * *

The aforementioned was pretty much the pattern for the next five days, interspersed with breaks for the exercise of other bodily functions ... as well as a period of exhausted slumber before Spock would shake her awake and begin again. It was well into the third day before Christine dared to leave the room for even a short time. She ate a quick meal, used the bathroom and returned to bed. Barely five minutes later Spock reached for her, his erection and desires having renewed themselves, and the process began anew.

Chris eventually discovered that even as much as she enjoyed their passionate lovemaking -- some of the best sex she'd ever had -- she was beginning to feel quite sore, particularly in her private parts. Fortunately it was well into the fourth day at this point, so there was only another time or two to go. They would finally be able to get a few hours sleep -- or at least Spock would. She had used the last few opportunities she had had to lubricate the aforementioned parts. After all, natural lubrication could go only so far.

* * *

It was early evening of the fifth day when Christine awakened from a deep, refreshing sleep, the couple having completed their last sexual encounter several hours before. It wasn't until she felt a hand stroking her back and making her shiver that she knew Spock had awakened. He lifted her head and tasted deeply, sweetly, of her lips ... once again the tender and gentle lover she preferred, even as much as she had enjoyed the passionate joinings of the last five days.

"Good morning, my wife. Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, thank you."

With that, he proceeded to once again caress her intimately.

"Don't you think you've had enough of that?"

"I shall never get enough of you," came the matter-of-fact reply. "And I would now appreciate your ordering a large breakfast for me ... us. I have had neither the time nor inclination for solid sustenance for the last several days and am quite hungry."

*Of course not,* Christine thought wickedly. *The only hunger he's had has been for me!*

Out loud, she said, "I thought you would be," with a sly wink as she sat up and reached for her robe, shrugging into it before standing up and wrapping it around her, tightening the sash-belt before stepping into her bedroom slippers.

"As I recall, you were quite the willing participant," Spock pointed out as he slipped his own robe on and stood up, heading for the bathroom and a sonic shower.

"Would you have preferred me to resist?" she threw back.

Spock stopped in his tracks and gave his wife an affectionately exasperated look. "That would have been most illogical, since I could have easily injured you without meaning to."

"Then it's fortunate that I didn't," she remarked before visibly deflating when he gave her a look to end all looks and disappeared into the bathroom.

Christine sighed and punched up a sumptuous dinner for two from Room Service, making up the table first and then the bed before straightening up the room as she waited to use the bathroom and have a shower herself.

* * *

Christine waited three days before having Corrigan check her again; this time, he confirmed that she was indeed pregnant again. The following morning, she and Spock rose, showered and dressed, sharing a leisurely breakfast before calling his parents. Amanda's smiling face soon appeared, her blue eyes lighting up at the sight of her son and daughter-in-law.

"Spock ... Christine, my dear. Haven't heard from you for almost ten days. To what do we owe the pleasure of this call?"

Chris smiled and crossed fingers with her husband. "Spock has an important announcement to make."

"Yes, my son?"

"I am pleased to report that Christine is once again pregnant."

The older woman's eyes widened in stunned disbelief. "Did you say what I think you just said?"

"Indeed," Spock confirmed. "Christine and I are again expecting a child."

Amanda frowned thoughtfully. "Spock, were you near your Mating Time?"

Spock's cheeks colored pale green, but he nodded. "I was."

His mother smiled knowingly. "I thought so." Then tears welled up in her eyes. "Thank God," she said -- then looked squarely at her son and his wife. "Spock, your father will be so pleased when I tell him. We've waited so long for this."

"You mean he is not at home?"

"No. He just left for the Science Academy."

"Then you must inform him upon his arrival home."

"Believe me, I will." Then Amanda's expression became dreamy. "This is almost as wonderful as the day I gave birth to you, Spock ... not to mention the moment you were placed in my arms."

"We are every bit as pleased as you, Mother -- and Christine assures me that everything will go well with this baby, so you and Father may expect to become grandparents within the next 9.5 months."

At that moment, the three heard the doorbell chime at Spock's family home. "Well, I've got to go now. That's T'Pala come for her weekly instruction. I'll talk to you -- and see you both -- later. Farewell, my son. Goodbye, Christine, my dear ... and congratulations."

The couple smiled and thanked her, then looked strangely at each other, one of Spock's upswept brows raised in surprise once Amanda's image had faded from their small viewer.

"Did she say `T'Pala'?"

"I believe so."

"But what could your mother possibly be teaching her?"

"Unknown. I suggest you ask either T'Pala or Mother that question at your first opportunity."

* * *

It was a week later that Christine managed to remember to ask the Vulcan woman what she was learning from Amanda. "T'Pala, could I ask you something?"

"What do you wish to know?"

"Spock and I were speaking with his mother recently and she said she had a pupil named T'Pala who came twice a week for private instruction. Is it you?"

"Indeed. I am studying with her in order to obtain the necessary credits for my Ph.D. degree."

"Do you intend to specialize in any particular area once that is accomplished?"

"I will likely go into Vulcan psychology -- or more accurately, the psychology concerning relationships between Vulcans and non-Vulcans, particularly those Vulcans who marry off-worlders ... such as Ambassador Sarek marrying the Lady Amanda, and Commander Spock marrying you."

Christine couldn't help smiling at the thought. Too bad there couldn't have been one such as T'Pala years ago. Things would probably have gone much easier for all of them ... and the two months she and Spock had spent apart might never have happened if they had had someone trained in such matters to sit down with and discuss their difficulties.

"I hope you succeed, T'Pala. With more and more Vulcans marrying off-worlders, your services are bound to be in great demand once you set up practice."

"Thank you. My specialty is still relatively new, so not much is known of it."

Well, if anyone would know of it, Amanda would, Christine chuckled, prompting a surprised eyebrow from the Vulcan woman.

"I'd better get back upstairs before Spock returns. He had an errand to run at the Science Academy and promised to return with an hour and a half."

The other woman nodded and turned back to her work as Christine gathered her belongings (which included more medical cataloguing for Dr. Corrigan) and stepped into the transporter booth to beam herself back up to the hotel suite she now shared with Spock on the third floor.

* * *

Christine also wrote Uhura as soon as possible after her pregnancy had been confirmed, receiving this reply ten days later:

Hi, Chris. Congrats on being pregnant again. Dr. McCoy told me the day after the Captain received the holovid from Spock. You should see those two -- the way they're acting, one would think they themselves were going to be parents instead of you and Spock. They're strutting around like peacocks with their chests stuck out and sporting such big, silly grins that I'm surprised their faces don't split. Everyone's happy about it, but them!

Uhura sighed.

Oh well, I guess I'll just have to grin and bear it until you two get back. Which reminds me -- have you decided what you're going to do after the baby's born? Please let me know as soon as you know, since I want a chance to care for your baby if possible. I hope you'll be able to figure out a way to serve on the Enterprise and still have your baby with you. Fleet Command might be very reluctant to allow the baby on board, but I'm counting on you and Spock to convince them that the two of you are too valuable to Starfleet and the Enterprise to quit the service in order to raise your child. If they want to keep you both on active duty, they'll have to give in whether they want to or not.

Uhura laughed and Christine joined in.

Well, that's all I can think of to say for now, so I'll close here. Take care of yourself, kiss your baby for me and give Spock my best. Hope to see you all soon.

Love always,

Nyota

* * *

A few days later Christine was surprised to find T'Pala standing at the door of the suite after answering the brisk knock.

"T'Pala, what brings you here?"

"I wish to speak with you about something very important. In fact, I would consider it a favor, for I am due to marry soon."

"Congratulations," Chris said.

