DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns everything Star Trek. No money is being made here. I'm just playing around in their backyard. This story is rated PG-13 for adult situations.



WHAT A LOVELY WAY TO BURN

Cherpring



"Kiss me."

Chapel ducked to one side as his mouth started to descend upon hers and shoved hard against the Vulcan's chest, attempting to break his hold on her upper arms. Spock let go of her and she quickly backed away, almost stumbling in her haste. His eyes fixed upon her mouth, her lips, then shifted to the base of her throat where her pulse beat rhythmically just below the surface. Their dark, obsidian depths glittered in the half-light of the cabin and sent a shiver down her spine. Fine hairs on the back of her neck rose in response and she took another step backward, then two more. He followed; slowly, relentlessly.

God, what was happening? For the first time since she entered Spock's cabin a tiny ripple of fear fluttered in Chapel's stomach. Suddenly, it was difficult to breathe. The air was thick with alien incense, and warm. Much too warm. She hadn't noticed it before, but now felt she was suffocating.

She swallowed and took a deep breath. "Mister Spock, there's…there's definitely something wrong here," she finally managed. "If you tell me what it is, maybe I can help."

"Wrong, Nurse? There is nothing 'wrong'." His voice was a deep and silky baritone. It resonated along her nerve endings and sent another shiver racing through her, her skin prickling with the sensation. His next words dropped even lower in timbre and volume as he moved closer, stalking her. "On the contrary, I would say things are very…right."

"No, Spock," she countered, surprised by the level tone of her own voice. "There is something wrong. I need to call Dr. McCoy. Maybe he can--"

Chapel cut herself off with the abrupt realization she had backed up against the unyielding surface of the bulkhead. She spared a glance sideways, noting the door just a few feet away. She had to get to McCoy, let him know what was happening. If she could just…

Spock's eyes followed hers, making the connection. In two long, quick strides he effectively barred her way before she could take more than a few steps. The door hissed open, triggered by his approach.

Several crewmen walked by in the corridor, but she couldn't bring herself to call out to them. "Spock, just let me --"

"Computer, close door. Initiate security lock." The door slid shut obediently.

"Security lock initiated," the computer intoned.

Stunned, Chapel stared over Spock's shoulder. The quiet snick as the door locked hung ominously in the stillness of the room. She shifted her gaze to the Vulcan standing in front of her. Her expression mirrored her disbelief. She blinked several times and closed her mouth. Spock stood immobile for a moment, then slowly clasped his hands behind his back as he blocked her only means of escape.

To those who didn't know him well, he would appear to be calm, almost casual in his stance before her. But she did know him well, had made it her business to know him. With a practiced eye, she saw the tension just below the surface, the subtle flush of his skin and the faint glistening of moisture on his upper lip.

Spock's gaze locked with hers. His eyes… Adrenaline flooded her system and her muscles tensed. Her heart had been beating wildly since the first moment he touched her, his fingertips wiping away the tear she hadn't even known was there. Now it seemed to redouble its efforts, the hard and fast pounding echoing in her ears.

"Have you gone mad, Spock?" she finally breathed, her voice barely above a whisper.

"In a manner of speaking," Spock answered, never once taking his eyes from hers. "Although madness is a relative term for the affliction I now find myself suffering. Temporary insanity would be a more precise description. Either way, it requires your presence."

"You're out of line, Mister Spock. You will let me leave!" Chapel demanded, keeping her tone even, but with underlying steel beneath. What the hell kind of game was he playing?

"I think not, Lieutenant." Spock's voice was still low, but had lost some of its silkiness. Again, he moved toward her and Chapel retraced her steps backward. This time she inched sideways, not allowing herself to become trapped against the bulkhead again. If she had to run, maybe she could reach the bathroom before he caught up with her.

God, what was she thinking? She had to talk to him, reason with him… "I'm on duty, Mister Spock. I have other patients to attend. McCoy will miss me before too long."

He stopped a few inches in front of her. "Nevertheless, I intend to keep you here until we have…settled certain matters between us."

