DISCLAIMER: Star Trek and all the characters belong to Paramount, Viacom and whoever else had a finger in Roddenberry's pie. The story is mine. It originally appeared in the Orion Press zine Idylls 8. The zine was edited by Ann Zewen but this particular story was edited by Cheryl Washington. This story is rated PG13.
A Logical Thing
By Joanne K. Seward
The 'theater' -- created from one of the larger gyms aboard the ship -- was dark. The opening chords of Erik Satie's score sounded hauntingly. First Officer Spock, seated at his captain's right, made a conscious attempt to relax in his seat, trying to force his Vulcan logic to temporarily give way to a more aesthetic appreciation of the performance he was about to observe. Despite Lieutenant Uhura's calm declaration, and Captain Kirk's smiling confirmation that Monotones was one ballet which, "even a Vulcan can enjoy," Spock found it difficult to accept.
Ballet, like humor was a burdensome concept for the first officer of the Enterprise. He found the discipline intriguing in its graceful athleticism, the use of the humanoid body as an extension of the music a fascinating concept. However, story ballets -- the only kind he had seen to date -- were foreign to his Vulcan nature, being illogical in the extreme, stocked as they were with fairy tale princes, and maidens transformed into various other forms including swans (sometimes white, sometimes black, another confusing point for the Vulcan), and something called 'will o' the wisp's'. For his part, Spock had conceded defeat in comprehending the convoluted stories, and watched ballet, when necessary, as he would any other ancient art form.
His companions for the evening had assured him that Monotones, choreographed in the mid-twentieth century, was different.
"It's like watching the planets of a solar system, Mister Spock," had been Uhura's explanation.
Christine Chapel's whispered comment from the other side of the captain, uttered as the house lights dimmed, had been even less reassuring. "It's very geometric."
Kirk had only grinned at his friend, raising his hands and giving a little shrug as he said, "Don't ask me to explain it, Spock. You'll just have to wait and see what you think. Personally I find it very relaxing."
The Vulcan remained trepidatious.
He needn't have. Less than two minutes into the piece, the Vulcan had been drawn into the work, the movements of the three dancers somehow concurring with the disparate statements that had been made. The light colored form-fitting costumes, against the black draperies surrounding the stage did indeed call to mind the movements of astronomical bodies, while the steps, clean and precise, and indeed, as Miss Chapel had stated, geometric, were highly evocative as they expanded on the musical themes. He found himself agreeing with all three of his companions.
In fact, Spock was so engrossed, he totally failed to note Doctor McCoy's late entrance, even though the physician's groping hand had fallen on his arm, an invasion the first officer would normally have found almost impossible to ignore. The first section ended, and three new dancers took their places on the stage. Spock found himself wishing, illogically, that the piece would not end. His attention remained rapt until the final notes of the music died away. Thunderous applause broke into his isolation. The Vulcan blinked, then politely joined the enthusiastic applause.
* * *
Two days later the first officer was still finding his thoughts returning to the ballet with bothersome frequency. It had indeed been different from any he had seen before, although as his research had shown, and Uhura confirmed, only the most traditional ballets had 'dancing wildlife.' She had joined him for breakfast early this morning, appearing at his table in the mess hall smiling coyly.
"Is this seat taken, sugah?" she'd intoned, her dancing eyes acknowledging the firm relationship between them, which allowed her to call the highly proper Vulcan by that flirtatious pet name.
"No, Lieutenant." He'd been purposely obtuse, ignoring the implied request.
"Mr. Spock," she put her tray on the table opposite him, then placed her hands firmly on her hips, showing off her admirable figure. "When a lady asks a gentleman if a seat is occupied, it can be assumed that she wishes to sit there," Uhura stated, the teasing note still present.
"Of course. Please, sit down, Lieutenant." The Vulcan moved his own tray to make more room for her.
"Can't we drop the titles until we get to the bridge, *sir*?" The comm officer emphasized the last word with a smile. She went on, a little nervously now, not waiting for a reply. "I'm hoping I can convince you to join our ballet class. You don't have to give me an answer right now, you can come down to the gym and watch, then let me know." She waited hesitantly for the negative she firmly expected.
Spock's eyebrow climbed as he regarded her. He'd known of the class, of course, and had indeed paid a visit to the gym yesterday evening to observe.
"As a matter of fact, Lieutenant, I find that a highly interesting proposition." On the final word he allowed the eyebrow to rise even more, just the tiniest hint of a smile lurking in the depths of his dark eyes.
"I have been forced to reevaluate my opinion of this particular art form, and I would appreciate the chance to study it further. Perhaps this end could be best attained by immersing myself in the physical aspects of the discipline."
"That's the only way to do it," Uhura agreed. She was surprised, but didn't let on. She hadn't expected it to be this easy.
"How often does your class meet?" Spock listened attentively as Uhura gave him the necessary information, then reminded him to wear the proper clothing.
When the first officer inquired what constituted the 'proper clothing', the lieutenant flushed slightly. *How does one bring up the subject of certain undergarments to a straitlaced Vulcan?*, she thought. Vulcans must use athletic supporters too, she supposed, but she'd certainly never heard them spoken of. She evaded the subject by telling him the clothing fabricators would know what to supply. "All you have to do is request dance clothing, classroom, male. The computer will know what you need." There, she'd done her part. He'd have to figure the rest out himself!
* * *
The following day, a somewhat self-conscious Vulcan presented himself in the gym a few minutes before the ballet class was scheduled to begin. Uhura greeted him with a friendly smile and the relieved thought that he seemed to have managed the clothing just fine.
The class was composed of almost two dozen crew members, male and female. Some, like Uhura and Christine Chapel, who alternated as the regular teachers, had studied ballet since they were children. Others were notably newcomers, their awkward stride in the flat ballet slippers giving them away, even if their sideways glances at each other had not.
*Apparently I was not the only one to have been intrigued by the performance of the Intergalactic Ballet Theater*, Spock mused.
Uhura was the instructor this evening and she began the lesson with a series of stretches on the floor. "Just to get us going", she explained. Next she directed her students to the barres. "If you're new, please stand near someone who's been doing this for a while, so you have someone to follow." After a concise demonstration of plies, both grand, and demi, and a clear explanation of "why we do plies" she set the exercise to music, telling the new people to "just follow the leader," then she gave a command and the music began.
As the computer played one of Chopin's waltzes for piano, Spock forced his body to do something that looked like a variation on a deep knee bend. It *felt* as though he were attempting to tear his body in two parts, with one knee going in one direction, the other (appropriately, he supposed) in the opposite. By the time the music ended, Spock had concluded that perhaps Vulcans were not intended to be ballet dancers. A quick look at the other novices reassured him.
It was clear that they were having similar thoughts.
He turned his attention back to the lieutenant, who was explaining the next exercise -- something called tendus -- which she promised were much easier.
This time the music was a piece by an American composer, Scott Joplin. The ragtime had a lilting beat and the exercise was soon completed, then repeated facing the other way. "So you don't become one sided," Uhura commented.
As one exercise followed another, Spock found himself beginning to forget which was which, a most unusual state of affairs for the Vulcan, but again, observing the expressions on other faces, he was not the only one. Finally they left the barre and went to stand in the center of the room. Uhura divided the class into two groups, explaining that they would take turns doing the center floor work.
Again they began with slower moves and progressed toward larger ones, including jumps and turns. Now they were doing things that looked more like ballet, or at least, Uhura, Chapel, Sulu and Chekov looked more like they were dancing. In fact, Chekov was quite good, Spock decided, better than he would have expected. The majority of other students were struggling with certain steps, although none of them looked nearly as lost as the eight the Vulcan had singled out as newcomers. The more experienced students helped the beginners, although only Uhura and Chapel made any attempt to correct the first officer.
Finally the class ended with something Uhura called reverence, again explaining the French terminology, telling the new students that reverence was the traditional way of ending a class, showing respect for the teacher and equally important, learning how to hndle themselves should they ever be in the position to be taking curtain calls on stage. She then set a short sequence of steps to music, demonstrating once, then leading them through. At the end of the music the more experienced students burst into applause and the beginners, after a moment's hesitation, followed their lead.
