DISCLAIMER: Paramount/Viacom and the Powers That Be own Star Trek and all its characters. This story is copyright (c) 2002 by Momthing. This story is Rated PG.



Change of Heart

Momthing



The shuttlecraft Copernicus sped silently through space, making its way to the mighty starship that awaited it like a mother waiting for her child. Inside, the two passengers and her pilot were engrossed in their own thoughts as the shuttlecraft drew nearer.

For Lt. Geoffrey Moore, piloting the shuttlecraft was a thrilling experience that never got old; and today he was especially excited to be sitting next to two legends. He had only been with the Enterprise for six months; in all that time, he had seen members of the bridge crew a handful of times and usually from a distance, so he was delighted when he was assigned to pick up his two passengers. To be sitting so close to the legendary Commander Spock and the equally legendary Lt. Uhura was almost as thrilling as piloting his shuttlecraft. His two passengers sat lost in thought as the shuttlecraft drew nearer to its destination.

Lieutenant Nyota Uhura was both dreading and anticipating the end of the journey. So much had changed since she had left the Enterprise six months ago. One of the changes was sitting in front of her next to the shuttlecraft pilot. He was the reason for her suddenly growing anxiety. Until this moment, she hadn't realized what her decision to help out a friend in need would cost her. She felt guilty, although she had no real reason to, at least not as far as Spock was concerned. He found her uneasiness illogical and had told her so repeatedly. But that had failed to reassure her. She still felt that she had betrayed a dear friend when she had made her choice … not just three months ago, but on a certain night when she had decided to commit herself for life. It was a hard pill to swallow.

Commander Spock smiled inwardly to himself as his eyes feasted on the starship growing larger and larger in the shuttlecraft window. He had been away from it for too long. It was good to be going home. He tried not to think that he might never have seen it again if it had not been for Uhura. He half-turned in his seat next to the pilot and looked briefly at her. She was seated just behind the pilot. She seemed to be looking over the pilot's shoulder at the starship view through his window. Outwardly, she appeared calm. But she kept rubbing her hands on her uniform skirt; a sign that Spock had learned meant that she was extremely nervous.

"Everything will be well," he said to her, trying to ease her nervousness.

"That's easy for you to say," she almost-snapped at him peevishly. "You're not the one that has to deal with…" Then she abruptly remembered their pilot and shut up.

"That is true," he nodded. "But I will have to deal with her superior officer."

"It's not the same," she protested. "He's a man. He won't see it the way she will."

"It is illogical to worry about something that has not occurred yet," he reminded her.

"Well, I'm an illogical woman, so sue me."

He raised an eyebrow at her. He knew by now that she wasn't really angry with him; but he wished that there was something he could do to reassure her.

Uhura sighed. "I'm sorry, Spock. I'll be all right, really I will."

He almost reached out to touch her when the shuttlecraft's radio interrupted their discussion. "Enterprise to shuttlecraft Copernicus, do you read?"

"Roger, Enterprise, Copernicus here," the pilot replied.

"Copernicus, you are cleared to land in Hanger Deck Six. Stand by for tractor beam."

"Standing by, Enterprise. Copernicus out."

Nyota Uhura closed her eyes for a moment and breathed a short prayer that this homecoming would go smoothly. If she had known six months ago what she knew now, she might not have accepted the six-month tour of duty working alongside Spock on the colony planet Gilead. But then again, she couldn't exactly say she regretted it either, in spite of the changed circumstances.

The shuttlecraft glided smoothly inside Hangar Deck 6 pulled in by the tractor beam. There was a short wait while the hangar depressurized. The three people inside made their various preparations to disembark. Lt. Geoffrey Moore went ahead of them to open the hatch and lower the landing ramp. Spock took a moment while the lieutenant's back was turned, to briefly put his hand on Uhura's back. She leaned back against it slightly and looked up at him. Their eyes locked briefly; she saw tenderness and concern in his and he saw her affection for him in hers.

"Mr. Spock, are you ready to disembark?" the lieutenant's voice broke the spell.

"Yes, of course," Spock said as he placed his hand on Uhura's arm to guide her down. He was not surprised to find James Kirk and Leonard McCoy waiting to welcome them.

"Permission to come aboard, Captain," he said.

"Permission granted, Commander," James Kirk grinned. "It's good to have you both back."

"It is good to be back," Spock nodded, and then, he held two fingers out to Uhura.

"My wife, attend."

Uhura moved up to his side and touched her fingers to his in the same two-fingered gesture.

Neither McCoy nor Kirk seemed surprised. They knew this was the only way he would ever have been allowed to rejoin his ship. Regardless of the reason, however, Kirk would do right by his people.

"Captain's privilege," he said, as he reached out to hug Uhura and kiss her on the cheek.

"Don't hog the bride, Jim," McCoy said. "I get a turn too." Uhura laughed as the doctor embraced her. Her husband watched bemusedly. Uhura had always been popular; and she had deserved her popularity. He didn't begrudge his two human friends their embraces.

"We shall report for duty as soon as we are settled into our quarters, Captain," he said, as they started walking out of the hangar deck.

"Oh, yes, I've had Lt. Uhura's belongings sent to her quarters and yours to yours, " Kirk said.

Spock stopped abruptly and gave Uhura a sharp look. "Did you not request married living quarters? I thought we had agreed to continue our present living arrangement."

"I did request married living quarters," Uhura protested. "I most certainly did. I don't understand how that could have happened."

"I'm afraid it was my fault," Jim Kirk admitted, a little taken aback by Spock and Uhura's reaction. "When Yeoman Barnes showed me the paperwork, I decided that it must be somebody's idea of a practical joke, so I just tabled it. Given the conditions under which you two were married, I naturally assumed…"

"Captain," Spock interrupted him firmly, "despite the actual reason for our marriage, this is not a marriage in name only. I consider Nyota my wife in every sense of the word, and I will not tolerate her being treated with disrespect. I hope I make myself clear in this. I will not have her distressed by malicious gossip."

Kirk looked at his first officer and his communications officer. It had never occurred to him that there might be something more behind Spock's marriage other than the mandatory new regulation from Star Fleet that all Vulcans serving on board a starship must be married and have their wives with them and that their wives must also be qualified to serve aboard a starship.

He had been extremely pleased when he had gotten word that Spock would be returning back to the Enterprise with his wife; and very surprised when he found out who she was, but when he took time to think about it, it was an eminently logical decision for them to make. He had assumed, however, and so would probably everyone else on the ship, that it was strictly a marriage of convenience; a marriage in name only. Obviously, this wasn't the case.

"My apologies, Mr. Spock, and you too, Mrs. Spock.

"I'm still using my maiden name, Captain," Uhura smiled at him, appreciating his attempt to acknowledge her new status. "I'm afraid I still haven't mastered the family name."

"Oh, I see … maybe that's why I assumed … well, never mind. I'll see to it that the matter is taken care of immediately. I'll see you both back on the bridge as soon as Dr. McCoy gets through with you in Sick Bay."

"Very well, Captain," Spock and Uhura followed along behind McCoy. Uhura still wasn't sure what to expect when she got to Sick Bay, but the fact that Spock had made no bones about how he intended to treat their marriage went a long way towards making her feel better. Just before they got to Sick Bay, McCoy turned around and told them both:

"Christine knows."

* * *

Christine Chapel was in her office ostensibly going over her nurses' duty rosters for the coming week, but after viewing the same page on the monitor three times, she still couldn't seem to concentrate on what she was seeing. She sighed and finally gave up. She knew she wasn't going to be able to give anything her full attention until after she'd seen Spock and Uhura. She went over to the nurse's lounge and keyed herself a cup of coffee from the replicator, waving in passing to two of her nurses who were taking a break and had stopped talking the minute she entered the room. No doubt they were talking about her.

It was no secret, Christine mused, that she had been in love with Spock for years. She sat at her desk and sipped her coffee slowly and pondered over the fact that she wasn't more upset over Spock and Uhura's marriage.

Maybe it was the fact that she knew Spock wouldn't have married Uhura under normal circumstances. But the near-rape of a female crewman by a supposedly crazed Vulcan, who had never shown any interest in said female before had changed all that. Vulcan realized that as long as Vulcans went out into deep space, it wouldn't be too long before its dirty little secret was out: the pon farr. The only reason it hadn't come out before was that, heretofore, any Vulcan wanting to serve in deep space had automatically been assigned to the USS Intrepid, which had an all Vulcan crew, with the exception of Spock.

With the loss of the Intrepid, more and more Vulcans had been assigned to ships with more diverse races. The new regulations that allowed only married Vulcans and their spouses to serve aboard a deep space vessel had been a compromise between Vulcan, the Federation, and Star Fleet, and so far, the only people that really knew why were the Chief Medical Officers of the starships in which a Vulcan crewmember might serve. The regulation only affected a tiny handful of Vulcans; nevertheless, Spock was one of them.

At any rate, Spock and Uhura were married, and she took secret comfort in the fact that it was surely a marriage in name only. She'd find out, she supposed when she saw Uhura … then she heard the sound of familiar laughter. Nyota was back! She jumped up impulsively, grinning in delight. She had sorely missed Uhura's company these past six months. She was about the only woman with whom Christine could talk freely and unreservedly. Nyota was discreet and knew how to keep her mouth shut.

Many was the night they'd sat and cried on each other's shoulders over their love lives, or in Christine's case, lack thereof. Many were the shopping sprees they had gone on together, giggling like schoolgirls and spending a month's pay on clothes they would only wear at best one or two times. These thoughts were running through Christine's mind as she strode into the main sickbay, grinning.

"Nyota!" she exclaimed, walking up to Uhura and hugging her. She was so happy to see her friend that she barely noticed Spock standing in the background watching the two women's reunion with a bemused look on his face.