Delicate brows shot up, but T'Pala was gracious. "Thank you. My request is this. My bondmate wished for me to approach you and Mr. Spock, see if the two of you would be willing to attend us at our koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony in nine months' time."

"It all depends on whether or not I feel up to it, and if Spock isn't busy at the Science Academy. We don't want to risk this baby. He might also consider it more logical to continue his work at the Academy."

"I can understand that; therefore, I am not demanding an immediate answer. All I can ask is that you discuss it with him and give me your answer as soon as possible in order that Salek and I may plan accordingly."

"I'll let you know what we decide at the first opportunity after I've spoken with Spock about it," Christine promised.

"We will abide by your decision. Thank you for our time. Farewell." The Vulcan woman saluted and departed.

Christine thought over T'Pala's unusual (not to mention unexpected) request as she showered and dressed. It wasn't every day that one was asked to be an attendant at a Vulcan wedding, so Chris felt singled out, even honored, to have been chosen.

She was certain Spock would also be pleased at the request, but was also certain that he would put top priority on her health and that of their child -- not to mention what he considered almost a pet project, something he had been working on with his father Sarek at the Academy for the last six weeks. It had been many years since the two had worked together on anything, and after spending eighteen long, painful years estranged from his father, Spock wasn't about to jeopardize the new-found closeness between himself and the father he both dearly loved and deeply respected.

She was dying of curiosity as to what they were working on, but Spock hadn't volunteered any information, even after six weeks, so Christine eventually accepted the apparent fact that she would probably never know. Be that as it may, she suspected it had something to do with computers, a mutual interest of Spock and his father.

As for the other matter, she was sure they would attend T'Pala and Salek at their wedding if at all possible. In the meantime, she had an appointment for a checkup. It was also necessary for her to turn in the medical cataloguing she had been doing for Dr. Corrigan.

It definitely wasn't as challenging as her regular medical duties, but at least it was in her chosen field and saved her from climbing the wall with boredom since Spock wouldn't let her go out

and work full-time for fear of endangering the baby's health -- and her own. She didn't like to admit it but knew he was right, so she was thankful for the cataloguing that kept her busy during the time Spock was away at the Academy.

After her appointment and the turning in of the aforementioned cataloguing, she planned to meet Spock at the Academy for a late lunch since Dr. Corrigan's office was in the same building complex -- having already decided to pick up more work to do at home, then possibly discuss T'Pala's request with him over their midday meal. Spock was waiting at a table for two in the Academy's air-conditioned Commissary when his wife arrived; after the two crossed fingers, he seated her, then himself after making sure she was comfortable.

"Spock, I've been wondering about something," Chris finally said after a few moments of silence.

"Like what, my wife?"

"Where did you stay before you moved in with me?"

"At my estate," came the reply.

"Did you feel at home there?"

"No," he returned simply.

"Why not?"

"Because you were not there with me."

She smiled and they crossed fingers again. "You mean you consider living at the hotel with me being at home?"

Spock gave an affectionately exasperated sigh. "I believe I said that. Now may we order our meal? I have not eaten all day."

She frowned at him for not having eaten earlier, but flagged down a waiter so Spock could order their meal. "Your meal, sir ... madam," the young Vulcan attendant said ten minutes later, guiding a well-laden antigrav table in front of him.

Spock gave the waiter a meaningful look. "I will handle it from here."

"Yes, sir." The young man nodded and departed.

Christine moved to help but Spock made her sit down, dishing out the food himself from the three large pots on the table. Her own brows raised when he placed a large plate of rice and assorted vegetables in what looked like sour cream before her.

"Is it unappetizing?" he wondered upon noticing her reaction.

Chris smiled and shook her head. "Oh, no, it smells wonderful. I just feel so lazy with you doing all the work. I'm usually the one waiting on you."

"It is something every Vulcan husband does for his wife. I am merely being true to my heritage," her husband informed her. "Now would you like some tulac or would you prefer something else?"

"Tulac is fine, thank you." As the meal progressed, Christine commented, "You know, Spock, I'm really developing a taste for this dish. What did you say it was called?"

"Tirqueen Mi," he replied. "It is a mixture of vegetables in a thick sauce similar to sour cream served over rice."

"Whatever's in it, it's delicious. So much so that I want another helping."

Spock frowned with concern and stopped eating. "My wife, it is unwise for you to overeat."

Christine laughed and patted her belly. "You forget, Spock, that I'm eating for two now. That's why I have a larger appetite ... and it's normal to gain about 10-15 kilos over the course of a pregnancy."

The Vulcan sighed and resumed eating. "Very well -- as long as you take care of yourself and follow Dr. Corrigan's recommendations."

"My husband, I do believe you're making noises like a mother hen," Chris teased after taking another swallow of chilled tulac.

"I am simply concerned for your health and that of our child. It is only logical." Spock sounded almost indignant.

"I know. I was just teasing."

She reached her right hand across the table and rested it on her husband's; he looked up at her, meeting her blue eyes with his brown. Neither said a word, but unspoken love flowed between them. Within an hour the meal was over and Spock was stacking the dishes, pots, glasses and silverware on the table. Christine had never felt so lazy, like the galaxy's biggest goof-off, and told her husband as much. Spock merely frowned at her, quietly but firmly ordering her to their ground-car after crossing fingers with her again.

She sighed but reluctantly complied, for there was no way to win an argument with Spock when he was in this kind of mood. Oh, well, I suppose I should consider myself lucky to have a husband who wants to baby me, Chris told herself as she reached the car and got in, setting herself into the contoured passenger seat as the belt automatically locked around her and the climate adjusted itself for her comfort.

Spock came ten minutes later; on the way home they discussed T'Pala's request. The two of them eventually agreed that they would attend T'Pala and Salek -- if she felt all right, and if he wasn't

too busy at the Academy. Christine knew it was the best she could expect, so she didn't argue ... because arguing with a Vulcan was a lost cause. Now all she had to do was inform T'Pala of the decision.

* * *

After finishing her shower, Chris donned her robe and headed back into the bedroom, finding her husband dressing. "Spock, I just realized something," she said as she walked up to him, automatically raising her two fingers to cross with his. "I'm six months pregnant."

"So?"

"I was six months along when I lost the baby last time. I'm sure you remember."

Remember? How could he forget? Even as illogical as it was, Spock still harbored guilt for not having done more to protect his wife and unborn child. There was nothing he could do to change what had happened, but the feeling still existed -- and persisted.

Christine felt it through their link and put a comforting hand on his cheek. "Don't feel badly, beloved. You couldn't have known it was going to happen."

"I still believe that there was more I could have done to ensure your safety and that of our child. Instead, I let my guard down; as a result, we were attacked and you received the beating which caused you to lose the baby."

"It's over and done with, Spock. There's nothing we can do about it now. Besides, we'll soon have another child." Christ patted her pregnant belly to prove her point.

"For which I am thankful." Spock opened his arms; Christine moved into them. He held her close, warmly kissing the silky cap of her hair.

She smiled as she held him tightly, clasped hands resting on the small of his back. "We'd never have had it if I'd let you sever our bond and dissolve our marriage like you wanted to."

"My wife, there is no point in recriminations at this late date." The Vulcan sounded almost exasperated.

She laughed and playfully kissed him. "I can see that you still have difficulty telling the difference between teasing and the truth. I'll have to make it my business to correct that." Chris moved out of her husband's arms and carefully adjusted his shirt so that it lay smooth. "You'd better get moving. You have less than an hour before your father expects you."

"Forty-one point six-seven-five minutes, to be exact," came the reply.