As Spock bent to retrieve the small towel that had been included in the list of clothing (which he had never used; it would have taken far more than this evening's simplified class to cause a Vulcan to perspire the way the Humans surrounding him were), Uhura came to stand alongside him. "Well, what do you think about ballet now?"
"It would appear that there is quite a large body of knowledge that I need to absorb. Also, it has been some time since I can recall finding my body so ... uncooperative." Spock straightened up to find Uhura smiling at his choice of words. "However, I believe that I have found an excellent instructor. I am curious though, about your statement, that one should try to lift with the 'lower muscles' during the grand battement. In Humans, as well as Vulcans and most of the humanoid species I am familiar with, those particular muscles, are not suitable for the lifting action which you de--"
Uhura took one quick look at the deeply thoughtful countenance Spock was presenting, realized he was about to enter into a scientific discussion and turned away. Communications technology she could more than handle. The scientific aspects of ballet were another matter. "Christine! You're needed over here."
Spock raised an eyebrow at her action. It was unlike the communications officer to do anything which could possibly be construed as rude, unless she intended offense. In that event, the Vulcan knew that Lieutenant Uhura could hold her own with the best, however he did not think he had done anything which would merit that sort of response. He waited patiently to see what would ensue.
Nurse Chapel crossed the empty room at a rapid pace, her concern evident. "Is something wrong? Were you injured, Mister Spock?" She began to grope around in the tote bag she had slung over her shoulder, searching for the feinberger she always carried, but Uhura's next words deterred her. "Everyone is fine, Chris, but Mister Spock would like to discuss the anatomical aspects of ballet, and I know his questions are going to be way over my head."
"I see." The tall blond woman surveyed the first officer. "In that case, I will do my best to answer any questions you have, Mister Spock." They began to walk slowly out of the gym-cum-dance studio, the Vulcan speaking clearly, his inquiries now phrased in the approved medical terminology.
Uhura followed behind, lingering to dim the lights, then she headed for the lockers and a nice hot shower, smiling to herself at the picture of Spock and Chapel, neither of them even thinking about feeling self-conscious in the other's presence as the Vulcan questioned and Chris did her best to supply in-depth answers. This was the first time she could remember that happening in a long time.
* * *
In the weeks that followed, Spock immersed himself in the study of ballet. Like the other beginners in the class, his excellent physical condition (necessary in a Starfleet officer) aided him in his pursuit, while the Vulcan disciplines he'd been trained in as a child, combined with muscles strengthened in greater than Earth gravity, made things that much easier. He quickly discovered that asking for detailed explanations during class was not the thing to do. The majority of the students, including the ship's physical therapist and two of the nurses who participated in the classes, were essentially uninterested in the more technical aspect of the dance, readily complying with illogical exhortations such as "imagine you have a string attached to your head, pulling you up". Besides, as Miss Chapel pointed out one evening, when Spock asked for clarification of how one should properly execute a ronde de jambe en l'air, "Stopping for lengthy explanations allows muscles to grow cold, and cold muscles lead to injuries." She had smiled though, knowing he wouldn't rest until he had the information he required. "Anytime you have a question, I'll be glad to answer it after class," she assured him.
It soon became a habit for the two of them to remain after the other students had gone, the Vulcan asking questions, Chapel explaining and demonstrating the answers. Occasionally other students would linger, some listening to the explanations, others working on steps they'd had trouble with in that evening's class, but most of the time they were alone. At first Chapel was uncomfortable, but Spock's insatiable desire to learn soon ended that. *It's hard to feel tense when you are searching your mind for concise responses to the probing inquiries made by a Vulcan*, she realized. *Even if you are in love with him and trying to hide it.* Chapel found her knowledge, both of the anatomical and artistic aspects of dance expanding as she attempted to stay one step ahead of her enthusiastic pupil.
* * *
The captain observed Spock's new fascination with a knowing smile in his hazel eyes. His Vulcan friend was never happy (well, maybe happy was the wrong word, since Spock would deny knowledge of that emotional state) unless he had something new to study in-depth. Ballet was simply his current obsession. *It's worth a delayed chess game or two*, Kirk thought, as he watched Spock unbend a little, allowing himself to associate more freely with even as small a portion of the crew as the dance class comprised.
One evening, having eaten early, and for once feeling that he was acceptably caught up with his paperwork, the captain decided to go down to the gym, and see how his first officer was progressing. He considered inviting Doctor McCoy to come along, but decided against it. The doctor hadn't said anything about the Vulcan's new interest, but Kirk didn't think that pleasant state of affairs would last -- especially not if the physician actually witnessed Spock in class. Tonight he just didn't feel like being the referee.
Slipping into the area set aside for observers, Kirk found an unobtrusive spot where he could see clearly without drawing attention to himself. He watched with keen interest as the class finished a series of steps done to a slow piece of music by Barstow of the Copernicus Colony. Kirk had attempted ballet once, when a certain lovely lady of his acquaintance had become interested in the art. His own interest had quickly waned as an old knee injury began to trouble him, and the lady began a flirtation with an officer of high rank. To his not completely inexperienced eye, Spock looked pretty good. He grinned, hearing McCoy's comment in his mind. *"Spock's like a cat, Jim. He always lands on his feet."*
He was surprised though, when Christine Chapel, who was teaching the class this evening, walked over to the Vulcan and proceeded to give him a correction, taking hold of Spock's leg in a familiar way and repositioning it as she pulled his shoulder back with the other hand. The Vulcan merely nodded, accepting whatever comment she made. He appeared unfazed by the intimate yet matter of fact contact, completing Kirk's amazement. No one ever touched Spock like that. Even McCoy limited his physical examinations to the most necessary of touches, relying on his scanners to a degree he would never consider with any other patient, and here was Chris Chapel, who had previously given every evidence of being madly in love with Spock, calmly rearranging his body. Either Chapel had fallen out of love mighty fast, or she was able to hide her feelings remarkably well.
*She certainly isn't hiding her body*, Kirk noted with appreciation, taking in the vision of the blond-haired nurse attired in a pale blue one piece outfit with a sheer floaty skirt tied around her slender waist. Funny he'd never noticed just how lovely she was. Too bad the sight was one his Vulcan friend was not able to savor.
* * *
Little did the captain know, that far from being unaware of the head nurse's charms, Spock was highly cognizant of them. In fact the more time he spent around her, the more he esteemed Chapel, not only for her pleasing appearance, but for her rational explanations of ballet technique, combining her medical knowledge with her seemingly innate ability to translate that knowledge into motion. He found the way she moved pleasing, her long limbs flowing from pose to pose in a liquid stream, her deprecating laugh when she made an error or forgot a step endearing. And his Vulcan mind found *that* most disturbing.
Spock ignored the sense of unease. Surely there was no harm in taking pleasure in the many inspiring facets of nature, of which Miss Chapel was certainly one.
* * *
Three months after the Vulcan began taking the ballet class, several of the beginners had dropped out, either due to lack of interest or conflicting duty schedules, but the remainder were making good progress. Unlike many adult beginners, these were motivated individuals who knew how to use their well-honed bodies. This particular evening, Uhura brought up a suggestion which had been going around, that the class should put on a performance for the crew (once again a scheduled shore leave had been cancelled) and the idea was well-received.
Everyone agreed it would break the monotony of their present mission, not only for the performers, but for the crew as well. Uhura went even farther, suggesting that, rather than fabricating the necessary scenery and costumes, some of the more artistic crewmembers be solicited to design and execute the necessary designs. This also met with approval, since aboard a starship there are many beings who are talented in a vast number of areas. Using fabricators for only the most basic parts of the costumes and sets would allow a larger portion of the crew to share their abilities. That evening's class was cut short, the last half hour devoted to a lively discussion of the pieces to be performed.
"How about something classical?" This was from one of the younger women in Archeology and Anthropology.
Another woman from A&A spoke up. "Yes, if it's not classical, the costumes won't be much fun, just unitards and things like that."
"How about a piece just for men? Most people don't pay much attention to the men in ballet." Sulu contributed.