"Christine!" Uhura exclaimed, hugging her back. The two women stood back and looked at each other. Christine noticed that Uhura looked well rested and seemed happier than she had ever seen her. Uhura saw nothing in her friend's face that would indicate that Christine was upset about her marriage to Spock. In fact, the head nurse had not even looked at Spock; her whole attention was focused on Uhura.

"I'm so glad you're back," Christine said. "You'll have to fill me in on all your news. How was Gilead?"

"Wonderful, " Uhura laughed. "But it's good to be home again. By the way, aren't you forgetting someone?"

Christine blinked for a moment and then noticed Spock standing back watching the two women. She suddenly felt very awkward and shy, and felt her cheeks turn pink in embarrassment at her lapse in manners.

"Of course," she said. "Welcome home, Mr. Spock. It's good to have you back."

"Thank you, Miss Chapel," he nodded to her in acknowledgment. "I am pleased to be back on board the Enterprise."

"Well, I hate to break up this little family reunion," McCoy drawled, "but these people have to get back to work. Chris, why don't you take Nyota into exam room 3 and prep her for a diagnostic scan while I take care of Spock. I'm fairly sure Jim wants them back at their stations yesterday if not sooner."

"Of course, Doctor, right away." Christine took Uhura's arm as they walked into an examining room, and McCoy turned to Spock.

"After you, sir," he drawled. "I hope you realize it took me an hour to recalibrate all my diagnostic equipment for Vulcan norms."

"Indeed, doctor," Spock said, following him into another examining room. "I am pleased that you have found a shortcut."

McCoy ignored the jab and told Spock to take off his tunic and lie down. Spock sighed, but complied without argument.

Meanwhile, in exam room three, Christine handed Uhura a thin paper gown, which Uhura slipped, over her head, while Christine took Uhura's uniform and laid it carefully across a chair. "Dr. McCoy will be here as soon as he finishes up with Spock," Christine told her. "So, make yourself comfortable. Oh, by the way, are you free for dinner tonight? We've got so much to catch up on."

Uhura shook her head regretfully. "Sorry, Christine, but Spock and I still haven't had a chance to get settled in. Would you believe that we put in for married quarters and got reassigned to our regular quarters? Honestly, Starfleet bureaucracy is something else. The Captain promised he'd have the glitch straightened out by this evening."

"I can see why you'd be upset," Christine said in a sympathetic tone, but a warning bell suddenly went off in the back of her mind. She refused to think about the implications of what Uhura had just said. There would be time enough to think of it later.

McCoy stuck his head in just then. "Uhura, Spock's gone up to the bridge. I'll just give you a quick look-see and then you'll be free to go. And Chris, Dr. M'Benga's been asking for you. Seems Yeoman Chen's taken a turn for the worse."

"Of course, Doctor," Christine replied. "See you later, Ny."

"Count on it," Uhura said as Christine left.

"How are you feeling?" McCoy looked at Uhura sharply.

"Relieved," Uhura said. "That went much better than I expected to."

"Well, don't get too cozy," McCoy warned. "I have a feeling it hasn't quite hit her yet. But I do have to ask you one question. I asked your husband the same thing. This isn't being nosey, but as your kindly family doctor, I need to know … are you happy being married to Spock?"

"Yes, I am," Nyota replied. "Very happy. You know, it's funny. We were at the hotel where we were staying having breakfast together when Spock got the communiqué from Captain Kirk about the new regulations. At first, he didn't want to show it to me, but he must have realized I'd find out anyway. So, he just handed me the data padd and let me read it for myself. I said the first thing that came out of my head, 'I suppose we could get married. It's only three months until the end of the mission, so it's not like it would be forever.'"

She told McCoy how Spock had looked at her and said, "You would sacrifice yourself for me?" She had laughed and told him she hardly considered it a sacrifice to be married to someone whom she had considered a dear friend for years, especially since it meant that he would be able to return to the Enterprise. She had been relieved and surprised that he hadn't put up too much of a struggle. They were married within the week, a civil ceremony performed by a justice-of-the peace who had also doubled as Uhura's assistant at the small colony's communications center.

"It may have started out as a marriage of convenience, Doctor, but somewhere along the way, it's become much more."

"I'm glad to hear that," McCoy said. "And just between you, me, and the lamp post, I've never seen Spock look happier and more at peace with himself. I think you've been very good for him young lady." He quickly ran the diagnostic scanner over her as they talked.

"I think I have too, Doctor," Uhura smiled. "Can I go now?"

McCoy frowned. "Yes, but I'm going to want to see you again in about a day or so. There's something a little off about some of these readings, but I don't think it's anything serious … I'll call you. Now get your uniform back on and scat!

"Yes, sir, scatting as ordered!"

Uhura grinned, jumping down from the diagnostic bed, as he left the room. She quickly took off the examining gown and put on her uniform. Her mind was already on the bridge and her communications station. She knew she was going to have a lot of catching up to do. She waved to Christine who looked up briefly from reading a chart as she passed by. Christine smiled and waved back.

* * *

Spock and Uhura had been able to settle into married quarters that very evening, since Kirk had signed off on the paperwork and the harried Quartermaster had quickly assigned two hapless yeomen to prepare one of the VIP suites as a temporary married quarters. Since the Enterprise would be docking on Earth in three months anyway, it seemed pointless to have the couple wait the mandatory month and a half to get regular married quarters. The VIP quarters were downright luxurious compared to what they normally would have gotten. There was a queen-sized bed in the bedroom, a small sitting room/work area and even their own personal food replicator for those evenings when they decided to dine in.

They were getting ready for bed when Spock asked her how her visit with Christine had gone.

Uhura sighed, as she slid beneath the covers.

"Well, she didn't seem to be too upset," she told her husband as he slid in beside her, "but then again … I'm not sure she understands that this isn't a marriage of convenience. She did do a kind of double-take when I mentioned that we had applied for married quarters, but she recovered quickly."

"You see?" Spock said, pulling his wife into his arms. "I told you that worrying was illogical. I am sure Miss Chapel has seen the logic of the situation and has reconciled herself to the situation."

Uhura raised herself up to look at him, scowling.

"You just don't get it, do you? I've just stolen the man she loves right out from under Christine's nose. Dr. McCoy is right … it hasn't hit her yet, and I dread to see what will happen when it does."

He stroked her cheek. "It is unfortunate that Miss Chapel continues to harbor such emotions towards me, in spite of the fact that I have done nothing to encourage them. Nevertheless, the reality remains that you are my wife now. It distresses me to see you so unhappy."

"I'm not blaming you, Spock," Uhura settled herself into his arms again. "This is something Christine and I have to work out between ourselves. But, you're right, there's not much point in my worrying about it now, since there's nothing I can do about it."

She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. "Good night, Spock."

"Good night, my wife."

* * *

It was to be two days before the two friends were able to see each other. As Uhura suspected, both she and Spock had a lot of catching up to do; although their replacements had actually done a good job in their absence. Still, it took them both time to reacquaint themselves with their stations and make sure that things were going to their satisfaction.

If it had not been for the fact that both were working the Alpha shift this week, Uhura mused as she got ready to go to lunch on her third day aboard ship, she would never have even seen Spock at all, except in bed. She smiled to herself at the thought, and glanced up to find Spock looking at her.

He had been "peeking" into her mind again, and knew the direction her thoughts were taking. She quickly looked down at her communications board pretending to study something on it. Spock cocked an eyebrow and returned his attention to the screen before him, but not before sending Uhura a quick mental picture of their morning's activities. There was one aspect of their marriage that Spock never seemed to tire of, Uhura grinned to herself. Hardly surprising, considering the fact that it took a month for them to actually consummate their marriage.

She shook her head slightly to dispel the mental images and handed her post to her relief. She had an hour lunch and intended to take every minute of it. She sorely needed a break from the bridge and "opening hailing frequencies, sir". She had hoped that she could eat lunch with her husband, but Spock rarely ate lunch, opting instead to finish the updates on his station.

She left the bridge and headed for the Officer's Mess, waving at the Captain on her way out. Five minutes later, she was holding her meal tray looking for a place to sit. It was then that she noticed Christine waving her over to her table. Uhura realized that there was no way that she could sit anywhere else without making it obvious that she was trying to avoid Christine. She reluctantly made her way to Christine's table and sat down. "Whew! What a day!" she said, taking a sip of her iced tea. "I'm so glad to be away from the madhouse for awhile. If I had to say hailing frequencies open one more time, I was going to scream."

"I'll bet," Christine smiled sympathetically. She studied her friend closely, and couldn't help but notice, with a twinge of envy, how happy her friend seemed to be, despite her frazzled state. "I take it you've gotten settled in?"

"Oh, yes, more or less, " Uhura said. "At least as much as we can what with having to work twelve-hour days. I'll be so glad when we get caught up enough to go back to the regular eight-hour schedule … honestly, Spock and I haven't even been able to see each other long enough to say boo!"

Christine felt a small stab of jealousy shoot through her at the familiar way Uhura talked about Spock. Of course, she was entitled to; after all, they were married. She knew Uhura didn't mean it in a malicious manner and she tried hard not to take it that way. Still, some small part of her couldn't help wondering what it would have been like if she had been the one to go to Gilead with Spock instead of Uhura … would he have asked her to marry him?

She wanted so badly to ask Uhura about the events leading up to her marriage to Spock, but at the same time, she also didn't want to go there. Sometimes, it was better to let sleeping dogs lie, and besides, if the Vulcan ever found out that Christine was prying, he would take it as a violation of privacy. The last thing she wanted was for him to be angry with her.

"So, tell me the latest dirt," Uhura said. "Last I heard, Mary Barnes was having problems with Lt. Peterson, and that cute yeoman, Susan Charles had a huge crush on Captain Kirk."