Christine sighed and began to turn around, gently pushing him toward the transporter even as she ran her fingers lightly down his spine, enjoying his involuntary shiver at her action. "Get going. I'll see you when you get back."

Spock stiffened his back and made himself step onto the transporter, beaming out to the hotel lobby before heading to the parking lot and his waiting ground-car moments after materializing and nodding a greeting to T'Pala at the front desk.

* * *

Kirk had barely finished dressing when his buzzer sounded; he pressed the button at his bedside to unlock the door and headed for the living area of his quarters. "Come." His eyes widened as Uhura stepped in, a frown of concern wrinkling her forehead. It must be important for her to come here; she rarely visited him in his quarters. It was more common for her to approach him in the Officers' Mess, Rec Room, or gym. Both considered the Bridge a place where work -- and only work -- took place, except in emergencies.

"May I speak privately with you, Captain?"

"Of course, Uhura. What's on your mind?"

"Have you heard anything from Spock?"

"Just that holovid a few months ago telling us about Christine being pregnant again. Haven't you heard back from her yet?"

"A short note not long after that, but nothing since. That was three months ago. I hope nothing's wrong. Remember, she was six months along when she lost their last baby."

Kirk tried to reassure his crewmember and friend. "I'm sure we'd have heard something if anything of that nature had happened ... and if I know Spock, he's gotten himself involved in some pet project. That could explain why we haven't heard from him."

"What of Chris?"

"I don't know. All we can do is wait and hope that we soon hear from one or both of them. Which reminds me -- we haven't had mail call yet, so there could easily be another holovid or something waiting for us."

"I hope you're right."

"So do I. Anything else?"

Uhura shook her head. "Can't think of anything else offhand."

"Let me know if you hear anything."

"Will do ... and be sure to tell me if you hear before I do."

"You know it. Now you'd better get up to the Bridge before I decide to dock you for being late," Kirk teased her. "I'll be up in a few minutes."

"Yes, sir," Uhura quipped, giving her Captain a sly smile before the doors of his quarters slid shut behind her.

* * *

Christine awakened at 0530, smiling when she felt the warmth of her husband's body as he slept deeply, snuggled close to her and holding her from behind, clasped hands resting on her large belly.

*Spock?*

*Is anything wrong?* His mind-voice sounded drowsy.

*Oh, no, I'm fine.* She felt his relief through the bond, his embrace tightening as she relaxed against him. *But there is something I want to ask you.*

*Specify.*

*Did I ever tell you what I told Leonard not long after you left?*

*No. What did you tell him?* Spock was fully awake now.

*That I was hoping your leaving had just been a bad dream, that I hadn't lost our baby -- and that I would wake up to find myself in bed with you, in your arms, and feeling our baby move inside me...* Even as Chris thought it, she felt a vigorous kick in her upper left abdomen, directing Spock's hand to the appropriate spot. *I was more prophetic than I knew,* she laughed.

*How so?*

*Well, I just woke up; I'm in your arms in our bed and am feeling our baby move inside me... That reminds me, I ought to drop Nyota a line and let her know what's been going on. I'm sure she's worried about us.*

Spock also felt a twinge of guilt for allowing such long gaps between letters to Jim. His friend was surely concerned about his long silence as well, so he would have to take the time to write or record a letter and bring him up-to-date. In the meantime, he would have Christine tell Uhura to tell Jim to expect a letter from him in the near future.

*I'll be glad to, he heard in his mind. In the meantime, you'd better get up and get dressed. You're due at the Academy in less than half an hour ... and *please*, if only for my sake, eat some breakfast!*

*If it will please you, my wife.* She felt his mind-laughter as he turned to face her and lifted her chin for a goodbye kiss. *I will return at 1800,* he informed her as he got up and began dressing.

*I'll be expecting you,* she replied as she again snuggled under the covers, burying her face in their shared pillow and smiling as she breathed in the lingering essence of him.

Just the sight of her curves outlined beneath the covers stirred desire deep within the Vulcan's body as well as an impulse to call his father and forego his regular trip to the Academy -- but it was too late for that. He summoned all his strength and finished dressing, leaving the bedroom for the kitchen to fix himself a quick breakfast as he had promised Christine he would. Five minutes later Spock departed the suite, beaming down to the in-building parking lot.

Spock pressed a button on the remote control in his pocket upon reaching the parking lot, activating the ground-car's engine and setting a comfortable temperature in the driver's compartment before stepping inside. The seat belt automatically locked around him as he settled himself into the contoured seat, then shifted into drive and smoothly accelerated onto the main road leading to the Science Academy.

Christine rose an hour later, showering and breakfasting before sitting at her desk with the intention of recording another long-delayed letter to Uhura. She leaned back in her chair as she rested a cup of herbal tea on the small "shelf" her large belly made, smiling as she again felt the baby move inside her. She skimmed over Uhura's last letter before beginning her own, settling down to dictate another missive to her friend, who must surely be worried sick after no word from her for nearly three months.

"Please forgive me for being such a terrible correspondent, Ny," she implored her friend. "But these things happen when one is in my situation, so please bear with me. I should be back to normal soon.

"In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that everything is fine on this end. I had another checkup yesterday; Dr. Corrigan says the baby is strong and healthy, so he sees no reason why I should not carry this one full-term. Oh, to be a mother again... You can imagine how happy I was to hear that; not to mention Spock, though naturally he did not show it. But I felt his happiness through our bond, so that is what matters. Speaking of Spock, he said to have you tell the Captain to be expecting another letter from him soon.

"He has been busy at the Science Academy these last few months, working on some project with his father. I have not been able to pry anything out of him as to just what it is they are doing, although I suspect it has something to do with computers, but that is par for the course. If he wants me to know, he will tell me, so I must be patient and not pressure him. But let me tell you, it is not easy when you are fairly dying of curiosity.

"Oh yes, before I forget, we have been having long, involved discussions regarding our plans for after the baby is born, just kicking around several ideas, but do not worry, we should reach a final decision soon. I will try my best to keep you posted. At any rate, give our best to the Captain and Dr. McCoy, tell them to hang in there, it should not be much longer. I miss you all and hope we will all be together again real soon.

"Love you lots,

"Chris"

* * *

Uhura received her friend's holovid a week later. Thank God she was off-shift so she could sit down and watch it instead of having to wait eight hours. She intended to view it by herself first, then call the Captain and Dr. McCoy and show it to them.

* * *

Spock arose early and dressed quietly, intending to leave his wife peacefully sleeping as he prepared to write a letter to Jim -- this one handwritten, so as not to disturb her. He bent down and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, then turned around and headed for the nearby desk, allowing himself a smile as he watched her sleep. He was certain that she had never looked as beautiful to him as she did now. Her face literally glowed ... and he could not have been more pleased with the progress of her latest pregnancy. If the last two weeks went as well as the preceding nine months, he and Christine would soon be parents again -- for the first time since leaving their first child behind them in the past.

"Greetings, my friend," he began. "Again, please accept my apologies for the considerable delay, but I have been quite busy. I cannot give you details at the moment, so I ask that you trust me and believe that I will tell you all as soon as possible.

"I have contacted Starfleet Command regarding the possibility of Christine and I bringing our child aboard the Enterprise with us after he or she is born. Please assure Dr. McCoy that Christine is well and that the baby is strong and healthy. She is due to give birth sometime during the ensuing two weeks, but Dr. Corrigan has informed us that the child could arrive at any time.