"Thet mebbe just as vell, if you're dencing," Chekov returned disparagingly. Sulu gave a disgusted snort, as the young Russian continued,"How about Le Corsaire? Mister Spock vould be a vonderful pirate."
"Yeah, that's right, and Christine for the girl! It would be perfect." Sulu again.
"Maybe Mister Spock and Chris would prefer to choose something themselves." Uhura's gentle statement reminded the others just who they were talking about.
The discussion went on, everyone offering their opinions. Finally four pieces were chosen: The Singing Stones, a piece for men with music by a somewhat obscure composer from the planet Dillius which could be arranged for almost any number of performers, the Kingdom of the Shades section from La Bayadere, to allow the women a chance to wear the short classical tutus they all seemed to desire, a pas de deux (dance for two), as yet unchosen, and a humorous piece for two men and a woman (to be danced by Uhura, Chekov and Sulu) called La Ventana by Hourun, with music by Morlk of the first Martian colony.
Again there was a suggestion that the 'pas' be danced by Spock and Chapel. As Sulu pointed out, Spock's alien appearance had to be put to good use. A lieutenant who had once asked for a date with Chapel and been gently rebuffed, noted quietly with just a touch of envy, "Besides, they look good together". The remark caused Uhura a moment's consternation, but both Spock and Chris seemed to take it in stride, an occurrence which intrigued the communications officer. However she quickly forgot about it, suggesting that if Chapel and Spock agreed, they could perform whatever pas de deux they chose, but only *if* they wanted to. Otherwise everyone was to drop the subject.
The program decided, and a target date of six weeks from that date set, the class broke up swiftly -- most of the members intent on some short research -- then bed. Uhura headed for the locker room with the others, hoping to allowing Spock and Chapel time to talk.
She agreed with Sulu, the first officer would make an incredible corsaire, his Vulcan appearance lending itself admirably to what most Humans thought a swashbuckling pirate should look like, but given Christine's feelings, and Spock's lack of them, the piece would surely be a poor choice. She wasn't even sure if they could manage a pas de deux, given Spock's dislike of touching and being touched. She shook her head regretfully at the thought. Mark Collin was right, they would look good together. She stepped into shower's singing spray. Maybe she never should have encouraged Spock to get involved in the ballet class.
* * *
In the studio-gym, Christine stood facing Spock, wisps of still damp hair escaping from the upsweep she favored for class, her tote bag slung over her shoulder. "Mister Spock, I understand that it is impossible for us to dance a pas together. I'm sure Nyota understands as well. There is no reason for us to even think about it."
Spock's answer, when it came, startled her. "Miss Chapel, to use a scientific analogy, it would seem that you have arrived at the results without ever having carried out the experiment." He eyed her calmly, awaiting a response.
She met his gaze, then looked away, wondering what had ever possessed him to program that particular shade of bronze/green unitard. It had always seemed to her that Vulcans were oblivious to appearances, but how could he possibly be unaware of the effect he was having on her right now in that skin tight one piece outfit, every sinew and muscle revealed. *Not to mention other things...* She took a breath. "Spock..." then broke off, not knowing what to say. She couldn't very well come out and say "I love you, and it would drive me crazy, trying to ignore it while dancing with you, being touched by you." Damn, she'd told him she loved him before, and even then, when she suspected he had already succumbed to the Psi 2000 virus, his only response had been to say he was sorry. What could he possibly say now?
"Miss Chapel ... Christine." She looked up, meeting those deep-set eyes again, startled by his use of her given name. He had never called her that since that one day in Sickbay, when she nearly forced him to. "It would appear that you are under a misapprehension. There is no reason for us to experience the emotions we would be projecting. I understand your qualms, however, I believe that if we were to attempt this rationally, we would be able to effect an acceptable performance."
"Mister Spock, you may be able to control your emotions logically, but I'm only Human..." She paused to gauge his response. Had she been able to read his thoughts she would have been surprised to find them in turmoil, the most cogent ones having to do with the way her hair framed her face and the way the periwinkle outfit she was wearing tonight made her eyes look almost violet. She shook her head. "...I just don't know..." A little shrug accompanied the words.
"I believe I do. I have found in the past that Humans are most capable of logical actions. Will you trust me?"
What a question! Of course she'd trust him; if he told her to take a walk outside the ship without a suit, she'd trust him. *She* was the one she didn't trust. "Very well." Best to keep her answers short and sweet, she wasn't sure what would come out if she tried to say too much.
He began to walk toward the locker rooms. "It has occurred to me that it would perhaps be preferable to attempt a less classical piece, since I have no previous experience in working with a partner. Also, many of the more modern ballets are less demanding in their dramatic aspects."
"Mister Spock, somehow I think you have something in mind." Chapel matched her pace to his, noting how comfortable it was. A good sign, if they were going to dance together.
"Indeed. I had thought of Star/Space."
She halted, as though her feet were glued to the floor. Of course, in one way it was a perfect answer, the male and female dancers hardly touched one another until the last section. But -- despite the lack of contact, or perhaps because of it, the piece was almost erotic in its exploration of loneliness. *Well, maybe not erotic, but certainly sensual.* Could Spock possibly be unaware of it?
"Uhh, Mister Spock, have you ever seen Star/Space?" Even if he had, it didn't mean anything, Vulcans seemed to see things with different eyes. They disapproved of all sorts of things, but she had seen Spock's parents touch fingers in a manner that, for all its openness, left her close to blushing.
The Vulcan paused as well. He seemed unperturbed. "Yes, Miss Chapel. Have you?"
"Yes." Her voice came out as a sort of a squeak. How was she going to explain this to him? Chapel decided to handle it the way she would if it were a medical problem, coolly and clinically. *Unhunh, Chris, sure. If Spock had a problem that made you feel this awkward, you'd tell Leonard to deal with it.*
She swallowed, then said, "Star/Space is a very ... uh, romantic piece, even though there isn't much physical contact; are you sure you think it's a good idea?"
"Unless you are averse to it, yes. I believe we are both capable of the technical aspects of the ballet, and the dramatic aspects are within my capabilities."
Spock began walking again. He paused at the door to the gym, waiting for her to catch up with him before dimming the lights. "If you agree, I propose that you join me tomorrow evening after your shift to view the computer tapes of the piece. I would suggest my cabin, for the sake of privacy."
"Very well," Chapel felt as though she'd been saying nothing else throughout this entire unreal conversation. *Go to Spock's cabin?* She couldn't imagine doing such a thing unless he were ill, and even then, unless the situation were critical, she would probably send one of her subordinates rather than enter the first officer's private space. She'd been in there a few times, but since the episode with the plomeek soup she'd avoided it as she had Spock, attempting to put an end to her infatuation with the Vulcan. It hadn't worked, but it remained her best option. Almost without volition, she heard her voice asking what time she should arrive and Spock's deep tones replying "1800 hours".
Chapel said good night in that same distant manner and stepped into the 'women's' locker room. Thank God, she thought, the powers that be had decided against a single large locker room. Instead there were several small ones, nestled neatly into the curve of the ship's hull. Although they weren't labeled men's and women's, it worked out that way anyhow. Occasionally they had a non-humanoid crewmember aboard who didn't share the physical characteristics of either sex. Then the being in question simply chose whichever facility it felt more comfortable with, but she couldn't remember any time when a male crewmember had entered this particular room. That would have been all she needed right now. In fact, the room was deserted. Again Chapel sent a word of thanks to whatever deity was overseeing affairs aboard the Enterprise just now. She needed time to sort this out.
* * *
First officer Spock stepped out of the locker room and strode toward the turbolift. He would have preferred time to meditate, but he had agreed to play chess with the captain and he was already late, a fact which he found most disagreeable. The lift doors opened with a whisper and he stepped in, giving the destination almost distractedly. He was not certain what had possessed him to suggest Star/Space as a suitable piece to be performed by himself and Christine Chapel. He was of course aware of her emotional attachment to him, and although he did not pretend to comprehend it, he attempted, as a matter of courtesy, to avoid her presence.