"Oh, Mary Barnes and Greg Peterson are ancient history," Christine said, "and as for Yeoman Charles, she's decided that Sulu is definitely more her type…"

The two women were busily chatting away about the doings among the Enterprise crew when they were abruptly interrupted.

"My wife, attend."

The two women looked up to see Spock holding two fingers out to Uhura. He had actually been standing there for about forty-five seconds listening to the them gossip, and had waited for a break in the conversation before he interrupted.

Uhura quickly stood up and touched her two fingers to his in a ritual embrace.

"What's wrong?" she asked, sensing the irritation in his mind, through their marriage bond.

"I left three data cassettes on the desk last night. A few minutes ago, I stopped by our quarters to pick them up, and they were not there. As you were the last one using the computer, I wish to know where they are."

"Did you look in the drawer underneath the monitor? They should be there, held together with a rubber band so they wouldn't be separated."

"I see." Spock said, looking sternly at Uhura with his hands behind his back. "Very well, I shall look there. In future, I suggest you refrain from disturbing anything on the workstation. The experiment I am working on is of the utmost importance, and I cannot afford to waste time looking for my materials."

"I'll keep that in mind for future reference," Uhura said, her calm voice belying her anger. "Is there anything else?"

"No, I believe that is all that I require for now."

"In that case, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to finish my lunch so I can get back to my work, which is also of the utmost importance."

"Indeed," he nodded in acknowledgment. "Nurse Chapel," he acknowledged Christine with a tiny nod of his head just before walking out. Christine was horrified. How could Uhura be so calm about Spock's arrogant attitude? If she had been his wife, she would never have tolerated it, not for an instant! Uhura had picked up her fork and was slowly eating her meal.

Inside, she was seething with anger, but she'd be damned if she'd give Christine or any other crewmember grist for the gossip mill. Not that Christine would ever tell anyone, she mused, but the incident had been witnessed by at least a dozen people. The news would be all over the ship by nightfall, she knew. Hopefully, it would soon die down, and things would get back to normal … especially once she had a chance to get together with her husband and lay down a few ground rules.

They were no longer on Gilead, and she realized, she could not afford to continue playing the "little woman" role she'd been forced to play there. She only hoped the incident wouldn't lessen her status in he eyes of her subordinates, but that was to prove a forlorn hope.

She had no sooner picked up her tray to leave when she heard someone snickering behind her; and not just any someone. It was her nemesis, Ensign Joe Bickers. She had been having problems with him since before she'd left for Gilead, but it hadn't been anything she couldn't handle, although it was clear that he didn't like being subordinate to a woman.

"Something funny, Ensign?" she turned and glared at him.

"Not at all, ma'am," the ensign drawled, his tone just a hair shy of being insolent. "Just a joke that Ensign Yamura here was telling me."

"I see," Uhura said, knowing that he was lying, but since there wasn't anything she could do about it at the moment, she decided to let it ride.

"You have fifteen minutes to finish your lunch, Ensign," she smiled sweetly, but the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "I suggest you do so. You wouldn't want to be late returning to duty."

She walked out without looking back, but not before overhearing the ensign tell his partner, "Now that's the way a woman should be treated. I always knew there was something I liked about that Vulcan."

In the meantime, Christine had also disposed of her tray and was well on her way to Sick Bay, fuming inwardly. And here she had thought that Spock was the reason for Uhura's happiness, but obviously, that wasn't the case! For the first time, she began to have her doubts about Spock. She didn't see how Uhura was going to endure being married to him for the next three months, certainly not if he consistently maintained that kind of arrogant attitude towards her.

Christine suddenly remembered how Spock's father, Sarek, had acted around his mother. Although there was a current of affection in his attitude towards his wife, Sarek had been somewhat autocratic towards his wife. Christine clearly remembered seeing Spock's mother walking slightly behind and to the right of his father.

Oh, good lord, I could never do that, she thought. Suddenly, she didn't envy Uhura so much.

She resolved to let Uhura know that she would be there for her if needed. After all, no woman should have to tolerate that kind of abuse, she thought. She wondered if she should mention the incident to McCoy, but decided against it. Right now, Uhura needed her support… but if and when the time came, McCoy would be the first to know.

* * *

"Mr. Bickers, do you have that report I asked you for?"

"Ma'am?" Bickers looked up at Uhura reluctantly, loathe to have his attention diverted from Mr. Spock's pretty yeoman, Teresa Brewers, with whom he had been flirting for the past five minutes.

"What report would that be, Ma'am?" he asked with exaggerated courtesy and with a barely restrained hint of condescension thrown in for good measure. "The one I asked you for fifteen minutes ago," Uhura said in an icy sweet voice. "The logs of incoming and outgoing messages for the Enterprise for the past six weeks."

"Oh, that report," Bickers said. "I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to get around to it."

"I see," Uhura took a deep breath to calm herself. She felt like slapping the smug expression off Bickers' face, but she knew that would be unbecoming behavior for an officer, and she didn't want to appear like a hysterical shrew, which she knew Bickers was trying to goad her into.

"Well, then, perhaps you would suggest how I might explain to the Captain why the report he wanted on his desk by 1600 hours isn't ready yet."

Bickers shrugged. "Sorry, ma'am. If you'd told me the Captain wanted the report, I'd have had it ready for you … I'll guess I better get on it."

"Is there a problem?"

Spock's voice interrupted the discussion. He had gotten up from the Captain's chair, where he had been sitting since Kirk had gone down to Sickbay a half hour ago. He had been listening to the encounter between his wife and Ensign Bickers, and decided that he didn't like the insolent tone that Ensign Bickers was using with Uhura; his every protective instinct came to the fore.

"Nothing I can't handle," both Bickers and Uhura spoke simultaneously, then Bickers smiled at Spock, while Uhura fumed silently.

"There's no problem, sir, " he said. "Your wife here just neglected to mention that she needed me to do a report for the Captain, that's all, and now she's got her panties in a knot because of her mistake. You know how these women are. Give them a little bit of power and it goes to their head." He chuckled conspiratorially at Spock.

Uhura was so angry she could barely speak. She straightened up to her full five foot two inch height, preparing to blast Ensign Bickers and put him firmly in his place, but before she could say anything, her husband spoke.

"Indeed," Spock said frostily. "I fail to see how Lt. Uhura's failure to mention that the report she requested from you was for the Captain has any relevance to this situation. She is your commanding officer. You were given specific orders and you should have obeyed them. Consider yourself on report for insubordination, and you will be confined to quarters until further notice. Now I suggest that you prepare that report right away."

"Yes sir," Bickers said, shocked beyond words that Spock would come down so hard on him. Based on what he had seen that very afternoon, he would have thought that the Vulcan would have reprimanded his wife instead of him. He slunk off to his station and was not heard from for the rest of the shift, except for when he handed Uhura the expected report five minutes later.

Uhura turned to go back to her station, but not before jerking her head at her husband to indicate that he should follow her. He leaned down towards her as if they were discussing ship's business, while she looked at her board.

"I could have handled that situation," she murmured sotto voce. "It wasn't necessary for you to intervene."

"The Ensign was being insubordinate," Spock explained in a low voice. "I did not appreciate the way he was talking to you."

"That's as may be, " Uhura murmured back, "but I really didn't need your help…"

"Captain on the Bridge!"

Sulu's voice interrupted the discussion, but just before Spock turned to go back to his station, Uhura murmured, "We have to talk."

Spock nodded. He knew from experience that when she said those words it meant he had committed some major faux pas, and it usually led up to some interesting discussions between them. He would not call them "arguments" … that was a human term, and even though Uhura occasionally gave free reign to her emotions, for the most part their disagreements were handled in a calm rational manner.

"Ship's status, Mr. Spock," Kirk said, sitting back down in his command chair.

"Nothing unusual to report, Captain," Spock said. "Still on course for Star Base 11."

"Good," Kirk said, as Uhura came up to him and handed him Bickers' report for him to read and sign off on.

"Everything all right, Lieutenant? You look a little perturbed."

"Everything's fine, Captain," Uhura smiled. She was still upset, but was trying not to show it. Kirk looked as if he wanted to say more, but one look at his science officer's face changed his mind. Spock's face was utterly expressionless as he watched Uhura return to her station. Whatever was going on, Kirk decided, would probably be best discussed in private.

"Are we on for our usual chess game, tonight, Mr. Spock?"

"By all means, Captain, I look forward to it, " Spock replied.

At her communications station, Uhura took another deep breath. She was so angry she wanted to scream. Not only had Spock interfered when he had no business doing so, but now, it seemed that he was avoiding the confrontation that she knew they were going to have. She looked at her chronometer. Fifteen minutes until end of shift … she had a feeling it was going to be the longest fifteen minutes of her life.

* * *

"Checkmate."

Spock tipped his chess piece over in acknowledgment of defeat as his friend Jim Kirk leaned back in his chair.

"Out with it, Spock," he said looking closely at the Vulcan. "What's bothering you?"

"There is nothing bothering me, Captain," the Vulcan denied calmly. "It seems your game has vastly improved in the six months that I have been gone."

Kirk laughed. "Well, so much for Vulcans can't lie. One more myth shot down in flames. Come on, Spock, I know you too well. Even at my best, it usually takes us two hours to finish a game. This time it only took thirty minutes. It was like taking candy from a baby. Something's bothering you, and I want to know what it is."

Spock sighed. "It is of a personal nature, Captain. Can you not accept that?"

"Does it have anything to do with whatever happened on the bridge before I came in?" Kirk asked. "I thought you and Uhura, of all people, would be too professional to let your marital problems get in the way of your duty."