"As for the other matter, they are reluctant to allow us to retain our commissions and raise our child, but I have pointed out that it is more logical that we be allowed to remain in the service and bring our child with us since we are too valuable to Starfleet and the Enterprise to simply resign. I suspect that they will still be unwilling to grant permission, but will ultimately do so if they wish to retain our services for the Federation. In that event, you may expect our return in approximately eight weeks, barring any unforeseen complications. We have also been asked to attend two young friends at their koon- ut-kali-if-fee in 3.25 days. I will give you details of this at the first opportunity ... and inform you of the exact star date and time of our return as soon as I know for certain what the decision concerning our request is to be."

He heard Christine stir and sigh deeply, knowing she would soon wake, so he would have to close his letter and prepare it for transmission.

"I must close here, my friend. I will contact you again at the earliest possible moment.

"Live long and prosper ...

Spock"

Moments later the letter was ready. He would transmit it before he departed for the Academy.

* * *

Christine reached one arm out, feeling for her husband, but her hand encountered empty space. She yawned deeply, stretched and opened her eyes, calling his name.

"Spock, are you still here?"

He materialized at her side almost immediately. "Are you all right, my wife?"

She gave him a reassuring smile when she felt his love and concern through the bond. "I'm okay. I was just wondering where you were."

"Completing some unfinished business."

"The letter to the Captain, I take it."

"Affirmative. Would you like me to assist you?" he asked when he saw her trying to get up.

"I would appreciate it, yes."

He slipped one arm under her back, the other under her knees, effortlessly lifting her from the bed and placing her on her feet after deftly capturing her lips in a good-morning kiss.

"Don't you think I'm heavy?"

"Negative."

"How can I not be? I feel like I weigh a ton."

"Sixty-eight point one-eight kilograms, to be exact. Considerably less than a ton."

"I swear, Spock, sometimes you're entirely too nice. Just too good to be true," Christine observed as she began to dress.

He raised an inquisitive eyebrow at her.

"And don't you ever change!" she laughed, stroking his cheek with a finger before disappearing into the bathroom to wash her face, brush her teeth and apply her makeup after dressing.

"Will you be all right while I am away?"

"I intend to do that cataloguing for Dr. Corrigan, so I should be. Everything I need is right here, so there's no reason for me to leave the room -- but if I need help, you'll know it."

Chris saw the unspoken worry reflected in her husband's velvet eyes. "If the project Father and I are working on were not so important, I would not leave you alone. You are due to give birth very soon; I have no wish to take unnecessary risks with your life or that of our child."

"I really don't think anything will happen, but I'll be careful just the same."

The Vulcan sighed deeply and lifted his wife's face for his kiss. "I must leave now. If all goes well, you may expect me at the usual time."

"All right, Spock." They crossed fingers, then he turned for the transporter booth.

*Please be careful, my wife. Your life and that of our child are very precious to me.*

*Just as you are precious to me.* He put a loving hand on her cheek; she held it there for a moment, then kissed it.

*I really must go,* he told her -- but she sensed his reluctance.

*I love you,* she told him.

*And I you,* Chris heard in her mind just before Spock stepped into the transporter and beamed out.

* * *

Spock was very reluctant to allow his wife to attend T'Pala at the latter's wedding within the hour because Christine was so close to her time that even a little added stress could bring on labor.

*Don't worry, Spock,* he heard in his mind. *I'm a nurse; I know what I'm doing.*

*I still believe it unwise for you to participate. You are still unaccustomed to Vulcan's climate, especially in your present condition.*

*I'll have my medikit with me ... and have already taken an injection of tri-ox. It should last me through the wedding.*

*Very well,* he sighed, reluctantly giving in.

Christine appeared moments later, long hair piled on top of her head. She was attractively attired in a pale blue, flowing Vulcan gown and white sandaled slippers. A tiny heart-shaped gold pendant on a thin chain and IDIC earrings accompanied her gold wedding ring.

"I'm ready, Spock."

"As am I. Let us leave now."

They beamed directly to the parking lot; he admonished her to stand and wait while he brought the car. She sighed in affectionate exasperation but gave in. They took off once Christine was settled, heading for the arena owned by Salek's family, not far from the one owned by Spock's. Christine noted an aircar and another ground-car parked not far away as they pulled in and parked. Spock again helped her out and the couple went in search of T'Pala and Salek, her bondmate ... but it was the latter who found them.

"Commander Spock, Lady Christine. Peace and long life to thee," the younger Vulcan said, respectully saluting the older married couple.

Christine marveled at his uncanny resemblance to Spock. Were they related in some way -- a distant cousin, perhaps?

"Salek," Spock said, returning the salute. "Live long and prosper."

"Where is T'Pala?" Christine wondered.

"She is dressing. She will join us shortly ... and allow me to thank you both for consenting to attend us. We have no family living nearby whom we could ask. I have admired you for many years, Commander, so I requested that T'Pala ask you and the Lady Christine to attend us once she informed me of your presence planetside." Salek then raised an eyebrow reminiscent of Spock upon noting the older woman's advanced pregnancy. "Are you certain you will be all right, My Lady?"

"I'm a nurse, Salek. I'll be fine," Christine assured him.

"Had I known of your advanced pregnancy, I would have asked T'Pala to approach someone else," the young man apologized.

Christine smiled. "You're beginning to sound like Spock. Believe me, I can handle it ... but thank you for your concern, anyway. When is the ceremony due to begin?"

"Within the next quarter-hour."

Their heads turned at the sound of T'Pala's voice. She was lovely, tall and slender in a simple but elegant dress with matching white sandals. Her long black hair was elaborately styled, but her only jewelry was a gold and silver betrothal necklace from Salek. She walked up to them, crossing fingers with him and also saluting the older couple.

"Salek and I thank you for coming."

"We wouldn't miss it," Christine declared.

"It is time. Come, T'Pala," Salek said to his bride, lifting his fingers to cross with hers again as the two couples made their way to where the elderly priestess T'Pau was seated. T'Pau officiated at every Vulcan wedding, particularly those of ruling clans such as Spock's ... and Christine later discovered that he and Salek were indeed distantly related. She and Spock then took their designated places and the ceremony began.

* * *

"Wasn't it a lovely wedding, Spock?" Christine asked as he helped her back to the ground-car an hour later. He nodded with a half-smile as he situated her in the passenger seat and got in behind the wheel. About a third of the way home she felt the beginnings of labor pains; she was reluctant to tell Spock but knew she had to before he felt them through the link. "Spock, I think we'd better go to the hospital."

"You are feeling labor pains?"

"They just started," came the reply as Christine winced and held her large belly protectively.

Spock felt her pain and wanted to link with her in a healing meld, but knew it was more logical to get her to the Science Academy and Dr. Corrigan's capable hands with all possible speed.

Corrigan was waiting when they arrived, ushering Spock into the delivery room and gesturing toward the birthing bed, where he would place his wife after removing her dress, pantyhose and shoes. Slightly over fourteen hours later they were the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl with brownish-blonde hair and a fair complexion, but her father's ears, upswept brows and dark eyes. Christine was thankful that Spock had been with her, joining his mind to hers in a healing meld in order to ease the pain of childbirth.

She loved him all the more for doing it, but hated having to inflict it on him. Tears of joy misted her eyes when the baby was shown to her.

*Oh, Spock, she's gorgeous -- and best of all, she has your eyes!*

Spock allowed himself a smile at his wife's obvious happiness, communicating to her his own unspoken joy at once again becoming a father.

*She is beautiful, Christine. I believe she takes after her mother that way.*

*Flatterer!* she laughed through the link.

"Thank you, Doctor," Spock said.

Corrigan smiled and shrugged. "Thank you, Spock, for giving me this opportunity. Something told me that Chris would have the baby today, so I hightailed it to the hospital -- and when you called, I knew I'd been right to come."

"Spock, have you called your parents yet?" Christine asked.