Joining the ballet class had thrown them together far more than he would have expected, and more than that, he had to admit he found it pleasant. The lift stopped and the doors whushed open, decanting him onto the deck where the captain's quarters were located. Spock walked quickly but unhurriedly down the hall, his thoughts still on the upcoming performance and his recent conversation with Miss Chapel. He reached Kirk's cabin and pressed the buzzer. It was unlikely that Jim would have company, but it was preferable not to take chances.
"Come." Kirk's voice called, as the door slid open. "Well, Mister Spock. I had begun to doubt that you were coming." The captain had obviously been reading. He was seated on the bed, the covers mussed slightly, pillow propped up against the bulkhead, one of his old-fashioned paper books still held in his careful grasp.
"I regret that I am late. The ballet class went over its usual time period."
"It must have, it's almost midnight! How long were you folks planning on dancing?" Kirk put the book on the shelf behind the bed, then waved Spock to a seat as he straightened the blanket and placed the pillow in its proper position, actions the Vulcan found interesting, since he knew the captain would not bother with them if he were not present.
Spock took the chair the captain motioned to, seating himself behind their already in progress chess game. He scanned the multi-level playing board, reacquainting himself with the game. "It is only 2324 hours, Captain." The correction was perfunctory. "We were not dancing the entire time. We were having a meeting, as it were. The class has decided to put on a performance for the crew."
Kirk filled a tumbler with chilled water for Spock then poured a brandy for himself. He turned, an interested expression on his mobile face. "That's great, Spock. Tell me more."
"There is not much to tell as yet. The class has decided to attempt to put on a performance. At present the program will consist of four pieces, one for men, one for women, a humorous piece for three people and a pas de deux. It is hoped that other crewmembers will assist with the sets and costumes." Spock took a sip of the water then replaced the tumbler on the table, away from the chess set and his elbow.
"That's even better. We've been patrolling this sector for two months already, and we're scheduled to remain here for the the next three. The crew is going to need some break from the monotony." The captain took his seat and eyed the chess game.
Spock was aware of this. In fact, he knew of one person for whom the repetitive nature of their assignment had already cast a pall. He lifted an eyebrow, as he met Kirk's golden gaze.
"All right, Spock, I admit it, I hate patrol duty. Especially when it's not what we're here for. If the Gallant hadn't lost her warp engines, we wouldn't be here playing crossing guard for a bunch of colony outposts." Kirk took a sip of his brandy, then sighed appreciatively. "I did invite you to join the dance class, as I recall."
"Yeah, but dammit, Spock, I know from previous experience that my knees like to go in one direction simultaneously, and Bones agrees."
Kirk chuckled, causing Spock to raise his eyebrow again.
"I believe it is your move, Captain."
* * *
Kirk eyed the nearly empty chess board, then looked down at Spock's queen, cradled in his hand. It was odd. Once they'd begun playing, Spock had seemed distracted, almost what McCoy would call absentminded. He'd made two rather obvious errors, and failed to note the blatant strategy Kirk was employing out of near desperation.
When they resumed the game, anyone would have predicted Spock as the winner, so why had he lost? Could his mind have been on the projected dance performance? *That hardly seems sufficient cause to send my Vulcan friend's wits wandering*, Kirk mused. *But, what else could it be?* He replaced the chess pieces, carefully setting up for the next game, then prepared for bed, the same question still chasing around in his mind.
* * *
The following day Chapel was late for her shift. Not that it mattered much. Her staff was trained to function properly, whether or not she was present. It had to be. Aboard a starship you never knew who would be planetside at any particular time, and Sickbay never closed. Still, she hated being late, and when one of her nurses murmured a message that "the boss" was looking for her, it simply added to her sense of a day already gone awry.
Stepping into McCoy's tiny office, she found herself face to face with the CMO. "Weelll," McCoy drawled. "I see you finally decided to pay us a visit. Thought maybe you were going to take the day off or somethin'."
"You know I would have informed you if I were going to be out, Doctor."
McCoy knew immediately from her tone of voice, (not to mention the fact that she seldom called him by his title in private) that Chapel was not at her best and he quickly regretted his teasing. God knew, if Chris felt like taking a day off, she was more than entitled; she probably put in even more hours than he did. "Okay, Chris, no need to 'doctor' me. I just wanted to know if you had that inventory ready to go." He grinned at her ingratiatingly, adding, "Am I forgiven?"
She smiled, unable to remain angry. After all, it wasn't his fault she'd gotten up on the wrong side of the bunk (not to mention having overslept after tossing and turning for most of the night). "Of course, Leonard... And the inventory is already in the computer. I finished it the day before yesterday."
"Ohh... I should've looked before bothering you." He slid behind the desk and activated the terminal, then requested the new inventory of medical supplies. Sure enough it appeared on the screen immediately. He scanned it quickly, then glanced up at his head nurse. "Thanks, Chris. I don't know what I'd do without you to run this place for me. I'd probably misplace everything." He glanced down again, then just as she turned to leave the room added, "Oh, by the way, Spock was down here looking for you a little while ago. He didn't say what he wanted. I told him to try again later."
Chapel willed the doctor to look at the screen, praying her burning cheeks hadn't already given her away. "Thank you. I imagine if it was anything important he'll be back." She turned to go, trying to appear nonchalant.
"Mmm, I guess so," McCoy agreed, his eyes back on the screen, but fully aware of Chapel's discomfort. He thought nothing of it though, knowing as he did how she felt about the Vulcan.
*Spock must have realized how impossible it would be for us to dance together*, she thought as she entered her own even tinier office (really nothing but a small storage area she had appropriated for her own use) and checked out the reports left by the graveyard shift. She sighed in relief, then realized she was only fooling herself. A part of her that she tried to keep hidden had been desperately looking forward to dancing with the Vulcan.
* * *
Half a shift passed, and still Spock had not found the opportunity to return to Sickbay. At least that was what he told himself. In reality, there would have been no objection to his leaving the bridge for the short time it would take to dispense his errand. What prevented him was the questions he might have to answer. If he were to tell the captain his destination, Kirk would almost certainly be concerned, assuming his first officer was unwell. If he did not state a destination, Jim would not ask, but his well-known curiosity would be aroused, and Spock had never known himself to be capable of withholding information from those inquiring, green-flecked eyes. Therefore only two options remained. The first, lying, was untenable; he was a Vulcan and as such unable to lie (at least to Jim Kirk). That left only one thing: patience. He would have to wait until this evening, when Miss Chapel presented herself at his quarters, to explain his altered decision. Upon sober consideration, that appeared the most logical alternative. They would be able to speak freely without constraint of being overheard. *Yes, that would be best.* He would leave matters as they stood.
* * *
The day passed with agonizing slowness. Chapel worked steadily in Sickbay, her ears tuned to the sound of the turbolift doors. Now her shift was nearly over, and Spock had failed to return. *What could he have wanted?* She was certain it had to do with the pas de deux. Most likely he had changed his mind. Regretful as the thought made her, she knew that it was the safe decision. Once she had felt his hands on her body, how could she ever prevent herself from letting all and sundry know of her love for him. Chapel shook herself slightly, forcing her thoughts away from their present track, then picked up a few things she needed to take with her and dimmed the lights in her office. She had no intention of searching for him. If Spock wanted to speak to her, he knew how to find her. In the meantime she would just wait and see what happened.
* * *
The first officer sat in his cabin, looking into the attunement flame. It lacked only two minutes to the hour. Miss Chapel would not be late, he knew she made a point of being punctual. Just now the Vulcan found himself almost wishing she did not, then put the thought out of his mind. Christine Chapel was a most admirable human being. Despite her somewhat uncontrolled emotions, she essentially ran Sickbay -- McCoy had delegated that task shortly after she signed aboard, saying crustily that he was a doctor, not an administrator -- as well as being nearly as skillful as McCoy in medical matters. She also correlated much of the information required to keep the CMO and other members of the staff apprised of the rapidly expanding volume of medical knowledge, yet still found time to do some research of her own.
Just then, the courtesy signal buzzed, ending his deliberations. Spock rose and stepped toward the door. "Come." It slid open with its characteristic shooshing sound. Christine Chapel stood in the opening, silhouetted by the brighter lighting of the corridor.
"Mister Spock ... "
"Come in." He paused, remembering hard-learned courtesies. "Please." He could tell she was nervous, her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes did not meet his. The heat of his cabin brought an immediate sheen to her skin.