"It is not precisely a marital problem, Captain," Spock said quietly. "It is more of a command issue. Apparently, in coming to the aid of my wife, I inadvertently caused a problem, although I am not precisely sure what."

"Tell me," Kirk commanded. Spock did. When he finished, Kirk nodded.

"I don't blame Uhura for being upset. You should have let her handle it, Spock. After all, you're not always going to be around when she runs into trouble with her subordinates."

"The man was being insolent to my wife," Spock began, but Kirk held up his hand to stop him.

"Spock, while she's on that bridge, Uhura isn't your wife. She's a member of my crew and one of your subordinates. Would you have interfered six months ago in a similar situation?"

Spock had picked up a chess piece and turned it over in his hands while Kirk had been speaking, and now he put it down. "No," he admitted. "I would have assumed that it was a situation that was best handled by the officer in question. She was upset with me because I had interfered. In fact, she and I were to discuss this issue tonight in our quarters."

"Then what the hell are you doing here, mister?" Kirk snapped at him. "Go talk this out with your wife. I need my science officer and my communications officer working together as a team, not squabbling over unresolved issues. That's an order."

Spock got up, stiffly. He was reluctant to go face Uhura, especially since he could feel her anger through the bond. But he knew his friend was right. He couldn't avoid the confrontation any longer.

"Very well, Captain, I shall endeavor to do so." He had barely reached the door, when it opened to reveal Bones McCoy. The two men nodded to each other in acknowledgment as Spock left and McCoy entered the room. In the meantime, Kirk picked up the piece that Spock had been playing with earlier. It was the Black Queen.

"Got a moment, Jim?" McCoy drawled. "I need to talk to you about something that happened in the Mess Hall earlier today."

"Sure, Bones, pull up a chair," Kirk said. "What's on your mind?"

"It's about Spock and Uhura," McCoy started, and Kirk let out a heavy sigh.

"What did they do, have a lover's spat?"

"Not exactly," McCoy said, "but I heard this from Dr. M'Benga… It seems Christine and Uhura were having lunch when Spock came along and demanded to speak to Uhura. Something about her moving some of his data tapes around and ordering her not to touch his stuff because his work was too important for him to waste his time looking for his tapes."

"Well, that just sounds like Spock acting the way his father acts towards his mother, though personally, I would have left out that last bit. What was Uhura's reaction?"

"According to M'Benga, she didn't bat an eye. Just told him where they were and that she wanted to finish her lunch because her work was equally important. But that's not why I'm telling you this. It was what happened afterwards that I think you should be aware of."

Kirk raised his eyebrows inquiringly. "Go on," he said.

"It seems that right after Uhura left, Ensign Bickers started shooting off his mouth, saying how it was time that uppity woman was put in her place and how women had no business being in any type of command position, and how good it was to see a man who really knew how to handle a woman, even if he was a Vulcan. One of the lady security guards threatened to shut his mouth if he didn't shut it. He almost mouthed off to her, but two of her buddies, Harrison and Ford, convinced him otherwise."

"Smart man," Kirk grinned. "I wouldn't want to mess with Harrison and Ford either. Judith Harrison is a martial arts expert and I hear Amanda Ford is really good with a knife. Computer, location of Ensign Joseph Bickers."

"Ensign Joseph Bickers is confined to quarters," the computer stated in its mechanical voice.

"Computer, notify Ensign Bickers that I wish to see him at 0800 in my quarters."

"Ensign Bickers has been notified," the computer replied a moment later.

"That's one problem I can take care of, anyway," Kirk smiled. "The rest of it, Spock is going to have to deal with on his own." He told McCoy what had happened on the bridge.

"Well, I can't say I blame her for being mad," McCoy said, "but if anyone can straighten Spock out, Uhura can. Can't say as I envy him, though."

"Neither do I, Bones, neither do I."

* * *

Uhura paced back and forth in their quarters, waiting impatiently for her husband's arrival. She didn't know why she'd had the impression that their quarters were so big, she fumed. Twelve paces forward, twelve paces back … and that was just from side-to-side. The ship's manual said the room was 8x12 … somehow, it seemed smaller.

She thought about her current situation, and wondered how she was going to be able to resolve it. She and Spock had gotten used to playing their roles of husband and wife in a certain fashion; one with which Spock had had no trouble adapting to, since it so closely patterned what Vulcan marriage was like with man as head of the household.

Uhura had to admit, that, at least when they were in the privacy of their own quarters, Spock had treated her like a queen, often having dinner waiting for her if she came home late from her shift at the communications building, something that would have shocked her fellow co-workers if they had known about it. On Gilead, cooking and cleaning was woman's work, though Spock also helped with the housework.

Six months ago, she and Spock had stayed behind on Gilead, after the Enterprise had answered a distress call from the fledgling colony's main settlement had undergone a massive earthquake. The dam that they had build to harness electricity from the large lake where they had been located had also broken, flooding the city and causing great loss of life.

After the Enterprise had helped them to pick up the pieces and provided medical and humanitarian aid, Kirk had offered Spock and Uhura's services to the Gilead government to help them reestablish their main computer systems and upgrade their communications grid. It was only because the Enterprise was on a milk run and they had very competent replacements that allowed Kirk to do this.

But Gilead was a frontier planet with all that implied, including outmoded attitudes about women's place in society. It reminded Uhura very much of Australia with its patriarchal attitudes regarding women. Needless to say, she and Spock, being the only two 'Fleeters there, had pretty much kept to each other's company, and not formed any close ties with the citizens of Barringer, the newly relocated capital city of Gilead.

She crossed swiftly to the intercom. She needed to get out of here even though it meant she would have to get out of her robe and into some clothes; and besides, there was only one person that she knew she could confide in … she keyed in Christine Chapel's intercom code.

"Hello?" Uhura froze at the sound of Christine's voice. "Who's there? Nyota, is that you?"

What was she thinking? Christine was the last person she could confide in, because of Christine's feelings for Spock! Uhura quickly flipped the switch that broke the connection. Damn it! Why did her best friend have to be in love with her husband?

A sound at the door made Uhura whirl around to see her husband coming cautiously into the room. She took a deep breath to calm herself. She was still so angry, she didn't know where to start.

Spock crossed the room and held out his two fingers in a ritual embrace. Uhura ignored it and turned away from him. He walked towards her and stood behind her. The fact that she had chosen to ignore his ritual embrace signaled her extreme anger. He sensed immediately that this was not likely to be one of their more rational "discussions."

"I ask forgiveness," he started. "I have been given to understand that I was wrong in my actions this afternoon."

"The Captain? You went to Jim about this?" Uhura whirled around and snapped at him.

"No, t'hy'la," he murmured. "I did not go to Jim about this. He ordered me to tell him what had gone on in the bridge earlier. When I finished, he told me I had acted improperly. And he was right. Six months ago, I would never have interfered."

"Six months ago, we weren't married!" Uhura exclaimed angrily. "But we are now, and that could be a real problem … at least on the bridge and with how you treat me in public. We aren't on Gilead, anymore, Spock!"

"I am well aware of that," Spock sighed. "What would you have me do, Nyota? I am a Vulcan; you are my wife. There are certain behaviors that are expected of both of us. You know this; we discussed it the night we consummated our marriage…"

"Yes, I know, Spock, and I told you I'd try. But this isn't Vulcan, either. This is the Enterprise and we're both Star Fleet officers. How can I expect my subordinates, especially my male subordinates, to respect me if I've got to walk three paces behind and to the right all the time? And if they know my husband's going to intervene every time they do something he doesn't like…"

"It will not happen again. You have my word on that," Spock said, walking up to Uhura and trying to put his arms around her. She pushed him away.

"Don't even go there!" she snapped. "Don't think that you're going to get around me that easily, mister! I'm still not finished with you!"

Spock sighed. He was beginning to get a little irritated. Uhura was almost always reasonable, and even when she wasn't, he had learned from experience that usually, all it took to get her that way was an outward sign of affection on his part. For some reason, today, that ploy wasn't working.

"It would be immensely helpful if you would clarify your reasons for your anger, my wife."

"For starters, how about that little scene you pulled in the rec room earlier in front of Christine and about a hundred other people?"

"I do not understand. I believe all I did was ask a question," he protested.

"Yes, but it was the way you asked the question. Spock, you made it sound like I was your servant, not your wife. You were rude and arrogant. I could tell that Christine was upset, even if she didn't say anything, and where do you think Bickers got the idea that he could talk to me the way he did on the bridge? He got it from you, that's where!"

"I can hardly be blamed for the fact that Ensign Bickers is an idiot," he snapped, his Vulcan control slipping for once. He stopped himself from saying more. Uhura was beginning to get to him, something which she was very capable of doing, although usually in a more pleasurable way. He decided he had better leave, both so that he could recover his equilibrium, and to give Uhura a chance to calm down. He started towards the door.

"You step out that door, mister, and you'll be scratching fleas before morning!" Uhura snapped at him. Spock froze. After a moment's pause, he decided that since he was "in the doghouse" anyway, as humans are wont to say, it was probably time for a change of tactics.

He turned abruptly and started stalking her never taking his eyes off hers and wearing his sternest Vulcan face. Seeing the gleam in his eye, Uhura gulped and started backing away from him as he kept coming closer and closer…

"Stay away from me," she threatened trying not to look frightened as he continued to stalk her, his eyes never leaving her face. She kept backing up, and he kept coming closer, until she could feel the edge of the bed behind her legs. He quickly moved to close the distance between them, even as she began to crawl up on the bed. Before she knew it, he had pinned her down to the bed, pinning her wrists down over her head with one hand, while supporting his body which he had positioned over hers with his other arm.