*I will do so as soon as you are settled in,* she heard in her mind as the couple crossed fingers, then the Vulcan leaned down for one last kiss before his wife fell into a deep sleep.

* * *

Christine awakened two hours later to warm lips brushing her eyelids, opening her eyes and smiling into the beloved face above hers. "Christine."

"Spock."

The couple crossed fingers.

"Mother and Father have arrived. Do you wish to see them?"

At her nod, Spock beckoned toward the door and the older couple stepped in. Sarek gave his daughter-in-law a half-smile and salute, then stood quietly next to his son. Amanda leaned down and kissed Christine.

"How are you, my dear?"

"A little tired yet."

"That's to be expected. Having a baby takes a lot out of you. I remember how I slept the entire afternoon after having Spock." Amanda winked at her son; he raised an eyebrow in response.

"Have you seen the baby yet?"

Amanda nodded. "She's beautiful. You and Spock really outdid yourselves. Have you named her yet?" The older woman smiled her approval upon learning the baby's name. "How much longer do you intend to remain on Vulcan?"

"According to Spock, eight more weeks," Chris said.

"I bet you can't wait to get back on board ship," Amanda remarked.

"It will be good to see everyone again," the younger woman admitted.

"Have you obtained permission from Starfleet Command to take your child on board with you?"

"Final permission was received this morning. It was difficult to persuade them, but they finally relented," Spock explained.

Christine shot a hard look in his direction. *Why didn't you tell me?*

*There was no opportunity to do so until now,* Spock apologized.

"So they finally realized how valuable the two of you really are. About time," Amanda observed.

"They just couldn't let us go -- even if it meant bending regulations," Christine laughed.

"I believe 'special circumstances' is how they phrased it," Spock put in, again lifting his hand to cross fingers with his wife.

"Who knows, it may start a trend. Perhaps one day they'll allow entire families aboard starships," his mother speculated.

"Not in this generation, I fear," Spock contradicted.

Christine smiled and winked at her husband, prompting an astonished eyebrow, then turned back toward her mother-in-law. "Oh yes, before I forget. Amanda, I've been meaning to ask you. How is T'Pala doing with her instruction?"

"Quite well. In fact, she is due to receive her Ph.D. as soon as she returns from her honeymoon."

"My wife, I believe it is time for our evening meal," the elder Vulcan reminded her.

Amanda looked at the bedside chronometer. "So it is. We've got to go now, dear ... but we'll be back tomorrow." She again kissed her daughter-in-law and nodded to her son, who saluted his parents as the older couple departed, crossing fingers as they stepped out the door.

"I have called for our evening meal to be brought here, my wife," Spock informed her.

"Good. I'm famished." *Not to mention wanting very much to be alone with you,* Christine finished through the link.

Spock raised an eyebrow, then smiled for her alone. *And as soon as we have had our meal, our daughter is due for hers.*

* * *

TWO WEEKS LATER

"Come," Uhura said, unlocking her door after rising from her bed, clad in an African print caftan with her black hair loose and falling over her shoulders.

"Uhura, guess what?" Kirk sounded as excited as a child when he stepped inside and the doors closed behind him.

"What?"

"I just received a letter from Spock."

"Don't you mean a holovid?"

"No, a letter." He held it up to show her. "Have you heard from Christine?"

"I got a holovid from her a few days ago."

"Then let's compare notes, see if he said something she didn't -- or vice versa."

"Shouldn't Dr. McCoy be here, too? He's as much their friend as we are."

"He should be here any minute now," the Captain remarked casually.

Uhura's buzzer sounded before she could reply. "Come in, Doctor," she sighed.

A surprised McCoy stepped through the door, brows raised. "How'd y'all know it was me?"

"I have my ways," Uhura dead panned. "Now shall we get down to business?"

* * *

An hour later the three sat around Uhura's cabin discussing the communications from their two friends. "The stardate on Chris's letter was two weeks ago, so it wouldn't surprise me if she's had the baby by now," the Bantu woman said.

"Provided nothing's gone wrong," McCoy put in.

"Bones, don't be so pessimistic. Spock told me that the doctor said the baby was strong and healthy."

"I hope you're right," came the cautious reply.

Uhura sighed and leaned back in her chair. "I wonder if Chris had a boy or a girl. She never mentioned one way or the other."

"We should find out pretty soon, since we're due to pick them up in six weeks," Kirk reminded them.

"It sounds like they succeeded in convincing Fleet Command to let them bring their child on board ship," McCoy replied, a grin spreading over his face at the thought of having a baby on board ship for the first time.

"Spock can be quite persuasive when he chooses to be," the Captain pointed out as he shifted to a more comfortable position in his chair.

"Don't I know it," the Chief Surgeon wryly observed with a telltale twinkle in his eye. "But Chris is no slouch on that score, either ... not when she can get Spock back in spite of his determination to just walk away."

"Well, to get back to the subject," Uhura broke in. "It's going to be wonderful seeing them again. Do you realize it's been almost a year and a half? We have a lot of time to make up for."

McCoy heartily concurred. "That's for sure. Well, I'd better get cracking on fixing up part of Sickbay as a nursery. See y'all later."

"Later," Kirk and Uhura said in unison as the Doctor disappeared through the doors. A few minutes later the Captain stood up and headed for the doors as well.

"I'm going to have some dinner and a shower, then hit the sack. We've had a tough day; it's time to relax."

"Tell me about it," the lovely dark woman dead panned as she stood up and stretched her sleek body. "I'm going to take a shower too and go to bed. I'll see you in the morning, Captain."

Kirk watched Uhura walk away, unable to help noting the sensuous sway of her hips. He moved to the door by sheer willpower. If I don't leave now, Spock's child might have company in the nursery. For the umpteenth time, Kirk wished there was no such thing as the no-fraternization reg.

He'd lost count of how many cold showers he'd taken because of it! How could Starfleet put a mixed crew on a starship in deep space for five years and then expect them not to socialize with each other when off-duty -- and yes, even 'fraternize' ... intimately and on a regular basis? What did Fleet Command think they were, a bunch of robots?

We're flesh and blood, for God's sake. If we see an opportunity for some loving, we're naturally going to jump at it -- so to speak. Hell, if a Vulcan like Spock can give in to the pleasures of the flesh, then even marry and have children while in the service, kindly tell me how Fleet bureaucrats figure a co-ed crew of *Humans* gets along while confined to a starship for five years! Oh, the hell with it. I can't think straight on an empty stomach, Jim declared to himself.

He forced the whole crazy bureaucratic mess out of his mind, mentally figuring his dinner menu as he stepped into the turbolift and told the computer, "Officers' Mess," then leaned against the 'lift wall and closed his eyes.

* * *

The next six weeks passed all too quickly for the small family on Vulcan. Almost before they knew it, the Enterprise had arrived and assumed standard orbit. Fortunately Spock had completed the aforementioned project with his father two days previously, having to spend many a night working in order to complete it before his scheduled departure.

"Do you have everything, Chris?" Amanda asked as she noted her daughter-in-law's approach with the last of her and the baby's belongings.

"I believe so," was the reply. "How is T'Aimee?" Chris glanced lovingly at her infant daughter nestled in her grandmother's arms.

"Sleeping." Amanda kissed her granddaughter's forehead. "You know, T'Aimee is a perfect name. I've never seen a more beautiful child ... except maybe for Spock when he was a baby." The two women exchanged a knowing smile.

Spock came up to them at that moment, crossing fingers with his wife. "They are standing by in the Transporter Room. Are you ready, my wife?"