"Doctor McCoy said you stopped by Sickbay this morning." She would get through this as quickly as possible, then go down to botany for some peace and quiet. She would need it.
"Yes, I wished to say that -- that is I wished to remind you of our appointment." *Odd, that was not at all what he had intended to say. What could be wrong with him?*
"I see ..." She stood there stiffly, a puzzled expression passing fleetingly across her face as nervous fingers tugged at the hem of her uniform.
*Perhaps she has been having second thoughts as well.* Spock stepped further into his quarters, motioning to the chair in front of his desk. "Please, sit down." *How should he bring up the subject and why had breathing suddenly become such an exacting task?* Earlier, when he'd contemplated this meeting, it had not seemed so difficult. *Perhaps if we were to watch the tape, it would be less difficult to explain why we cannot dance together*, he speculated. A fleeting moment's consideration reinforced the hypothesis. Spock took a step toward the desk and tapped the necessary button on the console, then arranged his own chair to the left and slightly behind the one Miss Chapel was occupying.
The music began quietly, almost eerily, issuing from the cabin speakers, then slowly a pool of light formed on the monitor screen, revealing a single person in the center of the stage. Chapel watched, enthralled, as the piece unfolded. The ethereal music, the flowing opalescent costume worn by the female dancer, the sheer loneliness of the haunting score, combined to make her lean forward in her seat. Then the music changed and the male dancer entered, catching just a glimpse of her as she exited.
The second section was different, the music heavier, the steps more deliberate, but still the sense of a single being, alone in space, the sheer solitude of the universe remained. Periodically the woman entered again, always remaining in the male's peripheral vision. He began to watch for her, then to search, sensing an end to his solitary existence. Finally they met. The pas began with a soaring lift, the music reaching a peak, then diminished, but still somehow seemed to swell and grow as they became familiar with each other, gently exploring this new relationship. The curtain dropped as the dance continued, the music slowly fading out. It was as though the ballet continued despite the lowering drapery which closed the viewers out of the world they had become a part of. Christine sighed unconsciously, finally relaxing back into the chair upon which she sat.
Spock had been watching the viewer, but it had been secondary to his interest in the nurse's reactions to the piece. He had observed her, unseen from his point of vantage, noting the deeply inhaled breath as the couple came together for the first lift, saw her breasts rise then fall, noted the final sense of release as the curtain fell and she allowed herself to accept the support of the hard, 'fleet issue chair. Again he found himself speaking words other than those he had intended.
"I do not believe the piece is technically beyond either of us. What is your opinion?" His voice was level, ignoring the urges she aroused.
"Technically, I agree." Her attempt at calm was not quite as successful, a minute quiver evident in her voice. *Why is he doing this?*
"I suggest we watch the piece again so that we can begin to learn the steps." Spock stood and squeezed behind the chair she was seated in.
"Very well, *if* you are still certain you want to go through with it." She looked up at him as he reached past her to rerun the tape. "Have you had a change of mind?" He glanced down, a slanted eyebrow raised.
"Mr. Spock, haven't you had any ... oh, I don't know ... doubts about this?" She had to ask.
"I have. However, watching the piece I find myself eager to attempt it." As he said it he realized it was true. "Assuming you are still willing." The last words had the air of a question.
"Watching Star/Space, I have no choice." She smiled ruefully. "I want to at least try it."
"Agreed. Then shall we watch the tape again?" He waited for her response.
"Okay, but why don't we take it down to the gym, then we can work out some of the steps as we watch." *And I can get out of this tiny cabin and stop seeing your bed out of the corner of my eye.* She didn't say it, but the thought must have been obvious, because Spock's eyes suddenly darted toward the other section of the cabin, separated only by the grillwork room divider.
"Of course. A most logical suggestion. I assume you will wish to change your clothing?"
"Yes. I'll run down to my cabin and meet you in the gym in a few minutes." Chapel stood, self-consciously pushing a wisp of hair out of her face as she stepped past Spock. "Excuse me." She headed for the door, slightly light-headed from the heat of the Vulcan's cabin. At least that was what she told herself as she entered her own quarters and rummaged around for dance clothing.
* * *
The first rehearsal went as first rehearsals usually go: rough. Christine felt awkward for the first time since the Vulcan had joined the dance class. The form fitting dance clothes seemed to reveal more of her body than they had just the day before, the deserted gym was more echoing and lonely.
"Perhaps we should begin by attempting some of the easier partnered movements, since I have no experience with that aspect of dance." Spock was wearing a different shade of green tonight, again reminding Chris that Vulcans preferred cool colors to warm ones, probably in response to the searing heat of their desert planet.
She caught herself in time to prevent the words "very well" from escaping her lips. She was beginning to feel like a parrot, mouthing those particular three syllables. Spock would think she couldn't say anything else. "That sounds like a good idea." Suddenly it seemed as though their roles had been reversed, and she was no longer the teacher but the pupil.
They worked for about an hour on the more basic moves. Chapel had done partnered work before, and Spock took to it with the same ease that he did most forms of physical exercise. All would have been well if it had not been for the nervousness that caused Christine to step on his toes in her hard pointe shoes or nearly thrust her foot into his abdomen when she executed a developpe en arabesque as the Vulcan stepped in closer to her body to support her for the promenade which followed.
The worst though -- from Chapel's point of view -- came when they attempted the high lift which opened the partnered section of Star/Space.
The lift called for her to take a step in preparation, then push off with one leg, arching her back and extending her legs in a split position. Spock had to stand behind her, hands on her waist. When she jumped he had get under her, then extend his arms over his head so that her weight would be centered on the heels of his hands. The first time they attempted it, Christine hardly left the floor. The same thing happened the second time. The third time Spock managed to get his hands under her in the proper position, but their timing was off. Instead of gripping her waist, his hands slid on the slick fabric of her unitard, his fingertips just touching her breasts.
Spock hastily lowered her to the floor, uncertain how to deal with the situation. Taking his cue from Chapel's earlier actions, he attempted to apologize, not something Vulcans have much experience with, causing the fair-skinned nurse to flush uncomfortably.
"Maybe we should call it a night, Mr. Spock." She tried to force the scarlet color from her cheeks by sheer will power.
"Perhaps." Spock knew his apology had made things worse. He strove to recapture the tenor of the earlier part of the rehearsal, although it had been far from relaxed. "Shall we meet again tomorrow at the same hour?"
"Very well." Here she was falling back on those words again. But what else was she to do, when the thought of Spock's touch was driving her out of her mind with desire to touch him in return, and not just as a dance partner.
"Tomorrow at 01800 hours then, here in the gym."
Chapel nodded, then headed for the locker room, glad of the privacy to be obtained in the showers.
* * *
Spock of Vulcan, first officer of the Enterprise, sat facing the glowing firepot, his thoughts far from the meditation he desired. No, required. It had been two weeks since that first nearly disastrous rehearsal. He was unable to comprehend why his thoughts seemed to return to Chapel with a pernicious insistence. Had it been his time (Spock swallowed reflexively at the thought), he could have made sense of this weakness, but it was not. Perhaps he had always been drawn to her.
When it had appeared that they would not arrive at Vulcan in time, and the fear of encroaching madness had driven him to consider the alternatives, Chapel had been the one he had found his thoughts centering on. He had assumed it was due to her feelings toward him, but perhaps there had been more involved than he realized. He sat up straighter, irritated, although he would never admit such a thing. After all, he was a Vulcan. He should not be sitting here in his quarters lusting after a woman who was not his wife.
Spock inhaled deeply, then placed his fingertips together, focusing on the attunement flame, attempting again to quiet his thoughts, to order his recalcitrant body to comply. Still his thoughts were invaded, by cornflower eyes made deeper by the blue clothing she favored, by the memory of soft breasts, barely touched by his yearning fingers, by the memory of her body, warmer than normal from exertion and tension, supported by his hands as he slid her along his own body and lowered her to the floor from that abortive lift.
Spock sighed. Logic told him to call off this performance, to refrain from taking the ballet class which had led to all of this. In Human terms, to run. Something else said no.