She felt his warm breath on her lips and closed her eyes as he kissed her thoroughly. She felt him through the link, his desire for her and his genuine contrition for having caused her undue distress, as he called it. She wrapped her arms slowly around his neck, feeling her anger slowly drain away from her, as he continued to caress her body with both hands now.

"You sexy devil, you," she whispered, as he brought his body down over hers and pulled her into his arms. "You always manage to get around me, somehow…"

"I don't understand," he murmured, although he really did. "I am merely attempting to settle some unresolved issues between us…" as he lazily kissed her throat and unzipped her robe to expose her breasts. He rained a trail of kisses down her neck and to her breasts until he had one in his mouth.

Uhura moaned and reached down to fondle the bulge she felt growing through his trousers. "Well, I've never been one to let an issue go unresolved for very long," she said, as she reached down, unzipped his pants and began to fondle his now erect member.

"Neither have I," Spock murmured, pulling off her robe. She let him go briefly, just long enough for him to finish undressing, and then pulled him on top of her again as their bodies joined in mingled passion. They were so lost in their lovemaking that they never even heard the insistent beep of the intercom…

Meanwhile, in her quarters, Christine listened to the unanswered beep of the intercom. She was still curious about the earlier caller. She had a strong feeling that it had been Nyota calling her.

Apparently, Nyota wasn't available, because after awhile, Christine got their answering machine recording. She heard Spock's voice saying: "You have reached the intercom of Commander Spock and Lieutenant Uhura. I regret that we are unable to answer your call at this moment. Please leave a message, and we will return your call as soon as possible."

Christine didn't leave a message. She was tempted to play it back just to hear Spock's voice again, even as her heart broke to hear him couple his name with Uhura's. It brought back to her the fact that he was actually married to her best friend. For the first time, she began to have doubts about her assumption that their marriage was in name only.

* * *

The following night, Christine found herself sitting down beside Nyota with a big tub of buttered popcorn preparing to enjoy the latest romance holovid that the Enterprise had received in a shipment just a week ago. At least, it was new to the Enterprise crew; no doubt it was already old news on Earth. She had been presently surprised to find an e-mail from Uhura that morning inviting her to tonight's showing.

"I just love Terence Coltrane" she murmured to Nyota as the house lights dimmed. "He's so sexy … though I've never cared for Lorelei Adams."

"She's not everyone's cup of tea," Nyota replied, "Still, 'Heart's Desire' is supposed to be a very romantic holovid. It's nice to be able to relax, for a change." She sighed contentedly.

Christine found it very easy to fall into the story about the dashing buccaneer, Skyhawke, and the runaway princess, Desiree, although she had to sternly remind herself that she couldn't allow herself to play her usual game of pretending that she was the heroine and Spock was the hero of the story... Certainly not with his wife sitting right beside her. It was going to take some of the fun out if it for her, though, she mused as she munched on some popcorn.

It didn't help any that Terence Coltrane bore more than a passing resemblance to Spock. They could have been twins, in fact, except that Coltrane was human. Still, with the right make-up, he could easily have passed for Vulcan…

The dashing pirate, Skyhawke, swooped onto the enemy ship and caught the fair princess in his arms, carrying her across and quickly tossing her to his first mate, who then put her aboard the pirate ship "Avenger"…Princess Desiree kicked and screamed but to no avail… as soon as Skyhawke's men had disabled the enemy ship, and stripped them of their treasure, they sailed away, with Desiree locked into the Captain's cabin so that she couldn't escape.

"We meet at last, Princess," Skyhawke said with a devastating grin, his sable brown eyes looking deeply into her clear blue ones. The tall, blonde princess glared at him defiantly, her eyes shooting blue sparks of flame…Unperturbed, the handsome pirate took her in his arms and kissed her thoroughly. The princess struggled briefly, and then, to her shame, found herself giving in to the pirate's kisses…"

Christine sighed dreamily. Uhura glanced at her and saw the dreamy expression on her face. She realized then, that Christine was probably indulging herself in her usual fantasy where she and Spock were the characters in the holovid.

She turned back to watch the rest of the holovid, but she couldn't seem to enjoy it as she usually did. She had just noticed how closely the actor resembled her husband, even though the actress didn't look at all like Christine … for one thing, she had red hair, green eyes, and a beauty mark next to her mouth, and she was petite, where Christine was tall. She was going to have to bring Christine back to reality somehow. She didn't want to have to be the one to break Christine's heart, but Spock was her husband now.

As soon as the movie ended, the two ladies got up, and as they usually did, went to Christine's quarters for a cup of hot cocoa and to discuss the holovid they had just seen.

"It's so nice to be able to watch a romantic movie again," Uhura smiled as she took a sip of her cocoa. "I'm afraid Spock doesn't share my appreciation for romantic holovids. Everytime I put one on, he just gets this look on his face, like he's saying "humans!" and then he leaves the room."

Christine laughed. "I can just imagine. No doubt his idea of a good time is a rousing game of chess."

"Well, not really, " Uhura said. "His idea of a good time is reading me a good book. He has a lovely voice. When we were on Gilead, there wasn't much to do, so we used to entertain each other by reading aloud to each other, or sometimes he'd play his lyre."

She didn't have the heart, after all, to tell Christine about the other ways in which they had entertained themselves.

"So, then, I gather he didn't get down on one knee and propose," Christine said lightly, feeling a pang of jealousy shoot through her.

"Actually, I was the one who did the proposing," Uhura said, and gave her an abbreviated version of what she'd told McCoy. "He saw the logic of the situation and didn't put up too much of a fuss."

"Oh, I see. Well, Spock's always been the one to see the logic of a situation," Christine said, a bit tartly. Uhura looked up at her sharply, as if to say something, and then thought better of it.

Christine looked into her cup of cocoa, not quite sure where she should go next. She wanted to let Uhura know that she was there for her if she was needed, but didn't want to pry too much into her relationship with Spock. And she also felt a little guilty because of her earlier lapse in the theater, where she had found herself falling back into the old pattern of indulging her Spockian fantasies, in spite of her earlier resolution not to do so.

"Does he treat you well, Ny?" she asked abruptly. "After what happened at lunch the other day, and what happened on the bridge later … well, you know I'm here if you need me."

"It wasn't what it seemed," Uhura quickly reassured Christine, somehow not surprised that she'd heard about the bridge incident, too. The Enterprise grapevine was nothing if not efficient.

"You know Spock wouldn't hurt a fly. It was just a little misunderstanding. We got it straightened out. He's a Vulcan, after all. You can't expect him to act like a human would in those circumstances."

The door buzzer interrupted their conversation. Uhura quickly got up.

"That'll be Spock. I told him to pick me up here after he got through playing chess with the Captain."

Spock came in as soon as Christine said, "Come in." He held out his fingers in ritual embrace to Uhura who returned it. "I trust you were suitably entertained, my wife."

"Yes, we were," Uhura chuckled. "I indulged in shamelessly emotional romantic fantasy, husband."

Spock sighed as he almost, but not quite, rolled his eyes. "Ah well, as long as you are pleased, I suppose all is well, although I should think reading the Rules of Surak would be much more enlightening."

"The last time you read me the Rules I fell asleep, remember?"

"It is an acquired taste," he told her dryly. "Nevertheless, we should be leaving. No doubt Miss Chapel is ready to retire."

Uhura laughed and hugged Christine, who had been watching the exchange between the couple bemusedly. "Good night, Chris. Thanks for going with me to the holovid. Sleep well."

"You, too, Ny," Chris hugged back. "I had a good time. It's been too long…"

"Good night, Miss Chapel," Spock intoned, and she nodded in acknowledgment as the couple left.

After they were gone, Christine picked up the two empty cocoa mugs and felt a pang go through her. It had been almost like old times between her and Nyota until Spock had come along. Then she had suddenly found herself feeling like an intruder as she had watched Spock tease Uhura. And he had been teasing her. In fact, they had sounded so much like an old married couple, that she'd had a hard time remembering why they had gotten married in the first place.

"Stop that, Chris," she told herself. "Don't be silly. He's married now. Accept it and get on with your life. If you really love him like you say you do, you want him to be happy, and if Uhura makes him happy, well then, that's it."

She took her shower and got ready for bed, feeling like she had handled the whole situation well, on the whole. She knew that there were those on the ship who were waiting for her to fall apart, and some who had secretly been hoping for a cat fight between her and Uhura over Spock.

Well, sorry to disappoint you folks, she thought grimly, but it's not going to happen. Christine Chapel is not going to be anybody's laughing stock. It's only for three months anyway. I can wait three months.

And with that thought, she settled down and closed her eyes, praying that sleep would come, and eventually it did.

* * *

The rolling motion of the ship awakened Christine, and she sat up abruptly, looking around her, somehow not surprised to find herself on board a large sailing vessel. Obviously, this was the result of the holovid she'd seen earlier that evening, she thought to herself, wryly. It wasn't the first time she'd dreamed herself in the middle of a romantic holovid adventure. It happened practically every time she saw one. She always looked forward to them, as this was the only way she would ever feel Spock in her arms.

She was dressed in a frilly negligee and the morning sunlight streaming through the tiny window showed her the ruffled bedding. She had no memory of what had presumably happened the night before, other than the passionate kiss that the ruthless pirate, Skyhawke, had given her. She heard footsteps out in the hallway.

She took a deep breath in anticipation of seeing the bold eyes of the pirate raking over her half clad body, but when she heard the click of a key unlocking her door, it turned out to be only a Nubian slave who was obviously sent to be her maid. It didn't surprise her that she bore a strong resemblance to Uhura.

"Does my lady require anything?" Uhura asked, as Christine swung her feet over the side of the bed. She placed a basin and a jug of water on the night stand beside the bed, so that Christine could wash herself.

"I require to be returned back to my father," Christine said haughtily. "I demand to speak to Skyhawke at once."