"Ready as I'll ever be," Christine said, holding out her arms to receive her daughter. Amanda reluctantly relinquished the sleeping infant to her mother's waiting arms.

"You have no idea how much I hate to let her -- or any of you -- go. Heaven only knows how long it will be this time before I see you all again." Amanda tried and failed to keep tears from her voice at the prospect of yet another long separation from her son and daughter-in- law, not to mention missing so much of her only grandchild's life.

"We'll miss you too, believe me. I'll write you as often as I can," Christine promised.

"And send holographs as often as possible," the older woman admonished as she gathered her daughter-in-law and grandchild into her arms for one last hug and kiss.

"Spock, call the ship and have us beamed aboard ... quickly." Tears were obvious in the younger woman's voice too. "This is tearing me apart."

"Farewell, Mother," Spock said, saluting her. "Live long and prosper."

"Peace and long life, my son," Amanda replied, giving her three loved ones a watery smile as she returned his salute. "Please take care of yourself, Christine and the baby."

Spock nodded in acknowledgment and said, "Energize," into his communicator, giving his tearful wife a comforting squeeze with his free arm just before they began to dematerialize.

* * *

Their next sight was of Kirk, McCoy, Scott and Uhura waiting for them. They had scarcely stepped off the transporter platform before they were enveloped in handshakes, embraces and kisses -- even Spock. Uhura managed to reach Christine first, giving her friend a warm hug before relieving her of her tiny burden.

"You look wonderful, Chris. I've missed you so much! Is this your baby? He ... or is it she? ... is beautiful. What's the baby's name?"

Christine deftly extricated herself, laughing and crying at the same time. "Let me catch my breath first, okay? The baby's a girl; her name is T'Aimee."

"Appropriate." Uhura smiled her approval. "She's gorgeous. Caring for her will be a treat."

The next to descend on Christine was McCoy, enfolding his friend and colleague in a bear hug. "I declare, Chris, you've never looked better. I can't tell you how much I've missed you!"

"I missed you too, Leonard," came the reply once Chris could breathe again.

"Where's your baby?"

"Nyota has her."

"Her? You mean you had a girl?"

Christine nodded; McCoy shook his head in wonder. "Leave it to Uhura to get her innings in first!"

"Come on, Bones, don't hog her," came Kirk's indignant voice. "Let me say hello, too."

The Doctor reluctantly moved away to let the Captain greet Christine. "You look great. Marriage and motherhood really seem to agree with you."

After they had shared a brief hug, he looked around for Spock, finding the Vulcan deep in conversation with McCoy and Scotty. As for Uhura, the Bantu was still holding the tiny girl and crooning a Swahili lullaby. Soon even Scotty got into the act, gently kissing the baby's forehead.

"Ah ha' ne'er seen such a bonnie wee lass, Mr. Spock. You an' Miss Chapel really outdid y'rselves. Wha' is y'r wee lass's name?"

"T'Aimee," came the reply from the proud father.

"Oh yes, Spock, Chris," McCoy broke in. "The nursery's all ready if you'd like to take a look at it."

Spock answered for them. "Let us settle into our quarters first, Doctor."

"No hurry, Spock. Come down whenever you're ready."

* * *

Everything went well for the first six weeks back, the Enterprise somehow managing to avoid any major problem or trouble. A minor miracle, if you ask me, Kirk thought. That is, until stardate 5934.13. At 1126 hours, the bridge crew felt a shaking under their feet, giving each other questioning looks. "Uhura, what the hell was that?" Jim demanded.

"I believe it was an explosion on one of the lower decks," came her stiffly professional reply, ill-concealing Uhura's concern for the safety of everyone in the immediate vicinity, especially Chris and little T'Aimee, just three and a half months old. But she had no way of knowing whether or not they had been spared ... and would worry until she did. "Mr. Spock?"

"Sensors indicate that an explosion resulted from an incorrect mixture of two extremely volatile chemicals. Another is due within moments."

The Vulcan's voice was as stiffly professional as Uhura's had been, illogically wishing that he knew whether or not his wife and infant daughter were still alive. At this point, he felt Christine's presence through their bond, taking comfort in the knowledge that she was alive, though badly hurt due to the sharp pain he had felt along with it two point five-three minutes ago. She was hurt, but he was unable to go to her, help her ... unless--

"Captain, I request permission to assist in the rescue effort."

Kirk saw the worry in his friend's eyes ... worry not only for crewmen in the vicinity, but his wife and child. "Granted. Go ahead, Spock."

It was all the Vulcan could do not to run to the turbolift. He managed to make it there before the area was sealed off, searching for his wife while the disaster team searched for breaches and other injured. He found McCoy outside the site of the explosion, a medical lab adjoining the newly installed nursery. Spock noted with relief that his daughter was sleeping peacefully in McCoy's arms. Thank the gods she was safe ... now where was Christine?

"There isn't much left in there, Spock," the Chief Surgeon explained. "The nursery's badly damaged, and the lab's a total loss. It'll take hours, if not days, to clean up and refurbish."

"Doctor, sensors indicate that another explosion is imminent, so I must go in and see if anyone is trapped -- and rescue them if possible. That reminds me ... have you seen Christine?"

"The last I remember, she was working in the lab ... " McCoy turned pale, stopping in mid-sentence. "Oh, my God, if she was caught in the explosion -- ! All I was thinking of was getting the baby out. I ran in and grabbed her, then got out here just as it hit ... " The Doctor's voice had risen and he was beginning to babble.

Spock silenced him with a lifted hand. "Then I must locate her."

"No, Spock. You might be killed in the next explosion -- and if anything's happened to Chris, you must consider your little girl. She needs at least one parent alive."

"Doctor, take care of her. I will return soon." The next few moments were a blur to McCoy; he scarcely knew that Spock had moved before realizing the latter's intentions.

"Spock, no!" the Doctor yelled -- but the Vulcan was already gone.  

* * *

Spock was oblivious of the actions of the disaster team as he searched through the debris of the wrecked lab. He anxiously sought his wife's presence in his mind after having lost it during the conversation with McCoy -- thankful when she finally answered.

*Spock! You've got to get out of here! It's going to blow again any second!*

*Not without you,* he replied stubbornly.

*I'm trapped beneath two pieces of heavy equipment. My legs are broken and I have bad internal injuries. You can't save me, Spock. Think of T'Aimee. She needs you.*

*I need *you*,* came his reply.

He located her at last, her lower body pinned by the aforementioned equipment. "Christine..." He touched her cheek gently; it was covered with a mixture of dirt, blood and perspiration.

"Spock ... my husband ... " she whispered before her head dropped limply into his other hand, eyes closing in pain.

*I will free you,* he told her, her head still resting on his left hand.

*No!* he heard her mind-voice shout. *Don't be a fool, Spock. Save yourself while you still can!*

*If you don't go, neither of us go,* he declared after gently lowering her head to the floor, attempting to move the heavy equipment off her with his Vulcan strength.

He was the strongest person on board ship, but this equipment was heavier than anything he had ever attempted to move before ... yet he had to do it somehow, had to save the woman he loved. There, one was off. Now for the other. As Vulcan as he was most of the time, Spock knew he was capable of acting illogically if someone he loved was in danger ... and Christine was his wife, the mother of his child. He wasn't needed on the bridge at the moment, and wanted to be nearby, close to her -- whether he could help or not.

*Dammit, Spock, I don't want you to die, too!*

He felt her anger, pain and tears, but couldn't let them distract him. Just a little more ...

*Can you move yet?* he asked her.

*No,* came her answer.