"I am a Vulcan. I will control." He spoke the words aloud, inwardly wondering where this course was taking him.
* * *
Three more weeks passed. The ballet class had just about taken over the gym, pre-empting most other activities that would have taken place during the evening hours. Classes were no longer being held every third day as they had previously. Now they took place every day, with a half hour allotted to warm up, the rest of the evening to rehearsals. Spock and Chapel continued to rehearse alone, usually immediately after their shift ended, occasionally calling Uhura in for necessary critiques. Christine no longer felt awkward with Spock; that had worn itself out naturally, somewhere around the hundredth time they missed the same pirouette into the promenade that had ended with her foot in his stomach the first time they tried it. They no longer missed the lift, their sense of timing having improved to the point that, even when one of them was 'off', Spock could usually save it. Vulcan muscles gave one a great sense of security, Chris mused.
* * *
Dress rehearsal. The gym had been reconverted to a theater. Draperies had been hung as well as special lights. The bleachers had been folded down into the storage spaces inside the bulkheads and theater seats installed. The scenery was finished and the dancers were costumed.
Tonight Chapel and Spock would show the pas to the rest of the class for the first time. Chris did some releves, attempting to warm up her literally, as well as figuratively, cold feet. She watched out of the corner of her eye as the men finished The Singing Stones. Spock was dancing in that piece as well as the pas, so he was already warm, and if looks meant anything, experiencing none of the butterflies that were fluttering around in her stomach.
She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, trying to relax. The Singing Stones ended to restrained applause from the watching female dancers. Sulu and Chekov who had worked together as rehearsal masters, besides dancing in the piece, conferred with Uhura, then began to read off the criticisms she had jotted down. Spock came to stand next to Chapel, listening intently to the corrections, but still aware of her tension as he donned the tunic he would wear for Star/Space over the basic unitard chosen for Singing Stones.
"Relax, Christine." His voice was like velvet close to her ear. Suddenly, without warning, he placed his hands on the tense muscles of her neck, squeezing and rubbing gently. She inhaled deeply, startled by the unexpected contact, her shoulders tightening even more. Spock had never touched her before, except in the dance. "Relax." He said it again, making his voice match the word, applying light pressure on the knotted muscles.
"Spock, I don't think this is exactly the time for a nerve pinch ... or then again, maybe it is," she joked nervously.
His left eyebrow quirked in an expression that made her realize she had been admitted to the small group he occasionally offered the Vulcan equivalent of a joke. "If I intended to render you unconscious, I would already have done so." He looked at her, their eyes nearly on a level. "You have no reason to be concerned, we have rehearsed thoroughly."
"That doesn't mean I'm not nervous," she answered, thinking it wasn't the steps so much, as the content she was worried about. Until now, no one had known what ballet they had chosen with the exception of Uhura, and she suspected Sulu and Chekov. Now they were going to dance it for the first time with an audience, even if it was only the other members of the class, and she was concerned about what they would say.
Uhura's voice broke in on her thoughts. "Any time you're ready, Mister Spock."
"Are you prepared, Miss Chapel?" Spock's voice lost its warm tones, now the voice of a superior officer, stiffening her resolve.
"Yes, Mister Spock." She took her place, then nodded to Uhura to start the music. When the first notes sounded, Chapel was aware of the astonished looks on the faces of the other dancers and a hiss of whispered voices as they identified the piece. Then the music took her, its soft windchime-like quality transporting her to a different time and place. The gym faded as she allowed herself to become the music. She executed the steps perfectly, her face a mask of classic beauty, cold and untouched by her surroundings.
Then the mood changed, aerial strings and bells overcome by the music for the male variation. This was heavier, more structured, classical rock music, using synthesized sounds and percussion. Spock entered, his features at their most Vulcan, eyes unseeing, the universe, as comprised by the stage, his alone. He executed his steps with precision, not allowing himself to be distracted by Chapel's first entrance in the downstage corner. He continued dancing as the music built. Again Chapel entered, this time repeating a series of turns from her variation. His focus flickered, becoming aware of her intrusion. She exited, as he began to move in her direction. She entered a third time, the masculine music lightly overlaid by the sound of her chimes. He followed her, as she crossed the stage, intent on capturing the wraith which had entered his frame of reference. She executed a final leap, and he caught her, carrying her off stage, his captive.
Silence reigned for a moment, then the barely audible swell of strings and synthesizer was heard. Chapel took her preparation, her mind fully on the first soaring lift. She wasn't nervous anymore, and she could sense that Spock wasn't either. They were working as one, in unison as they never had before. It almost seemed as though she could hear his thoughts. They flew through the steps. The often disastrous turn into the promenade came and went more smoothly than it ever had before. The music began to fade, the curtain lowering slowly as the lights dimmed. There was stunned silence, then enthusiastic applause from the other dancers. Unthinking, Christine threw her arms around Spock and kissed him soundly.
Spock accepted the embrace, then gently disengaged her arms from his neck. "I believe you must take a bow."
She flushed, embarrassed by her action. "Mister Spock, I am sorry, I didn't think--"
"Christine, I believe the cause was sufficient. I was unable to detect any flaws in your variation or my own, and only a barely perceptible hesitation as we executed the last lift. Now you must take your bow." He nodded in the direction of the curtain, then glanced at Mister Scott who was acting as stage manager for the performance. Scott interpreted the look, giving the cue to open the curtain. As the curtain went up, Christine stepped forward, taking a deep bow, then turned toward her partner and extended her hand. Spock stepped forward, joining her, bowing gravely, then motioning for her to bow again. The curtain dropped to repeated applause. The second it touched the floor Christine disappeared into the locker room, now a dressing room, to change for The Kingdom of the Shades. Spock watched her go, then entered the "auditorium" to receive Uhura's comments. Scott, who had witnessed the entire scene, including the odd expression on the Vulcan's face as Chapel left, felt a certain kinship with the proverbial fly on the wall.
* * *
The day of the performance -- performances actually, since Captain Kirk had requested a matinee and an evening to allow as many crewmembers as possible to attend -- there was no rehearsal. Christine didn't know if that was a good idea or not. There was an old saying in theater, a bad dress rehearsal makes a good performance. In no way could last night's rehearsal be called bad. Everything had gone almost too well. The lighting had been artistic and practical, the stage crew had worked well together, accustomed as they were to far more dangerous situations than a theatrical performance. The costumes fit well, and more important, didn't interfere with the dancers' movements.
To make things worse, McCoy had insisted she take today off, saying he didn't want to be responsible for her doing any less than her best. Chapel entered the dressing room an hour before curtain time, fidgety from a morning of unaccustomed inactivity. She was still unable to believe that she had committed the unforgivable error (from a Vulcan point of view) of not only embracing, but kissing Spock. The fact that he had, at least for a moment returned the hug had done little to mitigate her chagrin. She hadn't seen him since, and she wasn't certain how she was going to face him.
"Christine, you flew out of here so fast last night, no one had a chance to congratulate you. The pas looked marvelous." Uhura was already seated at the makeshift dressing table applying eyeliner.
"Thanks, Ny. I only hope it goes that well today." Chapel dropped into the seat next to the comm officer. "Did you work this morning?"
"No, the captain gave us all the day off. I understand from one of my replacements that he sent an order around to all the departments that anyone involved with the performance was to have the day off. Tomorrow too, if the rumor is correct. We've generated a lot of excitement." Uhura put down the eyeliner and began to apply mascara to her long eyelashes.
"I'm glad. We were beginning to see what Doctor McCoy calls 'milk run fever' down in Sickbay. It's kind of disconcerting when you start to see the things that happen just because people are a little bored." Chapel began brushing her hair with quick experienced strokes, relieved to talk about something other than the pas. "Even people who seldom go on landing parties, researchers and such." She took up a small section of hair and began braiding it in the style Uhura had suggested for Star/Space.
"I suppose it's because the researchers who sign aboard a starship aren't the same as the ones who're content to sit in their little planetbound labs. They like the excitement just being aboard an exploration vessel brings. When there's nothing exciting going on, they experience the same ennui the rest of us do."