"I am sure that you will be returned to your father as soon as the proper arrangements can be made," Uhura replied. "As for milord Skyhawke…that is another matter entirely."

"Did I hear someone take my name in vain?" the pirate came in, his upswept eyebrows and pointed ears giving him the appearance of the devil incarnate. He filled the doorway of the cabin and smirked at Christine. Somehow, he reminded her of Henoch, and she shivered at the unwelcome memory.

Somewhere, deep in her mind, she knew this was all a dream; nevertheless, she found herself eagerly anticipating what was to happen next. At this point in her dreams she usually found herself locked in a passionate embrace with Spock, somehow…but not this time.

Uhura turned and looked at Spock/Skyhawke, smiling seductively.

"The lady wishes to return to her father at once," she purred, walking up to him, her hips swaying in obvious invitation. Spock lost no time in responding to her invitation. He reached out an arm and pulled her towards him.

"The lady will be returned to her father when the ransom is paid," he grinned, fondling Uhura. "In the meantime, we have other matters to attend to, you and I…"

"Wait!" Christine protested, as Spock and Uhura turned to go. "What about last night? You kissed me! Surely that meant something to you!"

Spock laughed. "I kiss every woman whom I capture for ransom. I am, after all, every woman's fantasy. But as long as I have my little love-slave to keep me satisfied, I need no other woman."

Uhura, also, turned and laughed at her.

"Foolish woman," she scoffed. "Did you think I would not know how to keep my master happy?" And with that, she threw her arms around Spock/Skyhawke and he bent down to kiss her passionately…

* * *

Christine sat up abruptly, shaken by the racial overtones that her dream had taken. At the same time, she felt guilty, because she had, in effect, brought this on herself. Her harmless fantasizing at the holovid earlier hadn't been so harmless after all. And she hadn't realized until now, how much she had secretly resented Uhura for marrying Spock, even though she knew how Christine felt about him. Her subconscious mind was telling her what her conscious mind refused to accept.

She swung her legs over the bed as she glanced at the chronometer on her nightstand. It was 0300 ship's time … three in the morning, and she had a full shift to work that day. She groaned, and realized that it would be a long time before she would ever allow herself to see another romantic holovid. It was too emotionally risky for her, especially now.

There would be no point in trying to go back to sleep, she decided. She took a brief sonic shower and put on her favorite sweat suit. She had a portable coffee maker in her unit and she made herself a cup of coffee. It was time she sat down and took a good long look at the situation she now found herself in, she thought to herself as she sat at her desk and took a sip of her coffee.

She began by analyzing her dream. She felt rather annoyed with herself. Here she had taken such great pride at how she was handling this situation of her best friend marrying the man she loved. Oh, sure, there were mitigating circumstances, and it was easy to tell herself that he wouldn't have married her except for that mandatory marriage regulation that Starfleet had passed.

"Damn Starfleet and that stupid regulation," she muttered. She got up and started pacing the floor. "Why couldn't he have married a Vulcan woman?"

She stopped, shocked at the realization that she could have accepted Spock's marriage to a Vulcan woman a great deal better than she could his marriage to Uhura. But it made sense to Christine that Spock should be married to a Vulcan. Christine had decided long ago that if he never responded to her affection, it must be because he had every intention of taking a Vulcan wife when the time came. But now he was married to Uhura.

Could it be possible that he loved her? Christine shook her head, dismissing the idea instantly. In the two times she had seen them together, she couldn't tell if he felt anything for Uhura at all.

Of course, the first time, he'd been bossing her around, and even if he had been teasing Uhura this time, for all Christine knew, it could have been a performance put on for her benefit; perhaps Uhura had told Spock that she had been upset with the way he'd treated her earlier in the rec room, and this was merely his attempt to reassure Christine that Uhura wasn't being mistreated. Perhaps.

"Still, the Rules of Surak," she groaned aloud as she finished her coffee. "Poor Uhura! If all she has to look forward to in the evenings is Spock reading Vulcan philosophy to her, it's no wonder she couldn't wait to see a romantic holovid! That's probably the closest she'll ever get to romance until they reach Earth!"

Three months, she told herself. She could endure for three months. No, it wouldn't be easy, but she could endure it. In the meantime, perhaps she'd better start making her plans for what would happen after the voyage.

She sat down in front her computer and contemplated actually downloading and filling out the application for the bioresearch position that she had seen posted at the Vulcan Science Academy website, although the download would actually be from information stored within the ship's computer which had been updated a month ago. The position was probably filled by now, Christine thought wryly. Still, it couldn't hurt … and she began to read as the information filled her screen..

* * *

Uhura walked out of the Captain's office with a smile on her face and a lively step. She was on her way to Sick Bay, to where she'd been summoned while talking to Captain Kirk. It had been a satisfying morning. The Captain had told her that Ensign Bickers had been reassigned to Engineering, and then had asked her to help him draw up a schedule so that she could log in at least forty hours of Command Training before they reached Earth.

It was going to mean a grueling schedule, but a chance for Command! She couldn't wait to tell Spock; even though he, personally, didn't want a command of his own, he was well aware that she did. She wondered briefly, what McCoy wanted to see her about as she entered Sick Bay. The nurse on duty waved her in the direction of McCoy's office. To her surprise, Spock was already there, waiting. Thirty minutes later, they walked out of McCoy's office in shock. Spock reached for the wall intercom.

"Spock to Bridge."

"Bridge," Kirk's voice answered. "What's up, Mr. Spock?"

"Lt. Uhura and I will be in our quarters for the next thirty minutes, Captain."

"Very well, Mr. Spock. I trust there's nothing seriously wrong?"

"No, Captain, there is nothing seriously wrong. Spock out."

He turned to Uhura, who was looking up at him with a slightly bemused look on her face. "I was not lying, was I? There is nothing seriously wrong, is there?"

"No, I guess not," Uhura murmured, looking away. "It just takes some getting used to, that's all."

She immediately went and plopped down on the couch as soon as they entered their quarters. Spock came and sat down beside her, uncertain as to what he was supposed to do next. Uhura sat back, closed her eyes, and sighed deeply.

"When I was a little girl," she began, "I used to dream about what it would be like to have a child. I used to imagine it; how I would tell my husband I was going to have a baby and what his reaction was going to be, and how happy we were both going to be … and now…" Her voice trailed off.

"And now?" Spock asked gently. He understood her distress. Kirk had spoken to him earlier about his intentions to put Uhura on the Command track. He also knew how much his wife wanted a command of her own. A pregnancy at this point in time would surely put an end to such aspirations.

"Oh, Spock, I'm still happy about having your child," Uhura turned to him, her beautiful dark eyes bright with unshed tears. "But I also still want a ship of my own … it's just so unfair that I have to make a choice."

"Is there really a choice, my wife?" Spock asked her. He already knew the answer. Uhura was going to have the baby. She'd said as much when Dr. McCoy had asked her gently if she wanted to carry the baby to term.

"No, not really," Uhura admitted reluctantly. "I meant what I said earlier. I do want to have your child. I'm just trying to get used to the idea…and you, how do you feel about this?"

"I, too, am having difficulty of adjusting to the idea of impending fatherhood," Spock admitted. "But I am certain that you will be an excellent mother to our child, Nyota."

"And you'll make a great dad," she smiled at him as she reached out and gently stroked his cheek.

"We should be getting back to the bridge," he reminded her. "We told the Captain we would only be gone thirty minutes."

"Yes, I know," she said, allowing him to help her stand up. She smiled inwardly to herself. He certainly seemed to be taking her pregnancy in stride, she thought just as she reached the door and found herself being pulled back abruptly into her husband's embrace. He kissed her very slowly and passionately, and she was afraid she might melt from the force of his kiss, even as she returned it.

He looked down at her and his eyes were warm and tender. He permitted himself to smile at her. "You have made me a very happy man, t'hy'la aduna, very happy indeed. I cherish thee."

"I love you too, Spock," was all she could say, as tears streamed down her cheeks. He gently wiped her tears away with his thumb and bent and kissed her one more time before they walked out of their quarters and went back to the bridge.

* * *

Christine looked blindly at the monitor in her office, where Leonard had just left after telling her that Uhura was two months pregnant with Spock's child. He had to tell her of course; she was the Head Nurse after all, and she'd be in charge of much of the prenatal care. It would actually be Roberta Peterson that would be assisting at Uhura's weekly visits, but if anything went wrong, Christine would have to intervene.

At the moment, however, Christine was too busy dealing with the concept that Uhura's marriage, whatever it might have started out to be, was no longer a marriage of convenience. Her pregnancy proved conclusively that she and her husband did more than just sit around reading the Rules of Surak together.

Damn you, Spock, and damn you Uhura, she thought again for the thousandth time. And damn me too, for loving Spock the way I do. Only three more months. I can deal with anything for three months, she reminded herself, trying not to think about how hurt and angry she was. This was neither the time nor the place for that. She was a professional, and she was determined to act like one.

"Chris?" Dr. M'Benga's voice interrupted her reverie. "I was just going down to the mess hall for dinner. Care to join me? I could use some company."

Christine took a deep breath. Her first impulse was to turn him down, but she found herself saying, "Yes, that would be nice. Just let me get my things. I was through for the day anyway."

"Take your time. I'll be in my office."

"I won't be long," Christine promised, and true to her word, in less than five minutes she was knocking on his office door and she and M'Benga were on their way to the Mess Hall.

* * *

Two more weeks passed. Christine found herself spending most of her off-duty time with M'Benga, purely on a platonic level. Although he was aware of her situation, they never discussed it, by unspoken agreement. Christine wasn't ready to deal with it yet. She didn't know if she'd ever be ready as long as she remained aboard the Enterprise.