*One moment.*

With one mighty heave, he shoved the other piece of equipment aside so he could reach her. After picking her up tenderly, Spock carefully made his way to the door. As they reached it, the remainder of the volatile chemicals exploded, throwing the Vulcan and his badly injured, semiconscious wife against the Deck Seven bulkhead. The last thing Spock remembered before blacking out was McCoy yelling for medics and stretchers.

* * *

Spock woke up with a blinding headache, lying on a Sickbay bed. He vaguely remembered striking his head, tearing a long gash on his forehead. Yes, the plastiskin was there ... but even if it hadn't been, his own injury didn't matter. The important thing was that Christine had been saved. The Vulcan supported himself on his elbows, ignoring the painful throbbing in his head as he looked around the room for his wife. She was nowhere to be seen; he was alone in the room. Where was she?

*Christine, where are you?* Only silence answered him; he sensed that she was unconscious, probably under sedation. Even with his Vulcan physique, Spock felt weak, yet he could not rest until he knew whether or not she would be all right.

"Doctor," he called softly. "Dr. McCoy ... "

But it was M'Benga who responded, gently pushing Spock back onto the bed when he tried to rise. "Lie still, Spock. You've had a nasty blow to your head."

"But my wife -- I must ... "

"She's in surgery. Dr. McCoy is with her. He says it'll take time, but she should be all right."

The black doctor hoped the Vulcan hadn't detected his white lie. The look on his colleague's face had been grim. Christine had bad internal injuries as well as profuse internal bleeding. She also had several broken bones, but those were the least of their worries. It was doubtful she would live through the night, even with the surgery, much less recover -- but Spock had his own problems at the moment. It wouldn't help him to worry about her when there was nothing he could do to help.

* * *

Spock was discharged from Sickbay within a day of the explosion after coming out of a healing trance, the gash on his forehead all but gone and the headache only a memory. Now all that mattered was that Christine recovered. Every day after going off-shift, he headed for Sickbay and the chair beside her bed. She lay pale and still, every bodily function monitored by machines ... but the important thing was that she was alive. He had repeatedly tried to contact her mind, but she was too heavily sedated.

Both legs were knitting after application of lasers, the rest of her lower body covered by plastiskin. Because of the lasers, it now took only a fraction as much time for broken bones to heal as it used to ... but would still take at least three days due to the multiple fractures. She had also needed a lot of blood during the operation to replace what she had lost. Spock eventually learned that his wife had spent six hours on the operating table. McCoy had had to first stop the profuse internal bleeding caused by ruptured arteries in her lower abdomen before he could make repairs in the damaged organs ... but stopping the bleeding was a piece of cake compared to the intricate, delicate repairs he had needed to make.

In view of her fractured pelvis, it had been a sheer miracle that the delicate reproductive organs had not been damaged. The kidneys and intestines had taken the worst of it. Her stomach had had a small wound, but Leonard had been able to close that with the small protoplaser. He had been obliged to use the large version on everything else, then heavily sedate her. McCoy and M'Benga worked in shifts until Christine was out of danger, checking often to make sure her readings remained stable. Spock, of course, was nearby at all times other than the eight hours he was on-shift, remaining even for meals, only releasing her hand long enough to eat.

Uhura had the chance to care for little T'Aimee sooner than she expected, having been obliged to set up a temporary home for the child in her own quarters until the nursery was again fit for habitation, which was the better part of a week later. The lab would take almost a month to get back into shape. Uhura was one of the few Spock trusted around his baby girl other than himself and the two doctors. The little girl was on a diet of half formula and half mother's milk (fortunately Christine's breasts could be pumped as needed without aggravating her injured ribs) and was thriving under Uhura's, her father's and the two doctors' care.

Spock would often feed his small daughter after his own meal, sitting beside his wife's bed as he did so, carrying on a conversation as though she was conscious. He was uncertain as to whether or not it was doing any good, but Dr. McCoy had assured him that it certainly couldn't hurt. Actually, almost a week passed before Christine's legs fully healed; the ribs and pelvis would remain wrapped in a thin but strong body cast for at least another week. Spock insisted on helping with the exercising of his wife's arms and legs despite the more effective muscle stimulators close at hand.

Through it all, he continued his attempts to contact her mind, and to date had failed each time ... but had no intention of giving up. He would eventually succeed -- and then Christine, his Christine, would be back with him once again.

* * *

Upon Spock's discharge from Sickbay, McCoy told him just how serious Christine's injuries had been, that someone as badly injured as she usually didn't survive long even with surgery ... and it was a miracle in itself that she had survived that. It was at the two-week interval that her condition had improved enough for Leonard to upgrade it from "serious" to "fair".

Spock hoped she would soon be strong enough for a mind-link, for her recovery would be hastened with a healing meld. In addition, he missed her presence inside him ... and beside him in their bed. That is, during the rare times he actually deigned to return to their quarters. Usually it was far too empty and lonely there without her. The main thing keeping him going aside from his work was his beautiful baby girl, who resembled his dear wife more with every passing day, even with her brown eyes, elegantly pointed ears and upswept eyebrows -- perfect miniatures of his own.

* * *

Several more days (Spock estimated 3.5) passed before he received a pleasant surprise. Christine's mind was attempting to contact his -- the first time he had felt her presence inside of him in over three weeks. He had been unsure that he was getting through to her at all because she had been so heavily sedated due to the extensive surgery.

*Spock?* came the hesitant query.

*Christine,* he replied, unbidden yet unashamed tears of happiness and relief misting his eyes. *I have missed you, my wife.*

*I felt your mind attempting to contact mine many times, my husband. I wanted to respond with every fiber of my being, but could not. In spite of that, the knowledge that you were near, feeling your love, gave me the strength to keep going.*

He reached for her hand and brought it to his lips, then his cheek. To her surprise, her eyes opened and she smiled at him. *How is T'Aimee? Is she safe?*

*Safe and sound. Dr. McCoy rescued her.*

*Thank God. Who's taking care of her now?*

*Miss Uhura is proving to be an excellent surrogate mother.*

*Do you think Leonard would let me see her now that I'm awake?*

*I will ask him if you wish ... and I am glad that you are going to be all right.*

*Just as I am glad that *you* weren't hurt badly. I think I would have died for sure if anything had happened to you. As it was, you and T'Aimee gave me the will to live. I couldn't die and leave you both. As you once said, it would be illogical.*

*Quiet now, my wife. You must rest.*

Spock smiled at his wife as she lifted her hand, extending two fingers to cross with his before it dropped back to the bed. He gently picked it up, entwining their fingers together once again -- then leaned over to kiss her. His heart-rate accelerated as he felt her response. It had been so long ... how he had missed the warm sweetness of her lips beneath his own! He shivered when he felt her fingers stroke the back of his neck and run through his dark hair.

*Spock, please hold me. I need to feel you close to me.*

The Vulcan couldn't bring himself to protest, though he was certain he should have even as he carefully situated himself beside her. He held her with one arm as closely as her healing body permitted while the fingers of his other hand automatically found the nerve points on her face for the long-delayed healing meld. Her head found its way to his shoulder, the fingers of his other hand gently stroking her hair before returning to hold her close. She felt his desire through the bond, wishing more than anything that she could give in, but knew it was far too soon.

*Spock, I don't like to say this, but you'd better stop before we start something we can't finish. I have no idea how long it will be before we can make love again.*

*I suppose you are right,* he conceded. *But it will not be easy.*

*Tell me about it!* Christine exclaimed through the link.

It was good to feel her presence in his mind once again, not to mention feel her beside him again -- and best of all join with her in a healing meld. The physical joining would just have to wait. Spock forced himself to simply hold her gently, eventually managing to fall asleep in her arms ... the first real sleep he had had since the explosion.