Uhura had finished with the mascara. Now she picked up a fluffy brush and began to stroke on cheek color, noting that Christine had finished her hair and was inserting the Illurian pearl earrings she'd purchased last shore leave. "Let me do your makeup for you, okay? I want you to look gorgeous." She didn't mention that Spock had stopped her this morning, requesting information on the tradition of presenting one's partner with flowers, nor that he had inquired as to what would be appropriate, going so far as to question her in-depth on Chapel's personal favorites. Something was going on that she didn't understand. She wasn't sure Chris did either, wrapped up as she was, in her attempts to conceal her feelings toward Spock.
The next half hour passed quickly as the other dancers trooped into the dressing room. Chapel was grateful she had allowed herself to be made up by Uhura. It was easy to avoid responding to comments on the previous night's rehearsal when you were complying with commands to 'look up', 'look down', 'close your eyes', or 'suck in your cheeks, like this.' By the time the communications officer was satisfied with Chapel's appearance, it was time to go warm up.
* * *
Chapel had almost completed her exercises when Spock finally appeared backstage. He was already dressed in his costume for the men's piece, a thin warmup outfit pulled on over it. He took up a position near her, leaning against the wall to stretch the back of his legs. She was startled to see that he was skillfully made up. Maybe the old wives' tales about there being nothing a Vulcan couldn't do were true, she thought, perusing his features carefully.
"Is something wrong with my appearance?" Spock looked at her, that darned eyebrow going up inquisitively.
"Oh! No. No, of course not. I was just a little surprised to see you wearing makeup." *That's good. Make him feel self-conscious, Christine.*
The Vulcan took in her makeup, certain that Chapel had not done it herself. It was not in her usual quiet style, having a more expansive yet still delicate appearance. In her pastel beauty she called to mind old pieces of Terran china his mother possessed. He ignored that thought, replying placidly, "I believe a certain amount of cosmetics are required to enhance the facial features due to the effects of the lighting."
*Enhance the features! Doesn't he know how beautiful he looks?* "Of course." She looked away, trying to control her breathing. *How can he not realize the effect he's having on me?* "I'd better go change into my costume. We're scheduled to start in two minutes."
"Twelve point six minutes. Mister Scott will hold the curtain for ten minutes to allow for late arrivals."
Chapel grinned, feeling some of her tension dissipate. No matter what happened, Spock would never change. "Whatever, Mister Spock. That's still not very much time to get into my costume and put on pointe shoes. I want to see The Singing Stones so I have to be all ready." She headed for the dressing room, grateful that he had not appeared to recall her impetuous action of the night before.
She might not have felt so relieved if she could have seen him a few hours earlier. Spock had been restless last night, unable to sleep, and worse, unable to meditate, recalling that fleeting embrace. How he had become so attracted to the Human nurse was a question he had not yet truly answered, any more than he had ever successfully answered how the bond between him and the captain had formed. Likewise, it did not matter. It existed. Whether he ascribed it to the weakness of his Human half, or to some inherent need she supplied, the problem remained. He desired Chapel in a way he would have found disgusting in one of his Human acquaintances. He had finally reached a decision early this morning. Now it only remained for him to implement it.
* * *
The first performance flew by, almost a let down in comparison to the triumph experienced by the dancers at the dress rehearsal. Everything went as planned. The dancers who were in more than one piece had sufficient time to change during the short intermissions, the lighting, sound and scenery changes were done with expert precision, and not one audience member (or dancer, for that matter) had been paged during the four ballets. The few nervous faux pas were covered neatly, with no one but the dancers any the wiser. The all-male piece, The Singing Stones, brought several young female officers to the conclusion that maybe they should look into ballet lessons. Star/Space left the audience rather shocked at a different vision of their stoic first officer and cool-headed nurse, but the following comic ballet, Two Spacers and a Fair Maiden (choreographed by Uhura) which had been substituted for La Ventana, blurred the images the audience thought they had received. The classic Kingdom of the Shades closed the performance with graceful dignity.
There had been a short break when most of the dancers had eaten light meals and taken a rest, then it had been time to prepare for the second performance. Things had been rather hectic in the dressing rooms, with almost everyone waiting too long to begin preparations, then a frantic rush as they realized how close it was to curtain time. But the panic passed, and the show began on time, the traditional ten minutes after the announced curtain.
Again everything went extraordinarily well. Chapel danced Star/Space with an intensity that would have overwhelmed the piece had Spock not matched it. Now it was over, and she sat at her spot in the deserted dressing room. Even Uhura, her closest friend, had gone ahead to the cast party at Chris' request. She looked at the delicate pink roses and tiny blue cornflowers that had been on her dressing table when she returned to put on her costume after that short onversation with Spock. She reread the accompanying card. Only four words written in a strong hand. *To Christine, From Spock.* What had prompted him to give her flowers? She'd been sure Uhura had something to do with it, but the comm officer denied the accusation, although she admitted she had told Spock Chris' favorites when he asked.
Chapel touched one of the roses with a trembling finger. They were so perfect, like dancing with him, but they would die soon, and she would have to go on. She sighed. Perhaps the time had finally come to transfer off the Enterprise. It was becoming too hard to disguise her love for the Vulcan, and she was so tired. She leaned back in the hard chair, putting her sore feet up on the dressing table.
* * *
Spock waited outside the women's locker room. Uhura had said Christine was still inside, but he had heard nothing since the communications officer left. He raised his hand and tapped lightly on the door.
* * *
Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy attended the second performance. Both were taken unaware (to put it mildly) by the sensual pas de deux danced by their respective right hands. They had remained seated when most of the audience filed out of the transformed gym, heading for the celebratory parties which would already be getting under way. This was due in part to the fact that they had intended to wait for Spock and Chapel to emerge, in order to offer their congratulations. The other reason was an inability to believe what they had seen.
Finally, the captain spoke up. "Was that my first officer up there, Bones?"
"Sure looked like it, Jim, but I wouldn't swear to it. Maybe we picked up an alien intruder or something." McCoy was wearing a huge crooked grin, thinking of the teasing he would get out of this one. Then again, maybe he wouldn't. Chapel had been awfully touchy lately and now he knew the reason why.
"Whatever possessed either of them to allow themselves to be talked into a piece like that?" Kirk shook his head. Beautiful was hardly strong enough to describe the piece, or the way they had danced it, but...
"According to the grapevine, they chose it themselves." McCoy said, folding his arms over his chest, and nearly crushing the tissue paper wrapped box he held in his lap.
"No way." Kirk shook his head decisively. "I know Spock wouldn't, and I don't think Chapel would either." He stood up and stretched stiff muscles. "It's been a while, let's go back and see what's going on." The captain didn't wait for McCoy to reply, but immediately began strolling in the direction of the stage, stopping a couple of times to extend congratulations to the 'techies' and stage hands who had already begun to dismantle ('strike', in theater parlance) the stage.
By the time the captain and the CMO reached the wings, another ten minutes had elapsed, and still there was no sight of either of the missing officers. A word with a busy Mister Scott informed them that he "hadna seen either o' them since the end of the performance." Kirk stuck his head in the door of the locker room used by the men as a dressing room, but the lights were out, and it was clear there was no one there.
"I'll be damned if I know where he could have gotten to." Kirk shook his head again, feeling perturbed by this further evidence of Spock's uncharacteristic behavior.
"Weelll, I don't know either, but I'm not gonna spend the whole evenin' searchin' for him. Spock's a big boy, Jim, he won't get lost. If it's all right with you, I'm gonna step over to the ladies dressin' room and give this to Chris." He waved the small package which was beginning to look very much the worse for wear.
"Are you sure you don't want to rewrap it? It looks kind of..." Kirk gestured ineffectually, not wanting to hurt McCoy, but the present really did look like the doctor had been sitting on it for at least half the performance.
"Nah. Chapel knows how bad I am at wrapping presents. I always get her to wrap 'em for me. She'll understand."
Kirk grimaced. "At least let me try to fix that bow." They stopped close to one of the black curtains which formed the wings of the stage. McCoy held the package out as Kirk began fiddling with the shimmery bow. They heard the sound of a door opening, and Chapel's voice issuing from it. As McCoy was about to call out, a deep voice replied, just loud enough to be audible to the two unwitting eavesdroppers, then two sets of footsteps headed in the direction of the exit.