Chapel averted her gaze, studying the emblem on his shirt as the heat rose into her cheeks. He was so close now she could feel the extraordinary warmth of his body, smell the faint musk of his skin. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Yes, you do…Christine."

Startled, her head came up and she searched Spock's expression for anything that would help her understand. Although his gaze remained intense, there was no explanation in his dark eyes. "Why are you doing this to me?" she pleaded softly. "I came here only because I've been concerned about you…and to tell you the Captain is diverting to Vulcan. I thought you would want to know as soon as possible. We should be there in a few days."

"A few days…" he repeated slowly. His eyes clouded a moment, then he closed them and took a deep breath, seeming to turn in on himself, as if listening to some internal voice. Finally, he opened them again. "I do not have a few days, Christine. I need…" He swallowed reflexively. "I need…"

But he couldn't finish, letting his words trail off as he looked away from her. His face flushed darker.

"What do you need, Spock?" Chapel demanded, exasperation filtering through her confusion. "Tell me, or tell McCoy. I don't care which!"

"McCoy knows," he answered darkly.

"Knows what?" He didn't answer. "Okay, then tell me this, is what you need on Vulcan?" she persisted. But she already knew the answer. It was the reason she had come here, to let him know they were going to Vulcan since he seemed hell bent on getting there as if his life depended on it. And she knew it did. She wasn't sure why, but from the snatches of conversation she overheard between the Captain and McCoy, it was imperative the Vulcan reach his home planet. She thought the news would ease his mind. But he was hiding something. And McCoy knew. McCoy knew! Why wasn't he here, helping Spock? Better yet, why wasn't Spock in Sickbay where he obviously belonged?

"Yes!" Spock hissed. His head snapped up and his gaze once again fixed on her. His pupils were dilated and his nostrils flared slightly. He actually trembled with his effort to remain in control. She could sense his frustration. Apprehension tightened her chest. "But you tell me we will not be there for a few days. That is why you must stay here, Christine. Stay with me."

"I…I don't understand," she stammered. "You've been talking in riddles since I got here. You're not making any sense, Spock. You're ill, you should be in Sickbay."

"No!" he almost shouted, then he swallowed hard and lowered his voice. " I will remain here. And you will remain with me."

It wasn't a request, and Chapel bristled at the tone. It implied he expected her to blindly obey without further explanation. Whatever the hell was going on here not only frightened and confused her, it was starting to piss her off.

"Look, Spock, I don't know what's happening to you, but I don't deserve to be a pawn in this game you seem to be playing. If you need my help, then tell me. Otherwise, step aside, Commander."

The lines around Spock's mouth tightened almost imperceptibly as a flash of anger flared in his eyes. Then, abruptly, it was gone and he seemed to relax. He unclasped his hands and reached up to gently stroke one side of her face. "I assure you, it is not a game."

Chapel steeled herself not to flinch against his touch, but wasn't entirely successful. The heat from his fingertips seemed to sear her skin in their wake.

He let his hand fall away and frowned. "You are afraid. Afraid of me."

"Yes…" Chapel admitted breathlessly. "But not just afraid. I'm confused, worried about what's happening to you, wondering why McCoy isn't here or why you're not in Sickbay. But most of all, I don't understand what you're trying to tell me, Spock. What you want from me."

Spock glanced down at the floor, shifting his weight slightly. When he looked back up again, his half-hooded eyes regarded her enigmatically as he tilted his head to one side. "Don't you?" he asked quietly, his voice once again taking on that deep, rumbling quality she found so disturbing.

It touched something deep within her, and in spite of everything, she found herself responding to it.

"You are a sensitive and intuitive woman," Spock continued. "Do you not feel what I need from you?" He leaned in closer and Chapel froze as the side of his cheek grazed hers. "The fever burns within me, Christine." He spoke just above a whisper, his breath tickling her ear. "And it burns for you. Is this not what you have desired? My attention… my desire? Your words and actions in the past have led me to believe this to be true. The fact that you are here, now, proves that I was correct in my assumption."