* * *

It was fortunate for both that Spock had awakened before McCoy arrived; otherwise the Chief Surgeon would have given them both hell. Christine for asking Spock to lie down beside her and hold her before she was fully recovered from her injuries, and Spock for agreeing to it ... even if it made it easier for him to join with her in a healing meld. As it was, he was in his customary spot, the chair beside her bed, holding her hand as usual. McCoy had brought the baby, then discreetly slipped out to allow the new family some privacy. So quietly, in fact, that neither Spock nor Christine had any idea he had gone until the latter had addressed a question to him and received only silence in reply.

Chris gave her husband a questioning look; he raised an eyebrow in response. "I wonder when he left."

"I have no idea," was the reply. "But perhaps we should be grateful he has done so -- particularly in view of what transpired 6.4 hours ago."

"What happened 6.4 hours ago, Spock?" the Chief Surgeon's stern voice suddenly cut in. "M'Benga never mentioned anything when he left."

Christine flushed guiltily and tried her best to look innocent while Spock put on his best Vulcan face -- but it didn't fool the wily McCoy one bit. "Come on, 'fess up, you two. I can tell you're hiding something just by looking at you."

"Exactly what do you suspect us of having done that we would deem it necessary to conceal from you, Doctor?" Spock's voice was smooth and even.

"I don't know ... yet. But you might as well tell me -- and face the music, as it were, since I'm going to find out sooner or later anyway." The crusty doctor gave the Vulcan a hard look; Spock sighed and reluctantly admitted defeat.

"Very well, Doctor, if you insist. Christine requested that I join her on her bed and hold her until she fell asleep."

"And you agreed? What's the matter with you, Spock? Have you any idea of the risk you were taking with Chris in her present condition?" McCoy sounded both angry and concerned.

"I could not have refused her, Doctor," the Vulcan replied defensively. "In addition, it made it easier for me to join with Christine in a healing meld. Would you have done any differently in the same situation?"

"I suppose not," the Chief Surgeon sighed. "But that still doesn't excuse the fact that you never bothered to call and let me know that she had awakened."

"It was very late; we did not wish to disturb your rest. It was also necessary that our minds remain together for several hours in order for her to derive the most benefit from the healing meld."

"Maybe so ... but for God's sake, Spock, I'm Chief Surgeon on this ship! Being 'disturbed' on account of a seriously ill or injured patient in the middle of the night comes with the territory in my line of work. Besides, you know it would soon be my turn to monitor Chris and make sure her vital signs remained stable."

"They remained stable, I assure you. There was no need for concern."

"Oh, really? And what would you have done if they hadn't? You're not a doctor."

"Perhaps not -- but I am a scientist ... and science is one of the many aspects of medicine, is it not? My medical knowledge may not be as extensive as yours, but it would have been sufficient to maintain Christine's life until you or Dr. M'Benga could arrive. In addition, it is a requirement for all graduates of Starfleet Academy to have a basic knowledge of medicine in the event of an emergency."

Christine couldn't help but smile at the look on McCoy's face. She sensed that he was wishing he could have argued the point, but was unable to. As Leonard would have said, Spock had gotten the last word ... again!

"That's enough, Spock. I get the point."

"Excuse me," Christine interrupted. "But would one of you be kind enough to tell me what time it is?"

"I believe it is approximately 1030 hours, my wife," Spock automatically replied.

"That late, huh? Then I believe it is time for our daughter to have her breakfast." Christine then undid her Sickbay gown and put the infant to her right breast before either Spock or McCoy could make a move.

Leonard looked at her incredulously. "Chris, what do you think you're doing?"

"I'm feeding my baby. What does it look like I'm doing?"

"We could have asked Uhura to come in and do that. You're still not fully recovered," the Chief Surgeon protested.

"Why bother Nyota when I'm perfectly capable of feeding my own child? And for Heaven's sake, Leonard, you sound just like a mother hen," Christine retorted. "And to think I actually thought Spock was fussy! Believe me, I know what I'm doing. I've been medically trained too, in case you've forgotten."

"Spock ... " McCoy grasped at straws.

"There is nothing I can do, Doctor. You know as well as I do how stubborn Christine can be when she has made up her mind about something."

"Then she must have learned it from you, because you are stubbornness personified. So much so that I truly believe that you could make the proverbial mule back up," McCoy shot back.

"In that case, allow me to state my belief that she could just as easily have learned it from you," the Vulcan coolly pointed out, illogically pleased at this opportunity to argue with his favorite opponent.

"Me? Why, you self-righteous, arrogant, green-blooded son-of-a ... " McCoy sputtered.

"Spock, Leonard, please. That's enough!" Christine's tone cut them both off at the pass, so to speak. "Besides, I'm finished feeding T'Aimee. Would one of you please burp her for me and put her down to sleep again?"

Before Spock could make a move, McCoy had placed a towel over his right shoulder and was holding the tiny girl, patting her gently on the back until she gave a healthy "burp" and settled her small head on his shoulder, promptly falling asleep.

"Okay, Spock, you can take her now."

Spock raised an indignant eyebrow as he held out his arms to receive his child. "Doctor, I am equally capable of caring for my daughter as you are."

"Oh? That wasn't the impression I got on Capella Four. As I recall, you didn't even know how to hold a baby, much less care for one. Nor did you even want anything to do with the baby."

Spock was all ready to scathe the Doctor with a sharp retort even as he positioned the warm and limp, deeply sleeping child on his own shoulder when he felt a warning in his mind.

*No, Spock. It's not worth arguing about.*

*But I *am* capable of caring for our child,* he declared.

*I know, and that's what counts. And you might as well stop trying to change Leonard. You'll never be able to do it, any more than he could ever change you.*

The Vulcan sighed but had to agree. *I suppose you are right, my wife.*

*You know I am. Now go put T'Aimee down and come back to me. There's something I want to ask you.*

*Very well. I will return in a few moments.*

* * *

Spock was incredulous -- no, 'shocked' is a more accurate term -- when he learned what his wife wanted, but could no more have dissuaded her than he could have stopped a sun from going nova. (Of course, it should be said that he really didn't try very hard to dissuade her, either.)

* * *

It took the better part of the next two months (six weeks, to be exact) but Christine did eventually recover. The main things which McCoy could attribute to her almost miraculous healing was the meld with Spock, as well as her extraordinary will to live ... coupled with her deep love for her husband and child. Speaking of children, barely a month after her discharge from Sickbay, the Chief Surgeon was flabbergasted to discover that Christine was four weeks pregnant -- again.

How in the hell did she do it? he wondered.

He eventually managed to piece everything together and deduced that it must have happened about a month or so into her recovery period, at which point she ought to have been still too weak to be a satisfactory lover to her husband. But she had obviously managed to convince Spock that she was strong enough to make love with him ... and it was a cinch that they'd certainly had plenty of privacy and therefore opportunities, to do it.

Of course, if a couple was really determined, nothing would stop them ... least of all a trivial thing like one of them being laid up in the hospital -- or in this case, Sickbay. He could only surmise that the healing meld must have done its work even better than the Doctor had ever seen it work before.

I was more right than I knew when I told Jim that once Chris made up her mind to get Spock back, there was no way in the universe he could have resisted her, even if he'd wanted to ... and from what I've seen, it's obvious that he didn't really want to, McCoy thought with a wicked grin.

Just as I had been right when I told Chris that with her determination, she'd not only win Spock back and have more children, but that they would have a long, solid and loving marriage -- one to rival even that of his parents Sarek and Amanda. And what do you know? I even got the last word again! Pretty damn good for an illogical Human, if I *do* say so myself ...



THE END

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