Blue eyes met hazel, both peering out of furrowed brows. If they hadn't known who was speaking, they both would have sworn that Spock had invited Chapel to his quarters. Two heads shook in disbelief. McCoy was the first to speak, still shaking his head. "Nah."
* * *
"Relax, Christine." Spock used the same words as he had at the dress rehearsal. This time they were even less effective.
They were standing in his quarters and Chapel was wondering why on earth she had allowed herself to come here. Spock was still speaking, and she tuned just in time to hear his last words.
"...I do not intend to molest you."
Her eyes flew to meet his, startled that he should say such a thing.
Spock replied to that look wryly. "I see that I have your attention. Please, sit down. There are things we must discuss." He motioned to the chair opposite his desk. Chapel sat willingly. Now that the performances were over, and the adrenaline had stopped pumping through her body, she was feeling very much like a limp dishrag.
Spock stepped into the sleeping cubicle, his voice muffled but still audible. "First there is something I must give you." He returned, a loosely wrapped package in his hand. "Lieutenant Uhura said that pink roses are your favorite, however these seem more appropriate to Star/Space." He handed her the bundle and waited.
Chapel removed the wrapping, uncovering a bouquet of rare Scytain windflowers. The delicate blossoms trembled slightly in her hands, a blur of pastel shades. "Ohhh... They're beautiful. Where did you get them?"
"From Botany." He raised an eyebrow at her inquiring look, answering simply. "Being Science Officer has its merits." He moved to her side, taking the fragile star-like blooms from her. "Listen." He shook them gently, and the air was filled with a soft chime-like sound.
"They are perfect, Mister Spock. I'll treasure them." She began to rise from the chair, overcome by weariness and the feeling that she was going to burst into illogical tears if she didn't get out of here fast.
"Wait, Christine, we must talk." That was the second time since they entered his cabin that Spock had called her by her first name, Chapel noted, as she resisted the impulse to sit again.
"Does it have to be right now, Spock? I'm very tired, and I think I could use some sleep."
Spock pushed her back down, then moved his desk chair so it was opposite hers, and took his place in it. "I agree." He lifted her unresisting leg and removing the soft shoe she had put on for the party, began to massage her foot. "It is my suggestion that you sleep here."
"*Spock!*" Christine pulled her leg away, fully awake now.
"Let us speak logically. I am aware of the feelings you harbor for me. Even had I not known of them before, you could not have hidden them from me when we were dancing together." He retrieved the limb and again began to rub it.
"But I tried!" She had gone stiff, and he ceased his massage, not wishing to hurt her.
"I am aware of it. I could sense your attempts to shield your thoughts from me. You did a most creditable job, considering you have no training." He paused, then went on. "Christine, of late I have been attracted to you, and your endeavors on my behalf have merely caused me to appreciate you more." He began rubbing her foot again with experienced motions, moving up her leg as he felt the muscles relaxing under his strong fingers. "I have found myself thinking of you a great deal of the time. It has been somewhat disconcerting."
"Spock, I think I'd better go." She tried to remove her leg from his hands gracefully. It didn't work this time. He held on, gently but firmly.
"Is that what you desire?" His voice was even softer, deeper, than it had been. He looked into her eyes, noting the depths of their blueness, her face framed by the golden hair, curling now from perspiration, the pearls she wore in her ears seeming to glow from within as her skin did when she had been dancing. As it was now...
"No..." She watched as Spock's hands traveled up the muscles of her leg, touching her as he had never touched her before. It seemed to her that his skillful fingers were melting through her resolve as they removed the knots from her calf. He stopped, causing her to utter an involuntary protest, then began on the other foot. She could feel her eyes closing as he massaged her foot and leg, the tension oozing from her body. He dropped to his knees, close to her now, placing his hand on her cheek, tracing the shape of her rounded ear with his finger.
"You are tired." He was watching her carefully now, gauging her response, his eyes boring into hers.
"Yes." Chapel felt as though she were in a trance.
"You require rest. Come." Seeing no signs of rejection, he stood, lifting her gently from the chair into strong Vulcan arms.
"Spock..." She didn't struggle, but he could sense the return of tension.
He made his voice gentle, uttering the words he had used before like a talisman, as he carried her to his bed. "Relax, Christine."
* * *
Their loving was gentle. Both were tired from their exertions, physical and emotional of the past months. When they finally climaxed, it was a quiet explosion. Christine sighed, unable to sort dream from reality. Just before she slipped into sleep she thought she heard Spock's voice inside her mind. *Sleep, T'hy'la.* A word with many meanings. She slept...
* * *
Spock was dreaming. Dreaming of a woman with long blond hair. A woman who could walk comfortably at his side. A woman who would not take orders simply because she was his mate. An intelligent woman who complemented him, filling his needs as he filled hers. He dreamed of touching her, feeling her body next to his, running his hands over her, and her hands responding. Loving her. Then the dream ended, and he woke to find himself alone.
He was aware of a sense of regret. Had it been only a dream? He took a moment to regain control of his breathing, then rose from the unusually disordered bunk. There was sufficient time before his shift for him to dedicate a small portion of it to some much needed meditation. He crossed the cabin, walking toward the warm glow of the firepot.
A glint of reflected light caught his attention. The first officer of the Enterprise knelt to discover its source. There... something... His brow creased as he reached forward and retrieved it, then examined the trifle he held in his hand. A single, luminous Illurian pearl nestled in his suddenly trembling grasp. A heaving sigh escaped him, and he turned at a sound from the direction of the small bathroom. The woman from his dream stood there, wrapped in his robe, her loose hair streaming around her shoulders, looking uncertain. He glanced at the pearl he held, then back at Chapel, his too-long robe pooled on the floor around her feet. Rising from his knees, he went to her. "Christine..."
"Why?" She looked up, almost afraid to meet his gaze.
The Vulcan took her hands in his, eyebrow arched, as he recalled the reply his father had once given to a perhaps impertinent question. "At the time, it seemed the only logical thing to do."
Glossary of Dance Terms (for anyone who's interested!)
Arabesque- One of the basic poses. The dancer stands on one leg. The other leg is extended behind, most commonly at right angles to the the supporting leg although sometimes it can be lower, or in more recent years, often higher. The arms can be arranged in numerous positions.
Demi- Small or petite.
Developpe- A movement in which the working leg is drawn up and slowly extended to a position en l'air (in the air) and held there.
Grand- Big or large.
Grand Battement- In essence, a high kick.
Pas de Deux- Literally dance for two. More often refers to supported or partnered work.
Pirouette- A turn done sur le pointe (on the tip of the foot) or on the ball of one foot. The other foot can be placed in a variety of postions. It should always be completely controlled, never appearing as wild spinning or twirling.
Plie- To bend. One of the seven movements in dancing. Done both demi and grand, in all the basic positions, as a stretching and warming exercise.
Promenade- Literally to walk. In pas de deux, the female dancer assumes a pose sur le pointe and the male dancer circles her as he slowly turns her in that position. It requires great control on the danseuse's (woman's) part, awareness and sensitivity on on the part of the man (danseur).
Reverence- Literally reverence or curtsey. A bow. Done at the end of class it shows respect for, and appreciation of the instructor as well as preparing the student for the stage.
Rond de jambe, en l'air- Literally, to circle the leg in the air.
Tendu- More correctly battement tendu. To stretch or extend the leg with the foot well pointed.
For those who are interested, Monotones is a real ballet, choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton to music by Erik Satie. Le Corsaire is also a real ballet based on a poem by Lord Byron, to music by Adolph Adam. It has a complicated plot and is seldom danced outside of Russia except for its famous pas de deux, first danced in the west by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. La Bayadere is another ballet seldom danced in the west, although the fourth act, The Kingdom of the Shades is danced by the Royal Ballet, and Natalia Makarova set it for American Ballet Theatre in 1974. All the other ballets are figments of my imagination, and likely to remain as such, although I would love to see a performance of Star/Space (inspired by the music from the PBS TV series, Cosmos, which is available on tape from RCA).