Chapel swallowed hard, her mouth and throat suddenly impossibly dry. Her pulse thudded loudly in her own ears. She was drowning, drowning in his closeness and his intoxicating scent, in the heat radiating from his body and permeating her own. She felt the incipient tingle of arousal begin to ache between the juncture of her thighs, then throb more insistently in rhythm with her heart as she struggled to answer.

"This isn't fair, Spock."

He pulled back slightly to gaze at her. "How so?"

Chapel darted her tongue out to wet her lips, saw his eyes captivated by the gesture and darken in intensity. "It's not fair because…because I'm not strong enough, not noble enough…and you know it. In fact, you're counting on it, using my feelings for you against me. I don't understand why, but I know seduction when I see it. You are attempting to seduce me, Spock."

Spock again reached up to caress her cheek. "And am I being successful?"

Chapel closed her eyes briefly against the caress, then opened them again to stare steadily into his. "You know you are."

"As I told you earlier, it would be illogical to protest against our natures." He paused, trailing his fingers from her cheek to catch under her chin and tilt her head back slightly. "It is within your nature to love, Christine, to surrender yourself to the fact of that emotion and the consequences it demands," he said softly. "You once told me you loved me, accepted me for what I am, the Human and the Vulcan. Accept me now, Christine. Help me to ease this burning and find my way back to myself again. I need you."

Chapel trembled under his touch, heart and body aching to fulfill his request, but her mind warring with the possible outcome, the inevitable repercussions. "And what of your nature, Spock? Do you love me as well? Can you love me?"

"I desire you."

"Desire is not love," she stated quietly.

"This is true," Spock answered. "But I can and do honor you, Christine. I value your intelligence and warmth, the compassion you give so freely to those in need. And although I cannot say I love you, as I am uncertain exactly what love is or if I am even capable of it, I believe in the steadfastness of your love for me. The tenacity with which you love deserves a certain…admiration." His lips twitched up slightly, almost a smile, but it faded quickly and he was serious again. "In spite of my previous rejections, my violence towards you the other day, I sense it is still there. You have every right to reject me now. I would not blame you. Yet, I sense you will not." He paused and lightly brushed his lips against hers. When he spoke again, the warmth of his breath mingled with hers. "Take what I can offer, Christine. Give in to your nature… and accept mine."

Chapel could feel herself yielding, her body submitting even before her mind could fully grasp what he was saying. The rigid tension with which she had held herself suddenly melted away and she realized she had made a decision. Spock was right. She couldn't fight it, didn't want to fight it anymore. It went against all that she was. She was sick to death of battling with her feelings for him, of the constant heartache, the sleepless nights and numbing emotional exhaustion that followed. Spock wasn't himself, but right now he wanted her, needed her if what he said were true. She might hate herself later, but she just wasn't strong enough to deny him, or herself, any longer.

Chapel placed her palms flat against his chest. "I'm going to burn in Hell for this," she said solemnly.

"Then we'll burn together," Spock responded huskily, pulling her hard against him, nearly knocking the breath from her by the sheer force of his embrace. His mouth descended upon hers and all coherent thought vanished. And she did burn; burned with the fire of his passion, with the heat of flesh against flesh as his mind engulfed hers in an inferno so intense it branded her soul forever.

***

T'Pring sat in the semi-darkness of her room staring at the silver garment spread out upon her bed. So, it was done. The Challenge would no longer be necessary. He had taken another.

Profound relief flooded through her and she almost allowed a sigh. Stonn would be safe. They would all be safe. All that was required now was a formal dissolution during which an elder would release them from the bond. There would be a stigma attached to the dissolution, but because of the circumstances that made it necessary, Spock would bear the brunt of it. No matter. It could almost be forgiven a legend.

Finally, T'Pring rose from her meditation couch and moved to the bed. Her hands were steady as she folded the delicate garment and placed it in the stasis box that lay beside it. She would wear the wedding dress yet, but not now. Now, there was much to do, there were plans to be made.

She turned for the doorway and this time she did sigh, in joy and anticipation, as she went in search of her lover.



FIN

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