She made it a point to be elsewhere whenever Uhura came in for her weekly examination. Of course, she ran into Uhura and Spock from time to time. It was a small ship, and there were bound to be times when they were thrown together. But usually, she was with M'Benga, so it was a lot easier to deal with than if she'd been by herself.

She and M'Benga had run into Spock and Uhura coming out of the Mess Hall as they were going in the night that she'd found out about Uhura's pregnancy. Christine had managed a smile as she'd murmured her congratulations quietly, so that no one standing by them would hear. She'd even allowed Uhura to hug her and agreed when Uhura suggested that they get together soon. But, so far, she'd managed to avoid any contact with Uhura. It was simply too painful for her. The last thing she wanted to do was to lash out at her friend for something that wasn't her fault.

Spock was aware of Christine's distress and wished that he could do something about it. He felt guilty, somehow, because he knew that she had romantic feelings towards him, and even though he didn't return those feelings, he still admired her and valued her friendship, especially for Uhura's sake. Uhura needed a close woman confidante, and until now, Christine had been that confidante. He pondered the possibility of talking to Christine. It was to that end that he visited Sick Bay one afternoon.

"Something we can do for you, Spock?" McCoy asked as Spock walked into Sick Bay.

"I was looking for Nurse Chapel," Spock replied looking around. To his dismay, he didn't see Christine anywhere. "I see she is not here. I shall come back later."

"Is this something to do with Uhura? Is she feeling all right?" McCoy demanded, looking at Spock sharply.

"My wife is well. My business with Nurse Chapel is of a personal nature."

McCoy grunted. He had a good idea of why Spock wanted to see Christine, and if his suspicions were correct, that would not be a good thing.

"I see. Well, you might as well step into my office while you wait. She should be back shortly."

Spock reluctantly stepped into McCoy's office and sat down. McCoy perched on his desk and looked at the Vulcan.

"Spock, I'm not someone that enjoys prying into other people's personal affairs. But since this concerns my Head Nurse, and since I have a strong suspicion that you're here to talk her into spending some time with your wife, I'm going to give you one word of advice: Don't."

"Really, doctor," Spock raised an eyebrow, dismayed that McCoy had guessed his intentions. "I hardly see where this concerns you."

"It concerns me because my Head Nurse is having to deal with some really rough emotional issues; her feelings about you, her feelings about Uhura, and the realization that the man she loves has been intimate with another woman."

"I can hardly be blamed for Miss Chapel's romantic fantasies about me," Spock shot back. "I have never encouraged those feelings towards me, and in fact, I consider her obsession with me to be illogical. I also see no reason for her to blame Uhura for the fact that I chose to marry her."

"That's an interesting choice of words, Spock. I was under the impression that you didn't have any choice in the matter. In fact, I thought you were grasping at straws when you accepted her proposal. Anything to come back to the Enterprise and Jim Kirk."

"I could have gotten an extension," Spock said quietly. "My father had already contacted Star Fleet about making an exception in my case and allowing me to return to the ship until we reached Earth. Then, should I choose to remain in Star Fleet, he would have arranged a marriage for me. I did not want an arranged marriage. And I realized that I wanted Uhura. So I married her."

"Are you saying that if it had been Christine instead of Uhura, you would have taken the extension instead?" McCoy demanded.

"Yes," Spock admitted. "I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Miss Chapel. She is a remarkable woman. But I have never desired to become romantically involved with her. I have been 'in love' as you humans put it with Nyota for some time. It was only after we married that I realized this and why I did not find her proposal disturbing. I welcomed it, in fact, for I could never have brought myself to ask her to marry me."

"Well," McCoy said. "This is beginning to sound more and more like a soap opera. A badly written soap opera. I stand by my original suggestion, Spock. Whatever's going on between Christine and Uhura, stay out of it. This is an issue they need to resolve between themselves. You'll only do more harm than good if you interfere."

"Really, doctor, " Spock began again, but McCoy held up his hand. He walked towards the door. He thought he'd heard something, but when he got there, no one was there.

Meanwhile, on the bridge, Uhura was standing next to the Captain's chair as Kirk laid out a possible command scenario to her. "What would your response be in this case, Lieutenant?"

"Well, I would…" Uhura began and then winced as she felt a sharp pain shoot through her. She grabbed Kirk's arm and dug her nails in to keep from moaning.

"Uhura, what's wrong?" Kirk asked, concerned. Her nails really hurt.

"Request permission to go to Sick Bay," she gasped as the pain eased. It was probably nothing, but better to be safe than sorry, she told herself.

"Permission granted. Wait, I'm coming with you," he said, getting up and taking her arm. "Mr. Sulu, you have the con."

"Aye aye, sir," the helmsman replied as they left the bridge.

* * *

Christine leaned against the door of her quarters. It had been a long and grueling afternoon and early evening. Now at last, she was in her private sanctuary, and she no longer had to wear her professional Head Nurse mask. She engaged the privacy lock and told the ship's computer she didn't want to be disturbed as she slowly peeled off her clothes, preparing to allow herself the luxury of a nice hot water shower.

Uhura had lost the baby, despite all that she and Dr. McCoy could do to prevent it. McCoy, later talking with the grief-stricken parents, explained that there had apparently been too many genetic incompatibilities between Vulcan and Human genes. The child had never really had a chance to develop properly. Christine had left, after leaving orders for Uhura to be given a pain killer and sleeping aid if she needed it. Her last sight of the couple as she left was of Spock holding his wife and murmuring endearments to her in Vulcan as Uhura wept in his arms.

I respect Ms. Chapel. She is a remarkable woman, but I have never desired her. No romantic involvement… Christine hadn't meant to eavesdrop, but she was passing by McCoy's office and heard her name being mentioned by Spock. Her curiosity won out, and she stood by a cabinet pretending to be busy while listening at the same time.

I could have had an extension…I did not want an arranged marriage…I chose Uhura…I am in love with Nyota…I wanted her, so I married her…

Suddenly, Christine moaned as she realized that what she'd heard meant the end of any possibility that Spock could ever love her …and the tears and self-recrimination begin to flow…

"I can wait three months," she sobbed. "For what, Christine? Did you really think that he'd divorce Uhura and suddenly realize how much you meant to him? Oh god, I feel so stupid … I've been living on fantasies … ever since Roger died, I've been living on fantasies…" she sobbed, sliding down the shower unheeding of the water that poured down on her. It wasn't until the water turned cold, that she finally got out of the shower and listlessly dried herself off, the tears still running unchecked down her face. She lay face down on the bed and finally gave herself permission to let it all go … she screamed and pounded her pillow and sobbed until there were no tears left, and all she was left with was a headache and a forlorn empty feeling inside.

She got up, finally, and splashed some water on her face. Her eyes were red and puffy.

"Going to have to do something about that, girl," she chided herself as she sat down in front of her vanity and ran a brush through her tangled hair. "Can't have the ship's Head Nurse running around looking like death warmed over. People will talk … not that they don't already."

She heard her door buzzer chime, and looked up to see M'Benga walking in the door with a bottle of wine and two glasses. "Medical override," he smiled at her. "Thought you could use a friend."

"Go away, " she said, closing her eyes. "Just leave me alone. I don't want your pity. I just want to be left alone."

"I'm not doing this because I feel sorry for you lady," M'Benga said evenly, refusing to let her bait him. "I'm doing this because I care about you, and because I don't want to see you spending all night beating yourself up for something that's not your fault."

"Oh, well that's mighty generous of you, doctor," she snapped, irritated at herself as the tears began flowing down her face again. "Considering that I've spent the last four years of my life making a complete and utter fool of myself over a man who never loved me and never will."

"Don't do this to yourself, Christine," M'Benga pulled her up and into his arms. He held her close as she sobbed into his shoulder.

"He-he t-told Leonard he's always been in love with U-Uhura," she sobbed as she recalled the conversation she'd overheard between Spock and McCoy.

"I know," M'Benga said. "And so have I always been in love with Nyota. But she only had eyes for Spock and he for her. Anyone who had ever seen them together could have seen it if they'd cared to look … but everyone was always focused on you so they didn't see what was right under their noses all along."

"You're in love with Nyota, too?" Christine gasped, more than a little surprised. "I never knew that…"

"Neither did anyone else, including Uhura," M'Benga admitted. "I almost told her once, but once I realized how she felt about Spock, even if she didn't know it, I decided that it would serve no useful purpose, so I didn't say anything. It hasn't been easy watching them together, and I knew it wasn't going to be for you either. But I never fooled myself into thinking theirs was ever a marriage of convenience. I knew better when I saw them together after they'd gotten back from Gilead. A couple who are in love and meant to be together have a certain look about them, and Spock and Uhura had that look. "

"So what are you going to do, now that you've lost her?" Christine asked as M'Benga poured her a glass of wine.

"Move on. Get on with my life," M'Benga said. "And as for losing her, well, I never really had her … the same as you never really had Spock, in spite of your fantasies … and don't feel too badly … I had my share of fantasies about Nyota, too. I think it's only natural. But sooner or later, we have to let go of them. I guess it's time we both did, don't you think?"

"I've applied for a job as a bio-researcher at the Vulcan Science Academy," Christine said, holding out her glass for a refill.

"Do you think that's wise?" M'Benga frowned. "After all, you're bound to be reminded of Spock every time you look around. I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Christine."

"I did it before I knew about Uhura's pregnancy. Anyway, the posting was a month old. It's probably been filled by now."

"What happened to your plans to go to medical school?" M'Benga asked. "You're more than qualified and can probably test out of a lot of the classes, especially if you went to Star Fleet Medical. I'd be willing to put in a good word for you, and I'm sure Leonard would, too."

"I have to get off this ship," Christine murmured, looking down into her wine glass and seemingly ignoring M'Benga's advice. "I'm not sure I can afford to wait until the start of the semester."

"I think if you talk to Leonard, something can be arranged. There's no reason why you should have to put yourself through any more stress than you've already done."

"You're right. There really isn't, is there?" Christine smiled up at him and then stood up and hugged him close. "But what about you? How can you stand to see them together, even now?"

"Well, let's just say, I haven't exactly been pining away. I've been writing to one of my sister's friends, a girl I grew up with who's turned into a remarkable woman … I think I might be open to a new relationship. At least, it's a start."

He pulled away from her but kept her hands in his. He raised one hand to his lips and kissed the palm of her hand.

"You're a beautiful woman, Christine. Don't shut yourself off from a relationship because of one man. He's not worth it, but you are."

"Thanks for saying that, and for coming by. I'm going to miss you, you know. You always know just the right thing to say."

"I'll be there for you if you need me. Count on it."

Christine sat at her desk and stared at the half-empty bottle of wine that M'Benga had left behind. She thought about drinking the rest of it, but then decided not to.

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life," she said to herself as she reached for the intercom.

"Leonard, got a minute? I need to talk to you. Mind if I stop by your quarters?"

* * *

Christine looked around her office one last time. A week had passed since her conversation with McCoy. He had been more than happy to smooth the way for her and it was thanks to his and M'Benga's glowing recommendations that she'd been able to obtain an early internship at Star Fleet Medical. She'd still be required to attend some classes before she got her MD, but the internship guaranteed that she'd be busy until the start of the next semester.

She would be leaving the ship at Star Base 11 and taking another that was bound for Earth. The Enterprise's current mission had been extended for another six weeks, so would not be landing on Earth on their scheduled arrival date. Now she looked around her office one last time. It had taken her many hours of overtime, but at last everything was ready to hand over to her temporary replacement, Roberta Peterson.

"Miss Chapel."

Christine whirled around, shocked to see Spock standing just inside the door of her office. She hadn't even heard him come in.

"Mr. Spock!" she gasped. "You startled me! What are you doing here?"

"I came to see if I might have a word with you," Spock said. "I wanted to talk to you the night that Uhura … we lost the child, but there was no time. And now, you are leaving the ship…"

Christine waved Spock in and sat behind her desk.

"Well, there's no need for you to stand there, Mr. Spock. Pull up a chair. We still have time before the reception."

"Thank you," he said as he sat down. Suddenly, Spock found himself wondering why he had come as he looked into Christine's clear blue eyes. The serene expression on her face hardly suggested that she was a heartbroken woman running away from a painful situation, as he suspected when he'd heard she was leaving the Enterprise before they reached Earth to be decommissioned.

"What can I do for you, Mr. Spock?" Christine waited patiently for him to get to the point of his visit, trying not to sneak a glance at her desk chronometer. Her shuttle was leaving in two hours; barely enough time for the farewell reception Roberta was throwing together for her before she left.

He cleared his throat. If she hadn't known better she would have sworn he was nervous.

"I wish to ask forgiveness if I have said or done anything that would cause you to feel you must leave the Enterprise before we reach Earth. I assure you that I never intended for my actions to cause you distress."

Christine leaned back. She wasn't quite sure how she should respond to this, except that she couldn't tell him the truth. Suddenly she had a feeling of déjà vu. This scene had been played out before … only then, she had been in Spock's place and the other person had been a young researcher named Jeremy Something-or-Other, whom she hadn't thought of in years, but whose red-haired freckled face and bright green eyes suddenly flashed before her.

Tall and gangly, he'd been the quintessential nerd in her research group back during her college days when she'd been working for Roger Korby. He'd had a strong crush on Christine, following her around like a love-sick puppy. She'd tried hard to let him know that she liked him without giving him false hopes. The day after she'd announced her engagement to Roger, he'd come by to see her to let her know he'd accepted a job for a private firm that would take him across the country. She'd asked Jeremy the same question Spock was asking her, only in slightly different terms. And she realized she was about to give Spock the same response that Jeremy had given her, only in slightly different terms. Sometimes, she realized a lie really was better than the truth, even if it wasn't entirely a lie.

"No, Mr. Spock," she smiled at him. "It's nothing to do with you or Uhura. I wish you both all the best … and I am so sorry about the baby. The truth is, I'd been planned to apply to Star Fleet Medical when we reached Earth, but when Leonard told me about the early internship program, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. It's going to cut at least two years out of medical school, and I'll be first in line for a CMO job when I'm finished getting my M.D. That's really all there is to it."

"I see," Spock said. "Then, may I felicitate you on your good fortune. I am certain that you will make an excellent Chief Medical Officer."

"Thank you," she said standing up. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a reception to go to."

"One moment, please," he said, holding up his hand to detain her. "Uhura has been distressed at what she considers your 'falling out' as you humans call it. Perhaps, if you could reassure her as you have me, it would do a great deal to alleviate her situation."

Christine felt a pang of shame wash over her. She'd been so busy being focused on her feelings of anger and betrayal, that she'd forgotten all the times Uhura had been there for her. Now, of all times, her friend needed her, and Christine hadn't been able to get past the hurt long enough to see that.

"Computer, location of Lt. Uhura," Christine said.

"Lt. Uhura is currently on Observation Deck A," the computer intoned.

"Mr. Spock, would you do me a favor and stop by the main desk and tell Roberta I'll be a little late to the party? I have some fences to mend."

* * *

Uhura was looking out the window of the observation deck when she saw Christine's reflection coming towards her. She didn't turn her head as she felt the Head Nurse move to stand beside her.

"I'm going to miss this place," Christine mused. "So many good memories … so many good friends. And I'm going to miss you, Ny."

"Are you?" Uhura asked, still not looking at Christine. "You sure haven't acted much like a friend, lately."

"I know. I'm sorry, Ny. I was too busy being mad at you to be there when you really needed me. This can't have been an easy situation for you."

"It really wasn't, Chris. Knowing how much you loved Spock, and knowing that I was betraying that love by marrying him. I was only half-joking when I proposed to him, you know. I had no way of knowing he wanted to marry me. You have no idea how much I dreaded coming back here knowing we'd both be hurting you."

"He loves you very much," Christine was finally able to admit it out loud. "I really think that if we'd gotten married under the same circumstances, he and I would have made each other very unhappy. You're a lucky woman, Nyota."

"Not so lucky," Uhura looked at Christine, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "My baby…"

Christine hugged her fiercely. "I know, hon. I'm so, so sorry about your baby, and sorry I couldn't be there for you afterwards."

Uhura sobbed in Christine's arms. It felt good to finally be able to let go with someone who truly understood how she felt. Spock had been wonderful, but he was a man, and a Vulcan besides. He had put up with her mood swings only because McCoy had warned him about postpartum depression; and Uhura had been trying to shield him from the worst of it by burying her sorrow in work. But now, here, with Christine, she didn't have to pretend to be brave. She could just be herself, a grieving mother-that-never-was.

Finally, she stepped back and wiped her tears as Christine handed her a tissue.

"I know this is probably going to sound trite and cliché," Christine said, "but medically speaking, you and Spock are both still young. You'll be able to have a family of your own someday. Vulcan has some of the best specialists in the galaxy."

"That's what Spock and Dr. McCoy tell me," Uhura nodded smiling while she wiped away her tears.

"And they're both right. You should listen to them." Christine smiled back. "Listen, I'm going to be late for my own farewell party. Are you coming?"

"Wild horses couldn't keep me away," Uhura smiled as the two women linked arms and walked out of the Observation Deck.

Two hours later, Christine was on board the shuttle Copernicus as it headed for Star Base 11. The Enterprise was orbiting the planet's space dock putting in for supplies and minor repairs preparing to go on its six week extended mission. She couldn't turn back in her seat far enough to see the ship retreating behind the shuttle craft, especially since she was sitting beside the shuttlecraft's pilot in the co-pilot seat.

It had been a poignant and emotional farewell with many hugs and kisses from her co-workers, promises to keep in touch and last minute instructions from Dr. McCoy regarding who she was to see when she got to San Francisco. Now, sitting back and watching the planet where Star Base 11 was located get larger on the view port, she reflected on her feelings about Spock, Uhura, and the whole situation.

She had to admit to herself that a part of her was still mad at both Spock and Uhura for what they'd done, but that was a wound that would take a long time to heal. Shortly after the night of Uhura's miscarriage and her subsequent conversation with M'Benga, Christine had gone in for some counseling sessions with one of the people she trusted most on the psychiatric staff, Dr. Susan Bates, who had helped her put things in perspective, and helped her to realize that she was a strong person and would eventually overcome the residual bitterness.

She felt more ready to face her future than at any other time in her life. So when Lt. Geoffrey Moore invited her to have dinner with him, she lost no time in accepting, taking a leaf from M'Benga's book and leaving herself open to the possibility of a new relationship. And that night, before she went to bed, in her room at the Star Base, she made a note to herself to look up Jeremy Howard, the young researcher, as soon as she reached Earth.

Uhura stood on the observation deck and watched the shuttlecraft move away until it was only a speck. Her husband came up and stood beside her. She leaned against him and put her arm through his.

"Were you able to resolve your differences with Nurse Chapel?" Spock asked, recalling the emotional farewell the women had exchanged earlier as Christine was getting ready to leave the ship.

"Yes and no," Uhura said. "It'll never be the same between us, but at least we're still talking to each other. That's a start. It'll have to be enough for now."

Spock nodded. "Come, my wife. We are due back on the bridge."

"Of course, husband," Uhura said putting the two fingers of her hand up in a ritual Vulcan embrace. He touched his fingers to hers, and then the couple left the Observation Deck. Uhura never once looked back.



The End.